The Project Gutenberg EBook of Switzerland, by Frank Fox

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Title: Switzerland

Author: Frank Fox

Release Date: May 8, 2012 [EBook #39651]

Language: English

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In Switzerland, above all other lands of Europe, is the greatness of Nature manifest. But not even the Alps can overshadow the story of her gallant people. The Swiss are more interesting even than Switzerland. In this volume therefore—a volume intended to give the reader who cannot hope to see Switzerland some idea of its character, as well as to guide those who hope or intend to undertake a Swiss tour—an attempt has been made to give a brief sketch of the origins and achievements of the Swiss people, as well as to describe the natural beauties of the country. To a very remarkable extent the history of Switzerland has affected the general current of European history, partly through the courage of the mercenary soldiers that the Alpine communities sent abroad in olden times, partly vi because always Switzerland has provided a house of refuge for political exiles from other countries. The deeds of her people cannot but be interesting in every land where European civilisation rules. They have the interest not only of their essential heroism but of their near relation to the development of other countries.

No exhaustive record has been attempted. This volume cannot, for the serious student, serve either as a history of Switzerland, as a description of the Swiss Alps, or as a record of those interesting literary and scientific coteries which grew up beside the Swiss lakes. Its purpose rather is to give to the reader who cannot devote a special interest to the country some fairly adequate idea of its history, its character, and institutions. The illustrations have been selected to give as comprehensive an impression as possible of the various beauties of Swiss scenery.




CHAPTER I The Spirit of the Mountains 1
CHAPTER II The Earliest Swiss: The Lake-Dwellers: Charlemagne 14
CHAPTER III The Swiss in the Middle Ages 31
CHAPTER IV Modern Switzerland 43
CHAPTER V Some Literary Associations 56
CHAPTER VI The Swiss and Human Thought 69
CHAPTER VII The Swiss People to-day 81
CHAPTER VIII Alpine Climbing 96
CHAPTER IX Natural Beauties of Switzerland 109
CHAPTER X Avalanches and Glaciers 122
CHAPTER XI The Alpine Clubs 138
CHAPTER XII The Flowers of the Alps 153
CHAPTER XIII Swiss Sports 164
CHAPTER XIV Swiss Schools 178
CHAPTER XV Some Statistical Facts 185
INDEX   197



1. At Les Plans in April Frontispiece
2. The Matterhorn from the Riffelberg 9
3. Looking down the Rhone Valley from Mt. Palerin at the Eastern end of the Lake of Geneva 16
4. A distant view of the Jura Range from the south side of the Lake of Geneva 25
5. Fluelen at the end of Uri Lake 32
6. Altdorf 41
7. A Village on the St. Gothard Railway 48
8. The Statue of Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the Island in the Rhone, Geneva 57
9. Château de Prangins 64
10. Geneva from the Arve 73
11. L'Église de la Madeleine, Geneva 80
12. An Alpine Village, Grindelwald 89
13. Alpine Herdsmen 91
14. Hay Hauling on the Alpine Snow 94
15. Sunset on Mont Blanc from Geneva 96
16. The Palu Glacier 105
17. Winter Sunrise in the Engadine—Cresta, Celerina, and Samaden 107x
18. The Schiahorn. "The Châlets are like fairy houses or toys" 110
19. A Mountain Path, Grindelwald 112
20. Castle of Chillon 121
21. Davos in Winter—The Home of John Addington Symonds 128
22. Märjelen See and Great Aletsch Glacier 137
23. Looking up Valley towards Zermatt from near Randa 144
24. The Dents du Midi from Gryon above Bex 147
25. The Schwartzhorn from the Fluela Hospice 150
26. An Alpine Meadow in Bloom 153
27. Hepatica in the Woods at Bex 156
28. Alpine Garden (La Linnea) at Bourg St. Pierre on the road to the Great St. Bernard, beginning of August 160
29. Hunting the Chamois 169
30. A Corner of Aigle Skating Rink 176
31. Berne 185
32. Lausanne 192

Sketch Map at end of Volume





The Swiss as a people often suffer in the judgment of the tourist by failure to live up to their reputation as a "mountain people"—to a glorious "Alpine" character.

The dweller by the shores of the sea or by the riverine plains, setting his feet along a mountain path towards the peaks which go up to meet the sky, ordinarily feels a sense of joy and freedom as he climbs to the higher air. He seems to shake off shackles from his mind and to enter into an enjoyment of life which is less earthly and nearer to the spiritual. His imagination is impressed with the thought that truly he is mounting towards the stars. There is, to aid imagination, a definite corporal effect due to a2 slight change in the nature of the air. A quickening pulse seems to tell of the heart becoming more generous in response to the spirit of the mountains.

From this feeling of exhilaration of the mind and the body, which comes when ascending, after a long stay on the plains, to a mountain height, arises an almost universal belief in human thought that there is some special spiritual and ennobling influence in the mountains of the earth. Poets have sung of it again and again: philosophers have admitted to it with a more discreet but with a no less certain rapture. Many scientists have explained it with as ingenious explanations as were offered by those learned men who were set by a waggish French king to explain to him why it was that: given two dishes, each full to the brim of water, and two fish of equal size, but one dead and the other alive: and allowed that the live fish is put in the one full dish and the dead fish in the other full dish with equal care: then, whilst the water of the dish in which the dead fish is placed will overflow at once, the water of the dish in which the live fish is placed will not overflow.

That king's merry jest on his men of learning3 who set out to find a reason for a "fact" before finding out whether it was a fact, was neatly countered, if my memory of the story be correct, by one courtier-scientist who ingeniously pleaded that what His Majesty said on any matter must, by all loyal subjects, be accepted as a fact, and in truth did, to the loyal mind, become a fact, no unworthy suspicions being harboured that a king of France could not make, change, or annul a natural law just as well as any other law.

In truth, though, the idea that dwelling on a mountain-top has a strengthening effect on the human frame and an ennobling influence on the human character is mostly fallacious. It may be "explained" but not proved. Those who hold it, if questioned in the Socratic manner to give proofs in the first place of the existence of the ennobling influence they believe in, could well plead a general human consent on the point—a universal belief. But they would, I think, be hard put to it, to offer any more real proof than the statements of some poet, or of some philosopher, or the explanation of some scientist who had explained a circumstance without first proving it.


Let there be imagined a cross-examination on the point by some modern follower of Socrates' methods:

S. You say that the Swiss people are a noble race because they are a mountain race. Will you, if you have time, explain to me why that is so? I am very anxious to know the true reason why the fact of living on a mountain should have this fine effect on the human character.

T. On that point, surely, there is no difference of opinion at all? Every one knows that the mountain races are the most brave, the most eager for liberty, the most virtuous of the earth.

S. But it happens that I am not so wise as those people. I do not know, and I am very anxious to learn. Can you show me that it is a fact that mountain races are as you say? And afterwards, since you evidently have knowledge on this point and I am anxious to be your pupil, perhaps you will tell me why it is so.

T. You ask a rather difficult question. It is like, almost, raising the question as to whether the earth is round. Are you not satisfied to know that nearly all the poets and philosophers who5 have written about the mountains seem to be agreed on this point when they refer to it at all; and that few have written about mountains without making some reference to the noble nature of mountain peoples?

S. To tell you the truth, I am not quite satisfied. It is even possible that the poets have been mistaken. Probably you have heard of a German wise man named Schopenhauer and have read his writings.

T. (Interrupting.) Yes. But if he writes against mountain people I would not accept him as an authority on this point about which we are talking, since there are many men on the other side of so much greater authority.

S. No. I do not wish you to accept him as an authority on the character of mountain peoples. Indeed I do not know whether he has ever written at all on that subject. But he has written on the subject of female and male beauty. He does not think that women are more beautiful than men, but less beautiful. And when they would argue against him the words of the great poets, who are all quite agreed that women are more beautiful than men, he retorts that all these poets have been men, and that they have6 been blinded by their passions for women, and have not been able therefore to come to a sound and cool judgment. He argues that if the greatest poets had been women the beauty of men and not of women would have been sung. Does that not seem to you a rational argument?

T. Yes. Certainly it is not absurd. There may be some truth in what he says.

S. So the words of the poets may not always be accepted as proof of the truth, especially if it can be shown that they may be prejudiced regarding the matters of which they speak.

T. I agree with you there. But I do not see that there is any necessary application to the point about which we were arguing—the noble character of mountain peoples.

S. I wish to come to that now. I accept what you say that very many poets and wise men have exalted the character of mountain peoples. But now, can you tell me were those poets and wise men themselves generally of mountain peoples?

T. No, certainly not. You cannot argue that they were prejudiced in that way. Indeed in my recollection I can recall no very great poet or philosopher who was of a mountain people7 and was brought up and educated in his own country.

S. Now that seems to me to be a very pertinent fact. It is the case, then, that though mountain peoples are superior to other peoples, they do not produce and rear poets and philosophers to any extent; that these praises of the better qualities of mountain peoples come from the great men whom the peoples of the plains produce? Yet surely the peoples who produce most plentifully great men, poets and philosophers, are the greatest peoples?

The dialogue need not be pursued further until T., like Euthyphron, finds that he is in a hurry and it is time to be off. Its purpose is to suggest that it is not at all necessary to endorse without question the very generally accepted idea that there is some specially beneficent effect on the human character in mountain life. The exhilaration that one feels in going on a journey from the plains to the mountains is real, and on it apparently has been built all the fabric of mountain worship. That exhilaration is in all probability far more the effect of a change of living conditions than of a passing to better conditions. Human life primitively flowed fluid,8 here and there, in nomadic movements. When it began to congeal in cities and communities it departed from natural conditions, and Nature often exacts as a penalty some atrophy of the life impulse. But a change of environment and of air—any change—brings usually a stimulus. Nature thinks we are off to be nomad children playing at her skirts again, and gives back to us as a reward a hint of the old savage energy. I have felt a keen renewal of energy going up from the plains to the mountains: and after a year on the tableland a far keener renewal on going back to the plains. It is in like case with most people, I think, if they would take the trouble to examine into the matter. But most of us live on the plains and go for our holidays to the hills (or the sea) and associate the exhilaration arising from change of air or surroundings to some special quality of mountain conditions. Those who live on the mountains and might in turn proclaim the exhilaration of going down on to the plains are few and not markedly vocal for securing a public hearing.

There is an early poem of Tennyson, which expresses no more than the orthodox view of the influence of mountains on our human nature:


Of old sat Freedom on the heights,
The thunders breaking at her feet:
Above her shook the starry lights:
She heard the torrents meet.
There in her place she did rejoice,
Self-gather'd in her prophet-mind,
But fragments of her mighty voice
Came rolling on the wind.
Then stept she down thro' town and field
To mingle with the human race,
And part by part to men reveal'd
The fullness of her face.


Our Swiss friends are expected by the traveller to carry themselves in all things with the pride and dignity of people who are born in the original home of European liberty. But Tennyson's idea, whilst pretty, is exactly false. Civilisations and traditions of human freedom have always begun on the plains—by sea-shore and river-bank. There have been born the ideas of Freedom and Human Right, and these ideas have at a later stage made their way to the mountain ranges by various paths. In one set of cases the course of race history has run that the people of the plain have become softened by civilisation and luxury, and hairy savages from the hills have learned to steal first their cattle and then the riches of their cities, and finally their ideas. Sometimes in 10 these cases the people of the plain have been aroused to an old vigour by the robbers of the hills, have beaten them back after having imposed upon them some ideas of law and order, and have thus set the foundations for civilised mountain communities. Sometimes, again, the people of the hills have succeeded in establishing themselves on the plain, mingling with the civilised people whom they conquered, and in time learning their culture. In another set of cases a nation as it perfected its civilisation on a plain has found it necessary to shed off some of its rougher elements, and these have taken to robber nests in the hills and carried with them some better ideas than those of the hill-tribes. Or yet again, one nation of the plain has been invaded and conquered by another nation of the plain, and its remnants have sought refuge in the hills, so forming the best historical type of mountain communities (thus the Celts did in the Highlands of Scotland and Wales when the Saxon invasion drove them from the plains of Britain).

But never has any notable civilisation sat first upon the heights and marched from there down to the plains. Always, on the contrary, human progress has progressed from the plain to11 the mountain; and found the path sometimes very difficult, and very treacherously defended. Where a mountain range has affected favourably the progress of human thought it has been because it gave a rampart and a refuge to the remnants of some civilisation of the plains threatened with submergence by calamity.

To get a fair impression of Switzerland and the Swiss at the outset, then, it seems to be advisable to clear away this common misconception of mountain ranges as being the nurses inevitably of heroic human natures. The Swiss have been absurdly over-praised by some, largely because of this root fallacy that a mountain people must have all the virtues. They have been unfairly over-blamed by others, who seem to have started with a preconceived idea of an impossibly heroic people and to have been soured when they found unreasonable illusions shattered. "The Swiss are stubborn, devoid of all generous sentiment, not generous nor humane," said Ruskin. There spoke the disappointed sentimentalist. Obviously he approached the Swiss from the fallacious "Alpine character" point of view, and vainly expected them to live up to the super-heroic idea he had formed of the sort of people who ought to inhabit12 the slopes of such magnificent mountains. Voltaire, de Staël, Hugo, Dumas, all abuse the Swiss. They demanded of them—carried away by that idea of the mountains enduing people with virtues—an impossible standard, and kicked at them for not living up to it, as a Chinaman kicks his joss when it does not bring rain under impossible wind conditions.

To inhabit a mountain country is, if all the facts are taken into account, a handicap rather than an advantage to a race. In the earlier stages of civilisation the mountains have imposed upon them the duty of sheltering alike fleeing patriots and fleeing criminals: and the criminals are usually the more numerous. In later stages mountains interfere greatly with the development of the machinery of civilisation. Always, too, mountain air sharpens the appetite rather than the wits, and there are some diseases attacking particularly the brain which are almost peculiar to mountain districts.

The Swiss, then, have to be considered justly rather in the light of a handicapped than of a favoured people. Their one favouring national circumstance is that their central position in regard to the great plains of Europe has put them13 in the track of all the chief currents of civilisation. What they have managed to effect in spite of the handicap of their mountains is one of the marvellous stories of the human race; and to the mountains they owe in the main their sense of national unity. They served as the bond of a common misfortune.




To her lakes rather than to her mountains Switzerland owed the beginnings of civilisation. Nowadays, as the curtains of mist are rolled away from the past by geologist and anthropologist, we are coming to a clearer idea of the origins of this wonderful civilisation of ours, which makes the common routine of a plain citizen to-day more full of wonders than any legend told of an ancient god. Science, fossicking in the tunnels of the excavators and scanning closely what they bring up to the surface light, is inclined now to tell us that the beginnings of organised community life were on the lake shores of some ancient age.

The idea would be reasonable in theory even if it had no facts to support it. A lake means15 shelter, water, fish: it suggests—in this unlike a river—settling down. In a lake the fish teem thick and become big and fat and slothful. (Note how the little fighting trout of the rapid streams grow to the big, stupid, inert things of the New Zealand lakes, fish that come and ask to be caught, fish that a family can feed upon.) It was natural that a lake should stimulate into activity those microbes of civilisation which had infected the primitive nomads. In the Antipodes you may see to-day, in an anthropological record which is contemporary with us in time but with the Neolithic Age in development, the working of what one may call the lake forces, towards civilisation. The Australian aborigines—poor nomads almost without law, architecture, or clothing—when they won to a good steady fishing-ground managed to advance a little towards a higher civilisation. When a coast lagoon gave good supply of crustaceans and other fish, you may note at the old aboriginal camping-grounds timid ventures towards art, certain rock drawings, effective if crude. Stomachs being regularly filled, the minds of these primitives began to work. A step higher in the ascent of man—the Papuans have their16 most advanced communities in villages built on piles over the beaches of the sea or of the coral lagoons. The surrounding water gives some protection against prowling marauders. Draw up the bridge which makes a way to the hut, and the water at once serves it in the office of a wall. Further, the water is a source of food supply and an easier means of communication than the jungle to other sources of food supply. Finally, the water gives the little community a good drainage system without trouble: rubbish can just be cast down and it is carried away.

The early European, feeling a call to settle down and form a village, thus found in a lake the best of prompting to community life. It offered some security and so appealed to his dawning sense of property. It offered some steadiness of food supply and so appealed to his dawning sense of stability. It appealed also to the new sense of cleanliness which we must credit him with, a very primitive sense truly and many thousands of years behind ideas of modern sanitation, but still a beginning.

Recent discoveries of the remains of lake dwellings in England have established the fact that in many parts of Europe, and perhaps indeed 17 all over the Continent, man in the Neolithic time formed the habit of living in villages built on piles over the shores of lakes, and that he kept this habit during the Bronze Age, and had not wholly abandoned it at the dawn of the Iron Age. But it was probably in Switzerland, the area richest in suitable lakes of all Europe, that the primitive lake-dwellers flourished most strongly. A whole chain of lake settlements have been discovered around Lake Zurich, and recently, when Mr. Ritter, famous for the gigantic scheme to supply Paris with water from the Swiss lakes, "corrected" the meanderings of the river Thiele which conducts the waters of Lake Neuchâtel to Bienne, his engineering feat, besides gaining huge tracts of fertile land, lowered the level of Lake Neuchâtel and led to some further valuable discoveries regarding the lake-dwellers. It seems clear that every Swiss lake was a centre for a thick population in the later Stone Age and the Bronze Age.


The first important discoveries regarding these Swiss lake-dwellers were made in 1853, when the waters of Zurich lake sank so low that a stretch of land was laid bare along the shores. The people of Meilen, twelve miles from Zurich,18 took advantage of this to carry out some public works, and during the operations the workmen encountered obstacles, which proved to be wooden piles. These piles, the tops of which were but a few inches below the surface of the mud, were found to be planted in rows and squares, in great number. There were picked out of the mud bones, antlers, weapons and implements of various kinds. Dr. Ferdinand Keller was sent from Zurich to examine the workings, and he pronounced them to be the site of a lake settlement, probably of some very ancient Celtic tribe. Many marks of a prehistoric occupation had been found before 1853, but no traces of dwellings. The discovery caused a sensation, and gave a great impulse to archæological studies. Dr. Keller called these early settlers Pfahl-bauer, or pile-builders. Since then over two hundred of these villages have been discovered—on the shores of the lakes of Constance, Leman, Zurich, Neuchâtel, Bienne, Morat, and other smaller lakes, and on rivers and swampy spots which had once been lakes. The strictly Alpine lakes, however, with their steep inaccessible banks, show no trace of these settlements.

The early lake dwellings were built on piles19 driven into the bed of the lake, and as many as thirty or forty thousand of these piles have been found in a single village. The houses were made of hurdlework, and thatched with straw or rushes. Layers of wattle and daub alternating formed the floors, and the walls had a covering of clay, or else of bulrushes or straw. A fence of wickerwork ran round each hut. Light bridges, easily moved, connected the huts with each other and with the shore. Each house contained two rooms at least, and some of the dwellings measured as much as 27 feet by 22 feet. Hearthstones blackened by fire in some huts remain to show where the kitchens had been. Mats of straw and reeds were found, and proofs of an organised worship of some gods.

The lake-dwellers hunted with weapons of bronze. They tilled the ground and had flocks of horses, cattle, and sheep. They wove the wool of animals, and also a fibre of flax, and made a coarse pottery. Men and women wore ornaments of metal, of glass, of leather, of carved stones. Probably the later generations of lake-dwellers were contemporary with the Homeric period in Greece, though their state of culture was inferior to that of the people of the Grecian peninsula.


Some idea, then, we may form of the people of Switzerland in prehistoric times, those times when the fair-haired Achæans were settling in the Hellenic peninsula the issue between themselves and an earlier Canaanitish race, and giving prompting to the stories of the Homeric legends. Celtic migrants, making their way along the great watercourses of Europe, had come to these Swiss lakes resting at the feet of the Alps, and had found there prompting to settle and to begin to cultivate a community life. Seemingly there were three different epochs in the age of the lake-dwellers, of which two were of the later Stone Age and one of the Bronze Age. Switzerland had then, probably, as thick a population as most parts of Europe, and at the earliest stage of the lake-dwellings that population was almost as advanced in culture as were the forefathers of the Grecian and Roman civilisations. But later it was not so. Those nomadic peoples who found places in the Mediterranean sun; and who there came into contact with the civilisations which had grown up on the shores of the Levant, in the valley of the Nile, and on the north coast of Africa; after mingling their blood with the Mediterranean peoples and acquiring their culture, were capable21 of creating great communities which unmeasurably outstripped the little primitive states of their cousins who had settled at the base of the Alps.

It is probable that, fairly close on the heels of the lake-dwellers, there came other Celtic immigrants to Switzerland, dispossessing the aboriginal peoples of the mountains, fighting with the lake-dwellers, and coming in time to as high a standard of civilisation as they. With the Iron Age the lake-dwellings seem to have been abandoned and the lake-dwellers merged into the general body of the Helvetians. What we know as Switzerland to-day was then occupied by Celts, Rhætians, and Alamanni. Helvetia, as it was known to the Romans, took its name from the Helvetians, a tribe of Celts who had been pushed out of their own territories by the advancing tide of the Teutonic invasion and had colonised lower Switzerland.

Just as the lake-dwellers had set up a higher standard of civilisation than the mountain-dwellers in their age, so the Helvetians, occupying the lower ground of Switzerland, showed much more culture than any of their neighbours. They had adopted the Greek alphabet and kept written records of their doings. Their weapons and22 armour were good; their cultivation of the soil was skilful, and they had a knowledge of architecture, their fortifications in particular being praised by Roman writers as excellent. Local traditions said that Hercules had once visited Helvetia and taught the Helvetians arts and laws. That was the picturesque way of stating that their ideas of civilisation had come from Greece. These Helvetians were the easily traceable ancestors of the present Swiss, and many Swiss cities of to-day occupy the sites and keep close to the names of the old Helvetian centres—Geneva, Lausanne, Soleure, and Zurich, for examples. But the Helvetians were not strictly an Alpine race. They left the great mountains to wilder people and settled on the foothills and around the lakes.

The method of government of the Helvetians was closely modelled on the aristocratic republicanism of the Greek states. Wealthy nobles owned the land, and the rest of the population was made up of their vassals and slaves. But no one could aspire to be king. The chief Orcitrix, it is told, aspiring to kingly power, was burned to death. The Swiss do not seem to have copied the Grecian religious system, adhering to their23 ancient Druidical worship. Perhaps the gloomy and savage form which Protestantism was to take in after years among the Swiss, was in part due to the fact that their ancient form of worship seems to have been a particularly fierce kind of Druidism, and was very little subjected to the moderating influence of the pagan culture.

The mountain barriers kept the Helvetii for a long time from hostile encounters with the Roman power. But there is evidence that they got in touch with the Etruscans for purposes of trade through the Alpine passes from a very early age. Their chief warlike trouble came from the north, where the German population was constantly pressing down seeking fresh outlets. The first conflict between the Helvetii and the Romans was when the Tigurini tribe of Switzerland joined with the Cimbri in an attack upon Roman Gaul and defeated a Roman army under Cassius and Piso. That was 107 B.C. The Romans did not make any serious attempt to avenge that humiliation. The next meeting of the Helvetii with the Romans was not until the days of Cæsar (58 B.C.). Then the Helvetii, hemmed in on one side by Roman Gaul and on the other by the swelling floods of the German migration, resolved on a24 mass move, abandoning their own country completely and seizing some of the rich lands of Gaul.

