Page images

The lake scenery, too, of Switzerland is exquisite. The lake of Geneva is the largest, and its eastern end is pre-eminently beautiful. The view on it from the station at Lausanne is, for soft beauty, equal to any thing in the country. The lakes of Thun, Brienz, and the Four Forest Cantons, we have cursorily mentioned; those of Zurich, Zug, and Constance, are all bordered by lovely scenery. The falls of the Rhine claim preeminence over any European cataract, though to an American, after Niagara, they are like what Catskill would be to a Swiss after the Jung-Frau. The Geisbach and a host of other bachs meet the traveller at every mile.

But over all the astonishing features of Swiss scenery, the glacier is pre-eminent. These abound on all the lofty mountains. Seen at a distance, their pale green, contrasted with the dazzling white of the surrounding snow, indicates them to the eye. But when approached and examined, the wonder of their creation and existence strikes the beholder. A huge mass of ice, in immense crystallizations, heaped one upon the other, lies down the side of the mountain, in many cases, as we have before stated, to its base, of a dingy green colour. Whether it was that the sight of the two greatest wonders of nature produced similar emotions in us, or whether there is any real resemblance between them, we know not, but we remember when at Naples to have made the remark, on looking at an immense torrent of half cold lava which had just issued from Vesuvius, that if it were ice it would look exactly like a glacier. There seemed to us the same unformed, jutting protuberances, the same half-flowing, just congealed appearance, the same enormous bulk. It has been ascertained by the learned, that glaciers have a slight progressive motion ; indeed substances have come to light after long congealment; in one instance, we think, the body of a hunter emerged from one of them. De Saussure thinks that the glacier des Bois, at Chamouni, moves about six or eight feet annually; in other words, that about that much of it evaporates and melts off in that time. The very great heat of the lower valleys would account for a much greater diminution; yet the rivers which flow from them are but slightly augmented in the hottest weather. The huge body defies heat. We have already given our author's account of the formation of glaciers, and it is the generally received one. There are one or two of comparatively modern existence, we are told, one particularly on the old route from Chamouni to Aosta.

In a country rendered so remarkable by nature, man, as our author says in his preface, seems to sink into comparative nothingness. The position of Switzerland, however, as the key to Italy by land, and as a bulwark against invasion of one

of the surrounding powers by another, renders it of some importance in European politics. It is nature's neutral ground. Its cantons have furnished forth armies, but its wars, as a separate power, are over. It cannot be considered any longer of sufficient moment to embroil Europe. Yet it may remain a long time quiet in its advantageous position. It may keep together its cantons, with their heterogenous governments, their twenty currencies, their two languages, and their two religions. But as it has not sufficient morál or physical force in the scale of empires to maintain itself among the first, so we think there is not enough community of feeling or of intercourse between the different cantons to bind it together very strongly. It exists as much by outward pressure as by the adhesion of its components. Its neighbours have a necessity for it. This has not always been so.

Time was—when individual bravery effected something in warfare—that Switzerland made a show among nations, and fought and won many a battle. The exploits of Tell and his compatriots, now, alas ! fast becoming apocryphal, have been the theme of poets and painters. Swiss bravery, Swiss fidelity, Swiss love of country, are proverbs:' : But, as we before stated, the political existence of Switzerland is gone. Since the rude dissolution of the old Helvetic league, in '98, it has been the sport of France and Austria at intervals; at one time accepting a constitution from the former, and at another overrun by the latter for having done so. Finally, after a modified restoration of the old league, it joined the holy alliance, let us charitably suppose, because it could not help it. The revolution of the three days did not materially disturb its tranquillity. “La Suisse,” says M. Thiers," n'a qu'un avantage réel ; c'est d'ouvrir des débouchés directs à la France sur l'Autriche, et à l'Autriche sur la France. On conçoit dés-lors que pour le repos des deux puissances et de l'Europe, la clôture de ces débouchés soit un bienfait. Plus on peut empêcher les points de contact et les moyens d'invasion, mieux on fait ; surtout entre deux états qui ne peuvent se heurter sans que le continent en soit ébranl. C'est en ce sens que la neutralité intéresse toute l'Europe, et qu'on a toujours bien fait d'en faire un principe de sûreté général.” Even in this sense Switzerland is fast losing its importance at present. The strongly conservative measure of Louis Philippe must so please the Austrian government, that one might suppose that they would like to be nearer neighbours than they are. Of the form of the governments of the different cantons it does not come within our purpose to speak. They all partake, in a degree, of aristocracy; many very much; others less. That of Schaffhausen was, according to Picot, in '98, says our author, aristo-democratique, at which he laughs heartily, as being impossible.

Switzerland has had her share of eminent men. The reformation got some of its most distinguished champions there. The house of Hapsburg takes its origin and its name from one of its fastnesses-Haller, Lavater, Bernouilli, Euler, Zimmerman, De Saussure, and others, have aided in the advancement of science.

“Here the self-lorturing sophist, wild Rousseau,
The apostle of affliction, he who threw
Enchantment over passion, and from wo
Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew
The breath which made him wretched.”-

Gibbon, Voltaire, and Madame de Stael, made it the country of their adoption.

