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Title: The Spell of Switzerland

Author: Nathan Haskell Dole

Release Date: October 23, 2012 [EBook #41153]

Language: English

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The Spell of Switzerland
Nathan Haskell Dole


Each volume with many illustrations from original drawings or special photographs. Octavo, with decorative cover, gilt top, boxed.
Per volume $2.50 net, postpaid $2.70

By Caroline Atwater Mason

By Caroline Atwater Mason

By Julia de W. Addison

By Burton E. Stevenson

By Nathan Haskell Dole

By William D. McCrackan

In Preparation
By Frank Roy Fraprie


Evening near Saas-Fee

[See page 369]

The Spell of Switzerland

Nathan Haskell Dole

from photographs and original paintings by
Woldemar Ritter


Copyright, 1913, by
L. C. Page & Company

Entered at Stationers’ Hall, London

All rights reserved

First Impression, October, 1913


[Pg v]


The present book is cast in the guise of fiction. The vague and flitting forms of my niece and her three children are wholly figments of the imagination. No such person as “Will Allerton” enters my doorway. The “Moto,” which does such magical service in transporting “Emile” and his admirers from place to place is as unreal as Solomon’s Carpet.

After Lord Sheffield and his family had started back from a visit to Gibbon at Lausanne, his daughter, Maria T. Holroyd, wrote the historian: “I do not know what strange charm there is in Switzerland that makes everybody desirous of returning there.” It is the aim of this book to express that charm. It lies not merely in heaped-up masses of mountains, in wonderfully beautiful lakes, in mysterious glaciers, in rainbow-adorned waterfalls; it is largely due to the association with human beings.

The spell of Switzerland can be best expressed not in the limited observations of a single person but rather by a concensus of descriptions. The casual traveller plans, perhaps,[Pg vi] to ascend the Matterhorn or Mount Pilatus; but day after day may prove unpropitious; clouds and storms are the enemy of vision. One must therefore take the word of those more fortunate. Poets and other keen-eyed observers help to intensify the spell. These few words will explain the author’s plan. It is purposely desultory; it is not meant for a guide-book; it is not intended to be taken as a perfectly balanced treatise covering the history in part or in whole of the twenty-four cantons; it has biographical episodes but they are merely hints at the richness of possibilities, and if Gibbon and Tissot and Rousseau stand forth prominently, it is not because Voltaire, Juste Olivier, Hebel, Töpfer, Amiel, Frau Spyri, and a dozen others are not just as worthy of selection. One might write a quarto volume on the charms of the Lake of Constance or the Lake of Zürich or the Lake of Lucerne. Scores of castles teem with historic and romantic associations. It is all a matter of selection, a matter of taste. It is not for the author to claim that he has succeeded in conveying his ideas, but whatever effect his work may produce on the reader, he, himself, may, without boasting, claim that he is completely under the spell of Switzerland.

Nathan Haskell Dole.

    Boston, October 1, 1913.

[Pg vii]


  Preface v
I. Uncle and Niece 1
II. Just a Common Voyage 8
III. A Roundabout Tour 25
IV. Home at Lausanne 37
V. Gibbon at Lausanne 74
VI. Around the Lake Leman 101
VII. A Digression at Chillon 122
VIII. Lord Byron and the Lake 136
IX. A Princess and the Spell of the Lake 149
X. The Alps and the Jura 160
XI. The Southern Shore 173
XII. Geneva 197
XIII. Sunrise and Rousseau 216
XIV. The City of Rousseau and Calvin 232
XV. Famous Folk 269
XVI. The Ascent of the Dôle 290
XVII. A Former Worker of Spells 311
XVIII. To Chamonix 322
XIX. A Detour to Zermatt 350
XX. The Vale of Chamonix 364
XXI. Hannibal in Switzerland 382
XXII. Zürich 400
XXIII. At Zürich with the Professor 414
XXIV. On the Shores of Lake Lucerne 445
XXV. Lausanne Again 454
  Bibliography 469
  Index 471

[Pg ix]


Evening near Saas-Fee (in full colour) (see page 369) Frontispiece
In the Engadine Valley (in full colour) 8
The Alpenglow on the Jungfrau 11
A Winterthur Stove 39
A Swiss Château 52
The Cathedral, Lausanne 66
Lausanne and the Savoy Mountains 78
La Dent du Midi from Montreux 106
Lake Leman at Vevey 120
The Castle of Chillon 124
The Prison of Bonivard in the Castle of Chillon 130
Mont Blanc 141
The Castle of Châtelard and the Savoy Alps 155
Alpine Herdsmen 164
The Living-Room of an Alpine Castle (in full colour) 173
The Waterfront and the Ile Rousseau, Geneva 197
Swiss Mediaeval Carvings 210
Les Grandes Jorasses 216
Across Lake Leman 230
Fribourg 243
Barks on Lake Leman 262
Along the Shore of Lake Leman 267
The Savoy Alps from the North Shore of Lake Leman 297
All the mighty valleys of the Alps were filling with mists 308
Mont Blanc and the Valley of Chamonix 327
The Valley of the Rhône at Martigny 342
Pissevache Cascade 348
Le Mont Cervin 354
Monte Rosa 359
The Needle of the Matterhorn 362
On the Glacier 366
Jagged needles and pinnacles of cruel rock 375
The snow was deep on the mountains 392
The Hospice of the Great St. Bernard 396
The Castle of Neuchâtel 402
An Old Street in Bern 410
A Rainy Day in Zürich 415
The Urner Loch 424
The Kinzig Pass 426
The Klöntalersee 428
The Falls of the Rhine 435
The Fraumünster 436
The Quaint Statue of Charlemagne 438
Rapperswyl 442
Sertiz Dörfli (in full colour) 444
Lucerne and Mount Pilatus 448
On the Lake of Lucerne 450
The music of the cows’ bells 454
The Staubbach 456
A Street in Thun 460
Château Voltaire, Ferney 464
Wrestling at a Village Festival 467

[Pg xii]


[Pg 1]



I MUST confess, I did not approve of my niece and her husband’s plan of expatriating themselves for the sake of giving their only son and heir, and their twin girls, a correct accent in speaking French. But I had the grace to hold my tongue. I wonder if my wife would have been equally discreet—supposing I possessed such a helpmeet. Probably she would not have done so, even if I had; and probably also I should not, if she had. For the very fact of my having a wife would prove that I should be different from what I am.

There is an implication in this slight exhibition of boastfulness; but it is not subtle. Any[Pg 2] one would see it instantly—namely, that I am a bachelor. A bachelor uncle whose niece takes it into her head to marry and raise a family, is as deeply bereaved as he would be were he her father. More so, indeed, for a father has his wife left to him....

The relationship between uncle and niece has never been sufficiently celebrated in poetry. It deserves to be sung. Besides the high, noble friendship which it implies, there is also about it a touch of almost lover-like sentiment. The right-hearted uncle loves to lavish all kinds of luxuries on his niece and feels sufficiently repaid by the look of frank affection in her eyes, the unabashed kiss which is the envy of young men who happen to witness it.

Here are the facts in my case. After my brother’s wife died, he urged me to make my home at his house. I suppose I might have done so long before; but I had been afraid of my sister-in-law. She was a tall imperious woman; she did not approve of me at all. She could not see my jokes, or, if she did, she frowned on them. I suppose she thought me frivolous. She was one of those women who make you appear at your worst. She was sincere and genuine and good, but our wireless apparatus was not tuned in harmony. As long[Pg 3] as she was at the helm of my brother’s establishment I preferred to enjoy less comfortable quarters elsewhere.

But when, as the Wordsworth line has it, “Ruth was left half desolate” (though her father did not “take another mate”), and they showed me how delightfully I could dispose of my library and have an open fire on cold winter evenings, and what a perfect position was, as it were, destined for my baby grand—for I am devoted to music—en amateur, of course,—I yielded, and for ten happy years, saw Ruth grow from a young girl into the woman “nobly planned, to warn, to comfort and command.”

Command? What woman does not?

At my advice she took up the violin, and I shall never forget the hours and hours when we practised and really played mighty well—if I do say it, who shouldn’t—through the whole range of duets, beginning with simple pieces for her immature fingers and ending with the strange and sometimes—to me—incomprehensible fantaisies of the super-modernists.

But all these simple home-joys came to their inevitable end. The right man appeared and did as the right men always have done and will do. Uncles are as prone to jealousy as any[Pg 4] other class of bipeds; but here again the philosophy of life which I trust I have made evident I cherish, and which, as one good turn deserves another, cherishes me, enabled me to preserve a front of discreet neutrality. I may have been over-zealous to look up the young man’s record; but there was nothing to which the most scrupulous could take exception. He was a clean, straight, manly youth with excellent prospects.

Will Allerton lived in Chicago; that was a second count against him, but equally futile as a valid argument for dissuasion. After their wedding-journey, they went to a delightful little house in East Elm Street in Chicago. Business called me to that city two or three times, and I visited them. So many of my friends had been unhappily married that I was more or less pessimistic about that kind of life-partnership; but my niece’s happy home was an excellent cure for my bachelor cynicism. The coming of their first child,—they did me the honour of making me his godfather, though I do not much believe in such formalities; and they also named him for me,—the coming of this little mortal made no change other than a decided increase in the bliss of that loving home.

[Pg 5]

When little Lawrence was four years old, and the twins were two, his grandfather died suddenly. It was a tremendous change to have my good brother removed from my side. My niece and her husband came on from Chicago. They were pathetically solicitous for my welfare. Most insistently they urged me to come and live with them. There was plenty of room in the house, they said.

I was greatly touched by their generous kindness, but I set my face sternly against any uprooting of the sort. I said I much preferred to stay on where I was. I had consulted with my Lares and Penates and found that they opposed any such bouleversement. The old housekeeper who had looked after our comfort was still capable of doing all that was necessary for me. My wants were few; I lived the simple life and its cares and pleasures amply satisfied my ambition. I had a small circle of congenial friends, particularly among my books. I did not know what it meant to be lonely. If I needed company, I could always fortify myself with the presence of college classmates. I had organized a quartet of fairly capable musicians who came once or twice a week to play chamber-music with me, and for me. I had several protégés studying music at[Pg 6] the conservatory and my Sunday afternoon musicales were a factor in my satisfaction. So it was arranged that I should make no radical change for the present, at least. I would spend my vacations with them at the seashore, where we had a comfortable little datcha, and at least once during the winter I would make them a visit in Chicago.

Thus passed two more years. Then out of a clear sky came the report that my niece and her husband were going to take their young hopeful and his sisters to Switzerland, so that he might learn to speak French with a perfect accent! Will had a rich old aunt—a queer, misanthropic personage, who lived the life of a hermit. She, too, took the long journey into the Unknown and, as she could not carry her possessions with her, they fell to her nephew.

I saw them off, and the last word my niece said, as we parted tenderly, was, “You must run over and make us a visit.”

I shook my head: “I am afflicted with a fatal illness. I am afraid of the voyage.”

Her sweet face expressed such concern that I quickly added: “It is nothing serious; but there is no hope for it—it is only old age.”

“That’s just like you,” she exclaimed, “and I know you do not dread the ocean.”

[Pg 7]

“Well, we’ll see,” I tergiversated. “I don’t believe you’ll stay. You’ll miss all the American conveniences and you’ll get so tired of hearing nothing but French.”

“Nonsense!” she exclaimed. “Of course we shall stay, and of course you’ll come.”

[Pg 8]


IT was inevitable. I, who had always jestingly compared myself to a brachypod, fastened by Fate to my native reef, and getting contact with visitors from abroad only as they were brought by tides and currents, began to feel the irresistible impulse to grow wings and fly away. How could I detach my clinging tentacles?

Every letter from Lausanne, where my dear ones had established themselves, urged me to “run over” and make them a long visit. My room was waiting for me. They depicted the view from its windows; splendid sweeps of mountains, snow-clad, tinged rose-flesh tints by the marvellous, magical kiss of the hidden sun; the lake glittering in the breeze, or dazzlingly azure in the afternoon calm; the desk; the comfortable, old, carved bedstead; the quaint, tiled stove which any museum would be glad to possess. There were excursions on foot or by [Pg 9]automobile; mountains to climb; the Dolomites to visit. Each time new drawings, new seductions. With each week’s mail I felt the insidious, impalpable lure.

In the Engadine Valley

[See page 444]

I have many friends who put faith in astrology. One of my acquaintances is making a large income from constructing horoscopes. She is sincere; she has a real faith. She acts on the hypothesis that from even the most distant of the planets radiate baleful or beneficent influences which move those mortals who are, as it were, keyed or tuned to them. Saturn, whose density is less than alcohol, a billion miles away; Neptune, almost three billion miles away, infinitesimal specks in the ocean of space, make men and women happy or miserable. How much more then is it possible that the heaped-up masses of mighty mountains may work their spell on men half-way around this globe of ours? I began to be conscious of the Spell of Switzerland.

A half-crazy friend of mine, a painter, who loved mountains and depicted them on his canvases, once broached a theory of his, as we stood on top of Mount Adams:—

“The time will come,” he said with the conviction of a prophet, “when we shall be able to take advantage of the electric current flowing[Pg 10] from this mountain-mass to Mount Washington, yonder, and commit ourselves safely and boldly to its control. Then we shall be able to practise levitation. It will be perfectly easy, perfectly feasible to leap from one peak to another.”

I am sure I felt stirring within me the impulse to leap into the air with the certainty that I should land on top of the Jungfrau or of Mont Blanc. It was a cumulative attraction. Every day it grew more intense. I got from the library every book I could find about Switzerland. I soaked myself in Swiss history. I began to know Switzerland as familiarly as if I had already been there.

Then came the decisive letter. My niece absolutely took it for granted that I was coming. She said: “We will meet you at Cherbourg with the motor. Cable.”

This time I was obedient. I wound up my affairs for an indefinite absence.

I took passage on a slow steamer, for I was in no hurry, and I wanted to have time enough to finish some more reading. I wanted to know Switzerland before I actually met her. I knew that I was destined to love her.


Theoretically one may understand psychology, even the psychology of woman—may, I say, not insisting too categorically upon this point, especially since the recent discovery that woman has, to her advantage over man, a superfluous and accessory chromosome to every cell in her dear body—one may know anatomy and physiology; but, when one falls in love with her, all this knowledge is as nought; she becomes, in the words of Heine, die eine, die feine, die reine. In this spirit, I studied the geology of Switzerland, realizing in advance that, as soon as I saw the Alpenglow on the peak of the Wetterhorn or of Die Jungfrau, I should not care a snap of my finger for the scientific constitution of the vast rock-masses, or for the theories that explain how they are doubled over on themselves and piled up like the folds of a rubber blanket.

On the first day out, as I sat on the deck as far forward as possible, I became in imagination the prehistoric ancestor of the frigate-bird, spreading my broad wings, tireless, above the waste of that Jurassic Sea which, only a brief geologic age ago, swept above what is now the highest land of Europe, with its south-most boundary far away in Africa. By the same power of the imagination I saw mighty islands emerge from the face of those raging waters. To the imagination a thousand or a[Pg 11]
[Pg 12]
million years is but as a wink; it can see in the corrugated skin of a parched apple all the vast cataclysms of a continent. Through the ages these seas deposited their strata to be pressed into rock; those strata were upheaved and, as they became dry land, the torrential rains, the mighty rivers, gnawed them away and spread them out over the central plain of what is now Switzerland, and filled the valleys of the Rhine and the Rhône and the Reuss, the Po and the Inn and the Danube, making the plains of Lombardy and Germany, of Belgium, of Holland and southeastern France. Almost three solid miles, it is estimated, have been eroded and carried away from the mountain-tops—sedimentary rocks and crystalline schists and even the tough granite.

As Sir John Lubbock well says, “true mountain ranges, that is to say, the elevated portions of the earth’s surface, are the continents themselves, on which most mountain-chains are mere wrinkles.” Under enormous pressure, and as the interior of the earth gradually cooled and shrank, the crust remaining at the same temperature, through the force of gravity great plaques of the crust sank in and perhaps, as in the case of mesas, left great mountain-masses, which the streams and rivers immediately[Pg 13] began to carve into secondary hills and valleys. Sometimes these mountain-masses resisted pressure; “these,” says Sir John, “form buttresses, as it were, against which surrounding areas have been pressed by later movements. Such areas have been named by Suess ‘Horsts,’ a term which it may be useful to adopt, as we have no English equivalent. In some cases where compressed rocks have encountered the resistance of such a ‘Horst,’ as in the northwest of Scotland and in Switzerland, they have been thrown into the most extraordinary folds, and even thrust over one another for several miles.”

Sir John, whose book, “The Scenery of Switzerland,” I had with me as I sat in my cozy nook in the bow, asserts boldly that Switzerland was not formed, as people used to think, by upheaving forces acting vertically from below. “The Alps,” he says, “have been thrown into folds by lateral pressure, giving every gradation from the simple undulations of the Jura to the complicated folds of the Alps.”

Thus the strata between Bâle and Milan, a distance of one hundred and thirty miles, would, if horizontal, occupy two hundred miles. In some cases the most ancient portions are[Pg 14] thrown up over more recent ones. The higher the mountain is, however, the more likely it is to be young; whereas low ranges are like the worn-out teeth of some ancient dame. “The hills of Wales,” says Sir John, “though comparatively so small, are venerable from their immense antiquity, being far older, for instance, than the Vosges themselves, which, however, were in existence while the strata now forming the Alps were still being deposited at the bottom of the ocean. But though the Alps are from this point of view so recent, it is probable that the amount which has been removed is almost as great as that which still remains. They will, however, if no fresh elevation takes place, be still further reduced, until nothing but the mere stumps remain.”

Now I read geology as if I understood all about it; but, five minutes after I have put the book down, I get the ages inextricably mixed; Eocene and Pleiocene and pre-Carboniferous and Cambrian and Silurian are all one to me. Jurassic sounds as if it were an acid and I can not possibly remember in which era fossils lived and impressed themselves into the soft clay like seals on wax.

It is tremendously interesting. When I am reading about those old days, I have no difficulty[Pg 15] in picturing before my mental vision a great jungle filled with eohippuses and megatheriums and ichthyosauruses and other monstrous creatures. When I get to Oeningen I mean to make a study of fossils: I am told it has the richest collection in the world.

That night I dreamed that I stood on the highest peak of the primitive Alps and a great earthquake shook off colossal blocks of gneiss; vast rivers went rushing down the valleys. I awoke suddenly with a sort of involuntary terror. It was nothing but the tail-end of a gale which tossed the ship like a cockle-shell. The rivers were the streams of water rushing down the deck as the ship plunged her nose into the smothering spume of the angry sea. I slipped on my storm-coat and, clinging to the jamb of my stateroom, gazed out on the wild scene. The sky was clearing, and a moon, which must have been in its second childhood—it looked so slim and young—was riding low in what I supposed was the east; the morning star was darting among scurrying clouds; great phosphorescent splashes of foam were flying high; the ship was staggering like the conventional, or perhaps I should say unconventional, drunken man. A splash of spray in my face counselled me to retire behind my door, and I[Pg 16] made a frantic dash for my berth, and slept the sleep of the just the rest of the night.

To a man free of care, without any reason for worry, in excellent health, capable of long hours of invigorating sleep, an ocean voyage is an excellent preparation for a season of sightseeing, of mountain-climbing, of new experiences.

I considered myself quite fortunate to discover on board two Swiss gentlemen. One was a professor from the University of Zürich; the other was an electrical engineer from Geneva. I had many interesting talks with them about Helvetic politics and history.

Professor Heinrich Landoldt was a tall, blond-haired, middle-aged man, with bright blue eyes and a vivid eloquence of gesticulation. He was greatly interested in archaeology and had been down to Venezuela to study the lake dwellings, still inhabited, on the shores of Lake Maracaibo. Here, in our own day, are primitive tribes living exactly as lived the unknown inhabitants of the Swiss lakes, whose remains still pique the curiosity of students. Painters, like M. H. Coutau, have drawn upon their imagination to depict the kind of huts once occupied on the innumerable piles found, for instance, at Auvergnier. But Dr. Landoldt had[Pg 17] actually seen half-naked savages conducting all the affairs of life on platforms built out over the shallow waters of their lake. Their pottery, their ornaments, their weapons, their weavings of coarse cloth, belong to the same relative age, which, in Switzerland, antedated history. Probably Venice began in the same way; not without reason did the discoverer, Alonzo de Ojeda, in 1499, call the region of Lake Maracaibo Venezuela—Little Venice.

The same conditions bring about the same results since human nature is everywhere the same. One need not follow the worthy Brasseur de Bourbourg and try to make out that the Aztecs of Mexico were the same as the ancient Egyptians simply because they built pyramids and laid out their towns in the same hieroglyphic way.

The presence of enemies, and the abundance of growing timber along the shores, sufficed to suggest the plan of sinking piles into the mud and covering them over with a flooring on which to construct the thatched hovels. The danger of fire must have been a perpetual nightmare to these primitive peoples, the abundance of water right at hand only being a mockery to them. The unremitting, patient energy of those savages, whether then or now, in working with[Pg 18] stone implements, fills one with admiration. Professor Landoldt had many specimens which he intended to compare with the workmanship of the lacustrians of Neuchâtel, Bienne and Pfäffikersee, antedating his by thousands of years.

He has invited me to make him a visit in Zürich and I mean to do so. He tells me that the museum there is exceedingly rich in relics of prehistoric peoples. Perhaps we can go together and pay our respects to the shades of the lake-dwellers. I always like to pay these delicate attentions to the departed. So I would gladly burn some incense to Etruscan or Kelt, whoever first ventured out into the placid waters of the lake—any lake, it matters not which—there are dozens of them—and pray for the repose of their souls; they must have had souls and who knows, possibly some such pious act might give pleasure to them, if perchance they are cognizant of things terrestrial.

My electrical friend, M. Pierre Criant, was also very polite and, when he learned that I was bound for Switzerland to spend some months—Heaven alone knows how many—he urged me to look him up, whenever I should reach Geneva. He would be glad to show me the great plans that were formulating for utilizing[Pg 19] the tremendous energy of the Rhône. This was particularly alluring to my imagination for I have a high respect for electrical energy. M. Criant seemed to carry it around with him in his compact, muscular form.

We three happened to be together one morning and I had the curiosity to ask them, as intelligent men, what they thought of the “initiative and referendum,” which I understood was a characteristic Swiss institution, and which a good many Americans believed ought to be introduced into our American system of conducting affairs, as being more truly democratic than entrusting the settlement of great questions to our Representatives in Congress or in Legislature assembled. I remarked that some good Americans looked to it as a cure for all existing political evils. We adopted the Australian ballot and it immediately worked like a charm; undoubtedly its success prepared the way for receiving with greater alacrity a novelty which promised to be a universal panacea. “How does it really work in Switzerland?” I demanded.

“In our country,” replied M. Criant, “a certain number of persons have the right to require the legislature to consider any given question and to formulate a bill concerning it;[Pg 20] this must be submitted to the whole people; it is called the indirect initiative. They may also draft their own bill and have this submitted to the whole people. This is of course the direct initiative. Some laws cannot become enforceable without receiving the popular sanction. This is called the compulsory referendum. Other bills are submitted to the people only when the petition of a certain number of citizens demand it. This is the optional referendum. This right may apply to the whole country, or to a Canton, or only to a municipality: the principle is everywhere the same. Suppose an amendment to the Federal Constitution is desired. At least fifty thousand voters must express their desire; then the question is submitted to all the people. Again, if thirty thousand voters, or eight of the Cantons, consider it advisable to support any federal law or federal resolution, they must be submitted to the popular vote; but this demand must be made within three months after the Federal Assembly has passed upon them. Of course this does not apply to special legislation or to acts which are urgent.”

“Has the initiative proved a working success?” I asked.

“Well,” replied Professor Landoldt, “in[Pg 21] 1908, more than two hundred and forty-one thousand voters carried the initiative, proposed by almost one hundred and sixty-eight thousand signatures, against the sale of absinthe. In the same way, locally, vivisection was partially prohibited in my Canton in 1895. In Zürich there was a strong feeling in the community that the public service corporations and the large moneyed interests had altogether too much influence in the government; even the justice of the courts was called in question, and, under the leadership of Karl Bürkli, who was a follower of Fourier, the initiative and referendum were adopted especially as a protest against the high-handed autocracy of such men as Alfred Escher. It has been principally used as a weapon against the party in power; but not always successfully. Sometimes it has worked disastrously, as for instance when, in November, the unjust prejudice against the Jews was sufficiently strong to introduce into the Constitution an amendment prohibiting the butchering of cattle according to the old Bible rite. They professed to believe in the Bible, but not in what it says! In this case the societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals combined with the Jew-baiters.”

“A measure which affects me personally,”[Pg 22] said M. Criant, taking up the theme, “but which is really in the line of progress, was passed in 1908, when by an overwhelming majority—some three hundred and five thousand against about fifty-six thousand—the Federal Government took over from the individual cantons the right to legislate concerning the water resources when any national interest might be at stake. There are such tremendous hydraulic possibilities in Switzerland that it would be a national misfortune to have them controlled by local or by private corporations.”

“We have the same problem in America,” I remarked. “One of the greatest and most insidious dangers threatening our people is the Water Trust, which is already strongly intrenched behind special privileges and protected by enormous moneyed interests. I believe the people ought to control the natural monopolies.”

“So do I,” exclaimed Professor Landoldt fervently. And he went on: “We have recently stood fast by those principles by taking over the railways, the last item in this tremendous business being the acquisition, a few months ago, of the St. Gothard line which, with its debt, has cost, or will cost, some fifty millions. It took us about seven years to get[Pg 23] worked up to the pitch of government ownership. The price seemed extravagant in 1891, and the measure was defeated more than two to one; in 1898 there was a majority of more than two hundred thousand in favour of it; the vote brought out almost the whole voting strength of the country.

“The citizens of Zürich, a few years ago, refused to spend their money in building an art-museum; but thought better of it in 1906. The truth of the matter is, the people like to show their power; they like to discipline their representatives, often at the expense of their own best interests. In 1900 they turned down by a majority of nearly two hundred thousand a Workmen’s Compulsory Insurance bill which both houses had carried with only one opposing vote.

“The interference of the people with the finances of the cantons, or of the cities, often works mischief. How, indeed, could they be expected to show much wisdom in deciding on questions which even an expert would find difficult? They are willing to reduce water-rates, but they object to increase taxes, except on large fortunes. They will readily authorize incurring a good big debt, but they do not like to face the necessity of paying it, or providing[Pg 24] for the payment of it. As a people we are a little near-sighted; we are not gifted with imagination.”

“I should think this popular interest in government would tend to educate the masses,” I suggested.

“It certainly does,” replied M. Criant. “Questions are discussed on their merits and though, of course, a tricky orator may mislead, it will not be for long.”

At this point we were interrupted, so that nothing more was said at the time about Swiss politics. Both my friends, however, renewed their invitations for me to be sure to look them up. It is one of the great pleasures and advantages of travelling that one may make delightful acquaintances. I had no intention of letting slip the opportunity of further intercourse with men so genial and well informed as Professor Landoldt and M. Criant.

The voyage came to an end, as do all things earthly. Nothing untoward happened; and we reached Cherbourg on schedule time.

[Pg 25]


RUTH and her husband were waiting for me. Will took charge of my luggage. He sent my trunk by express to Lausanne. He even insisted on paying the duties on my cigars—several boxes of Havanas. I always smoke the best cigars, though, thank the Heavenly Powers, I am not a slave to the habit. I suppose every man says that, if for no other reason than to contradict his wife.

When everything was arranged, we took our places in the handsome French touring-car, which, like a living thing instinct with life, proud of its shiny sides, of its rich upholstery, of its wide, swift tires, of its perfectly adjusted machinery, was to bear us across France.

Emile, in green livery, managed her with the skill of a Bengali mahout in charge of an obedient and well-trained elephant. Emile was a character. Born in French Switzerland, he spoke French, German and Italian with equal fluency, and he had a smattering of English[Pg 26] which he invested with a picturesque quality due to transplanted idioms and a variegated accent. Had he worn an upward-curling mustache and a pointed Napoleonic beard, one might have taken him for at least a vicomte. He knew every nook and corner of the twenty-two cantons and he had a sense of locality worthy of a North American Indian.

I could write a book about that trip from Cherbourg to Lausanne. Time meant nothing to us. We could follow any whim, delay anywhere, without serious fillip of conscience. The children were in trustworthy hands; the weather was fine. If there is anything in astrology, the stars may be said to have been propitious. We stopped for a day at the little town of Dol in Bretagne. In honour of some problematic ancestor I had the portal of the cathedral decorating my book-plate, and it was an act which a Chinese mandarin would approve—to pay our respects to the dim shades of Sir Raoul, or Duc Raoul, who is said to have accompanied William the Conqueror to England and to have killed Hereward the Wake in a hand-to-hand contest among the fens. Fortunate little town to have such a cathedral, though why Samson should be its patron saint I do not pretend to understand. His conduct[Pg 27] with Delilah was hardly saint-like, as we are accustomed to regard conduct in these days.

We climbed Mont Dol and saw the footprints made by the agile archangel Michael when he crouched to spring over to the rock that bears his name. Generally such marks are attributed to the fallen angel who switches the forked tail. That unpleasant personage must have been in ancient days as diligent in travel as the Wandering Jew. The book of Job contains his confession to the Lord that he was even then in the habit of going to and fro in the earth and walking up and down in it.

We saw Mont Michel, too, and wandered all over its wonderful castle. We did not think it best to make a long sojourn in Paris. No longer is it said that good Americans go there when they die. They had been having rain and the Seine was on a rampage. What a strange idea to build a big city on a marsh! it is certain to be deluged every little while; and house-cleaning must be a terrible nuisance after the muddy waters have swept through the second story floors, even if the foundations do not settle or the house itself go floating down stream. The river was threatening to pour over the quais; the arches of the bridges were almost hidden and men were working like[Pg 28] beavers to protect the adjoining streets from inundation.

When human beings put themselves in the way of the forces of nature they are likely to be relentlessly wiped out of existence. Mountains have a way of nervously shaking their shoulders as if they felt annoyed at the temples or huts put there by men, just as a horse scares away the flies on his flank, and, as the flies come back, so do men return to the fascinating heights. It has been remarked that large rivers always run by large cities, but the intervales through which the rivers run, the flat lands which offer such opportunities for laying out streets at small expense, are the creations of the busy waters, and they seem to resent the trespassing of bipeds, and they sometimes rise in their wrath and sweep the puny insects away.

I ought not to speak disparagingly of Paris: it was in my plan to return later and stay as long as I pleased. How can one judge of a person or of a city in a moment’s acquaintance? We left by the Porte de Clarenton; we sped through the famous forest of Fontainebleau—Call it a forest! It is about as much of a forest as a golf links are a mountain lynx. We stayed long enough to look into the famous[Pg 29] palace, and evoke the memories of king and emperor.

We spent a night at Orléans. I dreamed that night that Julius Cæsar was kind enough to show me about. He pointed out the spot where his camp was established and he told me how he burnt the town of Genabum, the capital of the Carnutes. I had not long before read Napoleon’s “Life of Cæsar.”

To think of two thousand years of continuous existence; the same river flowing gently by. If only rivers could remember and relate! It would have reflected Attila in its gleaming waters. It would also have its memories of the Maid whose courage freed the former city of the Aurelians from its English foes.

When we reached Tours the question arose whether we should not take the roundabout route through Poitier, Angoulême and Biarritz, thence zigzagging over to Pau, with its memories of Marguerite de Valois, and the birthplace of Bernadotte, pausing at Carcassonne—if for nothing else to justify one’s memory of Gustave Nadaud’s famous poem:—

“Yet could I there two days have spent
While still the autumn sweetly shone,
Ah me! I might have died content,
When I had looked on Carcassonne”—
[Pg 30]

getting wonderful views of the Pyrenees—only three hundred and fifty-two miles from Tours to Biarritz, less than three hundred miles to Carcassonne.

One hundred and thirty miles farther is Montpellier, once famous for its school of medicine and law. Here Petrarca studied almost six hundred years ago and here, in 1798, Auguste Comte, the prophet of humanity, was born.

At Nîmes, thirty miles farther on, beckoned us the wonderful remains of the old Roman civilization—the beautiful Maison Carrée, its almost perfect amphitheatre, where once as many as twenty thousand spectators could watch naval contests on its flooded arena, where Visigoths and Saracens engaged in combats which made the sluices run with blood. Here were born Alphonse Daudet and the historian Guizot. Was it not worth while to make a pilgrimage to such birthplaces? I would walk many miles to meet Tartarin.

Only twenty-five miles farther lies Avignon, on the Rhône, once the abiding-place of seven Popes, and from there a run of one hundred and eighty-five miles takes one to Grenoble, whence, by way of Aix-les-Bains, it is an easy and delightful way to reach Geneva. Then[Pg 31] Lausanne—home, so to speak!—a lakeside drive of a couple of hours!

The other choice led from Tours, through Bourges, Nevers, Lyons, tapping the longer route at Chambéry.

“We will leave it to you to decide,” said my niece. “It makes not the slightest difference to us. We have plenty of time. Emile says the roads are equally good in either itinerary. I myself think the route skirting the Pyrenees would be much more interesting.”

“So do I! I vote for the longer route.”

Now there is nothing that I should better like than to write a rhapsody about that marvellous journey—not a mere prose “log,” giving statistics and occasionally kindling into enthusiasm over historic château or medieval cathedral or glimpse of enchanting scenery; but the “journal” of a new Childe Harold borne along through delectable regions and meeting with poetic adventures, having at his beck and call a winged steed tamer than Pegasus and more reliable. But I conscientiously refrain. My eyes are fixed on an ultimate goal, and what comes between, though never forgotten, is only, as it were, the vestibule. So I pass it lightly over, only exclaiming: “Blessed be the man who first invented the[Pg 32] motor-car and thrice blessed he who put its crowning perfections at the service of mankind!” In the old days the diligence lumbered with slow solemnity and exasperating tranquillity through landscapes, even though they were devoid of special interest. The automobile darts, almost with the speed of thought, over the long, uninteresting stretches of white road. There is no need to expend pity on panting steeds dragging their heavy load up endless slopes. And when one wants to go deliberately, or stop for half an hour and drink in some glorious view, the pause is money saved and joy intensified. There is no sense of weariness such as results from a long drive behind even the best of horses. Not that I love horses less but motos more!

Twenty days we were on the road and favoured most of the time with ideal weather. It was one long dream of delight. We had so much to talk about; so much we learned! So many wonderful sights we saw!

How could I possibly describe the first distant view of the Alps? It is one of those sensations that only music can approximately represent in symbols. Olyenin, the hero of Count Tolstoï’s famous novel, “The Cossacks,” catches his first glimpse of the Caucasus and[Pg 33] they occupy his mind, for a time at least, to the exclusion of everything else. “Little by little he began to appreciate the spirit of their beauty and he felt the mountains.”

I have seen, on August days, lofty mountains of cloud piled up on the horizon, vast pearly cliffs, keenly outlined pinnacles, and I have imagined that they were the Himalayas—Kunchinjunga or Everest—or the Caucasus topped by Elbruz—or the Andes lifting on high Huascarán or Coropuna—or more frequently the Alps crowned by Mont Blanc or the Jungfrau. For a moment the illusion is perfect, but alas! they change before your very eyes—perhaps not more rapidly than our earthly ranges in the eyes of the Deity to whom a thousand years is but a day. They, too, are changing, changing. Only a few millions of years ago Mont Blanc was higher than Everest; in the yesterday of the mind the little Welsh hills, or our own Appalachians, were higher than the Alps.

Like summer clouds, then, on the horizon are piled up the mighty wrinkles of our old Mother Earth. We cannot see them change, but they are dissolving, disintegrating. Only a day or two ago I read in the newspaper of a great peak which rolled down into the valley,[Pg 34] sweeping away and burying vineyards and orchards and forests and the habitations of men. The term everlasting hills is therefore only relative and their resemblance to clouds is a really poetic symbol.

Oh, but the enchantment of mountains seen across a beautiful sheet of water! It is a curious circumstance that the colour of one lake is an exquisite blue, while another, not so far away, may be as green as an emerald. So it is with the tiny Lake of Nemi, which is like a blue eye, and the Lake of Albano, which is an intense green. Here now before our eyes, as we drove up from Geneva to Lausanne, lay a sheet of the most delicate azure, and we could distinctly see the fringe of grey or greenish grey bottom, the so-called beine or blancfond, which the ancient lake-dwellers utilized as the foundation for their aerial homes. My nephew told me how a scientist, named Forel, took a block of peat and soaked it in filtered water, which soon became yellow. Then he poured some of this solution into Lake Geneva water, and the colour instantly became a beautiful green like that of Lake Lucerne.

I found that Will Allerton is greatly interested in the geology of Switzerland. Indeed, one cannot approach its confines without marvelling[Pg 35] at the forces which have here been in conflict—the prodigious energy employed in sweeping up vast masses of granite and protogine and gneiss as if they were paste in the hands of a baby; the explosive powers of the frost, the mighty diligence of the waters. Here has gone on for ages the drama of heat and cold. The snow has fallen in thick blankets, it has changed by pressure into firn, and then becomes a river of ice, flowing down into the valleys, gouging out deep ruts and, when they come into the influence of the summer sun, melting into torrents and rushing down, heaping up against obstacles, forming lakes, and then again finding a passage down, ever down, until they mingle with the sea.

As we mounted up toward Lausanne, the ancient terrace about two hundred and fifty feet above the present level of the lake is very noticeable. In fact the low tract between Lausanne and Yverdun, on the Lake of Neuchâtel, which corresponds to that level, gives colour to the theory that the Lake of Geneva once emptied in that direction and communicated with the North Sea instead of with the Mediterranean as now. How small an obstacle it takes entirely to change the course of a river or of a man’s life!

[Pg 36]

These practical remarks were only a foil to the exclamations of delight elicited by every vista. I mean to know the lake well, and shall traverse it in every direction. It takes only eight or ten minutes from my niece’s house by the funicular, or, as it is familiarly called, la ficelle, down to Ouchy, the port of Lausanne. I parodied the lines of Emerson—

I love a lake, I love a pond,
I love the mountains piled beyond.

But I must confess I was not sorry to dismount from the motor-car in front of the charming house that was destined to be my abode for so many months.

[Pg 37]


THE house stands by itself in a commanding situation on the Avenue de Collanges. It is of dark stone, with bay windows. The front door seemed to me, architecturally, unusually well-proportioned. It was reached by a long flight of steps. It belonged to an old Lausanne family who were good enough to rent it completely furnished. I noticed, in the library, shelves full of interesting books bound in vellum. Interesting? Well, I doubt if I should care to read many of them—they are in Latin for the most part. How in the world could men in those old days induce printers to manufacture such stately tomes filled with so much wasted learning, on hand-made paper?

I suppose it was characteristic of me to be attracted first of all by the library, but, as soon as I got to my own room, I went to the window—I confess it, the tears came to my eyes! It[Pg 38] must be a dream. I recognize the cathedral with its massive Gothic tower and its slender spire and over the house-tops, far below, four hundred feet below, gleams the azure lake, and beyond rise the mountains. A steamboat cuts a silvery furrow through the blue, and a pearly cloud clings to the side of—yes, it must be La Dent du Midi! Below me, for the most part, lies Lausanne. I shall have plenty of time to know it thoroughly, and never, never shall I tire of that view from my chamber-window, looking off across the azure lake.

So absorbed was I in my contemplation that I had not realized how near luncheon-time it was. My trunk was at hand, unstrapped, and I quickly changed from ship and automobile costume into somewhat more formal dress. I was still looking out of the window with my collar in my hand when a miniature cyclone burst open the door. Yes, it was my nephew and namesake with the twin girls, blue-eyed Ethel and blue-eyed Barbara, who came to sweep me down with them to luncheon. How friendly, how gay, how excited, they were to see their Oncle Américain! We became great friends on the spot!

How delightful it is, after weeks of desultory meals at restaurants and hotels, to sit once [Pg 39]more at a well-ordered home table! The dining-room was a large, stately apartment, with wide window-recesses. There was fine stained glass in the windows. A number of admirable chamois heads with symmetrical horns were attached to the walls. In one corner stood a superb example of the ancient pottery stoves. It was of white and blue faïence à émail stannifère with gaily painted flowers in the four corner vases. An inscription informed those that could read the quaint lettering that it was made at Winterthür in 1647. How many generations of men it had warmed and comforted! How many happy families had gathered about its huge flanks! What stories it might relate of the days of yore! In spite of its artistic and antiquarian charm, however, it does not compare to the old New England or English open fireplace with fire-dogs supporting great logs of flaming wood which, as they burn down, turn into visions of rose-red palaces. I wonder how many of these old stoves are to be found in Switzerland. The art of making them is said to have been brought from Germany, but it soon acquired an individuality of its own. I am told that there are superb specimens of them in the various museums. The stannifer enamel is made by including some of[Pg 40] the oxide of tin in the biscuit. It makes the enamel opaque.


After luncheon Will asked me if I would like to go over to the University, where he said he had a little business. I was very glad to do so. The Avenue de Collanges passes by the Free Theological Institute, the Ecole de Saint Roche, and, after joining with the Rue Neuve, leads into the Place de la Riponne, facing which stands the Palais de Rumine in which are the offices of the University.

After the Reformed Church was established in Lausanne there was a great demand for ministers, and a sort of theological school was founded in 1536. Pierre Viret, a tailor’s son, was active in this work. The famous Konrad von Gesner, the following year, became professor of Greek there, though he was only twenty-one. He won his great reputation as a zoölogist and botanist. An indefatigable investigator, he published no less than seventy-two works and left eighteen partly completed. They covered medicine, mineralogy and philology, as well as botany. He collected more than five hundred different plants which the ancients knew nothing about.

Another of the early professors was Theodore de Bèze. I remembered seeing his name on[Pg 41] my Greek Testament but I had forgotten what an interesting character he was. It is a tremendous change from being a dissipated cavalier at the court of François I, writing witty and improper verses, to teaching Greek and morals at Lausanne; but it was brought about by an illness which made him see a great light. While teaching at Lausanne he wrote a Biblical drama, entitled, “Abraham’s Sacrifice.” I am sorry to say he approved of the sacrifice of Servetus. He was at Lausanne for ten years and then was called to Geneva, where he became Calvin’s right-hand man and ultimately succeeded him. I wonder if he kept a copy of his early verses and read them over with mingled feelings.

It is rather odd that one of Bèze’s successors, Alexandre Rodolphe Vinet, who is regarded in Lausanne as the greatest of all her professors, had a somewhat similar experience. He, too, was gay and dissipated and wrote rollicking verses when he was a young man; he, like old Omar, urged his friends to empty the wine-cup (or rather the bottle, as it rhymed better) and let destiny go hang: “The god that watches o’er the trellis is now our only reigning king.” Perhaps, later, he may have found a hidden spiritual meaning in his references.[Pg 42] Ascetics converted from rather free living have been known thus to argue. Vinet, Will told me, began by teaching theology; but he demanded greater freedom of utterance than the directors of the Academy were prepared to allow. He detested the Revivalists and called them lunatics. He opposed any established church. He was simply ahead of his day. He was a brilliant preacher, and his lectures on literature were highly enjoyed; but, after the Revolution of 1845, he was obliged to resign. Two years later he died. He, too, wrote many valuable books, mostly theological works, half a dozen of which have been translated into English.

Talking about these early days, we had reached the Palais Rumine, that monument of Russian generosity—a new building—one might call it almost a parvenu building—compared with the old Gothic cathedral, only a few steps farther on.

In a way, however, the cathedral is even later than the palace, because its restoration, in accordance with plans designed by the famous French architect, Viollet-le-Duc, was not completed until 1906, two years after the other building was dedicated to its present uses. The palace, which was built from the fifteen hundred[Pg 43] thousand francs left by Gavriil Riumin (to spell the name in the Russian way), contains the various offices of the University, as well as picture galleries and museums.

“So this is the famous University of Lausanne,” I exclaimed, as we entered the learned portal.

“It has been a University for only about a quarter of a century,” remarked Will. “Gibbon and others wanted the Academy raised to a University more than a hundred years ago; but there seemed to be some prejudice against it. Its various schools were added at intervals. There has been a Special Industrial School ‘of Public Works and Constructions’ for about sixty years. In 1873 a school of pharmacy was started, and in 1888, when the Academy became a full-fledged University, it established a medical school. Theology still stands first; then come the schools of letters, of law, of science, of pedagogy, and of chemistry. Instruction is given in design, fencing, riding and gymnastics, and the University grants three degrees, the baccalaureate, the licentiate and the doctorate. It has an excellent library.”

“My errand will take me only a moment,” he added. “It is too fine a day to waste indoors; we shall have plenty of times when the[Pg 44] atmosphere is not so clear, for the museums and the cathedral. I propose we stretch our legs by walking up to the Signal. Are you fit for such a climb?”

“What do you take me for?” I asked, with a fine show of indignation. “It is only about four hundred feet above where we are now.”

I had not studied the guide-book for nothing.

There may be a great exhilaration and excitement and delight in climbing to the top of lofty mountains, but, when one has achieved the summit, even if the view be not cut off by clouds, the distances are so enormous that for poor mortal eyes the result is most unsatisfactory. Huddled together, peak with peak, an indistinguishable mass, lie other mountains and ranges of mountains, with bottomless valleys; the effect is as unsatisfactory as the air is rare. One can see nothing clearly; one is out of one’s element, so to speak; one can hardly breathe.

But from a height of a thousand feet, or so, one gets a comprehensive view of the world; one can distinguish the habitations of men; their farms and fields are marked off with fences; the rivers and brooks are not voiceless. It is a satisfying experience. Such is the impression that I got from the top of the Signal.[Pg 45] The city is fascinating, seen from above. There is the great bulk of the cathedral with its massive tower and the tall slender spire; the red roofs of innumerable houses; chimneys of factories in the lower town; then the exquisite lake; and, beyond it, the singularly silent and solemn masses of Les Diablerets, Le Grand Muveran and the jagged teeth of the Savoy Mountains, biting into the sky. They are so high that they shut off the grand bulk of Mont Blanc. It was certainly most thoughtful of my Lord Rhône to pause in the great valley and make a sky-blue lake for the delectation of mortals! Like swans with raised wings are the sail-boats. How far the wake made by that excursion steamboat extends across the placid water; it is curved like a scimetar of damascened steel!

“What a host of hotels!” I exclaimed. “I wonder how many foreigners are staying at Lausanne.”

“There must be five or six thousand regular residents from other parts of the world, besides the multitude of transients; Lausanne is a convenient stopping-place for several routes, to say nothing of the Simplon Tunnel line to Italy. There are probably fourteen hundred students at the University, and half of that number are[Pg 46] Germans, Russians and Poles. The German Minister of Public Instruction permits students of the Empire to spend the first three semesters at certain of the Swiss universities. But a suspicion arose in some Vaterland circles that these young men were being corrupted by Russian radicalism and Vaudois democracy—undermining their monarchical principles. There was also some jealousy, especially in the Law School. Herr Kuhlenbeck and Herr Vleuten were the so-called treaty professors, and the fees were not equally distributed. The Rundschau charged that young men learned socialism.

“It has always seemed to me an excellent notion to exchange students, just as we are beginning to exchange professors. It might serve to undermine narrow, sectional patriotism, but it would teach a broader, world patriotism.”

The view back of Lausanne also claimed my attention.

“These heights of Jorat,” said Will, “are rather interesting geologically. It seems to be a sort of subsidiary wave, filling the space between the Jura and the Alps; but it has an individuality of its own. It was always covered with great sombre forests which gave it a melancholy aspect. The basis of the soil is sandstone,[Pg 47] covered with pudding-stone. The ridge is all cut up with deep valleys. I have heard it said that the inhabitants had quite distinguishing characteristics and I don’t know why the people who live on some particular soil should not develop in their own way, just as the trees and plants and even the animals do. The stature diminishes as men inhabit higher and higher altitudes. The Swiss of the plains are generally rather heavy and slow, serious and solid. In the same way the people who live along the Jorat ought to be self-contained, close-mouthed, rather sad in temperament, perhaps uncertain in their movements, like the brook, the Nozon, which can’t quite make up its mind whether to flow to the Mediterranean by way of the Rhône or to the German Ocean by way of the Rhine.”

“It used to be a pretty important region, I should judge,” said I, “from all I have read of Swiss history. One flood of invasion after another dashed up against its walls and poured through its valleys.”

“It was, indeed. Some day I will show you the old tower which was called the Eye of Helvetia because it looked down and guarded the chief routes south and north, which crossed at its feet. It can be seen on a clear day from the[Pg 48] top of Mont Pélerin. Then there is the tower of Gourze, where Queen Berthe took refuge when the Huns came sweeping over this land. Lausanne itself, as it is now, is a proof of the old invasions; it used to stand on the very shores of the lake, but, when the Allemanni came, the inhabitants took refuge in the heights.”

“I think this is a charming view, but, do you know, to me its greatest charm is in the signs of a flourishing population. See the church spires picturesquely rising above clumps of trees, and, here and there, the tiled roofs of some old château—of course I do not know them from one another, but I know the names of several—Moléson, Corcelles, Ropraz, Ussières, Chatélard, Hermenches.”

Several of these my nephew and I afterwards visited. I recall with delight our trip to the Château de Ropraz, where once lived the wonderfully gifted Renée de Marsens. It now belongs to the family of Desmeules. Near it, on a hill, lies the little village, the church of which was reconstructed in 1761, though its interior still preserves its venerable, archaic appearance. A grille surmounted by the Clavel arms separates the nave from the choir. There are tombs with Latin inscriptions, and on the walls[Pg 49] are escutcheons painted with the arms of the old seigneurs. They still show the benches reserved for the masters of the château, flanked by two chairs with copper plates signifying that they are the “Place du Commandant” and the “Place du Chef de la Justice.” Seats were provided for visiting strangers and also for the domestics of the château. On the front of the pulpit is a panneau of carved wood bearing the words Soli Deo Gloria.

Renée, after her father’s fortune was lost, failed to make a suitable marriage, but she lived in Lausanne until 1848, and people used to go to call on her. They loved her for the brilliancy of her mind and her exquisite old-fashioned politeness. She knew Voltaire and all the great men of his time.

Another of the châteaux which we mentioned but were not certain that we could see was that of l’Isle, situated at the base of Mont Tendre in the valley of the Venoge. To this, also, we made an excursion one afternoon. It must have been splendid in its first equipment. It was built for Lieutenant Charles de Chandieu on plans furnished by the great French architect, François Mansard, whose memory is preserved in thousands of American roofs. In its day it was surrounded by a fine park. One[Pg 50] room was furnished with Gobelin tapestries, brilliant with classic designs. Other rooms had tapestries with panels of verdure in the style of the Seventeenth Century. The salon was floored with marble (“the marble halls” which one might dream of dwelling in) and hung with crimson damask, setting forth the family portraits and the painted panels. On the mantels were round clocks of gilt bronze, while huge mirrors, resting on carved consoles, reflected the brilliant companies that gathered there to dance or play. There was an abundance of high-backed armchairs and sofas, or as they called them, canapés, upholstered in velvet, commodes in ebony adorned with copper, and marquetry secretaries.

On the ground floor there was a great ballroom hung with splendid Cordovan leather. As it had a large organ it was probably used as a chapel, for the family was musical and several of the ladies of the Chandieu family composed psalms—Will called them chants-Dieu, which was not bad.

From the entrance-hall a splendid stairway, still well-preserved, with its wrought-iron railing led up to the sleeping-rooms, which were furnished with great beds à la duchesse with satin baldaquins. Among the treasures was a[Pg 51] beautiful chest of marquetry bearing the coat-of-arms quartered; it was a marriage-gift. Another, dated 1622, came from the Seigneur de Bretigny.

In front was a terrace with steps at the left leading down to the water. On each side of the stately main entrance, which reached to the roof, well adorned with chimneys, were three generous windows on each floor. In front there was a wide and beautifully kept lawn. The property was sold in 1810 for one hundred and seventy thousand francs. It came into the hands of Jacques-Daniel Cornaz, who, in 1877, sold it again for two hundred thousand. It now belongs to the Commune and is used for the écoles séculaires. The wall that once surrounded it has disappeared and the prosperous farms once attached to it were sold.

There is nothing in the literature of domestic life more fascinating than the diary and letters of Catherine de Chandieu, who married Salomon de Charrière de Sévery. They inherited the charming estate of Mex with its châteaux, and one of them, with a queer-shaped apex at each corner and a fascinating piazza, became their summer home. Another of these fine old places was the Château de Saint-Barthélemy, which belonged to the Lessert family[Pg 52] for three or four generations; then came into the possession of the famous Karl Viktor von Bonstetten, the author and diplomat, and was bought in 1909 by M. Gaston de Cerjat. In the hall hung pictures of several French kings, probably presented because of diplomatic services. Many of these old manor-houses on the shores of the Lakes of Geneva and of Neuchâtel have come into the possession of wealthy foreigners who have modernized them; others are now asylums, or schools, or boarding-houses.

But in those days they were filled with a cultivated and hospitable gentry who were always paying and receiving visits.

Really there is no end to the romance of these old houses; yet, curiously enough, most of them were carefully set down in little valleys which protected them from cold winds, but also from the magnificent views which they might have had. Even when they were on hills, trees were so planted as to hide the enchanting landscape, the lake and the gleaming mountains. Albrecht von Haller, the Bernese poet and novelist, Charles de Bonnet of Geneva, and Rousseau at Paris, “lifted the veil from the mountains” and made the world realize that the lake was something else than a trout-pond.


It was time for us to be getting back. While we were on Le Signal some aerial Penelope had woven a web of delicate cloud and spread it out half-way up the Savoy Mountains across the lake; everything had changed as everything will in a brief half-hour. There were different gorges catching sunbeams, and tossing out shadows; there was another tint of violet over the waters. I suggested a plan for describing mountain views. It was to gather together all the adjectives that would be appropriate—high, lofty, massive, portentous, frowning, cloud-capped, craggy, granitic, basaltic, snow-crowned, delectable and so on, just as Lord Timothy Dexter did with his punctuation-marks, delegating them to the end of his “Pickle for the Knowing Ones,” so that people might “pepper and salt” it as they pleased. If I wrote a book about Switzerland—that is, if I find that my impressions, jotted down like a diary, are worth publishing, I mean to add an appendix to contain a sort of armory of well-fitting adjectives and epithets for the use of travellers and sentimental young persons. In this way I may be recognized as a benefactor and philanthropist.

“Do you know what is the origin of the name, Lausanne?” asked Will, arousing me[Pg 53]
[Pg 54]
from a revery caused by the compelling beauty of those gem-like peaks, that rippling ridge of violet-edged magnificences that loomed above the glorious carpet of the lake. The pedigree of names is always interesting to me. Philology has always been a hobby of mine.

“Why, yes,” said I, “that is an easy one. It comes from the former name of the river, Flon. The Romans used to call the settlement here Lousonna. Almost all names of rivers have the primitive word meaning water, or flow, hidden in them. The Aa, the Awe, the Au, the Ouse, the Oise, the Aach and the English Avon, and a lot more, come from the Old High German aha, and that is nothing but the Latin aqua. The Greek hudor is seen in the Oder, the Adour, the Thur, the Dranse and even in the Portuguese Douro; and the Greek rheo, ‘I flow,’ is in the Rhine and the Rhône and the Reuss and in the Rye.”

“So I suppose you derive Lausanne from the French l’eau.”

As I passed in silent contempt such an atrocious joke as that, he seized the opportunity to tell me about the Frenchman who had some unpleasant associations with the inhabitants and declared it was derived from les ânes—the asses.

[Pg 55]

“From all I have read about them,” I replied, “they must have been a pretty narrow-minded, bigoted set of people here. Way back in 1361 an old sow was tried and condemned to be hanged for killing a child; and about the middle of the next century a cock was publicly burned for having laid a basilisk’s egg. One of the worthy bishops of Lausanne,—did you ever hear?—went down to the shores of the lake and recited prayers against the bloodsuckers that were killing the salmon.”

“Was that any more superstitious than for present-day ministers to pray for rain?”

“I suppose not; only it seems more trivial,” I replied absently, as I gazed down upon the housetops. “I did not realize Lausanne was so large.”