It was a strange design and was carried out with strange persistency. Two years were devoted to the organisation of the great move, and on the appointed day practically all the Helvetii, men, women, and children, with all their beasts and their property assembled at Geneva. Their old homes were given to the torch, burned so that there would be no temptation for the people to turn back. Julius Cæsar (who followed Thucydides in the ranks of great war correspondents) tells the story: and it was Cæsar who set himself to the breaking up of this great plan. At Geneva the Helvetii found the bridge over the Rhone broken up by Cæsar's order. After useless attempts to cross the river, they turned towards the Jura Mountains, and whilst they were toiling over the steep and rugged Pas de l'Ecluse, Cæsar returned to Italy to gather his legions. Returning to Gaul, he arrived in time to see the Helvetians cross the Arar (Saône). The Tigurini were the last to cross. On them Cæsar fell and almost exterminated them, thus wiping out the old stain on the Roman arms. The Roman legions had crossed the Saône in twenty-four hours, and this feat so excited the 25admiration of the Helvetians, who had themselves taken twenty days to cross, that they sent legates to treat with Cæsar for a free passage. They promised him that they would do no harm to any one if he would comply with their request, but threatened the full rage of their arms if he should intercept them. Cæsar asked them to give hostages to confirm their promise. "The Helvetians are not accustomed to give hostages; they have been taught by their fathers to receive hostages, and this the Romans must well remember," was the reply.


The Helvetians continued their march, Cæsar watching for an opportunity of attacking them. At Bibracte, west of Autun in Burgundy, Cæsar seized a hill, posted his troops there, and charged the enemy with his cavalry. The Helvetians fiercely repulsed the attack, and poured on the Roman front, but were quite unable to stand against the steady discipline of the legions. They lost the battle but won the respect of Cæsar, and the remnant of this "nation on trek" were helped by him to return to their homes and were allowed to become allies of Rome, with the task assigned to them of guarding the Rhine frontier against the Germans. But the Helvetii found this vassalage26 irksome, rebelled, were punished, and their country subjugated by the Roman roads as well as the Roman legions.

The Helvetia thus brought under Roman sway was not all of the Switzerland of to-day. Some of the Swiss cantons were comprised in the old province of Rhætia, which was not subdued by the Roman arms until the days of the first Augustus. Then, however, the Rhætians, who were kindred with the Italian Etruscans, came so completely under Roman influence that to this day in the valleys of the Engadine a corrupted Latin tongue is spoken, somewhat similar to that of the Roumanians of the Balkan Peninsula. Under Augustus western Switzerland was incorporated with the Roman province of Gaul, having its capital at Lyons; eastern Switzerland was joined with Rhætia, having its capital at Augsburg. Thus early in history the difference between Gallic Switzerland and Teutonic Switzerland begins to show itself.

Helvetia was much favoured by the Romans and became in effect the frontier province for the defence of the empire against the Germans. After a time the Helvetians were but little distinguishable from the Romans, adopting their27 manners and their faith. Wealthy Romans loved to make their summer resorts along the lake of Geneva, and Aventicum, the Helvetian capital, became a great Roman city.

At Avenches (which was the Roman Aventicum) there are to-day but 2000 people, but there can be seen remains of a Roman wall four miles long and in some places 15 feet high. In the day of Vespasian the city was as big as Canterbury is to-day, and with its walls, theatre, and aqueduct could look down upon the miserable contemporary village of Londinium. Helvetia, under the Romans, followed, in fine, very much the same course as Britain under the Romans.

With the decay of the Roman power Helvetia, like Britain, was made to feel at the hands of the barbarians a harsh punishment for its acceptance of the Italian civilisation. In the third century of the Christian era the Alamanni swept over the country, looting and devastating and retiring. In the fourth century they came again and took possession of all the east. The Burgundians followed, and, to a greater degree than most of the civilised world, Switzerland had to face the horrors that followed the disruption of the Roman Empire. Gradually there emerged from the28 welter the beginnings of the Switzerland of to-day, in part representing the old Gallic Helvetians and Etruscan Rhætians, in part the Alamanni (Germans) and the Burgundians. With the coming of the northern invaders Christianity, which had supplanted Paganism in Helvetia as it had in Rome, was almost stamped out. But as the power of the Burgundians grew over that of the Alamanni the country began to turn again towards Christianity.

In the sixth century missionaries from Ireland did much to spread the Christian faith in Switzerland. The most famous of these was St. Columban, who established a monastery at Luxeuil, of which he soon made a storm centre, involving himself in constant troubles with the Gallic clergy and with the Italian Pope. There is extant a famous letter of his to Pope Boniface IV. It is addressed by him to "the most beautiful head of all the churches of entire Europe. The most sweet Pope, the most high President, the most reverent investigator." After that flood of "blarney" St. Columban goes on to complain of the infamia in which the Papal Seat is steeped. Out of that remonstrance nothing seems to have come, but when St. Columban joined issue with the masterful29 Queen Brunhilde of Burgundy he met a spirit as imperious as his own. To guard her own power in the Court of Burgundy the famous Brunhilde encouraged her grandson, the reigning king, to keep mistresses rather than to marry a queen. St. Columban referred to the children of these mistresses as a "brothel brood." Shortly after he was exiled by force from Luxeuil, and is next heard of at Nantes, ready, it seemed, to embark for Ireland, his native land. But he changed his mind, turned back on his tracks, and established himself on the lake of Constance, where he preached successfully to the heathen and threw their idols into the lake. Next St. Columban went over to Northern Italy, abusing his disciple St. Gall who was too sick to accompany him. St. Gall remained in Switzerland and founded the famous monastery of St. Gall, visited by Charlemagne in 883.

Charlemagne was particularly fond of Switzerland and the Swiss, and founded many monasteries and schools in the country. Often he resided in Switzerland, and it is from Switzerland that comes the story which tells that his justice and mercy were so well renowned as to be known even to the animals. There was, the story runs,30 near his palace at Zurich a chapel on the river-side where he had placed a bell for people to ring if they wished to appeal for justice. One day as he was at dinner this bell began to ring. None could inform him what was the matter. The bell rang a second time, and then a third. On this the emperor rose from the table, saying, "I am sure there is some poor man you do not wish me to see." He walked down the hill to the chapel, where, hanging to the bell rope, he found a snake. The snake led Charlemagne to a tuft of nettles, and examining the spot he found a large toad sitting on the eggs in the serpent's nest. At once, grasping the meaning of the appeal, Charlemagne passed sentence that the toad should be killed. The next day the snake entered the dining-hall of the emperor, climbed on the table, and, beckoning the emperor to remove the lid of his golden goblet, dropped into it a beautiful jewel.

With the death of Charlemagne his empire was broken up and Switzerland was doomed to centuries of struggle in the vindication of her independence. The story of that struggle is one of the most fascinating of the national records of the Middle Ages.




Throughout the Middle Ages Switzerland and the Swiss were always in the eye of Europe. Sometimes the spectacle they presented was that of a patriot people pushing back the tyrant and the invader with an unearthly courage, and luck more unearthly still. Sometimes it was that of a martial clan, safe in a great mountain fastness, offering venal swords to the highest bidder, and giving in return for their mercenary pay as high a courage and as stubborn a fidelity as was ever inspired by love of country. No court but knew the Swiss in some capacity. A great London palace, part of which survives to-day as the Royal Chapel of the Savoy, was built by Peter of Savoy, Prince of West Switzerland, who built also the Castle of Chillon sung by Byron, and kept great affairs going in both those far-apart32 countries. There is on record a prediction of Machiavelli of Florence that the Swiss were destined to be "masters of all Italy"—a prediction which time has not justified, but which was reasonable enough then in the light of the wonderful military virtue and the unscrupulousness of the Swiss. Almost every European nation felt their prowess as enemies or allies.

A very curious and contradictory-seeming picture—this Swiss character in the Middle Ages, so stubborn in defence of its own poor little home-patch, so cynical in its readiness to do a patriot's service for the pay of a mercenary. The stubborn defence of an essentially poor country was not in itself strange. It is human nature that the man who has little defends it more savagely than the owner of vast possessions. There is false reasoning in that story of the four robbers who attacked a Bœotian in order to rob him, and having subdued him after a very fierce fight in which they were almost vanquished, and having found that he had but ten coppers, said in astonishment, "If he had had silver money he would have killed us all." The Swiss followed the ordinary course of human character in their fierce defence of a small and poor country.



But they followed it in an heroic degree. How can one, however, reconcile with that noble patriotism the readiness—suggesting an inherited survival of the desperate migratory spirit of the Helvetii of Cæsar's time—to go abroad and bear arms for any country rich enough to offer good pay? It is easier to record than to explain the facts. But they are of a piece with the Swiss spirit of to-day, which mingles with a high patriotism and a sturdy pride a willingness to take servile occupation in exile abroad for the sake of gain, and finds in that no sacrifice of dignity.

In a previous chapter a very slight sketch of the history of Switzerland was given to the time of Charlemagne. In the confusion which followed his death Switzerland was divided up, the Treaty of Verdun (843) assigning West Switzerland and East Switzerland to different kingdoms. West Switzerland was part of the Burgundian Kingdom, and after Charlemagne their national pride centred chiefly in Bertha, "the spinning Queen," who fortified the country against the Saracens and the Hungarians. By the eleventh century Switzerland was united again, but when the dispute between Pope Gregory VII. and the Emperor Henry IV. (it34 was the time when the Popes claimed, and to an extent enforced, a temporal and spiritual overlordship over Europe) plunged the whole continent into a series of wars, Switzerland suffered with the rest of Europe. The twelfth century saw an important development for the Swiss national character when Berne and other "Free Cities" were founded by Bertold V. of the House of Zaeringer. These "Free Cities" acted as a counterpoise to the growing power of the Swiss feudal nobles of the country districts, and helped much to shape the country towards its future of a Federal Republic. This was the time of the Crusades and, needless to say, the Swiss did not miss that opportunity for martial service.

With the thirteenth century comes the first beginning of the Swiss Republic, the story of which is bound up with the rise of the House of Habsburg, a house from which was to spring one of the proudest monarchies of Europe, but which kept no foothold in Switzerland, the land which was the first seat of its power. Habsburg Castle still dominates the canton Aargau, but it is a monument of Swiss independence rather than of Austrian Empire. It is not certain whether the Habsburgs were of Swiss or of Swabian birth,35 but certainly their early history is most intimately bound up with the Swiss canton. It is the story that one of their ancestors, Radbot, hunting in the Aargau, lost his favourite hawk, and found it sitting on the ridge of the Wülpelsberg. Delighted with the view, Radbot built a castle there, and called it Hawk Castle, Habichtsburg, which became "Habsburg."

In a book which is designed to give only so much of the history of Switzerland as will make interesting its monuments and its people, it would be tedious to attempt to detail all the circumstances which led up to the birth of the Swiss Republic. But the leading facts are these. During the reign of King Albrecht (1298-1308), son of the famous Habsburger Rudolf, the Eastern Cantons of Switzerland, which were under the Habsburg House but had certain liberties which they closely cherished, were ill-governed. Albrecht had set governors over the cantons, who were oppressive in their taxation and cruel in their methods of enforcing payment. So much was their oppression and cruelty resented in the Forest Cantons—Unterwalden, Schwyz, and Uri—that there was formed by three patriots, Attinghausen, Stauffacher, and36 Melchthal, a conspiracy of protest. These patriots, explaining their plans to their friends, arranged nightly meetings on the Rütli, a secluded Alpine meadow above the Mytenstein, on Uri lake. This became the Runnymede of Swiss freedom. Records, more or less trustworthy, tell that in 1307 the Swiss patriots decided on definite action. Then at a meeting attended by thirty-three men on the Rütli rebellion was agreed upon.

How far one may accept the story of William Tell as giving a correct account of the final incident leading to the revolt of the Forest Cantons I cannot say. There certainly was a Hapsburg governor, Gessler, in charge of the canton Uri about this time (1307). Certainly, too, he was of a cruel and tyrannical disposition. But the story of Tell is thought by later historians to have been of much earlier origin as regards its main details.[1] Muller, however, accepts it. 37Kopp, who has subjected historical legends to a very searching analysis, rejects it on grounds which appear clear. But, very wisely, the Swiss keep to a story which conveys so valuable a lesson of patriotism. In the national history of Switzerland Tell's defiance of the tyrant is the first paragraph.

[1] It is difficult to decide whether it is superfluous to tell once again the story of Tell. On the principle that a good story cannot be told too often, here are the main "facts" as given in Swiss histories:

"One day the Austrian Governor of Uri, Gessler, set up a pole in the market-place of Altdorf. Upon this pole he set his hat, and gave orders that every Swiss who passed should bow down before it, in homage to his Austrian masters. Tell came by and did not bow. Gessler ordered him to be seized. Tell was a very famous archer. So the Governor bade his soldiers seize Tell's son and set the boy against a tree. An apple was placed on the child's head, and Tell was bidden to shoot at that mark. Tell took two arrows, placed one on his bow-string, and made careful aim. He shot his arrow, and it cleft the apple in two. Gessler demanded then why he had taken two arrows. Tell said: 'If the first arrow had injured my son, the second would soon have pierced thy heart.' Tell was then bound and placed in the Governor's barge, and the boat was rowed across the lake. When the barge was far from the shore, a sudden storm came. Tell was the most expert boatman of them all, and Gessler ordered that Tell should be unbound, and the hero took the tiller and steered the boat through the storm to safety. But then he killed Gessler with an arrow and took to the forest and there gave the first call to active revolt."

To come back to the region of ascertained fact, it seems clear that the first union for liberty of the Forest Cantons was formed in 1291. The battle of Morgarten, which set the seal of success on their revolt, was fought in 1315. There a great Hapsburg force under Duke Leopold was defeated by a far inferior band of Swiss peasants. The story of the battle illustrated once again the triumph of novelty in military strategy and tactics. The Swiss had prepared on a hill-side a great artificial avalanche of stones and trees. This was let loose on the 38Austrians as they passed by, killed many, filled the rest with dread and confusion, and made the finish of the battle a mere slaughter.

Morgarten made the name of Switzerland respected all over Europe and set the foundations of the liberty of the Swiss people. After the battle the allied Forest Cantons went to Brunnen, to renew by oath and enlarge the league of 1291. This for nearly five hundred years remained the fundamental law of union between the three States. The Forest Cantons, as three independent republics, claimed autonomy in their local affairs. Only for national purposes was there to be a central authority. Thus was the "Federal" idea, which had been much favoured by the Greek States, revived in Europe. It was the first of the modern Federations. The Swiss Federal plan was followed later, to a greater or less extent, in the constitutions of the United States, Germany, Canada, Australia, and South Africa. It is suggested to-day by some optimists as the basis of a possible far-off European combination to end the wars of the world.

Around the nucleus of the three Forest Cantons other Swiss States gathered. After a while the three States had become eight, Lucerne39 (1332) and Zurich (1352) being the first of the recruits. There was during this time a state of almost constant war with Austria, in which sometimes the Swiss cantons were strong enough to take the offensive. The year 1386 saw the great battle of Sempach, of which Arnold Winkelried was the hero. Campbell, among many others, has sung of his fame:

Inspiring and romantic Switzers' land,
Though mark'd with majesty by Nature's hand,
What charm ennobles most thy landscape's face?
Th' heroic memory of thy native race,
Who forced tyrannic hosts to bleed or flee,
And made their rocks the ramparts of the free!
Their fastnesses roll'd back th' invading tide
Of conquest, and their mountains taught them pride.
Hence they have patriot names,—in fancy's eye—
Bright as their glaciers glittering in the sky:
Patriots who make the pageantries of Kings
Like shadows seem, and unsubstantial things.
Their guiltless glory mocks oblivion's rust—
Imperishable, for their cause was just.
Heroes of old! to whom the Nine have strung
Their lyres, and spirit-stirring anthems sung:
Heroes of chivalry! whose banners grace
The aisles of many a consecrated place,—
Confess how few of you can match in fame
The martyr Winkelried's immortal name!

Duke Leopold III. marching towards Lucerne with a great army for those days (some say40 12,000, others 24,000 men) encountered at Sempach the Swiss force (said to have been only 1500 men). The Austrian force formed a phalanx bristling on every side with lances. In the first stages the fight went badly for the brave mountaineers; sixty of them were slain before a single Austrian fell. They could not pass the hedge of lances.

Then said Arnold of Winkelried, "I'll make a way for you, comrades; take care of my wife and children!" He sprang upon the enemy with arms widely outspread, and gathered into his body the points of all the lances within his reach. Thus a gap was formed in the line, and into this gap leapt the Swiss, and came to close quarters with their enemy, who fell into confusion. Victory for the Swiss, a dreadful carnage of the Austrians followed. All Europe was astounded. The name of Swiss came to be associated with heroic courage and invincible might in battle. That the result was no mere "fluke" was proved a little later at Naefels, when an Austrian army suffered another disastrous defeat at the hands of the Swiss patriots. On the first Thursday of April each year Naefels celebrates that victory, and in 1888 all the people 41of Switzerland assembled there, in person or in spirit, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the victory.

ALTDORF. The traditional scene of William Tell's exploits.

The battle of Naefels, establishing as it did on an unquestioned pre-eminence the military virtues of the Swiss, inaugurated, too, that strange system of foreign service on the part of Swiss soldiers which would be shameful if it were not lighted up by so many deeds of high chivalry and noble fidelity. The Swiss Republic was now safe in its own house against aggression. The terrible prowess of its peasantry had been announced to every possible foe. But it felt the need of a foreign policy to secure an extension of territory, and it was this need which brought it into the orbit of general European diplomacy and into the temptation of mercenary service. By the next century, when the Swiss prowess had won new laurels at the battles of Grandson, Morat, and Nancy, the little patch of mountain and valley which is Switzerland had become a great diplomatic centre for Europe, its Republican leaders courted by France, the Italian States, Hungary, Germany, and England. Internecine trouble between the Swiss themselves was not uncommon, but throughout, despite differences42 of language, and later differences of religion, a Swiss idea of nationality lived constantly. In 1499 the Swiss League separated definitely from all vassalage to the German Empire. In 1513 the "League of the Thirteen Cantons," which represented the Swiss nationality until the days of Napoleon, was constituted. A severe defeat of the Swiss forces in 1515 by France left the French with the highest opinion of Swiss courage, and eager to take under their patronage the little Republic. An alliance in 1516 between France and Switzerland began a close friendship between the two countries, which continued with but little interruption until the French Revolution, when modern Switzerland may be said to have come into the arena of history.




There is carved in the face of a great rock at Lucerne a lion, wounded to death, resting upon a broken spear. It is the monument of the Swiss Guard massacred in the defence of the Tuileries at Paris in 1792. The close connection between France and Switzerland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries made it natural that the despotic French kings should employ the faithful and courageous Swiss mercenaries as guardians of their palaces. Louis XIV. in the dark hours of his fate had no reason to regret the trust he had placed in these Swiss mercenaries as the nearest defenders of his person. The mob coming to the Tuileries demanded of the Swiss Guards that they should give up their arms. Sergeant Blaser replied in the mood with which the Helvetii had spoken to Cæsar, and with44 eighteen centuries of records of great bravery to justify the vaunt: "We are Swiss, and the Swiss never surrender their arms but with their lives." The reply cowed the rioters for the time and the king was safe for that day. When the king had left the Tuileries the Swiss Guards were withdrawn. As they went away from the palace they were attacked by the mob and, disdaining to fly, were slaughtered almost to a man. Of 800 officers and men only a handful survived. The incident—showing French patriots furious, cruel, and treacherous, Swiss mercenaries steadfast, brave, and true—gives a good standpoint from which to glance at the evolution of the Switzerland which had grown up in the Middle Ages to the modern Switzerland with its intensely democratic and socialistic Republic.

The brewing of the storm which broke over Paris in August 1792 had been observable in Switzerland as well as in France. Accepting its traditional position as a hostel of refuge for political exiles, Switzerland had sheltered many of the men who had given the first impulse to the Revolution. And there had been a domestic movement in Switzerland working on parallel lines to that of the French reformers. As far45 back as 1762 the Helvetic Society was formed by young men aspiring to a political regeneration of Switzerland. By 1792 there had been several peasant risings among the Alpine communities in protest against oligarchic oppression. The cry for Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, found its echo in the mountains as it came in a hoarse roar from the French cities. The exiles from aristocratic France to slightly more liberal Switzerland were in time matched by discontented exiles from Switzerland to Paris. The "Helvetic Club" formed at Paris of Swiss refugees had for its purpose the application of the principles of the French Revolution to Switzerland. In 1797 Peter Ochs of Basel was given by Napoleon the task of drafting a constitution for Switzerland which would follow the system of government of the French Directory. In 1798 "the Lemanic Republic" was proclaimed at the instance of France, and, being resisted by some of the Swiss, a French invasion followed. The victorious French abolished the Swiss Confederation and proclaimed "the Helvetic Republic," with a constitution framed on the lines laid down by Peter Ochs.

The new constitution was not in itself altogether46 suitable to the political circumstances of the country. And no constitution, however perfect, could have pleased the Swiss if it came to them from the hands of a conquering foreigner. But to make quite sure of antagonising the Swiss the greedy and impoverished Directory of France set to work to rob the national treasuries of the Helvetic Republic in the cause of Republicanism. The Forest Cantons, always to the fore in the cause of independence, entered upon a hopeless campaign of defence in which Reding was the chief hero. Brilliant victories were won. Tragic defeats were sustained, culminating in the capture of Stanz. Then, prostrate, Switzerland accepted the French command to be free, and "the one and undivided Helvetic Republic" came into more or less peaceful existence. Later a Franco-Helvetic Alliance was signed, and almost immediately afterwards the little land suffered for its alliance by being invaded by Russia and Austria, then making war upon France. For the first time in history an Austrian invader was welcomed by a part of the Swiss nation. The story of the campaign need not be told in detail; but it had one vivid incident of which any visitor to47 Switzerland interested in military prowess should seek out the memorials. General Suwarow, commanding a Russian army, marched from Italy to junction with General Korsakow at Zurich. Suwarow forced the Pass of St. Gothard in the face of a French force and passed down the valley of the Reuss to Lake Uri. Here he found his path to Zurich blocked, as no boats for the conveyance of his troops could be found on the lake. Turning up towards the mountains, Suwarow led his army along the Kinzig Pass to Muotta, and there learned that Korsakow had been defeated and driven out of Switzerland by the French. Suwarow led his army then along the Pragel Pass, hoping to find in the Canton of Glarus a friendly Austrian force. The hope was vain, and the path to Naefels was blocked by the French army. The old Russian general, indomitable, turned back to the mountains and crossed the Alps again by the Panixer Pass. This was in October. After terrible hardships the Russian army reached Cranbunden and made its way to Austrian territory and safety. It would be an interesting Alpine holiday for a stout walker to follow in the track of Suwarow's marches.

Switzerland had an evil time under the French48 Directory, despite its "free and undivided Republic." But when Napoleon felt himself safe in the saddle and could put the curb on the fiery spirits of the Revolution, better days dawned for Switzerland as well as for France. The great soldier and statesman, being a man of imagination, could not help having a real sympathy with the heroic Swiss. They were people after his own heart. In 1803 he took thought for the vexed condition of the Swiss people and summoned to Paris the "Helvetic Consulta" of sixty-three Swiss representatives to draw up a new system of government. He presided personally at the meetings of this body, and the constitution agreed upon bears the impress of the grand political sagacity which was associated with Napoleon's military genius. Switzerland, under the Napoleonic constitution, became a Federal Republic of nineteen cantons, each of which preserved its local autonomy but yielded full control of national matters to the Federal Diet. This new constitution conferred upon Switzerland internal peace and a reasonable instrument of government, under which the material and moral advancement of the nation was greater than at any previous period of history.


