Page images
PDF
EPUB

ས་ མ་

hither for exercise and recreation. While reposing in the alcoves of this charming retreat, we overheard a rehearsal in a neighbouring theatre, and were not a little surprised to learn, in this Protestant and Calvinistic city, that the play was in preparation for the Sunday evening following. The ascendancy of French customs and manners has probably led to this seeming inconsistency in the character of an austere and rigid people. If the play was no better than a show, which we witnessed at another theatre, it was unfit to be enacted even on a week-day. The latter consisted chiefly of legerdemain tricks of a juggler, with cards, and in keeping up four plates above his head, at the same moment. His audience appeared more respectable, than such an entertainment deserved. The scenes furnished some pretty views of the Swiss mountains.

From the Botanic Garden, we strolled along the promenade, to the southern walls of the town, where there are very strong bulwarks for its defence. A wire bridge, almost as delicate and fragile as the web of Ariadne, is stretched across the deep moat. Beneath the ramparts are spacious cells, proof against cannon shot and shells, with sky-lights set in the green sod above. They are designed as a safe retreat for the inhabitants, in case of a siege or assault of the town. The Observatory stands on an eminence, just beyond the moat, commanding a full view of all the glorious scenery in the vicinity of Geneva. A good set of glasses, and other astronomical instruments, lend all the factitious aid required by the eye, in its glances through the pure heavens of Switzerland.

In this quarter of the city is the old College, which was founded by John Calvin, and is still kept up much in the same style he left it. The boys are divided into nine classes, rising in regular gradation according to their attainments. All the branches of a good education are here taught. The number of Professors is between twenty and thirty. Our visit happened during the vacation; and neither master nor pupil was to be seen. No opportunity was afforded of examining the course of studies, or the discipline of the school; but its reputation is so well sustained, as to continue to attract students from all parts of the world. An intelligent lady, the wife of one of the officers, conducted us through the library, which contains 60,000 volumes, with many rare and valuable manuscripts. Among the number are all the sermons of Calvin, and the writings of other reformers. Their likenesses, and the portraits of many distinguished men, adorn the halls. Lord Chesterfield appears to be the presiding genius, perhaps as a inodel of manners to the students. The furniture of the College is remarkably plain. Geneva has one or two free schools in vigorous

VOL. II.

70

operation; and in no city are the advantages of education more fully enjoyed, or more sedulously improved.

We visited the principal Hospital. It is a noble institution, which has been productive of much active benevolence. Its wards are as neat and comfortable, as the chambers of a private dwelling. The bedsteads are of iron, in the French style. In the small chapel, service is occasionally performed in English, to accommodate emigrants resident in the city. One wing of the Hospital is appropriated to foundlings. Its spacious rooms had not at the time of our visit a single inmate. The average number does not exceed eight or ten a yeara fact strongly illustrative of the morals of the Genevese.

Our friends took us to the Athenæum.

It is very much upon
The apart-

the plan of the Cercle des Phoceens at Marseilles. ments are spacious, neatly furnished, and supplied with all the appurtenances of such an establishment. Its code of by-laws is more severe than the creed of Calvin. A person is not allowed to walk, except upon tip-toe, nor to whisper above his breath. The rooms were filled with visitants, yet so silent that one might hear a pin drop. I observed among the books upon the tables, the North American Review, and other publications from the United States.

At evening we strolled across the Rhone, to a charming promenade on its right bank, to see another bright sun throw its last beams upon the snows of Mont Blanc. A scene anticipated at Lausanne was here actually realized. Females were abroad, to give their children an airing. They were seated upon the benches at work, while their little ones were frolicking in the alleys. We here saw a panorama of the whole of Switzerland, in which the relative altitudes of the mountains and the dimensions of the lakes are accurately preserved. It is sixty feet square. Every village and hamlet, with the paths connecting them, are laid down. By the magic of the show-man's long wand, we were transported in less than an hour to every part of the country; crossing its beautiful waters, climbing its loftiest glaciers, and descending into its deepest vales. It is a most ingenious and useful device. Its proprietor has taken it to London and Paris, without much success.

In this excursion, we visited the old house, in which Jean Jacques Rousseau was born. It is a shattered, mean building, standing on an obscure street. Such is its decrepitude, that props are necessary to prevent it from falling. The front bears the following inscription :

"Ici fu né J. J. Rousseau, en 1712."

Brief as it is, no other was needed. The chamber of his nativity is on

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

the second floor, with two small old-fashioned windows in front. It is of the humblest kind, corresponding with the obscurity of his birth. Such was the cradle of a man, who shook thrones and empires by the the influence of his pen.