“The city is growing, Uncle. Toward the south and the west you can see how it is spreading out. There is something tragic to me in the outstretch of a city. It is like the conquest of a lava-flow, such as I once saw on the side of Kilauea, in the Hawaiian Islands; it cuts off the trees, it sweeps away the natural beauties. Lausanne has trebled its population in fifty years. It must have been much more picturesque when Gibbon lived here. For almost[Pg 56] eighty years they have been levelling off the hills. It took five years to build the big bridge which Adrien Pichard began, but did not live to finish. The bridge of Chauderon has been built less than ten years.”

“They must have had a tremendous lot of filling to do.”

“They certainly have, and they have given us fine streets and squares—especially those of La Riponne and Saint-François. It was too bad they destroyed the house of the good Deyverdun, where Gibbon spent the happiest days of his life. It had too many associations with the historic past of Lausanne. They ought to have kept the whole five acres as a city park. What is a post office or a hotel, even if it is named after a man, compared to the rooms in which he worked, the very roof that sheltered him?”

“We have still time enough,” said I, consulting the elevation of the sun; “let us go down by way of the cathedral. I should like to see it in the afternoon light.”

“We can take the funiculaire down; that will get us there quicker.”

We did so, and then the Rue l’Industrie brought us, by way of the Rue Menthon, to the edifice itself.

[Pg 57]

“I want you to notice the stone of which the cathedral is built,” said Will.

“Yes, it’s sandstone.”

“It is called Lausanne stone. A good many of the old houses are built of it, and it came from just one quarry, now exhausted, I believe. It seems to have run very unevenly. Some of the big columns are badly eaten by the tooth of time; in others the details are just as fresh as if they had been done yesterday. Notice those quaint little figures kneeling and flying in the ogives of the portal; some are intact, others look as if mice had gnawed them. It is just the same with some of the fine old houses; one will be shabby and dilapidated; the very next will be well-preserved.”

“I think it is a rather attractive colour—that greyish-green with the bluish shadows.”

We stood for a while outside and looked up at the mighty walls and the noble portal. We walked round on the terrace from which one gets such a glorious view.

There is something solemn and almost disquieting in a religious edifice which has witnessed so many changes during a thousand years. Its very existence is a curious and pathetic commentary on the superstitions of men. Westerners, interpreting literally the symbolism[Pg 58] of the Orient, believed that the world would come to an end at the end of the first millennium. It was a terrible, crushing fear in many men’s minds. When the dreaded climacteric had passed and nothing happened, and the steady old world went on turning just as it had, the pious resolved to express their gratitude by erecting a shrine to the Virgin Mother of God. Before it was completed its founder was assassinated. In the thirteenth century it was thrice devastated by fires which were attributed by the superstitious to the anger of God at the sins of the clergy and of the people. The statue of the Virgin escaped destruction and the church was rebuilt between 1235 and 1275. When it was consecrated, in October, 1275, Pope Gregory X, with the Emperor, Rudolf of Hapsburg, his wife and their eight children, and a brilliant crowd of notables, cardinals, dukes, princes and vassals of every degree, were present. The great entrance on the west was completed in the fifteenth century. The nave is three hundred and fifty-two feet long; its width is one hundred and fifty feet and it is divided into eight aisles. There are seventy windows and about a thousand columns, many of them curiously carved.

The well-known Gate of the Apostles is in[Pg 59] the south transept. It commemorates only seven of them, though why that invidious distinction should have been made no one knows. Old Testament characters fill up the quota. These worthies stand on bowed and cowed demons or other enemies of the Faith.

In the south wall is the famous rose-window, containing representations of the sun and the moon, the seasons and the months, the signs of the zodiac and the sacred rivers of Paradise, and quaint and curious wild beasts which probably are visual traditions of the antidiluvian monsters that once inhabited the earth, and were still supposed to dwell in unexplored places.

The vaulting of the nave is sixty-two feet high. It gave plenty of room for the two galleries which once surmounted the elaborately carved façade. One of them was called the Monks’ Garden, because it was covered with soil and filled with brilliant flowers.

Back of the choir is a semicircular colonnade. The amount of detail lavished on the various columns is a silent witness of the cheapness of skilled labour and of the time people had to spend. The carved choir stalls, completed in 1506, were somehow spared by the vandal iconoclasts of the Reformation; but thirty years[Pg 60] later Bern, when taking possession of Lausanne, carried off eighteen wagon-loads of paintings, solid gold and silver statues, rich vestments, tapestries, and all the enormous wealth contributed to the treasures of the church.

We were fortunate to find the cathedral still open, and in the golden afternoon light we slowly strolled through the silent fane—the word fane always sounds well. We paused in front of the various historic tombs. Especially interesting was that dedicated to the memory of Otho de Grandson, who, having been charged with having instigated the murder of Amadée VII, was obliged to enter into a judicial duel with Gérard d’Estavayer, the brother of the fair Catherine d’Estavayer whom he expected to marry.

Gérard apparently stirred up great hatred against him. Otho had in his favour the Colombiers, the Lasarraz, the Corsonex, and the Rougemonts; while with Gérard were the Barons de Bussy, de Bonvillar, de Bellens, de Wuisternens, de Blonay and, especially, representatives of the powerful family of d’Illens whose great, square castle is still pointed out, beetling over the Sarine opposite Arconciel. These men were probably jealous of Otho. His[Pg 61] friends wore a knot of ribbons on the tip of their pointed shoes, while his enemies carried a little rake over their shoulders.

Otho shouted out his challenge to Gérard: “You lie and have lied every time you have accused me. I swear it by God, by Saint Anne and by the Holy Rood. But come on! I will defend myself and I will so press forward that my honour will be splendidly preserved. But you shall be esteemed as a liar.”

So Otho made the sign of the Cross and threw down the battle-gage. But, although he was undoubtedly innocent, the battle went against him. His effigy is still to be seen in the cathedral. The hands resting on a stone cushion are missing but this probably was due to some accident and not to any symbolism. This all happened about a hundred years before Columbus discovered America—in 1398.

Here, too, lies buried, under a monument by Bartolini, Henrietta, the first wife of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, minister from England to Switzerland. She died in 1818.

There are monuments also commemorating the Princess Orlova, who was poisoned by Catharine II of Russia, and Duc Amadée VIII, who caused Savoy to be erected into a duchy and became Pope Felix V in 1439, after he had[Pg 62] lived for a while in a hermitage on the other shore of the lake. He is not buried in the cathedral but his intimate connection with the history of Lausanne is properly memorialized by his monument.

A city is like an iceberg. Its pinnacles and buttresses tower aloft and glitter in the sun; it seems built to last for ever. But it is not so; its walls melt and flow away and are put to other uses. A temple changes into a palace, and a fortification is torn down to make a park. Where are the fifty chapels that once flanked Notre Dame de Lausanne? Where is the fortified monastery of Saint Francis? Where is the lofty tower of La Grotte, and the moat in which it was reflected?

A great pageant took place in the cathedral in 1476. After Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, had been defeated at Grandson, he collected what remained of his army of 50,000 men, and encamped in the plains of Le Loup. Then on Easter Sunday, he attended high mass. The cathedral was lavishly decorated and a brilliant throng “assisted” at the ceremonies. The Duchess Yolande of Savoy came from Geneva, bringing her whole court and an escort of three thousand horsemen. The Pope’s legate and the emperor’s ambassadors[Pg 63] brought their followers, while representatives of other courts were on hand, for the occasion was made memorable by the proclamation of peace between the duke and the emperor. There was a great clanging of bells and fanfare of trumpets and the whole city was overrun with soldiers. The commissary department was strained to feed such multitudes. It is said that an English knight, serving in the duke’s army, was reduced to eating gold; at any rate his skull was found some years ago with a rose noble tightly clenched between its teeth!

A few months later the battle of Morat was fought; the duke was defeated and Lausanne was doubly sacked, first by the Comte de Gruyère and, a few hours later, by his allies, the Bernese troops, who spared neither public nor private edifices.

Just sixty years later Lausanne fell definitely into the hands of the Bernese, and they, by what seems an almost incredible revival of the judicial duel—only with spiritual instead of carnal weapons—ordered a public dispute on religion to decide whether Catholicism or Protestantism should be the religion of the city.

The comedian of the occasion seems to have[Pg 64] been the lively Dr. Blancherose, who was constantly interrupting and interpolating irrelevant remarks, to the annoyance of the other disputants and to the amusement of the audience which packed the cathedral. On one occasion he declared that the word cephas was Greek and meant head; Viret replied that it was a Syriac word and meant stone. The Pope could have well dispensed with such an advocate.

The superiority of the Protestant debaters resulted in converting some of the opposite party, and the establishment of the Academy of Lausanne was the direct outcome of this debate, which was declared in all respects favourable to the Reformers.

The day after the decision was rendered, a crowd of bigots broke into the cathedral, overturned the altars and the crucifix, and desecrated the image of the Virgin. Workmen were paid for fifteen days at the rate of four and one sixth sous a day to clear Notre Dame of its altar-stones. And yet Jean François Naegueli (or Nägeli), when he took possession of Lausanne, had promised to protect the two Christian faiths.

It is a question whether one would rather live in those days under the easy-going régime[Pg 65] of the superstitious Catholics or under that of the stern, forbidding bigotry of the Protestants. Geneva could not endure the latter and banished Farel and Calvin two years later; but back they came and established the tyranny more solidly than ever. Calvin drove Castellio out of Geneva, caused Jacques Gruet to be tortured and put to death, mainly because he danced at a wedding and wore new-fangled breeches, and had Servetus burned at the stake. It was a cruel age.

A cloud evidently passed over the face of the sun; the colours in the great rose window grew almost pallid. We left the church and again stood on the terrace.

“We are just about one hundred and fifty-two meters above the lake,” said Will. “Do you know, in the harbour of Geneva there are two big rocks which the early inhabitants of this region used to worship. They are granite, or protogen, and must have been brought down from some distant mountain, probably from the Saint-Bernard, by a glacier. In the old Roman days they were worshipped. On the top of one of them is a bronze plaque, put there in 1820 by General Dufour, and regarded as the standard, or rather the base, for all Swiss hypsometry.[Pg 66] If you want to know how high above the level of the sea the Dent du Midi is, you will find it on the map ‘R. P. N.’ plus its height above the plaque. For instance the Cathedral here is R. P. N. plus a little more than one hundred and fifty-two meters. But the queer thing is that no two people who have tried to correct or verify General Dufour’s reckoning of the height of the plaque have been able to agree. General Dufour made it a fraction over three hundred and seventy-six meters and a half, which would give the level of the lake as three hundred and seventy-five meters; but it has since been corrected to a bit less than three hundred and seventy-three meters—a loss of almost ten feet.”

“What does that mean—that the scientists blundered?”

“It looks to me as if the whole level of the valley had perhaps settled. Every one knows that it is changing all the time—but come on, I want you to see the cathedral from the Place de Saint Laurent. It isn’t far from here.”

When we got there Will stopped and said:

“There! Isn’t that worth coming for? I wonder if there is any other cathedral in the world that has a more magnificent site.”

We paused for some time, looking up at its solid bulk, which seemed to touch the gathering clouds.


“I brought you here especially,” continued Will, “because one of Switzerland’s few poets praises its aspect from this spot. He says something like this: ‘It is a great crag fixt there. Contemplate it when heavy clouds are passing over. Standing below it and letting your eye follow the radiant field which creeps up to its flanks, you imagine that it grows larger amid the wild clouds which it tears as they fly over, leaving it unshaken. You might believe yourself in some Alpine valley, over which towers a solitary peak while around it cluster the mists driven by the wind.’ He grows still more enthusiastic at the beauty of it when the chestnut-trees are in bloom, contrasting with the violet roofs below and surrounded by the azure aureole of the lake and the mountains and he speaks of its ‘graceful energy’ against the golden background.”

“Who is the poet?” I asked.

“Oh, Juste Olivier. I will introduce you to him some day—I mean to his works. He himself died in 1876, if I am not mistaken. I have the two volumes which his friends edited as a sort of memorial to him.”

“I didn’t suppose there were any Swiss[Pg 67]
[Pg 68]
poets—I mean great Swiss poets. Of course I know Hebel—”

“Yes, back in Gibbon’s time, the society founded by his friend Deyverdun discussed the question, ‘Why hasn’t the Pays de Vaud produced any poets?’ Juste Olivier deliberately set to work to fill the gap.”

“Did he succeed? He is not much known outside of Switzerland, is he?”

“Probably not; you shall see for yourself. But I remember one stanza on Liberty which has a fine swing to it—

“‘La Liberté depuis les anciens ages
Jusqu’à ceux où flottent nos destins
Aime à poser ses pieds nus et sauvages
Sur les gazons qu’ombragent nos sapins.
Là, sa voix forte éclate et s’associe
Avec la foudre et ses roulements sourds.
Nous qui t’aimons, Helvétie, Helvétie,
Nous qui t’aimons, nous t’aimerons toujours.’

“That is a fine figure—Liberty loving to set her foot on the soil shaded by the Swiss pines,—and so is that of Helvetia mingling her voice with the rolling of the thunder. That stanza has been praised as one of the finest of the century.”

As we leisurely strolled homeward my nephew called my attention to the northern[Pg 69] slope of the Flon, just beyond the magnificent bridge, Chauderon-Montbénon. “That,” he remarked, “is called Boston.”

“Why is that?”

“I don’t know, unless to commemorate the fact that Lausanne is built on three hills. The north part was called La Cité, that to the south was le Bourg—the Rue du Bourg was the court end of the town, and had especial privileges—and the western side was called Saint-Laurent. It was only a little town when Gibbon came here to live; but it had unusually good society and there was a great deal of wealth, as you can imagine from the fine old houses.”

“Where did they get their money?”

“A good many of them through fortunate speculation. The men used to seek service in foreign countries. It is surprising how many of them became tutors to royal or princely families, or, if they were trained in the profession of arms, got commissions as officers in Russia, France, Spain and Holland. Some of them even went to India and America. A good many of them returned, if they returned at all, with handsome fortunes.”

“Isn’t it strange that a country which is always supposed to stand for liberty and patriotism[Pg 70] should, next the Hessians, furnish the very best type of the mercenary! For a hundred years the French kings had to protect themselves with a Swiss guard, and the Pope’s fence of six-footers have been recruited from Lucerne and the Inner Cantons during more than four centuries.”

“Do you remember what Rousseau said about mercenary military service? It runs something like this: ‘I think every one owes his life to his country; but it is wrong to go over to princes who have no claim on you, and still worse to sell yourself and turn the noblest profession in the world into that of a vile mercenary.’ But Lausanne’s best contribution to foreign countries was education. The Academy, or college as they used to call it, attracted many people from abroad. Ever since it was founded—and the Protestants deserve that credit—it provided remarkably good professors and lecturers. The old families that had country estates got into the habit of spending their winters in town. They were wonderfully interrelated and many of them, through marriage, had several baronies. They were enormously proud of their titles and position. I have recently been reading Rousseau—especially his ‘Nouvelle Héloïse’—you know about[Pg 71] a year ago they were celebrating the two hundredth anniversary of his birth,—and I was struck with what he makes My Lord Edward Bomston say about the petty aristocracy of this Pays de Vaud: ‘Why does this noblesse of which you are so proud claim such honors? What does it do for the glory of the country or for the happiness of the human race? Mortal enemy of laws and of liberty, what has it ever produced except tyrannical power and the oppression of the people? Do you dare in a republic boast of a condition destructive of the virtues and of humanity, a condition which produces slavery and makes one blush at being a man?’”

“It seems to have been a regular feudalism.”

“It was. Gibbon was much struck by the unfairness of the régime which obtained in his day, and he speaks somewhere of three hundred families born to command and of a hundred thousand, of equally decent descent, doomed to subjection. They used to have a queer custom here, for a man, when he married, to add the wife’s name to his own....”

“Just as in Spain,” I interpolated.

“Yes, only hyphenated. They worked the particle de to death. As almost every one of[Pg 72] the great families was related more or less closely to every other, and the estates were constantly passing from one branch to another, a man would at one time be Baron de Something-or-other, and the next year, perhaps, would appear with quite a different appellation. For instance, there was Madame Secretan, whose family name was taken from the Seigneurie d’Arnex-sur-Orbe. Antoine d’Arnay—he spelt his name phonetically—was Seigneur de Montagny-la-Corbe, co-seigneur de Luxurier, Seigneur de Saint-Martin-du-Chêne and Seigneur de Mollondin. And the husband of the famous Madame de Warens appears under several aliases. It is very confusing.

“When the nobles returned with hundreds of thousands of francs,” he added, “they spent their money royally. Many of these houses are filled with splendid carved furniture and tapestries. As long as Bern was suzerain of Vaud, and governed it, there was small chance for Government service and this state of things led to a peculiar atmosphere—one of frivolity and pleasure-seeking. The men hadn’t anything to do except to amuse themselves and few were the years when some foreign prince was not studying here and spending any amount of money in dinners and dances.”

[Pg 73]

“Yes,” said I, “considering that Lausanne was in the very centre of Calvinism, it must have been pretty gay. I suppose the influence of France was even stronger than that of Geneva or Bern.”

By this time we had reached our own street and were climbing the flight of steps that led to the handsomely arched portal.

[Pg 74]


THE next day it rained. The whole valley was filled with mist. The sudois, as they call the southwest wind, moaned about the windows. But I did not care; explorations or excursions were merely postponed. There would be plenty of time, and it was a pleasure to spend a quiet day in the library. We devoted it mainly to Gibbon and old Lausanne—that is, the Lausanne of Gibbon’s day, and, before we were tired of the subject, I think we had visualized the vain, witty, delightful, pompous, lazy, learned exile who so loved his “Fanny Lausanne,” as he liked to call the little town.

When he first arrived there from England, he was only sixteen—a nervous, impressionable, ill-educated youth. He had been converted to Roman Catholicism, and, glorying in it with all the ardour of an acolyte, he was taken seriously by the college authorities at Oxford and expelled. His father had to do something with him; he was just about to get[Pg 75] married for the second time and, as the boy would be in his way, he decided to “rusticate” him in Lausanne.

It was arranged that young Gibbon should be put into the care of the worthy Pastor Daniel Pavilliard, a rather unusually broad-minded, sweet-tempered, and highly educated professor, the secretary and librarian of the Academy, afterwards its principal. He was then probably living in the parsonage of the First Deacon in the Rue de la Cité derrière, now a police-station, a picturesque house with high roof, with long vaulted corridors and wide galleries in the rear, from which could be seen the Alps beyond the Flon and the heights to the southeast of the city.

The plan of giving the boy a good cold bath of Presbyterianism worked better than would have been believed possible. Like a piece of hot iron dipped into ice-water he came out quite changed. He hissed and sizzled for a while, and then hardened into a free-thinker. It is odd how people can throw off a form of religion as if it were a cloak.

It was a trying experience for the lad. Madame Pavilliard, whose name was Carbonella, did not pattern after her husband. According to Gibbon she was narrow, mean and[Pg 76] grasping, disagreeable and lacking in refinement. He could not speak French; they could not speak English. He gives a pathetic account of his misery; telling how he was obliged to exchange an elegant apartment in Magdalen College “for a narrow, gloomy street, the most infrequented of an unhandsome town, for an old inconvenient house and for a small chamber, ill-contrived and ill-furnished, which at the approach of winter, instead of a companionable fire, must be warmed by the dull, invisible heat of a stove.” His earliest entry in the diary which he kept said:—“First aspect horrid—house, slavery, ignorance, exile.” He felt that his “condition seemed as destitute of hope as it was devoid of pleasure.”

After a while, however, his natural good spirits rallied. He wrote his father: “The people here are extremely civil to strangers, and endeavor to make this town as agreeable as possible.”

He began to join the young people in making excursions, and he wrote home asking permission to take riding lessons. Pastor Pavilliard encouraged him to join in the gayeties of the town. There were dances; there were concerts with violins, harpsichords, flutes and singing.

[Pg 77]

He soon made the acquaintance of Georges Deyverdun, a young man a little older than himself, of high character and aristocratic connections. Deyverdun’s early diaries are extant and often mention walking with M. de Guiben or de Guibon. They became life-long friends. A book which had great influence on Gibbon was a “Logic” written by Professor Jean Pierre de Crousaz, who, after a life of great honours and wide experiences, had died three years before Gibbon’s arrival at Lausanne.

Voltaire wrote him: “You have made Lausanne the temple of the Muses and you have more than once caused me to say that, if I had been able to leave France, I would have withdrawn to Lausanne.”

De Crousaz’s “Logic” fortified Gibbon to engage in a battle for his faith. He had lively discussions with Pavilliard, but gradually “the various articles of the Romish creed disappeared like a dream;” and after a full conviction, on Christmas-day, 1754, he received the sacrament in the church of Lausanne.

Gibbon’s “return to the light” caused a lively joy in the Assembly which voted that the Dean should congratulate him on such a sensible act. He was examined and found[Pg 78] “perfectly enlightened upon religion and remarkably well informed on all and each of the articles separating them from the Church of Rome.”

Whether Gibbon may not have had a weather eye open to material benefits at home is a question which falls with several other of his expressions of opinion. He had a wealthy aunt who was much offended by his defection from her Church. Only a month later Pastor Pavilliard wrote this Mrs. Porten:—

“I hope, Madame, that you will acquaint Mr. Gibbon with your satisfaction and restore him to your affection, which, though his errors may have shaken, they have not, I am sure, destroyed. As his father has allowed him but the bare necessities, I dare beg of you to grant him some token of your satisfaction.”

In the Autumn of 1755 Gibbon and his guardian made “a voyage” through Switzerland by way of Yverdun, Neuchâtel, Bienne, Soleure, Bâle, Baden, Zürich, Lucerne and Bern. He kept a journal of his experiences, written in not very accurate French. He was more interested in castles and history, in persons and customs than in scenery; indeed, he scarcely mentions the magnificence of the mountains, but he devotes considerable space to the linen-market of Langental and the surprising wealth of the peasantry, some, he says, having as much as six hundred thousand francs. He explained it by the profits from their linen and their cattle and especially by their great thrift. Fathers brought up their children to work and to be contented with their state in life—simple peasants; they wore fine linen and fine cloth, but wore peasants’ clothes; they had fine horses, but plowed with them; and they preferred that their daughters marry persons in their own condition rather than those who might bring them titles.


On reaching Bern he gives no description of the city but elaborately explains the curious system of government which obtained there. The inhabitants, he thought, were inclined to be proud, but he found a philosophical cause for it, and wondered that more of the natives were not guilty of that sin. He thought the environs of Bern had not a cheerful appearance, but were on the contrary rather wild.

Soon after his return began the one romantic episode in Gibbon’s life—his love affair with Suzanne Curchod, daughter of the Protestant pastor at Crassy or Crassier, a village on the lower slopes of the Jura, between Lausanne[Pg 79]
[Pg 80]
and Geneva. Gibbon himself tells what she was: “The wit, the beauty, the erudition of Mlle. 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 fortified by the habits and knowledge of a more familiar acquaintance.”

She had fair hair, and soft blue eyes which, when her pretty mouth smiled, lighted up with peculiar charm; she was rather tall and well proportioned; an extremely attractive girl.

The young men and women, particularly of La Cité, had formed a literary society, at first called l’Académie de la Poudrière but afterwards reorganized and renamed “from the age of its members” La Société du Printemps.

Suzanne was the president of this society. They used to discuss such questions as these: “Does an element of mystery make love more agreeable?” “Can there be a friendship between a man and a woman in the same way as between two women or two men?” and the like.

Suzanne seems to have been inclined to treat young theological students in somewhat[Pg 81] the same way as fishermen play salmon when they are “killing” them. Her friends expostulated with her on her cruelty.

Gibbon, who had the reputation of being the son of a wealthy Englishman, caused her to forget the sighing students. At that time he must have been an attractive youth—that is, if we can put any confidence in her own description of him. After praising his beautiful hair and aristocratic hand, his air of good-breeding, and his intellectual face and his vivacity of expression, she crowns her encomium by declaring that he understood the respect due to women, and that his courtesy was easy without verging on familiarity. She adds: “He dances moderately well.”

They became affianced lovers. Years afterwards, Gibbon in his autobiography declared that he had no cause to blush at recollecting the object of his choice. “Though my love,” he says, “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 her mind. Her fortune was humble, but her family was respectable.”

He visited at her parents’ home—“happy[Pg 82] days,” he called them—in the mountains of Burgundy, and the connection was honourably encouraged. She seems to have made it a condition of her engagement that he should always live in Switzerland. When he returned to England in 1758 he found that his father opposed the match, and evidently his love speedily cooled. The absence of letters does not necessarily prove that none were written, but certainly there was no lively correspondence, and at length, after a lapse of four years, he calmly informs the young lady that he must renounce her for ever, and he lays the blame on his father, who, he says, considered it cruelty to desert him and send him prematurely to the grave, and cowardice to trample underfoot his duty to his country.

Considering the fact that Father Gibbon was busily engaged in dissipating his fortune, and had endured his son’s absence for many years, this excuse strikes one as decidedly thin. At the end of his letter of renunciation he desires to be remembered to Suzanne’s father and mother. Pastor Curchod had been dead two years, and Suzanne was then living in Geneva, where she was supporting herself and her mother by teaching.

Just ten years after his first arrival at Lausanne,[Pg 83] Gibbon made a visit there on that memorable journey to Rome which resulted in the writing of his history. He made no attempt to see Suzanne, who seems to have deceived herself with the hope that his indifference was only imaginary. She wrote him that for five years she had sacrificed to this chimera by her “unique and inconceivable behavior.” She begged him on her knees to convince her of her madness in loving him and to end her uncertainty.

She got a letter from him that brought her to her senses. She replied that she had sacrificed her happiness not to him but, rather, to an imaginary being which could have existed only in a silly, romantic brain like hers, and, having had her eyes opened, he resumed his place as a mere man with all other men; indeed, although she had so idealized him that he seemed to be the only man she could have ever loved, he was now least attractive to her because he bore the least possible resemblance to her chimerical ideal.

Gibbon chronicled in his diary in September, 1763, the receipt of one of Suzanne’s letters, and in questionable French he called her “a dangerous and artificial girl” (“une fille dangereux et artificielle”) and adds:—“This[Pg 84] singular affair in all its details has been very useful to me; it has opened my eyes to the character of women and will long serve as a safeguard against the seductions of love.”

Suzanne was no Cassandra, either; the very next year she married the young Genevan banker, Jacques Necker, then minister for the Republic of Geneva at Paris.

About two years later Gibbon wrote to his friend, J. B. Holroyd:—

“The Curchod (Madame Necker) I saw in Paris. She was very fond of me, and the husband particularly civil. Could they insult me more cruelly? Ask me every evening to supper; go to bed and leave me alone with his wife. What an impertinent security! It is making an old lover of mighty little consequence. She is as handsome as ever; seems pleased with her fortune rather than proud of it.”

The Platonic friendship was never again ruffled; if anything it grew more confidential and almost sentimental. The Neckers visited Gibbon in London more than once, and, when political and financial storms drove them from Paris, Gibbon found their Barony of Copet (as he spells it—he was not very strong in spelling!) a most delightful harbour, though he was[Pg 85] too indolent to go there very often. This was in after years, when Lausanne again became his home.

He had published the first volume of his history of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” and had immediately leaped into fame. The same year Necker was made Director of the Treasury of France, and began that remarkable career of success and disappointment. Perhaps his greatest glory was his daughter, afterwards so well known as Madame de Staël, whose loyalty to him in all the vicissitudes of his life was one of her loveliest characteristics.

Gibbon was back in Lausanne again in 1783; he seems to have reckoned time in lustrums, his dates there being 1753, 1763 and 1783, and he returned to London in 1793 where he died the following year, just a century after Voltaire was born. He certainly had pleasant memories of Lausanne and, after losing his one public office, and the salary which came in so handy, he formed what his friends called the mad project of taking up his permanent residence there. This came about through his old-time friend, Georges Deyverdun, who through the death of relatives and particularly of an aristocratic old aunt, had come into possession[Pg 86] of the estate known as La Grotte, one of the most interesting historical buildings in the town, with memories covering centuries of ecclesiastical history. He and Deyverdun formed a project whereby the two should combine their housekeeping resources and live in a sort of mutually dependent independence.

Gibbon had a very pretty wit. A year or two after he had taken this decisive step, had bade a long farewell to the “fumum et opes strepitumque Romae,” and had sold his property and moved with his books to Lausanne, the report reached London that the celebrated Mr. Gibbon, who had retired to Switzerland to finish his valuable history, was dead. Gibbon wrote his best friend, Holroyd, who was now Lord Sheffield:—“There are several weighty reasons which would incline me to believe that the intelligence may be true. Primo, It must one day be true; and therefore may very probably be so at present. Secundo, We may always depend on the impartiality, accuracy and veracity of an English newspaper.”—And so he goes on.

In another letter, after speaking of his old enemy, the gout, and assuring Sheffield that he had never regretted his exile, he pays his[Pg 87] respects to his fellow-countrymen: “The only disagreeable circumstance,” he says, “is the increase of a race of animals with which this country has been long infested, and who are said to come from an island in the Northern Ocean. I am told, but it seems incredible, that upwards of forty thousand English, masters and servants, are now absent on the Continent.”

Byron, a third of a century later, had the same ill opinion of his fellow-countrymen:—“Switzerland,” he wrote Moore, “is a curst selfish country of brutes, placed in the most romantic regions of the world. I never could bear the inhabitants and still less their English visitors.”

In a somewhat different spirit Lord Houghton pays his respects to the throng of foreigners who find pleasure and recreation and health in Switzerland. He says:—

“Within the Switzer’s varied land
When Summer chases high the snow,
You’ll meet with many a youthful band
Of strangers wandering to and fro:
Through hamlet, town and healing bath
They haste and rest as chance may call;
No day without its mountain-path,
No path without its waterfall.
[Pg 88]
“They make the hours themselves repay
However well or ill be shared,
Content that they should wing their way,
Unchecked, unreckoned, uncompared:
For though the hills unshapely rise
And lie the colours poorly bright,—
They mould them by their cheerful eyes
And paint them with their spirits light.
“Strong in their youthfulness they use
The energies their souls possess;
And if some wayward scene refuse
To pay its part of loveliness,—
Onward they pass nor less enjoy
For what they leave;—and far from me
Be every thought that would destroy
A charm of that simplicity!”

Gibbon and Deyverdun were remarkably congenial; interested in the same studies and the same people. Which was the more indolent of the two it would be hard to say. But by this time Gibbon had grown into the comically grotesque figure which somehow adds to his fascination. He had become excessively stout; his little “potato-nose” was lost between his bulbous cheeks; his chin was bolstered up by the flying buttress of much superfluous throat. He had red hair. A contemporary poem describes him:—

[Pg 89]

“His person looked as funnily obese
As if a pagod, growing large as man,
Had rashly waddled off its chimney-piece,
To visit a Chinese upon a fan.
Such his exterior; curious ’twas to scan!
And oft he rapped his snuff-box, cocked his snout,
And ere his polished periods he began
Bent forward, stretching his forefinger out,
And talked in phrases round as he was round about.”

Early in his career Gibbon was rather careless in his dress, but he could not afford not to be in style as the lion of Lausanne, and he had any number of changes of apparel. He had a valet de chambre, a cook who was not put out if he had forty, or even fifty, guests at a dinner, and who received wages of twelve or fifteen livres a month—a little more than a dollar a week, but money went farther in those primitive days—he had a gardener, a coachman and two other men. Altogether he paid out for service a little more than eleven hundred livres a year. He spent generously, also, for various magazines and other periodicals, French and English, and he was constantly adding to his library. After the French Revolution, when many French émigrés came to Lausanne, there were loud complaints at the increased cost of living.

[Pg 90]

In 1788 Gibbon required a new maid-servant and his faithful friend, Madame de Séverin, recommended one to him in these terms:—

“She will make confitures, compotes, winter-salads, dried preserves in summer; she will take charge of the fine linen and will herself look after the kitchen service. She will keep everything neat and orderly in the minutest details. She will take care of the silver in the English fashion; she can do the ironing; she can set the table in ornamental style. You must entrust everything to her (except the wine) by count; so many candles, so many wax-tapers in fifty-pound boxes; so much tea, coffee and sugar. The oftener the counting is made, the more careful they are; three minutes every Sunday will suffice. I have excepted nothing of what can be expected of a housekeeper. She will look after the poultry-yard. She will make the ices and all the pastry and all the bonbons, if desired, but it is more economical to buy the latter.”

Gibbon was generous to others; he subscribed to various charities and he paid all the expenses of an orphan boy, Samuel Pache.

Lord Sheffield’s daughter, Maria Holroyd, could not understand why he should prefer Lausanne to London. She declared that there[Pg 91] was not a single person there whom he could meet on a footing of equality or on his height; she thought it was a proof of the power of flattery. But there were always distinguished visitors at Lausanne, and Gibbon knew them all. His letters are full of references to the celebrities whom he is cultivating.

He writes to Lady Sheffield to tell her how he “walked on our terrace” with Mr. Tissot, the celebrated physician; Mr. Mercier, the author of the “Tableau de Paris;” the Abbé Raynal, author of “L’Histoire Philosophique des Etablissements et du Commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes,” the clever free-thinker with whom Dr. Johnson refused to shake hands because he was an infidel; M. and Mme. Necker; the Abbé de Bourbon, a natural son of Louis XV; the hereditary Prince of Brunswick; Prince Henry of Prussia; “and a dozen counts, barons and extraordinary persons, among whom was a natural son of the Empress of Russia.”

In London, great as he was (even though he was a Lieutenant Colonel Commandant and Member of Parliament), he had found himself eclipsed by larger and brighter planets; in Lausanne he was the bright particular star. “I expected,” he says, “to have enjoyed, with[Pg 92] more freedom and solitude, myself, my friend, my books and this delicious paradise; but my position and character make me here a sort of public character and oblige me to see and be seen.”

He used to give great dinners. Thus, in 1792, the beautiful and witty Duchess of Devonshire made a visit to Lausanne and Gibbon gave her a dinner with fourteen covers. The year before he gave a ball at which at midnight one hundred and fifty guests sat down to supper. He was well pleased with it and boasted that “the music was good, the lights splendid, the refreshments abundant.” He himself went to bed at two o’clock in the morning and left the others to dance till seven. It was as common in those days, even in Calvinistic Lausanne, to dance all night as it is now in stylish society. He had assemblies every Sunday evening, and rarely did a day pass without his either dining out or entertaining guests at his own hospitable board.

In a pleasure-loving community like that of Lausanne eating was one of the chief employments of life. On their menus they had all kinds of game, for hunting was one of the recreations of the gentry of the lake shore, and they brought home hares, partridges, quails,[Pg 93] wood-cock from the Jura, heath-hens, roe-bucks and that royal game, the wild-boar, not to speak of the red foxes and an occasional wolf or bear.

A party would leave one house and drive or ride out into the country and come in upon some baronial family which would be hard put to it to accommodate so many—ladies and gentlemen and their valets and maids. On such occasions they would have to send out and borrow porcelain plates, glass compote dishes, silverware of every kind. How they managed the cooking for such large dinner-parties is a mystery. On one occasion my Lord Bruce gave a ball in honour of the Queen of England’s birthday. There were between one and two hundred people invited. Fifty sat down in the big room of the Redout, twenty in the Green Room. On an earlier occasion the genial Prince of Würtemberg gave a ball and eighty sat down to a supper costing fifteen louis d’or for each person.

On less formal evenings the guests, after eating their dinner, would go to some other house and have a “veillé,” where they played such games as “Twelve Questions” or “Commerce” or “Loto” or took part in acting charades.

One season La Générale de Charrière wrote[Pg 94] a little play in verse entitled “L’Oiseau vert”—“The Green Bird.” This mythical creature personated Truth, just as Maeterlinck’s “Blue Bird” personates Happiness. The Green Bird is consulted by various characters and replies in piquant verse. Mr. Gibbon, who is represented as “un gros homme de très bonne façon,” asks the bird to indicate his country, and the bird replies that, by his gentle and polished mien, he would be taken for a Frenchman; by his knowledge, his energy, his writings and his success, his wit, his philosophy, the depth of his genius, it might be suspected that he was an Englishman; but his real country is that to which his heart had brought him, where he is loved, and they tell him so, and where he must spend his life. Gibbon used to speak of himself as a Swiss—nous autres Suisses—until the French Revolution broke out; that scared him.

They also had musicales. Deyverdun liked to play the spinet. One evening the Saxon Comte de Cellemberg, being present at the house of the Saint-Cierges’, “sang delicious airs and played the clavecin like a great master.” On another occasion Madame de Waalwyck, daughter-in-law to Madame d’Orges, gave a concert at which all the[Pg 95] chief musicians of Lausanne, more than twenty in number, took part. Again, Benjamin Constant de Rebecque, who afterwards won fame by calling Napoleon a Genghis Khan,—he was one of the great men of his day,—made his appearance as a musician, and a Herr Köppen, in the service of the Duchesse de Courland, played the flute and made up such horrible faces and grimaces that people could not help laughing.

They also had elaborate picnics on the shores of the lake, or in the glorious forest back of the city. Their favourite place was the grove of Saint-Sulpice. There they would spread a great table under the trees and have chocolate, coffee, good butter, and thick cream at noon. To one of these festivities came the Duchess of Würtemberg in grand style, in a coach drawn by six horses, and dressed in a taffetas robe and a tremendous hat. The real picnic dinner followed and all had huge appetites, fostered by the open air. Then appeared in the distance a great boat accompanied by musicians. Young girls, dressed like shepherds, presented baskets of flowers. A touch of distinction was added by the arrival of the bishop. Every one was gay and happy. Déjardin and his musicians played. They had country dances,[Pg 96] allemandes and rondes. It was a pretty sight—the gay equipages and liveries, the pretty girls. The people of Saint-Sulpice clustered around. The rustic touch was communicated by sheep and cows. Merry children were there to take an interest in the festivity. The duchess sat in an armchair, holding a white parasol over her head. More or less damage was done to the property of the inhabitants, and they made it up by taking a collection which, when counted, amounted to forty crowns. At this same Saint-Sulpice, Napoleon, when First Consul, in 1800 reviewed the army that was to fight later at Marengo.

It must not be supposed, however, that Gibbon’s laziness and his dislike of exercise prevented him from working. Delightful invitations could not allure him from his work. Often, as his History neared completion, he had to spend not only the mornings but also the evenings in his library. The fourth volume was completed in June, 1784, the fifth in May, 1786, and the last on June 27, 1787.

The year after the last volume was published his friend Deyverdun, who had been for some time in failing health, passed away. He bequeathed to Gibbon for life the furniture in the apartment which he occupied. There is no[Pg 97] known inventory of it, but we know what gave distinction to the grand salon—tapestried armchairs, tall pier-glass, marble and gilt console table, crystal lustres, bronze candelabras, a fine, old clock in carved and gilded black wood, and other luxurious articles. He left him also the entire and complete use and possession of La Grotte, its dependencies, and the tools and utensils for caring for it. He was to make all repairs and changes necessary and pay his legal heir, Major Georges de Molin de Montagny, the sum of four thousand francs, and an annuity of thirty louis neufs or, if he desired, he might purchase the property for thirty-five thousand francs. Gibbon was in London at the time, superintending the publication of his History; he had to come back to Lausanne and to a quite different existence. He entered into amicable relations with Major de Montagny. He lent him money and was entirely willing to take La Grotte in accordance with the will. He began to make improvements in the estate and he tells how he had arranged his library, or rather his two libraries—“book-closets,” they used to be called—and their antechamber so that he could shut the solid wooden doors of the twenty-seven bookcases in such a way that it seemed like a bookless apartment.

[Pg 98]

He boasts of his increasing love for Nature:

“The glories of the landscape I have always enjoyed; but Deyverdun has almost given me a taste for minute observation, and I can now dwell with pleasure on the shape and color of the leaves, the various hues of the blossoms, and the successive progress of vegetation. These pleasures are not without cares; and there is a white acacia just under the windows of my library which, in my opinion, was too closely pruned last Autumn, and whose recovery is the daily subject of anxiety and conversation.

“My romantic wishes led sometimes to an idea which was impracticable in England, the possession of an house and garden, which should unite the society of town with the beauties and freedom of the country. This idea is now realized in a degree of perfection to which I never aspired, and if I could convey in words a just picture of my library, apartments, terrace, wilderness, vineyard, with the prospect of land and water terminated by the mountains; and this position at the gate of a populous and lively town where I have some friends and many acquaintances, you would envy or rather applaud the singular propriety of my choice.”

He says further on in the same letter:

[Pg 99]

“The habits of female conversation have sometimes tempted me to acquire the piece of furniture, a wife, and could I unite in a single woman, the virtues and accomplishments of half a dozen of my acquaintance, I would instantly pay my addresses to the Constellations.”

The requirements were that one should be as a mistress; the second, a lively entertaining acquaintance; the third, a sincere good-natured friend; the fourth should preside with grace and dignity at the head of his table and family; the fifth, an excellent economist and housekeeper; the sixth, a very useful nurse!

It was suggested to him by Madame Necker that he might do well to marry, though she assured him, with, perhaps a bit of malice, that to marry happily one must marry young. He thus expressed himself regarding the state of celibacy:—

“I am not in love with any of the hyaenas of Lausanne, though there are some who keep their claws tolerably well pared. Sometimes, in a solitary mood, I have fancied myself married to one or another of those whose society and conversation are the most pleasing to me; but when I have painted in my fancy all the probable consequences of such a union, I have[Pg 100] started from my dream, rejoiced in my escape, and ejaculated a thanksgiving that I was still in possession of my natural freedom.”

Perhaps it was fortunate that Gibbon did not marry Suzanne; we might not have had the History of Rome; we should not have had Madame de Staël!

[Pg 101]


IT was a cozy and restful day and pleasant indoors, sheltered from the driving rain. I had a fine romp with the children in the nursery. I was delighted to find that the oldest, Lawrence,—a fine, manly little chap with big brown eyes—was fond of music and was already manifesting considerable talent. The twin girls, Ethel and Barbara, were as similar as two green peas; they were quick-witted enough to see that I could hardly tell them apart and they enjoyed playing little jokes on me. Toward the end of the afternoon, becoming restless from being so long indoors, I proposed taking a walk. Lawrence wanted to go with us, and his mother dressed him appropriately, and he and his father and I sallied out together.

We had hardly reached the big bridge when Will uttered some words which I could not understand. “What is that?” I asked.

[Pg 102]

“It is a weather proverb in the local dialect.”

“Please repeat it slowly.”

He did so: “Leis niollez van d’avau devétion lo sélau.”

“Give it up,” I said.

“It means: ‘When the clouds fly down the lake and give a glimpse of the sun, it is a sign of fair weather.’ The wind has changed.”

He had hardly uttered this prophecy when there was a break in the west and a gleam of sunlight flitted across the upper part of the town, though down below all was still smothered in grey mist.

“It is surely going to be pleasant to-morrow, and I think we had better arrange to make a tour of the lake. We can go either by the automobile or on the water by motor-boat. We can do it by the car in a day; but if we go by boat we might have to be gone a couple of days or even longer. A storm like this is likely to be followed by a spell of fair weather.”

“I should vote for the boat,” said I.

The next morning was perfectly cloudless. The air was deliciously bracing and everything was propitious for our trip. We had an early breakfast. Emile was waiting to take us[Pg 103] down to the quai at Ouchy. A graceful—and from its lines evidently swift-running—motor-boat was moored alongside the Place de la Navigation. The chauffeur drove off to leave the car at a convenient garage and, while we were making ourselves at home on the boat, he came hurrying back to take charge of the engine. This paragon was equally apt on sea and on land. We were soon off and darting out into the lake which in the early morning, when no wind had as yet arisen, lay like a mirror. Looking back, we had the steep slope of the Jorat clearly outlined; the city of Lausanne clinging to its sides, and the cathedral perched on its height and dominating all with its majestic dignity. Gleaming among the trees could be seen dozens of attractive villas—“the white houses,” as Dumas cleverly said, resembling “a flock of swans drying themselves in the sun.” Many of these would be worthy a whole chapter of history and romance, the former “noble” possessors having connected themselves with literary, educational, or military events in all parts of Europe. But, seen from the lake, they were like the details of a magnificent panoramic picture.

As a wild duck flies, the distance from Ouchy to Vevey is only about twelve miles across the[Pg 104] blue water; but we hugged the shore, so as to get the nearest possible views. Emile was an admirable cicerone and pointed out to us many interesting places. As we came abreast the valley of the Paudèze we could see some of the eleven arches of the viaduct of La Conversion.

“You see that hill just to the East of the city,” said Will. “That is Pierra-Portay. There, in 1826, some vintagers found several tombs made of calcareous stone and they were quite rich in objects of the stone age—hatchets and weapons and other things, besides skeletons. All along the shores of the lake similar discoveries were made. The people didn’t know much about such things then, and many were opened carelessly and the relics were often scattered and lost. I think in 1835 about a hundred were opened. In one of them, covered with a flat stone, there were articles from the bronze age—spiral bracelets, bronze hatchets, brass plaques ornamented with engraved designs. Probably when they were made the lake was much higher. There are traditions that the water once bathed the base of the mountains, and that there were rings, to fasten boats to, on Saint Triphon, which must then have been an island. Almost every town along the shore[Pg 105] has its prehistoric foundation. The name of the forest beyond Lausanne,—you can see it from here,—Sauvabelin, which means sylva Bellini, suggests Druidical rites and about thirty tombs were found there with interesting remains. And just above the Mont de Lutry, above the viaduct—where you see those arches—a huge old oak-tree was struck by lightning and overturned; in its roots were a number of deep bowls, cups and earthen plates bearing the name of Vindonissa, which was an important Roman settlement, and also fragments of knives and other copper utensils, probably used for sacrifices, perhaps hidden there by some Druid priest.”

It was a queer notion to spring this recondite subject when we were flying along the crystalline waters of the lake and new splendours of scenery were every second bursting into view. I did not even care very much to know the names of the multitudinous mountains that seemed to be holding a convention on the horizon, though Emile told us that those were the Rochers de Verraux, those the Rochers de Naye, and others various Teeth—La Dent de Jaman, La Dent de Morcles, La Dent du Midi. I did learn to distinguish the latter, and also Le Grand Muveran, and especially La Tour[Pg 106] d’Aï, where I knew that a wonderful echo—un écho railleur—has her habitat and mocks whatever sounds are flung in her direction.

Perfectly beautiful also stood out the peak of what the Western “Cookie” called “the grand Combine”—like the pyramid of Cheops beatified and changed into sugar. As we expected to stop at the Castle of Chillon I had brought with me an amusing “Guide” to that historic shrine and I discovered in it a description of La Dent du Midi. It says:—

“What a magnificent object that Dent du Midi is, if we regard it, standing out so clearly from its base to its summit, rising so boldly and by endless degrees from the depth of the valley up to the gigantic wall, the strata of which are intersected by narrow passes, where the snow lodges and gives birth to the glaciers, the largest of which are spread out like a streak of silver as far down as the pasture-fields. In its central and unique position, the Dent du Midi, with its seven irregular peaks, crowns and worthily completes the picture.”

Then the author goes off into poetry:—

“Dost thou know it, the dull blue wave
Which bathes the ancient Wall of Chillon?
Hast seen the grand shadow of the rocks of Arvel
Reflected in that azure sea?
Knowest thou Naye and its steep crest
And the toothed ridge of Jaman?
Hast thou seen them, tell me, hast thou seen them?
Come here to these scenes and never leave them!”


I suppose it is really one’s duty to know the names of the mountains, just as one must know the botanical names of flowers. Nevertheless, only within comparatively few years have distinctive names been actually fastened to special mountains. The names, foreign to English, when translated into English are often to the last degree banal. A typical example is the Greek headland with its high-sounding appellation, Kunoskephale, which means merely Dog’s Head; and those that first gave the Alps a generic name could not devise anything better than a word which means “White.” What would not the imaginative American Indians have called Mont Blanc! Very probably the Keltic inhabitants of these regions, with their poetic nature, would have named it something better than just “White Mountain!” The Romans might have the practical ability to build roads over the hills, but they could not name them!

Juste Olivier, however, goes into ecstasies over the names of some of the Swiss mountains. He says:—

[Pg 107]
[Pg 108]

“What more charming, more fresh and morning-like than the name of the Blümlisalp? What more gloomy than that of the Wetterhorn, more solid than that of the Stockhorn, more incomparable than that of the Jungfrau, more aerial and whiter than that of the Titlis, more superb and high sounding than that of the Kamor, more sparkling and vivid than that of the Silberhorn, more terrible than that of the Finsteraarhorn which falls and echoes like an avalanche!”

He is still more enthusiastic over the Alps of Vaud:—Moléson with its round and abundant mass so frequently sung by the shepherds of Gruyères, the slender, white, graceful forms of La Dent de Lis and Le Rubli. And he finds in the multitude of names ending in az—Dorannaz, Javernaz, Oeusannaz, Bovannaz—something peculiarly alpestrine and bucolic, as if one heard in them the horn-notes blown by the herdsmen, and their long cadenzas with the echoes from the mountain walls; and the solemn lowing of the cows as they crop the flowery grass and shake the big copper bells fastened to their necks. There is an endless study in names of places as well as in names of people. Often centuries of history may be detected in a single word.

[Pg 109]

Meantime we have been speeding along, cutting through the fabric of the lake as if we were a knife. Behind us radiated two long, dark blue lines tipped with bubbles and mixing the reflections of the gracious shores. Oh, this wonderful lake! Vast tomes have been devoted to its poetic, picturesque, scientific characteristics. Almost every inch of its vast depths has been explored. No longer has the wily boatman, as he steers his lateen-sailed lochère, any excuse for telling his occasional passenger (as he used to tell James Fenimore Cooper) that the water is bottomless. Every fish that swims in it is known and every bird that floats on its broad bosom.

A lake is by no means a lazy body of water and Leman, or Lake Geneva, as it is often called, is not so much a lake as it is a swollen river. If the Rhône is an artery, the lake is a sort of aneurism; there is a current from one end to the other which keeps it constantly changing. Then, owing to atmospheric conditions, at least twice a year (as in even the most stagnant ponds) the top layers sink to the bottom and the bottom layers come to the top. There is also a sort of tide or tidal fluxes, called seiches. The word means originally the flats exposed by low water, but is applied here to[Pg 110] variations averaging ten inches or so in the level of the lake, but sometimes greatly exceeding that. There were three or four in one day in September, 1600, when the lake fell five feet and boats were stranded. De Saussure, one August day in 1763, measured a sudden fall of 1.47 meters, or four and a half feet, in ten minutes’ time. Eight years previously, the effect of the great earthquake which destroyed Lisbon was noticed in the vibration of the lake. Various explanations of this curious phenomenon have been given. One was that the Rhône was stopped and, as it were, piled up at the so-called Banc du Travers—a bar or shallow between Le Petit Lac and Le Grand Lac which begins on a line between La Pointe de Promenthoux on the north and La Pointe de Nernier in Savoy on the south. It is probably due to the sweeping force of the winds. When there is a heavy storm waves on the lake have been observed and measured not less than thirty-five meters long and a meter and seven tenths in height.

James Fenimore Cooper in his novel “The Headsman of Berne,” published anonymously while he was United States Consul at Lyons, thus describes this wonderful body of water:—“The Lake of Geneva lies nearly in the form[Pg 111] of a crescent, stretching from the southwest towards the northeast. Its northern or the Swiss shore is chiefly what is called, in the language of the country, a côte, or a declivity that admits of cultivation, and, with few exceptions, it has been, since the earliest periods of history, planted with the generous vine.

“Here the Romans had many stations and posts, vestiges of which are still visible. The confusion and the mixture of interests that succeeded the fall of the Empire gave rise in the middle ages to various baronial castles, ecclesiastical towns and towers of defence which still stand on the margin of this beautiful sheet of water, or ornament the eminences a little inland.... The shores of Savoy are composed with unmaterial exceptions of advanced spurs of the high Alps, among which towers Mont Blanc, like a sovereign seated in the midst of a brilliant court, the rocks frequently rising from the water’s edge in perpendicular masses. None of the lakes of this remarkable region possess a greater variety of scenery than that of Geneva, which changes from the smiling aspect of fertility and cultivation at its lower extremity to the sublimity of a savage and sublime nature at its upper.”

It seems almost incredible, but Lausanne[Pg 112] lies a good deal nearer to the North Pole than Boston does. The degree of latitude that sweeps across the lake where we started cuts just a little below Quebec, nearly touches Duluth and goes a bit south of Seattle. There are really three lakes, forming one which, in its whole extent, has a shore-line of one hundred and sixty-seven kilometers, the north shore being twenty-three longer than the south. Its greatest width is thirteen and eight-tenths kilometers, and it covers an area of about five hundred and eighty-two square kilometers. Its maximum depth is 309.7 meters. It is a true rock basin. The Upper Lake is, for the most part, a level plain, filled by the greyish-muddy Rhône which uses it as a sort of clearing-house. Being denser than the lake, the water of the river sinks and leaves on the bottom its perpetual deposits of mud, coarser near the shore, finer the farther out one goes. When the bottom of the Grand Lake is once reached, it is as flat as a billiard-table. Sixty meters from the Castle of Chillon it is sixty-four meters deep and shelves rapidly to three times that depth.

Deep as it seems—for a thousand feet of perpendicular water is in itself a somewhat awesome thought—still, in proportion to its[Pg 113] surface-extent, the lake is shallow. Pour out a tumbler of water on a wooden chair and the comparative depth is greater.

Pure as it seems to be—and the beauty of its colour is a proof of it—the Rhône carries down from it to the sea a vast amount of organic matter and, as it drains a basin of eight thousand square kilometers, it is not strange that Geneva, which has used the lake-water for drinking purposes since 1715, has occasionally suffered from typhoid fever. In 1884 there were sixteen hundred and twenty-five cases; but, since the intake-pipes have been carried farther into deep water, the danger seems to have passed. Ancient writers supposed that the Rhône ran through Lake Leman without mixing its waters; they did not know that the lake is the Rhône.

Emile told us that after the bise, that is, the northeast wind, had blown for several days, the muddy water of the Rhône shows green along the shore for several kilometers. This is called les troublons du Rhône. He told us also that the lake-water is warmer than the air in every month except April and May. I asked him if it ever froze over, and he replied that there was a legend that once it did, but never within his memory.

[Pg 114]

One of the most interesting things in winter is the mirage. Almost every day one can see the land looming; it seems as if there were great castles and cities, and sometimes boats are sailing in the air. Places that are out of sight rise up, and gigantic walls and colossal quais appear where there are no such constructions.

This Fata Morgana gave ground for the magical Palace of the Fairy—le Palais de la Fée—and is perhaps the basis of the legend of the fairy skiff of the lake. Those that have the vision see it drawn along by eight snow-white swans. In it sits a supernaturally tall woman with golden locks and dressed in white robes, accompanied by chubby sprites. If one’s ears are keen enough one can hear the song that she sings, accompanied by a beautiful harp. Wherever her bark touches the shore bright flowers spring into bloom. Unlike many of the magical inhabitants of the mountains, she is a beneficent creature. Even the sight of her brings good fortune. But, since steamboats began to ply up and down and across the blue waters of the lake, she has not been seen; she was scared away. She appears only on post-cards accompanied by the German words “Glück auf”—“Cheer up.”

[Pg 115]

“By the way,” said Will, “did you know that the first steamboat to sail on Lake Geneva was built by an American?”

“No? What was his name?”

“That I don’t know; but he made a great success of it so that an association was formed to go into competition with him with two new boats and, when they were launched, they offered the American a sovereign a day to let his boat lie idly at the dock. He accepted the proposition and was spared all the worries of navigating the lake and of seeing his profits cut down by opposition. That was about a century ago.”

We were interrupted by an odd, droning noise from the direction of Montreux and, looking back, we saw what might have been taken for one of those huge birds, the roc, which we used to read about in the Arabian Nights. It came rapidly nearer and we saw it was a hydro-aeroplane darting down the lake. It must have been at least a thousand feet in the air, but with the spyglass we could see the faces of its passengers.

“I’d like to go up in one of those,” said Will, “but this tyrannical little wife of mine has made me promise that I won’t. Don’t you[Pg 116] think that she is exhibiting an undue interference with her lord and master?”

“Am I not perfectly right, Uncle?” asked Ruth with a show of indignation. “I suppose some time they will be made safe; but, till they are, a man who has a wife and children has no business to take such a risk. Suppose a bise should suddenly come down from the mountains.”