The fall of Napoleon in 1813 brought a fresh crop of troubles to the Swiss. The constitution he had granted to them was put aside by the European Powers, not because it was bad but because it was Napoleon's. A congress at Zurich drew up a new constitution, and this was submitted to the Vienna Congress in 1814, and with some changes approved. It was far inferior to the Napoleonic constitution, and plunged the country into another series of internal troubles. Yet it survived from 1815 to 1848, when, taking advantage of new troubles in Europe, the Swiss settled their system of government anew, and shaped a Federal constitution which exists to this day.

49Switzerland now is divided into twenty-two cantons, self-governing as far as their local affairs are concerned, but united into a Federation for national purposes. The system of government is purely democratic and marked by a Republican austerity. All citizens are equal. Most offices are elective. The emoluments of office are scanty. There is no standing army, but every male citizen is trained to the use of arms in his youth. Thus the whole nation can take up arms in defence of the country. The good quality of50 the citizen troops has been vouched for by many competent judges. Australia has imitated the Swiss system in her military organisation, and it is practically the same system which a powerful party in Great Britain urges as a measure of military reform in this country. The Federal Government has, of course, the control of the army; it has also the management of the railways, posts and telegraphs, universities and schools, and the regulation of the conditions of labour. Full religious liberty is allowed, but the Jesuits are not allowed to come into the country. No spiritual courts are allowed. The Judges of the Supreme Court are elected from amongst the legislators. Neither capital punishment nor arrest for debt is legal (a defaulting tourist's baggage may, however, be put under arrest). Laws passed by the Federal legislature must be submitted to the people by direct vote before they become effective. If this Referendum does not give them approval they lapse. There is machinery by which the people can directly initiate legislation, i.e. propose measures without the intervention of the legislature.

So wide-world an interest is taken in the Swiss military system (it has its enthusiastic admirers51 in America as well as in Great Britain), and so great a part does it take in the general life of the Swiss people, that a brief summary of its salient features is worthy of space here. The system dates from 1874, the Franco-Prussian War on their borders having warned the Swiss of the possibility of their land being invaded. From his earliest days the Swiss citizen is prepared for his country's service. In the public (Cantonal and Communal) schools instruction in gymnastic exercise is regularly given (60 hours yearly), and almost all the boys participate in this instruction, which is mainly given by the schoolmasters.

Between the ages of 16 and 20, when military service begins, there is preparatory military instruction, comprising physical training, gymnastic exercises, marching, obstacle racing, simple drill, the use of the rifle, and preliminary musketry. In the year before he attains 20 the youth is enrolled by the Cantonal authorities (in his commune or place of domicile) as a recruit—the canton being subdivided into recruiting districts—and is fitted out with uniform and equipment, and in the year in which he attains 20 (the year, too, in which he becomes entitled52 to vote at elections) the recruit becomes liable to military service and presents himself for instruction at recruit schools, beginning either about March 15, May 1, or July 1, as directed. All soldiers, whatever the rank they are destined for, pass through the recruit schools, and the periods of duration of these schools (including musketry) are: for infantry, etc., 60-70 days; cavalry, 80 days. The soldier on completion of recruit school is considered as having entered the Army. As a soldier of the Army he has to attend an annual training camp.

The demands made on a citizen's time by this system are not very great, say 70 days as a recruit, 80 days as a member of the Active Army, and a few days afterwards as a member of the Landwehr or Landsturm. In all the citizen is forced to give about 160 days during his lifetime to the service of his country, an exaction which is very slight in the total compared with the demands of countries where conscription rules, and is almost negligible when allowance is made for the fact that it is so well distributed over the term of the citizen's life.

In ordinary times of peace there is no Commander-in-chief. The Army Corps and Divisional53 Commanders are the highest appointments. There is a Committee of National Defence, composed of the Minister of War (president), four General Officers (militia), four "Chefs de service" (staff officers), appointed for three years. This Committee stands at the head of the Army in time of peace, but, when war is imminent and a General is appointed by the Federal Assembly, the Committee drops out of existence, the General taking all its powers.

Under this system the Active Swiss Army on a peace footing numbers about 150,000 men. The trained army that could be called out for service represents practically the total of the male population. Training for military service is looked upon not as a burden but as a pleasure by the citizens, and many of their voluntary sports are designed so as to assist the work of military education.

Happy Switzerland that has thought out a system of military service which imposes little burden on the national exchequer and no burden at all on the national content, and which is yet withal highly efficient if the experts are to be believed! I quote from one of them (Lieut.-Col. G. F. Ellison):


Of the Swiss Army, as a war machine, it is impossible to write in terms other than those which, to anyone who has never witnessed its performance, must, I fear, appear somewhat too laudatory. That it is perfect in all its details, or that it is the same highly finished instrument that the French or the German army is, I do not pretend to assert, but I do unhesitatingly affirm, and in this opinion I am supported by more competent judges than myself, that taken as a whole it is, for war purposes, not unworthy, so far as it goes, to court comparison with the most scientifically organised and most highly trained armies of the Continent. In some respects it even surpasses all other armies in its readiness for war, for of no other military force in Europe can it be stated that the establishment in personnel is the same both for peace and war, and there is certainly no other country, that I am aware of, a fourth of whose army is annually mobilised for manœuvres on exactly the same scale of equipment and transport as it would be for actual warfare.

For the Englishman there is certainly no army in the world which can afford more food for serious reflection than that of Switzerland. He will learn, too, to appreciate what, for a sum that appears insignificant when compared with the military expenditure of other States, can be done towards producing for Home defence a really well-trained force under a militia system, provided that the system is based on universal liability to military service, and that all ranks alike bring goodwill and intelligence to bear on their allotted task. While he watches this army there need be no grave misgivings in his mind such as, perhaps, he may experience elsewhere, lest, in spite of all the pomp and splendour, the55 burden that such military display means to a nation may be crushing it beyond endurance.

And that was written before the revised law of April 12, 1907, which was the subject of a general Referendum. By its acceptance the Swiss people intimated their desire to have the army maintained at such a degree of efficiency as would ensure their independence and neutrality, and agreed to several improvements in the system of training imposing further obligations on the citizen soldiers.

In the present day the Swiss have no navy, and no need of one, and "Admiral of the Swiss Navy" is a title equal to that of the Seigneur de Château Rien. But once upon a time the "Swiss admiral" did exist. He was an Englishman named Colonel Williams, who in 1799 was in service with the Zurich government and commandeered a small fleet on Lake Zurich, having orders to oppose with it the French army. When the French, under Masséna, completely routed the allied armies of Austria and Russia, Colonel Williams calmly watched the battle from the lake. Then, enraged at his own inaction, he discharged his crews, scuttled his vessels, and took to flight.




Switzerland has not produced much native literary genius. The literary associations of the land are mostly concerned with strangers who went to it as a land of refuge or as visitors. True, in the thirteenth century Zurich was famous for its poets, for its share in the making of the Nibelungen and the Minnelieder, and for the "Codex Manesse"—the collection of the works of 150 German and Swiss poets of the day. Again in the days of Rousseau—perhaps the most famous of Swiss writers—there was quite a herd of sentimental novelists at Lausanne. But, on the whole, it cannot be said that the Swiss have shown themselves conspicuously a people of imagination. In war they have a magnificent record: in science and in philosophy a record above the average: in poetry and romance they 57have little to show. But if colonists and visitors who associated themselves strongly with Swiss life be taken into account, then Switzerland becomes one of the most interesting literary centres of Europe.


From Madame de Staël and her salon at Coppet (to cite one example) what invitations crowd to literary pilgrimages! Madame de Staël was destined by birth for that literary limelight which she loved so well. Her mother, Mademoiselle Curchod, afterwards Madame Necker, was the charming young Swiss who inspired a discreet passion in the stately bosom of Gibbon, the historian of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon had been sent to Switzerland by his father because he had shown leanings towards the Roman Catholic faith. The robust Protestantism of Lausanne was prescribed as a cure for a religious feeling which was not welcome to his family. The cure was complete, so complete that Gibbon was left with hardly any Christian faith at all. Whether because that left an empty place in his heart, or in the natural order of things, Gibbon took refuge in a love affair, a very discreet, cold-blooded affair on his part; but, judging by the correspondence58 which has survived, a more serious matter to the girl whose affections he engaged.

Gibbon tells the story of his early love himself, in a letter which is full of unconscious humour, since he writes of it without a tremor and with all the decorous stateliness which he gave to the narrative of a Diocletian:

I need not blush at recollecting the object of my choice; and though my love was disappointed of success, I am rather proud that I was once capable of feeling such a pure and exalted sentiment. The personal attractions of Mademoiselle Susan Curchod were embellished by the virtues and talents of the mind. Her fortune was humble, but her family was respectable. Her mother, a native of France, had preferred her religion to her country. The profession of her father did not extinguish the moderation and philosophy of his temper, and he lived content with a small salary and laborious duty in the obscure lot of minister of Crassy, in the mountains that separate the Pays de Vaud from the county of Burgundy. In the solitude of a sequestered village he bestowed a liberal, and even learned, education on his only daughter. She surpassed his hopes by her proficiency in the sciences and languages; and in her short visits to some relations at Lausanne, the wit, the beauty, and erudition of Mademoiselle Curchod were the theme of universal applause. The report of such a prodigy awakened my curiosity; I saw and loved. I found her learned without pedantry, lively in conversation, pure in sentiment, and elegant in manners; and the first sudden emotion was fortified59 by the habits and knowledge of a more familiar acquaintance. She permitted me to make two or three visits at her father's house. I passed some happy days there, in the mountains of Burgundy, and her parents honourably encouraged the connection. In a calm retirement the gay vanity of youth no longer fluttered in her bosom, and I might presume to hope that I had made some impression on a virtuous heart. At Crassy and Lausanne I indulged my dream of felicity; but on my return to England I soon discovered that my father would not hear of this strange alliance, and that without his consent I was myself destitute and helpless. After a painful struggle I yielded to my fate; I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son: my wound was insensibly healed by time, absence, and the habits of a new life. My cure was accelerated by a faithful report of the tranquillity and cheerfulness of the lady herself, and my love subsided in friendship and esteem.

Gibbon was a very pompous gentleman, but a gentleman. He might otherwise, without departing from the truth, have shown that the little Swiss beauty was far more in love with him than he with her, and her tranquillity and cheerfulness in giving him up were of hard earning. She contrived in time to forget the lover who probably would have made her more famous than happy, and married a Mr. Necker, a rich banker of her own country. (Berne at that time was one of the chief financial centres of Europe.) To him she bore the girl who was to60 be Madame de Staël, as pompous in mind as Gibbon, but somewhat warmer in temperament.

Many years after the romance had died, when Madame Necker was a happy matron, Gibbon, still a bachelor, decided to make Switzerland his permanent home. Motives of economy, not of romance, dictated this choice. In 1783 he moved to Lausanne, where he completed his history, established a literary salon, and enjoyed life in spite of somewhat serious attacks of gout. M., Mdme., and Mslle. Necker (the last to become Madame de Staël) were frequent visitors, and he attached himself to Madame Necker by the bonds of a close but strictly Platonic friendship. In 1787 Gibbon completed his famous history, and seems to have contemplated afterwards a marriage "for companionship sake." But he never fixed on a lady, and died a bachelor six years after.

During Gibbon's life the Neckers had established their country-seat at Coppet, near Geneva, which was afterwards the seat of Madame de Staël's court. Though born Swiss, Madame de Staël was altogether French in sympathy, detested Switzerland, and was impatient at any talk of its natural beauties. "I would rather go miles61 to hear a clever man talk than open the windows of my rooms at Naples to see the beauties of the Gulf," she said once. Napoleon, as the greatest man of the age, of course, attracted her. I suspect that she would have been a most ardent Napoleonist if he had made love to her. "Tell me," she said to Napoleon once, "whom do you think is the greatest woman in France to-day?" And Napoleon answered, "The woman who bears most sons for the army." It was not an ingratiating reply. But Napoleon, who detested the idea of petticoat government and was never inclined to chain himself by any bonds to an interfering and ambitious woman, disliked Madame de Staël: and she in time learned to hate him, and intrigued against the man whom she could not intrigue with. The upshot was exile for her. She was turned out of Paris, much to her rage. On several occasions she sought to return. But Napoleon was inexorable. She replied to his enmity by industry as a conspirator. Fouché, who speaks of her as "the intriguing daughter of Necker," credits Madame de Staël with having been regarded by Napoleon as "an implacable enemy," of having been the focus of the Senate conspiracy against Napoleon in 1802,62 and of being "the life and soul" of the opposition to him in 1812. It was certainly a remarkable woman who could thus stand up against Napoleon.

Madame de Staël's salon at Coppet became a centre famous over all Europe. Her powers of intrigue supplemented her literary fame, and that was very great and well deserved. As an essayist she has a clear and warm style, and as a writer she could be betrayed into forgetting her personal rancours. There is, for example, no more true criticism of the literary style of Napoleon (who wrote newspaper "leaders" in his day) than that it was, as de Staël wrote, so vigorous that you could see that the writer "wished to put in blows instead of words."

An American traveller who paid a pilgrimage to the shrine of Madame de Staël at Coppet gives this picture of the lady:

Her features were good, but her complexion bad. She had a certain roundness and amplitude of form. She was never at a loss for the happiest expressions; but deviated into anecdotes that might be an offence to American ears!

Baron de Voght, who seemingly had not an American Puritanism of ear, wrote more warmly63 about the famous lady to a mutual friend, Madame Récamier:

It is to you that I owe my most amiable reception at Coppet. It is no doubt to the favourable expectations aroused by your friendship that I owe my intimate acquaintance with this remarkable woman. I might have met her without your assistance—some casual acquaintance would no doubt have introduced me—but I should never have penetrated to the intimacy of this sublime and beautiful soul, and should never have known how much better she is than her reputation. She is an angel sent from heaven to reveal the divine goodness upon earth. To make her irresistible, a pure ray of celestial light embellishes her spirit and makes her amiable from every point of view.

At once profound and light, whether she is discovering a mysterious secret of the soul or grasping the lightest shadow of a sentiment, her genius shines without dazzling, and when the orb of light has disappeared, it leaves a pleasant twilight to follow it.... No doubt a few faults, a few weaknesses, occasionally veil this celestial apparition; even the initiated must sometimes be troubled by these eclipses, which the Genevan astronomers in vain endeavour to predict.

Still another pen picture of the same lady, from Benjamin Constant, who was her lover for many years and found the burden of maintaining an affection to match hers too great:

Yes, certainly I am more anxious than ever to break it off. She is the most egoistical, the most excitable, the most ungrateful, the most vain, and the most64 vindictive of women. Why didn't I break it off long ago? She is odious and intolerable to me. I must have done with her or die. She is more volcanic than all the volcanoes in the world put together. She is like an old procureur, with serpents in her hair, demanding the fulfilment of a contract in Alexandrine verse.

Byron was one of the famous men who visited the salon of Madame de Staël. He was drawn to Switzerland in the course of his "parade of the pageant of his bleeding heart," and found much prompting in Swiss scenery to proclaim his sorrows:

Clear, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake,
With the wild world I dwelt in is a thing
Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake
Earth's troubled waters for a purer spring.

To Madame de Staël he presented a copy of Glenarvon, an English novel in which his "devilish" character had been exposed. It was an effective introduction; and was aided in its theatrical effect by the fact that an English lady fainted in Madame de Staël's drawing-room when Byron's name was announced as a visitor. But evidently Byron failed sadly to live up to his wicked reputation. Whether it was his famous hostess who was disappointed or some one else, he made no fame at Coppet. The de Staëls' son-in-law, 65Duke Victor de Broglie, writes with palpable sourness of the visit of this ineffectual Satan:


Lord Byron, an exile of his own free will, having succeeded, not without difficulty, in persuading the world of fashion in his own country that he was, if not the Devil in person, at least a living copy of Manfred or Lara, had settled for the summer in a charming house on the east bank of the Lake of Geneva. He was living with an Italian physician named Polidori, who imitated him to the best of his ability. It was there that he composed a good many of his little poems, and that he tried his hardest to inspire the good Genevans with the same horror and terror that his fellow-countrymen felt for him; but this was pure affectation on his part, and he only half succeeded with it. "My nephew," Louis XIV. used to say of the Duc d'Orleans, "is, in the matter of crime, only a boastful pretender"; Lord Byron was only a boastful pretender in the matter of vice.

As he flattered himself that he was a good swimmer and sailor, he was perpetually crossing the Lake in all directions, and used to come fairly often to Coppet. His appearance was agreeable, but not at all distinguished. His face was handsome, but without expression or originality; his figure was round and short; he did not manœuvre his lame legs with the same ease and nonchalance as M. de Talleyrand. His talk was heavy and tiresome, thanks to his paradoxes, seasoned with profane pleasantries out of date in the language of Voltaire, and the commonplaces of a vulgar Liberalism. Madame de Staël, who helped all her friends to make the best of themselves, did what she could to make him66 cut a dignified figure without success; and when the first movement of curiosity had passed, his society ceased to attract, and no one was glad to see him.

Omitting from this chapter Rousseau and Voltaire, as having closer kinship to political philosophy than to literature, a next famous name to be recalled of this epoch is the author of Obermann, Étienne Pivert de Senancour. Senancour was born in France in 1770. He was educated for the priesthood, and passed some time in the seminary of St. Sulpice; broke away from the Seminary and from France itself, and passed some years in Switzerland, where he married; returned to France in middle life, and followed thenceforward the career of a man of letters, but with hardly any fame or success. He died an old man in 1846, desiring that on his grave might be placed these words only: Éternité, deviens mon asile! The influence of Rousseau, Chateaubriand, and Madame de Staël shows in Senancour. Obermann is a collection of letters from Switzerland treating almost entirely of Nature and of the human soul. Senancour has been introduced to the English-speaking public by the lofty praise of Matthew Arnold, who apostrophises him in Obermann:


How often, where the slopes are green
On Jaman, hast thou sate
By some high chalet-door, and seen
The summer-day grow late;
And darkness steal o'er the wet grass
With the pale crocus starr'd,
And reach that shimmering sheet of glass
Beneath the piny sward,
Lake Leman's waters, far below!
And watch'd the rosy light
Fade from the distant peaks of snow;
And on the air of night
Heard accents of the eternal tongue
Through the pine branches play——

In a later time practically all the most famous writers of English had some relation to Switzerland. Trelawney (Shelley's friend) was led first to seek Shelley's acquaintance through his introduction to "Queen Mab" by a Lausanne bookseller. Before he retraced his way to Italy in the hope of meeting Shelley there, Trelawney records that he saw an Englishman breakfasting: "Evidently a denizen of the North, his accent harsh, his skin white, of an angular and bony build, and self-confident and dogmatic in his opinions. With him, two ladies, whom it would appear from the blisters and blotches on their cheeks, lips and noses, that they were pedestrian68 tourists, fresh from the snow-covered mountains. The party breakfasted well, while the man cursed the godless wretches who have removed Nature's landmarks by cutting roads through Alps and Apennines. 'They will be arraigned hereafter with the unjust,' he shouted." Trelawney asked Wordsworth (for it was he, with his wife and sister) what he thought of Shelley as a poet—to which he replied, "Nothing." A Scotch terrier followed the Wordsworths into their carriage; "This hairy fellow our flea-trap," the poet shouted out, as they went off.

Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Ruskin, Arnold—all had close associations with Switzerland, and there still continues to flow there a constant stream of the world's genius. It is everybody's playground, and seems to have the power to tempt the man of imagination to longer stay. One effect is to give to Swiss people of the better educated classes a curiously international knowledge. Many of them seem to know all languages and to study all contemporary literature.




The Swiss have had always a natural bent towards the heterodox. They have the spirit of that exile from Erin who, landing in New York and being asked as to the state of his political soul, demanded: "Is there a government here? If so I am agin it." Some of the minor Swiss heterodoxies have been of great value in urging the world to think. Was it not a Swiss doctor (Tronchin) who first preached the gospel of fresh air, preached it so successfully that he managed to open the windows of the Palace of Versailles itself? And another Swiss doctor (Tissot) who dared to tell well-to-do people that their chief cause of ill-health was overfeeding? The open window and the sparing platter are part of the commonplaces of hygiene to-day. When first suggested in Switzerland they had an almost impious novelty.


As far back as the fifteenth century the Council of Basel set up an opposition Pope, Duke Amadeus VIII. of Savoy (which cannot be separated in history from Switzerland in those days). He was crowned Pope at Basel in 1440. After nine years he gave up being an opposition Pope. His was a mild note of dissent to that which was to come later, when Switzerland provided the most startlingly new theological ideas of the Reformation and of the Revolution. Zwingli and Calvin: Rousseau and Voltaire—those are four names of men intimately associated with Switzerland who were destined to have a vast effect on the thought of the world, in regard both to moral and social ideas. Two of them were Swiss born, two Swiss by adoption.

Ulrich Zwingli was born at Wildhaus in the Canton St. Gall, which had before sheltered that stormy saint, Columban, and his disciple Gall. Zwingli was educated at Basel and Vienna, and was, while at Basel, a friend of Erasmus. In 1506, having taken holy orders, he became pastor of Glarus and at once began to show a reforming spirit. His indignation was aroused first at the mercenary wars in which Swiss soldiers engaged—he had accompanied Swiss71 forces into Italy as chaplain on two occasions—and so sternly did he inveigh against participation in such wars that he had to give up his pastorate at Glarus and take refuge at Einsiedeln Abbey. There he turned his attention to the abuses of the Church, and his reforming sermons soon attracted wide attention. Rome seems to have viewed his outbreaks against her discipline more with sorrow than with anger, and he was frequently tempted with offers to accept high office in the Church in Italy. He refused, and in 1518 became pastor of Zurich and began definitely his career as a Church reformer. He was not a follower of Luther. Still less was he a follower of Calvin, who settled in Geneva in 1538. Zwingli was a moral and social as well as a religious reformer, and his system of thought was at once more advanced in idea than that of Luther and less narrow in method than that of Calvin. At Zurich he set up a theocratic Republic of austere simplicity, but not of the savage gloom of the later Calvinist regime at Geneva.

Earnestness of religious opinion smothered national patriotism in the mind of Zwingli. He organised a "Christian League" of the Protestants72 of Switzerland and some of the German Protestant cities. The Roman Catholics then formed a defensive alliance with Ferdinand of Austria, an ally of the Vatican. Zurich declared war on the Catholic Forest Cantons. The Swiss were obviously reluctant, however, to engage in this fratricidal religious war. At Kappel, where the Roman Catholic and Protestant armies lay facing each other, a band of the Catholics got hold of a large bowl of milk, and, lacking bread, they placed it on the boundary line between Zug and Zurich. At once a group of Zurich Protestant men came up with some loaves, and both parties ate cheerily together the Milchsuppe, forgetting the duty to slaughter one another for the love of God urgently impressed upon them by their Christian pastors. At Solothurn, again, a religious war was breaking out, and indeed the first shot had actually been fired, when Schultheiss Nicolas von Wengi, a Roman Catholic, threw himself before the mouth of a cannon, and exclaimed, "If the blood of the burghers is to be spent, let mine be the first!" Wengi's party at once desisted, and matters were settled peacefully.

At a later period, alas, religious fervour 73waxed stronger, and Swiss Protestant and Swiss Catholic killed one another with almost as much savagery as modern Balkan Peninsula Christians, wrangling as to whether the path to Heaven runs through an Exarchate or a Patriarchate Church.