This very cursory glance at Switzerland, politically, has diverted our attention a moment from our author. We stand in a different position with regard to him from that of most tourists. A distinguished writer, we may say the Leviathan of our literature, has here given us his impressions of a foreign country. Of course we expect more from him, than from A, B and C, the herd of travellers. True, the country he has chosen to describe, does not afford an opportunity for any-strong sketches of society or of people. We cannot have the deep sentiment, the powerful thought of Puckler Muskau, nor the discerning clear-headedness of Raumer. The book, so far as it is sketches of Switzerland, is but a description of its localities, its towns, and its scenery. Very little is attempted concerning its government, nothing concerning its people. It is a narrative of the daily occurrences of a tour, interspersed with many vivid descriptions of the picturesque, but more particularly with the author's peculiar opinions. The first one of these we shall advert to, is the almost ludicrous Anglo-phobia, or'rather, aversion to the English, which he, on all occasions, exhibits. Never does an unfortunate John Bull cross his path, but he gets a slap. He tells on page 113 of Vol I., that he has kept a register of twenty-three gratuitous pasquinades on America written opposite American names in the traveller's books at the hotels; all written in English and all against Americans--and written by some blackguards, but hardly a reason for abusing the whole English nation, as participators in the offence. At Thun he found an Englishman who told him how cheap mutton was in Herefordshire, when our author called his attention to a beautiful effect of the sun on a mountain top. An English young lady would not bow to him in return to a similar civility on his part at Interlaken--p. 221. At Stantz he breakfasts with an Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman--the two latter took little notice of him—the former was disposed to be

civil, until our author offered him a piece of toast from his own stores, when the offer was coldly declined, and I was set down as "a nobody," a “shoving fellow," and of course "cut.” He meets a party at the glacier of the Rhone—“they were English at a glance.” “I felt disposed to anathematize the restlessness which drives these people, full-dressed, and conventional, just as they issue from their assize balls, and county dinners, into every hole and cranny of Europe". This time his bow was responded to, and, mirabile dictu, the elder of two gentlemen of the party volunteered to tell him that Sir Herbert Taylor had been made adjutant-general. No doubt, every one who has been on the continent has been struck with the extreme vulgarity of many of the lower class of English travellers—men without any pretension to decency, who are enabled to travel from the much less expense of travelling there than in their own country, who commit these offences against propriety, of which: our author complains, and who would probably write as much blackguardism after a Frenchman's name as after an American's, if they only understood the language. We cannot, however, admit that this proves any thing against the nation at large, or that as we are triumphantly told, these "straws tell which way the wind blows"--and it can hardly be objected to a person that he is well dressed, even on Mount Furca.

We cannot refrain from extracting an amusing resource to get something to eat, which we recommend to travellers in the German parts of Pennsylvania, where, if not acquainted with the Saxon, all one is likely to obtain is an eternal “yaw." 6 It was not difficult to make the hostess understand that we wished to eat,” says our author--

“Café, as good luck will have it, like revolution,' is a word of general use in these luxurious times. So far, all was well—but what would we eat ? We were sufficiently hungry to eat any thing; but how was one to express any thing by signs? It might be interpreted so easily into every thing! In this crisis I bethought me of a long neglected art, and crowed like a cock. The shrill scientific strain had hardly reached the ear of the good woman before it was answered by such a peal of laughter as none but village lungs could raise. Wwho is an admirable mimic, ran after the convulsed party, (two or three girls had been anxiously awaiting the result,) and began quite successfully to cackle like a hen. He was answered by screams that I think must have fairly ascended the Am Stoss. In due time, we had a broiled fowl, an omelette, and boiled eggs; but to the last moment none of the

women-kind' could look at us without hearty bursts of merriment. To be sure it was droll enough to hear hunger bursting out spontaneously, in these paroxysms of natural eloquence."

The expedients of travellers are amusing. We have heard of an easy quiet soul, who went all over France and Italy with two words, which were “ Garçon, besoin"--no matter what he


[ocr errors]

NO. 39.


wanted, he said, “Garçon, besoin.” Another, not too well versed in the mysteries of the French cuisine, after many abortive attempts at ordering a dinner, hit upon one he liked tolerably well, and ordered regularly day after day the same plats, until at length whenever

he entered the restaurant, the waiters would cry to each other “Ah, voilà monsieur du même diner.'

The book before us is also remarkable for containing the political creed of its author. In his preface he talks of it, and continues to do so throughout the work. He expects no favour for his opinions, having the misfortune, as he expresses it, to belong to neither of the great parties which divide our country. He speaks strongly, severely, and justly, of the bitterness of party spirit with us--of the toleration and even encouragement of the falsest abuse of the most virtạous citizens to serve party purposes, and considers these as menacing symptoms. Though his application of this censure, we fear, was meant to be partial, yet we are willing to let it stand against all. He is democratic, ab imo pectore, slashing right and left at aristocracies, particularly at some little Swiss aristo-democracies," and generally at all “who consider themselves the cream of the earth.” He puts his faith in the mass. He gives us a new doctrine on the subject of strong police in democratic governments, which may well be considered as applicable to us, in the present facility of getting up a mob about any thing that happens to irritate any particular class of people.

“ One of the consequences of considering mere franchises as political liberty, is a confusion between cause and effect, and prejudices like these which exist against a gens d'armerie. Political liberty does not exist in the nature of particular ordinances, but in the fact that the mass of a community, in the last resort, holds the power of making such municipal regulations, and of doing all great and sovereign acts, as may comport with their current necessities. A state that set up a dictator, so long as its people retain the practical means of resuming their authority, would, in principle, be freer than that which should establish a republic, with a limited constituency, and a provision against change. Democracies may submit to martial law, without losing any part of their democratic character, so long as they retain the right to recall the act. Thus may a democracy commission gens d'armes to execute its most familiar oidinances, without in the least impairing its political pretension. Laws are enacted to be executed; and if a man with a gun on his shoulder be necessary to their execution, it surely is no sign that liberty is on the wane that such agents are employed, but just the contrary, by proving that the people are determined their will shall be enforced. Liberty does not mean license, either through franchises or through disorders, but an abiding authority, in the body of a nation, to adapt their laws to their necessities.”

We wish heartily that we had competent and proper means to show that “liberty is not license,” and to protect property from the attacks of infuriated partisans. Yet we cannot wholly subscribe

« PreviousContinue »