Of course I took Ruth’s side; Will would not have liked it if I hadn’t; but I made up my mind then and there that, at the first opportunity, I, not being cramped by any marital obligations, would have a sail in a hydro-aeroplane. What is more, I carried out my purpose. One day everything seemed to favour me; the weather was fine and promised to continue so; Will and Ruth were occupied in some domestic complication; so I went out ostensibly for a walk, but hurried to the station and took a train for Vernex. I found the quai where the hydro-aeroplane starts, and, having been told that it cost a hundred francs, I had the passage-money ready in a bank-note.

I have seen a wild fowl rise from the surface of an Adirondack lake; the wings dash the water into foam, but after it has made a long, white wake, it rises and speeds down the horizon.[Pg 117] So, as soon as I had taken my place with one other passenger, a Russian gentleman, the motor was set in motion and we glided out on the lake. Then, with a slight motion of the rudder, as our speed increased, we left the surface and, in an easy incline, mounted high into the air. I liked it all except the noise of the motor; that was deafening.

My favourite dream has always had to do with an act of levitation. I would seem to be standing on the great, granite step of my grandfather’s old house, and then by sheer will power lift myself—only there was no sense of lifting—high out over the river which flowed between the steep banks, a wide, calm stream, and, having made a turn above the swaying elms, come back to my starting-point without any sense of shock.

This came nearest to that dream. I had no sense of fear at all. Looking down, I could say with Tennyson’s eagle, “The wrinkled sea beneath me crawls.” The whole lake lay, as it were, in the palm of my hand. It was an indescribable panorama, flattened except where very high hills arose, and in the distance an infinitude of blended details. It was vastly more exciting than being on a mountain-top. The wind whistled through the wires and almost[Pg 118] took away my breath. Thanks to having twice circled the lake—once by motor-boat and once in the automobile—I knew pretty well what the towns were over which we sailed. We made a wide circuit over Geneva and, mounting still higher, cleared the crest of the Salève and then returned like an arrow to Vernex. I now knew how an eagle feels when in splendid spirals it soars up toward the sun until it is lost to human sight, and then, with absolute command of its motions, descends to its eyrie on the top of a primeval pine planted on the mountain’s dizzy side. I now knew how Icarus dared fit those wax-panoplied wings to his strong arms and with mighty strokes ply the upper skies, looking down on the sea which it was worth dying for to name through all the ages.

Over this very lake once floated the balloon sent up by Madame de Charrière de Bavois, kindled to enthusiasm by the invention of the celebrated Montgolfier brothers. It was nearly two meters high and two or three times that in circumference and was made of paper and a network of wires. But it caught fire, and fell like a meteor, and Lausanne forbade any more experiments of the sort without permission; there was too great risk of setting the woods[Pg 119] on fire. What would Rousseau and Voltaire have said to see men flying a thousand feet above their heads? But what at first seems like a miracle soon becomes a commonplace and, now that I have been up in a “plane,” ordinary locomotion will seem rather tame.

But, to return to our trip around the lake. The buzzing hydro-aeroplane sped over our heads, going at a tremendous clip and of course filling us with wonder and admiration. While those above us were free from every obstacle, except the air itself, which Kant, in one of his poetic passages in the “Critique,” shows is the very support of the bird’s flight, we were making good progress in the “Hirondelle,” running not far from the shore, but of course avoiding the shelving edge of the beine—to use the local term.

We were near enough to admire the beautiful villas which occupied commanding and lovely sites at frequent intervals between Lutry and Cully. When Emile pointed out Villette I wondered if Charlotte Brontë got the name of her autobiographical romance from it. Pretty soon we glided slowly by Vevey, where we could see the crowds of people on the Place du Marché, and the green fields with scattered[Pg 120] houses, and enjoyed the tall trees and the fine old château de l’Aile and, farther back, the noble tower of Saint Martin.

Vevey has been rather unfortunate in its piers. In 1872 the municipality began to build a solid and handsome structure along La Place de l’Ancien Port. Several years were spent on it and it had been completed about eighteen months when one hundred and nine meters—all of the western part—suddenly, and without any warning, sank into the lake. The physical explanation of the catastrophe was very simple. Almost a hundred years earlier—in June and again in November, 1785—some of the houses on what was then La Rue du Sauveur, now La Rue du Lac, being founded on the same unstable basis, gave way. It happened again in 1809. The weight of the superimposed structure caused the mud and gravel deposits to slide down into deeper water. Even now one almost expects to see the white, gravelly beach, just beyond, sink into the depths, with all the chattering washer-women who use the lake as a bath-tub. Similar catastrophes have happened on several other Swiss lakes.

It was like a moving-picture to see the succession of interesting places. Beyond Vévey-la-Tour were the clustered villas of La Tour-de-Peilz, where Count Peter of Savoy once enjoyed the beauties of the lake; then Clarens, suggesting memories of Rousseau and Byron. Far up on the height we could see the Château des Crêtes. We made beautiful scallops in around by Vernex, and doubled the picturesque point on which Montreux roosts, and looked up to the far-away Dent de Jaman; we skirted Territe and then came close under the frowning, historic walls of Chillon.

[Pg 121]
[Pg 122]



CHILLON is probably the best-known castle in Switzerland. It commands the one pass between the mountains and the lake, and there, in the old days, two horsemen could defend the passage against a host. On Mont Sonchaux, a spur of the high crags of Naye, with Mont Arval rising on the east, and torn with ravines and landslides, between the two torrents, the Veraye and the Tinère, it stands, “a mass of towers placed on a mass of rocks.”

We sailed all around, from one side of the bridge to the other, and managed to approach near enough to clamber ashore. We fastened the boat to a tree by the long maille, as they call the painter on the lake. Then we went all over the ancient fortress. Happily the Canton has at last awakened to the propriety of not merely keeping it in repair, but also of restoring it to something like its pristine condition. In the earlier castle Louis le Débonnaire confined[Pg 123] his kinsman, Count Walla, the friend of Lothaire, on the ground that he was the instigator of that prince’s revolt against his father. At that time the country was a wilderness, and there was only a chapel where now Montreux gathers a wealthy and luxurious population. Walla spent many years in Chillon, but was ultimately transferred to the fortified Island of Noirmontier. Then he was set free, and died in 835 in the Abbey of Bobbio, sixteen leagues from Milan.

In 1235, Duke Pierre de Savoy received the Province of Chamblais, extending from Saint Bernard to the torrent of the Veveyse and to the Arve on both sides of the lake.

He erected many castles—one at Martigny, at the entrance to the pass leading up to Saint Bernard; one at Evian, on the south side of the lake; and still another at the village of Peilz—and he reconstructed Chillon. Having mastered the Pays de Vaud, he governed with moderation. He organized troops of archers and halberdiers, established shooting-societies, and maintained strong garrisons at various points. In 1265, Rodolphe, Duke of Hapsburg, invaded Vaud and besieged Chillon. Pierre suddenly attacked him and won a great victory. They took the duke prisoner, together with[Pg 124] eighty barons, lords, knights and nobles of the country. After this Pierre had things his own way; he settled down at the Castle of Chillon and one of his pleasures was to go out rowing on the lake.

In 1358, when the plague ravaged Europe, the Jews were accused of poisoning the water. “The Court of Justice of Chillon,” says the local hand-book, “caused these unhappies to be tortured and they would confess and then were burnt.” So roused against them were the population that on one occasion a rabble forced the gates of the castle and put a number of them to death.

In Pierre’s day it must have been a magnificent residence. Even now, viewed with the eye of imagination, one can get some notion of what it was in its period of splendour, though Thomas Jefferson Hogg, in his “Journal of a Traveller,” declares that it is ugly, with its whitewashed walls crowned with a red-tiled roof. It is built in the form of an irregular oval. In the centre is a high, square tower which contained a great alarm-bell, the deep tones of which must have often echoed over the waters to call the defenders to resist the attacks of fierce enemies. On the north side are two ranges of crenelated walls and three round towers. On the east is the massive square of the principal tower, through which is the only entrance, formerly closed by a drawbridge extending from the shore to the rock. The rooms where the counts and their ladies dwelt in state were on the south side. On the first floor is the great apartment once occupied by the Governor of Chillon. In one of the rooms is a magnificent fireplace with sculptured columns. In the story above are the chambers where knights habited. Here are pillars richly carved, ornamented with ancient coats of arms, and once draped with banners. Then come the chambers of the duke and duchess, communicating by a private door. The duchess’s windows look down on the blue waters of the lake, while that of the prince looks into the courtyard.


Religion was not neglected in those days; in the chapel one admires the beautiful ogive of the nave. From the Hall of Justice a stairway leads down into the vaults below. These are caverns about a hundred meters long. The floors are only eight feet above the lake, which goes off very abruptly down to the deepest depths. These vaults are partitioned off into chambers of different sizes, separated by narrow, dark spaces and used for dungeons. Each[Pg 125]
[Pg 126]
of the subterranean cells contains a row of pillars, surmounted by ogive arches. They are like the sombre and almost magical dungeons under the ancient King Arkel’s castle, where Pélléas and his jealous brother grope in Maeterlinck’s marvellous drama.

The last and largest of these terrible apartments is the one where Bonivard was confined. It is entered by a low, narrow doorway, and is divided by seven huge pillars, around one of which is the legendary groove hollowed by the restless pacing of the prisoner’s circling feet. Above are several narrow slits admitting a dim light. On bright days the light reflected from the lake casts a weird radiance on the ceiling. Little trembling waves go chasing one another across. Bonivard could tell when it was morning, for then the light is blue, while in the afternoon it has a sickly, greenish hue.

Francis Bonivard was born at Seyssel and was educated at Turin. At twenty he became prior of Saint Victor, a small monastery near Geneva. He joined the political organization, called “The Children of Geneva,” which was engaged in a revolt against the Bishop and Duke of Savoy. He said—“I foresee that we shall finally do what our friends in Berne have done—separate from Rome. I was[Pg 127] twenty years old and I was led like the others more by affection than by counsel, but God granted a happy issue to all our foolish undertakings, and treated us like a good father.”

The duke managed to capture him and imprisoned him for two years at Gex and Gerolles. Later, he fell a second time into the duke’s clutch.

Bonivard tells how it happened:—“At Moudon I resolved to return to Lausanne. When we were in the Jorat, lo, the Captain of the Castle of Chillon, Antoine de Beaufort, with some of his companions, comes out of the forest where he was concealed and approaches me suddenly. These worthy gentlemen fall on me all at once and make me a prisoner by the captain’s order and, though I show them my passport, they carry me off tied and bound to Chillon, where I was compelled to endure my second suffering for six years.”

This was from 1530 till 1536. He was treated mildly at first, but afterwards he was thrown into the dungeon and fastened to one of the pillars. “I had so much time for walking,” he says with a sort of grim humour, “that I wore a little pathway in the rock, as if it had been done with a hammer.”

In 1536 the Bernese sent troops to help[Pg 128] Geneva, which was besieged by Duke Charles III. Reinforced by the Genevese fleet after the relief of Geneva, they in turn besieged Chillon. The governor with his escort fled to Savoy and Bonivard was set free. His first words were:—“And Geneva?”

“Also free,” was the laconic reply.

After Bern had conquered Savoy, Auguste de Luternan (an appropriate name for a Lutheran) was the first Bernese bailiff of Chillon, and he and his successors made various alterations in the buildings. In 1733 the bailiwick was transferred to Vevey and just seventy years later the castle became the property of Vaud. For some time it was grievously neglected. For its sole garrison it had two gens-d’armes, and it was used only as a military magazine and a prison.

A prison? Ay! One must never forget the most illustrious prisoner ever confined in its gloomy oubliettes—though, to tell the honest truth, Chillon never had any oubliettes. Tartarin de Tarascon, tamer of camels, destroyer of African lions, slayer of the super-Alpine chamois—we see him passing disdainfully amid the attractions of the glittering shops of Montreux, only to be arrested as a Russian[Pg 129] Nihilist and, under threat of being gagged unless he keep his mouth shut, borne away to the very castle sacred to the memory of Bonivard, in whom he had lost faith, since William Tell had become a myth! Here is the vivid picture as chronicled by Daudet:—

“The carriage rolled across a drawbridge, between tiny shops where trinkets were for sale—chamois-skin articles, pocket-knives, button-hooks, combs and the like—passed under a low postern and came to a stop in the grass-grown courtyard of an old castle flanked by round pepper-box towers, with black balconies held up by beams. Where was he? Tartarin understood when he heard the police captain talking with the doorkeeper of the castle, a fat man in a Greek cap, shaking a huge bunch of rusty keys.

“‘In solitary confinement?—But I haven’t any more room. The rest of them occupy all the—unless we put him in Bonivard’s dungeon.’

“‘Put him in Bonivard’s dungeon then; it’s quite good enough for him,’ said the captain authoritatively. And his commands were obeyed.

“This Castle of Chillon, which the President of the Alpine Club had been for two days con[Pg 130]stantly talking about to his friends, the Alpinists, and in which, by the irony of fate, he suddenly found himself imprisoned without knowing why, is one of the historical monuments of Switzerland. After having served as a summer residence of the Counts of Savoy, then as a State prison, a dépôt of arms and stores, it is now only an excuse for an excursion, like the Rigi-Kulm or the Tellsplatte. There is however a police-station there and a lock-up for drunkards and the wilder youths of the district; but such inmates are rare, as La Vaud is a most peaceful canton; thus the lock-up is for the most part untenanted and the keeper keeps his winter fuel in it. So the arrival of all these prisoners had put him in a bad humour, particularly when it occurred to him that he should no longer be able to pilot people through the famous dungeons, which was at that season attended with no little profit.


“Filled with rage, he led the way and Tartarin timidly followed him, making no resistance. A few worn steps, a musty corridor, smelling like a cellar, a door as thick as a wall, with enormous hinges, and there they were in a vast subterranean vault, with deeply worn floor and solid Roman columns on which hung the iron rings to which in former times prisoners of state were chained. A dim twilight filtered in and the rippling lake was reflected through the narrow loop-holes, which allowed only a slender strip of sky to be seen.

“‘This is your place,’ said the jailer. ‘Mind you do not go to the end; the oubliettes are there.’

“Tartarin drew back in horror.

“‘The oubliettes! Noudiou!’ he exclaimed.

“‘What would you have, man alive? I was ordered to put you in Bonivard’s dungeon. I have put you in Bonivard’s dungeon. Now, if you have the wherewithal, I can supply you with some luxuries, such as a mattress and a coverlet for the night.’

“‘Let me have something to eat first,’ said Tartarin, whose purse fortunately had not been taken from him.

“The doorkeeper returned with fresh bread, beer and a Bologna sausage, and these were eagerly devoured by the new prisoner of Chillon, who had not broken his fast since the day before, and was worn out with fatigue and emotion. While he was eating it on his stone bench, in the dim light of the embrasure, the jailer was steadily studying him with a good-natured expression.

“‘Faith,’ said he, ‘don’t know what you[Pg 131]
[Pg 132]
have been doing and why you are treated so severely....’

“‘Eh! coquin de sort, no more do I. I know nothing at all about it,’ replied Tartarin, with his mouth full.

“‘At any rate, one thing is certain—you don’t look like a criminal and I am sure you would never keep a poor father of a family from gaining his living, eh? Well, then, I have upstairs a whole throng of people who have come to see Bonivard’s dungeon. If you will give me your word to keep still and not attempt to escape—’

“The worthy Tartarin at once gave his word and five minutes later he saw his dungeon invaded by his old acquaintances of the Rigi-Kulm and the Tellsplatte—the stupid Schwanthaler, the ineptissimus Astier-Réhu, the member of the Jockey Club with his niece (hum!—hum!), all the Cook’s tourists. Ashamed and afraid of being recognized, the unhappy man hid behind the pillars, retiring and stealing away as he saw the tourists approach, preceded by his jailer and that worthy’s rigmarole, recited in a lugubrious tone, ‘This is where the unfortunate Bonivard—’

“They came forward slowly, retarded by the disputes of the two savants, who were all the[Pg 133] time quarrelling, ready to fly at each other—one waving his camp-stool, the other his travelling-bag, in fantastic attitudes which the half-light magnified along the vaulted dungeon roof.

“By the very exigency of retreat, Tartarin found himself at last near the opening of the oubliettes—a black pit, open level with the floor, breathing an odor of past ages, damp and chilling. Alarmed, he paused, crouched in a corner, pulling his cap over his eyes; but the damp saltpeter of the walls affected him and suddenly a loud sneeze, which made the tourists start back, betrayed him.

“‘Hold! Bonivard!’ exclaimed the saucy little Parisienne in the Directoire hat, whom the member of the Jockey Club called his niece.

“The Tarasconian did not permit himself to display any signs of being disturbed.

“‘These oubliettes are really very interesting,’ he remarked, in the most natural tone in the world, as if he also were a mere pleasure-seeker visiting the dungeon. Then he joined the other tourists, who smiled when they recognized the Alpinist of the Rigi-Kulm, the mainspring of the famous ball.

“‘Hé! Mossié!—ballir, ‘dantsir!

“The comical outline of the little fairy Schwanthaler presented itself before him ready[Pg 134] to dance. Truly he had a great mind to dance with her. Then, not knowing how to get rid of this excited bit of womanhood, he offered his arm and gallantly showed her his dungeon—the ring whereon the prisoner’s chain had been riveted; the traces of his footsteps worn in the rock around the same column; and, hearing Tartarin speak with such facility, the good lady never suspected that he who was walking with her was also a state prisoner—a victim to the injustice and the wickedness of man. Terrible, for instance, was the parting, when the unfortunate ‘Bonivard,’ having led his partner to the door, took leave of her with the smile of a society gentleman, saying, ‘No, thank you,—I will stay here a moment longer.’ She bowed, and the jailer, who was on the alert, locked and bolted the door to the great astonishment of all.

“What an insult! He was bathed in the perspiration of agony, as he listened to the exclamations of the departing visitors. Fortunately such torture as this was not inflicted on him again that day. The bad weather deterred tourists....”

In the morning he is rudely awakened, and brought before the prefect, charged with being the dreaded Russian incendiary and assassin, Manilof.

[Pg 135]

It is soon made manifest that there is a dreadful mistake. The prefect, angry at having been sent for under false pretences, cries in a terrible voice:—“Well, then, what are you doing here?”

“‘That is just what I want to know,’ replies the V. C. A., with all the assurance of innocence.”

And Tartarin is set free. Verily, we look among the names scribbled on the walls—names of great writers and men of less distinction—Rousseau, Byron, Victor Hugo, George Sand, Shelley, Eugène Sue—for the immortal autograph of Tartarin de Tarascon. It must have been carried off bodily, like the picture of Mona Lisa! But Tartarin himself is just as much an inhabitant of the vaults as Byron’s Bonivard. And was not the policeman whom we caught sight of on the quai at Montreux the very one whose long blue capote was turned so persistently toward the omnibus in which rode the Tarasconian quartet?

[Pg 136]


LORD BYRON, in 1816, landed on this very spot with his friend John Cam Hobhouse. They came over from Clarens, probably in a naue, whose name, as well as its shape, harked back to olden days. Byron wrote about it:—

“I feel myself under the charm of the spirit of this country. My soul is repeopled with Nature. Scenes like this have been created for the dwelling-place of the Gods. Limpid Leman, the sail of thy barque in which I glide over the surface of thy mirror appears to me a silent wing which separates me from a noisy life. I loved formerly the warring of the furious ocean; but thy soft murmuring affects me like the voice of a sister.

“Chillon! thou art a sacred place. Thy pavement is an altar, for the footsteps of Bonivard have left their traces there. Let these traces remain indelible. They appeal to God from the tyranny of man.”

[Pg 137]

Byron made the fame of Chillon, and his Bonivard (or, as he spelt the name with two n’s, Bonnivard) was a far more ideal patriot than the actual prisoner, whose character has been shown of late years in a somewhat unfavourable light. Byron was devoted to the Lake of Geneva. He commemorated some of the great names associated with its shores in a sonnet, one of the few that he ever wrote:—

“Rousseau—Voltaire—our Gibbon—and De Staël—
Leman! these names are worthy of thy shore,
Thy shore of names like these. Wert thou no more
Their memory thy remembrance would recall:
To them thy banks were lovely as to all
But they have made them lovelier, for the lore
Of mighty minds doth hallow in the core
Of human hearts the ruin of a wall
“Where dwells the wise and wondrous; but by thee
How much more, Lake of Beauty, do we feel
In sweetly gliding o’er thy crystal sea
The wild glow of that not ungentle zeal
Which of the Heirs of Immortality
Is proud and makes the breath of Glory real.”

Can it be that Lord Byron pronounced “real” as if it were a monosyllable? But he also wrote “There let it lay!”

There are, on the shores of Lake Geneva,[Pg 138] several hotels associated with Byron. At the Anchor Inn, still extant at Ouchy, he wrote that misleading rhapsody—“The Prisoner of Chillon.”

He had in 1816 definitely separated from his wife and had shaken the dust of England from his poetic shoes. Percy Bysshe Shelley with his wife and daughter, Williams, and Jane Clairmont, Mary Shelley’s half-sister, were established at Sécheron, a suburb of Geneva. Byron had never met the Poet of the Sky-lark, but Jane Clairmont, who was a passionate, fiery-eyed brunette, imbued with her father’s ideas of free love, had begun her unfortunate liaison with him, having deliberately thrown herself into his arms. They had met clandestinely a number of times just before their departure from England.

Byron and Shelley were both fond of sailing and they had many excursions on the lake. One evening they were out together when the bise, as the strong northwest wind is called, was blowing. They drifted before it and, getting into the current of the Rhône, were carried swiftly toward the piles at the entrance of Geneva harbour. It required all the strength of their boatmen to extricate them from the danger.

[Pg 139]

“I will sing you an Albanian song,” cried Byron. “Now be sentimental and give me all your attention.”

They expected a melancholy Eastern melody, but, instead, he uttered “a strange, wild howl” admirably suited to the dashing waves with which they were struggling. A few days later the Shelleys moved across to the south side of the lake, and settled down at Campagne Mont-Allègre. Byron stayed at Sécheron, but used often to row over to visit them. Finally, he himself rented the Villa Diodati, which stands a little higher up.

He and Shelley made a tour of the lake and had some exciting experiences. They left Mont-Allègre on June 23 and spent the first night at Nerni, where Byron declared he had not slept in such a bed since he left Greece five years before. At Evian, on the French side, they had trouble with their passports, but, when the Syndic learned Byron’s name and rank, he apologized for their treatment of him and left him in peace. On June 26 they were at Chillon. Off Meillerie they were attacked by what Byron called a squall. Shelley described it in a letter to Thomas Love Peacock:—

“The wind gradually increased in violence, until it blew tremendously; and as it came[Pg 140] from the remotest extremity of the lake, produced waves of a frightful height, and covered the whole surface with a chaos of foam. One of our boatmen, who was a dreadfully stupid fellow, persisted in holding the sail at a time when the boat was on the point of being driven under water by the hurricane. On discovering his error he let it entirely go and the boat for a moment refused to obey the helm; in addition the rudder was so broken as to render the management of it very difficult; one wave fell in, and then another. My companion, an excellent swimmer, took off his coat, I did the same, and we sat with our arms crossed, every instant expecting to be swamped. The sail was, however, again held, the boat obeyed the helm, and still in imminent peril from the immensity of the waves, we arrived in a few minutes at a sheltered port, in the village of Saint-Gingoux.”

Byron, in a letter to John Murray, wrote:—“I ran no risk, being so near the rocks, and a good swimmer; but our party were wet and incommodated a good deal; the wind was strong enough to blow down some trees, as we found at landing.”

He was at this very time engaged in composing the third canto of “Childe Harold.”


On the third of June he had been dazzled by a glimpse of “yonder Alpine snow—Imperishably pure beyond all things below,” and a month later he wrote, “I have this day observed for some time the distinct reflection of Mont Blanc and Mont Argentière in the calm of the lake, which I was crossing in my boat. The distance of these mountains from their mirror is sixty miles.” In the poem he sings—I believe that is the proper verb!—

“Lake Leman woos me with its crystal face,
The mirror where the stars and mountains view
The stillness of their aspect in each trace
Its clear depth yields of their far height and hue:
There is too much of man here, to look through
With a fit mind the might which I behold;
But soon in me shall Loneliness renew
Thoughts hid, but not less cherished than of old,
Ere mingling with the herd had penned me in its fold....
“Is it not better, then, to be alone
And love Earth only for its earthly sake
By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhône,
Or the pure bosom of its nursing lake,
Which feeds it as a mother who doth make
A fair but froward infant her own care,
Kissing its cries away as these awake;—
Is it not better thus our lives to wear,
Than join the crushing crowd, doomed to inflict or bear?
[Pg 141]
[Pg 142]
“I live not in myself, but I become
Portion of that around me; and to me,
High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
Of human cities torture: I can see
Nothing to loathe in nature, save to be
A link reluctant in a fleshly chain,
Classed among creatures, when the soul can flee,
And with the sky, the peak, the heaving plain
Of ocean, or the stars, mingle, and not in vain.”

And again further along:—

“Clear, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake,
With the wide world I dwelt in, is a thing
Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake
Earth’s troubled waters for a purer spring.
This quiet sail is as a noiseless wing
To waft me from distraction; once I loved
Torn ocean’s roar, but thy soft murmuring
Sounds sweet as if a Sister’s voice reproved,
That I with stern delights should e’er have been so moved.”

And how beautifully he describes night on the lake:—

“It is the hush of night, and all between
Thy margin and the mountains, dusk, yet clear,
Mellowed and mingling, yet distinctly seen,
Save darkened Jura, whose capt heights appear
Precipitously steep; and drawing near,
There breathes a living fragrance from the shore,
Of flowers yet fresh with childhood; on the ear
Drops the light drip of the suspended oar,
Or chirps the grasshopper one good-night carol more;
[Pg 143]
“He is an evening reveller, who makes
His life an infancy, and sings his fill;
At intervals, some bird from out the brakes
Starts into voice a moment, then is still.
There seems a floating whisper on the hill,
But that is fancy, for the starlight dews
All silently their tears of love instil,
Weeping themselves away, till they infuse
Deep into Nature’s breast the spirit of her hues.
“Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven,
If in your bright leaves we would read the fate
Of men and empires,—’tis to be forgiven,
That in our aspirations to be great,
Our destinies o’erleap their mortal state,
And claim a kindred with you; for ye are
A beauty and a mystery, and create
In us such love and reverence from afar,
That fortune, fame, power, life, have named themselves a star.
“All heaven and earth are still—though not in sleep,
But breathless, as we grow when feeling most:
And silent, as we stand in thoughts too deep:—
All heaven and earth are still: From the high host
Of stars, to the lulled lake and mountain-coast,
All is concentered in a life intense,
Where not a beam, nor air, nor leaf is lost,
But hath a part of being, and a sense
Of that which is of all Creator and defence.”
[Pg 144]

He is in his darkest, gloomiest, most characteristic pose when he describes a storm at night:—

“The sky is changed! and such a change! O night
And storm and darkness, ye are wondrous strong,
Yet lovely in your strength, as in the light
Of a dark eye in woman! Far along,
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among,
Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone cloud,
But every mountain now hath found a tongue;
And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,
Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud!
“And this is in the night:—Most glorious night!
Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be
A sharer in thy fierce and far delight—
A portion of the tempest and of thee!
How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea,
And the big rain comes dancing to the earth!
And now again ’tis black,—and now, the glee
Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-mirth,
As if they did rejoice o’er a young earthquake’s birth.
“Now, where the swift Rhône cleaves his way between
Heights which appear as lovers who have parted
In hate, whose mining depths so intervene,
That they can meet no more, though broken-hearted;
Though in their souls, which thus each other thwarted,
Love was the very root of the fond rage
Which blighted their life’s bloom, and then departed;
Itself expired, but leaving them an age
Of years all winters—war within themselves to wage.
[Pg 145]
“Now, where the quick Rhône thus hath cleft his way,
The mightiest of the storms hath ta’en his stand:
For here, not one, but many, make their play,
And fling their thunderbolts from hand to hand,
Flashing and cast around; of all the band,
The brightest through these parted hills hath forked
His lightnings, as if he did understand
That in such gaps as desolation worked,
There the hot shaft should blast whatever therein lurked.
“Sky, mountains, river, winds, lake, lightnings! ye,
With night, and clouds, and thunder, and a soul
To make these felt and feeling, well may be
Things that have made me watchful; the far roll
Of your departing voices, is the knoll
Of what in me is sleepless,—if I rest.
But where of ye, O tempests! is the goal?
Are ye like those within the human breast?
Or do ye find at length, like eagles, some high nest?
“Could I embody and unbosom now
That which is most within me,—could I wreak
My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw
Soul, heart, mind, passions, feelings, strong or weak,
All that I would have sought, and all I seek,
Bear, know, feel, and yet breathe—into one word,
And that one word were Lightning, I would speak;
But as it is, I live and die unheard,
With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword.”

The Swiss poet, Juste Olivier, grows enthusiastic over the beauty of Chillon:—

[Pg 146]

“What perfection!” he exclaims, “What purity of lines, what suavity of harmony! In this gulf which one might describe as merging from the lake like a thought of love, in this manoir growing out of the bosom of the billows with its dentelated towers, petals bourgeonning from a noble flower, in this encirclement of mountains and these white or rosy peaks which hold them in close embrace, there is something which bids you pause, takes you out of yourself and in order to complete the enchantment compels you to love it.”

And he goes on to tell how once dwelt here the little Charlemagne, brave Count Pierre, who, when he was ill, used to look out on the joyous waves, living in memory his battles, his tourneys and his festivities. Here, too, his brother, the Seigneur Aymon, used to lie on a vast bed with hangings of armorial silk and surrounded by candles, while he listened to melancholy tales or comic adventures from the poor pilgrims whom he sheltered. In that day the feudal kitchen, with its marquetrie floor, used to see a whole ox roasted to give meat to the visitors, and great casks of wine from the Haut Crêt used to cheer the down-hearted. Little did the revellers care for the poor wretches below in the dungeons where the light[Pg 147] filtering through the loop-holes failed to dissipate the gloomy shadows or make clearer the visions which solitude evoked from the stormy strip of sky.

The finest aspect of Chillon is from a point just a few hundred meters out into the lake. There it has a double background; the steep, green-wooded slope tumbling down from the Bois de la Raveyre, and, beyond the head of the lake, the saw-like roof of the snow-capped Dent du Midi. It does indeed look like a tooth—like the colossal molar of the king of the mastodons. It was too early in the day to see the Alpenglow; but afterwards many times I saw it, not only on this imperial height but also on the heads of Mont Blanc and his haughty vassals and on many another sky-defying range, either bare of snow or wearing the ermine of the clouds.

As it happened, that beautiful day in May, not a cloud, not a wisp of cloud, hovered over the rugged bosom of the mighty mountain. It stood out with startling clearness against a dazzling blue sky, and was framed between the converging slopes of the mountains that meet the lake beyond Chillon and on the other side, beyond Villeneuve. The lofty red-capped central[Pg 148] tower of the ancient castle seemed as high, or rather made the first step up to the mountains that cut off the view of the base of the grander height.

Taken all in all, is there on earth any bit of landscape more interesting and thrilling in its combination of picturesque beauty and historical association?

[Pg 149]


YEARS ago I used to know the Princess Kóltsova-Masálskaya, who under the name of Dora d’Istria wrote many stories and semi-historical works. She was a most cultivated and fascinating woman. In her book, “Au Bord des Lacs Helvétiques,” she criticizes Lord Byron’s description of Lake Leman. She says:—

“When one comes in the spring to the Pays de Vaud, one does not at first see all the beauty so many times celebrated by poets and travelers. In rereading Byron and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one is inclined to conjecture that they were obliged to have recourse to quite fanciful descriptions, in order to justify their boasts.

“Byron, in spite of the power of his genius, is a rather vulgar painter of the splendors of nature. He contents himself with vague traits and what he says of the Lake of Geneva would[Pg 150] apply just as well to the Lake of the Four Cantons or the Lake of Zürich. Rousseau himself seems to have found the subject only partly poetic, for he exhausts himself in describing Julie’s imaginary orchard, which would have been much better situated in the Emmenthal than on the vine-covered slopes above Lake Leman. In gazing at the hillsides, rough with the blackened grape-vines, one can easily understand the motive which prompted the author of ‘La Nouvelle Héloïse’ to prefer an ideal picture to the reality.

“When one leaves the plain in the month of April, one has already enjoyed the smiles of the Spring. The fresh young grass covers the earth with an emerald-colored carpet. The willows swing their silvery catkins at the edges of the streams, while along the edges of the forests gleams the silvery calix of the wood-anemone. Here, the vines are slower; the walnut-trees have not been hasty in opening their big buds and, as the shores of the Lake of Geneva have very little other vegetation than walnut-trees and vines, this region presents, during the first fine days, an aspect not calculated to seduce the eye or speak to the imagination.

“We should get a very false idea of it, however,[Pg 151] if at this season of the year we visited only the shores of the lake, and did not make our way up into the mountains where so many fruit trees spread over the rejuvenated turf the fragrant snow of their petals.”

The Princess tells how Eléonora de Haltingen came to reside at Veytaux with her mother in November, 1858. She liked to go down to Montreux, “the principal group of houses in that parish.” She used to follow a path thus described:—“A foot-path worn among the vines led toward the grotto surmounted by the terrace of the church. This foot-path was impracticable for crinolines; no dust was found, or pallid misses with blue veils, or tourists with airs of conquerors, or noisy children—all such things spoil the most delicious landscapes. But one could admire at one’s ease the luxurious vegetation of the vines, the transparent grapes, the flexible and shining leaves of the maise growing amid the vineyards....

“We admired the magnificent spectacle spread before our eyes,” continues her biographer, “as we picked bouquets of the silène which makes great, rosy clusters in the old walls. These walls are placed there to hold up the vines and they serve as a retreat for a multitude of swift lizards which sleep there during[Pg 152] the winter and whose bright little faces and infantile curiosity were a delight to us. As soon as we had passed a few steps beyond their holes we could see them emerge, cock up their heads, turning to the right and then to the left, with their bright eyes sparkling, and then dart away whenever there would be heard on the path the heavy shoes used by the Vaudois women, for it is said that their musical ear likes only harmonious noises. This inquisitiveness must cost the poor little saurians dear. The bald-buzzards, wheeling in the blue above our heads, seemed by no means indifferent to their movements. And so we kept finding one and another that showed traces of an existence very difficult to preserve. One would lack a paw, another its tail. Finally several, covered with dust, their skins faded and their eyes dulled, fled precipitately so as to leave the foot-path free to those of their brethren whose bright and gilded garb contrasted with their air of wretchedness and suffering, so deeply does misfortune modify the most sociable character.”

Then, after they had enlarged their bouquets by jasmine and syringa blossoms, with Alpine roses and golden-tinged cytisus, they would go to the grotto and from there to the terrace behind[Pg 153] the church. The Princess thus describes the scene:—

“Sheltered by enormous walnut-trees, this grotto, which opens in a crag hung with ivy, gives passage to a brook which falls with a gentle murmur past a bathing establishment, a three-storied, rustic châlet charming to look at. Jasmines and rose-bush boxes deck the ground-floor and the first story with their graceful branches and give the place the appearance of a mass of verdure and of flowers.

“A foot-path, worn under the walnut-trees along the mountain, gives passage to the church and the terrace, which extends south of the edifice and affords one of the most beautiful views in the Pays de Vaud. Of a summer morning, toward nine o’clock, one can find the most marvellous tints spread over the lake. Over a sparkling azure ground wander designs in graceful silvery curves. The sapphire itself seems robbed of its brilliancy beside these waters. The metallic glitter of the bright blue wing of the king-fisher may give some idea of this almost fantastic shade, which seems to belong to another universe.

“We could never tire of contemplating this spectacle, the face of which changes with the color of the sky. Sometimes a cloud, passing[Pg 154] across the mountains of Savoy, cast on their bald brows, or on their verdant sides, a shadow as gigantic as that of the Roumanian monster, the winged zmeou; again a steam-boat, proudly wearing the banner with the silver cross, would pour forth into the air a black plume of smoke and leave on the waves a glittering, foamy wake.

“Facing the terrace of Montreux can be seen the villages of the Catholic shore,—Boveret and Saint-Gingolph, separated by a big mountain, La Chaumény, marked by an immense ravine. This shore by its stern aspect makes a strong contrast with the shore of Vaud, but this very contrast adds to the originality and the grandeur of the landscape. The old fortress which served as Bonivard’s prison emerges at the left from the bosom of the waters, which form a graceful gulf around its walls. Opposite Chillon, a bouquet of verdure surrounded by a solid wall forms in the middle of the lake that islet on which that unknown captive, whose griefs Byron sang, used to feast his eyes.

“In the midst of this smiling landscape, the towers of Chillon, I confess, saddened my imagination more than it did Eléonora’s. When, as we sat on the terrace, I told her about the long captivity of Bonivard, who left in the pave- [Pg 155]ment the circle of his footprints as he went round and round his pillar like a wild beast; when I spoke with animation of the instruments of torture and the oubliettes, which, in that sinister fortress, are a witness to the violences and the iniquities of feudal society, I noticed without a pang that she gave these questions only slight heed....


“When one wishes to go to Clarens without straying far from the lake, one passes at some distance from the principal village of the parish of Montreux. We almost always stopped at the end of a wide and picturesque ravine watered by a torrent called the baie of Montreux; here the view is lovely. If one looks toward the lake, Veytaux is to be seen at the right, hidden like a doves’ nest between Mont Cau and Mont Sonchaud; beyond Veytaux, Chillon thrusts its massive walls into the waters. At the right, the quadrangular manoir of Châtelard, with its thick walls, and narrow windows, stands in its isolation on its hill. When one turns toward the church of Montreux, one is astonished at the small space occupied by the chief village of this parish, formed by the houses of Les Planches and Le Châtelard and known by that name all over Europe. Concealed among thick walnut-trees[Pg 156] and Virginian poplars, these houses are built between two rounded hills, one of which, called Le Rigi Vaudois, lifts aloft a great châlet in red wood. Behind the habitations appears in the distance a mountain with ragged summit, which the winter makes white with its snows and the summer covers with a pallid verdure diversified with fir-trees here and there.”

The Princess also paints a pretty picture of the lake in winter:—

“The gulls had reappeared along the shore. The vines were completely despoiled. Over the whole landscape spread a thick fog, which sometimes concealed the mountains and thus gave Lake Leman the appearance of a sea. By the beginning of December the sun was still struggling with the mists; often the mountains seemed cut in two by a luminous band which fell thickly over the lake, and stretched toward Vevey in dark folds. Above the peaks of Savoy, whose summits, now marked with streaks of snow, glittered in the sun, still shone the Italian sky like a consolation or like a hope.

“The lake itself was losing its lovely azure tints. I remember one day when we were seated on the road leading from Veytaux to the church, behind a low hedge of Bengal roses. Lake Leman was still blue in patches, but, for[Pg 157] the most part, somber clouds with silver fringes were reflected in its melancholy waters. The gulf of Chillon was filled with a dark triangle, the shadow of the neighboring mountains. At the right the gulf of Vernex was glittering in the sunlight, a light the appearance of which we loved to salute, for its struggle with the darkness interested us as much as it would the worshipers of Ormuzd.

“When the landscape seemed completely asleep in the fog, suddenly a ray of sunlight would give it back all its brilliancy and life. One afternoon, as I was coming home with Eléonora from the terrace of the church, the sun appeared over the crest of Mont Sonchaud. The fir-trees arising above the snow then put on their loveliest tints. Whole masses of these trees remained in the shadow; a few were of a greenish yellow; others bore on their crests what seemed like a fantastic aureole.

“Arriving at Veytaux by the path which crosses the vineyards by a murmuring brook, we found a still more beautiful view. Between the two mountains that shelter the village, there rise at some distance two peaks of unequal shape; and these two are the only ones at this season as yet covered with snow. Their alabaster summits, standing out against a faint[Pg 158] mist, shone as if one of the Olympians, celebrated in the song of the divine Homer, had touched them with his immortal foot.

“But at sunset especially did we most enjoy the magnificent sight of the lake, which could be seen from my windows in its whole length. An orange light then stained the west at the place where the mountains of Savoy dip down into the lake. These mountains stood out boldly against the blazing horizon. At the right a purple zone crowned the hills and grew feebler toward Vevey; in the midst of the lake flamed a marvellous fire, while the waters were somber under Villeneuve, of a pallid blue under Veytaux, and of a pearly gray color, cut by red bands, along the shores of Savoy.

“One evening this spectacle, though still fascinating, had something saddening about it. The mountains of Savoy were enveloped in a thick veil, surmounted by a canopy of pale azure illuminated by the dying sun. The veil grew larger toward Lausanne and formed a sort of chain of vapors, heaped up and climbing into space. A few lines of the color of blood streaked these gloomy masses. Such might have been the earth after the deluges of primitive times, when a ray of light began to smile across the darkness on a desolate universe.

[Pg 159]

“In the last week of December the snow, which had grown deep on the mountains, kept us from all walking. Nothing is so sad as a lake when it is surrounded by a winter landscape. The dazzling brilliancy of the snow spreads across the water, which was formerly the rival of the sapphire, a leaden hue more funereal than that of stagnant pools of the marsh. Here and there the steeper crags pierce through the pall with which they are covered and stand up like lugubrious sentinels. A miserly light comes down from the ashen-hued sky. One hears nothing but the hoarse cries of the gulls and the reiterated cawing of the crows as they fly in flocks along the shores of the lake and seem to delight in this spectacle of death.

“I have lived too long among the frozen fens of Ingria to love these melancholy pomps of winter, though they charm the imagination of some persons. Eléonora, though born on the foggy banks of the Rhine, was like me in loving the glory of the Day. She would have agreed with Gœthe, who, as he lay dying, cried: ‘More light! More light!’”

[Pg 160]


WE spent so much time at Chillon that we decided to put in for the night at Evian; but first we circled round the Ilot de Peilz (or, as some call it, L’Ile de Paix), one of the three artificial islands of the lake, which has none of its own. It was created about the middle of the eighteenth century on the beine. It still bears the three elms which shade its seventy-seven square meters of surface. The waters at one time undermined it and it had to be repaired.

Later we got a good look at the other two islets. The one called La Rocher aux Muettes, near Clarens, was built up on a reef of rocks about one hundred and twenty-five meters from the shore and was walled up in 1885. It covers about sixteen hundred square meters.

The third is the Ile de la Harpe, in front of Rolle. It was protected by a wall in 1838 and bears a white marble monument in memory of the patriotic General F. C. de la Harpe—he[Pg 161] who, by telling the Emperor of Russia that he wished he might use the words “My Country,” had his support in the struggle with Bern and was instrumental in winning the freedom of Vaud. This islet stands, or sits, on what is called a tenevière or group of stones heaped up by nature or by the work of man, and in prehistoric times served as a palafitte or village of lake-dwellers. This proves that the level of the lake was about the same two thousand years ago as it is now. The sluiceway at Geneva tends to make an artificial difference of height throughout the lake and there has been for two centuries a law-suit between Geneva and Le Pays de Vaud growing out of this disturbance. The Vaudois claim that raising the level of the water has flooded their roads and fields.

We ran over to Villeneuve and had an excellent luncheon at the Hôtel du Port. About half-way between Villeneuve and the pretty town of Saint-Gingolph, on the Morge, we crossed the current of the Rhône, which, I suppose, owing to its swirling force and the sometimes really dangerous whirlpools it creates, particularly when there is a strong wind, is called “la Bataillère,” and is dangerous for small craft. When the Rhône is much colder than the lake it makes a subaqueous cataract,[Pg 162] pouring down almost perpendicularly to the gloomy caverns below.

For a wonder there was very little air stirring from the lake at that time of the day, though there are always winds enough for one to choose from, not counting the bise or la bise noire, as it is called when it is particularly cold and disagreeable. Emile told us the various names of them; the bornan, which blows south from La Dranse; the joran, from the northwest; the molan, which (at Geneva) blows southeast from the valley of the Arve; the vaudaire, which blows from the southeast over the upper lake from the Bas Valais; the sudois, which, having full sweep across the widest part of the lake, dashes big waves against the shores of Ouchy. Then there are the day breezes, called rebat or séchard, and the night wind, the morget, which shifts up and down the mountains, owing to changes in temperature. In summer, he said, there is a warm, south wind, known as the vent blanc, which accompanies a cloudless sky. The natives call it maurabia, which means the wheat-ripener, from maura or murit and blla, blé.

“There is a charming excursion,” said Will, “from Saint-Gingolph. First a walk along the bank of the Morge to Novel, and then[Pg 163] up to the top of Le Blanchard. Or, from Novel one can go almost twice as high to the Dent d’Oche. Perhaps a little later, when the snow is all gone, we can arrange to make it, if the climb would not be too much for you.”

“Too much for me!” I exclaimed, “What do you take me for—a valley-lounger?”

“There is an easier climb,” continued Will, ignoring my indignation, “up to the top of Le Grammont, which is only about fifty meters less in height. I have been up there several times. At the side of Le Grammont there are two charming lakes, Lovenex and—and—”

“Tanay,” suggested Emile.

“One gets an excellent chance, from the top, to compare the mountains of the Jura across the lake with the Alps. The Jura has been compared to a great, stiff curtain, without fringes or folds; even its colours are rather monotonous, its distant blue is a bit gloomy and tragic. It is curious, but this solemnity and monotony is said to affect the inhabitants. On the other hand, the Alps sweep up with green forests, and there are coloured crags, and the snows that crown them take on wonderful prismatic tints and sometimes look as if they were on fire—as if copper were burning with crimson and violet flames. The difference[Pg 164] has been explained partly by the way the valleys run; those of the Jura are longitudinal and follow the axis of the range, so that the mountains are easy to climb, while the Alps are shot through with transverse valleys.

“In the Alps one finds even at this day, certainly in the remoter regions, a primitive, natural, pastoral life, while the natives of the Jura are quicker to take up industries and are broader-minded. One could hardly imagine a native of an Alpine valley interesting himself in politics. The Alpine herdsman looks down on the world; but the man of the Jura might even belong to a labour-union! It has been well said that just as in the Middle Ages, the common people of the Jura were under feudal lords, so, up to the present time, the manufacturers have controlled a large part of their time and their work, even of their lives. But the natives of the Alps never submitted to any such tyranny.

“I remember reading somewhere that the Alps gallop, as it were, with their heads erect far over the earth, while the Jura Mountains march peacefully along, noiselessly and unboundingly, to follow their career in a graceful and courteous fashion, but without any sublime éclat. The Jura shows a simplicity, and spreads out distinctly and, as it were, prudently, offering nothing unexpected, exuberant, mad or magnificently useless, but, rather, a well-regulated behaviour, a calm and dignified, but somewhat gloomy, austerity, a cold and melancholy air.—Don’t you think that is pretty good?—


“This same lover of mountains finds even the snow different. On the Jura it falls on dark-green firs and pines and, mingling with the dreary foliage, gives forth only a sad and cautious half-smile. But in the Alps the white snow makes the mountains joyous. He compares it to a virginal mantle, embroidered with green and azure. When the morning has, for them, brought on the early day, they seem to sing gaily their reveille and their youth; a hymn of light floats high in the air above their heads and finds an echo of joy and of love in the hearts of mortals. In the evening they smoke like incense and, bending under the circling sky, they then offer a strangely fascinating image of prayer and of melancholy. From afar the Jura listens, and, like a dreamer, pursuing his way, plunges into the darkness.”

I may as well say, here and now, that a month later we carried out the plan of climbing Le[Pg 165]
[Pg 166]
Grammont, (which, of course, means the Great Mountain). We went to Vouvry and first admired the exquisite view where the pretty church, as it were, guides the eye up to the mountains, and contemplated the canal which the descendants of that fine old “robber-baron,” Kaspar Stockalper, who claimed the right to dominate the trade over the Simplon and guarded it by a body of seventy men, built to connect with the Rhône, though it remains unfinished. Then we easily followed the trail to the mountain-top. We chose a day which promised to be remarkably clear, and it fulfilled its promise. Words fail, and must always fail, to describe that panorama of splendour which includes the aerial heights of Mont Blanc and the Jungfrau to the south, the whole extent of the lake and the tamer peaks of the Jura to the north, and a rolling sea of petrified and frozen billows in every direction.

When one speaks of Switzerland one instinctively thinks of Mont Blanc, and it seems an unfair advantage which France has taken to keep possession of Savoy, which used to belong to Switzerland, and the crown of the Swiss Alps. History has made strange partitions of territories; but the more one sees of Switzerland[Pg 167] the more one wonders that it could have ever become a united country, composed as it is of isolated valleys, separated by lofty mountain-walls, intercommunicable only by treacherous passes. That same dividing construction of the country was the ruin of Greece, where each little province or city, set by itself and developing various qualities of character, was opposed in ideals and ambitions to every other.

It is curious, too, that the general notion that the Swiss are peculiarly liberty-loving should be based on a legend. Probably no other country in the world ever furnished so many mercenaries. But it is now one united country and largely freed from the crushing burden of rampant militarism.

It was a fine view also we had from the top of Le Grammont, overlooking the delta of the Rhône, which, from the height of nearly twenty-two hundred meters, lay below us. We could see how it was building the level marsh land into the lake. Perhaps some day the débris from the mountains will quite fill up the gulf. It is amazing how much material is brought down in the course of a single year, even by a single freshet. We could see, also, the confining walls of the dykes which, together with[Pg 168] breakwaters, form what is called la correction du Rhône, preventing any riotous behaviour of that torrent when the floods sweep over the plain. The disreputable exploits of the river, before it was thus tamed and disciplined, explain why the region back of Villeneuve, regarded as desolate and uncultivated, is or has been compared to the vineyard-laden and fertile slopes of the Jorat.

But we are really not mountain-climbing; we are circling the lake and, except where some river or torrent forms what is technically called a cone, projecting out into the water, we are able to skirt close to the beine, often under tremendous, beetling cliffs. They become higher and higher, more and more romantic and magnificent. Only occasionally is there room for a village to cuddle in between the lake and the mountains, as, for instance, Meillerie, back of which one can see the great quarries gashing the mountain, and the tunnel through which the railway runs.

Samuel Rogers, in 1822, winging south on his Italian journey, so beautifully illustrated by Turner, was moved by the beauty of Meillerie to break out into song:—

[Pg 169]

“These gray majestic cliffs that tower to heaven,
These glimmering glades and open chestnut groves,
That echo to the heifer’s wandering bell,
Or woodman’s ax, or steersman’s song beneath,
As on he urges his fir-laden bark,
Or shout of goat-herd boy above them all,
Who loves not? And who blesses not the light,
When through some loop-hole he surveys the lake
Blue as a sapphire-stone, and richly set
With châteaux, villages and village-spires,
Orchards and vineyards, alps and alpine snows?
Here would I dwell; nor visit, but in thought,
Ferney far South, silent and empty now,
As now thy once-luxurious bowers, Ripaille;
Vevey, so long an exiled Patriot’s home;
Or Chillon’s dungeon-floors beneath the wave,
Channeled and worn by pacing to and fro;
Lausanne, where Gibbon in his sheltered walk
Nightly called up the Shade of ancient Rome;
Or Coppet and that dark untrodden grove
Sacred to Virtue and a daughter’s tears!
“Here would I dwell, forgetting and forgot,
And oft methinks (of such strange potency
The spells that Genius scatters where he will)
Oft should I wander forth like one in search,
And say, half-dreaming:—‘Here St. Preux has stood.’
Then turn and gaze on Clarens.”

The picture now is not so different from what it was almost a hundred years ago.

[Pg 170]

“Day glimmered and I went, a gentle breeze
Ruffling the Leman Lake. Wave after wave,
If such they might be called, dashed as in sport
Not anger, with the pebbles on the beach
Making wild music, and far westward caught
The sun-beam—where alone and as entranced,
Counting the hours, the fisher in his skiff
Lay with his circular and dotted line
On the bright waters. When the heart of man
Is light with hope, all things are sure to please;
And soon a passage-boat swept gayly by,
Laden with peasant-girls and fruits and flowers
And many a chanticleer and partlet caged
For Vevey’s market-place—a motley group
Seen through the silvery haze. But soon ’twas gone.
The shifting sail flapped idly to and fro,
Then bore them off.
“I am not one of those
So dead to all things in this visible world,
So wondrously profound, as to move on
In the sweet light of heaven, like him of old
(His name is justly in the Calendar)
Who through the day pursued this pleasant path
That winds beside the mirror of all beauty,
And when at eve his fellow pilgrims sate
Discoursing of the Lake, asked where it was.
They marveled as they might; and so must all,
Seeing what now I saw: for now ’twas day
And the bright Sun was in the firmament,
A thousand shadows of a thousand hues
Chequering the clear expanse. Awhile his orb [Pg 171]
Hung o’er thy trackless fields of snow, Mont Blanc,
Thy seas of ice and ice-built promontories,
That change their shapes for ever as in sport;
Then traveled onward and went down behind
The pine-clad heights of Jura, lighting up
The woodman’s casement, and perchance his ax
Borne homeward through the forest in his hand;
And, on the edge of some o’erhanging cliff,
That dungeon-fortress never to be named,
Where like a lion taken in the toils,
Toussaint breathed out his brave and generous spirit.
Little did he who sent him there to die,
Think, when he gave the word, that he himself,
Great as he was, the greatest among men,
Should in like manner be so soon conveyed
Athwart the deep.”

A half dozen kilometers farther down the shore is the famous castle of Blonay. The days of feudalism were certainly tragic not only for the baronial masters who were subject to feuds and duels, but also to the common people. Lords and villeins, however, die and forget their woes, and the turreted castles which they built and had built are a splendid heritage for those who live under different conditions. The gorgeous tapestries which they hung on their walls become food for generations of moths or, if they escape, and still preserve their brilliant colours and their quaint and curious designs,[Pg 172] display them to thousands of visitors at the museums where at last they are pretty sure to gravitate. The solid gold plate is perhaps melted into coin to pay the price of liberty. And so the cost of a picturesque château, erected high on an almost inaccessible crag, and lifting its frowning battlements against a background of snowy mountains, even though it be reckoned in human lives, may be small compared to the value which it has in after ages, especially if it comes into the possession of the people themselves, to be for ever prized as a memorial of a stormy past.

The Living-Room of an Alpine Castle


BY a strange coincidence I found in the room where I slept that night a tattered copy of “Anne of Geierstein,” and almost the first thing I turned to the description of an Alpine castle. Now, Sir Walter Scott had never been in the Alps, but his picture of the ruin of Geierstein is quite typical and worth rereading:—

“The ancient tower of Geierstein, though neither extensive nor distinguished by architectural ornament, possessed an air of terrible dignity by its position on the very verge of the opposite bank of the torrent, which, just at the angle of the rock on which the ruins are situated, falls sheer over a cascade of nearly a hundred feet in height, and then rushes down the defile, through a channel of living rock, which perhaps its waves have been deepening since time itself had a commencement. Facing and at the same time looking down upon this eternal roar of waters, stood the old tower,[Pg 173]
[Pg 174]
built so close to the verge of the precipice that the buttresses with which the architect had strengthened the foundation seemed a part of the solid rock itself, and a continuation of its perpendicular ascent. As usual throughout Europe in the feudal times the principal part of the building was a massive square pile, the decayed summit of which was rendered picturesque by flanking turrets of different sizes and heights, some round, some angular, some ruinous, some tolerably entire, varying the outline of the building as seen against the stormy sky.

“A projecting sallyport, descending by a flight of steps from the tower, had in former times given access to a bridge connecting the castle with that side of the stream on which Arthur Philipson and his fair guide now stood. A single arch or rather one rib of an arch, consisting of single stones, still remained and spanned the river immediately in front of the waterfall. In former times this arch had served for the support of a wooden drawbridge, of more convenient breadth and of such length and weight as must have been rather unmanageable, had it not been lowered on some solid resting-place. It is true, the device was attended with this inconvenience that even when[Pg 175] the drawbridge was up, there remained the possibility of approaching the castle-gate by means of this narrow rib of stone. But as it was not above eighteen inches broad and could only admit the daring foe who should traverse it to a doorway regularly defended by gate and portcullis and having flanking turrets and projections from which stones, darts, melted lead and scalding water might be poured down on the soldiery who should venture to approach Geierstein by this precarious access, the possibility of such an attempt was not considered as diminishing the security of the garrison.