Zwingli attempted to reconcile the differences between the Lutheran Protestants and his own followers; and there was a famous Conference between the two reformers at Marburg at the invitation of the Landgrave Phillip of Hesse. The attempt was a vain one. But Zwingli went on with a plan he had formed to unite in diplomacy, if not in the exactness of religious belief, all the Protestant States of Europe. In the development of this plan civil war within Switzerland was fomented, and Zwingli was killed in 1531 fighting with the Protestant forces of Zurich against the Roman Catholics of the Forest Cantons. Zurich was badly defeated in the battle, and militant Protestantism received for a while a check. Bullinger, who succeeded Zwingli, did not concern himself with politics to any great extent, but perfected the Zwinglian system of religious thought. Bullinger will be best remembered to English-speaking people as the friend and correspondent of that Lady Jane74 Grey who was sacrificed on the scaffold by Queen Mary of England. Three letters from Lady Jane Grey to him are still treasured at Zurich. Of Bullinger's treatise on "Christian Marriage" dedicated to her, she translated a portion into Greek, and presented it as a Christmas present to her father. Bullinger's sermons and letters were to her, she wrote once, "as most precious flowers from a garden." She asked his advice as to the best method of learning Hebrew, and regarded him as "particularly favoured by the grace of God." At the block she took off her gloves and desired that they should be sent on to her Swiss friends.

Calvin was not Swiss-born, but reached Basel in 1535 as an exile from France. He had been destined for the Roman Catholic priesthood, changed his plans and became a lawyer, and at Paris was drawn into the orbit of the French Reformation. Persecuted in France, he retired to Switzerland, and in 1535 published his Christianae Religionis Institutio, which set forth his gloomy system of religious faith with, as its most startling belief, the idea that God predestined certain people for eternal salvation and certain others for eternal damnation. In 1536,75 at the invitation of a local Reformer named Farel, Calvin settled in Geneva. It was at the time the head of "French" Switzerland, as Zurich was the head of "German" Switzerland, and was a gay pleasure-loving city. The attempt to impose upon the Genevan citizens the gloomy austerities of Calvinism led to frequent riots, and at last the civil government banished both the apostles of sadness, Calvin going to Strasburg. In 1541 he was back at Geneva with an understood commission to reframe the religious and social life of the city. He set to work with grim fanaticism, aiming at a "Kingdom of God on Earth" framed on the lines of the old Judaic theocracies, with himself as the prophet and autocrat.

Very terrible was the tyranny of this gloomy presbyter, though the state he set up won the unqualified admiration of John Knox, that kindred soul who carried to Scotland the tenets of Calvinism and set up there a similar theocracy. "They liked a preacher who could weep and howl well in the pulpit," records Buckle, describing the reign of Calvinism in Scotland. In Geneva there was, according to John Knox, "the most perfect School of Christ that was ever in the76 earth since the days of the Apostles." The whole populace was expected to weep and howl in abasement before a terrible God. No human pleasure was too paltry to escape the ban of these ministers of gloom. Some of the statutes of Geneva at the time are humorous to read nowadays, mournful as was the spirit they showed at the time. A few examples of the prohibitions current in Calvin's time:

That no Citizen, Burger, or Inhabitant of this City dareth be so hardy to go from henceforth to eat or drink in any Tavern.

That none be so hardy to walk by night in the Town after nine of the clock, without candlelight and also a lawful cause.

That no manner of person, of what estate, quality or condition soever they be, shall wear any chains of gold or silver, but those which have been accustomed to wear them shall put them off, and wear them no more upon pain of three score shillings for every time.

That no women, of what quality or condition soever they be, shall wear any verdingales, gold upon her head, quoises of gold, billiments or such like, neither any manner of embroidery upon her sleeves.

That no manner of person, whatsoever they be, making bride-ales, banquets, or feasts shall have above three courses or services to the said feasts, and to every course or service not above four dishes, and yet not excessive, upon pain of three score shillings for every time, fruit excepted.


Theatres, the dressing of the hair, music, games, skating, dancing, were all forbidden; so were pictures and statues. A governing body called the Consistoire, with Calvin at its head, had the right to send its spies into every home to detect ungodliness. When the plague came to the city to match with a physical ill this moral blight, Geneva became a very hell upon earth. Torture was used to extort confessions from the accused. Whilst the plague was at its worst the sword, the gallows, the stake were always busy. The jailor asserted that his prisons were filled to excess, and the executioner complained that his arms were wearied. Within a period of three years there were passed fifty-eight sentences of death, seventy-six of banishment, and eight to nine thousand of imprisonment, on those whose crime was infringement of the Church statutes. Offences against himself personally Calvin treated as blasphemy, and blasphemy was punishable with death.

Upon the death of Calvin the government of Geneva fell into the hands of Beza, a man of more human feeling, and Calvinism modified a little of its savage gloom. Later the influence of the Zwinglians exercised a further moderating78 influence, and the Swiss Reformed Church began to get a little of the spirit of the New Testament.

After the fame of the Reformers had waned Switzerland drew the attention of all Europe to her cities again by the writings of Rousseau and Voltaire, the chief makers, I should say, of the French Revolution. Rousseau was the son of a watchmaker of Geneva and was born in 1712. He was a turbulent child and ran away from home to France at the age of sixteen. He returned to his native city a quarter of a century later. Rousseau was a revolutionary critic of society, and his Origin of Inequality, Émile, and The Social Contract attacked all the foundations of the then existing society. The last named formed the basis of the Constitution of 1793. In La Nouvelle Héloïse, a romance the scenery of which is laid at Vevey and Montreux, Rousseau argued for a return to more natural methods of living. That romance gave the stimulus to the romantic works of Goethe and Schiller.

Voltaire was a Swiss by adoption and not by birth. He did not settle down at Ferney near Geneva until he was sixty years of age (1751): but that left him twenty-four years of life to spend there. Fear of the French Court sent him79 out of France. He seemed to have carried no fear with him. He braved the Consistory of Geneva—then still upholding much of the Calvinist tradition—and actually established a theatre in the gloomy city. Apart from the crowds of distinguished visitors whom Voltaire's reputation brought to Geneva, he was a useful citizen. He was the sponsor of two important local industries. On his estate at Ferney he bred silkworms, and presently he had weavers from Geneva to weave stockings of silk. The first pair was sent to the Duchesse de Choiseul. His correspondence with the Duchesse would turn a modern advertiser green with envy. Voltaire also started a watch manufactory, and again he advertised his watches in cunning letters and circulars to such people as Catherine the Great. In a short time the Ferney watchmaker's export trade spread everywhere, even to China and to North Africa.

Voltaire, Rousseau—these two names kept all eyes on Switzerland for a generation, and brought to Switzerland practically all the serious thinkers of the day. There was one notable exception. Boswell records a vain pilgrimage that he made to Ferney. His mission was to reconcile Voltaire and Johnson. Voltaire80 described Johnson as a "superstitious dog." Johnson, asked by Boswell if he thought Rousseau as bad a man as Voltaire, said, "Sir, it is difficult to settle the proportion of iniquity between them." Dr. Johnson never went to Geneva. He would have paid as little homage to Calvinism as to Voltairism.





The Swiss people to-day preserve that element of the paradoxical which in the Middle Ages produced an Arnold Winkelried, courageous to gather the spears of a foe into his bosom for the sake of his country, and thousands of other heroes willing to give almost as great service to any cause for the sake of steady pay. The Switzer of the twentieth century is intensely patriotic, and to keep his country secure makes cheerful joys of the tasks of universal training for military service. But he is a willing exile wherever there is money to be made. He cherishes a deep national pride: but he has no objection to servile occupation in a foreign land if it is profitable. Often he shows himself greedy and rapacious. Yet he is markedly hospitable and charitable. He is eager for82 liberty, but surrounds his life with a host of petty tyrannies of regulation, being more under the shadow of the official verboten than even the German. He loves the wild natural beauty of his mountains, but will spoil any Alp with a staring hotel and a funicular railway for the sake of tourist gold.

A nation of heroes and hotel-keepers, of patriots and mercenaries, a nation that produced the Swiss Guard which defended the Tuileries, and the suisse who will carry anybody's bag anywhere in Europe for a tip—the Swiss mingle in a curious way the sublime and the paltry.

Two characteristics the Swiss has clear-cut—thrift and industry. I have never heard of a prodigal Swiss. Their industry is almost as invariable. Very noticeable is it in the Swiss abroad. I can recall two typical Swiss colonists in Australia. The one arrived without other resources than a willing back for a burden and took a porter's post in a hotel. He soon had something better than that in view, and went hawking ingenious coat and trouser hangers which he twisted from fencing wire. Next I encountered him selling eggs and fruit: he had bought up a little farm out of the profits of83 his coat-hangers. His next step was a hotel of his own, and thenceforward he became steadily rich. The other Swiss was not of so much resource. He was a printer by trade and earned from £4:10s. to £5 a week by that calling. He had saved and saved and had bought three acres of land some five miles out of the city. This farm he and his wife cultivated, providing for themselves (and for sale to neighbours) fruit, milk, wine, butter, cheese, vegetables, poultry. He never spent a penny on a railway or tramway fare, walking always to and from his work. Nor did he ever enter a restaurant or a hotel. When he had paid for his land and his house out of his earnings, the weekly budget of the household never called for more than ten shillings for food, clothing, taxes, etc.

In the Appenzeller district, true, one may encounter apparently lazy men. But in most cases it will be found that these men have put in a very hard-working youth abroad to save money for the little household; that they spend the summer laboriously as guides, and only idle around the porcelain stoves of their cottages in the winter (whilst their wives work at lace-making and the household tasks) because there84 is nothing in particular they can do with any direct profit. Certainly, they could help the women. But what the use, or the justice of it? That would only leave idle time on the women's hands, and if any one deserves a rest, they would argue, it is the man who has perhaps spent years of his early life in absolute slavery to save up enough for a home.

Mr. John Addington Symonds in his Life in the Swiss Highlands (A. & C. Black) has given a detailed and a very sympathetic picture of the life of the Swiss peasantry, the class from which stream out all over Europe big, hungry, slowwitted, sturdy hotel porters and waiters. In some cases it is a very harsh life these peasants have. He tells:

Some families subsisted on almost nothing but potatoes and weak coffee. One poor fellow, who has now developed into a hearty man, told me that before he left home he hardly ever tasted bread or cheese or meat, and that he was a mere hungry skeleton with skin upon it. At school he had so little flesh and blood that when he cut his finger to the bone it did not bleed. This man also told me a strange tale, which I will relate. There was a family in the same village, as indigent as his own, but reckless and wild. The long, gaunt, lanky sons grew up like beasts of prey, stealing eggs, climbing into stables and sucking the cows' udders.85 One of them, more frantically famished than his brethren, confessed to having hacked with his knife a large slice out of the quarters of a richer neighbour's live pig. Whether the young brigand cooked this Abyssinian beefsteak or ate the delicious morsel raw, I forgot to ask. Another of the same brood used to supply himself with animal food by drinking the blood from slaughtered beasts, whenever he got permission to indulge his appetite that way. I was informed that this comparative vampire developed into the stoutest and comeliest fellow of the set; and indeed blood, drunk warm from the veins of a sheep or bullock, ought to be highly nutritious.

That is, I suppose, the harshest side of a Swiss peasant's life—an example of the very poor folk. But in no case is it luxurious. From that sort of life the young Swiss, going to carry burdens in a French hotel of the lower class, or act as waiter and factotum at a Bloomsbury boarding-house, finds hardly any degree of hardship unendurable. It is astonishing to note on how little food, how little sleep, how little human comfort the poor Swiss on the bottom rung of the ladder can keep soul and body together. Afterwards, when he gets on in the world, the Swiss sometimes takes his revenge. The rapacious Swiss hotel-keeper of a tourist resort whose exactions infuriate the traveller, is perhaps only paying back to the world the bitter lessons he86 was taught as the slave of some poor house of accommodation. Not, of course, that the Swiss hotel-keeper is always, or even generally a brigand. Indeed he is very rarely so in Switzerland. It is verboten. But they are always keen, and if dishonest are more keenly dishonest than any others. In their own country regulations safeguard the tourist fairly effectively.

Hotel-keeping is the chief apparent occupation of the Switzerland known to the tourist. But there is apart from that in the towns a busy industrial life. Since the use of water-power for generating electricity has come to be understood Switzerland has progressed more and more as a manufacturing country. So great are the demands of the new factories that the emigration of the Swiss begins to dwindle and there is an immigration of artisans from abroad into the country. In the rural districts, away from the towns, among the Alpine villages, the chief industry is the rearing of sheep, goats, and cows. Swiss milk, in a preserved form, and Swiss cheese go all over the world.

The life of the Alpine villages rarely comes under the notice of the tourist unless he is a pedestrian without the craze for rock or glacier87 climbing, and willing to use his legs for the exploring of rough hill paths. In these villages life is very quiet and peaceful. It is not uncommon to find in them very old men living in the houses in which their great-grandfathers had been born and died. They do not know who built these snuff-coloured huts, but only that their ancestors dwelt in them.

In an Alpine village the two principal buildings are the inn and the white stone church. There is no street. A rough track leads past the dozen or so brown houses. They are two or three stories in height, low ceilinged, lined with pine and built of small pine or hemlock logs dressed smooth and square, laid close and dovetailed at the corners. Often the exteriors are carved. The shingle roof is kept in place with heavy stones, and projects 4 to 8 feet beyond the walls. Some houses have shingled roofs a dozen layers thick. The windows are many and very small. Around the village are sloping meadows, high mountains, steep waterfalls, perhaps a fair blue lake. The short summer is spent in growing a few potatoes, herding the goats, cows, or sheep, pressing the cheese, and cutting and carrying in the grass. Winter is spent in eating up the88 little that summer gave, and in a struggle to keep from freezing.

In the high villages the flocks are usually of goats. To save the trouble of each villager herding his own goats, a single shepherd is employed who leads the village drove into the higher Alps each day. When the flock return at eve, each goat seeks its familiar home, enters, and bleats to be milked and stalled.

In the better country of the valleys the herds are of cows, and it is the custom each summer to drive them to the higher Alps to follow the lush grasses of the spring as it climbs up the mountains with the waxing of the sun's power. This general and gradual movement of the cattle from the valleys to the Alp pastures is a picturesque business. The herds are assembled in procession, each preceded by its herdsman, and a flock of goats. The herdsmen wear white shirts, broad leather suspenders adorned with images of cows and goats in bright metal, scarlet waistcoats, knee breeches of bright yellow, white stockings, and low shoes. A round black hat bound with flowers, and one long brass ear-ring consisting of a chain carrying a tiny milk-pail, 89 usually complete the costume. After the herdsman come three or more heifers, each wearing a huge bell from a brightly garlanded collar. Then come the cattle, with herd-boys to keep them in line. Each herd-file is closed by a waggon containing a great copper cheese-kettle and wooden utensils for milk and butter.


Mr. Symonds pictures the joy of man and beast at these annual pilgrimages in the footsteps of the spring:

The whole village is astir long before daybreak; and the animals, who know well what a good time is in store for them, are as impatient as their masters. The procession sets forth in a long train, cows lowing, bells tinkling, herdsmen shouting, old men and women giving the last directions about their favourite beasts to the herdsmen. Rude pictures of the Zug auf die Alpen, as it is called, may sometimes be seen pasted, like a frieze or bas-relief, along the low panelled walls of mountain cottages. These are the work, in many cases, of the peasants themselves, who write the names of the cattle over the head of each, attach preposterously huge bells to the proud leaders of the herd, and burden the hinds with vast loads of bread and household gear, and implements for making cheese. How many happy memories of summer holidays have been worked into those clumsy but symbolic forms by uncouth fingers in the silence of winter evenings, when possibly Phyllis sat by and wondered at her Damon's draughtsmanship! It takes two whole days and nights at least to get from Emsenau to the Panixer Alp. But when this journey90 is accomplished, the human part of the procession installs itself delightfully in little wooden huts, which allow the pure air from the glaciers to whistle through every cranny. The tired cows spread themselves over pastures which the snows have lately left, feeding ravenously on the delicious young grass, starred with gentians and primulas, and hosts of bright-eyed tiny flowers. And then begins a rare time for men and cattle.

It is a pity that our British race has lost the habit of making festivals of the great events of the pastoral and agricultural year. I have seen in Australia the annual moving of the sheep from the Monaro tableland to the "snow leases" of the Australian Alps, when the hot sun had scorched away all the herbage of the plains. It gives just as much inspiration for joy and thankfulness. But there is no festival. The sheep huddle along, the dogs at their heels. Brown-tanned, eager-eyed men ride beside, with the gladness of the expectation of the mountain fastnesses in their hearts but hardly a word of it on their lips. In England—which was once "Merrie Englande" because of its cheery rustic life—harvest festivals and rural feasts have almost vanished.

In many places the Alp-horn is still used to call the cows home at milking-time. It is a huge 91wooden trumpet, often six feet in length, and a Swiss can draw deep and powerful notes from its wide throat. Its compass consists of only a few notes, but when these ring and echo from height to height the effect is very striking and beautiful.

ALPINE HERDSMAN. The Piz Kesch in the distance.

Most striking is it at the hour of sunset. On the loftier Alps, to which no sounds of evening bell can climb, the Alp-horn proclaims the vesper hour. As the sun drops behind the distant snowy summits, the herdsman takes his huge horn and sends pealing along the mountain-side the first few notes of the Psalm "Praise ye the Lord." From Alp to Alp he is answered by his brother herdsmen, and the deep, strong notes echo from crag to crag in solemn melody. It is the signal for the evening prayer and for repose.

Around their dairying industry centres the best of the Swiss nation, and it is fitting that the "Ranz des Vaches" which calls the cattle home should be the national song of the Swiss. It is no single air, it is the "cow-call" developed by herdsmen through generations, and it varies in nearly every valley. Its common property is the shrill falsetto intonation of the chorus—the curious twist of the throat that results in the92 yodel. It is singularly sweet heard in Alpine air. There is a story that once a regiment of Swiss soldiers hired by France deserted, and made for their homes, when the band played the "Ranz des Vaches." The desertion was not a shameful one. The same men could have been driven away from their mercenary standards by no threat of death.

The rural industries of Switzerland are fostered with great care. In particular the forests, which protect the soil from being swept away and are ramparts to the villages against avalanches, are jealously preserved. No one may cut down a tree, even his own tree, in Switzerland without the authority of a forestry official. The Department of Forestry supervises carefully the wooded lands and marks those trees which can be felled without harm to the wood.

The organisation of the national services, posts, roads, railways, etc., is also shaped to secure the greatest degree of comfort possible for the small land-holders. It is a wise policy. These rustic people, living almost exclusively on their own resources, eating food which they have produced, wearing clothes which they have spun, demanding so little from the outside world, are93 the very backbone of the Swiss nation, and they are the rock-foundations of the national patriotism. The Swiss are not bound together by the ties of a common race, a common language, a common religion. Their nation is in a sense an artificial one. Its cementing bond is an hereditary instinct, nourished among the peasants of these mountain pastures, to keep the mountain slopes free.

The town life of the Swiss, affected a good deal as it must be by the hotel life of the tourists, is not so admirable as the village life. It is in some aspects irritatingly petty-minded; in others invitingly well-educated. The Swiss are interested only in the Swiss, and (in a strictly commercial way) the strangers who come to visit and enrich Switzerland. A Swiss newspaper tells little or nothing of the doings of the outside world. Its columns are filled with long accounts of the doings of Swiss shooting clubs and gymnastic societies. Yet Swiss trading and professional people are, in the general rule, astonishingly well versed in foreign languages and foreign literature. Offering asylum as it does to political and social rebels of all countries, Switzerland is a kind of international clearing-house94 for thought. The Gallic, the Teutonic, the Slavonic new thought of the day—all are understood and discussed in Switzerland, and the Swiss book-shops are the most cosmopolitan and representative in the world.

The use of national costume dwindles in Switzerland as it does in every other part of the world. The peasant women have, however, still a characteristic head-dress, the maidens wearing black caps, the matrons white ones. The caps are two slips of upright lace, which, coming from behind over the head, meet on the forehead, the whole having the air of a butterfly with wings half outspread. Between these, the girls' tresses are puffed and held back by a silver pin—called a Rosenadel, from its head resembling a rosebud. The matrons only vary this mode in covering their hair with an embroidered piece of silk. For the festivals attending the movement of the cattle to the hills, the hay-cutting, and the vintage, the peasants also don gay national costume.

Traces of the old sumptuary laws of the Calvinist communities still linger in the habits of the people, and show, too, in the absence of pomp at public ceremonies or representative meetings. 95A Communal Assembly looks like a class-room. The universities carry on their work with a sober absence of pomp, and uniforms are rare. The great amusement of the people in many quarters is still religious disputation and invective. The most popular place in all Geneva for the Swiss inhabitants is the Victoria Hall, where "revivalist" preachers of the most damnatory forms of religion hold forth.





Though Switzerland does not contain within its borders more than one-third of the Alps, and the greatest height of the Alpine range (Mount Blanc) is wholly within France, the Alps are always associated with Switzerland in the popular mind; and with good reason, for the country is particularly and almost wholly Alpine in its character, and its national existence has been largely shaped by the mountain ranges which have given people differing from one another in racial origin, in language, and in religion a bond of unity.

The most famous mountain range of the world historically, the Alps are far from being the greatest in height, and they are by no means the oldest of the world's mountains, though they are older probably than the Himalayas, older certainly than the parvenu peaks of the South 97 Seas, some of which were born amid thunders and lightnings only yesterday, considering Time in geological periods. The form of a mountain range and its height give usually some surface indications of its age. New mountains, like those of the South Seas, are very sharp and jagged in their outlines. Old mountains have been usually smoothed down by erosion. The oldest mountains probably of the world, the Australian Alps, are near neighbours of the youngest, the fiery volcanoes of the Straits of Sunda.


A mountain's first birthday is marked by a movement towards old age. As soon as it begins to live it begins to die. If it is of volcanic origin its term of life is usually short; it comes to being suddenly with a wild upheaval of the Earth, and at once the eating rain, and the splitting frost, and the destroying wind set to work to cut away its peak and pull it down to the level of the plain again. If the mountain is of more slow creation, the result of a gradual up-wrinkling of a crease of the Earth as she readjusts her surface to the cooling of her bulk, the mountain may go on growing whilst also it goes on dying. From below inward forces are pushing it higher98 towards the sky. From above the rains and snows and winds are chiselling away its rocks and bearing them to the plains. In time the process of pushing up ceases; the process of grinding down goes on remorselessly, never pausing for a moment.

So the mountains are eternal only in the figurative sense. Actually their term of existence is strictly finite. Once the Australian Alps had their tremendous peaks, and hills of unmelting ice. To-day they have been ground down to below the line of perpetual snow, and along the gentle grades of the chief peak it is possible to drive a carriage to the very summit. The European Alps are being subjected to-day to the same process of softening of outline and lowering of height.

But for many generations yet they will lift white peaks to the skies. This though it is clear that the ice area upon them is steadily dwindling. This is a result, however, not of erosion, but of a warming of the climate of Europe, indeed of the whole northern hemisphere. Some measurements in 1912 by the Swiss Alpine Club confirm the recession of the Swiss glaciers. The largest of the glaciers, "L'Aletsch," had99 retreated 10 feet, following on nearly 60 feet in 1911, and rather more than that in 1910. The Rhine Glacier had gone back 34 feet, in addition to the 70 feet lost in the previous two years. An exception to the general rule appeared at first to be furnished by the two glaciers of Grindelwald, which had increased since last year; but the advance did not compensate for the loss of the previous year, and since 1893 the two glaciers have lost nearly a quarter of a mile. Their temporary advance is attributable solely to the inclement weather during 1912. Nearly all the smaller glaciers, out of the fifty-two surveyed by the Alpine Club, show some retreat, and the largest loss appears to be that of the Palu Glacier, near Bernina, which is losing regularly 70 feet a year.

