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RETURN TO GENEVA-SKETCH OF THE CITY-VIEW FROM THE WATER -ASPECT OF THE STREETS AND BUILDINGS-HOTEL DE VILLE-LEGISLATIVE HALLS—POLITICAL STATE OF SWITZERLAND CATHEDRAL— REMINISCENCES OF CALVIN-MUSEUM-BOTANIC GARDEN-DEFENCES OF THE CITY-COLLEGE-LIBRARY-HOSPITAL-ATHENÆUM-PANORAMA OF SWITZERLAND-BIRTH-PLACE OF ROUSSEAU-EXCURSION TO THE JUNCTION OF THE RHONE AND ARVE-DEPARTURE FROM GENEVA --JURA ALPS--LAST VIEW FROM THEIR SUMMITS.
Ox the morning of the 18th, we left Lausanne and embarked at Ouchy, on board the steam-boat Leman for Geneva. This vessel is much larger and more elegantly finished, than the one that took us to Vevay. Her cabins are furnished with crimson sofas and cushions, the floors covered with handsome carpets, and the tables with green cloths. But after all, the furniture will bear no comparison with that of the floating palaces, upon the waters of the United States; and the wonders which the American Consul has exhibited to the eyes of Europeans, originated in our own country. The Genevese may make better watches, musical snuff-boxes, and singing birds, than our own artisans; but they cannot build ships, fit up steam-boats, and open navigable channels for them, like their brother republicans of the New World.
The Leman had a large number of passengers, most of whom were genteelly dressed, and polite in their manners. Another scene of domestic industry, similar to what has been already described, was exhibited by the ladies. A numerous circle sitting upon the deck, and thus busily employed, resembled what, in some parts of our country, is denominated a Bee. The cabin has a good library, to which free access is granted-an improvement upon the regulations of our own boats, as furnishing additional inducements to read.
In the course of the passage, I saw repeatedly the image of Mont Blanc, reflected from the placid bosom of the lake. The mirror was so perfect, that the patches of naked rock were distinguishable from the glaciers. Lord Byron has cited this phenomenon, as very remarkable. But why should it be so considered? A line drawn from the surface of the water, across the intervening country, would intersect a large frustum of the cone; and surely it is no miracle, that an object so conspicuous and strongly marked, as the peak of a mountain,
brought within a short apparent distance by its magnitude, should be reflected as perfectly, as the humbler hill or plant upon the shore. But the author of Childe Harold was more of a poet than a philosopher, in his contemplations of shadowy images. It would be a spectrum worth witnessing, to see the hues of Mont Blanc at sunset, tinging the azure waters. I intended to have made an excursion, on purpose to examine the phenomenon; but circumstances would not permit. It is an object worthy of the curiosity of some tourist.
Geneva does not appear well in approaching it from the lake. In neatness and beauty it will bear no comparison with its namesake in the United States, situated upon a lake scarcely less romantic. The backs of large old ware-houses, together with heaps of lumber and wood piled upon the wharves, intercept a view of the better parts of the city, and form but a sorry termination of a voyage, which in its progress exhibits so much splendour of scenery. Though the water at the outlet is shoal, it retains its purity even to the docks, being motionless and unagitated by tides. For miles the bottom was distinctly The egress of the Rhone looks still worse from the steam-boat, than from the bridge. Double rows of piles, emerging from the surface, extend across the mouth, to which timbers are attached, to prevent boats and drift-wood from floating under the wheels of the mills. There is a fall of several feet at the debouché, and the river continues rapid for many miles below. Indeed, it may be said to bear the character of a torrent, in its whole course to the sea.
On the morning after our return to Geneva, we set about examining the city in good earnest, anxious to see as much of it, as the two remaining days to which our visit was restricted, would permit. A very intelligent and obliging citizen and his son, to whom we had taken letters, afforded us every facility in obtaining access to such institutions, as are most interesting to strangers. One of these gentlemen was with us nearly the whole time; while the accomplished and literary lady of the house contributed her share of hospitality, by giving us a dinner and a tea-party, with a dish of conversation, more acceptable than the bounties of her table, though served up in the neatest Swiss style.
My readers need not be told, that nearly all the institutions of Geneva are of a useful and practical kind. Here are no palaces, galleries, and churches-no triumphal arches, corsos, and theatres, such as had been left beyond the Alps. The city is plain and republican to a proverb. In point of architecture, there is not a building which rises above mediocrity; and comfort has been more consulted than taste. Some of the streets are spacious and neat, but seldom stately and ele
gant; while others are positively uncouth, the fronts of the houses being hung with shapeless wooden galleries, forming a species of arcades, which contribute as little to convenience as to ornament. In deed, the object of these Gothic projections could hardly be divined. The materials of the buildings are stone, stucco, and wood, often thrown together promiscuously, as they might best answer the purpose of keeping out the winter air from the mountains, and of furnishing snug apartments. About the roofs, eaves, and the steeples of churches, a profusion of tin plates is used, which in a bright sun almost dazzles the eye, and produces an odd contrast to the darkened walls.
Our first visit was to the Hotel de Ville or Town House. The ascent to the halls of legislation is by a winding passage, like that leading to the roof of St. Peter's at Rome. A mule might walk up without difficulty, as some asses probably have done, even in the city of Rousseau and Necker. The rationale of such a stair-way reverts to the very origin of the term Senate, among the ancient Romans, the members of which received their appellations from advanced age. Determined to adhere to classical etymologies, as well as to political expediency, the Genevese constructed the entrance to their Senate Chamber, in such a manner, that old men might be borne up in sedans, or walk, if not too infirm, with the greatest convenience.