“The gateway admitted them into a mass of ruins, formerly a sort of courtyard to the donjon, which rose in gloomy dignity above the wreck of what had been destined for external defence or buildings for internal accommodation. They quickly passed through these ruins, over which vegetation had thrown a wild mantle of ivy and other creeping shrubs and issued from them through the main gate of the castle into one of those spots in which nature often embosoms her sweetest charms, in the midst of districts chiefly characterized by waste and desolation.

“The castle in this respect also rose considerably above the neighboring ground, but[Pg 176] the elevation of the site, which towards the torrent was an abrupt rock, was on this side a steep eminence which had been scarped like a modern glacis to render the building more secure. It was now covered with young trees and bushes, out of which the tower itself seemed to rise in ruined dignity.”

Then he goes on to describe the ample grounds which “seemed scooped out of the rocks and mountains.”

Scott’s imagination was probably aided by various pictures; but it is remarkably correct. It is amazing to think how many such castles, almost always situated on inaccessible peaks or islands, must have been built since the world began, when mighty stones had to be brought and fitted and lifted and there was no help from steam or electricity. The colossal fortifications of prehistoric Greece, the edifices of the stone age, the dizzy escarpments raised by the Incas in their mountain fastnesses, and all the marvels of barbaric architecture in the depths of the Caucasus, to say nothing of the hundreds of castles vanished or still left more or less ruined throughout Europe, are a proof of the industry and the faithfulness of millions of human beings whose names, if they had any designation, are gone for ever.

[Pg 177]

There was not any special reason for spending the night at Evian: we might almost as well have run straight across to Lausanne and slept in our own beds; but we were out for a special purpose—to circle the lake—and it seemed rather good fun to have a glimpse of the French life which gathers in this typical Savoyard village, turned into a resort of fashion. We got a berth for our swift Hirondelle near the Quai Baron Blonay and left Emile to make himself comfortable in it, and we ourselves, having satisfied the customs authorities that we were not smugglers even of Vevey cigars, took lodgings at the Hôtel Royal above the lake. Then we sallied out to see the town, not failing to ride over to the curious spring of Amphion where we admired the fine old chestnut-trees. In the evening we attended the Casino Theatre where a fairly good company was playing “Les Affaires sont les Affaires.”

The next morning we intended to start early but had to wait until the fog cleared away. Anything more beautiful than its final disappearance could hardly be imagined. When I first arose and looked out of my window, I seemed to be gazing across a tumbling sea which must just about have reached the old[Pg 178] level of the lake when it emptied out into the Aar and the Rhine, and therefore was a contributary to the German Ocean and not to the Mediterranean.

Some of the Swiss rivers seem to be like the Swiss themselves and divide their allegiance. Thus the Venoge, which rises between Rolle and Mont Tendre, at first determined apparently to give itself up to the Lake of Neuchâtel; but it pauses at La Sarraz and quarrels with itself; some of the stream is faithful to its old purpose and joins the Mozon, which falls into the Lake of Neuchâtel at Yverdon; while the main river turns to the south and falls into the Lake of Geneva east of Morges.

It was not long before the glories of the Jura began to appear above the mist. Stretching along in a wall-like perspective, with their summits glittering white in the morning sun, it was a sight never to be forgotten. I dressed and went down to the veranda and there fell into conversation with a most courteous English lady who knew the lay of the land. She pointed out to me Le Crêt de la Neige, Mont Tendre, Dôle and other elevations. I found that we had mutual friends and we were soon on a footing of very charming acquaintance. This is worth mentioning because the English[Pg 179] perhaps cherish the reputation of pursuing their selfish way aloof from other human beings unfortunate enough not to have first seen the light of day on their tight little Island.

There is a beautiful chance here to introduce the golden thread of romance and let it begin to weave a glowing design. My niece, whom I have not mentioned for a long time, when I told her of my chance rencontre, immediately jumped at the conclusion that the spider had caught the fly, that my heart was already in a net. She actually began to lay her plans for inviting Lady Q. to come and make her a visit. I assured her that there was not the slightest danger. I potentially prevaricated and boldly declared that Lady Q. was neither a maid nor a widow.

“And why,” said I, “are you so anxious to marry me off? You must be getting tired of me.”

That suggestion brought on a pretty little quarrel, especially when I added that I should be perfectly content to stay right where I was, even if I never saw my trunk again. At any rate, I got in the last word, which was a triumph, though at the expense of my reputation for delicacy of feeling. For my niece pretended to be shocked too much to let fly a Parthian[Pg 180] arrow. I declared—and I am sure I looked as if I meant it—that Lady Q. was too old for me anyway.

I afterwards showed my niece the copy of “Anne of Geierstein” and she outdid my memory by calling my attention to Scott’s description of Mount Pilatus. I had forgotten all about it, but wishing still to be disagreeable—for I could not possibly forget her unworthy attempt to marry me forthwith to a lady whom I had never seen but once in my life—I said: “We will keep it till we get there.”

“You may not get there,” she retorted.

I tore out the pages and put them into my pocket. Maybe I shall produce them when I arrive at Lucerne.

We had an excellent cup of coffee and by ten o’clock we were doubling the “cone” of the Dranse. This promontory offers one of the best illustrations of the generosity of a river in forming village sites. It is the generosity of a fluvial Robin Hood, who steals from the wealthy to confer benefactions on the poor. There is a closer likeness here than one sees at first. The Robin Hood type of robber, erratic, generous, picturesque, romantic, sympathetic, humourous, belongs to a medieval epoch; he would be unthinkable when civilization has[Pg 181] levelled all differences. So the wild, fierce, brawling, unscrupulous river, taking from one region and handing its loot to another or throwing it away, is uncivilized compared to the river that has reached its plain, and has become slow and dignified.

We went near enough to the shore to see the castle of Ripaille, where Duke Victor Amédée of Savoy had his hermitage. No wonder he did not want to leave it for the burdens of a contested papal tiara. I would not object to settle down in such a retreat—provided I had a few friends to share it. In his day probably the Jura was much more beautiful, because their slopes were clad in splendid forests. It is a nature-tragedy that when mountains are once deforested either by the axe of man or by fire, the flesh of the range melts away and can never form again; only the uncompromising rock is left like mighty bones.

The lake must have been even more beautiful when the great forests of chestnuts and birches and beeches still existed, before there had come the endless monotonies of terraced vineyards; before the valleys with their native châlets were sophisticated into summer resorts with smug villas and huge hotels filled with staring strangers.

[Pg 182]

I liked the look of the old town of Thonon, and the name of the department in which it is situated and of which it used to be the capital suggested the delicate wines. One complains of monotonous vine-terraces, and they certainly are not effective when seen at a distance, but at close range, especially when the trellises are loaded with ripe grapes, they have a double charm. The grape cure attracts thousands of people to all the shores of the lake and to dozens of charming little towns of which one only hears by accident.

If I were certain of several incarnations I should like to spend one whole life on the borders of Lake Leman. Perhaps in the next reincarnation one may be able to be in two places at once. We have two eyes that blend impressions into one resultant. Why not be in two places at once, and after that in four, in sixteen, and so on, till one would be coterminous with the universe and know everything: if we have two eyes, some other insects have a thousand. The gracious lady, Madame Sévery, whose letters, written a century and more ago, filled me with the rather melancholy yearning—for it can never be fulfilled—for that delightful life which she led: a winter in Lausanne or Geneva; the spring in one of her[Pg 183] country châteaux; the summer in another, the autumn in still another. The houses, full of luxurious furniture, always ready for occupancy; friends happening around to spend a week or a month or only a night. But when one family had so much thousands had not much of anything, though probably the peasants then were as happy as the working-people now who have tasted of the intoxicating “Fraternité” cup, perhaps poisonous when the third ingredient is left out—the cup, invented by Rousseau, and drunk to the full in the French Revolution.

Thonon looked exceedingly tempting as it rose above the lake. My nephew declared that it was built even more Chablais than it looked—a pun which would have resulted in a scene of decapitation had we been under Alice’s Duchess. He atoned for it however by promising to take me on an excursion up the valley of the Dranse, which is one of the most fascinating rivers in Savoy.

As usual he fulfilled his promise. We equipped ourselves for walking, and, taking it leisurely, climbed along the river to the little hamlet of Saint Jean d’Aulph, where we admired the taste of the eleventh-century Cistercians who built their monastery in such a[Pg 184] nook of the mountains. We finally arrived at Champéry, and, of course, admired the primitive calvaire and the stunning view. There, I remember, my worthy Will quoted that charming passage from Henri-Frédéric Amiel, which indeed might be applied to dozens of other horizon-aspects. He says—but it is much more effective in French:—

“The profile of the horizon takes on all forms: needles, pinnacles, battlements, pyramids, obelisks, teeth, hooks, claws, horns, cupolas; the denticulation is bent, is turned back on itself, is twisted, is accentuated in a thousand ways, but in the angular style of sierras. Only the lower and secondary ranges present rounded tops, fleeting and curving lines. The Alps are more than an upheaval, they are a tearing asunder of the surface of the earth.”

These calvaires, or rustic shrines, frequently met with in the Catholic cantons, are picturesque in their setting and though not in themselves beautiful, add much to the charm of a prospect, giving the human element, at its most humble expression, that of devotion, in contradistinction to the awful and inhuman wildness of Nature in her most tremendous and imposing aspect. Even common names[Pg 185] here take a religious colour, as for instance the Crêt d’eau, which becomes the Credo.

Those that climb the Haute Cime of the Dent du Midi find Champéry a convenient starting-point. I, who had once in one day climbed over all the peaks of the Presidential Range, felt an ambitious stirring to repeat the feat on a higher and grander scale—taking all the six peaks in succession—La Dent Noire, La Forteresse, La Cathédrale, La Dent Jaune, and Le Doigt up to the Haute Cime.

Such an exploit would be too fatiguing for one of my venerable years, but I have seen photographs of the view from the top of the Dent du Midi, and when one has been on one mountain, even though it be not quite thirty-three hundred meters high, the views are only variants, even when one has Mont Blanc piled up across a marvellous valley filled with glaciers and azure lakes.

It is wonderful how quickly in her slow way this same cruel Mother Nature repairs the damage she does—damage as seen by human eyes. Down the side of the Dent du Midi in 1835 swept a rock-fall. Two years later, on the road between Geneva and Chamonix, a pretty little lake which was the delight of[Pg 186] travellers was filled by a similar avalanche of rocks.

Etienne Javelle gives a vivid description of some of these catastrophes:—

“If one would take a keen pleasure in climbing the Col de Jorat,” he says, “one must be interested in something more than simple picturesque effects; especially must the climber, facing the contorted and tottering condition of these immense rocks, seek to realize the cataclysms of which these places have been the scene and those that still threaten them. When this sympathetic attitude has been attained, nothing can be more impressive than the glen and torrent of Saint-Barthelémy.

“These mountains could add many pages to the chapter of Alpine catastrophes; they have more than once terribly alarmed the inhabitants, and each generation can relate to the succeeding one the convulsions which it has witnessed.

“But the events that happened when life had not as yet appeared in the primeval chaos of these mountains cannot be retold by posterity. Who knows by what terrific throes the breach, to-day so vast and complete, was opened at the place where the Rhône flows and where[Pg 187] now stand the houses and meadows of Evionnaz?

“Unquestionably it was narrow at first and the furious waters gradually forced a passage for themselves by unceasing assaults; unquestionably also during the glacial epoch, the tremendous glacier of the Rhône, compelled to be shut in within this gorge, exerted an enormous pressure on the sides of its channel. From La Dent de Morcles to La Dent du Midi what peaks have one after the other been worn down and disappeared! The great glaciers have carried far away all this early détritus, an enormous bulk the secret of which the waters of Lake Leman possibly know more than we do.

“What has taken place since then, from the time when men first appeared in these localities cannot compare with those primal convulsions; still there is enough to overwhelm the imagination of man; it is too much for their feeble dwellings to endure. Terrible events of days long gone by are recorded in the local annals. The catastrophe which swallowed up the little town of Epaune when Mont Taurus fell on it. One of the most ancient of these falls was the catastrophe in which the hot spring was lost, though it has since been rediscovered at Lavey.

[Pg 188]

“On October 9, 1635, in the middle of the night, a strange and terrific noise alarmed the inhabitants of Evionnaz and the neighboring hamlets; suddenly awakened from sleep they sprang out of their beds in alarm. A rumbling noise, growing ever louder, was heard. The Noviorroz, a mountain near by, fell into the valley with a monstrous crash. The curé of Saint-Maurice was hastily informed of the catastrophe and he had the tocsin rung. As soon as daylight came a band of rescuers went to the scene of the disaster but hardly had it got there, when an even more tremendous downfall compelled a retreat to a neighboring height.

“The noise of it resounded throughout the valley. For more than a quarter of an hour the sun was hidden by a cloud of dust from the Bois Noir down to the lake. The current of the Rhône was blocked; the torrent of the Marre—now Saint-Barthélemy—formed at the foot of the Jorat a lake the overflow of which was a new danger to the valley.

“As popular superstition attributed this catastrophe to demons which haunted the mountain, the Bishop of Sion, Hildebrandt Jost, spent nine days in exorcising the place. His trouble was wasted; the waters went on with[Pg 189] their work and at intervals of every few years the same threats were repeated with minor falls and great deposits of mud.

“At last, on August 26, 1835, about eleven o’clock in the morning, there was a sudden noise, like that of many discharges of artillery uninterruptedly following one another. All eyes were turned to the mountain. The eastern peak was surrounded by mist. Thence came the fall. A thick fog filled the glen of Saint-Barthélemy; violent gusts of wind shook the houses of Mex and uprooted whole rows of forest trees.

“An enormous mass of rock detached itself from the Eastern Peak, striking and smashing the front part of the glacier. Ice and boulders rolled with a frightful fracas down two thousand meters of precipice and filled the valley and the gorge with their débris.

“The ice, disintegrated and in a state of thaw, mingling with this débris, formed a barrier of mud thickly strewn with enormous boulders, which overflowed the high banks of the torrent, crossing the Bois Noir, and plunged into the valley of the Rhône. A part of the stream swept over on the right bank and covered the hamlet of La Rasse with mud.

“To reëstablish the communications which[Pg 190] had been interrupted on the road the people made a bridge of long ladders, planks and trunks of fir-trees. Ropes attached to these ladders stretched over the top of the bank. At each fresh onslaught—and there were three or four a day—a man stationed in the gorge blew a whistle to announce it and the ropes were immediately pulled to prevent the bridge from being carried away.

“M. de Bons, an eye-witness, described one of these coulées. ‘A whitish vapor rose into the air as it left the gorge. At the same instant a dull noise and a violent gust of wind apprised us of the approach of the coulée. The moving mass came down upon us with irresistible force but so slowly that a man at his ordinary walking pace could have gone on his way without being overtaken by it. Enormous blocks of stone seemed literally to float on the stream; at times they stood out of the liquid mass as if they were as light as a feather; then again they would tip and sink into the mud till nothing could be seen of them. A little farther down they could be seen again coming gradually to the surface, to float for a while until finally swallowed up, repeating at various stages of their progress the same scenes and the same accidents.

[Pg 191]

“‘The bed of the torrent was remarkably narrow at one point. Huge boulders were stopped there and formed a barrier against which the fragments carried along by the river were collected. For some minutes a strange conflict was waged here, the rushing débâcle of ice and water endeavoring to flow back for a long distance; the river rose till it almost caused a freshet. At last by carrying the débris along, it succeeded in effecting an outlet and overthrew all the obstacles impeding its course. Rocks, trees, lumps of ice, débris of every kind all went whirling round and round with a long, savage roar, then disappeared in the current and were borne downwards across the slopes of the Bois Noir.’

“Since 1835 there has been scarcely any disturbance in the mountain. The waters, however, are at work, and who can predict that a still more terrible catastrophe will not some day desolate the valley of the Rhône?

“The people no longer see the hand of demons in these devastations nor do they exorcize the mountain; but a pious custom has it that each year a procession makes its way to a hill above La Rasse with a cross standing on it and there invokes the Creator’s protection by their prayers.”

[Pg 192]

To the eye that sees, the solid rock is just as much liquid and in commotion as the flowing river; it is all in a state of flux. The mountain-tops are plunging down into the valleys and then the rains and the rivers grasp them and roll them and reduce them, until the porphyry and the granite and the limestone become almost microscopic sand, which, as every one knows, blows and flows like water. These beautiful little lakes, which one sees everywhere in Switzerland, if they should be able to write their autobiographies—indeed they are able to write their autobiographies and in hieroglyphics which Science can read—would tell us and do tell us of many a rock-fall which has stopped the descent of rivers.

I remember some weeks later, as we were riding in the “Moto,” as I call the touring-car, up to Flims—a most absurd and flimsy squashing up of the Latin name flumina, the streams—my attention was called to the enormous glacial rock-fall which ages ago blocked up the whole valley of the Rhine to a depth of between two and three thousand feet. The river, much surprised, had to go to work to cut through the mass of débris. There are still several of the lakes which came from the same catastrophe—if that can be called a catastrophe—which[Pg 193] probably affected no human being for the worse. Many of these rock-falls, however, have ruined whole populations; churches and houses have been swept away. Sometimes, after a long-continued rain, the whole side of a mountain-slope will begin to sweep down. One sees the same thing in a smaller scale on the side of a gulley where a road has been lowered. The laws of gravitation, the erosive powers of water, the effects of frost, are just the same at wholesale as they are at retail.

The bay sweeping in between the cone of the Dranse and the Pointe d’Yvoire is called La Grande Conche. We lengthened our course by following the shore, though we kept well out beyond the mouths of the two torrents which Emile told us were Le Redon and Le Foron. Yvoire is different from the other promontories of the lake: the huge blocks of stone which are scattered about make it evident that it is the remains of a terminal moraine. This and huge boulders which have been discovered in the bottom of the lake prove that the hollow valley in which the lake lies was scooped out by a glacier which as it melted left its freight of stone brought down from distant mountain-sides.

[Pg 194]

Just off Yvoire, which looks very attractive with its glistening beaches and its fine old castle, between a kilometer and a half and two kilometers away, and at a depth of about sixty meters, is a fishing-bank called L’Omblière. There the much esteemed fish “l’omble chevalier,” or in German der Ritter, comes to breed and be caught. There will generally be seen clustered together the fishermen’s boats with their lateen sails cock-billed. Occasionally a storm comes up suddenly and works havoc. They still talk of the tornado of 1879, when eleven Savoy fishermen were drowned.

There are about twenty-two different kinds of fish inhabiting the lake, several of them good eating. I should think it might be possible to introduce the whitefish of our Great Lakes: the Leman salmon is not superior to that noble ranger of the depths.

We saw a good many wild birds. Emile gave us their names in French: les besolets or sea-swallows—the kind that Rousseau went out to shoot, les gros-sifflets with their sharp whistle, les crênets as Rousseau calls the curlews, les sifflasons which we could see running along the beach just beyond Yvoire, and the grèbe which he said was mighty good eating. Most of the Mediterranean sea-gulls[Pg 195] which, like human beings, like a change of scenery, and which in winter add greatly to the life of the lake, had returned to the south.

Beyond Nernier the shores contract and we enter “the Little Lake,” which it is supposed occupies the valley excavated by the Arve. We were fortunate to round the point in good time, for our weather had been too good to last; the hard greenish coloured clouds streaking toward the southeast after a reddish sunrise had betokened a change; it had been clouding up all the forenoon, and before we got out into the open off La Pointe d’Yvoire, Le Sudois was blowing “great guns” and a heavy sea was running. It seemed best to take the swallow’s swiftest flight for Geneva, not pausing as we intended to do at Beauregard or the Port de Tougües or indulging in historic reminiscences suggested by the valley of Hermance where the torrent of that name serves to separate the canton from the département—Switzerland from France. Afterwards, when we passed through it in our Moto, we had a chance to see its quaint streets, its houses with vines clambering over them, its red-tiled roofs. Once we had to turn out carefully to avoid a yoke of oxen which seemed to think they owned the whole place.

[Pg 196]

The glimpse of La Belotte (to mention only one of the dozen places that charmed us as we approached the great city) would have inspired a painter. Boats were drawn up along the gently shelving shore; there were several picturesque brown houses which looked from the distance like fish-houses, only neater than most of those we see along our New England coast. A naue with two butterfly sails was just coming in from up the lake. Men were evidently hurrying to make the boats safe from the gale, if it should develop into a real storm.

The lake approach to Geneva even under a grey and threatening sky gives as it were the key-note to its extraordinary charm. Its noble waterfront, its lofty buildings, its background of escarped rocks and its general air of prosperity, beckon a friendly welcome. We darted in between the two phares or lighthouses which decorate the long jetties, and turning aside from the surf current, we came alongside the pleasant Quai du Mont Blanc.


[Pg 197]


SHORTLY after we reached the Grand Hôtel des Bergues, which is so beautifully situated on the quai of the same name, it began to rain. My room looked down on the Ile Rousseau with its clustering trees. The five tall poplars stood dignified and disdainful and only bent their heads when a gust of wind swept them; but the old chestnut-trees turned up their pallid green leaves and looked unhappy. Pradier’s bronze monument streamed with raindrops. The white swans ignored the downpour and sailed about like little boats. The enforced monotony of quietude required by confinement even in a commodious cockpit made exercise indispensable, and, after luncheon, we protected ourselves against the weather and sallied out for a walk. We had all the long afternoon. I proposed to go to Ferney and pay our respects to the memory of Voltaire, but we found it was too early in the season. A few weeks later,[Pg 198] however, one beautiful bright Wednesday, we ran over in the Moto and carried out my pious desire.

My next proposition was to walk down to the junction of the two rivers. There is nothing more fascinating on earth than such an union; it is a perpetually renewed marriage. From far-separated sources, as if from different families, the two streams come. Like human beings, each has received a multitude of accessions as if from varied ancestry. Then at last they meet and cast in their lots together, never again to be parted till they are swallowed up in the great Ocean of Death which is Life.

With them it is a perpetual circle or cycle of reincarnation or rather redaquation. The greedy air sucks up the water and carries it away on its windy wings until it is caught like a thief by the guardian mountains and compelled to disgorge. The mountains are unable to keep it even in the form of snow. It flows down their sides in the slower rivers called glaciers, which toss up mighty waves and carry with them great freight of boulders. Then the fierce Sun shouts down: “Surrender,” and he liberates the imprisoned ice and, once more changed into water, it gallops down the mountains revenging itself for its years or[Pg 199] centuries of imprisonment in the chains of the Frost by carrying away with it the very foundations on which the mountains rest, until, undermined, the proud peaks fall with a mighty crash.

The Rhône and the Arve do not fulfil the marriage injunction all at once and become one. The muddy grey Arve brings down a quantity of sand and rolls considerable-sized pebbles along its channel. The Rhône emerges clear and blue. Read Ruskin’s famous description from the Fourth Book of the “Modern Painters:”—

“The blue waters of the arrowy Rhône rush out with a depth of fifteen feet of not flowing but flying water; not water neither, melted glacier matter, one should call it; the force of the ice is in it and the wreathing of the clouds, the gladness of the sky and the countenance of time.”

So we plashed along, crossing the Rhône by the Pont de la Coulouvrenière, where we paused to wonder at the great city water works installed in 1886 by the clever engineer, Turretini. The so-called Forces Motrices, utilizing the swift descent of the Rhône makes Geneva an ideal manufacturing city. Imagine six thousand horses at work, never wearied, never requiring[Pg 200] grain, noiseless, joyous! Indeed there is something rather fine in the idea of turning the old element, Water, into its Protean manifestation, light and electric power. It goes through the turbines, sets them whirling and comes out, having lost nothing by this tremendous output of energy—just as clear, just as beautiful, just as sparkling. It does not harm an element any more than it harms a man or a horse to do some useful work.

But it is evident that Switzerland, like other parts of the world, is going to have some trouble to unite the interests of those that would convert her hundreds of waterfalls into centres of manufacturing-power and the interests of those that would keep scenic beauties free from all mercantile desecration. What would the World of Travel say if some concessionaire should take possession of the Staubbach, or as more certain the Trümmelbach, and pipe it in an ugly steel stand-pipe to create electrical energy for the purpose of manufacturing nitrates! Yet even now there is a project for damming the Rhône between Pyremont and Bellegarde. This structure would be one hundred and one meters in height and would cause the water to back up even to the Swiss frontier, submerging the whole valley.

[Pg 201]

I may as well say here that I renewed acquaintance with my steamship friend, M. Criant, and had the pleasure of going with him and my nephew, some weeks later, when the river was much diminished in volume, to that wonderful curiosity of nature called La Perte du Rhône. We examined the narrow deep gorge between the Crêt d’Eau and the Vuache Mountain and just above where the Rhône and the Valserine meet, the river narrows to about fifteen meters in width. Here for a distance of twenty kilometers it suddenly disappears. M. Criant explained the cause of this “loss.” The bed of the stream consisted of two strata or matrasses—the upper harder than the lower. Stones of various sizes brought down by the Arve and whirled around by the swift current of the big torrent—falling not far from twenty-five meters between Bellegarde and Malpertuis made pot-holes, and then when they reached the softer strata they excavated it, making a tunnel: through this the stream when reduced in volume makes its tortuous and invisible way.

M. Criant did not believe at all in the wisdom of building this dam which would be one of the highest in the world. It would cover the Perte du Rhône with a lake nearly seventy[Pg 202] meters deep, and although power enough would be created to supply all Lyons and perhaps be carried as far as Paris, still it would be a menace to the safety of the towns below. He agreed with his friend Professor Blondel, of the Ecole Superieure des Ponts et Chaussées, that the whole valley of the Rhône is in unstable equilibrium, and such a mass of water with its enormous weight would be likely to tear out its walls and overwhelm even Lyons with its catastrophe. He told me what was said by another friend of his, M. E. A. Martel. He did this as a compliment, and I hardly dared tell him what the Congress of the United States was likely to do in turning over the wonderful Hetch-Hetchy Valley to the water-seeking vandals of San Francisco. M. Martel said:—

“In the United States, that great country, famous for its monumental works and the utilization of hydraulic forces, the discussion of the two projects would not even be entered into; for the Americans who, generally speaking, are not embarrassed with a sentiment for art, at least respect and worship the natural beauties of their country. We must recognize their talent for being able to conciliate at once the protection of nature and the development of industries. Long since they would have declared[Pg 203] the Perte and the Canyon of the Rhône to be a National Park and the two dams (lower down) would have become an accomplished fact.

“At Niagara Falls an agreement was made with the Canadian Government so that the primitive natural aspect of the banks themselves was preserved. Its immediate shores are freed from all installations, constructions and parasitic shops. But this has not prevented the establishment and development, in a discreet and invisible way, of methods of taking the water above the falls, while the machinery that transforms the force of the water into electric energy is placed below, thereby not injuring the beautiful features of the landscape.”

M. Criant showed how easy it would be to solve the difficulty here in a more economical way and at the same time make the approach to this wonderful curiosity of nature more feasible.

My nephew and I walked down as far as the end of the fascinating Sentier des Saules, out to the very point where the two swirling streams begin their passionate wooing. If it had been a pleasant afternoon we should have crossed the Arve by the Pont de Saint-Georges[Pg 204] and penetrated the Bois de la Bâtie, but an umbrella has no place in a grove, and so we came back by the boulevard named for the same popular saint, past the Vélodrome and the gas works, the cemetery of Plainpalais to the Place Neuve. Here we admired Le Grand Théâtre, standing by itself with ample approaches and artistic façade adorned with sculptures and stately columns.

It is a splendid thing for a man, whether prince or pawnbroker, enriched through the forced or accidental gift of the people, to return his fortune in the form of a benefaction en bloc. This the true osmose of wealth, to use a chemical figure. The slow flowing of countless littles into the hands of the One Overmaster Great is suddenly reversed. So it was with the fortune of Duke Charles II of Brunswick, who died in 1873 and left Geneva twenty millions of francs for public purposes. This has enabled Geneva to build the opera-house, and to carry on many other municipal undertakings. Duke Charles had fifteen years of sovereignty though a good part of that time he had to be studying his lessons while a regent ruled for him. When he became of age he became a tyrant and his people drove him out. He gave Napoleon the Little pecuniary aid and expected to be reinstated,[Pg 205] but after 1848 that was hopeless. In 1870 he retired to Geneva and died there.

Of course the duke himself had to be commemorated by a decorative monument and place was found for it between the Quai du Mont Blanc and the plaza des Alpes. It takes up considerable room. There is a platform more than sixty-seven meters long (two hundred and twenty-two feet) and nearly twenty-five meters (seventy-eight feet) wide and about twenty-one meters (sixty-six feet) high. On this stands a three-story hexagonal canopy sheltering a sarcophagus bearing a recumbent figure of the duke by Iguel, who also designed the reliefs depicting historic events in Brunswick. At each of the six corners are marble statues of his Guelf kinsmen. At a pedestal to the right is a bronze equestrian statue of Charles II. Two colossal lions of yellow marble, like those in Pilgrim’s Progress warranted not to bite, guard the entrance. The architect, Franel, went for his inspiration to the flamboyant Gothic tomb of the Della Scala princes at Verona but it is generally considered that he did not improve on his model. The equestrian statue was at first mounted on top of the monument and there are pictures of it in that position but apparently people wondered[Pg 206] how a horse could have climbed so high and so they made him back down.

Sculpture at its best is the most decorative of all the arts, at least for out-of-doors, but mediocre statuary ought to be regarded as what Mrs. Malaprop called a statuary offence. Geneva is not much more fortunate than other cities in the appropriateness of its sculptures.

Victor Hugo, who made a flying visit to Geneva in September, 1839, thought the city had lost much by its so-called improvements. He did not like it that the row of old worm-eaten dilapidated houses in the Rue des Domes, which made such a picturesque lake-front, had been demolished, and he thought the white quais with the white barracks which the worthy Genovese regard as palaces could not compare with the old dirty ramshackle city which he had known a dozen or so years previous. He complained bitterly because they had been putting it through a process of raking, scraping, levelling and weeding out, so that with the exception of the Butte Saint-Pierre and the bridges across the Rhône there was not an ancient structure left. He called it “a platitude surrounded by humps.”

“Nothing,” he said, “is more unattractive than these little imitation Parises which one[Pg 207] now finds in the provinces, in France and out of France. In an ancient city with its towers and its carved house-fronts, one expects to find historic streets, Gothic or Roman bell-towers; but one finds an imitation Rue de Rivoli, an imitation Madeleine resembling the façade of the Bobino Theater, an imitation Column Vendôme looking like an advertising-tower.”

I wonder what he would have thought of the Duke Charles II imitation. Nevertheless time has justified the Genevans; its brand-new quais are no longer glaringly new, and “its yellow and its white and its plaster and its chalk” have been toned down by time. It has grown into a truly imperial city. I was surprised at the number of buildings of seven stories and more; it cannot be called an imitation of Paris.

In one of the second-hand book-shops—I wonder why they are always on quais, where there are quais—I picked up an amusing little volume entitled, “The Present State of Geneva,” published in 1681 and purporting to have been composed in Italian for the Great Duke of Florence by Signior Gregorio Seti. He begins with this bold statement:—“Geneva, as appears by some chronicles of the County of Vaux, is one of the ancientist cities of Europe, being commonly supposed to have been built by[Pg 208] Lemanus, son of Hercules, the great King of the Gaules, who gave his name likewise to the Lake Lemanus. The first foundation of it was laid in the Year of the World 3994, upon a little rising Hill covered with Juniper Trees called by the French Geneuriers, from whence it afterwards took the name of Geneura.”

He goes on to say:—“In the time of Julius Cæsar this City was of great renown and by him called the Bulwork of Helvetia and frontiere town of the Allobrogi, which name at present it deserves more than ever.

“When the eruption was made upon the Swissers in the year of God 230, by the Emperor Heliogabalus Geneva was almost utterly destroyed by Fire but in the Time of Aurelian the Emperour about the Year of Grace 270, it was by the same Emperour rebuilt, who having bestowed many priviledges on those that came to repair it, commanded it for the future to be called Aurelia, but the inhabitants could not easily banish from their minds the ancient name of Geneva which to this day it bears, though during the Life of Aurelian they called it Aurelia.”

He tells how on the south it is “adorned with a spatious Neighboring Plain reaching to the very Walls and encompassed by two large Rivers,[Pg 209] the Rone and the Arue. This Plain,” he says, “serves the Citizens for a place of diversion and Recreation and here they walk to take the Air and refresh themselves in the delightful Gardens which inviron it, of which there is a great number. There likewise they train and exercise their Souldiers and divert themselves at Play in a long Mall.

“This Plain is commonly called the Plain Palace and in a Corner thereof where the Arue falls into the Rone there is a spatious burying place for the dead.”

At that time there were four bridges. All four had originally houses and shops on them but in 1670 a terrible fire broke out on one of the largest and most inhabited of them and destroyed seventy houses, leaving one hundred and thirty families homeless and taking the lives of more than a hundred persons. The new bridges that took the places of the old ones were by edict freed from all such incumbrances, which, however picturesque, are certainly dangerous and unsanitary.

The little book contained a good deal of information in small space, in spite of its erratic spelling. It stated, for instance, that Calvin was originally buried in Plain Palace, but when the Genevians heard that the Savoyards were[Pg 210] coming “to dig up and insult over his bones they were removed and buried within the cloyster of Saint Peter’s Church.”

We had plenty of time to go there. We could see its towers and spire high in the driving clouds, and its roof, which reminded me of a Western political-convention hall. Considering that it was built so early as the Tenth Century, it ought to have the deepest historical interest. Probably the Emperor Conrad, who founded it, would probably hardly recognize it, so much has it been altered since his stormy life closed. No wonder he wanted a cathedral in those Alps which he was for ever crossing. As soon as he got out of sight down in Italy his German subjects revolted; then when he had returned and punished them the Italians would try to throw off his yoke. Life was not smooth for him either as King of the Germans, or as Emperor of the Romans or as ruler of the Burgundians, but five years before he died he saw his cathedral consecrated. Something happened to it a couple of hundred of years later (about the middle of the eighteenth century): it was probably enlarged. Then its Romanesque style of architecture was made ridiculous by a Corinthian portico.

A Corinthian portico, being Greek, perhaps [Pg 211]was not theoretically so out of place if Don Gregorio Seti was right in telling us that “Saint Peter’s Church was in ancient times dedicated to Apollo, as is to be seen in some very old inscriptions.”


We went into the venerable edifice and my nephew suggested that I had better initiate myself first of all by sitting down in the sacred chair that once belonged to John Calvin. If there had been any risk of inoculating myself with his grim and forbidding theology by sitting in the seat of the Calvinists, be sure I should have refrained. Calvin was a wonderful man, but at heart a tyrant. He could not endure contradiction. Jerome Bolsec found that out when he got the better of him in his argument on predestination: “You make God the author of sin,” said he, “for you say in your Institution, ‘God foresaw Adam’s Fall and in this Fall the ruin of all mankind; but He willed it, He ordered it and predetermined it in His eternal plan. God willed that the Israelites should worship the golden calf and that men should be guilty of the sins that they commit every day.’ God being a simple and changeless Being, how can He be in accord with Himself, since in Him are two things contrary, Will and Not-will? How can He order and forbid the[Pg 212] same thing? On the other hand, if the Will of God is the substance of God Himself, it is the cause of the sins committed by men; consequently God is the author of evil.”

Calvin tried to creep out of the dilemma by saying:—“I have said that God’s will as a supernatural cause is the necessity for all things; but I have declared at the same time that God does what He does with such justice that even the wicked are constrained to glorify Him.”

Bolsec, who could see no equity in such a justice as that, would not give in and Calvin used his power to exile him. He was forbidden to return under pain of being whipped through all the squares of the city.

It is wonderful what an influence and for so long a time was exercised by Calvin. Certainly during all the years while the fortifications stood and the gates were shut at night no one dared contravene the strict regulations which his theocracy enjoined.

There are other famous people buried in the Cathedral of Saint Peter. Near the main entrance is a tablet commemorating Théodore Agrippa d’Aubigné, the Huguenot adviser to Henry IV who spent the last twenty years of his life in Geneva and died there in 1630. He[Pg 213] was the grandfather of Madame de Maintenon, wife of a poet and wife of a king. We noted the black tombstone to Cardinal Jean de Brogny who built the lovely Gothic Chapelle des Macchabées, now excellently restored. “Anno 1628,” says our friend Signior Seti, “was interred Emilia of Nassau and sometime after the Princess her sister, both Sisters to the Prince of Orange, Emilia being Wife to Don Antonio, King of Portugal, who was banished by the Spaniards. In another Chappel lies the Body of the Duke of Rohan, buried in the year 1638 in a most magnificent monument built by the Dutchess, who was laid there also near her husband in the year 1660, as their son Tancred was in the year 1661.”

Perhaps the “magnificent monument” is the black marble sarcophagus, but the statue of the duke who was leader of the French Protestants and fell at the battle of Rheinfelden is modern—the work of Iguel.

His “Dutchess” was the daughter of the famous “reformer of finances,” the Duc de Sully, whose great scheme for an International Amphyctionic Council supplied by the fifteen Christian States of Europe seems to have fore-shadowed the modern Interparliamentary Union.

[Pg 214]

By rare good fortune some one was practising on the excellent organ. Whoever it was played a prelude and fugue of Bach and a brilliant piece which I recognized as by Saint-Saëns.

On our way back from the cathedral we swung round by the English Garden and the National Monument with its two figures representing symbolically Helvetia and Geneva. Like most such colossal sculptures the farther away one gets the better it looks: that may be carried to its logical extreme! Then we crossed the long Pont du Mont Blanc but his Majesty was wholly hidden in the clouds. There were people fishing, however, just as they have always fished from the beginning of time. What says Signior Seti?—“Fishing in the Lake of this City is very considerable both for the profit and pleasure; they commonly take trouts of four score pound weight at twelve ounces the pound and in the Middle of the River opposite it the Town preserve their fish alive for use on two little deal board houses made for that purpose. In the Summer time it is a very pleasant recreation to go a Fishing here and both strangers and Citizens mightily delight in it.”

Not then, but at another time, I amused myself[Pg 215] watching the dozens of washerwomen by the riverside, in booths roofed over and closed at the ends—leaning forward on their bare arms and spending more time gossiping in their terrible dialect or watching the little boats flying by. The Billingsgate of a Genevan blanchisseuse is not so melodious as the notes of a Vallombrosan nightingale, but it has a picturesque quality all its own.

As it was still raining we decided not to go out after dinner. But in spite of the rain I confessed to myself that I liked my first sight of Geneva and cherished a sneaking regret in my heart that Will and Ruth had not chosen their residence there instead of locating at Lausanne. Any place that is cheerful in a rain-storm is the place for me, and I thought Geneva actually smiled through her tears, if I may so express myself.

[Pg 216]


THE weather showed unusual good humour by clearing in the night. Geneva woke up to bright sparkling sunshine. I went out before breakfast, indeed before sunrise, on the bridge, and had a most glorious view up the lake and up to the very summit of Mont Blanc. White as sugar, it lifted its aerial head into the azure—a solid cloud which looked as if it might at any moment take wings and fly away. A well-informed policeman told me the names of the other peaks: L’Aiguille du Midi, nearly a thousand meters lower than the crowning height: La Dent du Géant; Les Grandes Jorasses (from that same word, joux, meaning rock); Les Aiguilles Rouges; La Mole, contrasting with the sharp peak of the Aiguille d’Argentière, rightly suggesting silver. If any one is satisfied with a distant prospect of mountains, his eye would never weary of that glorious [Pg 217]sight; but there is an attractive power in the great mountain-masses. They beckon, they say:—“Come to us; we want you; you are ours.”


That is, however, a wholly modern conception. If in the old days human consciousness felt the call, heard the summons, it was with the horror with which a bird feels the impulse to fly into the serpent’s jaws. Not so many years ago the popular imagination filled the ravines of the higher mountains with other terrors besides the frost. Dragons haunted caverns; with bated breath men told of having seen the dance of Wotan on the Diablerets, or of having heard fiends playing nine-pins with great stones which, when they missed their mark, went dashing and crashing down into the valleys. What herdsman would dare approach the Grotte de Balme, that cavern, hollowed out in the limestone rock, where dark-skinned fairies, with no heels to their feet, but with long, rippling hair, lured young men to their destruction! There was the spectral ram of Monthey; there was the three-legged horse of Sion; there was the giant ox of Zauchet, with glowing horns and flaming torch of a tail; there was the blue-haired donkey of Zermatt. Down from the mountains to Neuchâtel there used to come a[Pg 218] ghost, wearing a cloth dripping with blood, and vanishing toward the lake. It was that of the widow of Walther, Comte de Rochefort, publicly accused of forgery and beheaded in 1412. The sight of her presaged a conflagration.

The Lord of Grimmelstein killed a doe and her fawns and was condemned to hunt through the mountains—one of those famous Wild Hunts which are accompanied by terrible tempests, and overwhelming snows.

There was a herd of chamois tended by dwarfs. Woe to those hunters who killed too many!

As in Schiller’s poem, the gazelle climbs to the ruggedest top of the naked precipice with the huntsman close behind and, just as he is about to fit the arrow to the string, the ancient Spirit of the Mountain, the good Genius of the trembling creature, appears to him:—“Earth has room for all to dwell—Why chase my belov’d gazelle?”

At the entrance of the Rhône into the lake there used to be low banks and wandering islands. Here dwelt the nixies and their queen, Finetta of the White Hand. She wore lilies in her golden hair. Any one who saw her was sure to die within a year.

[Pg 219]

That most delightful and poetic and enthusiastic of mountain-climbers, Emile Javelle, made friends with the guides and herdsmen, and was for ever eliciting from them avowals of their belief in spirits and dragons. He says that any night passed among the good herdsmen of Salanfe, under the Dent du Midi, will be rich in old tales, and he thus relates the legend of the Monster of the Jorat:—

“The herdsmen tell me that formerly (some even think they can recall the time) there dwelt on the Col du Jorat, a monster, a dragon, in fine an animal of unknown species and horrible aspect, who guarded the passage of the Col by night. He had already claimed many victims and the boldest hunters dared not attack him. Night having fallen, he descended from the glacier. He reigned over the whole mountain, and woe betide the man who approached the Jorat.

“One day, at last, a man of the Rhône valley had been condemned to death. He possessed uncommon strength and boldness. Pardon was offered him on condition that he should fight the monster and succeed in destroying him. He accepted, climbed up to Salanfe, waited for night and mounted the path of the Jorat. It is said that the battle was terrible;[Pg 220] but the man was victorious and tranquillity was after that restored to the pastures of Salanfe.”

Javelle explained the reluctance of the mountaineers at climbing to the upper heights by this universal belief in supernatural powers, and he explained the belief in these supernatural powers by their very familiarity with the strange phenomena of the mountains:—“They see the boulders come rolling down from the cliffs, the avalanches breaking off from the heights and dashing down to demolish their châlets—in the heights originate the storms; and there also they hear those mysterious crackings of the glacier. It is not strange that such phenomena should be explained by them in legends.”

Their imagination, too, is shown in the various names which they confer on the Devil. He is Lo Grabbi, the Miser; La Bêta Crotze (Bête-à-griffe), the beast with claws; Le Niton, the Tricky One; Lo Tannai, Cavern-haunter; L’Ozé or Lo Maffi, the Sly One; Lo To-frou, the Always Abroad. One of his assistants is the Nion-neloû (Nul-ne-l’entend), who hides behind trees and jumps out to scare horses. The Diablerets are the very stamping-ground of dwarfs, gnomes, and dragons. When a pinnacle[Pg 221] is doomed to fall, they quarrel as to its direction. At Rubli these supernatural beings are called gommes: they guard mines; at night they are seen as meteors going from place to place.

Whence came the great heaps of stones, as for instance at the foot of Jolimont? We know that these vast masses, often of a different kind of rock from that characteristic of the locality, were brought down by glaciers; but the ignorant peasants attribute them to Satan, who, of course, was intending to crush some Christian church with them, but, perhaps through catching sight of a cross, was compelled to drop them. Some of these stones are of enormous size—the Plowstone, for instance, which rises almost twenty meters (sixty feet) above the ground between Erlenbach and Wetzweil and has been traced to its original source in the canton of Glarus.

But there is one more than twice as big at Montet, near Devent, and when, later, we were going over the Monte Moro pass, we saw one near the Mattmark See which it is estimated contains two hundred and forty thousand cubic feet of Serpentine. Clever old Devil to get rid of his burden! The Swiss Government now[Pg 222] prohibits breaking up these blocks of stone for building purposes. This was due to the initiative of the Swiss Scientific Societies.

Forbes, in his “Travels through the Alps of Savoy,” gives a very good description of these masses of rock as seen at Monthey, overlooking the valley of the Rhône:—

“We have here a belt or band of blocks—poised, as it were, on a mountain-side, it may be five hundred feet above the alluvial flat through which the Rhône winds below. This belt has no great vertical height, but extends for miles—yes, for miles—along the mountain, composed of blocks of granite of thirty, forty, fifty, and sixty feet to the side, not a few, but by hundreds, fantastically balanced on the angles of one another, their gray weather-beaten tops standing out in prominent relief from the verdant slope of secondary formation on which they rest. For three or four miles there is a path, preserving nearly the same level, leading amidst the gnarled stems of ancient chestnut-trees which struggle round and among the pile of blocks, which leaves them barely room to grow: so that numberless combinations of wood and rock are formed where a landscape-painter might spend days in study and enjoyment.”

[Pg 223]

The very Pierres de Niton which entered into the foreground of the picture which I was contemplating have been traced to the Saint Bernard, and it is estimated that it took a thousand years for the glacier to bring them down from that height and deposit them in what is now the lake.

As I stood there I was especially led to think of the influence that Jean-Jacques Rousseau is supposed to have exerted in stimulating people to enjoy the grander aspects of Nature. Literature, before Rousseau’s time, has little to say of the beauty of mountains. They were regarded with annoyance as obstacles, with terror as filled with dangers. Joseph Addison, speaking of the Savoy Alps, says they are “broken into so many steeps and precipices that they fill the mind with an agreeable kind of horror and form one of the most irregular, mis-shapen scenes in the world.”

I am not sure but Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, who became Baron d’Aubonne, from the name of his estate near Geneva, does not deserve priority. After he had ended his travels in the Far East and had decided to settle in Switzerland he wrote his friends in Paris of his choice:

“Friends, I have long been looking for a[Pg 224] country-house where to end my life in tranquillity.

“Now you would doubtless choose France; it is the loveliest country in the world; no other approaches it.

“Gentlemen, France is a charming, delightful country, I agree with you, ... but my heart and my eyes are in Switzerland.

“‘What! That country of ice and sterile mountains, whose inhabitants would not have a quarter of the subsistence necessary for them, if other countries did not support a large part of its inhabitants!’

“You know Switzerland very well, as I can see. Gentlemen, such as it is, for me it is the loveliest country in the world.”

It was one of the boasts before Rousseau’s time that a seigneur’s place should have no view. Both Madame de Genlis, in Voltaire’s lifetime, and James Fenimore Cooper, fifty years after the great Frenchman’s death, noticed the fact that the view from Ferney was quite cut off by shrubbery, evidently showing that he cared little for it. Madame de Staël, though she was sympathetic enough with Rousseau, cared little for natural scenery. When some enthusiastic visitors were praising the beauties of Lake Leman she exclaimed:—“Oh[Pg 225] for the gutters of the Rue de Bac.”

But, after all, it is only fair to give Rousseau’s own words, his invitation to the world to come to Switzerland and share with him these marvellous scenes. They are eloquent words, indeed! Nor did they fall on unheeding ears.

“I conduct you to the loftiest mountains of the old world, to the most ancient laboratory of Nature, where she operated with boundless energy before man existed, and where she produces objects of inexpressible sublimity and beauty, now that there are mortals to admire them. I conduct you to the secret sources of the rivers that irrigate and fertilize half Europe. I conduct you on one and the same day from the scorching heat of Spain to the cold of Lapland or Spitzbergen; from the vine and the chestnut-tree to the Alpine rose, and from the Alpine rose to the last insignificant moss that grows on the extreme verge of animated Nature.

“You shall find fragrance in flowers, which in the valleys yield no scent; you shall pluck strawberries on the margin of everlasting ice.

“I conduct you to the fountain of the dews and rains that dispense blessings over half our[Pg 226] quarter of the globe; to the birthplace of refreshing breezes and of storms which temper and purify the atmosphere.

“I conduct you to the clearest and freshest springs, the most magnificent water-falls, the most extensive glaciers, the most stupendous snow-clad mountains and the most fertile pastures. The tremendous avalanche shall pursue before you its thundering career.

“The brilliant crystal, the swift chamois, the harmless marmot, the soaring eagle, the rapacious vulture, as unusual objects, will strike your eye and excite pleasure and admiration.

“From the toiling husbandman you will ascend to the happy cowherd. Innumerable flocks of cattle, of extraordinary beauty and spirit, will bound about you. In the foaming milk and the clotted cream you will taste of the riches of the country which are poured forth into the most distant regions.

“But, above all, you will be delighted with the inhabitants, men of rare symmetry of form, active and robust, cheerful and independent,—women, decked with unsophisticated charms and graces and manifesting the childlike curiosity and the engaging confidence of the ancient ages of innocence.

[Pg 227]

“Old traditions and rural songs will meet your ear, and the picture presented in the idyls of Theocritus will be realized, but on a grander scale and with more diversified accompaniments.

“Lastly, in those elevated regions you will yourself become better; you will verify the promise of the moral philosopher; you will feel greater facility of respiration, more suppleness and vigor of body, and greater buoyancy of spirits. All the passions are here softened down and pleasure is less intense. The mind is led into a grand and sublime train of thought, suited to the objects which surround us; it is filled with a certain calm delight unalloyed with anything that is painful or sensual. It seems as if in rising above the habitations of men we left behind us all base and earthly feelings; and as if the soul in approaching nearer to the ethereal heaven acquired somewhat of its unruffled serenity.”

And quite à propos, it seems to me, here is Rousseau’s famous description of the sunrise:

“Let us betake ourselves to some lofty place before the Sun appears. We see him announced from afar by the fiery darts which he sends before him. The fire increases; the east[Pg 228] seems all in flames. By their dazzling splendor one looks for the orb long before it shows itself. Each instant one thinks to see it appear. There it is at last! A brilliant point shoots off like a flash and instantly fills all space....

“The veil of darkness is rent and falls; man recognizes his dwelling-place and finds it ever-more more beautiful. During the night the verdure has taken on new vigor; the dawning day which lights it, the first rays which gild it, bring it before us with a glittering panoply of dew, flashing brilliant colors into our eyes. The birds join in chorus and salute the father of life. The concourse of all these objects brings to the senses an impression of freshness which seems to penetrate into the depths of the soul. Here is a half-hour of enchantment which no man can resist. A spectacle so grand, so beautiful, so delicious, leaves no one unmoved.”

Rousseau attributed his love of Nature to the two peaceful years which he spent at the parsonage at Borsey, developing as they did his taste and enabling him later to bring about a complete revolution in the esthetic and literary tendencies of the century. If Rousseau got up to see a sunrise, why, then it became the fashion to get up and see sunrises; if Rousseau went[Pg 229] to a high mountain-top, then it became fashionable to go to high mountain-tops. Here is his recipe for mountain-climbing, written after he had made an excursion on foot to Valais in the Autumn of 1759:—

“I gradually realized that the purity of the air was the real cause of the return of that interior peace which I had lost so long. In fact on high mountains, where the air is pure and subtle, we feel a greater facility in breathing, greater physical lightness, greater mental serenity. Our meditations take on a peculiar character of grandeur and sublimity, proportioned to the objects surrounding us. It seems as if in rising above the dwellings of men, we left behind all low and terrestrial thoughts and, in proportion as we approach the upper regions, the soul attains something of their changeless purity. Here we are grave, but not melancholy; peaceful, but not indolent; simply content to be and to think. I doubt if any violent agitation, if any maladie des vapeurs could resist such a sojourn if prolonged, and I am amazed that baths in the wholesome and beneficent mountain-air are not one of the sovereign remedies of medicine and morals.”

The same idea is found in quaint lines in a Mountain Poem by Usteri:

[Pg 230]

“Uf Bergen, uf Bergen
Da isch’s eim so wohl
De Berg is de Doktor
Für Seel und für Lyb!”

Alexander Pope and other old English writers are always talking about fits of “vapours.” I wonder how the name arose, and why it went out of style. Vapour comes from water, tears are water; hence vapours,—perhaps that is the logic of the term. Of course then they would evaporate in the dry mountain-air.

I recollected how Rousseau loved this very lake. I remembered his apostrophe to it after he had been out sailing on it:—

“As we skirted the shores, I admired the rich and charming landscapes of the Pays de Vaud, where the hosts of villages, the green and well-kept terraces on all sides form a ravishing picture; where the land, everywhere cultivated and everywhere fertile, offers the plowman, the herdman, the vintner the assured fruit of their labors, not devoured as elsewhere by the grasping tax-collector.... The lake was calm. I kept perfect silence. The even and measured noise of the oars set me to dreaming. A cloudless sky, the coolness of the air, the sweet rays of the moon, the silvery shimmer of the water shining around us, filled me [Pg 231]with the most delicious sensations. Oh, my lake! thou hast a charm which I cannot explain, which does not arise wholly from the beauty of the scene, but from something more interesting, which affects me and touches me. When the eager desire of this sweet and happy life for which I was born comes to kindle my imagination, it always attaches itself to the lake.”


And then again his poignant cry of farewell:

“Oh, my lake, on the shores of which I spent the peaceful years of mine infancy, charming landscapes where for the first time I witnessed the majestic and touching sunrise, where I felt the first emotions of my heart, the first impulse of genius, alas! become too imperious.... Oh, my lake, I shall never see thee more.”

[Pg 232]


APPARENTLY Geneva is prouder of being the Mother of Rousseau than of having adopted Calvin. Both were exiled—Calvin by his enemies; Rousseau by his worst enemy, himself. Calvin, having settled the basis of his theology, built himself on it, never shaken; Rousseau canted and recanted and rerecanted. He was a Protestant; he was a Catholic; he was a free-thinker; he was a deist.

Once, at Madame d’Epinay’s, Saint Lambert avowed himself an atheist. Rousseau exclaimed:—“If it is cowardice to allow anyone to say ill about an absent friend, then it is a crime to allow anyone to say evil of his God who is present, and, gentlemen, I believe in God.”

Saint Lambert indulged in still another sneering remark and Rousseau threatened to leave if anything more of the kind were said.

[Pg 233]

Curiously enough, Rousseau, who was a stickler for free speech, sided against Voltaire in his battle against Calvinism. He saw that the great scoffer wanted to upset the habits and customs of Calvin’s city, to introduce a love of pleasure and of luxury and especially of the theatre. He wrote:—

“So Voltaire’s weapons are satire, black falsehood, and libels. Thus he repays the hospitality which Geneva by a fatal indulgence has shown him. This fanfaron of impiety, this lofty genius and this low soul, this man so great through his talents, so base (vil) in his use of them, will leave long and cruel memories among us. Ridicule, that poison of good sense and of uprightness, satire, enemy of the public peace, flabbiness, arrogant pomp will henceforth make a people of trivialities, of buffoons, of wits, of commerce, who in place of the consideration once enjoyed by our literary men will put Geneva on the level of the Academies of Marseilles and of Angers.”

This letter was widely circulated. Voltaire, who might have been more offended by its lack of style than by its attack on him, henceforth used every opportunity to injure and insult Rousseau.

When “Emile” appeared it shocked the[Pg 234] theologians. The City ordered it to be burned by the official hangman. The Church said to him:—“You extol the excellence of the Gospel yet you destroy its dogmas. You paint the beauty of the virtues yet you snuff them out in the souls of your readers.” He was even condemned by Parliament to be imprisoned. The pious Jacob Vernet, Pastor Mouton and Pastor Vernes wrote him letters expressing their admiration of his talents but criticizing some of his views. After he published his “Lettres de la Montagne,” which caused a terrible hubbub, Vernes, Chapuis and Claparède publicly attacked him.

Voltaire wrote:—“Grand and edifying spectacle presented by the venerable Company of Pastors at Geneva! While the Government is burning Rousseau’s books, the clergy approves of them and finds itself very happy to be reduced to a natural religion which proves nothing and asks little.”