This dwindling is not confined to Swiss glaciers. A survey of Canadian glaciers which was made five years ago shows that other glaciers in the northern hemisphere are retreating. The Victoria Glacier is doing so; and the only slight exception appeared at that time to be the Yoho Glacier, which was retreating, but not nearly so fast as it had been in previous years. M. Charles Rabot asserts that the glaciers in Argentina are100 also retreating, and surmises, from data perhaps not so well established, that there has been a general retreat of glaciers during the last half of the nineteenth century throughout Spitzbergen, Iceland, Central Asia, and Alaska. He suggests that the cause is a present tendency towards equalisation of the earth's temperature. Others more boldly affirm that the Swiss glaciers, as well as other great ice masses existing on the globe, are remnants of the last Ice Age, and are all doomed to disappear as the cycle works round for the full heat of the next Warm Age. But the disappearance, if it is to come, will not come quickly, and the doom of ice-climbing in Switzerland is too remote a threat to disturb the Alpinist.

To the inexpert a glacier is a glacier all the world over, but the expert knows that the glaciers of different mountains have the same variations of character as the streams of different countries. Sir Martin Conway describes Swiss Alpine glaciers as

of the medium type, lying as they do half-way between the Arctic and tropical extremes. They have not the rapid flow of the Arctic nor the dry rigidity of the tropical sort. Their walls are not silent101 as in the Central Andes, nor thundered over by continual avalanches like those of the upper Baltoro. They are of medium size also. In a single day almost any of them may be ascended from snout to snow-field, and descended again. To explore their remotest recesses no elaborately equipped expedition is required. Yet they are large enough to be imposing, and penetrate deep enough into the heart of the hills to isolate their votaries completely from the world of human habitation. It is to this medium quality that the Alps owe much of their charm. This, too, it is that makes them an almost perfect mountain playground. Were they but a little smaller, how much they would lose that is most precious! Were they larger, how many persons that now can afford the cost and the strength to explore them would have to linger at their gates wistfully looking in. In area, too, they are large enough for grandeur and yet small enough for easy access. No part of them is beyond the range of a summer holiday, yet a commanding view of them is as apparently limitless as is the view from the greatest Asiatic peaks which, thus far, have been climbed. They are the only range of snow-mountains in the world thus blessed with moderation.

The Alps to-day attract geologists and meteorologists from all parts of the world, but their first earnest student was a Genevan, Horace de Saussure, whose writings about his native mountains have a charm from their style as well as from their record of exact observations. Born in 1740, he was appointed at the age of twenty-one102 Professor of Philosophy at Geneva University. He ascended Mount Blanc in 1760 at the age of forty-seven, and spent all his leisure before and after that date in geological exploration of the various peaks.

"The one aim," he writes in his journals, "of most of the travellers who call themselves naturalists is the collection of curiosities. They walk, or rather they creep about, with their eyes fixed upon the earth, picking up a specimen here and a specimen there, without any eye to a generalization. They remind me of an antiquary scratching the ground at Rome, in the midst of the Pantheon or the Coliseum, looking for fragments of coloured glass, without ever turning to look at the architecture of these magnificent edifices."

This pioneer of geology died in 1799. There had been before him some few Alpine climbers, and there were after him some few more; but the twentieth-century tourist to Switzerland—who is chiefly interested in the Alps as difficult mountains to climb, presenting great problems of ice and cliff traverses, seasoning the joy of difficult achievement with a pronounced spice of danger—follows a sport so modern that there are men now living who were born before the passion for Alpine climbing came to birth. Certainly the Alps were traversed of old. But103 strictly not for pleasure. The most accessible passes, not the most difficult peaks, were sought out; and the burdens and terrors of the passage, not the joys of it, were uppermost in the minds of travellers. There is not extant any expression of pleasure from Hannibal, Cæsar, Napoleon, Suwarow, or any other of those famous conquerors of this mountain barrier. If any references at all to the crossing of the Alps come down from past times they are of complaint. An English monk of the Middle Ages, for example, writes to his brethren of Canterbury:

Pardon me for not writing. I have been on the Mount of Jove—on the one hand looking up at the heaven of the mountains, on the other shuddering at the hell of the valleys, feeling myself so much nearer heaven that I was more sure my prayer would be heard. Lord, I said, restore me to my brethren, that I may tell them, that they come not into this place of torment. Place of torment indeed, where the marble pavement of the stony ground is ice, and you cannot set your foot safely; where, strange to say, although it is so slippery that you cannot stand, the death (into which there is every facility to fall) is certain death. I put my hand in my scrip that I might scratch out a syllable or two to your sincerity—lo! I found my ink-bottle filled with a dry mass of ice; my fingers too refused to write, my beard was stiff with frost, and my breath congealed into a long icicle. I could not write the news I wished!


In the days, nearer to our own time, of the salons of Coppet and Ferney, no one of the distinguished writers and thinkers who visited Switzerland gave a thought to mountain-climbing as a pleasure. Indeed all seemed insensible that there was any particular charm in the mountains' grandeur. The first of the great company of hill-climbers for pleasure, so far as I can discover, was that very typical Englishman, Mr. Albert Smith, who in 1851 climbed Mount Blanc, and devoted six years of profitable life afterwards to describing how he did it, to audiences at the Egyptian Hall, London. A nation which had already invented Arctic exploration was quick to seize upon Alpine climbing as an outlet for superfluous energy and love of danger. Mr. Albert Smith was the forerunner of a great herd of climbers from this country and—the fashion spreading, as all English fashions do, to Europe—from many other countries: though truly I suspect that the Continental mind approves at heart more thoroughly the spirit of that amusing satire, Tartarin de Tarascon sur les Alpes, than the solemn records of the Alpine Club.

Switzerland has not so far raised a national memorial to Mr. Albert Smith, nor do Swiss 105hotel-keepers make pilgrimages to his grave in Brompton Cemetery. But he has his monument surely in Mount Blanc, the mountain which he "invented," according to the sober pages of the Dictionary of National Biography. Sir Leslie Stephen, of whom it was said "He walked from Alp to Alp like a pair of one-inch compasses over a large map," systematised, though he had not invented, Alpine climbing. He was one of the leading spirits of the Alpine Club, which encourages, records, and organises the climbing of Alps.


So firm a hold on the British imagination has this sport of creeping over slippery ice-masses and fly-crawling along the face of precipices in pursuit of peaks, that the Swiss Alps do not give sufficient scope for their energies. Ascents of the Andes and the Himalayas are attempted. Every year quite a number of travellers cross to Canada to encounter the dangers of the Rockies and the Selkirks there. To far-off New Zealand the Alpinists go; and I have encountered in Sydney an enthusiastic English lady who had climbed peaks in all corners of the earth and had come to Australia for the conquest of the Australian Alps. On learning of their contemptible106 height, and that it was possible to drive up to their very summit in a carriage, she took the first boat away, convinced that a country without dangerous mountain-climbing was utterly unworthy of any attention.

What is the chief charm of this mountain-climbing? The joy of the scenery? The exaltation of the keen high air? These are factors no doubt, but not essential nor even the chief factors. The chief appeal it makes is to the joy of combat and the pride of achievement. Some of the peaks which once were difficult have now been made easy: funicular railways run to spots which were once inaccessible except to keen mountaineers. These spots the mountain-climber shuns. It is not the wish to see the dawn from this peak or the sunset from that point which spurs him on, but the sense of danger and difficulty to be overcome, the urging of his human pride to show that he can conquer the obstacles which Nature has put in his path.

The motive of the mountain-climber is one that lends itself easily to ridicule. But au fond it is the motive of human progress, the spirit which spurs man on to explore the sea, and the depths beneath the sea; the land, and the air 107above the land. And perhaps there comes to the climber a keener, finer sense of the beauties of the scenery which he has come to see with so much effort and danger. So Sir Martin Conway (The Alps, A. & C. Black) insists, describing dawn on the Alps as it comes to the "active mountaineer, keenly awake, with the blood alive within him and a day of hopes ahead." He writes:


The night is dying. Her rich darks and whites grow pallid. Each moment a layer of darkness peels off. The sky turns blue before one knows it: the rocks grow brown: there is blue in the crevasses, and green upon the swards—all low-toned yet distinct. Faint puffs of warm air come, we know not whence, touch our faces, and are gone. The lantern has been extinguished; we stride out more freely; the day awakens within us also.

Now is displayed in all its magnificence the daily drama of the dawn. While the mists yet lie cold and grey in the deep valleys, they glow against the eastern horizon, where all the spectrum is slowly uprolled, more and more fiery beneath, as it tends to red, and cut off below by the jagged outline of countless peaks, looking tiny, away off there on the margin of the world. Low floating cloudlets turn to molten gold. The horizon flames along all its fretted eastern edge, a narrow band of lambent light, a smokeless crimson fire. The belt of colour grows broader; it swamps and dyes the cloudlets crimson. Long pink streamers of soft light strike up from where the sun is presently to appear.108 The great moment is at hand. All eyes rove around the view. At last some near high peak salutes the day; its summit glowing like a live coal drawn from a furnace. Another catches the light and yet another. The glory spreads downwards, turning from pink to gold, and from gold to pure daylight, and then—lo! the sun himself upon the horizon! a point of blinding light, soon changing to the full round orb. The day has come, and the long shadows gather in their skirts and prepare to flee away.

Before such enthusiasm who dares to urge that the Alpine dawn may be as well seen from a point to which the railway will take you? Or that the climber's penalty before the dawn is night in a hut which has but elementary ventilation to counteract the fumes of lamps, stoves, and steaming clothes? Going to the Alps, climb most certainly if you can climb. But supposing want of ability or inclination to climb, it is yet possible to enjoy most of their beauties.




Yes, it is not necessary to join a climbing party to enjoy the scenery of Switzerland. No place in the world offers greater facilities to the sedentary tourist. There are railways and diligence routes almost everywhere; and in places, too, there are still retreats for the quiet pedestrian who wishes neither to undertake sensational climbs nor to be carried by railway, but loves quiet paths by hill and lake and forest, taking Longfellow's advice:

I heard the distant waters dash,
I saw the current whirl and flash,
And richly, by the blue lake's silver beach,
The woods were bending with a silent reach.
Then o'er the vale, with gentle swell,
The music of the village bell
Came sweetly to the echo-giving hills....
If thou wouldst read a lesson, that will keep
110 Thy heart from fainting and thy soul from sleep,
Go to the woods and hills! No tears
Dim the sweet look that Nature wears.

It has to be admitted sadly that these opportunities for quiet rambles become rarer with each year as mountain railways are multiplied, and roads supplant the old shepherd paths. But still they exist in some districts of Switzerland, and the conveniences offered to the walker by the public services of the country prove that the Swiss wisely appreciate the value of the patronage of this class of tourist. The roads and paths are wonderfully well sign-posted, and in places where there is a great tangle of paths the device has been adopted of putting vari-coloured marks to indicate different routes. Thus going out from a centre, one walk will be marked by black marks on trees, rocks, and fences, another by yellow, another by red, and so on. But best of all are the few districts still left where there are mountain paths with no trace at all of tourist traffic, along which you must find your way by diligent inquiry, by frequent reference to the map, and always with caution against being tangled up hopelessly in some wild valley.

The Federal post office offers useful service to the walker. You may send on your personal 111 luggage by parcel post very cheaply, and thus walk with very little impedimenta. The happy experience of one tourist was that he walked right across Switzerland, never carried more than seven pounds of luggage on his back, and never wanted a change of clothes in the evening, so reliable was the parcel post system.

THE SCHIAHORN. "The chalets are like fairy houses or toys."

Mendelssohn has sung the beauty of Swiss paths:

How beautiful are these paths! This Canton de Vaud is the most beautiful of the countries that I know. If God should grant me a long old age, this is where I should wish to spend it. What excellent people! What bright expressions on their faces! What charming views! When one returns from Italy one almost melts into tears at the sight of this corner of the world, in which so many good and honest people are still to be met. There are no beggars here, no surly functionaries—nothing but smiling countenances! I thank God for having let me see so many beautiful sights.

He wrote of a time preceding the modern tourist rush to Switzerland. But such delights can still be had, away from the more popular resorts. In the Zermatt district the walking is particularly good, for it has not yet been "developed" at the call of the crowding hordes of tourists. The paths have not been broadened into roads and spoilt in the process, and old-fashioned112 inns have not been replaced by palace hotels. Summer, of course, is the chief walking season, but there are many paths in some of the lower districts possible in the winter. Certainly those who go to the winter resorts for the sports should make a point of breaking away now and again from skating rink and toboggan run for a quiet prowl along some solitary path, to enjoy in solitude, or in the company of a dear friend, the calm joy of an Alpine sunset such as Mr. Symonds describes:

While the west grows momentarily more pale the eastern heavens flush with afterglow, suffuse their spaces with pink and violet. Daffodil and tenderest emerald intermingle: and these colours spread until the West again has rose and primrose and sapphire wonderfully blent, and from the burning skies a light is cast upon the valley—a phantom light, less real, more like the hues of molten gems that were the stationary flames of sunset. Venus and the moon, meanwhile, are silvery clear. Then the whole illumination fades like magic.... There is hardly any colour except the blue of sky and shadow. Everything is traced in vanishing tints, passing from the almost amber of the distant sunlight through glittering white into pale grey and brighter blues and deep ethereal azure. The pines stand in black platoons upon the hillsides, with a tinge of red or orange on their sable. Some carry masses of snow. Others have shaken their plumes free. The châlets are like fairy houses or toys; waist-deep in 113 stores of winter fuel, with their mellow tones of madder and umber relieved against the white, with the fantastic icicles and folds of snow depending from their eaves, or curled like coverlids from roof and window-sill, they are far more picturesque than in the summer. Colour, wherever it is found, whether in these cottages or in a block of serpentine by the roadside, or in the golden bulrush-blades by the lake shore, takes more than double value. It is shed upon the pallid landscape like a spiritual and transparent veil. Most beautiful of all are the sweeping lines of pure untroubled snow, fold over fold of undulating softness, billowing along the skirts of the peaked hills. There is no conveying the charm of immaterial, aerial, lucid beauty, the feeling of purity and aloofness from sordid things, conveyed by the fine touch on all our senses of light, colour, form, and air, and motion, and rare tinkling sound. The enchantment is like a spirit mood of Shelley's lyric verse.


To the tourist who contemplates a first visit to Switzerland, and can give but little time to the country—making the visit, let us suppose, as part of a European tour,—perhaps the best centre of interest is Lucerne. There he may enjoy at the outset all the characteristic charms of Swiss scenery—the beautiful lakes, the meadows, and orchards stretching up from the blue waters to the hills, the great mountains of Rigi, Pilatus (said by an ancient myth to have been the refuge of the despairing Pontius Pilate), and the Stansenhorn. 114 There, too, may be found the delight of the Alpine pine forests and of the Alpine flowers. There, too, are splendid survivals of the picturesque life of medieval Switzerland. And, as the Swiss gate of the St. Gothard Pass, Lucerne offers at once the opportunity to explore one of the most wonderful paths of the world, and to pass quickly through to the Italian lakes when the time that can be given to Switzerland has been exhausted.

The St. Gothard Pass was a Middle Ages' track across the Alps. It was not known to the Romans, who used the passes of the Valais and the Rhaetian Alps. From the oldest document in which the Gothard is mentioned, it seems that in the middle of the thirteenth century the pass was already frequented by pilgrims. Following the pilgrims came merchants from Lucerne, Zurich, and Basel, to trade with the rich towns of fertile Lombardy. Originally the St. Gothard Pass was a narrow mountain-path gradually widening into a mule-track. It was not until the early part of the nineteenth century that the pass was made accessible to carriages, and the highway constructed which still is a fine example of a mountain road. Under the most favourable conditions four days was the time required to115 pass from Lucerne to Milan, and inclement weather would often force the traveller to take shelter for days. Now the pass is traversed in a few hours by the St. Gothard railway built jointly by Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. After tedious conferences, a treaty was signed by these three countries in 1871, providing that subsidies to the work should be granted by the contracting parties. The share of Germany and Switzerland was fixed at £800,000 each, and that of Italy at £1,800,000. During the process of construction, however, a material increase was necessary, so that Germany in the end contributed £1,200,000 to the cost, Switzerland £1,240,000, and Italy £2,320,000.

In September 1872 work was begun, and on February 29, 1880, after nearly eight years of dangerous work, the piercing of the tunnel was accomplished. The courageous chief engineer, Louis Favre, eight months before the completion of the tunnel, fell a victim to its close, heavy air, and died of heart failure whilst in the workings. The line was opened in June 1882 and is still a great highway of railway traffic, though the Simplon railway and the new Loetschberg railway have come as rival trans-Alpine routes.


The oldest pass of the Alps is that which is now called the Great St. Bernard, the Summus Penninus of the Romans. Mr. Coolidge, in Swiss Travel and Swiss Guide-Books, states that the first known guide-book was written for the crowd of pilgrims crossing this pass, by the Abbot of Thingör in Iceland, about 1154. There was a shelter building on the pass before the year 812. A century later the Little St. Bernard was similarly provided. The Simplon was equipped with a shelter before 1235, the St. Gothard before 1331, and the Grimsel before 1479.

But before leaving Lucerne by the St. Gothard Pass, the traveller with any claim to historic imagination will visit Schwyz, the cradle of Swiss independence and the various shrines of the heroes of the Forest Cantons. Zurich, too, is easily accessible from Lucerne; also the battlefield of St. Jacob on the Birse, where, in the year 1444, 1500 valiant Swiss held their ground against a force of French more than twenty times as great. When night fell, this band, defying death with the cry, "Our souls to God, our bodies to the Armagnacs," was almost annihilated. Along the St. Gothard Pass are the records of another great military exploit, Suwarow's passage of the117 Alps. At the Devil's Bridge, over the Reuss, a Russian cross records the desperate fight between the French and Suwarow's army in 1799.

For the tourist who would mingle with his enjoyment of natural beauty visits to famous literary centres, Geneva of course will be the Swiss headquarters. From there stretch right and left the storied shores of Lake Leman. He may visit in turn Ferney, Coppet, and Lausanne, where the gloomy austerity of Genevan Calvinism seemed to take on something of a comic spirit. There the use of tobacco and snuff was forbidden under the Seventh Commandment! "Here," said a preacher, "we snuff only the Word of God." Montreux can be visited, or can be made the headquarters of a stay by the Lake of Leman if economy is a consideration, for it has the reputation of being the cheapest Swiss place to live in.

Near Montreux is the Castle of Chillon, which Byron made famous in his "Prisoner of Chillon" with more regard for sentimentality than for truth. His Prisoner of Chillon was in truth no stainless patriot imprisoned by a tyrant's rage, but a rather rowdy layman prior, François Bonivard. He conspired against the Duke of118 Savoy, entered into a rather undignified kind of civil war, and was imprisoned in the Castle of Chillon. For some time he was treated fairly well, but afterwards thrust into a dungeon below the level of the lake where he was kept four years. In 1536 he was released, and was appointed Historian to the Genevan Republic. He did not get on well with Calvin and was frequently before the Genevan Consistory on various charges of moral wrongdoing. (That argues nothing serious against his character.) He seems to have been an average human man. But Byron's poem thrust him on to a pedestal which he did not deserve. The Castle of Chillon did not end its history as a prison with Bonivard's release. It was used as a jail in the days of the French Revolution, and its last notable prisoners were some members of the Salvation Army, accused of causing street disorders by their ministrations. It was a picturesque incident this "persecution" by Calvin's Lake of Leman of a new form of Protestantism. But the persecution was not savage. The Salvationists (English lasses chiefly) were very well treated in Chillon.

To mingle a study of modern Swiss history119 with worship of the Alps, Berne would be the best centre for the tourist. Berne dates its foundation back to Berchtold V., who in the year 1191 erected a stronghold on a rocky promontory on the Aare, which was to serve as a rampart against the attacks of the Burgundian nobles. The town takes its name from a bear which was killed whilst the building was in course of construction. To safeguard the western part of the city, Agrippa d'Aubigné, the Huguenot leader, commenced the erection of a circle of ramparts, completed in 1646, parts of which still remain and are known as the "greater" and "lesser" ramparts. In 1218, after the Zaeringer dynasty had died out, Berne became independent, subject only to the German Emperor, and remained faithful to the House of Hohenstaufen. During the Interregnum, Berne was forced to place herself under the protection of the Duke of Savoy, in order to be able to resist her numerous enemies. In the Burgundian war of 1474-77, Berne was victorious at Grandson, Morat, and Nancy, and obtained a strong foothold in Vaud, which entered entirely into her possession in 1536, so that her dominion extended from the Lake of Geneva to the Reuss, and from120 the source of the Aare up to its juncture with the Rhine. The upheaval caused by the French Revolution brought about the fall of the Bernese Republic. In 1798, after the battles of Neuenegg and Grauholz, the French entered the town under General Schauenburg, and Berne lost her independence.

Since the Constitution of 1848, Berne has been the capital of the new Confederation, the seat of the Federal Council and of Parliament. It is also the headquarters of many international organisations. Switzerland excites no jealousy among the European Powers and is usually chosen as the summoning nation for conferences in which international agreements are discussed.

Berne has some fine old monuments; and its medieval fountains are particularly interesting. The bear-pit, which has been kept up for centuries in record of the city's ancient association with the bear, is worth a visit. From the Bernese public gardens and from the Gurten (2800 feet high—reached by a funicular railway) there are marvellous views of the Alps. There "soul of man has fronting him earth's utmost majesty."

Lucerne, Geneva, Berne—these are the three centres I would recommend to the traveller with 121but a short time available for a Swiss tour and seeking to get a general impression of the country: and of the three Lucerne is the best centre. But with a month to spare all three may be visited and a very good idea of Switzerland obtained. The best time for such a sight-seeing trip is the late spring or the summer, preferably the spring, for with the summer often come dust and flies.





The avalanche is chiefly associated in the mind of the visitor to Switzerland with thoughts of peril and destruction, the glacier with the idea of a permanent field of ice set decoratively to adorn a mountain-side. Neither impression represents all of the truth. Avalanches are destructive, and glaciers decorative. But the avalanche is normally, to the dweller in the Alps, the welcome harbinger of spring; the glacier the hard-working labourer which brings down soil from the mountain rocks for the enrichment of the plains.

The first avalanche is the sign to the Swiss that

Solvitur acris hiems,

and though he will not "draw his fishing boats down by rollers to the sea," in all other respects he will share the song of joy in which Horace123 records for the Italian husbandman the welcome due to the spring. The avalanche may be sometimes terrible in its destruction, as in lower lands a flood may sometimes be; but on their record, year by year, they do not cause any appalling loss of life or of property. Some deaths, some destruction, can be set to their account, but Nature exacts a penalty from man everywhere, on plain, on mountain, and on sea. Inundations of plains, storms at sea, cause probably a much greater proportionate loss of life and property than avalanches.