The halls of the Town House, the seat of the legislature for the Canton, are plain in the extreme; it might be added, even to meanness. Many of the leathern coverings of the benches are patched and botched in a way, that no pretty Swiss girl would tolerate. If this ultra-republican simplicity were carried throughout all the ornaments, it would be less objectionable; but the chamber adjoining the hall of representatives contains a gallery of the portraits of foreign kings and queens. I inquired what these personages had to do with the republicans of Geneva, in making laws, but received no satisfactory answer. The arms of the Canton, consisting of the Key, presented by Charlemagne, and an Eagle wearing a Crown, something in the style of the papal bird, are less patriotic than the "Libertè et Patrie” of the Vaud, and do not tally exactly with ragged leather benches.
But the traveller may look in vain for any thing like political consistency in the present state of Switzerland. It retains but a shadow of its former freedom and glory. The country is literally cantonized by the influence of the Holy Alliance. France has the guardianship of one portion, and Austria of the remainder. The ties of confederation are merely nominal. Deputies from Canton do, it is true, meet at Zurich, but not for the purposes of legislation; and they dare not move a finger, except at the beck of their masters. They claim the
right of declaring war and making peace, with a few other prerogatives, which are never exercised, and which are left them pro forma. Switzerland has no federal laws, no common interests, no ligaments to bind the union together. The independent Cantons have each a legislature, to pass municipal statutes; but even these are subject to the dictation and supervision of foreign powers. Any attempt to establish national freedom would be instantly crushed, as incompatible with the principles of the allied sovereigns.
Aside from this foreign influence, there are no affinities in the moral and political elements of the country. Separated by lakes and impassable glaciers, the Cantons know and care as little about one another, as they do about the states of Italy or of Germany. Each is engaged in the narrow circle of its own interests, limited perhaps to a secluded vale, or a circumscribed district. Nay more, there is a positive repulsion and hostility of feeling between some of the Cantons, in consequence of a difference in religion. Half of them are Catholics, and the rest Protestants, who in Europe can no more mingle than oil and water. To all appearances, elements thus radically discordant will preclude, for a long course of years at least, any thing like national views, and the establishment of a confederacy similar to our own, even if the Holy Alliance should tolerate the existence of free principles.
Our next call was at the Cathedral, which is a stately and handsome pile of Gothic architecture. The interior is plain, but neat and commodious, suited to the worship of a people, whose religion is addressed to the ear, and not to the eye. Most of the inhabitants of Geneva are Protestants. The number of Catholics does not exceed two or three thousand; about one tenth of the population of the city. Among the monuments is a lofty tomb in memory of a brother to Henry III. of France. We inquired for that of Calvin. The sexton informed us, that he made a special request to be buried in the public cemetery, and that no sepulchral honours should be paid to his dust. A visit was made to a building, at the corner of two streets, from the window of which he first proclaimed the doctrines of the Reformation; and also to the house, in which he died. The latter has gone
through several editions since his death; and the present tenant scemed not a little surprised at the nature of our errand.
From the tower of the Cathedral, which is very lofty and arduous of ascent, we had a perfect view of the city. It covers little ground, The Rhone divides it
is extremely compact, and strongly fortified. into unequal portions, that on the southern bank being much the most extensive and populous. Few places can be compared with Geneva
in cligibility of position, in purity of streams, serenity of skies, and fertility of the adjacent country. Such is the salubrity of the noble river, which rolls beneath the walls, that its waters are raised by ponderous machinery, moved by its own current, for the supply of the city.
The Museum is an extensive, valuable, and interesting establishment. Its cabinets of natural history, its collections of minerals, organic remains, reptiles, insects, fishes, birds, and quadrupeds, are extremely rich, and arranged with the utmost scientific precision. Not a link is wanting or out of its place, in the great chain of being. The endless varieties of the butterfly, classically designated and tastefully disposed, particularly arrested my attention. Among the rarer animals, is a species of the Capra Ibex, which inhabits the highest peaks of Mont Blanc, and is seen coursing its glaciers. Near it is an image of its bleak locality, an accurate representation of the mountain itself, with the delineation of the track pursued in reaching the summit. Here also is a model of the Lake of Geneva, with all the varieties of the finny tribes, that inhabit its waters. Some of the trout weigh forty pounds. The Genevese employ, for the illustration of science, collections of precious stones, such as the Italians use for finger-rings, pendants, and the decorations of their altars. All the articles in the Museum were the voluntary contributions of individuals. Among the principal donors, are Lady Huntley and the Neckers. The names of two of the latter, sons of the great financier, were observed in the list of representatives, posted up in the hall of the Hotel de Ville.
We had a fine ramble through the Botanic Garden, which lies under the south-western walls of the city, upon the borders of a luxuriant vale, spreading thence to the banks of the Arve. It is skirted on one side by a beautiful promenade, overhung by ranges of stately elms. On the other side, rise the beetling ramparts of the old city, which is physically as well as morally" set upon an hill." At one end of the garden, is the splendid seat of Mr. Aynard, a distinguished friend of the Greeks. Besides his liberal contributions, in aid of the cause of freedom, and the emancipation of a suffering people, his wealth has enabled him to expend three millions of francs, in the construction and embellishment of his chateau. It has a terraced roof, and is neatly adorned with Ionic columns; but the exterior does not account for such an enormous sum.
In the compartments and classifications of the Garden, the same scientific exactness is observable, as in the arrangement of the Museum, though I should think the botanical collections much less extensive and complete, than the other provinces in the kingdoms of nature. The gates are always open to the public, and the Genevese resort