And those that stoned the prophets raise monuments to them. Calvin, whom Rousseau called “esprit dur et farouche,” has no monument, unless a street named after him may be considered as one; but Rousseau has a whole island with a big bronze statue on it and a street besides.

[Pg 235]

This is the substance of our breakfast-table conversation. When we had finished our coffee and rolls we started out for a long walk. Ruth, like a woman, wanted to look at the shops; Will and I would go hunting for Rousseau and Calvin.

For a long time a house in Geneva bore the inscription:—


But that was a mistake. It is now known that he was born in his father’s house, Number 2, Grand’ Rue, and there he lived till 1719. Then he went to live at 73, Rue de Constance. His father, Isaac Rousseau, though of a family which had emigrated from Paris, where they had been booksellers, and had for two hundred years enjoyed a highly respectable position in the bourgeoisie of Geneva, was regarded as rather frivolous. Probably that was because he varied his trade of watch-making by giving dancing-lessons. Dancing in the city of Calvin, in spite of the illustrious example of King David before the Ark of the Tabernacle, was regarded with little favour. He engaged in a[Pg 236] quarrel with the retired Captain Goutier and they fought a duel contrary to the law. Goutier was wounded. On investigation Isaac was found guilty and condemned to beg pardon on his two knees. He chose to expatriate himself, and Jean Jacques went to live with his Uncle Bernard at 19, Grand’ Rue, and at Bossey with Pastor Lambercie. His education was not wholly neglected. He himself says:—

“At the age of seven I used to read books of history with my father. Plutarch became my favourite study. Agesilaus, Brutus, Aristotle were my heroes; from the discussions which these readings caused between my father and me, grew that free and republican spirit, that proud indomitable character, impatient of any yoke or servitude, which has so tormented me all the days of my life. Born a citizen of a republic, son of a father whose patriotism was his strongest passion, I took fire by his example; constantly occupied with Athens and Rome, I became the very person whose life I was reading; the story of the acts of constancy and bravery which struck me, made my eyes sparkle, my voice grow strong.”

Whatever his training really was, for he is not always a reliable chronicler of his own actions, he contrasts what he considered the ideal[Pg 237] up-bringing of children as conducted in Switzerland with that of the French children. His words were destined to bear fruit:—

“Is it not supremely ridiculous to educate boys like young girls? Ah, it is truly fine to see these little twelve-year-old fops, walking out, their hands plump, their voices delicate (flutées), with pretty green parasols to protect them from the sun. They were less finical in my country: children, brought up in rustic fashion, had no complexions to preserve; they feared no harm from the air. Their fathers took them out hunting and gave them all kinds of exercise. They were reserved and modest in the presence of their elders; they were bold, proud, even quarrelsome, among themselves; they were rivals in wrestling, running, boxing; they were skilled in fencing. They came home rugged; they were genuine little rascals; but they grew into men whose hearts were full of zeal in their country’s service and ready to give their lives for her.”

In April, 1725, he was apprenticed to an engraver, named Abel Ducommun, Rue des Etuves, Number 96, third floor. He liked the trade, for, as he says, he had a lively taste for drawing; but his master was brutal, and at last, on a Sunday evening in March, 1728, having[Pg 238] been locked out of the city through returning too late from a long walk beyond the walls and having spent the night wretchedly on the glacis “in a transport of despair” he suddenly swore never to return to his master’s. Rogers, in one of his poems, thus refers to this inhospitality on the part of Geneva, which, of course, was possible only in a small city surrounded with walls:—

“On my way I went.
Thy gates, Geneva, swinging heavily,
Thy gates so slow to open, swift to shut;
As on that Sabbath-eve when He arrived,
Whose name is now thy glory, now by thee
Such virtue dwells in those small syllables,
Inscribed to consecrate the narrow street.
His birth-place,—when but one short step too late,
In his despair, as though the die were cast,
He flung him down to weep and wept till dawn;
Then rose to go, a wanderer through the world.”

He wandered away till he came to the little Catholic town of Confignon, two leagues from Geneva, and became the guest and protégé of the vicar M. de Pontverre, who gave him delicious Frangi wine and attempted to convince him that the heresy of Geneva was ruinous to hopes of salvation.

“Though M. de Pontverre was a religious[Pg 239] man,” says Rousseau, “he was not a virtuous man, but rather a bigot, who knew no virtue except worshiping images and telling his beads; in a word, a kind of missionary who thought it a supreme merit to compose libels against the ministers of Geneva. Far from wishing to send me back, he endeavoured to favour my escape and put it out of my power to return, even if I had been so disposed. There were a thousand chances to one that he was going to let me perish of starvation or become a rascal; all this was apart from his purpose: he saw a soul snatched from heresy and restored to the bosom of the Church: whether I were an honest man or a knave was immaterial, provided I went to mass.”

At Annecy was living Madame de Warens, who had robbed her husband of his forks, knives and spoons, involved him in debts, and deserted him for the sake of embracing Catholicism. She was earning a pension of two thousand francs a year from the King of Sardinia by using her new and fervent zeal in the work of propaganda. M. de Pontverre gave Rousseau a letter to the fair and frail baroness. This is what the vicar said:—

“I send you Jean Jacques Rousseau, a youth who has abandoned his country; he seems to[Pg 240] me of a happy character. He spent a day with me; and God summons him to Annecy.

“Try to encourage him to embrace Catholicism. It is a triumph to bring about conversion. You will understand as well as I do that for this great work he must be kept at Annecy, for fear he may receive evil instructions elsewhere. Be careful to intercept all letters that might be written from his country, for if he thinks he is abandoned he will the sooner abjure. I put the whole matter into the hands of the Almighty and yours, which I kiss.”

“Madame de Warens at that time,” says Rousseau, “was young and charming; she was rich and noble; she had a naturally lively wit; she liked reading and pondering over what she read, devoting herself now to works of piety, now to the works of the learned Bayle, the Voltaire of his day; she was of a sweet disposition and her society was much sought; she had a good husband and they led an easy life together; her days were cast in a peaceful and prosperous epoch; she spent her best years in those enchanting scenes in the Pays de Vaud, where Lake Leman spreads its limpid waves, at the foot of the lofty mountains of Savoy, in a country fertile and productive.”

Not in too great a hurry to get there, sauntering[Pg 241] along, stopping to earn a bite by singing under château windows, he finally, on Palm Sunday, met that paragon.

Years afterwards he asked himself why he could not enclose with a golden balustrade the happy spot where first he saw her and render it the object of universal veneration.

To many much of the spell of Switzerland comes from the magic of Rousseau’s love for the fair and facile deserter and from the immortal romance in which as Saint-Preux and Julie their idealized amour lived again. She must not escape us thus: we shall learn more of her in another place.

Rousseau declared that he expected to find a devout and forbidding old woman; instead he “saw a face beaming with charms, fine blue eyes full of sweetness, a complexion which dazzled the sight, the lovely lines of an enchanting bosom” and he was henceforth hers. She put him immediately at his ease and sent him a little later to Turin, where he felt himself constrained to sell his religion: it was at the price of his self-respect, but he did many things at that price first and last. More important in his development was his acquaintance with the Abbé Gaime, who, like so many abbés, was a deist and did not believe in supernatural[Pg 242] revelation or in the miracles; but he seems to have been a man of high character whose principles often kept Rousseau from regrettable acts.

After his disappointing experiences in Turin, as draughtsman, footman, clerk, beggarman, thief, he returned to Annecy. Madame de Warens asked her cousin, M. d’Aubonne, “a man of great understanding and cleverness,” but an adventurer, to examine Rousseau as to whether it were best for him to be a merchant or an abbé or an engineer. Rousseau says: “The result of his observations was that, notwithstanding the animation of my countenance and promising exterior, I was, if not absolutely silly, at least a lad of very little sense and wholly lacking original ideas or learning.”

Later M. d’Aubonne lost his position through having paid too violent attention to the wife of the intendant, and out of revenge he wrote a comedy which he sent to Madame de Warens. “Let us see if I am as stupid as M. d’Aubonne insists I am,” cried Rousseau. “I am going to make a play like his.”

He did so. It was entitled, “Narcisse ou l’Amour de Lui-même.” Eighteen years later he had it played at Paris but it fell flat. Rousseau left the theatre, went to the Café Procope, [Pg 243]the rendezvous of all the wits, and exclaimed—“The new piece has failed; it deserved to fail; it bored me; it is by Rousseau of Geneva and I am Rousseau.”


Perhaps, after all, the most comical episode in Rousseau’s life took place in Lausanne.

It was in 1732. He had been on a trip to Fribourg, on foot, for he was fond of walking, even when he was so troubled with corns that he had to step on his heels. Instead of returning by way of Nyon he proceeded along the north shore, wishing to revel in the view of the lake, which is seen in its greatest extent at Lausanne. Then the brilliant idea seized him to pass himself off for a music-teacher, just as his friend Venture had done on arriving at Annecy. He describes the adventure at some length in his memoirs as follows:—

“I became so much excited with this idea that, without thinking that I had neither his grace nor his talents, I took it into my head to play at Lausanne the part of a little Venture, to teach music, which I did not know how to do, and to say that I was from Paris, where I had never been.... I endeavoured to approach as near as possible to my great model. He called himself Venture de Villeneuve; I by an anagram converted the name of Rousseau into[Pg 244] that of Vaussore, and I called myself Vaussore de Villeneuve. Venture understood composition, although he had said nothing about it; I, without understanding it, boasted of my knowledge of it to everybody, and although I did not know how to note down the simplest ballad, gave myself out as a composer. This is not all. Having been presented to M. de Treytorens, professor of law, who was fond of music, and had concerts at his house, and being anxious to give him a specimen of my talents, I set myself to composing a piece for his concert with as much effrontery as if I had known how to go about it. I had the perseverance to work for a fortnight at this precious composition, to make a fair copy of it, to write out the different parts, and to distribute them with as much assurance as if it had been a masterpiece of harmony.”

Imagine the discords! But his “executioners” made him beat time to the end, though they could see that sweat-drops of agony were pearling on his brow. That he escaped with his life is a wonder. I read somewhere that the house where this contretemps took place is still standing, but I could not find any one who might point it out to me. The fame which he thus won as a composer and kapellmeister did[Pg 245] not bring him any pupils and he went on to Vevey of which he says:—

“I conceived for that town an affection which has followed me in all my travels, and caused me at length to place there the characters of my novel. I would gladly say to those who possess taste and sensibility, Go to Vevey, visit the adjacent country, examine the localities, go about upon the lake, and say if nature has not made this beautiful region for a Julie, for a Claire, and for a Saint-Preux; but do not look for them there.”

Rousseau returned to Geneva in 1739 to secure the inheritance which was due him from his mother’s estate. The City might have gobbled it up, since he had abjured the Protestant religion; perhaps it was too small to attract the attention of the authorities; he secured it, spent some of it on books and gave the rest to Madame de Warens. He met his father there, who also was unmolested, although the judgment against him, from the consequences of which he had escaped, was still on the black book. Rousseau intended to return to live in Geneva. He had become famous, and when he renounced the Catholic faith he was reinstated in his rights of citizenship, but once more his conflict with orthodoxy rendered[Pg 246] it an unsafe place for him. There seemed to be no room for him anywhere. The peasants drove him out of Neuchâtel, though Marshal Keith, who represented Frederick the Great there, made him welcome. Bern sought him out in his island home in the Lake of Bienne to lay heavy hand upon him. He was unhappy in England, and even his last home at Ermenonville witnessed his violent death, as it is now believed by some, at the hands of the ignorant and jealous Thérèse.

Really, Geneva has little to show directly connected with Rousseau beyond the mislabelled place of his birth. Yet the whole Lake of Geneva is redolent of his glory. Not far from the haunts of his youth lived Calvin, who would have probably been as ready to burn Rousseau as he was to burn Servetus. La Grand’ Rue runs between the cathedral and the University, and almost parallel is La Rue Calvin where the great theocrat abode. Of course we went there and did our hommages to the shades of the departed.

There is a deal of individuality in the names of city streets—that is, there may be. One would expect monotony of architecture in those simply numbered or lettered. But Geneva has charming names, suggesting romance, theology[Pg 247] and history. If it has its Rue des Eaux Vives, which might well suggest heaven, it has also its Rue de l’Enfer and its Rue du Purgatoire. Of course there is a Rue Voltaire. Pleasant things are suggested by the Rue du Montchoisy, or that of Beaulieu. But as cities change, once respectable or even fashionable thoroughfares lose their vogue and even become slums.

From Calvin’s old residence we went to the Hôtel de Ville, which has a commanding situation. It was interesting not alone because of its elegant Renaissance architecture, its ramp whereby an equestrian mayor might ride up to the third story—it was built between the sixth and seventh decades of the Sixteenth Century—or because of the ancient frescoes in the Council Chamber, but perhaps most of all, to an American or an Englishman, because in one of its rooms sat the epoch-making commission which settled for fifteen and a half millions, awarded to the United States the Alabama claims, and thus made the longest stride since the beginning of the world toward the sensible and feasible way of settling questions which would be likely to lead to war.

England was represented by her Lord Chief Justice, Sir Alexander James Edward Cockburn,[Pg 248] with Sir Roundel Palmer as counsel; the United States sent Charles Francis Adams with William M. Evarts, Caleb Cushing and Morrison R. Waite; Switzerland’s arbitrator was her one-time president, Jacob Stamepfli; the other two judges were the Brazilian Minister to France and Count Federigo Sclopis of Italy, who was the chairman. The arbitrators sat from December, 1871, until September 14, 1872. Such vital interests were at stake that the world almost held its breath; for had both parties not honourably held by the decision—ignoring the dissatisfied extremists who would have preferred to fight rather than yield—there would have befallen the worst war of the ages. Where such enormous financial interests were at issue the fact that a question involving so many untried questions of international law could be settled peaceably was a triumph of civilization. Sacred then for ever be that upper room; it should be regarded as more worthy of pious pilgrimage than almost any other spot in this round world, for, if its precedent should be carried out, it would spell the emancipation of the world from the terrible incubus of militarism, from the needless crushing burden of enormous armies and wasteful navies.

[Pg 249]

From the City Hall we proceeded to the University. We were fortunate enough to fall in with a genial professor who, as soon as he learned that we were Americans, not only took the greatest pains to point out to us all the notable buildings but also told us a good deal about the history of the institution.

It seems that as far back as the middle of the Fourteenth Century the Emperor Charles IV proposed to found a university, but other affairs choked the good seed. The idea was revived by Cardinal Jean de Brogny, Bishop of Geneva, who died in 1462. Two years after his death the Conseil Général passed an order for establishing a public school on the Place below the Monastery of the Frères Mineurs de Rive. There happened to be living at that time a rich and generous old merchant of a noble family, named François de Versonnex. He had already founded two hospitals, but the plan of a public school appealed to him, and, in January, 1429, he built an edifice ninety-four feet long and thirty-four feet wide, near the church of those Frères Mineurs and presented it to the city. Instructions in grammar, logic, rhetoric and the other liberal arts—philosophy, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music—was to be gratuitous: his only condition was[Pg 250] that the pupils should every morning kneel before the altar and repeat an Ave Maria and a Pater Noster for the repose of the donor’s soul.

This became known as the “Grande Eschole.” It had an ample garden, stretching down to the lake, with plenty of room for the boys to play. After more than a century, in spite of repairs, it became uninhabitable, and in 1535, the year before Bonivard returned to Geneva, the Council ordered the school to be removed to the Couvent des Cordeliers de Rive (now commemorated in the Rue des Cordeliers), a building which since the Thirteenth Century had occupied a site on the shore. It was torn down in 1769 to make room for a granary.

There must have been much cultivation in those days in Geneva. Bonivard speaks about the learned men he knew personally or by reputation. He, himself, was versed in Latin, Italian and German. He was the founder of the University Library, which now contains more than one hundred thousand books and fifteen hundred or more manuscripts. Under Antoine Saulnier or Sonier, who was appointed to direct the school in 1536, at a salary of one hundred écus d’or sol, equivalent to four hundred[Pg 251] and forty florins, it made rapid progress and began to attract pupils from abroad. But Sonier was Calvin’s appointee and Calvin’s enemies were then in power; about that time they succeeded in banishing both Calvin and Farel, and they robbed Sonier of his two best assistants. Then Sonier summoned the famous Mathurin Cordier of Bordeaux, the author of a Latin book still in use. The Council went on heckling Sonier and he resigned and went to Lausanne. He helped found the University there.

Of course the school then degenerated. Some of the masters whipped children so brutally that it drew blood. When Calvin was recalled and again took command, he engaged Sébastien Chatillon of Nantua, an elegant Latinist and possessed also of Greek and Hebrew, but soon quarrelled with him, causing him to resign. Chatillon afterwards taught Latin at Bâle but almost starved there.

In 1550, Calvin discovered Louis Enoch of Issoudun, in Berri. He was Regent for seven years. He was made a bourgeois and installed as a minister. When the school was reorganized as a college in 1559 he became its Regent. The buildings were deathly, however, and even Enoch could not live in them. Finally,[Pg 252] when the Perrinists, Calvin’s bitterest enemies, were defeated, he saw his chance. At the top of the Rue Verdaine was the Hospital of the Bourg-de-Four, which as the domus hospitalis de foro veteri had been founded in the Thirteenth Century by a member of an ancient and noble family. Attached to it was a garden. Above the Hospital on the hill rising steeply from Rive to Saint-Antoine there were what were called Hutins Bolomier,—or hillocks,—on which the vines were cultivated. This was to be the new site. But just then war broke out between France and Spain. Geneva was in a panic, expecting to be attacked, because Philippe II had vowed that he would exterminate the heretics. Public prayers were offered and the citizens were encouraged to defend themselves to the last gasp. Bern, which had been unwilling to renew its alliance with Geneva at this common danger, hastened to join forces. Geneva was safe.

In 1558, at Calvin’s demand, a commission was empowered to study the question, and, after due deliberation, it was decided to make the change. The preliminary work consisted in reducing the height of the hill. The soil was carted down to the Pré de Rive. But to get the buildings finished was a heart-breaking undertaking.[Pg 253] There were all kinds of delays. They even had a strike among the workmen: the carpenters demanded eight sous a day! But the Council refused to grant the increase, which they considered exorbitant, since victuals were cheap. There was lack of money. In 1559 the Republic had a revenue all told of only two hundred thousand florins. They decided that the product of all fines should be handed over to the College. A woman convicted of faux aunage (probably in measuring cloth of her weaving) was obliged to pay twenty-five crowns. The venerable former syndic Phillipin for having spoken evil of the Seigneurie had to pay twenty-five crowns. Jean Roche, for having printed at Lyon Calvin’s Institution contrary to the privileges granted to Antoine Calvin, was fined a hundred crowns. People were urged to remember the institution in their wills. In 1561 the Council by an act of heroic renunciation resolved to forego the annual banquet and devote to the fund the hundred florins it would cost. Just as happens now, materials were not forthcoming on time. One day tiles were lacking and there was great danger that the rains would come before the roof was covered. But it was finished in 1562, and four years later a fountain was installed as much to embellish[Pg 254] the College as to furnish drinking-water. In 1569 elms and linden-trees were set out to shade the grounds.

The two big buildings, arranged as it was called à la mode de potence, that is at right angles, and surmounted by a big roof, all in Italian Renaissance style of architecture, were the pride of the City, and still not much changed reflect credit on the old Reformers.

Our friend the professor took us to the front of the main building and pointed out to us the peristyle colonnade, with its three massive pillars supporting the four arches in pure Roman style, and he called our attention to the ancient inscriptions over the principal entrance: the first in Hebrew, which he said meant “The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom;” the second in Greek, which I could almost make out myself though the letters were queer:—“Christ has become for us Wisdom by the Will of the Father;” the third indecipherable, but he said that it read originally “For the Wisdom that comes from on high is pure, peaceable and full of mercy.”

He showed us the external stairway leading to what was formerly the rooms of the principal and of some of the professors, and the admirable balustrade of wrought iron, and[Pg 255] pointed with pardonable pride to the bas relief in yellow marble over the first floor door. He said it was attributed to the famous French sculptor Jean Goujon, who belonged to the Reformed Church and was in Geneva in 1560. It represents two winged women, one the Genius of Study, the other the Genius of War and between them the escutcheon of the City. During the French occupation it was mutilated, but the eagle and the key can be made out.

The professor took us up to the second floor of the main building, which offers a superb view of the lake, the Jura with their rock-ribbed summits, the snowy Alps of Savoy. In those days they did not much believe in light, physically or theologically; the windows are small and the big rooms seemed rather gloomy. He told us that at first the City was too poor or too penurious to furnish glass for them, and when the students petitioned for glass they were recommended to fit them out themselves with oiled paper panes. Neither was there any way of heating them, and the professors had to bring braziers filled with hot coals to melt out their lectures. Finally a violent bise came down the lake and blew the rooms inside out; it did so much damage that the Council, in self-defence, ordered glass put in.

[Pg 256]

The Seigneurie gratuitously lodged not only the professors and pastors but also such needy citizens as had been of public service. In 1561 François Bonivard petitioned to be granted quarters in the city logis where he might have a stove, and his petition was allowed. Then, as now (in other lands more particularly), self-defence was an expensive luxury. The erection, maintenance and strengthening of the city walls cost enormously, and the Council proposed to sell the houses of the Regents, but violent opposition arose and they were maintained until the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. Then the ramshackly old buildings were sold and the fine houses on the Rue Verdaine were built. The gardens were alienated in 1725 for twenty-five thousand florins; the purchaser agreeing not to erect any high building that would cut off the fine view. They at least appreciated their greatest asset. The purchaser was Jean Gallatin, whose house is still shown at Number Seven.

I was, of course, interested in the name Gallatin, for I remembered how Albert Gallatin, a graduate of Geneva University, came to America and taught French at Harvard College, and then entering politics, was elected Senator, though he was excluded; became Secretary[Pg 257] of the Treasury and signed the Treaty of Ghent and was United States Minister first at Paris and then at London. Several towns in our country were named after him.

When the professors’ houses were taken from them, they were granted three écus d’or extra salary.

The so-called Ordre du Collège—a term still in use—was worked out by Calvin himself, who would not have disdained regulating the size of mouse-traps. Fortunately he had associated with him the gentle, benevolent Theodore de Bèze, who was the oil to the vinegar of Calvin’s stern, uncompromising wisdom. Calvin wrote it in Latin; De Bèze in French. It is a document well worthy of study by all educators.

It was promulgated on the fifth of June, 1559, with impressive ceremonies. The venerable Company of Pastors, the Regents, the professors and a body of six hundred students, together with an immense throng of citizens, went to the cathedral where Calvin made an immensely long supplication. Then the secretary of the Council, Michel Roset, read the document. De Bèze, appointed rector of the Academy and principal of the College, made an impressive “harangue” in Latin, dwelling on the usefulness of schools and of “superior[Pg 258] wisdom” and ending by thanking the Council for having permitted Geneva to receive instruction purged of all Papal superstitions. De Bèze having thanked the Council, Calvin thanked God for the same blessings. The next day the regular exercises of the new curriculum began. They were kept up without essential change for three centuries. The chief function of the College was practically the same as that of the primitive Harvard—to provide ministers: my nephew declared it was a “regular parson-factory.”

During Calvin’s life no theatrical representations were allowed; but just forty years after his death, in 1604, some of the students of one of the professors with his authorization learned a comedy by Garnier and proposed to enact it before a select company of guests. When the authorities heard of it they were in a panic and hastened to forbid it “for fear the students might take occasion for debauchery and waste time and lessons.” In 1681 “The Cid” was presented with scenery at the house of M. Perdriau. The performance ended with a farce. About three hundred spectators were present. Several students took part. It caused a terrible scandal. It was declared that if such a thing happened again the culprits should be[Pg 259] whipped. They had the means to inflict this punishment. Discipline in those days was severe. The Regents were ordered to provide themselves with a sort of cat-o’-nine-tails, and they used it sometimes brutally. In 1676 a Sieur de Rochemont ordered his valet to thrash one of the Regents for having too severely punished his nephew. The valet carried out his orders with good will but was haled into court and condemned to languish in jail for a week, while his master, in spite of his rank, was punished even more severely—he was sent to jail for three weeks and had to pay a fine of two hundred crowns, after having begged pardon on his knees.

The University of Geneva, as at present constituted, is the outgrowth of that remarkable school. Its modern regeneration began in 1886. Many new buildings have been erected. It would take pages to give the names of the celebrated professors who have from the beginning helped to spread its fame and have attracted students from all over the world, especially from Russia. Out of the twelve hundred or more students registered a large proportion come from the empire of the Tsars. The institution is divided into a Collège inférieur and a Collège supérieur, the latter having four departments:[Pg 260] the classic, the réal, the technical and the pedagogical.

We went with our guide into the Library, which, of course, we could only glance at; but later, when I spent a fortnight in Geneva, I found it most useful. We went to the Salle Lutin and looked at the fine portraits of Geneva celebrities, including those of many distinguished visitors, notably George Eliot’s. Here are also many fascinating manuscripts and books which would fill the heart of a bibliophile with hopeless envy. I had just time to look at the curious old map made in 1588 by a Genevan magistrate, the noble Duvillard, who was wounded in a battle and during his convalescence amused himself in tracing on paper “ce beau lac génévois,” to which he said Christians flock without cessation:—

“Pour louer Dieu, maugré princes et rois,
Plumes, pinceaux, couleurs en tous entroits
J’ai fait passer par villes et châteaux,
Villages, bourgs, par montagnes et bois,
Par champs et près et vignobles si beaux
Rochers, forêts, rivières et ruisseaux.”

But the morning was passing, and we had to tear ourselves away. We had not intended to go into any of the public buildings of Geneva,[Pg 261] tempting as they might be, but to walk across the Treille, along the Promenade des Bastions and then take a tram for the Salève, from which, on such a clear day, the view would have been superb. But it was too late; we had to hurry back to the hotel for an early lunch and then continue our journey around the lake.

As we went back I registered a vow to spend at least a fortnight in Geneva, and I am happy to say it was not a vow in vain. I came to know and love the fine old town with its splendid educational advantages, its museums and libraries, its fascinating parks and its wealth of glorious walks. More than once as we went down toward the lake I turned around to look at the bold escarpments of the limestone cliff against which the twin towers and the tall spire of the Cathedral stood out so proudly.

I went one day to the Voirons and had perhaps the same view as James Fenimore Cooper enjoyed so much, when on his journey southward he suddenly emerged on their heights and got his first glimpse of Geneva and the lake and all those parts of Vaud that lie between Geneva and the Dôle. Of course, Geneva nearly eighty years ago was much smaller than it is now. He describes it with enthusiasm, and his picture still glows with colour:—

[Pg 262]

“A more ravishing view than that we now beheld can scarcely be imagined. Nearly the whole of the lake was visible. The north shore was studded with towns, towers, castles and villages for the distance of thirty miles; the rampart—resembling rocks of Savoy—rose for three or four thousand feet, like walls above the water, and solitary villages were built against their bases in spots where there scarcely appeared room to place a human foot. The solemn magnificent gorge rather than valley of the Rhône and the river, glittering like silver among its meadows, were in the distant front, while the immediate foreground was composed of a shore which also had its wall of rocks, its towns laved by the water, its castles, its hamlets half concealed in fruit-trees, and its broad mountain bosom thrown carelessly into terraces, to the elevation of two thousand feet on which reposed nearly every object of rural art that can adorn a picture....

“The beauty of the panorama was singularly heightened by the presence of some thirty or forty large barks with lateen sails, a rig particularly Italian, and which, to my eye, was redolent of the Mediterranean, a sea I had not beheld for twenty years. They were lying la[Pg 263]zily on the glassy lake as if placed there by Claude himself to serve as models.


“I shall not affirm that this was the finest view we had yet seen in Switzerland, but I do think it was the most exquisite. It was Goethe compared to Schiller, Milton to Shakespeare, Racine to Corneille.”

Just about two centuries earlier Auguste de Sales in the life of his uncle Saint Francis, showed that he too loved the same view. Here is his picture, dated 1632:—

“Voiron is a very high mountain separating Le Chablais from Le Faucigny, looking east from Geneva. Toward the north the view embraces the great Lake Leman, and almost all the mountains of Burgundy and those of Switzerland in the distance distinguished by blue shadows. Nearer are the cities and lands of Geneva and Bern, an infinity of villages, churches, castles, rivers, ponds, forests, meadows, vineyards, hills, roads, and the like in such variety that the eye receives from it a wonderful recreation and nothing in the world can be seen more beautiful. Toward the south one sees with a sudden horror the mountains of Le Faucigny and at their extremity the haughty summits (cimes sourcilleuses) of Champmuni, covered with eternal ice and snow,[Pg 264] so that the eye of him who looks now one way now another, receives an unequalled satisfaction.”

I shall never forget the first expedition that I made to Les Treize Arbres and the Crêt de Grange Tournier, the highest point of the Salève, with their superb view up the lake and far into the valley of the Rhône. Yet the Salève is not a part of Geneva; it is not even Swiss; it belongs to France. If Switzerland and Savoy should at the present time have a war it would be easy enough for big guns to be mounted on those heights and batter down the helpless city; compared with what war is now the most dramatic event in Genevan history seems rather ludicrous; but the Fountain of the Escalade commemorates an heroic achievement.

Quietly around the city were gathering the hostile armies. Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy was planning to strike a final blow; he had more than six thousand men—Savoyards, Spaniards, Neapolitans and Piedmontese—collected in various places within convenient distance. On the night of December 12, 1602, a storming party of two hundred men marched up to the Corraterie rampart carrying fagots, hurdles, ladders, and implements for breaking[Pg 265] and smashing things. Each man also had an amulet warranted to keep him from trouble in this world or the world to come; it was given to each one by a Scotch Jesuit named Father Alexander. They filled the moat with their hurdles and fagots; they fastened their ladders to the walls. They killed the one sentinel on guard, for the Genevans had no thought of such a treacherous attack upon them, and they annihilated a small body of the watch, all except one man, a drummer, who escaped and gave the alarm. The battle was on.

The Genevans at La Porte Neuve happened to fire off a gun loaded with chains and iron scrap; the discharge smashed all the scaling ladders and swept them off the walls; the army of four thousand men led by General d’Albigni, who was expecting to follow up the success of the two hundred, was helpless in the moat outside. All able-bodied citizens got out their guns and swords and gave battle. Hot soup and other scalding fluids and a rain of deadly missiles were flung down on the unhappy invaders, who finally fled, leaving thirteen prisoners and a large number of dead. The Genevans themselves had seventeen killed and a score wounded. Duke Charles Emmanuel is[Pg 266] said to have called his defeated general a booby (misérable butor) and expressed himself in somewhat the same kind of vulgar language as Victor Hugo attributed to Marshal Ney in “Les Misérables.”

Geneva was saved, and the next morning the venerable Pastor de Bèze, who had slept all through the tumult, having learned of the battle, went to the cathedral and helped to conduct a thanksgiving service—the last public appearance which his failing health permitted him to make. And ever since the Genevans celebrate the day of the Escalade.

Rousseau wrote of this rather grandiloquently:—“The generous nation received its baptism of blood; this night put our ancestors beside the men of Sempach and Morgarten; they defended their freedom like men who could not understand how life could be separated from liberty.”

That very year the Landgrave of Hesse was visiting Geneva incognito and he composed a Latin epigram beginning:—

“Quisquis amat vitam sobriam castamque tueri,”

which has been Englished in the quaint old style of long ago:—

[Pg 267]

“A strict and sober life if you’d embrace
Let chast Geneva be your dwelling-place;
Or would you lead a lawless life and free
The same Geneva your abode must be.
Convenience here for either life is found—
The Air, Land, Water and Religion sound!”


One more attempt was made to capture Geneva. On September 21, 1792, without any declaration of war, the French entered Savoy, seized Mont-Mélian and Chambéry and overran the whole duchy with the result that it was incorporated with France as the Département du Mont Blanc. Etienne Clavière, banished from Geneva in 1784 because of his writings, had become one of the six Ministers of the French Republic, and being full of animosity against Geneva urged his colleagues to attack that city. Orders to that effect were issued by Servan, Minister of War. Geneva appealed to Zürich and Bern for aid and prepared for defence. But no attack was made. Clavière committed suicide the following year.

Gibbon wrote to Lord Sheffield:—“The terrors which might have driven me from hence have in great measure subsided. Our State prisoners are forgot; the country begins to recover its old good humor and unsuspecting confidence and the last revolution of Paris appears[Pg 268] to have convinced almost everybody of the fatal consequences of the Democratical principles, which lead by a path of flowers into the abyss of Hell.” After Savoy became a part of France Gibbon wrote:—“My noble scenery is clouded by the Democratical aspect of twelve leagues of the opposite coast which every morning obtrude themselves on my view.” In February, 1793, he wrote again:—“The new Constitution of Geneva is slowly forming without much noise or any bloodshed and the Patriots who have staid in hopes of guiding and restraining the multitude flatter themselves that they shall be able at least to prevent their mad countrymen from giving themselves to France, the only mischief that would be absolutely irretrievable.”

He predicted that the Emperor and the French would compound for the neutrality of the Swiss. His prediction was very nearly fulfilled. But the penchant of the Genevans for France may possibly be explained by the fact that it is so Parisian in its modern brightness and gayety. That is why I like it.

[Pg 269]


IMMEDIATELY after luncheon we reembarked in the swift Hirondelle, which was impatiently waiting for us, and started Lausanneward. As in our trip down, we hugged the shore. High up on the hillside we saw the Musée Ariana in its beautiful park. Later we visited it and saw its pictures, its antiquities,—especially interesting the old Genevan pewter-ware, furniture, weapons and stained glass and its still more ancient relics of the Alemanni; nor did we forget the Alpine Garden and other curiosities of the Botanical Park. This is situated directly on the Lausanne highway.

High up also, and affording a magnificent view, stands the Château Rothschild dominating Pregny. Then we rushed by Genthod, the home of Switzerland’s most famous scientists. There was a regular nest of them there. Birds of a feather! not the least of them being the zoölogist François Jules Pictet de la Rive.[Pg 270] I wondered what Raoul Pictet, who did good work in liquefying gases, would think of the latest developments in the use of liquid air. A professor whom I met in Lausanne informed me that it now cost only a half-cent a pound. As it is composed of two liquids, nitrogen and oxygen, which boil at different temperatures, it is easy to eliminate the nitrogen and leave pure oxygen, which, of course, is invaluable in foundries to stimulate a high temperature.

The possibility that the enormous drafts on the nitrogen of the atmosphere for manufacturing nitrates, and which have made some people conjecture that we might ultimately become so excitable through the preponderance of oxygen, need no longer bother us. The nitrogen will go into nitrates all right but the balance will be kept even by the withdrawal of oxygen for blast-furnaces, and all we need fear is that there won’t be any air left. But let us not worry; après nous le vide! The Swiss torrents offer many chances for the electrical manufacture of these liquid gases at small expense.

At Genthod also lived the De Saussures. Will suggested that from their exploits in climbing mountains they should have been named the Snowshoers, a slight change not comparable with that exemplified in his earliest[Pg 271] known ancestor, Mongin Schouel de Saulxures, Grand Falconer to the Duke of Lorraine!

“The illustrious” Horace-Bénédict de Saussure’s father was an authority on farming in its scientific aspects as they were then understood; his mother was the sister-in-law of the naturalist Charles de Bonnet, who, until his eyesight failed him and he had to take to philosophical speculations and to controversy with Voltaire, was interested in studying parthenogenesis, the respiration of insects and leaves, and kindred abstruse subjects. After a truly Rousseauesque education, whereby he was trained to bear hardships and fatigue and all unavoidable inconveniences without complaining, Horace de Saussure became professor of philosophy at Geneva at the age of twenty-two. Two years earlier he had offered a prize to the first person who should find a practicable route to the top of Mont Blanc, though it was then, and for years afterwards, believed to be inaccessible. He had been to the peak of Le Brévent on the other side of the Valley of Chamonix—in itself no small climb for those days at least—and he looked across that tremendous chasm and up to the forbidding white dome of the monarch of mountains, towering almost twice as high, and that intense ambition[Pg 272] to get to the top of the world came over him. He believed it could be accomplished.

For fifteen years no serious attempt was made to win the prize. Then four peasants thought they might do it in a day, but dared not spend the night on the ice and so they came down. In 1783 three chamois hunters spent the night at the Montagne de la Côte, and the following morning started up over the icy slope, but one of them grew sleepy, and as it was regarded as dangerous to sleep on ice and they were afraid of sunstroke they also relinquished the task. One of them told De Saussure that if he tried it again all he would take with him would be a parasol and a bottle of smelling salts! In 1787 De Saussure caused a hut to be built near the Glacier of Bionnassay and tried to win the prize for himself. But it was too late in the season and he had to give it up.

The next attempt was made in August, 1788, by Marc-Théodore Bourrit, called “the Historian of the Alps.” He was a miniature painter. He was also precentor of the Cathedral at Geneva. There was a tradition that it was possible to cross the Alps from Geneva to Turin in thirty-eight hours. Bourrit provided himself with a fourteen-foot ladder, a couple of hatchets, ropes and staves, and started with a[Pg 273] small party. They had a terrible time among the crevasses but reached Courmayeur at ten p. m. He was the first to discover the Col du Géant. He believed Mont Blanc to be inaccessible. He tried it, however, a second time with his son, an Englishman named Woodley and a Dutchman named Kampfer. They had twenty-two guides, nineteen of whom were overcome. He claimed that he got beyond the Camel’s Humps within ten minutes of the top but was prevented by a hurricane from actually reaching it. He gave himself away by declaring that he could see the Mediterranean. He would have had to see it not only through a snow-storm but also through the top. It is now believed that he did not get above the Rochers Rouges. M. Auldjo traced the limitation of vision by a map and showed it was impossible to see the Mediterranean.

The next year partisans of two different routes tried in rivalry to go up from opposite sides. Each party was made up of three men; a fourth, named Jacques Balmat, attached himself to one of them, and, when they deserted him, he continued alone, and by digging steps in the ice along the crest of the Rochers Rouges got within less than three hundred meters of the summit. He realized that if he went alone[Pg 274] no one would believe him; when he managed to retrace his steps and reached the Grand Plateau he was overcome by snow-blindness. He kept his eyes shut for half an hour and his sight returned, but it was growing dark. He was obliged to spend the night where he was. He burrowed into the snow and kept alive.

When he reached Chamonix the next day he was so worn out that he slept twenty-four hours at a stretch. Then he went to the doctor of Chamonix, Michel Paccard, and told him his secret. They determined to try it. They started August 8, 1786, not together but one taking the right bank, the other the left bank of the Arve, so as not to awaken suspicion of their purpose. They camped on the Montagne de la Côte, and the next day attained Les Petits Mulets, about a hundred meters below the tip-top. Here they were nearly blown off the crest by a fierce gust of icy wind. The doctor refused to take another step. People were watching them from the village with a telescope. Balmat went alone to the top, and wigwagged a greeting to the villagers, who answered it. Then he went down and got the doctor by main force to the top. Balmat had practically to drag him down to the valley; the[Pg 275] poor man was completely blinded and half frozen to death.

The next year De Saussure, with Balmat as guide, and a large party, bearing scientific apparatus, successfully reached the summit—the professor dressed in a long-tailed silk coat with huge buttons, which is preserved as a mute witness of the achievement in the De Saussure house at Genthod. Balmat lived to be an old man and was proud of the patent of nobility which the King of Sardinia conferred on him in honour of his feat.

Later, Dr. Paccard forgot what Balmat had done for him and how generously he had shared with him the honour of first conquering the proud monarch, and he began to claim all the credit of the enterprise. He issued a prospectus of a book, which should bring him a reward for his exertions. He promised to give a short history of previous attempts, an account of his own success, and a description of the stones and rocks, the insects, the rare plants, as well as his physical and medical observations, and all necessary notions for those who might wish to visit the glaciers. The subscription price was to be six livres de France for copies on fine paper and four livres, ten sols for copies on ordinary paper. He[Pg 276] very cordially invited persons of a higher class who might desire to join in giving the author a prize for this conquest, and they also were promised a share in some of the curiosities found on Mont Blanc. He succeeded by this means in securing a number of subscribers.

De Saussure did not climb the Alpine mountains for sentimental reasons; his purpose was purely scientific, but occasionally in his writings there are passages of charming freshness and humanity. Once he camped out on the bleak Col du Géant for more than two weeks. He thus describes the last evening:—

“The sixteenth and last evening which we spent on the Col du Géant was ravishingly beautiful. It seemed as if all those lofty summits desired that we should not depart from them without regret. The icy wind which had made the most of the nights so uncomfortable did not blow. The peaks which looked down upon us and the snows lying between them took on the most beautiful tints of rose and of carmine. The whole Italian horizon seemed to wear a zone and the full moon came rising above this zone with queenly majesty and glowing with the most exquisite vermilion. The atmosphere about us had that purity and that[Pg 277] crystalline limidity which Homer attributes to that of Olympus, while the valleys, filled with mists condensing there, seemed the dwelling-place of gloomy shadows.

“But how shall I depict the night that followed this lovely evening, when after the twilight the moon, shining alone in the sky, poured forth the waves of her silvery light over the vast pile of snow and rock surrounding our cabin? What an astonishing and delicious spectacle under the gentle radiance of the luminary of night was made by those very slopes of snow and ice the sight of which is unendurable in the sunlight. What a magnificent contrast those granite crags, darkened and hewed out with so much precision and boldness, made against these glittering snows! What a moment for meditation! How many trials and privations find compensation in such moments! The soul is elevated, the mind seems to cover a wider outlook, and in the midst of this majestic silence you may believe you hear the voice of Nature and become the secret witness of her most hidden works.”

De Saussure’s “Voyages dans les Alpes” are still well worth reading. He was acquainted with most of the great men of his day; Goethe sought him out to ask his advice; the[Pg 278] Duc de La Rochefoucauld, explorer of glaciers, Buffon, David Garrick, Sir William Hamilton and dozens of others were proud of his friendship. In a way, he was the father of modern mountain-climbing. He crossed the Alps by eight different passes and penetrated to parts of the mountains never deemed accessible before his day.

Women began quite early to have aspirations to get to the top of the mountain. In August, 1823, a Mrs. Campbell of London, with her daughter, got to the Col du Géant and tried to reach the summit but failed. In September, 1838, Mlle. Henriette d’Angeville, no longer young, succeeded. It was then regarded as an extraordinary feat. She says she “looked out toward those superb mountains which lifted above the plains and mediocrities of the earth their brows adorned with an eternal splendor;” she was “attracted by their solitude where she might breathe the free pure air of the mighty Alpestrian Nature;” she was bound to climb “on the white carpet of the spotless snows to those glittering peaks which are like luminous altars, the sojourn of joy, of sweetness, of infinite serenity.” Her relatives and friends tried to restrain her but she cried: “If I suffocate, take my body to the top and leave it[Pg 279] there.” She started with seven guides and two porters, and succeeded.

Afterwards she confessed:—“If we had started from the Grands Mulets at four o’clock instead of at two, the ascension would have been a failure and we should have got caught in the tempest; if we had gone back without reaching the summit, they would have made sport of us; if one of my guides had perished I should have been stoned and if I had perished it would have been said: ‘Too bad, but what business had she to get into such a scrape?’”

She has been called “the Bride of Mont Blanc” and it is said of her that “her name shines with fiery brilliancy in the firmament of Alpinism.”

Undoubtedly, if she were living now, she would be the first woman to cross the Alps in an aeroplane, for in 1838 she proposed to go to London to make an ascension in Charles Green’s balloon.

In the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris are three volumes containing fourteen narratives by those travellers who successfully reached the summit between 1786 and 1838, including an account of the supposed discovery of the valley of Chamonix and a history of the Priory,[Pg 280] accompanied by a series of pictures, portraits and original letters, collected by Markham Sherwill, who was the first to put an end to the legend of the discovery of the valley by Windham and Pococke.

The sight of Coppet of course instantly brought to mind Gibbon’s early love and her later residence with her unhappy husband (“the past, the present and the future all odious to him”) and their strong-minded daughter, Madame de Staël. In one of Gibbon’s letters he tells of the report that the Necker had purchased the barony of “Copet” and had found the buildings in great disrepair. He added:—“They have now a very troublesome charge ... the disposal of a Baroness. Mademoiselle Necker, one of the greatest heiresses in Europe, is now about eighteen, wild, vain but good-natured and with a much larger provision of wit than beauty; what encreases their difficulties is their religious obstinacy of marrying her only to a Protestant.”

She had chance to display her wit, for their house, whether at Paris or in Switzerland, was always frequented by distinguished public men and writers. In one of her youthful essays speaking of “La Nouvelle Héloïse” she criticizes[Pg 281] Julie for continually lecturing Saint-Preux: “A guilty woman may love virtue,” she says, “but she should not prate about it.”

She might have been the wife of William Pitt; the Comte de Guibert (to whom Mademoiselle de l’Espinasse wrote such glowing love-letters and whose marriage to another lady broke her heart) was also regarded as a possibility. But finally the choice fell on the Swedish Baron de Staël-Holstein, who was, in consequence of her dowry, raised to the rank of ambassador, but was more heavily laden with debts than with intellect.

At Coppet, while in exile from her beloved Paris, she wrote her romance “Corinne,” and at Coppet she managed to gather about her that circle of wits and admirers which was so essential to her happiness. The German poet and romanticist, August Wilhelm von Schlegel, lived at Madame de Staël’s château for about fourteen years. Byron visited her there; so did George Ticknor of Boston. But Switzerland exercised no spell on Madame de Staël and interesting as her love-affairs are, especially her long liaison with Benjamin Constant de Rebecque, whose cant name was “La Fausseté,” just as Madame de Montolieu’s was “Le Tourbillon” and Gibbon’s was “Neptune”[Pg 282] or her secret marriage with the handsome youth Albert de Rocca, she was only, as it were, a prisoner in sight of the Alps and yearning for her beloved Paris.

Sainte-Beuve, who was for a time a professor at Lausanne, gives a brilliant account of the society which gathered in her salon. He says:—

“What the sojourn at Ferney was for Voltaire, the life at Coppet was for Madame de Staël, but with a more romantic halo round her, it seems to us, more of the grandeur and pomp of life. Both reigned in their exile; Voltaire, in his low flat plain, his secluded, poverty-stricken castle, with a view of despoiled, unshaded gardens, scorned and derided. The influence of Coppet is quite different; it is that of Jean-Jacques continued, ennobled, installed, and reigning amid the same associations as his rival. Coppet counterbalances Ferney, half dethrones it.

“We also, of this younger generation, judge Ferney by comparing it with Coppet, coming down from Coppet. The beauty of its site, the woods which shadow it, the sex of its poet, the air of enthusiasm we breathe there, the elegant company, the glorious names, the walks by the lake, the mornings in the park, the mysteries[Pg 283] and the inevitable storms which we surmise, all contribute to idealize the place for us. Coppet is the Elysium which every disciple of Jean-Jacques would gladly give to the mistress of his dreams....

“The literary and philosophical conversations, always high-toned, clever and witty, began as early as eleven in the morning, when all met at breakfast; and were carried on again at dinner, and in the interval between dinner and supper, which was at eleven at night, and often as late as midnight. Benjamin Constant and Madame de Staël engrossed the conversation.... Their intellects were in accord; they always understood each other.

“But we must not suppose that everyone there was always either sentimental or solemn; very often they were simply gay; Corinne had days of abandon, when she resembled the signora Fantastici. Plays were often acted at Coppet, dramas and tragedies, or the chivalric pieces of Voltaire, ‘Zaïre’ and ‘Tancrède,’ favourites of Madame de Staël’s; or plays composed expressly by her or her friends. These latter were sometimes printed at Paris, so that the parts might more easily be learned; the interest taken in such messages was very keen; and when in the interval some important[Pg 284] correction was thought of, a courier was hurried off, and sometimes a second to catch him up, and modify the correction already en route. The poetry of Europe was represented at Coppet by many celebrated men. Zacharias Werner, one of the originators of that court, whose ‘Attila’ and other dramas were played with a considerable addition of German ladies, wrote about this time (1809) to Counsellor Schneffer:—

“‘Madame de Staël is a queen, and all the intelligent men who live in her circle are unable to leave it, for she holds them by a magic spell. They are not all, as is foolishly believed in Germany, occupied in forming her literary character; on the contrary, they receive a social education at her hands. She possesses to admiration the secret of uniting the most unlikely elements, and all who come near her, however different their opinions may be, agree in adoring this idol. Madame de Staël is of middling height, and, without possessing the elegance of a nymph, is of noble proportions.... She is healthy, a brunette, and her face is not exactly beautiful; but this is not observed, for at sight of her eyes all else is forgotten; they are superb; a great soul not only shines in them, but shoots forth flame and fire. And[Pg 285] when, as so often happens, she speaks straight from her heart, we see how this noble heart is hedged round by all that is great and profound in her mind, and then one must adore her, as do my friends A. W. Schlegel and Benjamin Constant.’

“It is not difficult to imagine to oneself the sprightly author of this picture. Werner, in his uncouth dress, purposely besmeared with snuff, furnished as he was with an enormous snuff-box, which he used plentifully during his long, erotic, and platonic digressions on androgyne; his fate was, he said, to be dragged hither and thither in fruitless search for that other half of himself, and from one attempt to another, from divorce after divorce, he never despaired of, in the end, reconstituting his original self.

“As for portraits of Madame de Staël, we see how all who try to limn her agree in the chief points, from M. de Guibert to [OE]hlenschlæger and Werner. Two faithful and trustworthy portraits from the brush allow us to dispense with literary word-painting,—the portrait painted by Madame Lebrun in 1807, which presents Madame de Staël to us as Corinne, bare-headed, her hair in curls, a lyre in her hand; and the picture by Gérard, painted[Pg 286] after her death, but from perfect, unerring remembrance. However, in collecting together several sketches from various contemporaneous pens, we think we have not done a useless thing; one is never weary of harmonizing many reminiscences of those beloved and admired ones who are no more.

“English poetry, which, during the Continental wars, was unrepresented at this long congress of thought of which Coppet was the abiding-place, appeared there in 1816, in the persons of Lewis and Byron. The latter has spoken of Madame de Staël in his Memoirs in an affectionate and admiring manner, despite a certain levity the oracle indulges in. Blasé as he is, he admits that she has made Coppet the most pleasant place in the world, through the society she chooses to receive there, and which her own talent animates. On her side, she pronounced him to be the most seductive man in England, always adding: ‘I credit him with just sufficient tenderness to destroy the happiness of a woman.’”

Higher and higher grow the shores of the lake. We left Coppet and its memories of that brilliant and unhappy genius behind and were soon skirting Nyon, which the Romans knew as[Pg 287] Noviodunum. Now that name is most interesting. It contains in it the noun dun which as a Saxon word means a hill and is seen in its simplest form in the expression, sand-dunes; it also appears as “downs;” but it is also a Keltic word and means a fortified hill; both Saxon and Keltic words are etymologically the same as ton or town. Cæsar made it a garrison forty-five years before Christ and called it Colonia Equestris.

There is often a wonderful germ of history hidden away in proper names. Who would ever dream that the little town of Gstaad which, of course, is the same as Gestade, meaning shore or bank, represents its ancient Latin name of Ripa Barbarorum? In the same way the Roman Mons Saccarum was pronounced by the Germans Masox or Meysachs, the Rhetii called it Misanc and from that came the name of the Barons of Misaucus who inhabited a magnificent castle built before the middle of the Tenth Century. The Germans call the Italian the Wälsche, which is the same as calling them Welch, meaning strangers; that name is seen in the town of Wahlenstadt and in the people Walloons. Vaud itself means Valli, which is Walli, the same as Welch. So Montigl is monticulus, a little mountain; Rinegg is[Pg 288] Rheni angulum, a bend of the Rhine; Gräppelen comes from c zappa longa, meaning long rocks.

There is a pretty little French characterization of Nyon in four lines. It reads:—

“A Nyon, la riante ville
Qui se dresse sur son coteau,
Avec ses murs, son vieux château,
Le lac est bleu d’un bleu tranquille.”

We passed under it, but could see its stately castle crowned with a multitude of spiry towers. From its terrace there is a splendid view across to the pearly pyramid of Mont Blanc. The castle has walls ten feet thick, but is now used as a museum. Next we catch a glimpse of the Château de Prangins, where Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s oldest brother, lived, caring more for a scholarly and agricultural life than to be king of turbulent Spaniards. The two torrents rushing down from the Jura, the Promenthoux and the Aubonne, have thrust their cones out into the lake and given room for pretty villages.

Byron, returning from a walking expedition, stopped at Aubonne “which,” he says, “commands by far the fairest view of the Lake of[Pg 289] Geneva; twilight; the Moon on the Lake; a grove on the height, and of very noble trees. Here Tavernier (the Eastern traveler) bought (or built) the Château, because the site resembled and equalled that of Erivan (a frontier city of Persia); and here he finished his voyages.”

There is a lovely bay between the two “cones” and the shore bears the distinctive name of La Côte; it is famous for its delicious grapes and excellent white wine. The now distant shore of Savoy swims in a delicate haze; over the water, just ruffled by a gentle breeze, curl those curious smooth-looking streaks which are called “fontaines” and are supposed to be caused by minute particles of oil, though some attribute them to subterranean springs.

It was growing late in the afternoon and the shores of the lake are not so interesting, that is not so bold, after passing Rolle and its precious island, and we cut across from Saint-Prex to Saint Sulpice, leaving Morges for another time, though its old castle looked enticing from the distance.

It was pleasant to get home again.

[Pg 290]


I CAN see the importance of a knowledge of geology as a basis for the study of history. How do valleys run—north and south or east and west? This inclination conditions sunlight. Where the rocks are hard and impervious there are many small streams; but in a fissured district of chalky rock as in the Jura there are few torrents. There is almost no water in the regions of the upper Jurassic rocks and no temptations for settlers. But the lower and middle Jura, rich in marl, offers excellent pasturage. The grass grows sparse but sweet where the cretaceous rocks have crumbled. Where the sun shines bright and warm and there is shelter from cold winds the vine is cultivated.

Poor ignorant man, wandering up into valleys where the limestone of the hard water will give all his descendants the goître, or building[Pg 291] his habitation under a precipice where the whole side of the mountain will slide down on him and overwhelm him, as happened at Val Bregaglia in 1618 when Monte Conto wiped out most of the 2,000 inhabitants of Piuro! How can a country like Switzerland, made up of so many scores of valleys each different in characteristic and each conditioning the inhabitants,—here making them taciturn, there gay and thoughtless, here again honest and religious, there sly and untrustworthy,—how can it have any real political unity?

The next morning, after breakfast, I went into the library and picked up a copy of Addison’s “Travels through Switzerland.” One sentence begins:—“I made a little voyage round the lake and touched on the several towns that lie on its coasts, which took up near five days, though the wind was pretty fair for us all the while.” He was referring to the Lake of Geneva. As usual with me, I copied a few paragraphs into my diary. I like to do that with letters or books. Often one can find just the description one wants and save making an original one. I was amused at one thing in Addison. He introduces classical poems whenever he can with his own translations and sometimes[Pg 292] he forgets to put them à propos, so he adds them at the end of his chapter.

“Near St. Julian in Savoy the Alps begin to enlarge themselves on all sides and open into a vast circuit of ground, which, in respect of the other parts of the Alps, may pass for a plain champagne country. This extent of lands, with the Leman Lake, would make one of the prettiest and most defensible dominions in Europe, was it all thrown into a single state and had Geneva for its metropolis. But there are three powerful neighbors who divide among them the greatest part of this fruitful country. The Duke of Savoy has the Chablais and all the fields that lie beyond the Arve as far as to the Ecluse. The King of France is master of the whole country of Gex; and the Canton of Bern comes in for that of Vaud.

“Geneva and its little territories lie in the heart of these three states. The greatest part of the town stands upon a hill and has its view bounded on all sides by several ranges of mountains, which are, however, at so great a distance that they leave open a wonderful variety of beautiful prospects. The situation of these mountains has some particular effects on the country which they inclose. At first they cover it from all winds except the south and north.[Pg 293] It is to the last of these winds that the inhabitants of Geneva ascribe the healthfulness of their air; for as the Alps surround them on all sides they form a vast kind of bason, where there would be a constant stagnation of vapors, the country being so well watered, did not the north wind put them in motion and scatter them from time to time.