In Switzerland, spring is the great time for avalanches. They fall all the year round, chiefly from high levels, but it is in the spring that the greatest avalanches come adrift. Certain spring avalanches descend with remarkable regularity in particular places, one every year. An avalanche falls at a recognised spot in the neighbourhood of almost every village, which dates from its advent the opening of the spring. This spring avalanche is no sudden freak of Nature, but an inevitable affair, slowly engendered. The snow that piles up during the winter months, on what in summer are the grass slopes below the snow-line, gradually becomes unstable as124 spring melting advances. The mass loses its cohesion, ceases to bind firmly together, and tends to flow downwards. The trend of the ground decides the way of its fall. If the fields upon which it lies are of small area and slope conveniently, the avalanche will slide gently down to its appointed place. But if the disposition of the ground is such that a great mass of snow is collected in a basin which has a narrow outlet, from this a great avalanche will rush like a cataract down the mountain-side until it reaches a barrier sufficiently strong to put a stop to its current.

It is this type of avalanche which is the most likely to do great mischief; but even this pours down rather than falls down the hill slope. Sir Martin Conway recalls his observations of avalanches in their actual progress along the Simplon Road one spring:

Near Berisal I crossed one which had recently come to rest, traversing the road. By its rugged white surface, broken into great protuberances, its solidity, and its general form, it resembled a small glacier. To climb on to it one had to cut steps, so steep were the sides. Higher up I crossed several more such fallen masses, through which gangs of workmen were cutting out the road. Towards the top of the pass the snow125 was tumbling in smaller masses. Over a hundred little avalanches crossed the road within a couple of hours. Then they stopped. On the Italian side similar conditions obtained, but it was not till I reached Isella that the greatest fall took place, or rather was taking place, for it had begun before I arrived, and it continued after I had passed. There, a narrow gorge, with vertical cliff-sides facing one another, debouches on the main valley. It leads upwards to a great cirque in the hills, a cirque that is a grass-covered alpine pasture in the summer. The avalanche was pouring out through this gorge and piling itself up upon the main valley-floor. How the mass of it was being renewed from behind I could not see. Doubtless all the hillsides above were shedding their snow, and it was flowing down and crowding into and through the gorge with a continuous flow. As the pressure was relieved below by the outpouring of the avalanche on to the valley floor, more snow came down—snow mixed with slush, and semi-liquid under the great pressure that must have been developed....

It is not easy to suggest to the reader the grandeur of effect that was produced. The volume of noise was terrific—a noise more massive and continuous than thunder, and no less deep toned.... The avalanche, pouring through the massive gateway of the hills and polishing its sides, came forth with an aspect of weight and resistless force that was extraordinarily impressive. Yet Nature did not seem to be acting violently, though her might was plain to see. She appeared to act with deliberation: one looked for an end of the snow-stream to come, but it flowed on and on, pulsating but not failing. The pressures that must be developed were easily conceived; correspondingly evident became the126 strength of the hills that could sustain them as if they had been but the stroking of a hand.

Later in the season the traveller often encounters, in deep-lying valleys, the black and shrunken remnants of these mighty avalanches, melted down by summer heats. Little idea can they give him of the splendour of their birth and the white curdled beauty of their surface when they first come to rest. In the nature of things they travel far and fall low, well into the tree-belt, and even down to the chestnut-level on the Italian side. It is a strange sight to see these vast, new-fallen masses lying in their accustomed beds, but surrounded by trees all freshly verdant with the gifts of spring. Yearly each one falls in the same place, falls harmlessly and duly expected. Its coming is welcomed. Its voice is the triumphant shout of the coming season of summer exuberance and fertility. Nature, newly awakened, cries aloud with a great and solemnly joyous cry, and the people dwelling around hear her and arise to their work upon the land.

The avalanche, then, is one of the great natural forces of the mountains, which is not necessarily or even ordinarily destructive. But, like other natural forces—the fresh in the river or the gale at sea,—it can be very terrible, and, again like other natural forces, the wisdom and precaution of man can do much to minimise the danger of the avalanche and to avert any serious destruction by its agency. The Swiss people, so practical, so economical, so courageous,127 carry on a persistent scientific campaign against the unruly element in these torrents of ice, setting up lines of defence everywhere. The first and most important line of defence is the forest; and for this reason the forest laws of Switzerland are very severe. A man is not allowed to fell a tree in his own wood without the forester's consent. Everything is done to preserve the natural rampart afforded by a mass of pines. In the second place, where avalanches descend regularly every year, stone galleries are built, or tunnels are mined out of the solid rock to protect roads. There are many examples of these galleries and tunnels in the Züge, near Davos.

Scientific engineers are eager to add to these plans of defence. They believe that the root of the mischief ought to be attacked. In places where avalanches are expected, they recommend the building of terraces and dwarf-walls, so as to arrest the earliest snow-slip. Lower down, in the forest zone, piles should be driven into the ground, and fenced with wattling. These precautions, and others on similar lines, are now being taken, and most of the well-known avalanche tracks are being surrounded by various defensive works designed to arrest any tendency128 to mischief that they show. Destruction from avalanches there will continue to be in exceptional cases, for Nature insists, now and again, on displaying some unwonted, abnormal display of her power which sets at nought all precautions of man. A Titanic goes to the bottom of the sea to show that the shipbuilder can claim only a human and therefore limited surety against disaster. An avalanche may one day shock Europe by rushing unexpectedly down to overwhelm a whole Swiss village. But the danger from them has been diminished largely, and continues to be diminished. It is necessary to go back to the past to obtain the record of any great number of avalanche disasters.

The Swiss classify avalanches into several sorts. The first of these, in order of maturity, is the Staub-Lawine or Dust-Snow Avalanche. This is a collection of loose snow, freshly fallen, which has been caught up in one of those sectional tornadoes which spring up on the mountain slopes, and is driven down on the wings of the wind to the valley below. This form of avalanche is, because of its suddenness, the most dangerous to human life, and is also the most difficult to provide against. Measures to prevent the accumulation 129 of drift snow in dangerous pockets or wind-swept slopes are in some degree efficacious. Mr. Symonds records the experience of a Swiss who was caught in a Dust-Avalanche:

DAVOS IN WINTER. The home of John Addington Symonds.

A human victim of the dreadful thing, who was so lucky as to be saved from its clutch, once described to me the sensations he experienced. He was caught at the edge of the avalanche just when it was settling down to rest, carried off his feet, and rendered helpless by the swathing snow, which tied his legs, pinned his arms to his ribs, and crawled upward to his throat. There it stopped. His head emerged, and he could breathe; but as the mass set, he felt the impossibility of expanding his lungs, and knew that he must die of suffocation. At the point of losing consciousness, he became aware of comrades running to his rescue. They hacked the snow away around his thorax, and then rushed on to dig for another man who had been buried in the same disaster, leaving him able to breathe, but wholly powerless to stir hand or foot.

The usual spring avalanche is called the Schlag-Lawine or Stroke-Avalanche. These, as already described, push down a slope of the mountains like a swiftly flowing river. Danger from the Schlag-Lawine, which is just as usual and inevitable a process of Nature as the growing of the trees or the splitting of rocks by frost, has been very largely reduced. This form of 130 avalanche can be traced to its sources and its course and flow regulated by channels and break-ices. It has a secondary form called the Grund-Lawine or ground avalanche. This is the avalanche which aroused the poetic anger of Mr. Symonds:

The peculiarity of a Grund-Lawine consists in the amount of earth and rubbish carried down by it. This kind is filthy and disreputable. It is coloured brown or slaty-grey by the rock and soil with which it is involved. Blocks of stone emerge in horrid bareness from the dreary waste of dirty snow and slush of water which compose it; and the trees which have been so unlucky as to stand upon its path are splintered, bruised, rough-handled in a hideous fashion. The Staub-Lawine is fury-laden like a fiend in its first swirling onset, flat and stiff like a corpse in its ultimate repose of death, containing men and beasts and trees entombed beneath its stern unwrinkled taciturnity of marble. The Schlag-Lawine is picturesque, rising into romantic spires and turrets, with erratic pine-plumed firths protruding upon sleepy meadows. It may even lie pure and beautiful, heaving in pallid billows at the foot of majestic mountain slopes where it has injured nothing. But the Grund-Lawine is ugly, spiteful like an asp, tatterdemalion like a street Arab; it is the worst, the most wicked of the sisterhood. To be killed by it would mean a ghastly death by scrunching and throttling, as in some grinding machine, with nothing of noble or impressive in the winding-sheet of foul snow and débris heaved above the mangled corpse.


But the Grund-Lawine is really the most beneficial avalanche of the Alps, doing quickly the work, which a glacier does slowly, of carrying down soil from the heights to the plains. It is rare in the Swiss Alps, more common in mountains of younger age going through earlier processes of disintegration. Perhaps, if one is to look at an avalanche chiefly as an instrument of death, the Grund-Lawine has a greater objectionableness than the Staub-Lawine. But any form of death by avalanche is best avoided: and the difference between death by the Grund-Lawine and death by the Staub-Lawine is purely æsthetic. And the Grund usually kills quickly whilst the Staub may take a freakish turn and bury you alive in a cranny or cavern which the avalanche has sealed by passing over it. Men have slowly died of hunger in such circumstances. Yet, so long as life lasts, there is hope; no pains are spared in ransacking the snow after an avalanche; and cases of almost miraculous deliverance occasionally occur. One February (records Mr. Symonds) a young man called Domiziano Roberti, in the neighbourhood of Giornico, saw an avalanche descending on him. He crept under a great stone, above which there fell a large tree132 in such a position that it and the stone together roofed him from the snow, which soon swept over him and shut him up. There he remained 103 hours in a kind of semi-somnolence, and was eventually dug out, speechless and frightfully frost-bitten, but alive.

The avalanche record of a single village (Fetan) of Switzerland—a village which is characterised as a very unlucky one—will give some idea of the real extent of the toll of the avalanche. In the year 1682 a great avalanche swept over it. Six persons were killed, but the rest of the villagers, expecting some such catastrophe, had abandoned their houses. In one dwelling nothing was left standing but the living-room and one bedroom. These, however, contained the mother of the family and all her children, who escaped unhurt. In 1720 an avalanche demolished fifteen houses. In one of them a party of twenty-six young men and women were assembled. They were all buried in the snow, and only three survived. Altogether thirty-six persons perished at that time. In 1812 a similar catastrophe occurred, destroying houses and stables. But on this occasion the inhabitants had been forewarned and left the village. A curious story is told133 about the avalanche of 1812. One of the folk of Fetan, after abandoning his home to its fate, remembered that he had forgotten to bring away his Bible. In the teeth of the impending danger, through the dark night, he waded back across the snowdrifts, and saved the book. In 1888 there was further destruction at this village by avalanche, but with no loss of life. That is a particularly unlucky village, evidently badly situated. But since 1720 the snow-falls have caused no loss of life there.

The down-coming of an avalanche, if it be sudden and swift, is often accompanied by a great blast of wind, which gives it an additional danger. This wind may in some cases be partly caused by the displacement of the air from the fall; in most cases, it is probable, the wind was in chief part the original cause of the snow-fall. The blast of the avalanche is known as the Lawinen-Dunst, and many thrilling stories are told of hairbreadth escapes from its blast. A carter driving with a sledge and two horses across the Albula Pass was hurled—horses, sledge, and all—across a gully by the wind. A woman was lifted into the air and carried to the top of a lofty pine-tree, to which she clung and was saved.134 Of more tragic tone is the record of the man lifted by an avalanche blast and smashed to pieces against a stone, of a house lifted up in the air and dashed down, killing most of its inhabitants.

The avalanche is snow in quick movement towards the valleys. The glacier is snow—pressed into ice—in slow movement. A river of ice, its flow to be measured by the records of months, not of moments—that is the glacier of Alps and Polar lands. Its mission in nature is the same as that of a river, to grind down mountain rocks and to carry the detritus for the enrichment of the plains below. The glaciers of the Polar lands, coming down as they do to the edge of the ocean, are responsible for the icebergs of those seas. Compared with Polar glaciers the Alpine ones are puny, no larger, as a rule, than a large iceberg—which represents just a fragment broken off an Arctic or Antarctic glacier. But the Alpine examples of glaciers, small though they be, are grandly impressive in their natural surroundings. Such a one as the Silvretta, for instance, stretching its length for nearly twenty miles across the mountains, looks magnificently vast. From a distance a glacier seems to be135 white, with bands of grey, or of black from the moraines (strips of earth and stones showing on the surface). Studied at close hand it is a pageant of varied colours due to the variations of light and shade on its surface, and to the manner in which the refraction of the light is affected by the partial melting of the topmost layer of the snow. From this melting come little trickles of water which combine to form streams and then torrents. The beds of these torrents are blue in colour and like transparent glass—a lovely contrast with the general surface of the glacier. For that is made white by the innumerable fissures that penetrate its surface, fissures which are caused by the heat of the sun, from which the beds of the streams are protected. Yet more beautiful than the streams are the pools occasionally found on the surface of a glacier, when they have clean floors unsoiled by a moraine. They, too, have blue basins with white edges. Looked down upon from a distance, they appear like great sapphires. Sometimes a lake may be found not on but beside a glacier, where the ice forms one bank and the mountain another. Such are the Märjelen See by the Great Aletsch, and the lake at the west foot of Monte Rosa.136 On these one may see floating masses of ice. Now and again will be found crevasses filled with water, whose depth gives a yet bluer tone.

Sir Martin Conway (from whose expert study of glaciers I have freely quoted) gives the palm for glacier colouring to what is called the dry glacier.

"Note," he writes, "the brilliance of its surface and the peculiarity of its texture. It consists of an infinite multitude of loosely compacted rounded fragments of ice with a little water soaking down between them. If you watch it closely you will see that the moving water makes a shimmering in the cracks between the ice fragments. You will also observe that the blue of the solid ice below the skin of fragments appears dimly through the white, and the least tap with an ice-axe to scrape away the surface reveals it clearly. Each little fragment of ice has a separate glitter of its own, so that the whole surface sparkles with a frosted radiance. It is not the same at dawn after a cold night, for then there is no water between the fragments, but all is hard and solid. No sooner, however, does the sun shine upon them, than the bonds are released and the ice-crystals begin to break up with a gentle tinkling sound and little flashes of light reflected from tiny wet mirror-surfaces. One can spend hours watching these small phenomena as happily as gazing upon the great mountains themselves. Size is a relative term. The biggest mountain in relation to the earth is no greater than is one of these small ice-fragments in relation to a glacier. Reduce the scale in imagination and the smallest 137object may be endowed with grandeur, for all such conceptions are subjective. The open crevasses that are never far away on the dry glacier are full of beauties. It is not easy to tire of peering down into them. Sometimes one may be found into which a man armed with an ice-axe may effect a descent. He will not stay there long, for the depths are cold. Once I was able not only to descend into a crevasse but to follow it beyond its open part into the very substance of the glacier. It was a weird place, good to see but not good to remain in, and I was glad to return to sunshine very soon."


Ordinarily a glacier surface is not diversified by any large features. But sometimes peaks of rock rise as islands out of a sea of ice. Sometimes, too, inequalities in the bed of the glacier acting with the pressure of the ice mass cause great wrinklings on the surface (the Col du Géant is an instance), and from the ridges thus formed hang very beautiful ice-falls.

For the proper study of glacier beauty it is recommended to Alpine travellers that they should arrange to camp for some days in the glacier region. But there are good examples of glaciers within walking distance of some of the higher hotels.




Though the palm for Alp-climbing is not held by the Swiss themselves—one unkind critic has said that "in this as in all other things the Swiss show their invincible mediocrity"—and the Swiss Alpine Club was not the pioneer among climbing clubs, its work has been of very great value in safeguarding the Alps against desecration and Alpine climbers against accident. In the year 1913 it celebrated its jubilee year, and the occasion was marked by great festivities in Lucerne. Unlike the British Alpine Club, which is of a somewhat aristocratic constitution, the Swiss institution is of a very "democratic" character, not exacting high subscriptions and welcoming all to its ranks who can pay the very moderate subscription.

The objects for which the Club was originally139 founded were "to explore the Swiss Alps, to study them more accurately from every point of view, to make them better known, and to facilitate access to them." This programme has been interpreted in a very liberal sense, for it has been made to include not merely the construction, furnishing, and maintenance of huts, but also the training and insurance of guides, the organisation of rescue parties, and the publication of guide-books, of accurate maps, of an annual, and of two periodicals, one in German and the other in French. The Swiss Alpine Club now numbers 13,496 members (the German and Austrian 100,023, the Italian 7500, the French about 6500, and the British about 730). A British section of the Swiss Alpine Club exists, and its members last year presented the parent club with funds to erect and furnish a new hut, the Britannia Hut, situated above Saas Fee, a district of Switzerland to which British climbers most frequently go.

That section of the work of the Swiss Club which is worthy of the most praise is devoted to urging upon visitors a standard of good conduct and respect for the rights and convenience of others. Its recently issued "Mottoes for Mountaineers"140 are put up on the walls of railway stations, in mountain inns, or anywhere else where they are likely to attract the notice of those whom it is hoped to educate. They exhort, in particular, to the avoidance of all alcoholic drinks when in the mountains; to suitable equipment; to quiet behaviour and refraining from bawling and shouting; to the clearing up of all litter after a meal, leaving no soiled paper or tins about, and, above all, not throwing away or breaking any bottles. They likewise appeal for merciful treatment of Alpine wild flowers.

We are all of us familiar with a "tourist resort" of some kind, so general is the habit of travel for curiosity's sake to scenes of beauty or of renown; and we are all of us aware, therefore, of the need there is for popular education to contend against the vulgar defacement of natural beauties and of historic monuments. No place is spared by a type of visitor eager to perpetuate a worthless name, and careless to stain a revered shrine with his untidy litter. An historic grove has its tree-trunks marked with knives; a famous meadow or a field of renowned beauty has its surface scarred with rubbish; a141 grand cathedral or hall of renown has its stones scratched, its floors littered. All praise to the Swiss Alpine Club for its work to protect Alpine meadows from bottles and tins, Alpine cliffs from scratched and painted inscriptions. And if, perhaps, it one day takes heart of grace and decides to make a stand against the undue extension of railways and palace hotels upon beautiful peaks, it will earn still warmer praise, and will act, too, in the best interests of Switzerland, which gains from tourists now £12,000,000 a year, and is in danger of driving some of the pilgrims of the picturesque away to the Carpathians or the Balkans by allowing the Swiss peaks to be spoiled with too much "modern improvement."

Before the growth of the influence of the Swiss Alpine Club, the Swiss did not indulge in mountain-climbing as a sport on their own account to any very great extent. But the Club is working to arouse a national "amateur" (as opposed to mercenary) interest in the national mountains, and the quick growth of its membership seems to argue well for its success. Will a climbing knowledge of the mountains lead to a better appreciation of them on the part of the142 Swiss and a better determination to protect them against railway and hotel vandalism? It is a moot point. Sir Martin Conway, who has climbed mountains in three continents, seems to think that familiarity brings increased respect at first, but that afterwards the æsthetic interest begins to fade:

Almost universal is the feeling aroused by a first sight of a great snowy range that it is unearthly. Mystery gathers over it. Its shining majesty in full sunlight, its rosy splendours at dawn and eve, its pallid glimmer under the clear moon, its wreathed and ever-changing drapery of cloud, its terrific experiences in storm, all these elements and aspects strike the imagination and appeal broadly to the æsthetic sense. Nor are they ever quite forgotten even by the most callous of professional mountaineers.

But with increase of experience on the mountains themselves come knowledge and a whole group of new associations.... The mountain, judged by the scale of remembered toil, grows wonderfully in height. The eye thus trained begins to realise and even to exaggerate the vast scale on which peaks are built. But along with this gain in the truthful sense of scale comes the loss of mystery. The peak which was in heaven is brought down to earth. It was a mere thing of beauty to be adored and wondered at; it has become something to be climbed. Its details have grown intelligible and interesting. The mind regards it from a new aspect, begins to analyse its forms and features, and to consider them mainly in their relation to man as a climber. As143 knowledge grows this attitude of mind develops. Each fresh peak ascended teaches something....

The longer a climber gratifies his instincts and pursues his sport, the larger becomes his store of reminiscences and the greater his experience. If he confines his attention to a single range of mountains such as the Alps, he is almost always in sight of mountains he has climbed and glaciers he has traversed. Each view shows him some route he has once pursued, some glacier basin he has explored, some pass he has crossed. The labyrinth of valleys and the crests of successive ridges do not puzzle him. He knows how they are grouped and whither they lead. Beyond those mountains is the Zermatt valley; that peak looks down on Zinal; that col leads to Saas. Thus there grows in him the sense of the general shape and arrangement of the country. It is no longer a tangled chaos of heights and depths, but an ordered anatomy, formed by the action of definite and continuous forces. So far as his knowledge extends this orderliness is realised. He has developed a geographical sense....

As the seasons go by, it happens that the æsthetic interest, which was at first the climber's main delight, begins to fade. If he be a man of scientific interests it is liable to an even quicker evanescence than if he be not, for problems of geological structure, or of botanical distribution, or of glaciology and the like, are a keen source of intellectual enjoyment. At length, perhaps, the day comes when the loss is felt. There is a gorgeous range of snow mountains with every effect of cloud and sunshine that the eye can desire, displayed about and upon them, yet the climber finds with dismay that his heart is cold. The old glory has vanished from the144 scene and the old thrill is an unfelt emotion. What is the matter? Have his eyes grown dim? Has he lost the faculty of delight? Is he growing old? Whatever the cause, the effect is painful in the extreme. It is one that many of us have felt, especially towards the close of a long and successful climbing season, or extensive journey of exploration. There is but one remedy—to quit the mountains for a while and attend to the common business of life. When winter months have gone by and summer is again at hand, the old enthusiasm is liable to return. Sooner or later the true mountain-lover will begin to starve for sight of the snows.


From a tourist-attracting point of view, then, the encouragement of climbing would not seem to be altogether a good thing. But on the other side of the argument it has to be remembered that the population of Switzerland is fairly large for its area, that a generation is not eternal, and that there is no likelihood of a very large number ever getting so much Alpine climbing as to find the mountains an ennui. On the whole it would seem to be good policy on the part of the Swiss Alpine Club to seek to extend its membership and to encourage in other countries similar "democratic" climbing organisations, with the idea of spreading as widely as possible the sport of mountain-climbing in the Alps, not in 145its highest phase of very difficult and dangerous ascents, but in a moderate form available to people of moderate strength and moderate means. So far as the danger of climbing has to be taken into consideration, all the ascents have been so carefully mapped now that in good weather, with good guides, there is practically no risk to careful and strong climbers. Yet the present summer (1913) has been a very deadly one on the Alps, a fact due to over-much familiarity bringing to climbers some measure of contempt for the dangers of the peaks and inducing foolhardy attempts under unsuitable weather conditions. During September of 1913 there were eleven fatal accidents to climbers, and five other accidents causing grave injuries. The climbing season was a late one, as the weather had been consistently unfavourable in July and August. In September the weather still continued uncertain, but there was a general tendency among disappointed climbers and guides to take risks so as to get in some ascents before the season closed. To this willingness to take undue risks most of the accidents were due. A characteristic one was on the Zermatt Breithorn when a guide allowed himself to be persuaded against his146 better judgment to continue an ascent in the face of obvious danger. The details regarding this accident are worth recording as illustrating the actual most pressing peril of the Alps to-day, that of foolhardiness. Three German climbers, one a lady, set out with the guide Heinrich Julen to attempt to ascend the Zermatt Breithorn—usually easy. When they reached the Gandegg or Lower Theodule hut (10,000 feet), the weather being very threatening, they took with them a second guide, an Italian. The party ploughed through very deep fresh snow for about an hour and a half, after which one of the men and the lady said they would prefer to turn back. The other, however, Dr. Schrumm, of Kempten, Bavaria, insisted on continuing the ascent with the guide Julen, who, it is said, was very unwilling to proceed. Nevertheless he did so. Apparently the party did not leave the Gandegg Hut, owing to bad weather, until 8 a.m., and it was four in the afternoon when Dr. Schrumm and the guide Julen reached the summit. During the descent a violent snowstorm came on, the guide lost his bearings, and, not being provided with a compass, wandered about for a time without making any progress. He scooped out a 147hole in the snow for shelter. The doctor and guide remained there the night, and the next morning the doctor died of cold and exhaustion. Apparently he was not sufficiently warmly clad.