Our last afternoon at Geneva was occupied in an excursion, with our friends, to the junction of the Rhone and Arve, several miles below the city. The latter torrent flows through the vale of Chamouni, and drains the glaciers of Mont Blanc. It is of course an irregular and furious stream. Its waters are turbid, and of a much lighter complexion than those, with which they here mingle. Two separate currents are distinguishable for some distance below the junction. The Rhone hugs the lofty and romantic cliffs, which beetle above his green waves, and appears to scorn a tribute, though it comes from the throne of the Alps.

At 4 o'clock on the morning of the 21st, we took our seats in the Diligence for Paris. At the moment of departure, a lady came to the window of the carriage in the dark, and asked with a full heart and a tremulous voice-" Is there an Englishman in the coach ?--My son is going to Scotland alone." Maternal fondness and anxiety enlisted the sympathies of all the passengers, in favour of the lad, though he was abundantly able to take care of himself; and three or four persons responded at the same moment. Among the rest, was a Londoner, who had been making the tour of Switzerland, with Irving's Exposition of the Prophecies, for his vade-mecum. He said he had read it through three times during his travels, without being able to comprehend some of the more abstruse calculations, relating to the advent of the millennium; but he intended to give it a fourth and more critical examination. His investigations were continued at intervals during the passage; though the incidents of a French Diligence occasionally broke in upon his pursuits. One of his countrymen was railing all the while at the Calvinists of Lausanne, who had turned the religious society, to which he belonged, out of doors.

We pursued the shore of the Lake to Rolle, and thence began to climb the hills of the Pays de Vaud. The route traverses a rough country; and the morning was so thick, even after daylight, as to circumscribe our horizon to narrow limits. A comfortable breakfast was obtained at a hamlet, had the coachman given us time to eat it. The ascent of the Jura is extremely arduous. All the passengers were obliged to walk for miles. This long range of mountains does not exceed three or four thousand feet in height, covered with deep forests, which had now assumed the rich and varied hues of autumn. The rocks are secondary, with an intermixture of loose fragments of

granite, which do not appear from their localities to be natives of the ridge, but to have been thrown hither, in some of the great revolutions of nature.

Our zig-zag progress up the acclivities was slow, and the summit was not reached till noon. From the topmost crags, on the right of the road, we had a last and enchanting view of Mont Blanc, the long line of Alps, and the glaciers of Switzerland, glittering in a meridian sun; whilst the vast amphitheatre, in which the Lake of Geneva is embosomed, was filled nearly to its brim with a dense mist, rising to as perfect a level as the expanse of the sea. Some regret was felt, that a parting look could not be given to the blue waters of Leman slumbering beneath; though its image had already been indelibly impressed upon the mind. At our feet, on the opposite side of the mountains, spread another kingdom, making the third in sight at the same moment. But the frontiers of France looked uniform, dull, and uninviting, in comparison with the romantic regions of Savoy and Switzerland, to which we now bade farewell for ever.

CONCLUSION.

UPON the summit of the Jura, with the frontiers of a country once traversed in sight, my readers and myself must part, so far at least as it regards a journal in detail. Fortunately perhaps for them, a second volume has reached its limits, before the materials whence it was drawn have been exhausted. But if circumstances permitted, serious doubts are entertained, whether the little incidents of another visit to France and England, necessarily bearing a strong resemblance to scenes already described, could be made interesting to the reader. In the mean time, as I am anxious to approach somewhat nearer my country and my friends, than the bleak ridge of the Jura Alps, before taking leave of those, who have had the patience to follow me in my rambles abroad, a brief outline of my homeward passage will be traced, noting a few of the more prominent objects, which fell within the sphere of observation.

Our journey to Paris, through Dole and Dijon, was extremely tedious, occupying four days, during which time the Diligence was constantly under way, though it made but tardy progress. It had for a considerable part of the distance twenty-one passengers, and its weight, including the bales of merchandise piled above, was estimated at upwards of four tons. The road is uniform, heavy, and dull, leading through a flat country appropriated almost exclusively to corn and vines, with scarcely a shade of variety in the scenery. Upon the frontier, a custom-house officer detained us more than two hours, and examined the baggage with even more vigilance, than the Austrians of Lombardy. At Dole, we crossed the Saone. A canal connects it with the Rhine at Bale. Dijon is the capital of the Department of the Cote D'Or. It is a town of some importance, the seat of the old Dukes of Burgundy. We rode several miles by the side of a new canal, which is about to be opened between the Seine and the Saone, connecting the waters of the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The work reflects credit upon the country. One of the passengers pointed out the native village of Buffon. Upon the banks of the Yonne, this route unites with the great road leading to Lyons, pursued in our journey to the South of France.

We entered Paris at 8 o'clock in the evening. It was brilliantly lighted up, and never appeared better, than by contrast with the gloomy towns, which had been passed in the route from Geneva. Accommodations were obtained for a time at Meurice's Hotel, in the Rue St. Honoré, which is probably the most extensive establishment of the kind in the world, having 365 beds, and a corps of servants more nu

« PreviousContinue »