“Another effect the Alps have on Geneva is that the sun here rises later and sets sooner than it does to other places of the same latitude. I have often observed that the tops of the neighboring mountains have been covered with light above half an hour after the sun is down in respect of those who live at Geneva.

“These mountains likewise very much increase their summer heats and make up an horizon that has something in it very singular and agreeable. On one side you have the long tract of hills that goes under the name of Mount Jura, covered with vineyards and pasturage, and on the other huge precipices of naked rocks rising up in a thousand odd figures and cleft in some places so as to discover high mountains of snow that lie several leagues behind them. Toward the south the hills rise more insensibly and leave the eye a vast uninterrupted prospect of many miles. But the most beautiful view of[Pg 294] all is the lake and the borders of it that lie north of the town.

“This lake resembles a sea in the color of its waters, the storms that are raised on it and the ravages it makes on its banks. It receives too a different name from the coast it washes and in summer has something like an ebb and flow which arises from the melting of the snows that fall into it more copiously at noon than at other times of the day. It has four different states bordering on it: the Kingdom of France, the Duchy of Savoy, the Canton of Bern and the Republic of Geneva.”

Addison spent a day at Lausanne, which he calls the greatest town on the lake after Geneva, and he saw “the wall of the cathedral church that was opened by an earthquake and shut again some years after by a second.” But Addison adds:—“The crack can but be just discerned at present though there are several in the town still living who have formerly passed through it.”

Addison’s compliment to the Almighty in letting the Rhône run as it does is quite amusing. He says: “As I have seen the great part of the course of this river I cannot but think it has been guided by the particular hand of Providence.... Had such a river as this been[Pg 295] left to itself to have found its way out from among the Alps, whatever windings it had made it must have formed several little seas and have laid many countries under water before it had come to the end of its course.”

Addison went to Nyon, where he says he observed in the walls of several houses the fragments of the vast Corinthian pillars with several other pieces of architecture which must have formerly belonged to some very noble pile of building.

Will and I went to Nyon a few days after our return from Geneva and we went into the château, where there is now an interesting museum of antiquities. The walls of the building are at least three meters in thickness.

From Nyon we drove in the car through Trélex, Saint-Cergue, as far as the Château de Vuarnen; from there we walked to the summit of La Dôle. We chose our day and our time and had as perfect a view as one could desire. It stands about twelve hundred and forty meters above the sea but it might be rather lonely for a continued residence; for that I should perhaps choose the Château de Monnetier, within jumping distance of Geneva.

Here is Goethe’s account of his ascent of La Dôle. It was a more unusual exploit in his[Pg 296] day, and it is interesting as showing what an effect the spell of the Alps had on the great German poet. I translated it for my diary, but, of course, I left out a few unessential passages:—

“The weather was very clear; when we looked around we had a view of the Lake of Geneva, the mountains of Savoy and of Valais; we could make out Lausanne and, through a faint mist, also the region of Geneva. Mont Blanc, which towers above all the mountains of the Faucigni, grew ever more and more distinct. The sun was sinking undimmed; it was such a great prospect that a human eye cannot grasp it. The moon, almost full, arose and we also kept mounting. Through forest of fir-trees we climbed up toward the Jura and saw the lake in the vaporous atmosphere and the moon reflected in it. It grew brighter and brighter. The road is a well-constructed chaussée only built to facilitate the transportation of wood from the mountains down into the country.

“We had been climbing a good three hours when it gradually began to descend again. We thought that we were looking down on a large lake below us, because a thick mist filled the whole valley over which we could look. At last we came quite near it and saw the white bow which the moon made in it and then we were wholly enveloped in it.”


They spent the night in a comfortable house and the next day continued their journey into the Jura, which he explains is a word from a local term, joux, meaning a crag or mountain. The next day they proceeded on their way. It was the twenty-fourth of October, 1779.

“It was a clear, cool morning; there was hoar frost on the meadows; here and there light mist-wreaths were drifting over; we could see fairly well over the lower part of the valley; our house lay at the foot of the Western Noir Mont. About eight o’clock we set forth on horseback, and in order to enjoy the sun at once we rode toward the west. The part of the valley where we were proceeding consists of fenced meadows which toward the lake become rather swampy. The Orbe flows through the center of it. The inhabitants have established themselves in single houses partly on its banks, partly in clustering villages which bear simple names suggested by their situation. The first one which we passed through was Le Sentier. From afar we saw La Dent de Baulion smiling across a fog bank which hung over the lake. The valley widened; we came behind a crag which hid the lake from us and entered[Pg 297]
[Pg 298]
another village called Le Lieu; the fog was rising and then settling down again before the sun.

“Near here is a little lake which seems to have neither inflow nor outflow. The weather became perfectly clear and as we reached the foot of the Dent de Baulion we found here the northerly end of a large lake which, as it turns toward the west, has its outlet into the little one through a dam over which is built a bridge. The village above it is called Le Pont. The lay of the little lake is, as it were, in its own little valley, which one might call a very neat arrangement. At the western end is a noteworthy mill constructed in a cleft of the rock which once the little lake filled. Now it is dammed away and the mill is built over the chasm. The water runs through sluices to the millwheels and from there dashes down into the clefts of the rocks, where it is swallowed up, and a mile away joins the Valorbe, where it once more takes the name of the upper stream.

“These sluices (entonniers) have to be kept clear, else the water would rise and fill up the cleft again and drown the mill, as has happened more than once. Men were busy at work, some removing the decomposed limestone, some strengthening the structure.

[Pg 299]

“We rode back over the bridge to Le Pont and took a guide to La Dent. As we mounted we had a fine view of the large lake below us in its whole extent. To the eastward Le Noir Mont forms its boundary; behind that the bald head of the Dôle comes into sight; to the westward the precipitous crags, quite naked toward the lake, confine it.

“The sun grew hot; it was between eleven and noon. Gradually we began to get a prospect over the whole valley and could recognize in the distance Le Lac des Rousses, and coming up to our feet the region through which we had been riding and the road which still remained for us to accomplish. As we mounted higher we talked about the vast extent of land and of the rulers which could be distinguished from that height and with such thoughts we attained the summit; but another drama was there prepared for us. Only the lofty mountain chains were visible under a clear and cheerful sky; all the regions below were bedecked with a white woolly sea of fog which stretched from Geneva northward to the very horizon and gleamed in the sun. Out of this to the east arose the whole unbroken range of snow and ice-covered mountains, without respect to the names of the nations and princes who lay claim[Pg 300] to the possession of them, subjected only to one great Overlord and to the glance of the sun, which painted them a lovely rosy hue.

“Mont Blanc over opposite to us was evidently the highest; the ice-mountains of Valais and of the Oberland came next and finally closed in the lower mountain of the Canton of Bern. Toward the west in one place the sea of fog was unbounded; to the left in the farthest distance the mountains of Solothurn showed themselves; nearer still those of Neuchâtel; directly before us a few of the lower peaks of the Jura; below us lay some of the houses of Baulion whereto La Dent belongs and whence it gets the name. Toward the west the whole horizon is shut off by the Franche-Comté with a stretch of low wooded mountains, one of which stood out quite alone by itself toward the northwest. In front was a lovely view.

“Here is the sharp point which gives this peak the name of a tooth. It slopes down steeply and, if anything, bends inward a little; in the depths a little fir-wood valley with fine grassy meadows is shut in; directly beyond lies the valley called Valorbe, where one can see the Orbe springing from the rocks and follow in imagination its downward course under the ground to the little lake.

[Pg 301]

“The village of Valorbe also lies in this valley.

“Reluctantly we turned to descend. If we could have waited a few hours longer, until the fog in accordance with its custom should have entirely dissipated, we should have been able to distinguish the country still farther down the lake; but in order that enjoyment may be perfect there must still be something left to be desired. Looking down we had the whole valley in all distinctness before us; at Pont we mounted our horses, rode along the easterly side of the lake, came through l’Abbaye de Joux, which is now a village, but was formerly the seat of the monks to whom the whole valley belonged. About four o’clock we reached our quarters and found a meal which our hostess assured us had been good at midday but which we found tasted remarkably good.”

For their return they decided to make the ascent of the second highest peak of the Jura, the Dôle, though it was then supposed to be the highest.

“We packed a luncheon of cheese, butter, bread and wine and started away about eight o’clock. Our route took us now through the upper part of the valley under the shadow of Le Noir Mont. It was very cold; there had[Pg 302] been a hoar frost and it had frozen; we had still an hour to ride in the Bernese territory where the chaussée, which has just been completed, comes to an end. We entered French territory, passing through a small fir forest. Here the scene abruptly changes. What first struck our attention was the bad roads. The ground is very stony; great heaps of rocks lay all about; then again for a space it is very swampy and full of springs; the forests all about are in bad condition; the houses and inhabitants have the appearance not exactly of destitution but still of very straitened circumstances. They are almost in the condition of serfs to the Canonici of Saint Claude; they are bound to the soil; many imposts are laid upon them....

“Yet this part of the valley is also a good deal built up. The natives work hard to support themselves and yet they love their country; they are in the habit of stealing the wood from the Bernese peasants and of selling it again in the country. The first district is called Le Bois d’Amont and we passed through this into the parish of Les Rousses, where we saw lying before us the little Lake des Rousses and Les Sept Moncels—seven little connected hills of varied forms, the southern boundary of the valley. We soon came to the new road which[Pg 303] leads from the Pays de Vaud toward Paris. We followed it for a while downwards and were soon out of our valley. The bald head of La Dôle lay before us. We dismounted; our horses proceeded along the road to Saint-Cergues, and we kept on our way up La Dôle.

“It was about noon; the sun seemed hot but a cool midday wind was blowing. When, in order to get breath, we turned around to look, we had Les Sept Moncels behind us; we could still see a part of Le Lac des Rousses and built around it the scattered houses of the parish. Le Noir Mont hid from us all the rest of the valley; mounting higher we once more saw the same prospect over La Franche-Comté and nearer to us the last mountains and valleys of the Jura toward the south. We took great pains to avoid allowing some turn in the ascent to give us a prospect of the region for the sake of which we were actually climbing the mountain. I was somewhat troubled by the fog; yet I made favorable prognostications from the aspect of the sky above.

“At last we attained the topmost peak and beheld with the greatest delight that what had been denied us the day before was now vouchsafed to us. The whole Pays de Vaud and Pays de Gex lay before us like a map; all the landed[Pg 304] estates with green hedges marked off like the beds of a parterre. We were so high that the heights and depressions of the country in the foreground did not appear. Villages, towns, châteaux, vineyards, and higher up, where forest and Alps begin, châlets, for the most part painted white and bright, shone in the sun. The fog had lifted entirely from Lake Leman; we could see the nearer shore clearly; we entirely looked over the so-called Petit Lac, where the great lake narrows and draws toward Geneva, which lay directly opposite us, and the country beyond, shutting it in, began to disclose itself. Above all, however, the prospect of the ice and snow-mountains asserted its rights.

“We protected ourselves from the cold blast by the shelter of the rocks and let the sun pour down directly upon us; food and drink tasted excellently good! We looked down on the fog as it gradually dispersed; each of us discovered something, or claimed to discover something. Gradually Lausanne began to show with all its châteaux; Vevey and the Castle of Chillon came out distinctly; the mountains that shut us off from sight of the entrance to Valais, sloping down into the lake; from there along the Savoy coast—Evian, Ripaille, Thonon; villages and châteaux, all[Pg 305] clustered together; Geneva came finally out of the fog at the right; but farther toward the south, toward Le Mont Crédo and Mont Vuache, where the Fort l’Ecluse lies hidden, it still lingered.

“When we turned to the left again, then the whole country from Lausanne as far as Solothurn lay in a faint haze. The nearer mountains and heights, wherever there were white houses, could be easily recognized; some one pointed out to us the Castle of Chanvan as it lay gleaming at the left by the Lake of Neuburg, and we could make out its situation, but the castle itself we could not distinguish in the blue haze.

“Words fail to describe the magnitude and beauty of this view; at such a moment one is scarcely conscious of gazing; one only calls out the names and lofty forms of well-known cities and places and rejoices in an intoxicating recognition that those white spots before one’s eyes are the places themselves.

“And the ranges of gleaming ice-mountains kept attracting the eye and the soul. The sun turned more toward the west and illuminated their mighty sides. What black shoulders of rock, teeth, towers and walls in multifold ranks swept up from the lake before them! forming[Pg 306] wild, monstrous, impenetrable vestibules! As they lie there in their purity and clarity, manifold in the free air, one willingly yields all pretentions to the infinite, since one can never be done with the finite in contemplation and thought (Anschauen und Gedanken).

“Before us we saw a fruitful inhabited land; the soil on which we were standing, a high, bald mountain, still bears grass, fodder for cattle, from which man draws sustenance. This the conceited Lord of the World can claim as his own; but those mountains yonder are like a holy array of virgins whom the Spirit of Heaven cherishes in inaccessible regions for himself alone in everlasting chastity.

“We stayed there, in eager rivalry, striving now with the naked eye, now with the telescope, to make out cities, mountains and localities, and we did not start to descend until the sun in its waning again allowed the fog to spread its evening breath over the lake. Just at sunset we came to the ruins of Le Fort de Saint-Cergues. Even down below in the valley our eyes were still fastened upon the ice-mountains far across. The farthest away, at the left in the Oberland, seemed to be melting in a thin fiery vapor; those nearest still stood with well-marked red sides facing us; gradually[Pg 307] they grew white, green, grey. It looked almost disquieting. As a mighty body dies from without in toward the heart, so all of them slowly grew pale up toward Mont Blanc, whose broad bosom still glowed rosy and seemed to preserve for us a reddish glow.

“At last reluctantly now we had to take our departure. We found the horses at Saint-Cergues and, in order that there might be nothing lacking, the moon rose and gave us light on our way to Nyon, while, as we rode, our excited senses once more grew calm and assumed their wonted tone, so that we were able with fresh enjoyment to find pleasure in looking out of the windows of our inn on the wide spreading reflection of the moon in the perfectly unruffled lake.”

It makes one realize the flight of time to read a little farther on of Goethe’s visit to the illustrious De Saussure, through whose initiative the ascent of Mont Blanc was accomplished nearly seven years later. Goethe wanted to assure himself that it was feasible so late in the season to go from Geneva by way of Cluse and Salanches into the Valley of Chamonix and from there by way of Valorsine and Trient into Martinach in the Valais. De Chaussure encouraged[Pg 308] him to do so, and in company still with the Duke Charles Augustus of Weimar he made his famous trip which included a visit to Sion and the peak of the Saint-Gothard.

Just a hundred years after Gray and sixty years after Goethe penetrated these mountains still another great poet enriched his imagination by experiences in the Alps. Curiously enough all three of them related their adventures and their sensations in the form of letters. Victor Hugo was at Geneva and at Lausanne in September. He had been at Lucerne, at Bern and upon the Rigi. He, too, was impressed by the wonders of the Alpine mists. He, too, describes a sunset:—

“At this moment the abyss was growing magnificent. The sun was going down behind the notched crest of Pilatus. Its rays rested only on the highest summits of all the mountains and its level rays lay across these monstrous pyramids like golden architraves.

“All the mighty valleys of the Alps were filling with mists; it was the hour when eagles and Lämmergeier seek their eyries.

“I had stepped forward to the edge of the precipice above which rises the cross and from which Goldau is visible. I was alone, with my back turned toward the sunset. I know not [Pg 309]what the others were looking at; what I saw was sublime enough for me.


“The immense cone of shadow projected by the Rigi, clearly outlined by its edges and, because of the distance, free from any visible penumbra, gradually mounted, rock by rock, tree by tree, the steep side of the Rossberg. The shadow mountain was devouring the sunlight mountain. This vast dark triangle, the base of which was lost beneath the Rigi and the apex of which was each instant coming nearer and nearer the summit of the Rossberg, has already embraced Art, Goldau, ten valleys, ten villages, half of the Lake of Zug and the whole Lake of Lowerz. Clouds of reddish copper color floated across it and changed into pewter. In the depths of the ravine Art floated in a twilight glow starred here and there by lighted windows. Already poor women were sewing down there by their lighted lamps. Art lives in the night; the sun sets for its inhabitants at two o’clock.

“A moment later the sun had disappeared, the wind blew cold, the mountains were grey. Not a cloud was in the sky. The Rigi had become solitary once more, with a boundless blue sky arching above.

“In one of my earlier letters I spoke of[Pg 310] ‘these granite waves called Alps.’ I had no idea I had hit it so accurately. The image which came into my mind appeared to me in all its vividness on the summit of the Rigi after the sun had gone down. These mountains are really billows, but giant billows. They have all the forms of the sea; there are green, dark swells, which are the crests covered with evergreens; blond and earthy seas, which are the granite slopes gilded with lichens; on the loftiest undulations the snow is torn off and falls in masses into black ravines as the foam does. You might think you saw a mighty ocean solidified in the midst of a tempest by the breath of Jehovah.

“What would become of the horizon and the mind of man should these enormous billows be suddenly set in motion again?”

[Pg 311]


A SMALL boulder rolling down into a river may quite change its course. The sand begins immediately to bank up against it; the current is insensibly turned away toward the other side, and from where the boulder began to build a whole new area of intervale may in time spread its bright green pasturage.

Such a boulder was Dr. Tissot in Swiss life. He was not by any means the first Lausanne physician to attract patients from abroad. In the Sixteenth Century a Jean Volat de Chambéry, after having been a Protestant minister at Lonay, practised medicine and became famous, and in 1543 Jacques Blécheret was named médecin to the city. But all before or since were insignificant compared to the great Dr. Tissot, whom a well-known lady of his day in her enthusiasm called the god of medicine. My nephew declared that his very name carried with it a sound of infallibility—which was certainly[Pg 312] subtle. He brought me a copy of Tissot’s famous book: “Avis au Peuple sur sa Santé.” The first edition came out in August, 1761, and it was soon translated into German, Dutch, Flemish, English, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Hungarian, Russian, Spanish and Polish. It was dedicated “Aux très-illustres, très-nobles, et magnifiques Seigneurs les Seigneurs Presidens et Conseilers de la Chambre de Santé de la Ville et Republique de Berne.”

It was a vade mecum for people who lived far from doctors. “Il faut seigner” was one of his prescriptions: in those days they resorted to heroic measures; vésicatoires—whether made with Spanish flies or not does not appear—were recommended for sore eyes; Hofmann’s drops for catarrhal fevers, stomach-cramps, colds and bronchitis. Every one talked about Tissot and his remedies. He had them drink mineral waters, especially recommending those of Rolle which he said had a styptic taste and were “bonne pour obstructions du foie et de rate, les galles, dartres, et autres maux de la peau.” He gave excellent advice about cleanliness and fresh air.

It was needed in those days, for if quackery is rampant in this our day of grace, how much more flagrant was it then. Some of the remedies[Pg 313] were amazing. Here is a decoction warranted to restore the vital forces and animate the mind: It is made up of aloes from the island of Socotora, a gross of Zodoaire, a gross each of gentian, safran, fine rhubarb, thériaque de Venise; all which when compounded was to be powdered, sifted through a parchment sieve; then when it should have fermented nine days in the shade, shaken night and morning, it was to be put into a pint of brandy. Another doctor claimed to cure the stone by a dose of tartines de miel for breakfast and supper; that sounds more appetizing than a decoction of Italian scorpions. Madame de Sévery had an attack of nerves: Dr. Tissot gave her for this unpleasant malady a bitter bouillon made of dandelion, chicory and soapwort. But his chief recommendation was to eat slowly and chew carefully—an anticipation of Fletcherism.

Auguste Tissot, of an old Italian family which came to Vaud in 1400, was born at Grancy in March, 1728. He was educated at l’Isle by his uncle, a Protestant pastor. Then he studied medicine at Montpellier, and early won a reputation by his skill in curing smallpox. He was a pronounced advocate of inoculation and wrote a book about it. He became a professor at Lausanne in 1766 and both the[Pg 314] King of Poland and Maria Theresa tried in vain to woo him away to be their court physician. George III wanted him in England. Napoleon wrote him about his gouty uncle. He attended Frederic the Great in his last illness. Venice offered him a chair in the University of Padua. Finally, through the friendly offices of the Emperor Joseph II, whom he had cured, he was induced to become a professor in Pavia, where he gave lectures in Latin for two years and then resigned to return to his beloved Lausanne. After his death in 1797 the Pavians erected a monument to him. Angelica Kauffman at Rome painted the portrait of him which is still at the Château de Crissier. The picture portrays him with gallooned buttons; he holds a pen in his hand and his mouth is slightly parted. Under an engraved portrait of him is this stanza:—

“Son cœur chérit l’humanité,
Son esprit le guide et l’éclaire;
Profond dans ses secrets, en instruisant la terre
Il vole à l’immortalité.”

He married a daughter of the learned Professor d’Apples de Charrière, who brought him only four thousand livres.

[Pg 315]

Tissot was the magnet that attracted the magnates. They came from all lands and were of every rank:—“the Englishes” came, haughty lords and ladies of high degree; French financiers, to say nothing of ducs and vicomtes; German princes and kings and emperors in state or incog. The streets, narrow, and not at that time well fitted for carriages, were often blocked, and lively scenes took place; postilions would be swearing in every known tongue, children squealing, horses falling and threatening to roll down to Ouchy, whips cracking, and, as always, the small boy taking great delight in the excitement. One day an Irish prelate came in an equipage of three six-horse coaches, preceded by many lackeys; then arrived a Russian princess with hard face, witty and cultivated, speaking all languages. Some one tried to point out to her the beauty of the view; elle méprisait tout.

Another of his patients was la Comtesse de Brionne, widow of the Prince Louis de Lorraine, beloved by the Duc de Choiseul; she stayed in Lausanne a long time with her son, the Prince de Lambesc. Another was the Countess Potocka, regarded as the loveliest woman in the world and rousing wonder and admiration by her extraordinary head-dresses,[Pg 316] one of which was compared to the beautiful city of Lausanne—with its three hills, la cité en aigrette, La Rue du Pré represented by the parting in the middle, the Faubourgs de Saint-François and d’Estraz by the two papillons or butterfly arrangements and the Rue de Bourg by a ribbon.

In 1792 the Princess Alexander Liubomirska came. Her maître d’hôtel was overheard uttering some impertinences about the government and the bailiff had him arrested and put into jail. The princess was wrathful and uttered worse impertinences, declaring that the country was governed by tyrants. M. d’Erlach, who was really a great wit and quite broad-minded, remarked that in a tête-à-tête he could bear any sort of reproaches from a pretty woman but devant le monde—that was another matter.

He gave the princess orders to leave town within twenty-four hours. She hastened to Paris vowing that she would raise an army and come back to avenge herself and her outraged maître d’hôtel.

Prince Gregory Orlof, the favourite of Catharine the Great, came with a suite of twenty-one, and his wife, the Princess Orlova-Zinovieva, who in spite of the doctor’s remedies[Pg 317] died there and was buried in the Cathedral. In 1782 the Duke of Gloucester, brother to George III, came with a numerous suite and the asthma. He swore he would give an arm or a leg to be free of it. He was very ill-favoured but good-natured. His morganatic wife was with him—a tall, handsome, cold-looking lady—also a little girl of nine and as a companion to her a Lady Carpenter who was also haughty and handsome, with a mouthful of superb teeth which she liked to show when she laughed. The Grand Duke Paul of Russia came as Comte du Nord and put up at the Lion d’Or Inn with his wife Marya Feodorovna, Princesse de Würtemberg. As a special favour it was permitted to see them eat. That was a part of the menagerie of royalty. They went up to Le Signal where they had luncheon like ordinary mortals, and they slept at Vevey. In 1782 the Princesse de Courland, first wife of the much married Pierre de Courland, died at Mon Repos, much regretted for her charity and the lavish expenditure in which she indulged. She, too, was buried in the Cathedral. Another of Dr. Tissot’s patients was the terrible dandy Baron Auget de Montyon, intendant to the Duc d’Auvergne. Years afterwards he founded the Montyon prizes for a virtue which he did not[Pg 318] possess. Of course Dr. Tissot was frequently called in to assuage the discomforts caused by Gibbon’s “ebullitions” of the gout.

In Eynard’s “Life of Tissot” there is an amusing account of Gibbon’s dancing the minuet:—

“A German highly educated, but naturally ardent and enthusiastic, presented himself, furnished with excellent letters of recommendation, to one of our professors at Lausanne, and expressed to him his desire to make the acquaintance of the immortal author of the ‘Avis au Peuple.’ The professor was going that evening to visit Madame de Chavrière, who received the most agreeable people of Lausanne. He proposed to the gentleman to introduce him there; it was in the country.

“At the moment when they arrived at Madame de Chavrière’s the company had just been playing games and were paying the forfeits. One of the company was playing on a violin, while a gentleman of remarkable corpulence appeared to be searching the room for something he could not find. At length the violin gave forth louder sounds, and the stout gentleman—it was no less a personage than the illustrious Gibbon—came and took the hand of M. Tissot, whose figure, tall, dignified, and cold,[Pg 319] formed the most complete contrast with his own. But this was not enough; the violin continued to play, and they were both obliged to dance several figures of a minuet, to the great delight of the whole assemblage. It was the payment of a forfeit due from Gibbon, whose jovial temperament readily lent itself to this form of pleasantry.

“But the German whose sensibility and emotion at this spectacle had been plainly visible did not realize what it meant. The following year there was great astonishment at Lausanne to learn that he had taken it all seriously and that in the account of his travels which he had just printed, he cited as one of the most remarkable of his experiences the advantage of having seen the celebrated historian of Rome and the illustrious philanthropist, the benefactor of humanity, intertwining dances and harmonious steps, thus recalling the beautiful days of Arcadia, all whose antique virtues and simplicity they possessed.”

It is evident that Tissot was not only the physician to all these great people; they were proud to own him as a friend. And since most of his friends and patients were rich his rivals charged him with being a charlatan and occupied only in making money. He did make[Pg 320] money, and some of his titled patients sent him splendid presents.

Among the most interesting of M. Tissot’s fair consultants was the lively and piquante Madame de Genlis who arrived at Lausanne with her father-in-law. She spent nearly a fortnight under his care, but the fêtes, the balls, the concerts at which she displayed her charming voice, and played the harp, the sails on the lake, the trips across to La Meillerie, and a multitude of other dissipations might well have undone all the doctor’s prescriptions. But they were for her mother not for her. Madame de Genlis had long sworn by his medical book. She tells in her memoirs how she practised, in an amateur way, on or among the villagers. M. Racine, the barber, always came to consult with her whenever any one was ill.

“We went together to visit them,” she says. “My prescriptions were confined to simple teas and broths which I usually sent from the château. I was at least instrumental in moderating the zeal of M. Racine for the emetics which he prescribed for almost every ill. I had perfected myself in the art of bleeding; the peasants often came and asked me to bleed them which I did; but as it was known that I always gave them from twenty-four to thirty sous after[Pg 321] a bleeding, I soon had a great number of patients and I suspected that they were attracted by the thirty sous.”

She gives an entertaining account of her arrival at Lausanne, where, as she was sitting in her carriage, wearily waiting for her servant to find lodgings, the young Prince of Holstein recognized her and introduced her to Madame de Crousaz, the authoress, who procured for her at the house of her father-in-law, M. de Crousaz, “charming rooms with an enchanting view of the Lake of Geneva.”

[Pg 322]


WHILE I was reading about Madame de Genlis after breakfast one morning, Ruth came into the library and we talked about the advantage of foreign travel. Does the broadening effect come from seeing new scenes or does it proceed from the intercourse which it favours with men and women of entirely different habits and modes of thought?

I said that my belief was that a person living in an isolated country town, by reading books of travel, especially those furnished with illustrations, and by attending “moving-picture shows,” might attain to as complete a knowledge of any given foreign country as he would by merely travelling through it armed with a Baedecker. The generality of travellers carry with them the individual aura of their own conceit which is quite impermeable to new ideas, and what they have seen does not soak into their inner consciousness at all. But for[Pg 323] the average person, if there be such a person, stay-at-home travel is more advantageous than actual peregrinations. Rushing from one country to another or from one place to another is not seeing a country.

Ruth called my attention to what Lord Bacon said about travel. In his day “the grand tour” was the culmination of a young nobleman’s education, and Italy was the goal. Switzerland was merely an obstacle on the way, to be crossed with more or less discomfort and with little thought of its picturesqueness. Ruth took down a handsome edition of the “Essays” and turned to the one which treats of this subject and read it aloud to me.

It was not in accordance with his scheme to fill the mind with pictures of beautiful scenery, though he realized that for young men it is a part of education and for their elders a part of experience. He says:—“He that travelleth into a country before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school and not to travel.” He would not object for young men to travel provided they take a tutor who knows languages and “may be able to tell them what things are worthy to be seen in the country where they go, what acquaintances they are to seek, what exercises or discipline the place[Pg 324] yieldeth; for else young men shall go hooded and look abroad little.”

He believed in keeping diaries. He tells us that the things to be seen and observed are:—“the courts of princes, especially when they give audience to ambassadors; the courts of justice, while they sit and hear causes; and so of consistories ecclesiastic; the churches and monasteries, with the monuments which are therein extant; the walls and fortifications of cities and towns; and so the havens and harbors, antiquities and ruins, libraries, colleges, disputations and lectures where any are; shipping and navies; houses and gardens of state and pleasure, near great cities; armories, arsenals, magazines, exchanges, burses, warehouses, exercises of horsemanship, fencing, training of soldiers and the like; comedies, such whereunto the better sort of persons do resort; treasuries of jewels and robes; cabinets and rarities; and to conclude, whatsoever is memorable in the places where they go, after all which the tutors or servants ought to make diligent inquiry. As for triumphs, masks, feasts, weddings, funerals, capital executions and such shows, men need not to be put in mind of them; yet they are not to be neglected.”

He did not believe in staying long in any one[Pg 325] city or town; but “more or less as the place deserveth, but not long,” nor staying in any one part of a town: “Let him change his lodging from one end and part of the town to another, which is a great adamant of acquaintance.” And he advised “sequestering himself from the company of his countrymen and diet in such places where there is good company of the nation where he travelleth.” Acquaintance was the thing to cultivate, especially secretaries and attachés or, as Bacon called them, “employed men of ambassadors,” and the reason for this was that he might “suck the experience of many.”

“When a traveller returneth home,” he says in conclusion, “let him not leave the countries where he hath travelled altogether behind him, but maintain a correspondence by letter with those of his acquaintance which are of most worth; and let his travel appear rather in his discourse than in his apparel or gesture, and in his discourse let him be rather advised in his answers than forward to tell stories, and let it appear that he doth not change his country manners for those of foreign parts but only prick in some flowers of that he hath learned abroad into the customs of his own country.”

I remarked that Ralph Waldo Emerson[Pg 326] found to his disappointment on his first trip abroad that he could not rid himself of himself. It was the same Emerson in Rome, in Paris and in London, as in Boston. How much would travel do for such a man? The great philosopher, Immanuel Kant, never ventured more than sixty miles from Königsberg and he was lost if varied from the daily routine of shuttle-like attendance on his lectures—back and forth, back and forth.

“Yet,” said I, “Kant wrote remarkably accurate descriptions of Switzerland in his Physical Geography. He could never have seen the Alps except in his imagination.

“What better description can you find than in his ‘Comparison of the Beautiful with the Pleasant and the Good’ where he says:—‘Bold, overhanging and as it were threatening rocks; clouds up-piled in the heavens; moving along with flashes of lightning and peals of thunder; volcanoes in all their violence of destruction; tornadoes with their swath of devastation; the limitless ocean in a state of uproar and similar spectacles exhibit our power of resistance as insignificantly puny compared to their might. But the spectacle of them is the more fascinating, the more terrible it is and we are prone to call these objects sublime, because [Pg 327]they raise the powers of the soul above their accustomed height and discover in us a power of resistance of an entirely different sort—one which gives us the courage to pit ourselves against the apparently infinite power of Nature.’”


“That is fine,” said Ruth, “I had forgotten, indeed I never knew that Kant was such a poet.”

“Speaking of poetry,” said I, “did you know that Coleridge, who wrote the ‘Hymn before Sunrise in the Vale of Chamouni,’ had never seen Chamonix or Mont Blanc in his life? Being a poet, he did not need to see with his actual eyes. Moreover he had a model in Frederika Brunn’s ‘Chamouni at Sunrise,’ which runs with a rhythm reminding me of some of Richard Wagner’s verses. Do you remember her poem?”

“No, but it is in a note to Coleridge’s.”

“Please read it.”

“‘Aus tiefen Schatten des schweigenden Tannenhains,
Erblick’ ich bebend dich, Scheitel der Ewigkeit,
Blendender Gipfel, von dessen Höhe
Ahnend mein Geist ins Unendliche schwebet.
“‘Wer senkte den Pfeiler in der Erde Schoss,[Pg 328]
Der, seit Jahrtausenden, fest deine Masse stützt?
Wer türmte hoch in des Aethers Wölbung
Mächtig und kühn dein umstrahltes Antlitz?
“‘Wer goss Euch hoch aus der ewigen Winters Reich?
O Zackenströme, mit Donnergetös’ herab?
Und wer gebietet laut mit der Allmacht Stimme:
‘Hier sollen ruhen die starrenden Wogen?’
“‘Wer zeichnet dort dem Morgensterne die Bahn?
Wer kränzt mit Blüten des ewigen Frostes Saum?
Wem tönt in schrecklichen Harmonieen,
Wilder Arveiron, dein Wogengetümmel?
“‘Jehovah! Jehovah! kracht’s im berstenden Eis;
Lavinendonner rollen’s die Kluft hinab:
Jehovah rauscht’s in den hellen Wipfeln,
Flüstert’s an rieselnden Silberbächen.’

“I think that expression, ‘Scheitel der Ewigkeit’ is ludicrous,” said Ruth.

“Coleridge always improved on his originals when he translated, but it looked rather odd for him to have discussed the elements of the scenery in the Alps when he had never been in Savoy. It looks as if he tried to throw dust in people’s eyes. But tell me, Ruth, which do you like best the Coleridge ‘Hymn’ or Shelley’s ‘Mont Blanc,’ which also claims to have been written in the Vale of Chamonix? First you read the lines you like best in Coleridge and[Pg 329] then I will read a few passages from Shelley.”

Ruth took the volume of Coleridge and began. “I like the first twelve lines,” she said:—

“‘Hast thou a charm to stay the morning-star
In his steep course? So long he seems to pause
On thy bald awful head, O sovran Blanc!
The Arve and Arveiron at thy base
Rave ceaselessly; but thou, most awful Form,
Risest from forth thy silent sea of pines,
How silently! Around thee and above
Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black,
An ebon mass: methinks thou piercest it
As with a wedge! But when I look again,
It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine,
Thy habitation from eternity.’”

“Yes,” I said, “that ‘bald awful head’ is better than ‘Scheitel der Ewigkeit,’ but I don’t like the immediate repetition of ‘awful’ two lines below; ‘as with a wedge,’ too, is weak. But go on!”

“‘Awake, my soul! not only passive praise
Thou owest! not alone these swelling tears,
Mute thanks and secret ecstasy. Awake,
Voice of sweet song! Awake, my heart, awake!
Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my Hymn!
[Pg 330]
“‘Thou first and chief, sole sovereign of the Vale!
O, struggling with the darkness all the night,
And visited all night by troops of stars,
Or when they climb the sky or when they sink:
Companion of the morning-star at dawn,
Thyself Earth’s rosy star and of the dawn
Co-herald: wake, O wake, and utter praise!
Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in Earth?
Who filled thy countenance with rosy light?
Who made thee parent of perpetual streams?’”

Again I interrupted:—“I think it is far-fetched to call the mountain ‘Earth’s rosy star,’ and again he uses the word ‘rosy’ just below: ‘who filled thy countenance with rosy light?’ That is a weak line, don’t you think? ‘Visited all night by troops of stars’ however is masterly. But go on.”

“‘And you, ye five wild torrents fiercely glad!
Who called you forth from night and utter death,
From dark and icy caverns called you forth,
Down those precipitous, black, jagged rocks,
Forever shattered and the same forever?
Who gave you your invulnerable life,
Your strength, your speed, your fury and your joy,
Unceasing thunder and eternal foam?
And who commanded (and the silence came)
Here let the billows stiffen and have rest.
Ye ice-falls! ye that from the mountain’s brow
Adown enormous ravines slope amain—
[Pg 331]
“‘Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice
And stopt at once amid their maddest plunge!
Motionless torrents! silent cataracts!
Who made you glorious as the Gates of Heaven
Beneath the keen full moon? Who bade the sun
Clothe you with rainbows? Who, with living flowers
Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet?
God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!
God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice!
Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!
And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!
“‘Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost!
Ye wild goats sporting round the eagle’s nest!
Ye eagles, playmates of the mountain-storm!
Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds!
Ye signs and wonders of the elements!
Utter forth God and fill the hills with praise!
“‘Thou, too, hoar Mount! with thy sky-pointing peaks,
Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard,
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene
Into the depth of clouds that veil thy breast—
Thou too again, stupendous Mountain! thou
That as I raise my head, awhile bowed low
In adoration, upward from thy base
Slow traveling with dim eyes suffused with tears,
Solemnly seemest, like a vapory cloud,
To rise before me—Rise, O ever rise,[Pg 332]
Rise like a cloud of incense from the Earth!
Thou kingly Spirit throned among the hills,
Thou dread ambassador from Earth to Heaven,
Great Hierarch! tell thou the silent sky
And tell the stars and tell yon rising sun
Earth with her thousand voices praises God!’”

“I think it ends pretty feebly,” said I. “He compares Mont Blanc first with a vapoury cloud, then to a cloud of incense; then calls it a kingly Spirit throned, then a dread ambassador and then a Great Hierarch. What could be more mixed in its metaphors? But now let us take Shelley’s ‘Mont Blanc.’”

“I think it begins with a curious mixture,” said Ruth. “He says the everlasting universe of things flows through the mind, where from secret springs the source of human thought brings its tribute of waters with a sound but half its own such as a feeble brook assumes in the wild woods. How can the eternal universe of things rolling rapid waves diminish itself to a feeble brook? But it goes on:—

“‘In the wild woods, among the mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it leap forever
Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.’”

“It seems to me a hopeless mixture. The description of the Vale is better:—

[Pg 333]

“‘Thus thou, Ravine of Arve—dark, deep Ravine—
Thou many-colored, many-voiced vale,
Over whose pines and crags and caverns sail
Fast cloud-shadows and sunbeams: awful scene,
Where Power in likeness of the Arve comes down
From the ice-gulfs that gird his secret throne,
Bursting thro’ these dark mountains like the flame
Of lightning thro’ the tempest;—thou dost lie,
Thy giant brood of pines around thee clinging,
Children of elder time, in whose devotion
The chainless winds still come and ever came
To drink their odors and their mighty swinging
To hear—an old and solemn harmony;
Thine earthly rainbows stretcht across the sweep
Of the ethereal waterfall, whose veil
Robes some unsculptured image; the strange sleep
Which when the voices of the desert fail
Wraps all in its own deep eternity;—
Thy caverns, echoing to the Arve’s commotion,
A loud, lone sound no other sound can tame;
Thou art pervaded with that ceaseless motion,
Thou art the path of that unresting sound—
Dizzy Ravine! and when I gaze on thee
I seem as in a trance sublime and strange
To muse on my own separate fantasy,
My own, my human mind which passively
Now renders....’”

“Oh stop, stop! Uncle, I can’t follow it!”

“Very good, I will skip to where he tells how he is gazing on the naked countenance of earth. Listen:—

[Pg 334]

“‘The glaciers creep
Like snakes that watch their prey, from their far fountains
Slow rolling on....’”

“What are rolling on, snakes, avalanches or far fountains?”

“‘There many a precipice,
Frost and the Sun in scorn of mortal power
Have piled: dome, pyramid, and pinnacle,
A city of death, distinct with many a tower
And wall impregnable of beaming ice.
Yet not a city but a flood of ruin
Is there, that from the boundaries of the sky
Rolls its perpetual stream; vast pines are strewing....’”

“Oh, what a rhyme—ruin and strewin’. Do you suppose Shelley dropped his ‘g’’s?”

“Don’t be irreverent. Listen:—

“‘vast pines are strewing
Its destined path, or in the mangled soil
Branchless and shattered stand; the rocks drawn down
From yon remotest waste, have overthrown
The limits of the dead and living world....’

“I will omit about a dozen rather blind lines about man and his puniness and begin:—

[Pg 335]

“‘Below, vast caves
Shine in the rushing torrents’ restless gleam,
Which from those secret chasms a tumult welling
Meet in the vale, and one majestic River
The breath and blood of distant lands, forever
Rolls its loud waters to the ocean waves,
Breathes its swift vapors to the circling air.’

“Now he comes to Mont Blanc itself:—

“‘Mont Blanc yet gleams on high:—the power is there,
The still and solemn power of many sights,
And many sounds and much of life and death.
In the calm darkness of the moonless nights,
In the lone glare of day, the snows descend
Upon that Mountain; none beholds them there,
Nor when the flakes burn in the sinking sun,
Or the star-beams dart thro’ them:—Winds contend
Silently there and heap the snow with breath
Rapid and strong but silently! Its home
The voiceless lightning in these solitudes
Keeps innocently and like vapor broods
Over the snow. The secret strength of things
Which governs thought and to the infinite dome
Of heaven is as a law, inhabits there!
And what were thou and earth and stars and sea
If to the human mind’s imaginings
Silence and solitude were vacancy?’

“Well, what do you say? Which is the truer poetry?” I asked.

[Pg 336]

“I think that Shelley would have done better if he had not tried to rhyme his verses,” said Ruth. “The attempt to find rhymes led him on and on into meanings that he didn’t mean. But there are fine lines in both. By the way,” she added with an abrupt dislocation of our literary talk, and yet it was suggested by it, “Will and I propose to take you to Chamonix. Would you like that?”

“Of course I would.”

“We will get an early start to-morrow—that is, if the weather prove propitious.”

The weather could not have been more kindly disposed. We started early in the morning and reached Villeneuve in less than an hour. Thence we rode up the at first broad and then ever narrowing valley of the mystic Rhône. I wished that I might see some of the strange things that it is said to conceal. Juste Olivier tells of its sandy nonchalant banks, its marshes and creeks of almost stagnant waters, the little bridges carrying fascinating paths, which later, glittering with silvery dust, suddenly plunge under long vaults where the light scarcely penetrates the green cool arches.

“Here and there,” he says, “there are fantastic clearings. Old trunks of ancient willows,[Pg 337] oddly wrapt around and still more oddly crowned now with creepers, now with young bushes which have climbed to their tops, and now with their own branches contorted and interlaced. Immense oaks loved by adventurous pairs of the wild pigeons which fill the solitude with their plaintive notes. Young alders countless in number and growing so closely the heifers can with difficulty force a way through between their smooth even trunks. In a word, a forest variegated by marshes, by patches of sand, by yellowish fields where the water contributes its murmur, the desert its solemnity, the infinite its mystery, the unknown its charm.

“This is what you find in these shores of the Rhône called Les Isles. Sometimes strange noises come to the inhabited châlets and the reedy plain and startle the passer-by and are lost in the neighboring fields; it is the voice of la Fennetta-des-Isles who sometimes bellows like the bise in the trees, sometimes like the calves in the pastures, and seems to run over the wrinkled waters of the canal. If the clamor approach the fisherman pulls in his line and turns his head away, for he knows that any person who has caught sight under any form whatever of the fantastic being who thus howls[Pg 338] in the gloomy woods has little more to expect from life.”

We heard no bellowing Lady-of-the-Isles nor did we see her under any form. Probably electric trams, and corrective dykes, and the skeptical boldness of modern science has scared the Little Lady away. She will never come back.

We had a glance at the big château of Aigle and looked to see if we could recognize any of the fair black-eyed, plump-figured women for which that place is famous. We saw the waterfalls on the Grande Eau. We passed through “the smiling village of Bex” and Will asked me if I would like to take the time to visit the remarkable salt-works at Bex the Old—Bévieux—but I told him that I preferred Attic salt. Then we discussed the question how salt should have been deposited so high up among the mountains. Was it the relic of the vast ocean that once covered all Europe? This presence of salt-laden anhydrite and the occasional sulphur springs with high temperatures are extremely interesting. There is evidently heat enough under the Alps to start a volcano some day.

The sight of the mountains gathering about us menacingly made me again remember Juste[Pg 339] Olivier’s poetic description of the names of these Savoyan Alps. He advised his pupils to climb them, his word, as the word of every true Alpinist, is “conquer”—conquer them:—

“What marvellous treasures! What fragrant valleys! What flower-adorned slopes! What dazzling crystals! What depths of shade! What fountains! Happy son of the Alps who has succeeded in taming the Genius of them. From the highest summits like a cascade in the eternal chant, by a thousand brooks, by a thousand murmurs, over slate and granite down to the depths of staggering abysses, across mist-hung crags, by the side of mournful lakes, amid green and smiling hiding-places, along pasture-grounds spread with a network of light and shade, in fir-forests which roar like the sea, beds of thyme under beach-trees and laburnum, Poesy descends into the valleys and with the sunset turns back in jets of flame toward the skies.

“Go forth, young hearts! Go quench your thirst at this unknown spring. Follow up the torrents and lose yourselves in the plaintive forests. The Genius of the Alps is waiting for you, and there also is the secret home of the Genius of the Fatherland.”

[Pg 340]

Rogers took this same route and wrote about it, almost a hundred years ago, at this very same Saint-Maurice where we now arrived:—

“Still by the Leman Lake, for many a mile,
Among those venerable trees I went,
Where damsels sit and weave their fishing-nets,
Singing some national song by the way-side.
But now the fly was gone, the gnat was come;
Now glimmering light from cottage-windows broke.
‘Twas dark; and, journeying upward by the Rhone,
That there came down, a torrent from the Alps,
I entered where a key unlocks a kingdom;
The road and river, as they wind along
Filling the mountain-pass. There, till a ray
Glanced through my lattice and the household stir
Warned me to rise, to rise and to depart.”

There was much to interest us at Saint-Maurice, which traces its ancestry to an old Keltic town called Acaunum or Agaunum (as the Latins spelled it). Here once occurred an event which would have pleased Count Tolstoï. A manuscript of the Ninth Century, discovered by Professor Emil Egli at Zürich, relates it as follows:—

“In the army of the Roman Emperor Maximilian who reigned from 286 until 306 a. d. was enrolled a legion brought from the east and called the Thebæan Legion. They hesitated[Pg 341] about fighting brother-Christians. The Emperor learned in the neighboring town of Octodurum that the legion was mutinous in the narrow pass of Agaunum. He ordered every tenth man to be beheaded. But when the legion persisted in its obstinacy he repeated the punishment. Those left mutually exhorted one another to persist and their leader Mauricius with two officers, Exuperius and Candidus advised them rather to perish than to fight against Christians.

“So they threw down their arms and were hacked to pieces.”

The legion consisted of sixty-six hundred men. According to other legends—for this is only a legend which arose in the Fifth Century—some of the legion were subjected to a martyr’s death elsewhere—Ursus, Victor and Verena at Solothurn, Felix and Regula at Zürich. However the story may be regarded, the town is supposed to have received its name from the leader of the Eastern legion. The abbey now occupied by Augustine canons who take pride (for a fee) in showing their treasures—a Saracen vase, a gold crozier and a silver ewer presented by Charlemagne, and other relics—is said to date back to the Fourth Century and was founded by Saint Theodore,[Pg 342] one of Licinius’ Greek officers, who was converted and put to death.

Next we arrived at Martigny, the ancient Roman town of Octodurus, near the junction of the Dranse with the Rhône. Octodurus signified the Castle in the Narrows. It was the capital of the Veragri who with the Seduni held possession of the pass of the Great Saint-Bernard. Cæsar makes mention of it in the Third Book of the Gallic War.

Investigations have shown that the Wallisi had the right bank of the Dranse and the Romans the left. Suddenly Galba discovered that all the inhabitants had deserted their houses in one night and that a great body of the Seduni and Veragri were occupying the heights. They knew that the legion was not complete, that two cohorts were at Acaunum and that a good many had gone over the Alps to get provisions and that the fortifications were not finished.

“Galba held a council of war. Some of the men were in favor of fighting their way back; but the majority voted to defend the camp. In the meantime, at a given signal, the Wallisi began to storm down from the heights and fling stones and lances. The Romans defended themselves and every shot told. Wherever [Pg 343]there was a rush of the enemy the Romans met them. But the Wallisi had constant reinforcements. After fighting six hours ammunition began to fail. Breaches were made in the walls; the ditches were filled up and the Romans were in desperate plight. Then Galba had his men rest a while, and at a sudden signal having armed themselves with the lances of the enemy, they made a sudden sortie. The Wallisi were surprised and took to flight. Out of thirty thousand at least a third were killed and the rest threw down their arms. Although the whole country was cleared of the enemy Galba decided to winter elsewhere, and having burnt the town, he led his troops undisturbed down the Rhône through the Nantuati along the lake into that of the Allobrigi.”


In the years thirty-seven, thirty-six and thirty-four b. c. the Wallisi defeated the Romans, but under Augustus, in the year seven b. c., they were conquered in turn. Augustus treated them humanely and left them to govern themselves though procurators were sent among them to collect tribute. In twenty-two a. d. Octodurus was given the rights of a free city and had the protection of the Roman law: this was a great incentive to trade and it became the capital and flourished. Claudius[Pg 344] made it an imperial market-town and gave it the name of Forum Claudi Vallensium. In forty-seven the pass over the Great Saint-Bernard was made into a highway and provided with mile-stones clear down to Vevey. Relics of this can still be seen here and there, now high above the pass, now following the Dranse, and the natives call it still la route romaine.

Back of Martigny-ville along the Dranse is a broad field with morasses; it belonged to the Abbey of the Great Saint-Bernard. It had little value even as pasturage as its surface was covered with all sorts of rubbish and scattered stones. In 1874 the artist, Raphael Ritz, was making excavations near the so-called trésor de la Deleyse. There was found the relics of a small amphitheatre with bones and teeth of wild animals which had been slaughtered there “to make a Roman holiday.” “Aux Morasses” gave up the remains of a colossal bronze statue with gilded garment, a huge oxhead, a laurel wreath with fine bronze leaves, smashed with blows from an ax and then sunk into the thick miry soil. It is supposed that early Christians may have treated these objects in such a manner because they regarded them as idols.

[Pg 345]

In 1895 systematic excavations were instituted and a wall sixty-three by thirty-one meters was discovered. It was the remains of a basilica which served as a trading-station or custom-house, while in front of it was the forum where once mingled Roman merchants, citizens, soldiers, officials, priests and natives. It was supported by thirteen large columns. On both sides of the square or piazza were narrow wings, each furnished with stalls for merchants and smiths. In front ran the Roman road, meant to last for all time; it is still here and there visible running up the valley. It was paved with large irregular stones. Along the southwest wing were a row of columns with enormous pedestals. The great building was divided into three halls. One ending in a semicircle, like the letter D, had a place for the statue of a god. In the north central wall were eight pilasters and in the niches skeletons were found.

Next to this was still another large building and beyond it was a private dwelling with marble floor, marble dado and painted walls. Any number of coins dating from the year one till three hundred and fifty a. d. were picked up. These buildings were covered with hollow tiles; and the hewn stones for the columns, the[Pg 346] door-sills, the curb-stones, were all brought from the Jura. Some of the marble came from Italy, some from Greece; there was even porphyry from Egypt. All about Martigny were found these wonderful remains of Roman occupation. One capital of a temple was of colossal dimensions. They had drinking-water piped to the city.

At La Batiaz, where stands the old castle that belonged to the Bishop of Sion, but was dismantled nearly four hundred years ago, stood a Roman watch-tower and not far away the graveyard was found among the vineyards of Ravoire. We saw an inscription which was intensely interesting:—


This signified that Titus Pomponius had, with the aid of the inhabitants, erected an altar to the Goddess of Safety. It dated back to the time of Marcus Aurelius, the good emperor.[Pg 347] At that day Wallis (which it must be remembered is still preserved in the very name Vaud) was united under the same government with the Graian Alps. The same Titus Pomponius, together with his family, is found mentioned on an altar to the god Sylvanus as a thank-offering for the conclusion of his term of service, and it preserves a poem addressing the god as hiding in the foliage of the sacred ash-tree, as the protector of the lofty green luxuriant forest. It thanks him for having brought them from a far land and over the immovable mountains of the Alps amid the sweet perfumes of the bushes; it says:—“I performed the duties of the office conferred upon me. Lead me and mine back to Rome, and let us under thy protection cultivate Italian fields. I vow that I will plant a thousand mighty trees to thee.”

The Bishop Theodorus lived here in 381 a. d. The Théodule pass is named for him. He built a Christian basilica on the site of the heathen temple. But the Dranse overflowed it and covered it deep with mud and stones. Fire finished it, and now all that is left of it is ashes, broken tiles, melted glass and bits of metal.

Martigny is another of the towns in which I should like to spend a month. There are so[Pg 348] many excursions to be taken from it as a centre—up the Arpille, up to the Pierre à Voir from which one looks down into two river valleys and across to the Bernese and Valaisian Alps—a splendid view; to La Dent de Morcles, the Pissevache cascade and dozens of other trips for pleasant days.

The geology here also is particularly interesting. Here the Rhône once more proved that might made right. He turned at almost right angles and stole into the valley belonging to the Dranse. Here the glaciers of the ice-age polished the rock wall—“the most remarkable example of ice-action in the Alps.”

Above Martigny we find the real and only genuine valley of the Rhône: elsewhere it is a robber.

Still ascending the Rhône valley we reached Saxon with its picturesque ruined castle, and then crossing the Ardon and the Morge beyond Riddes reached the medieval city of Sion just at sunset. Approaching the famous old city it was like a dream—the castles on the hills so kindly left by the river; high up, the Château de Tourbillon, where for five hundred years the princely bishops used to luxuriate, looking down on a world of beauty.

Across a valley on a hill only twenty meters [Pg 349]lower stands the old castle of Valeria taking the place of an earlier Roman fort; its towers glittered in the sunlight’s last rays. We went to it in the morning, and, on paying a fee, were admitted to the Thirteenth-Century church of Notre Dame, with its quaint Romanesque capitals, and Seventeenth-Century choir-stalls elaborately carved. And, of course, being devoted to antiquities, we looked into the cantonal museum next door. We went also into the Fifteenth-Century Gothic cathedral with its tower six hundred years older; and admired the carved ceiling in the splendid hall of the Super-saxo mansion.

[Pg 350]



WHOM should we meet at the hotel at Sion but my friend, Lady Q. She immediately recognized me, and I had the pleasure of presenting to her my niece and her husband. She was on her way to Zermatt and she advised us to leave the car at Visp and take the State Railway over to the region of the Matterhorn. That name amused Will. He asked Lady Q. if we should not be permitted to see the original Vill of the Visp there. Of course Lady Q., being English, saw his joke in a second and thought it very bad, as we all did. The result of it was that we asked her to join us on this trip. But she was expecting friends from Geneva and therefore was obliged to forego the pleasure. So we started off without her, but we adopted her advice. Just above Sion we had a good view of the gorge through which rushes the turbulent Borgne coming down from the wild Val d’Hérens. We crossed the Liène at Saint-Léonard,[Pg 351] and just as we reached Sierre we saw a company of pedestrians starting off for the pleasant plateau of Montana. I have seen it since standing up a thousand meters above the Rhône valley, with its charming lakes reflecting the mountains beyond and its splendid view of Mont Blanc and the Weisshorn and the heights between them.

Sierre has its interest to the student of geology; for all around it can be seen the remains of a tremendous rock-fall. It extended from Pfyn almost to the mouth of the Liena. It dammed up the valley and imprisoned the Rhône. But the Rhône, who had learned what he could do with his mighty forces, grew more and more indignant; he swelled his haughty breast, and, when he knew the right moment had come, he put forth his energy and burst his way through. All the forces of the sky helped him; the rains came to his aid, and the tempests and the sun beat down on the snow-fields and contributed to his release. What a sight it must have been when the rushing flood once more went roaring down the valley! What billows, what sheets of sparkling foam, what crashing of overturned forests and jangling of monstrous boulders rolled along to be the wonder of succeeding ages!