This accident caused a good deal of discussion among Alpine climbers, and it is possible that one outcome of it will be to protect guides by more stringent regulations against the urgency of climbers who wish to incur dangers of which they are ignorant.

There are, however, to be enjoyed in Switzerland very many Alpine climbs which come within an ample margin of safety, requiring guides in some cases, but not taking any extravagant toll either on the purse or on the muscles. Thus from Adelboden one may go to the summit of the Gemmi Pass and back within a day: or over the Bunderchrinde to Kandersteg; or to the Bonderspitze (8343 feet), the Elsighorn (7697 feet), the Elsigfirst (8366 feet), the Albristhorn (8366 feet), the Gsür (8894 feet). Or from the same point of departure with a little more expense, but no more danger, the Wildstrubel (10,715 feet) may be climbed. There is a fine glacier (the Strubel) on this route. From another point of departure, Champery, the various peaks148 of the Dents du Midi are easily reached. In the Dents du Midi group the highest is the most accessible. To climb the Haute Cime one usually sleeps at Bonaveau, whence one starts off at early morning through the Pas d'Encel, the valley and the pass of Susanfe. With a guide these can easily be done and without difficulty in six hours. From the summit the panorama embraces all of the central and western Alps. From Les Plans (to mention another centre) there are no less than fifty good climbs, most of them suitable for the modest Alpinist. For an example of a "big" climb from this centre take the ascent of the Grand Muveran (10,040 feet). It is a steep and difficult ascent, not dangerous, but a guide is a necessity. The starting-point is Les Plans. From there to the summit takes at least five hours. The expedition is less fatiguing if the climber passes the night at the Rambert shelter. From this hut to the top of the mountain it is a climb of two hours. From the Muveran the view over the Valais is particularly good. The ascent of the Diablerets (10,663 feet), the summit of the Vaudois Alps, is more difficult, but in good weather not attended with any risk.


In bad weather almost any climb can be dangerous, and one needs to be a particularly expert and keen Alpinist to attempt an ascent when storms are likely. But for that expert and keen Alpinist it seems that there is "a music in the thunder and the growling of the gale," and a joy in breasting and overcoming an Alpine storm. A stirring description of such a storm by a famous climber:

The gathering squadrons of the sky grow dark, and seem to hold the just departed night in their bosoms. Their crests impend. They assume terrific shapes. They acquire an aspect of solidity. They do not so much seem to blot out as to destroy the mountains. Their motion suggests a great momentum. At first too they act in almost perfect silence. There is little movement in the oppressively warm air, and yet the clouds boil and surge as though violently agitated. They join together, neighbour to neighbour, and every moment they grow more dense and climb higher. To left and right, one sees them, behind also and before.

The moments now are precious. We take a last view of our surroundings, note the direction we should follow, and try to fix details in our memories, for sight will soon be impossible. Then the clouds themselves are upon us—a puff of mist first, followed by the dense fog. A crepitating sound arises around us; it is the pattering of hard particles of snow on the ground. Presently the flakes grow bigger and fall more softly, feeling clammy on the face. And now probably the 150wind rises and the temperature is lowered. Each member of our party is whitened over; icicles form on hair and moustache, and the very aspect of men is changed to match the wild surroundings. Under such circumstances the high regions of snow are more impressive than under any other, but climbers must be well-nourished, in good hard condition, and not too fatigued, or they will not appreciate the scene. No one can really know the high Alps who has not been out in a storm at some great elevation. The experience may not be, in fact is not, physically pleasant, but it is morally stimulating in a high degree, and æsthetically grand. Now must a climber call up all his reserves of pluck and determination. He may have literally to fight his way down to a place of shelter. There can be no rest, neither can there be any undue haste. The right way must be found and followed. All that can be seen is close at hand and that small circle must serve for guidance. All must keep moving on with grim persistence, hour after hour. Stimulants are unavailing and food is probably inaccessible. All depends upon reserve stores of health and vigour, and upon moral courage. To give in is treason. Each determines that he for his part will not fail his companions. Mutual reliance must be preserved.

It seems certainly a fine experience—to recall afterwards. But I confess that I never really enjoyed a mountain storm except in the case of one that I saw from above the clouds, fighting out its quarrel in the valleys below Mount Kosciusko. To see a storm from above—that 151 is a spectacle of grandeur; and there is no threat of danger or of discomfort to the spectator.


But the idea must not be gathered from the descriptions of the dangers of mountaineering that it is a sport suitable only for the exceptionally sturdy. Any one with fair physique who has not reached old age can join an Alpine Club and enjoy Alpine climbing, so long as actually dangerous and freak ascents are avoided. Mr. Symonds, who went to the Alps apparently a hopeless invalid, was able to enjoy Alpine climbing, and has given in prose and verse some fine pen-pictures of its joys; this in particular of an ascent of the Schwartzhorn:

'Neath an uncertain moon, in light malign,
We trod those rifted granite crags, whereunder,
Startling the midnight air with muffled thunder,
Flowed infant founts of Danube and of Rhine.
Our long-drawn file in slow deliberate line
Scaled stair on stair, subdued to silent wonder;
Wound among mouldering rocks that rolled asunder,
Rattling with hollow roar down death's decline.
Still as we rose, one white transcendent star
Steered calmly heavenward through the empurpled gloom,
Escaping from the dim reluctant bar
Of morning, chill and ashen-pale as doom;
Where the day's chargers, champing at his ear,
152 Waited till Sol should quit night's banquet-room.
Pure on the frozen snows, the glacier steep,
Slept moonlight with the tense unearthly charm
Of spells that have no power to bless or harm;
But, when we touched the ridge which tempests sweep,
Death o'er the murk vale, yawning wide and deep,
Clung to frost-slippery shelves, and sharp alarm,
Shuddering in eager air, drove life's blood warm
Back to stout hearts and staunch will's fortress-keep.
Upward we clomb; till now the emergent morn,
Belting the horror of dim jagged eastern heights,
Broadened from green to saffron, primrose-pale,
Felt with faint finger-tips of rose each horn,
Crept round the Alpine circuit, o'er each dale
Dwelt with dumb broodings drearier even than night's.
Thus dawn had come; not yet the day: night's queen
And morning's star their state in azure kept:
Still on the mountain world weird silence slept;
Earth, air, and heaven held back their song serene.
Then from the zenith, fiery-white between
Moonshine and dayspring, with swift impulse swept
A splendour of the skies that throbbing leapt
Down to the core of passionate flame terrene—
A star that ruining from yon throne remote,
Quenched her celestial yearnings in the pyre
Of mortal pangs and pardons. At that sign
The orient sun with day's broad arrow smote
Black Linard's arrogant brow, while influent fire
Slaked the world's thirst for light with joy divine.





The Swiss Alps have their chief worshippers in the summer for the climbing, in the winter for the sports. A few insist that the rich colouring of autumn is the best season of all. A larger and a growing number visit the Alps in the spring for the flowers. They are wise, for truly the sight of an Alpine meadow in bloom is the most joyous manifestation of Nature in a sunny mood that man can know. Whether it be that the flowers, fertilised by the detritus which the winter's snow has brought to their roots, are really more luxuriant and brighter in colour than the same flowers in a garden or a woodland dell of the plains; or that the clear air and the contrast with the white snow around make them seem more brilliant—Alpine flowers shine out with an exquisite and star-like grace that can154 be noted nowhere else; and the green of Alpine grass seems of a clear brightness that no other herbage can rival.

The nearness to the snow has certainly an effect in enhancing the charm of these Alpine meadows. The flowers, wearing the colours of the sun, rush bravely to the very edge of the snow-fields as though they were jostling the winter aside. The white has barely disappeared before there is green and gold and red to give cheerful greeting to the spring sky, and declare another foot of territory won from the frost. Indeed, if you will look closely at the line of the retreating snow—not a straight line but a billowy one, here receding into a big bay, here stubbornly holding out a promontory of white—you will note that the crevellated edge of the vanishing snow mass is not joined to the earth at all, but forms a little overhanging cliff of ice. The melting warmth is coming up from the ground rather than from the sun in the last stage of the snow-field's flight, and underneath this tiny cliff the vegetation can be seen already pushing up to life.

The lower Alps in April and May flaunt first the gay banners of the crocus, which "breaks155 like fire" over the ground as soon as the chains of the ice are broken. But other flowers are but little in the rear, and the snow has scarce gone before under the pine woods there is a carpet of the mauve-blue hepatica, in the gorges the yellow and white of the snowflakes and the red of the sticky primrose, over the meadows the white and purple of the soldanella and the celestial blue of the spring gentian, while the marshes flaunt their marigolds and the rose-red bird's-eye primrose. It is a blaze of rich colour, and yet (to quote Mr. G. Flemwell's work on Alpine flowers):

The steel-blue of winter is still in the air—indeed, one feels it in the very flowers. Even though no snowy Alp be in sight, and nothing but floral gaiety around, there is yet a sense of austerity. The vegetation, though colourfull, is neither coarse nor rank, nor even luxurious, as judged by English standard. Nature is crisp and brisk; the air is thin and clear; everywhere is great refinement, quite other than that of spring in England. It were as though the severity of the struggle for existence could be read in the sweet face of things, just as we may often read it in the smiling face of some chastened human being—lines of sweetness running side by side with lines of acute capacity; a strong face beautiful; a face in which optimism reigns sovereign over an active pessimism. Nature in the Alps is instinct with the stern necessity for perpetual endeavour, whereas156 in England, where conditions are not so harsh, we have a sense of a certain indolence and ease of circumstance of Nature which we call homeliness and repose. Repose, in this sense, there certainly is not in the Alpine spring. Every suspicion of lassitude or laissez-faire is unknown; all is keen and buoyant, quick with an earnest joie de vivre which is as exquisite in its way as anything more voluptuously sentimental that England can produce.

Following fast upon the earlier flowers come the anemones, the rhododendrons, the ranunculi, the forget-me-nots, the Alpine roses, the saxifrages, the violets, the pinks, the heaths, the orchids, St. Bruno's lily, the daffodils, and a score of other blossoms. The feast of colour is spread, day after day, in varying shades, but with unvarying richness, until there comes the time when with another riot of colour the herdsmen enter into the field with their cattle, or the scythes lay all prostrate for the winter hay.

Whilst the best of the Alpine spring shows of flowers are in April and May on the lower and richer Alpine meadows, one may follow the banners of primavera up the mountains, almost until August, encountering on the higher levels later seasons. Writing from Zermatt as late as the end of July, a correspondent to the Morning Post chronicled:



The dog roses, the brilliantly pink sweet briar, the willow herb, also of a præternatural brilliance owing to the altitude, still make gay the Zermatt Valley, while the last of the martagon lilies are being mown ruthlessly down by the peasants in their hayfields. Everywhere on the rocks the red house leeks and other plants of the stonecrop, saxifrage, and sedum varieties are appearing; while the mountain pinks, arnica, and Alpine asters grow almost down into the village itself. For some reason the flower-plunderer has either stayed his hand in this valley or has passed it by, for here several of the rarer and choicer sorts of Alpine blossoms, almost extinct, or at least very rare in most parts of Switzerland, are still flourishing. Martagon lilies, for instance, are common, though how long they will remain so I cannot say. The paths are often literally bordered with the true Alpine rose, deepest crimson in hue. Many a meadow is purple and gold with the starry flowers of the Alpine aster, common here as a field daisy; many a rock slope is overgrown with mountain pinks; while as for the arnica montana, the rhododendrons, and the creeping gypsophila, I have never seen anything like them elsewhere. The arnica covers whole slopes and carpets woods until the ground is oranged completely over with its blossoms; the creeping gypsophila clothes the bare rocks and borders the paths with its tufts of white and pale pink flowers; and the rhododendrons make the semi-shaded slopes beneath the larches almost a sheet of rosy-red. Somewhere, too, the true Alpine columbine must be growing plentifully. I have not discovered it, but I have, I am sorry to say, seen great handfuls of this loveliest of Alpine flowers being brought down from the Zermatt slopes.


At one altitude or another, indeed, there are few Alpine flowers which are not to be found somewhere in the Zermatt range during this month of July. Certain damp-loving species, such as campanulas and orchis and the whole primula family, are certainly less well represented here than in the rainier Bernese Oberland, yet still there are entire slopes pale blue with the bearded campanula, and more than one kind of primula is to be found still in bloom high up or in the crevices of rocks, while the slopes at the head of the Zermatt valley are even now covered with Alpine and sub-Alpine blossoms of a variety and brilliance which I have never seen excelled and seldom equalled. The short grass above eight thousand feet or thereabouts is blue with Alpine forget-me-nots or mauve with pansies, starred with the small gentian, or patched with the pink of the "marmot's bread" (silene); higher up, to 11,000 feet and more, ranunculus glacialis and the hardiest and lowest-growing flowers are still blooming; while slightly lower down, especially where there is the moisture of streams and the shelter of rocks, grow fields of arnica montana, pinks, asters, geums, rock roses, sweet alyssum, sedums, semper vivum, arabis, Alpine toadflax, louseworts, wild thyme, edelweiss, rampions, Alpine clovers in great variety, gypsophila, even stray orchis and primulæ, the dominant tones being orange and pale yellow, thrown into relief by the many mauves and the bright pinks and creamy whites.

The Alpine flowers, in addition to their spectacular beauty, have a very definite scientific botanical interest. It has been observed that the magnificence and profusion of flower, in159 comparison with the size, of the Alpine plants is a trait of beauty with a charming scientific explanation. To the Alpine flowers more urgently than to most races of mortal things, Nature whispers "Carpe Diem." Life for them must be very, very short. Its length is inexorably decreed by the snows of winter. The Alpine plant, feeling the renewing warmth of the spring, must rush at once into flower, as brilliant, as attractive, as irresistible flower as it may, so that fertilising bees and butterflies will come and ensure the next generation.

On the same principle, at the opposite end of the pole, the desert plants store up their seeds in extraordinarily thick and strong capsules, so that they may rest safely through many seasons of fierce drought, awaiting the coming of water to fertilise them. In Australia the desert flowers, such as Sturt's Desert Pea, will come up after good rains in places where to the knowledge of man they have not grown for many years; and of some wild Australian plants the seeds need to be roasted before they will germinate.

Accepting that the remarkable beauty and richness of flowering of Alpine plants is the response to Nature's stern conditions of existence,160 there seems to lurk in the flowers, as in the people of Switzerland, a moral for those gentle enthusiasts who would do away with the cruelty of the struggles between nations and between classes, and set up conditions of universal peace and of general Communism. Perhaps, alas, it will be found, if ever those ideals are carried far into practice, that without struggle the human race will deteriorate, and with too easy conditions of life will tend to decay. I would not push the case too far, but it is worth recording as a fact, if not an argument, that when the Alpine dweller fertilises artificially a meadow the flowers tend to disappear. Conditions of life have been made too easy, and sterility follows.

Alpine flowers, again conforming themselves skilfully to the conditions of their existence, send roots down to astonishing depths. A little tuft or rosette of leaves, the size round of a five-shilling piece, will often have a system of roots extending a foot or more down into the soil or into the depths of some crevice in the rock. These roots are the plants' larders and storerooms. Buried often for some nine months in the year beneath the snow, the plants need must have well-stocked larders to draw upon. Sometimes, 161 even, it may be years before they see the sun and breathe the mountain air again. It is not every summer that the sun has power to rid the sheltered little Alpine valleys of the winter snow; often must a plant wait in patience for at least two years before it can bring forth flowers, and take a new supply of life from the sun.

ALPINE GARDEN (LA LINNEA) At Bourg St. Pierre, on the road to the Grand St. Bernard, at the beginning of August.

Apart from winning grateful hymns for their beauty, and interesting the botanist by their curiosities of structure, some of the flowers peculiar to the Alps (or to Alpine regions) have, because of their rarity, inspired a sport of flower-hunting, the more keenly appreciated when it is associated with danger. Since this flower-hunting leads to the destruction of rare species and to some loss of human life, it seems to have a strong hostile case to answer, especially as the rare Alpines are now cultivated by the florists, and you may have, for example, edelweiss grown by the gardeners around Paris. Yet deaths ascribable to "gathering edelweiss" continue to be recorded. The edelweiss is accepted as the typical Swiss Alpine flower, but it is not at all peculiar to the Swiss Alps, and is found in Siberia, Japan, the Himalayas, and the New 162 Zealand Alps. It is fond of growing in the crevices of precipitous rock faces, but can be found in safer places, including the commercial florists' rockeries.

The Swiss Alps are very rich in medicinal plants. There is the aconite plant, much favoured in homœopathic doses for the cure of colds and fevers, very efficacious to put an end to "life's fitful fever" if used in a strong dose; the arnica plant, sovereign remedy for bruises, its leaves used by the peasants in place of tobacco for smoking; the gentian, which makes a famous tonic bitter, much employed by doctors for the malade imaginaire, since it has a most convincingly bitter taste, and may be trusted to do no harm if it does no good; the meadow-rue, used as a specific against jaundice and malarial fever; and the Carline thistle, which was said to have been used as a plague specific by Charlemagne.

It is pleasant to note that the practical Swiss recognise the necessity of guarding the flower life as well as the forest life of their land. There is a Swiss "Association for the Protection of Plants," formed in 1883, which sets itself to two tasks, that of discouraging vandals who recklessly destroy plant life, and that of setting up163 shelter gardens where Alpine flowers may be collected and strictly preserved. Some of the Canton authorities help the work of the Society by enforcing close seasons for certain plants. The jardins refuges set up by the Society are not the least valuable of the means adopted for preserving one of the great natural beauties of the country; and these gardens, where are collected as in a botanical park as many specimens as possible of Alpine flora, give interesting objectives for special expeditions. The chief of these Alpine botanical gardens are at the Pont de Nant near Bex, at Rochers de Naye above Montreux, and at Bourg St. Pierre on the Grand St. Bernard. These gardens are at widely differing altitudes, and each one is at its best at a different season of the year.

But if one has no fever of botanical curiosity the best way after all to know the Alpine flowers is in the mass, with the crocus and the gentian in their vivid green settings flaunting the spring in the face of the snow-fields.




There is a great distinction between the national sports of the Swiss and those of Switzerland. The games which attract so many thousands to the Alps in winter are in no cases peculiar to Switzerland, and are rarely indigenous. Tobogganing and ski-ing, like mountain-climbing (as a pleasure), have been introduced to Switzerland by visitors. Even skating does not seem to have been much favoured by the Swiss until there came the great modern incursion of tourists, seeking not an asylum from religious or political persecution, nor the pleasure of seeing Voltaire or Madame de Staël, but ice sports under a bright sun in mid-winter.

The Swiss National Sports make a short and a dull list. They are rifle-shooting, gymnastic games, and rustic dancing to jödelling. They165 reflect the character of a little nation which, almost alone of the peoples of the world, finds it a matter of joy and not of labour to undertake military training, and carries the love of that training so far as to make rifle-shooting the chief national sport. The Swiss become very expert marksmen, and the government wisely encourages this fancy for so patriotic and useful a sport. The citizen is allowed to keep his government rifle at home, and to use it as much as he likes for his private pleasure.

The gymnastic sports are organised on national lines like the old Greek games. They embrace almost every form of manly exercise from wrestling to weight-lifting. Mr. Symonds, whose pictures of Swiss village life are very intimate and revealing, makes frequent references to the Turnfests (sports gatherings) of the Turnvereins (gymnastic clubs) of the Cantons. He recalls once being invited to drink wine at an inn with a band of gymnastic victors:

The gymnasts had thrown off their greatcoats, and stood displayed in a costume not very far removed from nudity. They had gained their crowns, they told me, that evening at an extraordinary meeting of the associated Turnvereins of the Canton. It was the oddest thing in the world to sit smoking in a dimly-166lighted, panelled tap-room with seven such companions. They were all of them strapping bachelors between twenty and twenty-five years of age; colossally broad in the chest and shoulders, tight in the reins, set massively upon huge thighs and swelling calves; wrestlers, boxers, stone-lifters, and quoit-throwers. Their short bull-throats supported small heads, closely clipped, with bruised ears and great big-featured faces, over which the wreaths of bright green artificial foliage bristled. I seemed to be sitting in a dream among vitalised statues of the later emperors, executed in the decadence of art, with no grasp on individual character, but with a certain reminiscence of the grand style of portraiture. Commodus, Caracalla, Alexander Severus, the three Gordians, and Pertinax might have been drinking there beside me in the pothouse. The attitudes assumed by these big fellows, stripped to their sleeveless jerseys and tight-fitting flannel breeches, strengthened the illusion. I felt as though we were waiting there for slaves, who should anoint their hair with unguents, gild their wreaths, enwrap them in the paludament, and attend them to receive the shouts of "Ave Imperator" from a band of gladiators or the legionaries of the Gallic army.

Apart from the rifle-shooting (which is commonly practised on Sundays), the frequent gymnastic meetings (which mark every feast-day), and the dancing festivals of the various harvest celebrations, the Swiss have no strictly national sport, unless it be chamois hunting. That last has been almost wholly given up to the visitors,167 who are willing to pay large prices for guides and shooting rights. The chamois is rare in Switzerland now; though there are rumours that enterprising hotel-keepers are beginning to "stock up" the heights near their places with bred specimens.

A wild chamois hunt offers the perfection of excitement and hunting risk. The animals are very nimble and very wary. As they browse they set an old doe as sentinel—a concession to femininity which seems to be dictated by wisdom—and it needs the greatest skill and daring to get past her watch and approach near enough for a shot. Lest there may be a doubt as to the scarcity of the true chamois in the mind of the reader, let me explain that the "chamois skin" of commerce, so plentifully used for gloves and for polishing cloths, is not, as a rule, chamois skin at all, but the dressed hide of rough-woolled sheep—the same hide which, after different methods of dressing, serves for all kinds of gloves—chamois, kid, "reindeer skin," dog-skin, doe-skin. All may come from the sheep.

Mr. John Finnemore gives a picturesque description of a herd of chamois in flight alarmed by the hunter:


The merry little kids forsake their gambols, and each runs to its mother and presses closely against her flank. The older ones leap upon boulders and rocks, and gaze eagerly on every hand to discover the whereabouts of the intruder. A few moments of watchful hesitation pass, and then, perhaps, a wandering breeze gives them a sniff of tainted air, and they fix upon the direction from which the foe is advancing.

Now follows a marvellous scene—that of a band of chamois in full retreat. The speed and agility of their flight is wonderful. They are faced by a precipice. They skim up it one after the other like swallows. There is no path, no ridge, no ledge: but here and there little knobs of rock jut out from the face of the cliff, and they spring from projection to projection with incredible sureness and skill, their four feet sometimes bunched together on a patch of rock not much larger than a man's fist. They vanish with lightning rapidity, and the hunter must turn away in search of another band, for these will not halt till they are far beyond his reach in some sanctuary of the hills quite inaccessible to him.