[Pg 352]

Perhaps the pretty little ponds near Sierre are the relics of this prehistoric freshet. All these regions too were haunted by the ancient Kelts. Many warriors were killed hereabouts and were buried in graves even now occasionally detected. I saw a beautifully designed bronze sword which was found in one on the hill of Tevent.

Visp has three names: in French it is Viège. We admired the view up the valley with its great snow pyramid, the Balfrin, more than twice as high as Mount Washington. From here on Teeth become Horns; there are any number of them: Schwarzhorn and Weisshorn and Rothorn, and Faulhorn, and Spitzhorn and Magenhorn and Trifthorn and Mittaghorn and Hohberghorn and the Brunegghorn and Täschhorn—all of them giants covered with eternal snow.

We left the car at a hotel garage and took the train. Up, up we climbed with the Visp River brawling at our left. Then crossing it we reached Stalden between the two branches of the Visp and with superb views. Here we were told was about the limit of the grape-culture. One would not think that fruit could ripen so high above the sea. The grade now and then becomes so steep that the rack and[Pg 353] pinion has to help the engine; there are viaducts—the one over the Mühlebach being fifty meters high—and tunnels and long passages close to the precipices, now running straight for a short distance, then winding past sharp corners. The gorges of Kipfen and Selli are cluttered with gigantic blocks of gneiss, over and among which the Visp makes its precipitous way. Saint-Niklaus is almost sixteen hundred feet higher than Visp, and Randa is more than a thousand feet higher than Saint-Niklaus.

From Randa if one wanted to stop there is a convenient approach to the Dom, which is said to be the highest mountain belonging entirely to Switzerland. Its top is four thousand five hundred and fifty-four meters high and it affords one of the grandest views in the Alps. There are, however, others much more difficult; the Edelspitze on the Gabelhorn, though four thousand feet lower, was not conquered until 1904; Professor Tyndall was the first to climb the Weisshorn. But that was in 1861. He was nearly killed by the bombardment of rocks from above.

Above the little hamlet of Täsch the road, after following the right bank of the Visp, crosses it near the châlets of Zermettje, and, gradually mounting high and higher above[Pg 354] the river, it enters an extraordinarily narrow defile, and, though every one is forewarned, at the end of it comes the grand surprise—at the right the first glimpse of the Matterhorn, or, as good Swiss like best to call it, Le Mont Cervin—just a tantalizing glimpse, no more; but who would not recognize it, standing up isolated and solitary like an enormously exaggerated Indian arrow-head, or rather the flint from which it comes?

If there is any one thing I detest in travelling it is tunnels; they are marvellous; the skill of man in digging them, in so calculating their direction and their level that though men start from opposite sides of a high mountain, as they did at Mont-Cenis, at the Loetschberg, at the Simplon, and at all the other great mountain-bores, is beyond all praise; but practically they shut one off from the light and the wide horizons.

We were landed safely at Zermatt and for two days we had most perfect views of that wonderful valley and its king of mountains. Here is the story of its conquest. Until 1858 it was regarded as unapproachable—in every sense of the word. But man is never satisfied with the eternal negative. For seven years the battle was waged, and, at last, in July, 1865, Edward Whymper, Lord Francis Douglas, David Hadow and Charles Hudson, with three guides, succeeded in attaining the top. Whymper related the story of the campaign in a volume.


A high price was paid for the success. Every one knows that it is easier to climb than it is to descend. This is particularly true of mountain-excursions. There is a buoyant exhilaration in mounting, especially for the first time; but in addition to the physical difficulties of the descent there is the anticlimax which is moral; so that often the last miles of the descent are sheer agony. “While during an enthusiastic ascent the hope of a steadily nearing goal lifts the climber over all difficulties, in descending only the difficulties remain, while the fatigue increases and the interest diminishes.”

In descending the Matterhorn Hadow lost his footing, and tumbled against Croz, who, not being prepared, lost his. They took with them Lord Francis and Hudson. Had not the rope to which they were attached broken probably Whymper and the two guides Taugwalder, father and son, would have all lost their lives. The survivors could see the doomed four struggling vainly to stop the terrible glissade. Then they disappeared over the precipice. Three of[Pg 355]
[Pg 356]
them fell on the Cervin glacier four thousand feet below; Lord Francis Douglas’s body was never recovered. Bringing the tragedy in their hearts the other three safely reached Zermatt.

Three days later Jean Antoine Carrel and Jean Baptiste Bich reached the top from the Italian side and they were followed by Professor Tyndall, who went up by the Breuil route and came down to Zermatt. He also wrote an account of it and one of the pics was named for him. That was in 1868, and since then, though it is still the most dangerous of the larger peaks, it has been attained by hundreds. In 1867 a young girl, the daughter of J. B. Carrel, reached within less than a hundred meters of the top, and the point where she was blocked has been named for her Le Col de Félicité. Miss Lucy Walker, of England, was the first woman to master the peak. She went up from the Zermatt side, returning the same way, July 22, 1871. Miss Brevoort, an American, was the first woman to make what is called the “traverse” from Switzerland to Italy; that was also in 1871.

The year before, Javelle, with only one guide, Nicolas Kubel, reached the top by remarkable good fortune, for no other ascent was made that[Pg 357] whole year. At the edge of the Gorner glacier they found a bunch of Alpine roses, the highest arborescent vegetation they encountered. Like many other persons, Javelle supposed that Mont Cervin was “a simple giant pyramid unique in the boldness of its form, the hugeness of its bulk, the pride of its isolation.” It is really, as Mr. Coolidge says, “the butt end of a long ridge,” and not an isolated mass rising above a glacial plateau. When they reached the arête connecting the Hörnli with the base of the Cervin they rested for an hour.

When they reached the first wall of the pyramid a fierce north wind began to blow, but they scaled the rocks and then had to walk along an icy arête. When they got about half-way “the sound of a dull rumbling” reached them from above. It was the jealous Spirit of the Mountain who was trying to bombard them with stones. They had just time to flatten themselves against the crag, which, fortunately, hung over them. Great rocks and boulders bounded within a meter of their heads; for half an hour the baffled Spirit kept up his attack and then gave it up.

Visitors like ourselves, looking up to the Cervin, see a long couloir which looks smooth and easy. Javelle says that it is cut up by veritable[Pg 358] ravines plowed by avalanches or worn in the strata of the rock, so that the whole surface is far more rugged than it appears. The adamantine gneiss with strata of serpentine schist wears but slowly; but sometime the proud apex will be undermined and fall with a world-shaking crash.

After they had climbed with much difficulty and fatigue for about an hour they discovered the hut which some enterprising guides had constructed of planks, walled up with stones. For a hundred feet the precipice is perpendicular and to reach it they had to cling with their fingers to the roughness of the rock. It is at a height of more than thirty-eight hundred meters.

They reached it, and, while the guide was preparing supper, Javelle went out to a hump in the crag to enjoy the spectacle:—

“My eyes turned first of all toward the summit of Le Cervin. The tawny head of the colossus rose just above us. Through the crystalline air of those upper regions it seemed scarcely five hundred feet away and the rock stood out in startling ruggedness. The mighty flank of the pyramid, tremendously seamed and naked, lay before me: Below lay the lonely white plains of the Furgg and the Théodule glaciers; in front beyond them Monte Rosa tossed up its magnificent cluster of peaks....


“From the hut on Le Cervin no disrespect to Monte Rosa is possible. The true sovereign is restored to rank and position. The mountain is seen to be vast, mighty, magnificent as it is not from any other point of view; its rivals are humbled, and its summit, gracious and noble rather than haughty, shines unquestionably the highest of all in the sky.”

Then came the sunset:—

“The vast triangular shadow of Le Cervin stretched before us across the Furgg and the Théodule glaciers as far as the Gorner glacier. At our left the Zermatt valley already lay in a bluish darkness; it seemed as if the night were emerging from those depths. A moment later and the whole amphitheater of snow-covered cliffs shone with a divine glory. Only two tints, but those graduated in a thousand delicate shades, were used in this mighty painting. One was a soft deep azure, the azure of the invading shadows; the other a pure ethereal gold flung forth by the last rays of the sun. In the sky the two tints intermingling, shed a splendid violet reflection on the zenith.”

A slight hint at the dangers to which the[Pg 359]
[Pg 360]
climber is exposed was afforded just before they had left the couloir for the shoulder. A projecting knob on which they had set foot slipped away and went bounding down the side a thousand meters: “The Cervin counted one more wrinkle!”

When they reached the arête they had their last chance for resting:—“Before us towered the escarpment of rugged red rocks and above them the last heights of Le Cervin, the crest of which was invisible. On both sides of the arête were blood-curdling abysses. Seated on a narrow ridge, surrounded by precipices and near the scene of one of the most tragic of Alpine accidents, we passed in silence one of those moments that refuse to be forgotten. About a hundred meters higher, on the steep slope, must have occurred the fall of the four unfortunates who were dashed to pieces during the first ascent. I tried to revisualize that dreadful drama. I failed; the abyss had resumed its eternal silence. What meant to it the fall of those four men, full of life, youth and intelligence? Only the least of the avalanches that furrow it in a season.”

The two men roped themselves together, and using the extremest care to get a foothold either in the ice or on bosses of the rock, they[Pg 361] mounted to the very edge of the vertical wall which measured the whole height of the Cervin. The summit, says Javelle, is only the culminating point of a sharp, notched arête about a hundred meters long. On the south side is a frightful precipice out of sight. “It is impossible to stand on the slender summit; its crest is too sharp and the wind playing over it usually crowns it with needles of ice. With his ax Knubel made a hole in the ice a little lower down. This was our seat, and what monarch ever had such a throne?

“All around the summit lay an immense bottomless void, above which stood the circle of the giants of the Valais—Monte Rosa and her proud rivals, the Mischabel, the Weisshorn, the Rothorn, La Dent Blanche; then all the Alps with their maze of gigantic ramifications from the Viso group to considerably beyond the Ortler, an innumerable army of glittering or somber peaks, the immense undulating line of which was lost in the blue at the two ends of the horizon. To the north extended the unbroken profile of the Jura; then beyond, merging into the sky, the hills of France toward the Haute-Champagne or the Franche-Comté.”

After half an hour on the peak, Javelle and[Pg 362] his guide started back and in safety reached the valley of Zermatt. Since then one might almost say familiarity with that wonderful peak has bred contempt. Javelle, himself, in a later article describing another ascent, complains:—“To-day alas! for the true lovers of the Cervin, the whole of this side of the noble mountain seems to be profaned.”

Already it has been planned to build a railway up Le Cervin. The day of conquering mighty peaks in the Alps is past. Scarcely one is now left for the adventurer to grapple with and the Alpine guides are finding profitable fields in the vastly mightier mountains of the Himalaya or the Canadian Rockies.

For the old and the lazy, for delicate women, the electric cars that climb Mont Blanc, and so many others of the Alpine mountains, give the effect of the height and the enormous stretch of horizon; but still, even though the Alpine Club builds shelters and attaches aerial ladders and climbing chains, there is something exhilarating in the actual climbing of lofty mountains, and that the danger is not wholly eliminated is shown by the reports that come every summer of some unfortunate parties who try to “negotiate” those jealous giants of the skies. And when one is standing or sitting on one of their peaks one can say with John Stuart Blackie:—

“I love the eye’s free sweep from craggy rim;
I love the free bird poised at lofty ease
And the free torrent’s far up-sounding hymn;
I love to leave my littleness behind
In the low vale where little cares are great.”
[Pg 363]
[Pg 364]



WE saw everything that there was to see at Zermatt—the relics of the early climbers in the little museum; the pathetic graveyard where the victims of their mad ambition are commemorated, and the Imfeld relief-maps of the surrounding region. Here I had my first experience in what one might call mountain-climbing by proxy; we took the electric train up to the Gornergrat. Sir John Lubbock says:—

“It is impossible to give any idea in words of the beauty of these high snow-fields. The gently curving surfaces, which break with abrupt edges into dark abysses or sink gently to soft depressions or meet one another in ridges, the delicate shadows in the curved hollows, the lines of light on the crests, the suggestion of easy movement in the forms, with the sensation of complete repose to the eye, the snowy white with an occasional tinge of the most delicate[Pg 365] pink, make up a scene of which no picture or photograph can give more than a very inadequate impression, and form an almost irresistible attraction to all true lovers of nature.”

It is perfectly true: words fail to express one’s feelings.

Just earth and rocks and snow and ice and light and shade. What power must have been exerted to squeeze those mighty strata and tip them up and bend them over and hurl them against one another. Everything is relative, and I find I can imagine what an ant might feel when climbing over the furrows of a plowed field. The earth itself seems so small when poised in the universe—just a microscopic atom, and the mightiest mountains are only the wrinkles of an apple. Yet here we were ten thousand feet above the sea with a vast panorama of mountains on every side. More than a score of Horns, besides Jochs and Cime and Grats and Gabeln; twenty of them are more than four thousand meters high; Monte Rosa topping them all with her four thousand six hundred and thirty-eight meters. Somehow mountains do not sound so high when expressed in meters, but one does not belong to Metrical Societies without being consistent! A dozen immense glaciers pour their cracking, dazzling,[Pg 366] monstrous streams of liquid solidity down, for ever changing yet, like rivers of waters, for ever the same. Year after year appear the great crevasses where the glacier tumbles over a precipice and becomes a cataract of ice, yet remains the same. Verily the mountains themselves, seen by the great eye of the Father of Time are moving; he sees that the whole crest of the Alps is slowly moving northward: this is proved by the fact that one side is steeper than the other.

It is rather amusing to see how many persons have been disgusted with their first view of a glacier. They are covered, in many cases, with mud, and look dirty and unkempt. They plow out the rocks; great showers of boulders fall down on them, and especially where they have flowed down to the melting level and begun to deposit their freight, making what are called terminal moraines, they are not white and glittering. But, seen from a distance, the glaciers of the high Alps are most impressive. And to think that a very slight lowering of the average temperature of the year would bring these great cold snaky monsters over the habitations of men again. The ice-age might once more be renewed and wipe out our civilization.

While we were on the Gornergrat I saw and heard an avalanche. A small snow-ball may start one. Roaring louder and louder with thunderous echoes it hurls itself down the steep incline, and, like a colossal, titanic bomb-shell, it bursts into the valley. The noise made by a snow-slide from a steep roof is startling enough, but imagine it multiplied a thousand times,—as if the top of the world were tumbling. It is impossible to estimate the thousands of tons of ice and snow that go dashing and crashing and smashing into the valleys. It is Nature engaged in her slow but certain work of destruction. The bombardment of the avalanches is one of the most impressive phenomena in the mountains.


I do not know whether Tennyson ever climbed to the Gornergrat, but he gives a picture of Monte Rosa which is well worth remembering:—

“I climbed the roofs at break of day;
Sun-smitten Alps before me lay,
I stood among the silent statues
And statued pinnacles, as mute as they.
“How faintly flushed, how phantom fair
Was Monte Rosa hanging there
A thousand shadowy-penciled valleys
And snowy dells in the golden air.”
[Pg 367]
[Pg 368]

I had a pensive longing to spend the whole summer among this giant Brotherhood of peaks, making excursions to one after another—provided the weather allowed. From each summit, from each col and shoulder, there would be a different aspect of mountain scenery; different cloud-effects; different sunsets; different risks and different escapes. I do not know how many chances there are of putting hundred franc notes into the pockets of guides. But the zest of discovery is gone; all climbing now is only imitation and repetition, and it is of no use to regret the old days or to repine because one must turn one’s back on the possibilities of adventure.

We returned as we came. As the train stopped at Stalden Will told me of a wonderful excursion he had enjoyed the preceding year. He and two German friends of his, one a professor, the other a doctor, had walked up to Saas-Fee and ascended the Allalinhorn.

“We had to go down, before we went up,” said Will. “There is a bridge which crosses the Matter-Visp, and after getting to the other side we followed up through the Saastal by a path which gives you the most enchanting pictures of tumbling water-falls. We spent the night at Saas-Grund and the next morning[Pg 369] early reached Saas-Fee, which, I think, affords one of the finest views in Switzerland. The glacier called the Fee is perfectly surrounded with magnificent peaks—I can’t remember half of them; but they are all from ten to thirteen thousand feet high. The Alphubel is over fourteen thousand. We took guides and went up the Allalinhorn. There were six of us roped together and it was over snow all the way. The pass is nearly twelve thousand feet up, and cold. But the view from the rounded summit well repaid us for our pains. Directly across, so that one could almost leap it, is the jagged peak of the Rimpfischhorn, its black dorsal fin sticking out of the dazzling snow as ugly, though not so prominently uprising, as the Matterhorn. Switzerland,” he added, “for a little country has more ups and downs in it than any other in the world.”

At Visp our Moto was waiting for us. Some of the people whom we met did not believe that we had been permitted to ascend the Rhône valley, as it had been at one time closed to motor-cars. But either the report of what the French are doing to attract wealthy travellers by building La route des Alpes wholly in French territory from Paris to Nice or a realization[Pg 370] of the direct loss of patronage caused by illiberal motor-laws has changed some of the interpretations of them. In parts of Switzerland it is perfectly justifiable to shut automobiles out. Where the roads are narrow and are used largely by pedestrians or for driving cattle and there is real danger it is probably for the interest of the many for the few to be subjected to restraint. Even the hotel-keepers of the Grisons and of the Bernese Oberland agree that more are benefited by excluding motor-cars than by admitting them, for there are a thousand that go by horses or on foot to every hundred that come in automobiles.

We had to go back to Martigny, and as we were so near we went to see the Gorges du Trient. This is a colossal fissure from one hundred and eighty to three hundred meters deep, and frequently not more than a couple of meters across. The only access is by a wooden gallery nearly half a mile long hung on iron cramps and supports, while far below rushes the torrent with a deafening roar.

From Martigny one follows a zigzagging road over the Col de la Forclaz and then passes Argentière over the Col des Montets to Chamonix. The chief feature is the Tête Noire which Miss Havergal, who climbed it, declares[Pg 371] “is a magnificent high level valley or gorge, winding for four or five hours at a good height along mountains with as picturesque a combination of heights and depths, rocks, torrents, cascades, pine trees, ferns, flowers and precipices as exists anywhere.”

For the first time on our trip we had trouble with the Moto. First one of the front tires burst with a report that woke the echoes like a gun. Then, when going down a long incline, the brakes caused so much friction that we nearly got on fire; but by waiting for a while the danger was passed and we reached Chamonix safely.

The name of Chamonix, or, as the French spell it, Chamouni, is derived from the Latin campus munitus, champs muni, the fortified field. The earliest mention of the name in the modern form is found in an atlas of 1595; but in 1091, Aymon, Count of Geneva, bestowed the valley on the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Michel de la Cluse; it was then called by its Latin name. Three hundred years later a priory was founded there, which, in the early part of the Sixteenth Century, came into the jurisdiction of the Canons of Sallanches, who so maltreated the peasantry that at last they rose in revolt, destroyed the monastery and wrought[Pg 372] their freedom. It was occasionally visited in the Seventeenth Century, but in 1741 two Englishmen, Pococke and Windham, with six others and five servants, went there from Geneva. The feud between the Chamoniards and the monks of Sallanches had, in some way, made people believe that the valley was inhabited by brigands, and the Pococke-Windham party went armed and camped out in the open air with sentinels posted. Their bravery is commemorated in the “Englishmen’s Stone,” bearing their names and the date. The following year Pierre Martel, the son of a Geneva shoemaker, hearing about their wonderful adventures among the glaciers, was moved to see them for himself. He wrote an account of his journey and for the first time gave a name to Mont Blanc. What a pity he did not give a better one! He set the fashion of visiting “the glaciers” and people began to come more and more, to see them and to study them.

The young scientist De Saussure was one of the first to make a study of glacial action. Then, in 1762, the young Duc d’Enville made a study of the glaciers of Savoy, and wrote an interesting account of them, which may be found in the Annuaire du Club Alpin for 1893.[Pg 373] Seventy years later Professor Forbes began to make scientific studies of the motion of the glaciers and was the first to discover that they were really rivers of ice moving like other rivers, faster in the centre than at the sides. He calculated that their daily progress was ten inches near the top, twenty-five inches near the bottom, at the centre, and sixteen inches at the sides. He discovered in the ice, fragments of wood which were recognized as belonging to a ladder which De Saussure had left at the upper end of the Mer de Glace in 1788. They had been brought down five thousand meters in forty-five years. In 1837 Louis Jean Rodolphe Agassiz, whom America claims as one of her glories, though he was born on Lake Morat “In the pleasant Pays de Vaud,” read a paper before the Helvetic Society of Natural Sciences meeting at Neuchâtel, in which he propounded the now-accepted theory. As it was opposed he made tests of the motion of the glaciers at Chamonix, at Zermatt and near the Grimsel-Pass. He spent a number of years in this work, assisted by Count de Pourtalès and others. All sorts of tests were made but the proof of time is absolutely convincing.

Thus in 1820 a party had reached the upper[Pg 374] end of the Grand Plateau and were just starting up the “ancien passage” when the snow on which they were climbing began to slide. All of them were swept down to the edge of the great crevasse which they had safely crossed a short time before. Three of the guides were swallowed up in it. In 1861 the remains of their bodies began to appear at the lower end of the Glacier des Bossons, more than a kilometer from the place. Bits of clothing, a cooked leg of mutton, a forearm with its hand came into sight. One of the surviving guides was present when they were discovered and exclaimed:—“Who would have thought I should once more shake hands with my good comrade again!” These remains had travelled more than one hundred and fifty meters a year for forty-one years.

De Saussure’s monument stands on the east bank of the Arve; Balmat’s on the other side, near the church.

The valley of Chamonix is supposed to be due to glacial action. Those who have studied it show that it is a part of the great folding up of the Jurassic strata nipt in between crystalline rocks by the tremendous lateral compression to which Switzerland was subjected as the earth cooled and shrank. The Valais, the Ur[Pg 375]serental and the region of the Vorder Rhein belong to the same cosmic cataclysm.


The great-great-grandchildren of that prehistoric glacier still inhabit the mountain-valleys. The greatest of them is the Mer de Glace, on which every visitor must set his foot. Farther up the valley is l’Argentière, which stretches from side to side between the rugged mighty ridges that lift themselves into fantastic jagged needles and pinnacles of cruel rock. It is at least a hundred meters deep, and one can look down into vivid blue crevasses and hear the rushing of the ever-wearing waters far below. The five glaciers make the five streams which the poets sing about. At one time the Glacier des Bois dammed the Arve, but in time the persistent river cut through it, forming the Passage des Tines, which has a height of one hundred and seventy meters. The great erratic blocks of granite scattered through the valley are mute witnesses of the ancient days. The eye that can read will see all along the faces of the cliffs the hieroglyphics of the ice.

This is what William Cullen Bryant says about the Arve. By the way, I noticed that while Coleridge pronounced it in two syllables, Shelley gives it one. So does Bryant:—

[Pg 376]

“Not from the sands or cloven rocks,
Thou rapid Arve! thy waters flow;
Nor earth within its bosom locks
Thy dark, unfathomable wells below.
Thy springs are in the cloud, thy stream
Begins to move and murmur first
Where ice-peaks feel the noonday beam,
Or rain-storms on the glacier burst.
“Born where the thunder and the blast,
And morning’s earliest light are born,
Thou rushest swoln and loud and fast
By these low homes as if in scorn:
Yet humbler springs yield purer waves;
And brighter, glassier streams than thine,
Sent up from earth’s unlighted caves,
With heaven’s own beam and image shine.
“Yet stay! for here are flowers and trees;
Warm rays on cottage roofs are here,
And laugh of girls and hum of bees,—
Here linger till thy waves are clear.
Thou heedest not, thou hastest on;
From steep to steep thy torrent falls,
Till, mingling with the mighty Rhone,
It rests beneath Geneva’s walls.”

“That expression, ‘rests beneath Geneva’s walls,’ seems to me singularly inappropriate,” said I. “I did not know it rested anywhere.”

“By the way,” said Will, “it is a curious[Pg 377] thing: almost all visitors to the Rhône valley remember the river as a greyish muddy-looking stream; yet it is true, for seven months of the year it runs with a clear current, of a greenish colour very much like Niagara’s. I suppose it does its work of disintegration mainly in the summer, when it has the help of the sun.”

Chamonix, which so short a time ago was almost a lost valley, is now the very centre of the mercenary traffic in Nature’s most marvellous mysteries. One may reach dizzy heights now by the railway, and there are restaurants a mile above the sea.

My nephew happened to be personally acquainted with M. Fidèle Eugster, whose fertile brain devised a scheme for building solid pylons over which should run an aerial line from Chamonix up to the Aiguille du Midi, three thousand eight hundred and forty-two meters—only a little less than nine hundred and sixty-five meters less than the monarch himself. He happened to be there himself and he invited Will and me to ride up as far as the construction-car went. Ruth contented herself with watching us and taking a walk about town. The car, seating twenty persons, starts from Chamonix and swings up two thousand meters over the twenty-seven of these immense pylons already[Pg 378] constructed. They are from twenty-five to seventy-five meters apart. The power-station, where there are electric motors of seventy-five horse-power each, is near Pierre Pointue at a height of one thousand six hundred and seventy-nine meters. From there over twenty-four more pylons a cable one thousand four hundred meters long took us to the foot of the Aiguille. There we got into a smaller basket-car and were swung up to a protogen pinnacle directly opposite the Grands Mulets. From there we were taken to the first tension-pylon which breaks the enormous stretch to the Col du Midi, where the terminal station will be constructed. It is a tremendous swoop of between eight and nine hundred meters and the last stathmos will be nearly six hundred more. The car glissades down the curves; then the cable pulls it up the incline. It is like a series of gigantic scallops but there is no shock, no jar; only a clicking as you pass the pylons.

Next to my flight in the hydro-aeroplane this was the greatest experience of my life. What can I say of that swoop through the air? Words utterly fail. Below lay the valley with its thickly clustered hotels and houses and the ramifications of the rushing rivers and streams like veins in a dissected hand. Below us lay[Pg 379] the glacier with its séracs diminished to etchings. All around rose the haughty Brotherhood scornfully watching the machinations of puny, mighty-minded man. They know that they can sometimes catch him napping, but only his body can they hurt. His soul is bigger and grander than their icy hearts. They can fling down avalanches and hurl enormous boulders or bullet-like stones at him, tearing themselves to pieces in their blind fury to do so, but here he is above them. They can’t shake off the shackles which his genius and his power fasten to their gigantic frames. Atlas must bear the Earth on his shoulders and there is no Perseus to relieve him of the weight.

Compared to the cost of some of the other Swiss roads this aerial line is comparatively inexpensive. It has been estimated that twenty-four million francs will build it and equip it. Its success will doubtless cause other “inaccessible peaks” to be harnessed in the same way. All the difficulty and most of the danger—I suppose one might be struck by lightning or die of heart-failure on the way up—and a vast amount of time, will be eliminated.

While we were in the valley we had a most glorious sunset. I will not attempt to describe the indescribable; there are no terms to differentiate[Pg 380] the tints that glowed on the clouds and the shades of lavender and violet and royal purple. There is nothing more impressive than to see the outburst of cloud masses from a mountain-valley rising dark and stormy and then, as it were, putting on the panoply of their royal state—furnished them by their servant the sun. I recalled Moore’s poem on Mont Blanc at sunset:—

“’Twas at this instant—while there glowed
This last, intensest gleam of light—
Suddenly thro’ the opening road
The valley burst upon my sight!
That glorious valley with its lake
And Alps on Alps in clusters swelling,
Mighty and pure and fit to make
The ramparts of a godhead’s dwelling.
“I stood entranced—as rabbins say.
This whole assembled, gazing world
Will stand upon that awful day
When the ark’s light aloft unfurled
Among the opening clouds shall shine
Divinity’s own radiant sign!
“Mighty Mont Blanc, thou wert to me
That minute, with thy brow in heaven,
As sure a sign of deity[Pg 381]
As e’er to mortal gaze was given.
Nor ever, were I destined yet
To live my life twice o’er again,
Can I the deep-felt awe forget,
The dream, the trance that rapt me then.”

We went through the paces demanded of visitors to the valley. We made excursions to the Glacier des Bossons especially to see the little lake which so exquisitely mirrors Mont Blanc—so detestible the artificial ruins which insult its beauty!—we even paid our franc to penetrate the artificial grotto in the ice—and we went as far as the Cascade du Dard. We went also to Flegère for the sake of its extraordinary panoramic view; but I thought best of all was the Brévent which faces so closely the whole range.

We reluctantly left the wonderful valley and returned to Lausanne by the way of Cluses, where we had our watches set, thence across to Bonneville, down to Geneva and along the lake. We were warmly welcomed by the three children who, however, had been well looked after by the trustworthy French bonne.

[Pg 382]


A FEW days later Will and I got to talking about the ancient passages of the Alps. Hannibal’s was the first. We got out a copy of Polybius and read the simple narrative of that almost incredible expedition. Polybius, who was present at the destruction of Carthage, had probably a fairly accurate knowledge of his subject; but to this day it has not been absolutely decided where the great Carthaginian crossed the Alps. One man believes he went by the Little Mont Cenis; a Frenchman argued that he descended into Italy by the Col de la Seigne; but the most convincing argument, that put forward by William John Law, fixes the route as from Roquemaure, where he crossed the Rhône, up to Vienne by Bourgoin, the Mont du Chat, Constans, Bourg Saint-Maurice, thence over the Little Saint-Bernard to Aoste into Italy.

We read some of the passages describing the[Pg 383] difficulties of the route, attempted so late in the season. This is what Polybius says:—

“Hannibal, having arrived upon the Rhône, straightway set about affecting the passage where the river ran in a single stream, being encamped at a distance of nearly four days’ journey from the sea....

“By this time a crowd of the barbarians was collected on the opposite shore for the purpose of preventing the passage of the Carthaginians. Looking well at these, and considering from existent circumstances that it would neither be possible to force a passage in the face of so numerous an enemy nor to keep his position without expecting the enemy upon him from all sides, Hannibal, as the third night was coming on, sent off a division of the army under command of Hanno, son of the King Bomilcar, joining to them natives of the country as guides.

“After marching up the river for a distance of two hundred stadia and coming to a place where it is divided into two branches around an island, they halted there; and, having got timber from a neighboring forest, they soon fitted out a number of rafts, sufficient for their purpose, partly by framing the timbers together, partly by tying them. On these they were safely ferried over....

[Pg 384]

“As the fifth night came on, the division which had already crossed the river pushed forward about the morning watch, against the barbarians, who were opposite to the Carthaginian army. Hannibal now, having his soldiers all ready, was intent on the work of crossing, having filled the barges with the light-shielded cavalry; and the canoes with the lightest of the infantry....

“The barbarians, seeing the purpose of their enemies, rushed out from their entrenchments in a disorderly and confused manner, persuaded that they could readily prevent the landing of the Carthaginians. But Hannibal, as soon as he perceived that his own troops were already coming down on the farther side, for they gave signal of their approach by smoke, as had been agreed upon, at once ordered all to embark, and for the managers of the ferry-boats to make all possible headway against the current.

“This being speedily done, and the men in the boats working with keen rivalry and shouting and striving against the force of the current, ... the barbarians in front raised their war-song and their challenges. The scene was one of terror and of incitement to the conflict.

“At this moment the Carthaginians, who[Pg 385] had first crossed to that side of the river, suddenly and unexpectedly appeared among the tents of the barbarians, which had been left vacant. Some set fire to the encampment; while the majority rushed upon those that were guarding the passage of the river. In view of an event so utterly unexpected the barbarians ran, some to protect their tents, others to resist the assailants, and fought with them. Hannibal, now that everything had succeeded in accordance with his plan, straightway drew up those that had first got across, encouraged them, and engaged in battle with the barbarians. The Gauls, from their lack of order and the strangeness of all that had taken place, soon turned and betook themselves to headlong flight.

“The Carthaginian general having conquered both the passage and his enemies, immediately attended to the transport of those that still remained on the other shore....

“The transport of the elephants was effected in the following manner:—Having constructed a number of rafts, they strongly joined together two of these, so as to fit closely one with the other, and planted both firmly in the shore at the place of embarcation, the two together being about fifty feet wide. Then,[Pg 386] joining other rafts together in the same way, they attached these to the former at the outer end, carrying the fabric of the bridge forward in the line of passage; and, that the whole structure might not be carried down the river, the side that was against the stream they secured by cables from the land, fastened to some trees which grew on the brink. When they had thrown out this bridge to the length of two plethra [sixty meters] altogether, they added at the end two rafts constructed more perfectly than the others and the largest of all. These were bound with great strength to each other; but to the rest in such a way that the fastenings could be easily severed. To these they fixed a number of towing-lines with which the barges were to prevent their being carried down the river, and hold them by force against the stream, to take over the elephants upon them and land them upon the other side.

“After this, they dug up and brought a quantity of earth to all the rafts, and spread it till it was level with, and looked just like, the road that led over the dry land to the crossing-place. The elephants were used always to obey the Indians as far as the edge of the water, but never as yet had ventured to go into the water. They brought them, therefore, along this bank[Pg 387] of earth, putting two females first; and the beasts obeyed them. As soon as they had got them on to the farthest rafts, they cut away the fastenings by which these were fitted to the rest, and, pulling on the two lines with the barges, they soon carried away the beasts and the rafts which bore them from the earthy pier. At this the animals, quite confounded, turned about and rushed in every direction; but, surrounded on every side by the stream, they shrank from it, and were compelled to stay where they were; and, in this way, the two rafts being brought back repeatedly, most of the elephants were brought over upon them. But some, through fright, leaped into the river half-way across; and it happened that all the Indians belonging to these were lost, but the elephants were saved, for, with the power and size of their probosces, raising them out of the water and breathing through them and spouting up all that got into them, they held out, making their way for the most part erect below the water....”

Polybius goes on to tell how Hannibal, having got his forces across, marched up into the mountains by the valley of the Rhône and then began the ascent of the Alps. The Allobroges seized the heights. Polybius says:—

[Pg 388]

“The Carthaginian general, aware that the barbarians had preoccupied the posts of vantage, encamped his army in front of the heights and waited there; then he sent forward some of the Gauls who were acting as guides, in order that they might spy into the designs of the enemy and their whole plan.

“When these men had executed all that was arranged, the general, learning that the enemy steadily kept to their post and watched the passes through the day, but that they went to their repose at night in a neighboring town; acting conformably to that state of things, contrived this scheme:—he put his force in motion and led them forward openly and, when he had come near to the difficult places, he pitched his camp not far from the enemy; but, when night came on, he ordered fires to be kindled, and left the greater part of his troops, and, having lightly armed the most efficient men, he made his way through the defiles in the night and took possession of the positions previously held by the enemy; the barbarians having retired to the town as they were in the habit of doing.

“This had all been done before day came on, and, when the barbarians saw what had happened, they at first abstained from any attack;[Pg 389] but later, when they observed the crowd of beasts of burden and the cavalry winding out from the defile with much difficulty and in a long-drawn column, they were encouraged to close in upon the line of march. As the barbarians made their attacks in many places, a great loss ensued to the Carthaginians, chiefly among the horses and beasts of burden, yet not so much from the enemy as from the nature of the ground; for, as the pass was not only narrow and rugged, but also precipitous, at every moment and at every shock numbers of the pack-animals fell with their loads over the cliffs. The shock was caused chiefly by the wounded horses, for some of them, in the panic made by their wounds, dashed against the baggage-animals, others with a rush forward knocked over everything that came in their way in this difficult passage, and completed the immense confusion.

“Hannibal, observing this, and reflecting that, even though the troops should escape, the loss of their baggage would certainly be attended with the ruin of the army, advanced to their aid with the detachment that had occupied the heights during the night. As he made his assault from higher ground, he destroyed many of the enemy; but not without suffering[Pg 390] equally in return, for the disorder of the march was much increased by the conflict and clamor of these fresh troops. But, when the greater part of the Allobroges had perished in the conflict, and the rest had been compelled to flee for shelter to their homes, then, only, did the remainder of the beasts of burden and the cavalry succeed with great toil and difficulty in emerging from the pass.”

Hannibal seized the town and procured a vast quantity of horses and beasts of burden and captives, as well as corn and cattle, sufficient to maintain his army for several days, and he inspired great fear in all the neighbouring tribes.

When the army began to advance again, the tribesmen came to meet him with green branches and wreaths, as a sign of amity, and they brought with them a plentiful supply of sheep and goats for food. Hannibal, though inclined to be suspicious, still took them for guides and followed them into a still more difficult region. He had good reason for his suspicions, for, as they were passing through a narrow defile where there was very bad footing and steep precipices, they made a sudden attack upon his troops. The pack-animals and the cavalry were in the van; heavy-armed[Pg 391] troops guarded the rear, and attack from that quarter was easily resisted; but the natives, as usual, climbed up the precipices above them and rolled down boulders and flung stones which made fearful havoc.

Hannibal was compelled by this action of the enemy to spend the night near what Polybius calls to leukópetron, The White Rock. Now, not far from Bourg-Saint-Maurice, where we had passed so recently, stands a high rock of gypsum, and it is called to this day La Roche Blanche. Here, in all probability, Hannibal kept guard while during the night the horses and pack-animals with enormous difficulty filed out of the valley. Polybius says:—

“On the following day, the enemy having retired, Hannibal joined forces with the cavalry and led forward to the summit of the Alpine pass, no longer meeting with any organized body of the barbarians, but here and there more or less harassed by them, losing a few pack-animals from the rear or from the van when the natives seized an opportunity to dash at them. The elephants rendered Hannibal the greatest service, for, in whatever part of the line they appeared, the enemy dared not approach, being astounded at the strange look of the beasts.”

[Pg 392]

By this time it was late in the season and the snow was deep on the mountains; and the soldiers, worn out by their terrible toils and the hardships to which they were subjected, were completely disheartened. Like Napoleon and all the great leaders of men, however, Hannibal knew how to play on their emotions and he cheered them by telling them that just below lay Italy and just beyond lay Rome, their ancient enemy.

But the descent was even more difficult than the way up. The snow had fallen and rendered the path over the névé extremely slippery; it was impossible to proceed. So they had to encamp on the mountain ridge, and, in order to widen the road, he engaged his whole force in building up the precipice.

“Thus,” says the historian, “in one day he completed a passage suitable for horses and baggage-animals, so that, carrying these through at once, and pitching his camp about parts which had as yet escaped the snow, he forwarded the army to the pastures. He brought out the Numidians in successive squads to help in building the road, and it took three days of great difficulty and suffering to get the elephants through. They had come to be in a wretched state by reason of hunger, for [Pg 393]the higher points of the Alps, and the parts which reach up to the heights, are utterly without trees and bare, because of the snow remaining constantly summer and winter; but, as the parts along the middle of the mountain-side produced both trees and bushes, they are quite habitable.”


At last, however, after about two weeks in the mountains, they reached the plain of the Po. Livy tells us that Hannibal himself confessed to having lost, from the time he crossed the Rhône, thirty-six thousand men and innumerable horses and other cattle. How many he brought with him into Italy is not known. An exaggerated estimate makes it a hundred thousand infantry and twenty-five thousand cavalry; but it was, perhaps, a third of that number.

The Roman poet, Silius Italicus, who lived in Vergil’s house, but not in his immortality, died just a hundred years after Christ. His verse-history, “Punica,” has come down to us complete. He too gives a description of Hannibal’s wonderful journey:—

“Lone Winter dwells upon those summits drear
And guards his mansion round the endless year.
Mustering from far around his grisly form[Pg 394]
Black rains and hailstone-showers and clouds of storm.
Here in their wrathful kingdom whirlwinds roam
And fierce blasts struggle in their Alpine home.
The upward sight a swimming darkness shrouds
And the high crags recede into the clouds....
O’er jagged heights and icy fragments rude
Thus climb they mid the mountain solitude;
And from the rocky summits, haggard, show
Their half-wild visage, clotted thick with snow.
Continual drizzlings of the drifting air
Scar their rough cheeks and stiffen in their hair.
Now poured from craggy dens, a headlong force,
The Alpine hordes hang threatening on their course;
Track the known thickets, beat the mountain-snow,
Bound o’er the steeps and, hovering, hem the foe.
Here changed the scene; the snows were crimsoned o’er;
The hard ice trickled to the tepid gore.
With pawing hoof the courser delved the ground
And rigid frost his clinging fetlock bound:
Nor yet his slippery fall the peril ends;
The fracturing ice the bony socket rends.
Twelve times they measured the long light of day
And night’s bleak gloom and urged thro’ wounds their way;
Till on the topmost ridge their camp was flung
High o’er the steepy crags, in airy distance hung.”

“What do you think of that for poetry?” I asked Ruth, and she replied that she did not wonder it was not given to school-boys to study.

“Whose is the translation?” she asked.

“Sir Charles Abraham Elton. But is it fair[Pg 395] to melt up a golden, or even a brazen wine-cup and then recast it in an entirely different form and call it a piece of Roman antiquity? That is what these stiff and formal so-called heroic pentameters do with the flowing hexameters of the original.”

“I should like to go to the Saint-Bernard,” I remarked.

“It can be easily arranged,” said my nephew and, as usual, in answer to my wishes came the realization. Instead of describing my own not especially eventful visit to the hospice,—though I could write a rhapsody about the noble dogs, one of whom had only a short time before made a notable rescue of a young American who had wandered off by himself, got lost and nearly perished,—I will give Rogers’s vivid poetic picture. The poet, in his deliberate blank verse, thus pays his respects to the monks:—

“Night was again descending, when my mule,
That all day long had climbed among the clouds,
Higher and higher still, as by a stair
Let down from heaven itself, transporting me,
Stopt, to the joy of both, at that low door,
That door which ever, as self-opened, moves[Pg 396]
To them that knock, and nightly sends abroad
Ministering Spirits. Lying on the watch,
Two dogs of grave demeanor welcomed me,
All meekness, gentleness, though large of limb;
And a lay-brother of the Hospital,
Who, as we toiled below, had heard by fits
The distant echoes gaining on his ear,
Came and held fast my stirrup in his hand
While I alighted. Long could I have stood,
With a religious awe contemplating
That House, the highest in the Ancient World,
And destined to perform from age to age
The noble service, welcoming as guests
All of all nations and of every faith;
A temple sacred to Humanity!
It was a pile of simplest masonry,
With narrow windows and vast buttresses,
Built to endure the shocks of time and chance;
Yet showing many a rent, as well it might,
Warred on for ever by the elements,
And in an evil day, nor long ago,
By violent men—when on the mountain-top
The French and Austrian banners met in conflict.
On the same rock beside it stood the church,
Reft of its cross, not of its sanctity; ...
And just below it in that dreary dale,
If dale it might be called, so near to heaven,
A little lake, where never fish leaped up,
Lay like a spot of ink amid the snow;
A star, the only one in that small sky,
On its dead surface glimmering. ’Twas a place
Resembling nothing I had left behind,
As if all worldly ties were now dissolved;— [Pg 397]
And, to incline the mind still more to thought,
To thought and sadness, on the Eastern shore
Under a beetling cliff stood half in gloom
A lonely chapel destined for the dead,
For such as having wandered from their way,
Had perished miserably. Side by side,
Within they lie, a mournful company,
All in their shrouds, no earth to cover them;
Their features full of life yet motionless
In the broad day, nor soon to suffer change,
Though the barred windows, barred against the wolf,
Are always open!—But the North blew cold;
And bidden to a spare but cheerful meal,
I sate among the holy Brotherhood
At their long board. The fare indeed was such
As is prescribed on days of abstinence,
But might have pleased a nicer taste than mine;
And through the floor came up, an ancient crone
Serving unseen below; while from the roof
(The roof, the floor, the walls of native fir)
A lamp hung flickering, such as loves to fling
Its partial light on Apostolic heads,
And sheds a grace on all. Theirs Time as yet
Has changed not. Some were almost in the prime;
Nor was a brow o’ercast. Seen as they sate
Ranged round their ample hearth-stone in an hour
Of rest they were as gay, as far from guile,
As children; answering, and at once, to all
The gentler impulses, to pleasure, mirth;
Mingling at intervals with rational talk
Music; and gathering news from them that came,[Pg 398]
As of some other world. But when the storm
Rose and the snow rolled on in ocean-waves,
When on his face the experienced traveler fell,
Sheltering his lips and nostrils with his hands,
Then all was changed; and sallying with their pack
Into that blank of Nature, they became
Unearthly beings. ‘Anselm, higher up,
Just where it drifts, a dog howls loud and long,
And now, as guided by a voice from Heaven,
Digs with his feet. That noble vehemence
Whose can it be but his who never erred?
A man lies underneath! Let us to work!
But who descends Mont Velan? ’Tis La Croix.
Away, away! If not, alas, too late.
Homeward he drags an old man and a boy,
Faltering and falling and but half-awaked,
Asking to sleep again.’ Such their discourse.
Oft has a venerable roof received me;
Saint-Bruno’s once—where, when the winds were hushed,
Nor from the cataract the voice came up,
You might have heard the mole work underground,
So great the stillness there; none seen throughout,
Save when from rock to rock a hermit crossed
By some rude bridge—or one at midnight tolled
To matins, and white habits, issuing forth,
Glided along those aisles interminable,
All, all observant of the sacred law
Of Silence. Nor in this sequestered spot,
Once called ‘Sweet Waters,’ now ‘The Shady Vale,’
To me unknown; that house so rich of old,
So courteous, and by two that passed that way,
Amply requited with immortal verse,[Pg 399]
The Poet’s payment.—But, among them all,
None can with this compare, the dangerous seat
Of generous, active Virtue. What tho’ Frost
Reign everlastingly and ice and snow
Thaw not, but gather—there is that within
Which, where it comes, makes Summer; and in thought
Oft am I sitting on the bench beneath
Their garden-plot, where all that vegetates
Is but some scanty lettuce, to observe
Those from the South ascending, every step
As tho’ it were their last,—and instantly
Restored, renewed, advancing as with songs,
Soon as they see, turning a lofty crag,
That plain, that modest structure, promising
Bread to the hungry, to the weary rest.”

[Pg 400]



ONE morning Ruth brought me my mail. Among the letters was one with the postmark Zürich. The superscription was written in a very individual hand, every letter carefully formed. There is a great deal in the claim made that handwriting is an index of character. Preciseness shows in it; the artistic temperament is betrayed by little flourishes; sincerity, craftiness, other virtues, other weaknesses. I knew in a moment that this letter was from my steamer-friend, Professor Landoldt. It was written in delightfully understandable yet amusingly erratic English and asked me to come and make him a visit. It was his “vacancies” and he and Frau Landoldt would be entirely at my service to show me the city and its “surroundabouts.” If I should be coming “by the train-up” he would meet me “by the station.”

It fell in admirably with my plans. Will said[Pg 401] that he would send me over in the Moto; he had some writing to do, else he would go along; but he and Ruth would come for me at the end of my visit, and, if the Professor and the Frau Professorin would like to join us, they would take us to the Dolomites over one of the new routes just opened to motor-vehicles.

What could have been kinder? The last part of the proposition I gladly accepted, but as long as I should have to go alone I thought it best to go by train, and taking it leisurely, stop here and there on my way. So I wrote Professor Landoldt that I would be with him in a week. I provided myself with one of those “abonnement-tickets” which are good for a fortnight of unlimited travel at a cost of only $18.50 and allow one to cover almost all the roads of the country—twenty-eight hundred miles—if one should so desire. My photograph was duly pasted in, my signature appended, and I was armed and equipped.

I went first to Yverdon, enjoying the fine view of the Jura, and following with an eager eye the windings of the Thièle River, which here proclaims itself the legitimate child of the Orbe and the Talent; such a parentage assuring beauty. I stopped long enough there to visit the famous convent built by Duke Conrad of[Pg 402] Zähringen before the middle of the Twelfth Century and nearly eight hundred years later famous as the scene of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi’s epoch-making school, after he had been driven from one place to another by jealousies and misunderstandings. It is still used as a school-building. Pestalozzi is kept in memory of the inhabitants by a monument near the railway station. Here, as in many other places, there are interesting remains of the ancient Roman occupation.

Only two miles beyond—and those two miles offering an enchanting view down the Lake of Neuchâtel—is the famous town of Grandson. As the Swiss railway-ticket allows perfect freedom both of passage and of stop-off, I spent the time between two trains in visiting the château of Baron de Blonay, which has a wide view, and the castle that gives its name to the place. It was built in the year 1000, probably just after it was generally decided that the world was not coming to an end immediately. Here took place the great battle which all Switzerland commemorates.

First it was captured in 1475 by the Bernese; then recaptured by Charles the Bold, of Burgundy. Then on March 3, 1476, the duke was surprised and completely annihilated. Hughes [Pg 403]de Pierre, of the Chapter of Neuchâtel, who was an eye-witness, tells the story of it in his chronicle:—


“At the first blow the castel of Valmarcus fell into the hands of the Burgundian. As soon as Count Rudolphe learned of it he sent the archers of Rhentelin and a part of our men to guard Pontareuse; all the other men from the country were thrown into Boutry and all along the Areuse, on the farther bank, likewise those of Valengin and Landeron. Nor must we forget seven boat-loads of gentlemen (gens de bien) who came from Vully, Cerlier and Bonneville—all of these worthy people (bons enfans) arriving before Neuchâtel were welcomed by the townspeople and immediately two Chevaliers des Ligues, together with the notable councillors of the city and others, were taken from the said barques straight to the Abbey of Bevaix; a part were lodged there; a part at Chastelard, Cortailloud and at Pontareuse.

“When this had taken place the allies, purposing to bring aid and deliverance to their friends at Grandson, arrived at Neuchâtel in great spirits, with songs of joy and a formidable array, all of them men of martial appearance, fear-inspiring and yet good to see. Immediately on being informed by our men of the[Pg 404] disloyalty and cruelty of the duke and the miserable condition of the brave people of Grandson (this report going from mouth to mouth from the first to the last) the said Messieurs des Ligues put on such furious frowns of indignation that no words could express it, all swearing (chevaliers and the rest) that their brothers by life and blood should be avenged without delay and that they would not lose any time for refreshment or rest in the city, but they instantly went to lodge in Auvermé, Corcelle, Cormondrèche, Basle, Colombier, Boudry, Cortaillonds, Bevaix and neighboring places, given aid and welcome everywhere in the county. Then followed the bandière of the city with those of the bourgeoisie who remained there (the most eager having already taken their positions on the Areuse and the Boudry, where they were close together).

“And the day being the second of March, the companies (bandons) being assembled in warlike order, the Messieurs des Ligues before sunrise on the plain between Boudry and Bevaix resolved to dash immediately at the Burgundian without waiting longer for the bandières of Zürich and the horsemen who were late and not as yet arrived at Neuchâtel.

“On the other side, and at the same hour,[Pg 405] Duke Charles advanced with great noise of trumpets and clarions. Those of Schwyz, Thun and others (whose names we can not easily recall) started forth above Valmarcus. The bandières of Soleure, Bern, Lucerne, Fribourg, and that of Neuchâtel which included three hundred citizens and more, as well as that of Landeron and the hommes royés of M. de Langern, led straight to the plain; those of Siebenthal, Unterwald, Morat, Biel and others followed the shore of the lake.

“Soon before the battle-line of the Ligues the Burgundian troops superbly accoutered came forth; there was found the duke with his most trusty cavaliers. Soon the charge was made; soon Les Chartreux de la Lance were crushed and overthrown. After this attack the Ligues, spying all the swarming crowd (formilière) of the Burgundians near Concize, planted their pikes and banners in the ground, and with one accord, falling on their knees, asked the favor of their mighty God.

“The duke, seeing this act, swore: ‘By Saint George these dogs are crying mercy. Cannoniers, fire on those villains!’

“But all his words were of no avail. The Ligues like hail (gresles) fell upon his men, slashing, thrusting those handsome gallants on[Pg 406] all sides. So well and so completely discomfited all along the route were those poor Burgundians that they were scattered like smoke borne away by the wind.”

Other chroniclers tell of the defeat of the duke and the brave deeds of the allies, and how the duke’s horsemen tried to escape but were run down by the infantry and many were killed. Another tells how the sun dazzled them as from a mirror and how the trumpet of Ury bellowed and the horns of Lucerne sent forth such terrible sounds that the people of the Duke of Burgundy were seized with terror and fled. The duke tried to stop them, but it was all in vain; they abandoned their camp, and all its treasures fell into the hands of the allies.

These contemporary accounts are all more or less full of inaccuracies; it is well known now exactly how the battle took place and how the Burgundian army of about fifty thousand with five hundred pieces of artillery was so completely defeated.

The mere facts were these. On Feb. 18, 1476, the Duke Charles assaulted Grandson; on the twenty-eighth the garrison surrendered and the next day were all massacred. On the same day the duke went to the Château of Vaulxmarcus (now Vaumarcus). Its master, Messire de[Pg 407] Neuchâtel, surrendered, throwing himself on his knees and begging to be allowed to retire with his garrison of forty. The duke kept the baron but let the garrison go, who were wildly indignant at not having been allowed to fight. The forty scattered and spread the news, and that brought the allies together. The duke had an impregnable position, but the Swiss, by making a feint of attacking Vaulxmarcus, tried to draw him out. Had he not lacked provisions for so formidable an army, he might have resisted, but he had to advance on Neuchâtel, and the sudden attack of the confederates, who numbered only between twenty and twenty-five thousand men, was irresistible. Many of the Swiss cities possess relics of this great victory, which is the one great event for the Cantons to exult over and no doubt did much to prepare the way for the future Confederacy. At Soleure one sees the costume of Charles’s court jester. Lucerne has the great seal of Burgundy. At the University Library at Geneva are miniatures which belonged to the duke.

If the Duke of Brunswick left twenty million francs to Geneva,—and, by the way, the heirs of his illegitimate daughter are trying to get it away from the town,—Neuchâtel had a benefactor in David de Purry, who left four and a[Pg 408] half millions, and he also has a statue. I did not stop to look into the Municipal Museum, but I took the train to the top of the Chaumont, which gives a fine bird’s-eye view of the city, the lake, and the whole range of the Alps.

I crossed the lake from Neuchâtel to Morat. The lake is a little less than eight kilometers long and is about one hundred and fifty-three meters deep. It connects with the Lake of Bienne by a stream tamed to service. It connects by the Broye with the Lake of Morat, which is like a family reduced in circumstances. It once washed the walls of the ancient city of Aventicum, capital of the Helvetii, and after the Romans captured it, a city of large importance. Both lake and town have shrunk. The lake is about as long as the Lake of Neuchâtel is wide, and the town, now Avenches, lives in its past. Omar Khayyâm would have found a topic for a poem in the solitary Corinthian column from the temple of Apollo standing nearly twelve meters high and serving only as the support for a family of storks most respectable as far as their antiquity is concerned.

Avenches is only about a mile from Morat. It has been called a modern Pompeii. Under the auspices of the Society for the Preservation[Pg 409] of Roman Antiquities it has been more or less thoroughly investigated and archeologized, and one may stand in the very forum where perhaps Cæsar stood.

From Morat I came up to Fribourg, which, to me, was so interesting that I should have liked to stay there a week. In the old days it must have made a natural castle standing on its acropolis almost surrounded by the Sarine River. Indeed, some of the medieval walls and towers are still left to bespeak its military prestige. Ancient churches make it picturesque. That of Saint Nicholas was begun about a hundred years after the town was founded; it has wonderful stained-glass windows, dating back to the Fourteenth Century, carved stalls, and a glorious organ with seven thousand eight hundred pipes. I was fortunate enough to be there while the organist was playing. But most church organs are out of tune. Variations of temperature so easily affect the pipes.

I was pleased to know that the Catholic Bishop of Lausanne resides in Fribourg, which, indeed, is largely a Catholic town. The ancient linden-tree on the Place de l’Hotel-de-Ville would have delighted Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was always measuring big trunks. This is more than four meters in circumference,[Pg 410] and, like every other big tree, it traces its pedigree back to a tiny slip stuck into the ground. It was brought by the young Freiburger, who, having run all the way from Morat, announced the news of the great battle there in 1476 by crying “Victory” and falling dead of his wounds and exhaustion. Probably Pheidippides brought a willow wand which grew into a monstrous tree.

The great suspension bridges also are worth seeing, and every vantage-point has a magnificent view.

Bern was my next objective point. I delighted in the quaint old arcaded streets made under the grey stone houses with their green Venetian shutters, and in the Sixteenth-Century fountains. An abundance of water is one of the most blessed gifts of the gods. I put up at the Bernerhof Hotel and spent a day “seeing the sights.”

Bern was founded by Berthold V of Zähringen in the Twelfth Century, the same Berthold that built Fribourg. Legend makes it out that he named his new city after the quarry of his favourite priest. This proved to be a bear. He spoke his will in a rhyme:

“Holtz, lass dich hauen gern,
Die Stadt muss heissen Bern.”


[Pg 411]

Whether the name came from the legend or the legend from the name is a question no man can decide. The bear is seen on every city shield, and those that once ornamented the city-gates are now penned in the Historical Museum. The bears also come out automatically on the famous Zeitglockenturm. The real bears in the pits—which are pits—are said to be lineal descendants of a cub brought back from a hunt by Berthold himself, or, as others have it, from a pair given him by René, Duc de Lorraine. In 1798 General Brune carried them off to Paris and put them in the Jardin des Plantes, but they were so homesick that they were returned.

“Noble animals,” exclaimed a friend of mine, “fed and pampered as they deserve to be, for they brought good fortune to the triumphant Bernese at Donnerbrühl and at Laupen. Established like real kings under the fir-tree, they seem to look up at us with disdain—at us feeble creatures who gaze at their mighty muscles and at their indomitable eyes!”

A statue to Rudolf von Erlach, the hero of Laupen, is one of the ornaments of the city. Saint Christopher also used to have a wooden statue; it was supposed to guard the silver communion-service, but the plate was stolen again and again, and so he was banished to[Pg 412] a niche in the tower that bears his name, and, as he faced the David fountain, he acquired the nickname of Goliath, and, if tradition tells the truth, which I would never dare deny, whenever the town clock struck twelve he used to rain Weckli, or little cakes, on the people. In order to make the legend true it is said that a rich lady ordered this miracle to be performed. She lived to be a hundred, and, when she died in 1857, the Cathedral chimes were rung in her honour. A statue of Saint Christopher also stands now in the Museum—a relic of the day when Bern was mostly built of wood, as was indicated in the duke’s couplet.

I shall not attempt to tell all I saw in Bern; it would fill a volume; besides, I have reserved the fine old city for at least a year in one of my future reincarnations. Bern is the capital of the Swiss Confederation, and whole chapters would require to be written to elucidate the history and government of the country. There are splendid museums, and libraries, and the University, though comparatively recent, has more than a thousand students enrolled.

As it is always my habit to get above a city if possible, either on a church tower or on some commanding hill, I went to the Gurten and was there at sunset when the Alpenglow was exhibited[Pg 413] with all its pomp. Below lay the splendid buildings of the prosperous town with their towers and variegated roofs and gables. At the foot of the lovely Blümlisalp could be seen the glint of the Lake of Thun, and as for mountains—merely to mention the Jungfrau, the Finsteraarhorn, the Eiger and the Mönch, brings up to me now, not seeing them, a vision that makes the tears come to my eyes. What shall I say, too, to add to the picture, so inadequately hinted at, merely, more than to chronicle that the moon arose not quite at her full but pouring out a jar of golden light that filled the whole valley with vibrating, quivering beauty? At night mountains seem to shrink as if they lay down to sleep. So, from the eight hundred and sixty-one meter altitude of the Gurten, I had the brilliant afternoon sunlight, the most perfect view of the blushing Jungfrau,—and it was most becoming to her,—and then a radiant moonlight night.

[Pg 414]


EARLY the following morning I started for Zürich by the way of Lucerne. I shall say nothing about that gem of cities now; for, in the first place, it was raining when I arrived there, and, in the second place, I had later an opportunity to spend a fortnight there, or rather in the vicinity, with a college classmate who was occupying a handsome villa situated high up above the lake and affording a marvellous gallery of views from every side. I met him by accident in the railway station and he insisted on taking me home with him then and there. Only by faithfully promising him that I would come back to him after my trip in the Tyrol, did he allow me to continue on my way.

So I reached Zürich exactly on time and I found Professor Landoldt awaiting me. He took me in a taxicab to his quaint and amusing old house, situated high up and looking over the whole city. When we got there I must say it did not overlook anything, because of the low hanging clouds from which fell a steady rain. One of R. Töpfer’s “Nouvelles Génévoises” begins with these words:—“When you travel in Switzerland alone and not bringing your always amiable family along with you, the rain is a melancholy harbinger of tedium as it confines you in a hotel-parlor in the company of disappointed tourists.”


I was alone and without my family and it was disappointing to get my first view of Zürich without being able to see much of anything. But the cheery welcome that I received atoned for it. Frau Landoldt was a hearty German woman. I learned accidentally that her father was a Baron von Eggisland and quite well-known as an artist. She herself had a remarkable gift for painting. She was very pretty, with rippling fair hair and eyes like turquoises. They had no children. German individuality is always seen in the decoration of rooms, in the arrangement of pictures and ornaments; it is very different from English or American taste. But in her home prevailed that atmosphere of Gemütlichkeit which is the very soul of hospitality and makes one happy.

In the middle of the afternoon coffee was brought in, together with Apfelküchen and[Pg 415]
[Pg 416]
cheese, jam and fruit. We chatted as we drank the delicious coffee. The Professor and his wife were interested to know what I had been doing since I reached Switzerland, and I told them about some of the more notable expeditions which I had enjoyed, especially my trip around the Lake Leman and my visit to Geneva.

As it still rained and was not propitious for sallying forth, we went into the study of Professor Landoldt, which, as I glanced over it, I found had a well-selected variety of books in various languages, especially on history. One of my first remarks, after I had made a cursory tour of the room, rather surprised the serious-minded German. I said: “If one of my chickens—though, to tell the truth, I never had a chicken in my life—were to escape and fly over into my neighbour’s yard or my dog should run away, I could claim him and bring him back?”

“A propos?” asked the Professor, most politely, but evidently thinking I had gone verrückt.

“As far as I can make out, a large part of the soil of Switzerland has run away and is disporting itself all over the rest of Europe. Why does it not still belong to Switzerland?”

“Oh, I see what you mean,” he said, very seriously.

[Pg 417]

“What I really mean is this; if Switzerland, which is a republic, governed, as far as I can judge, more democratically even than our United States, could establish its claim to its run-away land and introduce the same form of government in the army-swamped countries of Europe,—in Germany, France and Austria,—think what a blessing it would be!”

“The time will come,” said the Professor, “when there will be the United States of Europe. Militarism foments national jealousies, but the common people cherish no hatreds. Our little Switzerland was originally just as much divided against itself as Germany and France would be if Fate should suddenly amalgamate them. Germany seized Alsace, and, when I was in Strassbourg not long ago, I noticed that all the men at the market wore knots of black ribbon: that was in token of mourning, because they had been torn from France. But if there were the United States of Europe all that commemoration of hard feelings would vanish. Napoleon was eagle-eyed and prophetic enough to foresee what was coming; he would have made Europe one grand empire, but one grand empire would have been the next step to one grand republic, just as the trusts foreshadow government ownership.[Pg 418] Think what would be the saving in what you call ‘dollars and cents’ alone, if the rivalry in military expenditure could be stopped. It would free billions and billions to make perfect roads, to do away with slums, to educate the masses, to cure the disease of intemperance, as well as other curable diseases. It is coming as sure as Fate. We already see the rosy light of its rising on the highest mountain-tops—the sun of democracy touches the edge of the horizon.”

“That is fine,” said I. “Yes, the people are waking to their birthrights. Not long ago I was asked to address a large audience of Russian Jews gathered to do honour to Count Tolstoï. I said the time would come when, instead of the Emperor of Russia and the Emperor of Germany commanding several millions of peasants torn from their homes to fight with one another for some cause in which they had not the slightest interest, and naturally friendly, these same millions of men would suddenly reverse the current; if there was to be a fight, they would stand round in a vast circle and let the two emperors settle it in the arena just as David fought with Goliath,—perhaps by a discussion, and not by swords and slings or pistols,—and it would be settled just as[Pg 419] equitably as if thousands of men and thousands of horses were killed and horribly maimed.”

“The possibility of men of rival nations working side by side has been shown again and again. I have been recently reading about the battle of Zürich, where Masséna defeated the Russians and Austrians. Russians and Austrians fought side by side. A juggle would have set Austrians and Russians fighting one another. Hitherto they have been only pawns, but the new game of chess makes the united pawns more powerful than kings, queens and bishops.”

“That reminds me of the prediction made by the young Marquis de Pezay, author of ‘Zèles au Bain,’ who in 1771 came to Switzerland and published his ‘Soirées Helvétiques’ full of odd apostrophes—‘Peoples, whom I am about to visit, good Swiss, shut not your gates to my passage!’ He did not altogether like the mountains, though he called them sublime and immense—‘colosses d’albâtres’—and he said that they would some day be cut down and practicable roads would be put through, ‘so as to make the nations sisters.’ He made fun of the militarism of the Bernese, though he himself was an officer in the French army. He said: ‘When universal peace comes[Pg 420] about we shall see bloody partizans exchanged for useful basins,’—if that is what he means by bâches salutaires,—‘the ruinous revêtements of our citadels will look down only on wide canals navigable and well-supplied with fish, and gunpowder will not be exploded in the air except to blow up rocks or celebrate the festivals of pacific kings.’”

“So is that fine,” said the Professor. “But speaking of the Russians and the Austrians fighting side by side—that was a masterly retreat which Suvórof made over the mountains. I do not know which to admire most, Hannibal in taking his elephants across the Alps from the Rhône to the Po, or the Russian field-marshal extricating himself from the cul de sac into which his obstinacy had entrapped him.”

“That is odd!” I exclaimed. “I have just been reading about Hannibal in Polybius and Livy, but I have forgotten if I ever knew the exact facts about Suvórof.”

“I will tell you about it,” said the Professor, “if you would like to hear it.”

“Indeed I would.”

The Professor got out a large atlas, and occasionally showed me the places on the map. “I will tell you,” he said, “there is a remarkable account of Suvórof’s adventure in the Swiss[Pg 421] novelist Ernst Zahn’s ‘Albin Indergand.’ It is right from the life. But I will do my best.

“Suvórof, who had crossed the Alps and seized Turin and Milan, was ordered by the Emperor to have his plans approved before being put into execution. He complained of this absurd restriction. ‘In war,’ he said, ‘circumstances are changing from one moment to another; consequently there can be no precise plan of action.’

“He was surrounded by jealousies and by spies, and the Austrian court issued orders without consulting him.

“He was so disgusted with the condition of things that he was tempted to throw up his command. He wrote to the Emperor asking if he might be recalled: ‘I wish to lay my bones in my fatherland and pray God for my Emperor.’ The battle of the Trebbia was succeeded by the sanguinary fight at Novi, where Suvórof allowed his forces to be almost annihilated before he woke to the danger in which he was placed. At this battle the French loss was twelve thousand; that of the Allies eight thousand, of which one-fourth were Russians. The Russians began to sack Novi, but Suvórof managed to restrain them. He was then ordered to lead the armies in Switzerland.

[Pg 422]

“He was heartbroken at the vain result of his efforts and triumphs.

“He was almost seventy years old, and during his professional career of half a century, he had never been defeated.

“He had for a local guide through Switzerland Colonel Weywrother, an Austrian officer. Misled by him the Russian general calculated that he could reach Schwyz in seven days. He had twenty thousand men. Uncorrected by Weywrother, he selected a road which ended at Altorf whence the only passage to Lucerne and Schwyz was by water. When, after an incredibly rapid march, covering in four days a space usually requiring a week, they reached Taverna, not one of the fifteen hundred mules ordered was on hand and all the advantage of this marvellous forced passage was lost. They were delayed five days, and then only six hundred and fifty mules came.

“The Grand Duke Constantine suggested dismounting the four thousand Cossacks and using their horses as pack-animals. Lieutenant-General Rosenberg, with a division of six thousand, attempted to turn the Saint-Gotthard pass by the Val di Blegno, Dissentis and the Oberalp Lake. He was obliged to bivouac at Cassaccia, nearly two thousand three hundred[Pg 423] meters above the sea, in bitter cold without fire or any sort of shelter. But he succeeded in getting behind the enemy’s position.

“Suvórof, mounted on a Cossack horse and wearing the cloth uniform-coat of a private over his flimsy suit, and topping all with his famous threadbare cloak, rode up from Bellinzona, accompanied by an aged peasant guide, who did not know that the road ended at Altorf.

“Reaching and capturing Airolo, they drove out the French, who retired to the mountain and kept up a galling fire.

“When the Russians attempted to carry the summit of the pass it took two successive assaults, at a loss of two thousand men, to win it.

“Rosenberg had, in the meantime, driven the French from the Oberalpsee and crossed the heights above Andermatt, then dashing down through dense fog, had captured that village, and cut off the French reinforcements.

“Flinging his cannon into the Reuss, he took his men over the Betzberg, more than two thousand two hundred meters in height, and brought them in safety into the Göschenen valley.

“The Urner Loch, a passage cut in the solid rock and just large enough to admit a single[Pg 424] pedestrian and his pack, and the Devil’s Bridge, wide enough to allow two men to walk abreast, hanging twenty-three meters above the swift Reuss, were the only means of getting to the pass, which is about half a kilometer long.

“A promiscuous slaughter followed. A French gun swept the tunnel from end to end with grape, and mowed down all who entered. The rearmost Russians pushed those in front of them towards the hole. Its entrance was choked with human beings, and many were pushed over the edge of the chasm and perished in the boiling torrent.

“This waste of life lasted till the Russian flanking parties came in sight on the heights above. Then the defenders of the tunnel retired across the Devil’s Bridge. One can see even now where they broke down the masonry platform by which it was approached. Then followed a murderous battle. The combatants were separated only by the narrow chasm of the Reuss. At last the French, seeing the enemy working his way along the mountain above them to the right, began to waver. Their assailants streamed across the narrow arch as far as the break in the masonry platform. To cross it they pulled down a shed hard by; bound its timbers together with officers’ sashes [Pg 425]and laid them across the chasm; Prince Meschersky was the first to cross. ‘Do not forget me in the despatches,’ he cried, as he fell mortally wounded. A Cossack followed him but fell into the torrent.

“The French retreated to Seedorf, on the left bank of the Reuss, and there waited the turn of affairs. Meantime Suvórof had reached Altorf, where he found the end of his path.

“Not knowing how conditions were around Zürich, he determined to force his way to Schwyz. To do this meant to march across the Rosstock, that rugged ridge between the Schächental and the Muotta.

“Even under favourable conditions it is a hard task; but it was now late in the season; yet in spite of all common sense reasons he decided on this plan.

“The terrible advance up the Kinzig pass began on the 27th of September. Bagration was in the van; Rosenberg remained behind to protect the rear. Here is the graphic picture which Milyutin gives of the journey:—

“‘The path became gradually steeper and at times disappeared altogether.

“‘It was not an easy matter for pedestrians to climb such a height: what then must have been the difficulty of conducting horses and[Pg 426] mules, laden with guns, ammunition and cartridges! The poor animals could hardly budge a foot; in many cases they stumbled from the narrow pathway headlong into the abyss and were dashed to pieces on the rocks below. The horses often dragged the men with them in their fall; a false step was death.

“‘At times black clouds descending the mountain-sides enveloped the column in dense vapor and the troops were soaked to the skin as if by heavy rain. They groped their way through the raw fog, everything round about being invisible.

“‘The boots of both officers and men were for the most part worn out. Their biscuit-bags were empty. Nothing was left to sustain their strength.

“‘But, in spite of extreme suffering, the half-shod, starving troops of Russia kept up their spirits. In the hour of trial the presence of the son of their Emperor, sharing their fatigues and dangers, encouraged them. During the entire march the Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovitch marched with Bagration’s advance-guard.’

“The sufferings of those Russians were incredible! The main body of the troops spent the bitter cold night in the mountains, with little to eat, no fire and no shelter. Many perished from exposure.

“In the morning Suvórof learned that Korsákof had been defeated at Zürich, that Glarus was in the hands of the French; that Hotze was defeated and killed in the battle on the Linth; that the Austrians who should have been his support on the right had retreated. Masséna was approaching Schwyz to meet him there; Molitor held Glarus; Le Courbe was at Altorf.

“He was caught in a trap. On the 29th he summoned a council of war.

“When the council was assembled he broke into a furious invective against the Austrians and put the question fair and square:—

“‘We are surrounded in the midst of the mountains by an enemy superior in strength. What are we to do? To retreat is dishonor. I have never retreated. To advance to Schwyz is impossible. Masséna has sixty thousand men; we have not twenty thousand. Besides, we are destitute of provisions, cartridges and artillery. We can look to no one for aid. We are on the brink of ruin.’

“The council voted to march on Glarus and force a passage past the Wallensee.

“Suvórof ended with these brave words:—

[Pg 427]
[Pg 428]

“‘All one can do is to trust in Almighty God and in the courage and devotion of our troops. We are Russians. God is with us.’

“Then the old marshal fell at the feet of the Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovitch. The Grand Duke raised him and kissed him.

“‘Save the honor of Russia and her Tsar! Save our Emperor’s son! Da! We are Russians. With the help of God we will conquer!’


“Bagration pushed the French back into the narrow gorge between the mountains and the Klöntalersee; but having then a solid position they resisted further attack. Masséna, advancing from Schwyz, was attacking Rosenberg in the rear in the Muotta valley, but met by Rehbinder’s brigade and attacked from above by Cossacks fighting on foot, they were driven back through the defile, a terrible slaughter of the fugitives taking place at the bridge, now known as Suvórof’s, which spanned the Muotta.

“Again the Russians had to sleep out-of-doors, cold and starving and exposed to a bitter sleet. The grand duke and Suvórof found shelter in a cow-shed.


“On the morning of October 1, Masséna with fifteen thousand men again attacked Rosenberg whose troops followed up ‘a staggering volley’ with the famous Suvórof bayonet charge [Pg 429]and drove them miles down the valley, inflicting on them a loss of more than two thousand, not counting perhaps as many more drowned in the Muotta, while some hundreds fell or threw themselves over precipices.

“Bagration was having equal success against Molitor in the defile by the Klöntalersee driving him back to Mollis, but when he was reinforced, retiring to Nettstal, in good order. Suvórof himself had captured Glarus and a large supply of provisions; while Rosenberg by a master-stroke of strategy succeeded in rejoining Suvórof in spite of a heavy snow-storm, and the sufferings of his men, who in their turn had to bivouac on the pass without food or fire.

“The army, however, was still hemmed in and was short of provisions, and still worse, short of ammunition. Their only hope was to escape by the Panixer pass, but at this time of the year the deep snow already fallen had obliterated the path; they were surrounded by dense clouds; they had no guides; the superstitious Russians were greatly alarmed by seeing the lightning and hearing peals of thunder below them—a phenomenon which seemed to them supernatural. Occasionally a man, or even an officer, mounted, would vanish entirely,[Pg 430] swallowed up in some deep crevasse hidden by snow.


“They had to spend the night again on the mountain; it grew bitter cold; the snow became dangerously slippery. A bombardment of rocks from the heights above killed many.

“But the remainder with incredible courage pushed on the next day to Ilanz, where it was found that at least five thousand were missing.

“On the 8th of October they reached Coire, where, at last, the starved wretches had something to eat.

“And all this loss and suffering might have been largely obviated had Suvórof known enough to follow the Splügen pass and the Grisons, or having reached Altorf, joined Lipken by the Schächental.

“In honour of the heroic management of the Swiss campaign the Emperor made him generalissimo of the Russian army, calling him ‘the most renowned commander of this or any other age.’”

“That is certainly a great story,” said I. “Isn’t there a statue or a memorial to Suvórof?”

“Oh, yes. At the Devil’s Bridge, on the side of the chasm, there is a tall granite cross, about[Pg 431] ten meters high, put up in 1899, and with an inscription in Russian to the memory of him and his brave comrades. The bridge itself is generally called after him.”

“It brings these great events very vividly before one to be at the very spot where they took place, does it not?”

“Yes, just think what centuries of history this Zürich of ours has seen! While I was in England a few years ago I picked up at a second-hand bookshop a queer old copy of Thomas Coryat’s ‘Crudities.’ Here is the book: in his dedication he calls himself ‘Thy benevolent itinerating friend T. C., the Odcombian Legge-Stretcher.’ He travelled through all this region, using his ‘ten toes for a nagge.’ Here he refers to Zürich: he says that while here he met Rodolphus Hospinianus, Gaspar Waserus and Henricus Bultigerus. Gaspar Waserus was the ‘ornamêt of the town, speaking eight languages’ but Hospinian—that ‘glittering lamp of learning’—told him that their city was founded in the time of Abraham. He derives the names from the fact that it belonged to two kingdoms—zweier Reich—‘one, on the farther bank of the Limacus,’ he says, ‘belonged to Turgouia, that on the hither bank Ergouia.’ The Latin name, according to[Pg 432] him, was Turegum, quasi, duorum regum civitas.”

“An amusing case of imaginary etymology,” I should say. “But Zürich is a very ancient city, I believe.”

“Oh, yes. In 1853 and the following year there was a remarkable diminution of the waters in the lake and wide surfaces were laid bare. Near Obermeilen, above half-way up the lake, some labourers were embanking some new land and they discovered piles, bits of charcoal and other relics. Ferdinand Keller began making investigations and he discovered that these piles were in parallel rows and were evidently the remains of habitations. After that any number of similar discoveries were made. At Concise, near Neuchâtel, from one single aquatic village twenty-five thousand different objects were recovered. And they now know exactly how these villages looked with their floors of fire-hardened clay, their circular walls, their conical roofs made of wattled reeds and straw or bark. If you have been into any of the Swiss museums you have seen their weapons and stag-horns, bulls’ skulls, flint arrowheads, serpentine hatchets, slings, horn-awls, rings, and clay vessels, toys, quoits, ornamented often with rude but not inartistic etchings,—[Pg 433]there is no end to the things preserved,—and even their canoes hollowed out of one trunk, just such as Hannibal used for crossing the Rhône. Each village had probably two or three hundred huts connected with the shore by a bridge. One investigator discovered a storehouse containing a hundred measures of barley and wheat. They evidently had their farms; they raised apples, pears and plums. They had a trade with other tribes, for coral and amber articles were found. Yes, Zürich is built on a settlement that existed probably fifteen hundred years before Christ—not so very far from the time of Abraham.”

“Who were they?”

“Some think they were of the same race as the Etruscans. It is probable that they were attacked by the Kelts, who burnt their villages.”

“I suppose it was Kelts who attacked Hannibal.”

“Probably; they were Allobrogi. The Kelts were always freedom-loving.”

“I remember what Kant says about the people of mountains loving freedom: ‘The peoples that dwell around and on the mountains are very strong and bold and in all ways seek to assert their freedom—ihre Freiheit zu[Pg 434] behaupten. But this probably comes from the fact that in such regions it is very easy for a few to defend themselves against great armies, and, moreover, the mountain-peaks are uninhabited and uninhabitable; in the valleys also little wealth is to be found and no one is especially tempted to dwell in such regions.’ He also claims that the peoples that do live there and are vegetarians are the freest.”

“I am not so certain about the valleys not tempting to invasion. Do you know one of the most interesting episodes in Swiss history is the coming of the Saracens? Yet they left surprisingly few remains—a few medals without dates—a few names embedded in other names—like Pontresina, which is Pons Sarecenorum.”

“I know it is, because one of my favourite novels is Viktor von Scheffel’s ‘Ekkehard.’”

“Do you know that?”

“Indeed I do, and, above all things, I want to go to the Lake of Constance—your Bodensee—and make a pilgrimage to the Hohentwil, where Ekkehard taught the duchess Latin and she taught him love.”

“We will go there together; that will be an excellent excursion.”

This plan also, I will say here, we carried [Pg 435]out, visiting at the same time Constance and two or three other towns on the lake, and also the Falls of the Rhine. Really, to know Switzerland, one would have to live here years. Everywhere I go the charm and variety of it grows on me. Mountains, mountains everywhere! I can say with old Coryat:—

“Such is the height of many of these mountains that I saw at the least two hundred of them that were ‘farre aboue’ some of the clouds!”

I was glad that Constance, which controls the mouth of its lake, has also its Reformer—John Huss—to compare with Geneva’s Calvin and Zürich’s Zwingli; they prize him all the more because they put him to death!


The Professor and I talked of all manner of things,—antiquities, Swiss history, which, except in spots, and its final results, is not very inspiring; strikes and labour-troubles, woman-suffrage, the growth of commercialism, the Swiss railways and the advantage of having them owned by the state, and education. We forgot that it rained. But the following morning the storm showed symptoms of dissolution, and the Professor and I sallied forth to see the city. Every city is worthy of a hundred books; for every city is full of human beings,[Pg 436] or else of history, or both. Zürich has nearly two hundred thousand inhabitants and also has its history. I had seen lying on the library table a beautifully printed and well illustrated pamphlet describing the restoration of the Fraumünster, which was completed in 1912. That venerable building settles Zürich’s historic solidity. There were found in it, or rather under it, traces of the little church which was torn down in the Ninth Century to make room for the Carolingian minster, which has been so successfully repaired. We went around it and into it and the Professor pointed out to me the relics of its most ancient carvings, more or less mutilated inscriptions, grave-stones—one of them to the Ritter Berngerus von Wile, dated 1284.

“Did you know that in the Thirteenth Century when Berngerus,—I wonder if he was a bear-slayer,—when Von Wile was living in Zürich,—there was a regular school of poetry here? Heinrich Mannes, the Probst of the Abtei, who founded the Library, had charge of it. He died in 1270. Rüdiger Mannesse had a great collection of song-books, and the tests in ‘Mastersong’ were much enjoyed. Count Krafto von Toggenburg was afterwards Probst of the Abtei. It is supposed that Had[Pg 437]loub was his pupil. He was the nephew of Elizabeth von Wetzikon, the Fürstabtissin, who made him chaplain of St. Stephen’s outside the walls. This Elizabeth von Wetzikon’s mortuary inscription was found in the old church, but badly mutilated. The Zürich Antiquarian Society has published nearly three score of Hadloub’s poems. I read some of them. There is one that reminded me of the old English song—‘Sumer is i-kumen in—lude sing kuku.’ It begins:—

“‘Sumer hât gesendet ûz sîn Wunne;
Seht die bluomen gênt ûf dur daz gras.
Lûter klâr stêt nû der liechte sunne
Dâ der winter ê vil trûebe was.’”


As it was still cloudy we went into the Swiss National Museum. A hasty glance at the old furniture, at the stained glass—the best collection in the world—made it evident that a week was all too short for Zürich—I should want at least a week for that wonderful museum alone. And with such an intelligent guide as Professor Landoldt it was most edifying. When we came out the sun was shining and we went to the top of the Polytechnikum and got that bird’s-eye view of the town which is the best introduction. I shall always remember the[Pg 438] beauty of it; I can see with my mind’s eye the twin towers of the Gross-Münster—not that they are beautiful, at least not their caps—and (from closer observation) the quaint statue of Charlemagne with his gilded crown and sword.

“The molasses-sandstone which was used for building so many of the old edifices in Zürich,” said the Professor, “comes from quarries at the upper end of the lake that were known in Roman times. Unfortunately it crumbles rather readily ‘under the tooth of time.’ Some of the carvings on the old cathedral are most quaint and curious, as you will see. For instance, on the third story is a knight dressed in tunic and chlamys. He may have been meant for Rupert, an Alleman duke, or for Burkhart, Duke of Suabia. Besides the human and angel figures you will see birds and all sorts of four-footed creatures, many of them imaginary or apocalyptic. It is odd that the statues and decorations do not refer to Biblical subjects but rather to heathen imaginations—chimeras, dragons, hippogrifs, sirens, lions eating men who are certainly not meant to be Daniels; there are a winged crocodile devouring a giant’s ears, a toad standing on its head, a bearded Hercules strangling twisted serpents, Delilah cutting Samson’s hair, wolves biting at [Pg 439]a boar, skinny monkeys with skulls at their mouths, a face with fish coming out of the mouth and ears, centaurs shooting bows, conventionalized grapes and monsters eating them, and the like.


“The first towers,” he went on to say, “were in Romanesque style and not intended to rise much above the roof; there should have been a separate campanile; at the end of the Fifteenth Century both towers were built higher in Gothic style. I think it was the ambitious Bürgermeister Waldmann, envious of the tall towers of Basel and Fribourg, who had them elevated. To meet the expenses he himself contributed three hundred gulden, and taxed the whole priesthood from the bishop down, but he did not live to see his ambition carried out. These towers went through various vicissitudes. In 1490 a pointed cap ornamented with lead was put on each, but the lead was too heavy and was taken off twenty years later and the caps were covered with larch shingles. These lasted till they caught fire in 1575; then a copper top was put on; then shingles again; then in 1763 it was struck by lightning and burned to the bell-deck. In 1770 a stone gallery with pyramids on the four corners showed itself. The present rather ridiculous[Pg 440] top—the octagonal wooden helmets—dates back to 1779.”

“There must be any amount of interesting remains all around Zürich,” said I, leading him on.

“Indeed there are. A number of years ago the favourite spot for viewing Zürich was up on the Balgrist, where you look down into the Limmat valley and across the lake to the mountains. In 1814, I think it was, some labourers requiring material to mend the roads with dug down and discovered some skeletons. It was supposed to be remains of soldiers killed in the battle between the Russians and the French in 1799 and they gave these remains Christian burial. But they were really prehistoric. Afterwards all sorts of things were found there, but, as it was not then a scientific age, most of them were lost. The place is Entebüchel, which local etymology interprets as the Hill of the Giants; Büchel, equivalent to Hühl, meaning hill, and Ente the local word for giant. But it really means ‘Beyond the Hill,’ the word ent or ennet being an Alleman word.”

“What is the oldest monument in Zürich?”

“Oh, probably a grave-stone of the Second Century, which some Roman official set up to his beloved son; it stands in the present Lindenhof[Pg 441] and has the words ‘Statio turicensis’ carved on it. When this region became Roman the tax-collectors dwelt here. After the fall of the Romans, the Allemanni came, then the Franks, then the German kings. Zürich was a palatinate, which means, as you know, palatium regis; a palace where the kings stayed when they visited here. Really, you might spend a life-time studying the history of Zürich and this lake. I shall like you to compare the Lake of Geneva with our much smaller Zürich Lake,” said Herr Landoldt. “I shall take you on a trip around it.”

He was true to his promise. After he had shown me all the sights of his splendid city—the largest in Switzerland—we made the tour of the lake. It has not the beauty of colouring of Lake Leman; it is a pale green but “the sweet banks of Zürich’s lovely lake” are what the French call riant, a little more than our smiling; and the background of snow-covered Alps is magnificent. The lake is about ten times as long as it is wide and is one hundred and forty-two meters deep. Just as from the end of Leman rushes the Rhône, so from the Zürich end of its lake rushes in a torrential dash the green Limmat. On the left shore, at the place where it attains its greatest width,[Pg 442] are the two little islands of Lützelau and Ufenau. On Ufenau is a church and a chapel dating from about the middle of the Twelfth Century. Here died in 1523, Maximilian’s poet-laureate, Luther’s zealous partizan, the high-tempered, witty, impetuous Ulrich von Hutten. He had to flee from his enemies, and found a refuge through the protection of his fellow-reformer, Zwingli, who exercised somewhat the same commanding influence in Zürich as Calvin did in Geneva. I had never read any of Von Hutten’s works, but I found an excellent edition of them in the Professor’s library and I read with much amusement some of the sarcasms which he put into verse in his “Awakener of the German Nation.”

We went to Rapperswyl—the ending wyl or wil reminds one of the multitude of New England towns ending in ville and has the same origin—and spent an hour in the Polish National Museum founded in 1870 by Count Broel-Plater and installed in the Fourteenth-Century castle, which came to the Hapsburgs when its founders lost it. It seemed strange to see all the memorials of a vanquished people—weapons, banners and ornaments, portraits and historical pictures—on the walls or in the cabinets of a city so far away.


We got back to Zürich in the evening, and the Professor called my attention to the romantic effect of the lighted boats plying on the glittering waters. There was a brilliant moon, too, and a more beautiful scene I have rarely witnessed than the city with its myriad lights.

My week went like a breath. Before I knew it, we were off for our trip through the Austrian Tyrol. Will and Ruth appeared in due time, and, to my surprise, they brought Lady Q. with them. It is one of the curiosities of travel that one is always meeting the same persons. We should have toured the Bernese Oberland had not motor-vehicles been barred. But in the Tyrol splendid roads have been constructed and those incomparable regions are a paradise for travel. To detail the itinerary would be merely a catalogue with superlatives for decoration. To describe the journey with all its memorable details,—picturesque towns, valleys sweeping down between rugged mountains, rivers and cataracts, would occupy a book as big as a dictionary. I noticed that we came to the third class of mountain-peaks: the first was Dents, the second was Horns, and now we found the term was Piz. One of the most fascinating little places that we visited on a side[Pg 443]
[Pg 444]
trip to Davos-Platz was Sertig Dörfli, with its attractive church and its view of the Piz Kesch. At Davos lived John Addington Symonds, and I pleased my niece especially by reciting his beautiful sonnet: “’Neath an uncertain moon.” Besides that Piz we saw Piz Michel and Piz Vadret and Piz Grialetsch. In several cases, where we could not go in the car, we went either by train or by carriage. At Sils, also, finely situated on the largest of the Engadine lakes, there were still more Pizes: Piz della Marga, Piz Corvatsch, Piz Güz. There is no end to them.

We took the advice of some chance acquaintances who had been motoring through the Tyrol. We went to Bozen, and, after spending the night there, we followed the Val Sugana and the Broccone and Gobbera passes and then the new roads of the Rolle, the Pordoi and the Falzarego into the Dolomites. Of course the Dolomites do not belong to Switzerland as a State but only geologically. We crossed over into Italy and enjoyed the drive by the Italian lakes—a succession of “dreams of beauty,” as Lady Q. said with more truth than originality. We spent a day in Milan and then returned to Switzerland by the Saint-Gotthard.

Serlig Dörfli


MY classmate, Ned Allen, was always a dilettante; if he had been obliged to work, he might have accomplished great things; but, though he may have had ambitions, the days of his young manhood slipped away while he travelled all over the world. Then he became disgusted with what he considered unjust taxation, and, converting all his property into income-bearing bonds, so that he had no care or worry, he came to Europe and lived part of the time in his villa on the Lake of the Four Cantons and part of the time in a lovely palazzo near Palermo in Sicily.

He had everything to make him happy, and, yet, like most of the rich men whom I have ever known, he was not happy. Happiness comes only in forgetting one’s self, and that he had no time to do, because he had all the time there was.

It did him good, I think, to be obliged to exert[Pg 445]
[Pg 446]
himself a little to show me the sights. Like myself, he was very fond of music, and he followed the example of a good many wealthy men in Switzerland—he had a string quartet play every Sunday afternoon and also two or three evenings a week. One day he took me to the house of a friend of his who supported a large orchestra and gave concerts to a few invited guests or to himself alone according to circumstances. He had been to Paderewski’s villa on the Lake of Constance and to the Count von Hesse-Wartegg’s, where his wife, Madame Minnie Hauk, after retiring from the stage, has lived for a number of years. As I knew them all, I wished that I might pay my respects, but I had no chance—there were so many other things to do.

One of my first objects of pilgrimage at Lucerne was the Peace and War Museum, founded by that remarkable Austrian Jew, Von Bloch. My classmate was inclined to scoff at the notion of Universal Peace. I found he had not read or even thought very deeply on the subject, and I really think that my enthusiasm communicated itself somewhat to him. He had never thought, before I suggested it to him, that the small stature of the present-day French and Italians was probably due to the[Pg 447] fact that the best and strongest of the youth of those two nations were killed off in the Napoleonic and subsequent wars. War does not ensure the survival of the fittest. The old and weaklings are left to perpetuate the race.

One would hardly believe it, but Ned had never been to the top of Pilatus; I found he was not especially interested in scenery, he who lived in the midst of the most splendid scenery in Switzerland. But he went with me to Pilatus. As we started I quoted the rhymed proverb:—

“Hat der Pilatus einen Hut
Dann wird das Wetter gut;
Hat er einen Degen
So giebt es sicher Regen.”

He had heard that and said it was quite true; if the mountain was adorned with a little cloudy cap it meant that there would be fair weather; fortunately the peak wore his hat and not his dagger, so we had bright sunshine and not rain.

But Ned did not know the legend which connects Pilate with the mountain. Of course it should be Mons Pileatus—the capt mountain; but the story became widespread that after Christ was put to death, Pilate was recalled to[Pg 448] Rome. He wore Christ’s robe. He was found guilty of malfeasance and was put to death. His body was thrown into the Tiber which refused it and angry storms arose. It was sent to Vienna: the Danube refused it; it was brought to the Rhône; again storms; the lake refused it; new disasters came upon Lausanne. Then it was brought to the Frankmünt—that is what the rough upper part of the mountain is called; the mons fractus—where Pilate’s ghost fought with the spectre of King Herod—the red of the conflict was seen then and afterwards at sunset on the mountain-top. Up came a necromancer and laid a terrible spell. In the days that followed nothing would grow there, and on Good Friday the disgraced procurator was doomed to appear on a black mule with a white spot—like a Roman knight—and show himself.

So great was the fear of Pilatus that until comparatively modern times no one dared to go up to it. Now there is a railway, and the ghost of Pilate is laid. Sir Edwin Arnold speaks of the legend in his lilting poem:—

“He riseth alone,—alone and proud
From the shore of an emerald sea;
His crest hath a shroud of the crimson cloud,
For a king of the Alps is he;
Standing alone as a king should stand,
With his foot on the fields of his own broad lands.
“And never a storm from the stores of the North
Comes sweeping along the sky
But it emptieth forth the first of its wrath
On the crags on that mountain high;
And the voice of those crags has a tale to tell
That the heart of the hearer shall treasure well.
“A tale of a brow that was bound with gold,
And a heart that was bowed with sin;
Of a fierce deed told of the days of old
That might never sweet mercy win,
Of legions in steel that were waiting by
For the death of the God that could never die.
“Of a dear kind face that its kindness kept
Dabbled with blood of its own;
Of a lady who leapt from the sleep she slept
To plead at a judgment-throne.
Of a cross and a cry and a night at noon
And the sun and the earth at a sickly swoon.
“But climb the crags when the storm has rule
And the spirit that rides the blast,
And hark to his howl as he sweeps the pool
Where the Roman groaned his last;
And to thee shall the tongue of the tempest tell
A record too sad for the poet’s shell.”
[Pg 449]
[Pg 450]


Whatever may have been the bareness of its sides in consequence of necromancer’s spells it is now filled with beautiful plant life—hundreds of varieties. If I had been as much of a botanist as I am a collector for my mental picture-gallery I might fill a page with the names and descriptions of the Alpine flowers, which I noticed as merely blue or pink or yellow and cared little for distinguishing them apart. Once during one of my trips I did see the edelweiss growing, but it is not very pretty; but the fields of gentians and the forget-me-nots—those acres of blue sky fallen to earth and growing up again—those would or might inspire and extract a poem from the most prosaic.

We went together also to the top of the Rigi, which is easily attainable by railway.

Töpfer, in his story entitled “Les Deux Scheidegg,” gives a most enthusiastic description of an avalanche. I think I like the view from Pilatus better than from Rigi; but from both the mountains look like a colossal ocean in a storm and suddenly stricken by the sight of Medusa’s face!

Ned took me in his motor-boat on several trips around the lake which has so many names. I was not really so much interested in the William Tell region as I suppose I should have been. Suppose it were proved as decisively as Tell, as Eindridi with King Olaf, as Hemingr with King Harald, or as Geyti, son of Alask, have been proved to be mere sun myths, that Napoleon and Apollo were really the same, and that George Washington was only a sun myth! His axe corresponds to the bow and arrow; it cuts down the cherry-tree of darkness with its glittering edge and brings liberty to his fellow-man. Who would then care, for any sentimental reasons, to go to Mount Vernon? Why, Schiller, himself, never saw the Lake of the Four Forest Cantons any more than Coleridge ever saw Chamonix; he got all his local colour from Goethe’s descriptions. To go to the Tell Chapel is to participate in a fraud! Yet the natives each year take part in a sort of folk-play, which has all the solemnity of a semi-religious celebration. I did not care to stop as we passed by; still less when we took passage in a big Zeppelin dirigible and looked down upon the big sprawling lake winding among its mountains!


Ned actually waked up enough to walk with me about Lucerne; like one who always has the opportunity, he had never before been through the two covered bridges past the imposing[Pg 451]
[Pg 452]
water tower or scrutinized the quaint wall paintings. He went with me to see the famous Lion of Lucerne—one of the few memorial monsters that do not pall on acquaintance. The little pool in front adds immensely to the effect.

I had to tear myself away from the pleasant and luxurious home of my friend. I went back to Lausanne by a somewhat different route, taking in Sarnen, Meyringen and Brienz, and then going by steamboat from end to end of the Brienzersee, not failing to spend a few hours at the Giessbach. They illuminate it at night, but there is something immodest about such an exhibition; it is like catching sight of a wood-nymph or a water-fairy. I remember once seeing a great fire at Niagara Falls and the river actually turned red with shame. But, by moonlight, without artificial streams of light, it must be enchanting.

I made a little stay at Interlaken, and from there I ran over to Lauterbrunnen, where the Staubbach falls over its frowning suicidal cliffs and dies before it reaches the valley. It is weird and ghostlike—the spirit of a waterfall. I walked far up into the valley, and, coming back to the hotel once more, saw that delicate blush on the Jungfrau. I don’t wonder[Pg 453] Thomas Gray declares that “the mountains are ecstatic and ought to be visited in pilgrimage once a year.” I would go farther and say that as one grew older, one should live among them or in sight of them.

[Pg 454]


IN going back I walked part of the way, taking in inverse order Byron’s route, which is interesting because he worked his reminiscences of it into “Manfred.” This is what Byron says, and it shows how poems crystallize: “The music of the cows’ bells (for their wealth, like the Patriarchs’, is cattle) in the pastures (which reach to a height far above any mountains in Britain) and the shepherds, shouting to us from crag to crag, and playing on their reeds where the steeps appeared almost inaccessible, with the surrounding scenery, realized all that I ever heard or imagined of a pastoral existence—much more so than Greece or Asia Minor, for there we are a little too much of the saber and musquet order; and if there is a crook in one hand, you are sure to see a gun in the other—but this was pure and unmixed—solitary, savage and patriarchal: the effect I cannot describe. As we went, they played the ‘Ranz des Vaches’ and other airs by way of farewell.”


The pipes of the shepherds he later introduced into “Manfred:”

“Hark! the note,
The natural music of the mountain reed—
For here the patriarchal days are not
A pastoral fable—pipes in the liberal air,
Mix with the sweet bells of the sauntering herd.”

Still in the high lands he describes threading the long, narrow valley of the Sarine then little traversed by travellers. He describes the bed of the river as very low and deep, “rapid as anger.” He thought the people looked free and happy and rich: “the cows superb; a bull nearly leaped into the charaban—agreeable companion in a post chaise—goats and sheep very thriving. A mountain with enormous glaciers to the right—the Kletsgerberg; further on, the Hockthorn—nice names—so soft!—Hockthorn, I believe, very lofty and craggy, patched with snow only; no glaciers on it, but some good epaulettes of clouds.”

As he travelled from the Canton Vaud into the Canton of Bern he crossed between the Château d’Oex and the village of Saanen, so I reversed the order. The valley then, as now,[Pg 455]
[Pg 456]
was famous for its cheese. Byron says it was famous for cheese, liberty, property and no taxes, also bad German. They passed along the valley of Simmenthal and came into the plain of Thun by its narrow entrance with high precipices wooded to the top. He crossed the river in a boat rowed by women, which caused him to remark: “Women went right for the first time in my recollection.” He visited the modern castle of Schadau at the western end of the Lake of Thun, near the mouth of the Aar. A boat took them in three hours from Castle Schadau to Neuhaus: “The lake small, but the banks fine: rocks down to the water’s edge.”

He was carried away by the splendour of the scenery beyond Interlaken. The glaciers and torrents from the Jungfrau charmed him. He lodged at the house of the curate, which stood immediately opposite the Staubbach—“nine hundred feet in height of visible descent.” He heard an avalanche fall like thunder. “A storm came on—thunder, lightning, hail; all in perfection and beautiful.” He would not let the guide carry his cane because it had a sword concealed in it and he was afraid it might attract the lightning.

He thus describes the fall:—“The torrent is in shape curving over the rock, like the tail [Pg 457]of a white horse streaking in the wind, such as might be conceived would be that of the ‘pale horse’ on which Death is mounted in the Apocalypse. It is neither mist nor water but a something between both; its immense height (nine hundred feet) gives it a wave, a curve, a spreading here, a condensation there, wonderful and indescribable.”


Here, again, he got aliment for “Manfred:”

“It is not noon—the sunbow’s rays still arch
The torrent with the many hues of heaven,
And roll the sheeted silver’s waving column,
O’er the crag’s headlong perpendicular,
And flings its lines of foaming light along
And to and fro, like the pale courser’s tail,
The giant steed, to be bestrode by Death
As told in the Apocalypse.”

The rainbow was suggested by the sun shining on the lower part of the torrent, “of all colors but principally purple and gold, the bow moving as you move.”

A day later he climbed to the top of the Wengern Mountain, five thousand feet above the valley, the view comprising the whole of the Jungfrau with all her glacier, then the Dent d’Argent, “shining like truth,” the two Eigers and the Wetterhorn. He says: “I heard the[Pg 458] avalanches falling every five minutes nearly—as if God was pelting the Devil down from Heaven with snowballs. From where we stood, on the Wengern Alp, we had all these in view on one side: on the other, the clouds rose from the opposite valley, curling up perpendicular precipices like the foam of the Ocean of Hell during a Springtide—it was white and sulphury and immeasurably deep in appearance.” From the summit they “looked down upon a boiling sea of cloud, dashing against the crags on which we stood.”

The avalanches and sulphurous clouds of course became part of the décor of “Manfred:”

“Ye avalanches, whom a breath draws down
In mountainous overwhelming, come and crush me!
I hear ye momently above, beneath,
Crash with a frequent conflict; but ye pass,
And only fall on things which still would live.
“The mists boil up around the glaciers; clouds
Rise curling fast beneath me, white and sulphury,
Like foam from the roused ocean of deep Hell.”

He saw the Grindelwald Glacier distinct, though it was twilight, and he compared it to a frozen hurricane, a figure which he put unchanged in his poem:

[Pg 459]

“O’er the savage sea,
The glassy ocean of the mountain ice,
We skim its rugged breakers, which put on
The aspect of a tumbling tempest’s foam,
Frozen in a moment.”

Passing over the Great Scheideck, Rosenlaui, the Falls of the Reichenbach (“two hundred feet high”), the Valley of Oberhasli, he reached Brienz, where four of the peasant girls of Oberhasli sang the airs of their country—“wild and original and at the same time of great sweetness.”

The summer was drawing to an end. I had got somewhat tired of excursions, and was content to settle down to a regular course of reading. I suppose if it had not been for my beloved relatives I might have been tempted to plan for a winter in Rome, which had for years seemed to me a desirable place to visit. If it had not been for these same dear ones, there were a dozen places in Switzerland which would have attracted me. I detest the cold, and Montreux, which has been called the Riviera of Helvetia, offered a climate tempered against the pernicious bise. We ran up to the Tour d’Aï one afternoon and I was fascinated with the place.

[Pg 460]

Will and I made a walking trip through the Bernese Oberland and we both liked Thun. He suggested that it was because we, or I, happened to be musical. I vowed that I would, in some way, get possession of the Twelfth-Century Castle of Zähringen-Kyburg, have it refitted with all American conveniences and live there the rest of my days—provided I could find the right kind of a housekeeper. Seriously, is there any more magnificent view in all Switzerland than from the environs of Thun and from the lake? I trow not. But perhaps one would weary of too grandiose views; after all, for human nature’s daily food, human society is preferable to mountains, and the fact that the tamer lakes, such as Leman and Constance, seem to attract for regular residence more congenial personages than I could find dwelt at Thun might make one pause in one’s plan to oust the museum and turn public property into a selfish private possession. I could not follow Voltaire’s example and buy every château I saw and liked!

So I was contented enough with Lausanne as a home. I do not propose to inflict on my friends an account of every excursion that I took. That through the Oberland perhaps more than any other made me realize how completely I was subjected to that peculiar hypnotic influence which we agree to call a spell.


It is a curious thing that in many of the high mountain passes, where desolation of barrenness reigns, there is a lake said to have been formed by the tears of Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew. For instance, when he first came to the Grimsel pass, between Bern and Valais, it was radiant with fertile beauty; the climate was warm; it supported a happy population; but he passed like a desolating breath, and when, years later, he came again, in that never-ceasing round, all was changed. He wept and his tears formed “The Lake of the Dead”—Der Totensee. In it lie the bones of those who perished in that terrible struggle between the Austrians and the French in 1799. There are all sorts of wonderful legends which one might collect. For instance, how came the Grindelwald to be so wide?—not that it is so wide,—but still it is wider than it once was! Well, Saint Martin came there and was not satisfied with its appearance, so he pried the valley walls apart. The prints of his feet are visible. On the way to the Grimsel we spent a long time at the Handeck Fall, which is regarded as the finest in Europe; the Aar with[Pg 461]
[Pg 462]
considerable volume of water falls into an abyss about twenty-three meters higher than Niagara.

I followed Byron’s footsteps in following Rousseau’s—only much more deliberately. It is rather difficult now, for many of the houses which sheltered Rousseau and his fair mistress have been destroyed; that one which belonged to Madame de Warens’s father, J. B. de la Tour, “Baron de l’Empire,” was taken down in 1889. The daughter was educated at Lausanne and married Noble Sebastien-Isaac de Loys, son of the Seigneur de Villardin, and a soldier who had fought in the Swedish service. As M. de Loys possessed a seigneurie in a neighbouring village he took the name of it and called himself Vuarens, which the Bernese made into Warens. I sympathized with poor M. de Warens. He tells the story of his marital troubles in a letter which is a volume and breathes sincerity. But there is a good deal of comedy about the whole affair, and only Madame de Warens’s pathetic ending, in poverty and neglect, makes one feel sorry for her.

In 1762 the Comte d’Escheray—a young man of twenty-nine—happened to be living in a little house at Motiers-Travers, in a delightful[Pg 463] valley, spending his time in the cultivation of literature and music, in walking and in hunting. Rousseau was there also, and the count gives a lively narrative of his acquaintance with the philosopher; his dinners, his conversations, his evening walks in the woods, singing duets. One day he and Rousseau walked from Colombier to Les Brenets—six leagues—stopping every little while to study the wild places. The count says: “I consider this little portion of the Jura, enclosed in the boundaries of Neuchâtel, as one of the most curious countries in the world for the philosopher, the physician, the geologist, the artist and the mechanician to study.” They finally came to the residence of M. du Peyron, a rich, charitable American. Rousseau took kindly to him and they botanized together.

It was a pleasant excursion to pick out Rousseau’s tracks in this expedition.

I also made a study of Voltaire’s life, and read a great deal of his writings. I prepared an article on his theatrical ventures. One of his châteaux was Monrion (which means mons rotundus) on the crest between Lausanne and the lake. It was a square two-story building with high attic and L-shaped wings. It had twenty-four rooms with superb views. He did[Pg 464] not live in it long, and it passed into the hands of Dr. Tissot. Voltaire moved into a house in Lausanne, 6, Rue du Grand Chêne, and here he gave theatrical entertainments. He also organized them at Monrepos, a château then owned by the Marquis de Langalérie. The stage was in the barn but the spectators were in the house. He wrote his friends about the success of them: “I play the old man, Lusignan.... I assure you, without vanity, that I am the best old fool to be found in any company.” To his friend Thiriot: “I wish that you had passed the winter with me at Lausanne. You would have seen new pieces performed by excellent actors, strangers coming from thirty leagues around, and my beautiful shores of Lake Leman become the home of art, of pleasure, and of taste.” To his niece, Madame de Fontaine: “The idlers of Paris think that Switzerland is a savage country; they would be very much astonished if they saw ‘Zaire’ better played at Lausanne than it is played at Paris; they would be still more surprised to see two hundred spectators as good judges as there are in Europe.... I have made tears flow from all the Swiss eyes.” When he moved to Geneva, and especially when he bought the château of Ferney, so that he might be a thorn in the flesh of Genevese sanctimoniousness, he was older, but still played his parts.


In 1760 Catherine de Chandieu, then a girl of nineteen, was at Geneva and saw Voltaire’s play “Fanime,” given extremely well by Madame Denis, Madame Constant-Pictet, Mademoiselle de Basincourt and Voltaire himself. She describes him thus: “Voltaire was dressed in a way which was enough to make one choke with amusement; he wore huge culottes which came down to his ankles, a little vest of red silk embroidered with gold; over this vest a very large vest of magnificent material, white embroidered in gold and silver; it was open at one side so as to show the undervest and on the other it came down below the knee; his culottes were of satin cramoisi; over his great vest he wore a kind of coat of satin with silver, and over the whole a blue mantle doublé de cramoisi galooned with gold and superb; when he appeared on the stage many people began to laugh and I was one of them; he had a huge white beard which he had to readjust several times, and a certain comic look even in the most tragic passages.”

Madame de Genlis went to Geneva on purpose to call on M. de Voltaire, though she had no letter to him. He invited her to dinner, and,[Pg 465]
[Pg 466]
by a mistake, she arrived too early. She gives a very entertaining account of her experiences. One little passage is characteristic:

“What an effect the presence of such a man as Voltaire must have had on the pious Genevans may be imagined when this story was told of him. Shortly after the publication of ‘Emile,’ Voltaire was discussing Rousseau’s marvellous picture of the sunrise. ‘I must try it,’ said he. ‘I, too, will go some morning on the top of a mountain; I should like to know if one is really compelled to adore the Creator at daybreak.’ The necessary preparations were made; they set out at night and reached just before dawn the Col de la Faucille in the Jura. The sunrise was splendid.... Voltaire knelt down, gazed in silence and then said: ‘Yes, Creator of heaven and earth, I adore you before the magnificence of your works.’ ... Then getting up, he rubbed his knees and cried: ‘Mais quant à monsieur votre fils et à madame sa mère, je ne les connais pas!’

“When Rousseau heard that he became pensive and then said, ‘Oh, that man, that man, he would make me hate the page of my works which I like best.’

“When the earthquake at Lisbon shocked the whole world Pastor Vernes preached a cele[Pg 467]brated sermon which led Voltaire to write: ‘Sir, it is said you have written such a beautiful sermon on the event that it would have been really unfortunate had Lisbon not been destroyed, for we should have been deprived of a magnificent discourse.’”


Another plan which occupied me in the hours which I consecrated to regular work was for an article on the village festivals of Switzerland:—The charming Narcissus Festival of Montreux, celebrated in May, the great Fête of the Abbé des Vignerons, so fascinatingly described by Juste Olivier and so cleverly worked by James Fenimore Cooper into his novel, “The Headsman.” It would include processions through picturesque streets and the rejoicings at the return of the cows from the Alp with the Ranz des Vaches:—

“Blantz et neìre,
Rotz et motaìle,
Dzjoùven et ôtro
Les sonaillire
Van lez premire
La tôte neìre
Van lez derrière:
Hau! hau! llauba!”

I gathered any quantity of material about Swiss authors and composers: Jacques Hoffmann,[Pg 468] Johanna Spyri, Töpfer, Amiel, Olivier,—none, perhaps, stars of the first magnitude—unless the Painter Böcklin—but all interesting.

When winter came we went to see the winter sports at Saint-Moritz—the skiing where it was not uncommon for some of the French and Norwegian champions to leap almost thirty meters. Indeed, one man flew through the air forty-six meters, but could not keep his balance when he struck far down the slope. I was not tempted to try it.

Switzerland in winter is even more beautiful than in summer. The uniform blanket of dazzling snow, though its curves are filled with vivid tints of violet and blue, may be hard on the eyes. The mercury may go low but the purity of the atmosphere and its exhilaration atone for the discomfort of cold. In the house we kept warm and cozy. The children were well and happy and I stayed on and on: I could not resist the Spell.


[Pg 469]


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[Pg 470]

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[Pg 471]


Transcriber’s Note:

Author's spelling and punctuation retained.

End of Project Gutenberg's The Spell of Switzerland, by Nathan Haskell Dole


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