Very often a number of hunters go together, and close upon the chamois from every side. Then the swift creatures are in a ring, and, as they rush away down-wind, they are bound to come within shot of those posted on the side towards which they flee. Sometimes the chamois are turned back by long stretches of cord set upon sticks, and drawn across places where they could escape from the ring of hunters and drivers. From the cord flutter bright pieces of cotton cloth—red, blue, or yellow—and at sight of these the chamois face about and try another path. But when driven 169to the extremity of terror, chamois have been known to dash upon the line of flags, some clearing the obstacle with a flying leap, others bodily charging the rope, and bursting a way through. Very often the latter entangle their horns in the rope, and go whirling through the air in a double somersault. But they are on their legs again in a moment, and off at tremendous speed.


Apart from the national sports of the Swiss, the national sports of Switzerland—in which, since they were acclimatised, the Swiss take part and frequently excel—are skating, hockey, tobogganing, bob-sleighing, curling, and ski-ing. Skating is, I suppose, common to all lands where there is much ice. Tobogganing was introduced to Switzerland from America, and ski-ing from Norway. Another interesting recent sport is a modification of skating, and is known as ice-sailing. The skater rigs up a sail which he holds with his arms stretched out as yards—himself the ship. Skimming the ice one can keep thus up only till the arms are tired, but a most exhilarating speed is possible. Ice-sailing with yachts has been recently imported to the Swiss lakes from America. For ice-yachting, an expert says, "Dress as if you were going through the Arctic Circle on a fast motor-car in the worst of snow-storms. Goggles, leathers,170 and furs are indispensable. Use your eyes like a lynx, your rudder like a silk rein on a blood-mare—and you will quite enjoy it." It has enough of the element of danger as well as of speed to be attractive to the adventurous.

Tobogganing strictly is a Red Indian sport, and the name is Red Indian. But it is so closely related to sleighing that the germ of the sport can be discovered in almost all ice-covered countries. It was natural that in cold climates the wheels of waggons should be replaced, when the earth was frozen, with runners, and thus the sleigh came. The toboggan is a sporting variety of sleigh. Early traces of it can be found in Switzerland. An English visitor to the Alps noticed that the local postman used a rough sleigh to slide down the hills which he had to descend; was intrigued by the idea of the swift gliding; and there thus began to be cultivated the sport which has its culminating glory in the Cresta Run at St. Moritz—said, by the way, to have been planned by an Australian. Tobogganing has the charm of a great bicycle "coast" many times multiplied. Artificial difficulties have been developed to add to its risks and its excitement. The simple171 toboggan slide, the dragging of a toboggan up a smooth snow slope, and then sliding down at a pace reaching to thirty miles an hour, is old-fashioned and tame. Nowadays, the slide must be so arranged as to secure a much higher speed, and to give awkward turnings which need cool courage to negotiate. A speed of sixty miles an hour has been reached tobogganing.

Perhaps a charm of the toboggan is that it is not very useful. The flat board, set on runners, can only slide down hill, and you must draw it up first. The ski, on the other hand, has a very definite use. It enables snow-covered country to be traversed with safety at great speed, and a proof of its practical value is that the Swiss army is trained to march on ski. Down a steep slope a pace of forty miles an hour can be reached by the expert ski-runner, and he can leap great heights and great distances with the aid of the momentum of that speed. But to become an expert ski-runner calls for some trouble and pain.

With ski the exploration of the Alps in all kinds of weather has become possible. A recent Journal de Genève gave the account of an extraordinary adventure of two Swiss ski-runners.172 On Easter Sunday, 1913, these two set out with a companion from Saas Fee for the Britannia Hut. This hut was reached at 8 a.m., and the three ski-runners went on to the Allalin Pass, but were compelled by mist to return to the hut, which they reached about 5 p.m. On the Sunday evening three Genevese climbers came to the hut, and one of the party of three ski-runners went home, leaving two. These two intended to go to Zermatt over the Adler Pass, but the weather was so bad that it was Saturday before they could start. They were seen to reach the Allalin Pass, and no more was seen or heard of them for a very long time. But it seems that the ski-ers went down to the Findelen Glacier, up to the Stockjoch, and down via the Monte Rosa Glacier to the Gorner Glacier; thence up again to the Bétemps Hut, where they spent the night. The following day, Sunday, in uncertain weather, they went down on to the glacier again, meaning to go to Zermatt. One of the two, named Dehns, was going on ahead. The wind had blown away all trace of the track made by them the previous day, and the man who had remained behind noticed that Dehns was going too much to the left, and called out173 to him that he was not taking the right way, but too late. He had not gone more than about sixty yards on to the glacier before he disappeared into a crevasse, hidden beneath a quantity of fresh snow.

"I advanced," says the narrator, "cautiously to the brink of the crevasse, and called to Dehns, who replied that he was all right, only he had torn one ear and broken the point off one of his ski. I must use his rope to help him out, he said. I tied the ends of my puttees to my ski-sticks, my bootlaces, and anything else which could possibly serve the purpose of string, and I let everything down to him so that he could tie the rope to it. Dehns could understand what I said, but I could hear nothing that he said owing to the wind and the snowstorm which had begun."

Finally Dehns cut his way out of the crevasse in which he had been for four hours. He was a little frost-bitten and much bruised; and his ski were lost. They made their way to the Bétemps Hut, and there they remained for twelve days. They had very little in the way of provisions, half of what they had had with them being down the crevasse. Eventually the uninjured174 man contrived to burst open the door of the hut cellar, where he found food and wine.

Without ski it was impossible for the prisoners to leave, for eight or ten feet of fresh snow had fallen. Moreover, the condition of Dehns, who was badly bruised and in much pain, was sufficient to prevent him reaching Zermatt even with ski. On the twelfth day Dehns was better, and they made an expedition to attempt to recover the lost ski, but in vain. Next they attempted to make a pair of ski out of planks. But that was not successful. The next day they were rescued by a search party. The facts illustrate the value of ski for travelling in the snow and the helplessness of the voyager without them.

Skating, of course, is excellent in Switzerland in the winter. Most of the hotels catering for the tourist have set up rinks which are "artificial" to the extent that Nature is assisted a little to produce a clear smooth surface of ice. But the skating, like the tobogganing, is limited in its area. The visitor who would have the keys of the Alpine snows must learn the use of the ski.

It will be of interest to chronicle the chief winter sports centres. Good tobogganing, bob-sleighing,175 skating, ski-ing, ice-hockey, and curling are to be enjoyed at Arosa, Celerina, Davos, Klosters, Lenzerheide, Maloja, Pontresina, and at St. Moritz in the Canton Grisons; at Andermatt, at Engelberg, at Adelboden, Beatenberg, Grindwald, Gstaad and Wengen in the Bernese Oberland; at Les Brenets, at Caux, Château-d'-Oex, Chesieres, Diablerets, Les Avants, St. Cergue, Villars-Ollon in the Canton de Vaud; at Champery and Loèche-les-Bains in the Canton de Valais; and at Chamonix and le Planet in the Chamonix Valley.

As for summer sports, there are golf links at Aigle, Axen-Fels, Campfér, Celerina, Geneva, Gottschalkenberg, Interlaken, Les Rasses (near St. Croix), Lucerne, Lugano, Lugano-Paradiso, Maloja, Menaggio, Montana, Mont-Pélerin, Montreux, Pontresina, Ragaz, Samaden, St. Moritz-Dorf, Territet, Villeneuve, and Zurich-Dolder.

Tennis courts are almost everywhere attached to the hotels. Certainly no large village is without them, and they exist in plenty at Adelboden, Chamonix, Engelberg, Grindwald, Interlaken, Lucerne, Berne, St. Moritz, Wengen, and other cities.

The spring season in the Alps begins as early176 as March in some places, but more generally in April. It is the chief season around Lake Leman. The summer season begins with June, and is the chief season in eastern Switzerland, the Bernese Oberland, Lake Neuchâtel, Zurich, St. Gothard, and many other parts. Indeed, there is a summer season in all Switzerland. For the autumn, many favour the Lake of Lucerne and the Lake of Leman. The winter season begins usually with December, and again embraces almost all of Switzerland, but the chief centres for this season correspond with the list of the towns (already given) which make special provision for winter sports.

I do not know whether bath-resorts can be described fittingly as sport centres; but it is well to chronicle somewhere the fact that Switzerland is well off for thermal and medicinal baths. Baden is the chief of the bath centres. Owing to its excellent climate and to its hot springs Baden was, in Roman times, the most important watering-place and health-resort to the north of the Alps. Numerous excavations, inscriptions, remains of temples, statues, coins and surgical instruments confirm this fact. In Roman times the principal military road of Helvetia 177led through Baden, connecting the watering-place with Vindonissa, the great Helvetian fortress, six miles away. In the year 1892, beyond the Roman road in Baden, in the direction of Vindonissa, there were discovered the foundations of a large connected block of buildings, which, when fully excavated, revealed fourteen apartments of various sizes, from 10 to 88 feet in length. The architecture of this building, the medical and surgical instruments and utensils found there, and the proximity of the Helvetian fortress of Vindonissa, where Roman legions were stationed, and the thermal springs show without much doubt that this was the site of a Roman military hospital. Besides those at Baden there are medicinal springs at Ragaz, Champery, Lavey-les-Bains, Passagg, Aigle, St. Moritz-Bad, Grinel-les-Bains, and many other centres. They will provide entertainment for those whose life is not happy without some devotion to a more or less real ailment.





Coming to the end of the limits set for this volume, the writer finds that many aspects of Swiss life have been perforce neglected. No space could be found, for example, to deal with the educational system, which both in its primary and secondary forms and in its devotion to technical instruction has aroused the admiration of experts in many countries. This Swiss educational system is at once generous and practical, with compulsory attendance enforced and gratuitous instruction, books, and materials provided. Teaching begins in the national schools, called the Primarschule, which are attended by children of all ranks and at which attendance is compulsory from the age of nine until the completion of the fifteenth year, unless children pass from these to higher schools. The classes179 are mixed and contain from 40 to 44 children, who are taught by both men and women teachers. The school course ensures the boys and girls a general elementary education, including a knowledge of French—so essential in a country with three national languages—which is taken during the last two years at school. Considerable time is also devoted to physical exercise, carpentry, needlework, and cookery. The plan of studies in the secondary schools, which scholars may enter after four years in the primary schools, and where they remain until the age of fifteen, is much more extensive, and includes a more profound study of French (five years' course) and an advanced course of the sciences, geometry, and drawing. The instruction is gratuitous, and the passing of a preliminary examination the only condition of entry. From the secondary schools scholars have the option of ultimately entering the Gymnasium or the industrial and commercial schools.

The secondary school is succeeded by the higher schools. The Municipal Gymnasium (grammar school) accepts all boys and girls above the age of ten who pass the entrance examination. In the Progymnasium, which corresponds180 to the secondary school in its course of studies, instruction is gratuitous up to the age of fifteen; after that the annual fees amount to sixty francs. There are great Universities in the chief cities, which are much favoured by foreign pupils.

It is a sign of the practical side of the Swiss character that very special attention should be given to technical schools: the Swiss technical schools are said to be the most thorough in the world, and they will teach anything, from waiting to watch-making. Another sign of the practical is the Swiss custom to keep the schools in mountain villages open only during the long Alpine winter—from the beginning of October till the following Easter. All through the summer, lads and boys tend sheep or cows in the fields, help their fathers to make hay, roam in the woods, and get their fill of air and sunshine. The schoolmasters have gone to their own villages, where they mow and gather in the crops like the other peasants to whose households they belong. This is good from the point of view of health, and also from that of domestic economy.

Leaving their schools strong in body because of the organised system of gymnastic training;181 strong in national pride because of the attention which has been paid by their teachers in impressing the glorious story of the past; with well-balanced, sane, practical minds the Swiss are ready to face the tasks of life with a fearless confidence. Their pride does not teach them to despise labour, even in forms which may appear contemptible. Their sense of thrift, which almost verges on a sense of greed, does not make them inhospitable. They show their virtues in the sphere of the commonplace, as servants, traders, petty masters. But they are heroic in the sphere of commonplace; and no one, looking back on their history, can dare to doubt that if great occasion arose in the future they would respond to it as courageously as in the past, and hold their hills against any attempt at conquest.

In every respect they seem to preserve their historic national character. Since the earliest of the Middle Ages, Switzerland was accustomed to find asylum for the saint fleeing from a monarch's anger, the reformer dreading the persecution of a church, the thinker seeking a safe corner from which he could invite mankind to consider some daring hypothesis. There was182 a complaint in the European newspapers only this year (1913) that:

Geneva has for a long time past been a centre for eccentric and ill-regulated individuals of every description, a certain proportion being in addition idle and generally undesirable characters. Her University is, of course, the main cause of a condition of things far from pleasing to the responsible authorities. It has long attracted, and still continues to attract, students from all parts of the world—crop-haired Russians, wild-looking Bulgarians, Greeks, Levantines, and Egyptians.

The chief cause of dissatisfaction at the moment, it seems, was that Geneva University had become the headquarters of the so-called Permanent Committee of the Young Egyptian Party:

These young Egyptians (often not really Egyptians at all, but Levantines) loom largely in the public eye. Throughout the present summer, for instance, more than a fortnight or three weeks have never elapsed without their meeting in Geneva, ostensibly to pass some resolution or to appeal to England to keep her engagements regarding the eventual evacuation of Egypt, or, it might be, to draft some letter of protest to be sent to Sir Edward Grey. These resolutions are invariably transmitted without delay to the foreign Press agencies established in Geneva, and by them telegraphed right and left throughout Europe. It frequently happens, of course, that the more serious and better-informed newspapers treat these resolutions183 for what they are worth, but far more frequently, especially by German newspapers or journals, which for some reason or other are not friendly disposed to Great Britain, or are wholly ignorant of British administration in Egypt, they are published in extenso, as if they were the decisions arrived at by the British Association, the French Academy, or some other society of long-established reputation and recognised standing. It must be admitted that the "Young Egyptians" in Geneva are very clever in hoodwinking a large number of foreign editors, and in causing themselves to be taken far more seriously than they deserve.

But it is not likely that the "Young Egyptians" will find their stay in Geneva interfered with by the Swiss authorities. The tradition of the "right of asylum" is too strong; and provided that the line is drawn at actual criminality, no Power will successfully ask for their expulsion from Switzerland. Yet the presence of these futile conspirators must be of annoyance to the Swiss Government, which wishes to live at peace with all the world, and finds sometimes a threat of interference with its tourist traffic in foreign resentment at Swiss-sheltered disloyalists. But in this matter historic sentiment defeats the practical. The Swiss are determined to be hospitable, even to their own loss. And Europe generally is inclined to sympathise with,184 and respect, this little mountain people set in the midst of great Powers, from whose disputes they rigorously hold aloof, seeking to maintain their liberty by a sturdily pacific policy, but keeping in reserve for national defence a great military organisation.





Switzerland is not all scenery and hotels. The little nation has a prosperous life apart from the tourists who make of its mountains a playground. There is interesting matter to be gleaned from the facts given in the publications of the Swiss Federal Statistical Bureau.

The residential population of Switzerland is 3,753,293, and the area 4,129,827 square kilometres, of which 3,203,089 are counted as productive, and 926,738 as unproductive. Thus three-quarters of the land is capable of being put to some use. There are over 120 lakes within the Swiss area.

The population of Switzerland lately has grown steadily. The marriage-rate (7·3) is low; the birth-rate (25·0) fairly high; the death-rate186 (15·1) a little above the average. All three rates show a tendency to dwindle, following the rule of the western European countries. The death-rate from infectious diseases is high, representing one-fifth of the total. Emigration to foreign lands is not large now, Switzerland losing about 5000 people a year from this cause, the great majority of whom go to the United States and the Argentine.

The chief agricultural and pastoral products of Switzerland are milk, cheese, cream, cereals, vines, fruits, and tobacco. The vintage is worth £600,000 a year. The forests are made to pay well, and are very carefully safeguarded. On an average about £500,000 a year is devoted to re-planting and to protecting woods. The woods are divided into two classes, protective and non-protective. The former are treated as safe-guards against avalanches, and are exploited only with a due consideration for their primary purpose as bulwarks. Altogether 21 per cent of Switzerland is forest land, and three-quarters of this area is treated as "protective forest." The Governments of the United States and of Canada, which are disturbed regarding the de-forestation of their areas and the consequent187 deterioration of soil and climate, should make a careful study of the admirable Swiss system of forestry.

The Swiss lake and river fisheries are very carefully preserved and cultivated. There are in all 188 fish nurseries maintained within the country, and during a year over 100,000,000 fish of various sorts (trout chiefly) are hatched out and released in the rivers and lakes. Incidentally a steady war is carried on against crows, herons, and other birds destructive to fish. In this, as in every other respect when the life of the Swiss people is examined, there will be found a steady, thrifty, scientific effort to make the most of every available resource of the country. There is probably less waste and more utilisation of natural opportunities in Switzerland than in any other country of the world.

Swiss industries are in some cases Government monopolies, and help the national revenue considerably. The salt monopoly brings in about £1,500,000 a year, of which a great part is profit. The total trade of Switzerland reaches £120,000,000 value a year, of which the exports represent about £50,000,000 and the imports about £70,000,000. That is exclusive of coin,188 on which there is a balance in favour of Switzerland of about £600,000 annually. The tourist traffic is mainly responsible for the balance of imports in favour of Switzerland, for there is practically no foreign borrowing. The Swiss have a flourishing export trade in various manufactures, such as watches (export worth nearly £6,000,000 a year). In all 75 per cent of the Swiss export trade is in manufactured goods. Of the imports into Switzerland 40 per cent are of raw materials, 26 per cent of food supplies, and the balance of manufactured goods. Germany claims the largest share of the import trade into Switzerland, with France, Italy, and Great Britain next in that order. Of the export trade also Germany takes the largest share, but that of Great Britain is very nearly equal. The United States comes third in the list of customers for Swiss exports.

The public services in Switzerland are excellent, and show a high power of organisation. The postal, telegraph, and telephone system has been, in particular, wonderfully organised in Switzerland, as the visitor soon finds and the inhabitant fully realises. You may use the post office for almost anything and telephone almost189 anywhere in Switzerland. Some £2,500,000 has been sunk in the telegraph and telephone lines in Switzerland, and the annual revenue is about £700,000. The articles carried by post in Switzerland total in a year about 360,000,000. The number of telegrams sent per inhabitant in Switzerland is greater than in any other European country except Great Britain. The Swiss railways are very well developed, too well developed for some lovers of the Alps. Each year there are constructed new funicular railways and tramways, until soon it will be hard to find a ten-miles' square in all Switzerland which has not a railway of some sort. Counting in all the mountain railways, the total length of Swiss lines runs to the astonishing total of over 5,250,000 metres, and additions go on at the rate of over 250,000 metres a year. These railways bring in about £9,000,000 a year, on which a good profit is realised—about £3,000,000 a year—representing 3·32 per cent on the capital invested. The Federal Government controls the chief lines and manages them very well, making a good profit out of providing reasonably cheap facilities to the public. Tourists are able to buy circular tickets, which frank over all the190 Swiss lines under the control of the Federal Government. The funicular railways up the mountain sides are usually privately owned. Over £1,000,000 of capital has been sunk in these enterprises, and they pay well on the average by the strength of their appeal to the arm-chair Alpinist.

Education, as already observed, has been brought to a high pitch of organisation in Switzerland. From the primary schools to the seven Universities there are splendid facilities for learning. In the 4690 primary schools there are about 530,000 pupils yearly under 12,023 teachers. The cost of this primary education is a little over £2,000,000 a year. In the 642 secondary (higher) schools there are about 55,000 pupils yearly under 2000 teachers, and the cost of these schools is about £300,000 a year. There are, in addition, schools of agriculture, of dairying, of commerce, and other technical schools. In the various agricultural colleges about 1250 pupils are trained each year, in the schools of commerce about 4000 pupils. In addition, continuation commercial schools give further instruction to some 10,000 pupils yearly, who attend holiday and evening classes. But that191 does not exhaust the list of educational facilities. In all, Switzerland spends £3,200,000 a year on State education, nearly £1 a year per inhabitant. Since salaries are on an extraordinarily thrifty scale in all branches of the Swiss public service—the President of the Republic getting a salary which would be scorned by the manager of a small business house in London or New York—this appropriation allows for a very large number of teachers. In the seven universities of Switzerland (Bâle, Zurich, Berne, Geneva, Lausanne, Fribourg, and Neuchâtel) there is an average of 8500 students a year, of whom fully a third are foreigners.

Correctional schools and schools for the feeble-minded are integral parts of the Swiss social system. An average of 1500 children a year are treated in the correctional schools, and of 1300 a year in the schools for the feeble-minded (of which there are 28 in all). There are 14 special schools for deaf mutes, treating an average of 700 pupils a year.

Switzerland gathers in for Federal purposes a public revenue of nearly £6,500,000 a year, about half from the Customs, almost all the rest from the posts, telegraphs, and railways.192 Outgoings are on a thrifty scale. The whole of the "general administration" absorbs only £55,000 a year. The excellent army costs barely £1,700,000 a year. The Federal receipts and expenses are, of course, apart from the Canton revenues. The Cantons separately raise and spend about £5,500,000 a year. That makes the total taxation in Switzerland some £12,000,000 a year.

The production and sale of alcohol is a Federal monopoly in Switzerland. The Regie makes about £400,000 a year profit, the bulk of which is returned to the Canton governments.

Some further indications of Swiss social life will be given by these facts: there are in Switzerland 385 savings banks with 446,247 depositors and £63,000,000 in deposits. The gaol population is about 4170, of whom about one-fourth are serious criminals. Capital punishment is not allowed in Switzerland, nor is imprisonment for debt.

The Swiss army stands to-day at an effective strength of 142,000 for the elite and 7000 for the Landwehr. The efficiency of the Landwehr (reserve) is helped much by the general popularity of rifle shooting as a sport. The Federation 193has 3958 rifle clubs with 232,225 members. The Government encourages these clubs with subsidies, and spends about £25,000 a year in that way. Since there are 839,114 male voters in Switzerland, it will seem that more than a fourth of the total male population belongs to rifle clubs.


The Swiss are keen politicians and go industriously to the polls for the election of representatives, and for the settlement of the numerous questions referred to their decision by direct vote. In 1912 there was a Swiss referendum on the subject of the new Insurance law against sickness and accidents. Of the 839,114 electors 529,001 recorded their votes.

Switzerland each year attracts more and more the attention of sociologists. Its completely popular system of government, which has solved the problem of carrying on a democracy without extravagance and without bureaucratic inefficiency, its close and effective organisation of military, education, and charity matters, its methods of referring political issues for settlement directly to the people—all are being carefully studied in various countries of the world with a view to imitation. It yet remains to be seen whether194 methods and policies which work notably well in their native land would bear transplanting; whether, too, they would be as suitable for larger areas and larger populations than Switzerland has. In some respects the Swiss example will doubtless prove useful for imitation (with modifications) in other countries.

But it is fair to question whether the happiness to which the little Swiss people have reached is the ideal with which civilised democracy would be content. The Swiss are happy, but it is a strictly mediocre happiness. They are content because they have a very modest standard of contentment. The people of the country, with all their virtues, are not inspiring; and the life they lead suggests a little too much the life of an excellently-managed institution to be really attractive. At the outset of this volume I ventured to question the justice of some eminent travellers who have abused the Swiss. They, it would seem to me, had formed an extraordinarily heroic idea of the Swiss character, and were disappointed that close examination showed a people who are very estimable, very well-educated, very firm in their patriotism, but not always suggestive of the heroic. Between an195 unfair depreciation and the idealising of the Swiss nation there is a reasonable middle ground, and from that middle ground the social and political inquirer should approach the study of Swiss sociological institutions.



Printed by R. & R. Clark, Limited, Edinburgh.



Transcriber's note:

Archaic and inconsistent spelling, punctuation, and syntax retained.

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