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the disappointment which this occasions, some who visit Switzerland for the first time quit the train here, cross the mountain Hauenstein on foot, and rejoin the railway at Olten. From the summit of the mountain the view is magnificent, but we do not recommend this course unless time is unlimited, as we think greater satisfaction is obtained by awaiting arrival at Lucerne.
Passengers to Lucerne change carriages at Olten. Fine mountain views are obtained here. The Jura Alps all around are very picturesque in their appearance. The town of Olten contains about 2500 inhabitants. At the station there is a first-rate refreshment-room.
Olten is thirty-three miles from Lucerne.
And now we get glimpses of the Alps, and they look like masses of cloud in the heavens to those who are unaccustomed to mountain scenery.
The first station from thence is Aarburg, a town of historical interest, possessing an old palace of the Counts of Aarburg. Here we enter a district distinguished by its verdant pasture and picturesque houses, and also abundant remains of the Roman period, which brings us to the old fortified town of
Sursee, remembered by historians as the scene of those struggles by which Swiss independence was achieved in the fourteenth century. (The double eagle of the house of Hapsburg still adorns the gates of the town.)
Then past Sempach, with its broad but not very beautiful lake, and its battle-field, where thousands perished in 1386, and Duke Leopold of Austria was defeated. Four stone crosses mark the battle-field.
But we think not much of historical associations here, for our eyes are too busy in making out this point and the other; for the heights of Pilatus are on one side of us, and the Rigi on the other, while the bright green waters of the Reuss are below us; and soon the train rushes under a tunnel, and then we step out of the station, and find ourselves at
(Hotel du Cygne (Swan). Delightfully situated, immediately facing the Steamboat Station, and commanding the best views of the Rigi and other mountain scenery.)
As you come out of the railway station, a sight bursts upon the view which fairly takes away the breath. You stand before the bright clear waters of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. To your right are the wild craggy heights of Mount Pilatus; away in the distance the gigantic mountains of the Bernese Oberland, rising up from the water, and losing themselves in the sky; opposite is the Rigi, with villages nestling at its base; to your left the town of Lucerne, with its quaint castles, churches, curved bridges, and picturesque houses.
Altogether it is a scene which will make an indelible impression on your memory. Let us go at once into the room, settle upon our quarters at the hotel, and then start out on a tour of inspection.
Lucernę is situated on what is termed the Lake of the Four Cantons, from the fact of its being common to them all-viz., Lucerne, Unterwalden, Uri, and Schwytz. Its population is about 15,000, of whom a very small proportion—say 1300—are Protestants. It is situated on the Reuss, rising in the form of an amphitheatre, with the river flowing down its centre. The walls and watch-towers, erected in 1385, are in a good state of preservation, and give a peculiar interest to the appearance of the town.
The Reuss deserves attention : it is the brightest, clearest, softest, emerald-green river you ever saw.
There are four bridges across the river. Two of them are roofed over, and no one should visit Lucerne without stopping to see these
Covered Bridges. — The oldest is Kapellbrücke, dating from the year 1300 or thereabouts, and report says that it is to fall a victim to the “spirit of the age,” and make way for a prosaic bridge over which vehicles may travel. It is decorated with 154 curious paintings, representing scenes from the history of Switzerland, and doing honour to its patron saints.
Near to this bridge is the Wasserthurm, rising from the river, which contains the archives of the town admirably arranged. It was originally a Roman lighthouse (Lucerna), and from this the town derives its name.
There is also another covered bridge not far from the Basle Gate, and this is decorated with thirty-four pictures from “The Dance of Death.” Every one will remember the conversation between Prince Henry and Elsie in Longfellow's “Golden Legend."
“The dance of Death,
Rushes impetuous as the River of Life.”
“Strange pictures with strange inscriptions.” Death at the marriage and the christening at court, in the ball-room, in the chapel, dancing with the queen, and walking with the peasant. When you have gazed upon the pictures, and seen yourself and all your friends and all the world taking part in that grim dance, and then come
out into the busy street and golden sunshine, you will think of the moral which spoke to Elsie :
“The grave itself is but a covered bridge,
Leading from light to light thro' a brief darkness."
At the end of the Quay, near to the large hotels, is the Cathedral Church. It has two slender towers, and possesses an excellent organ, upon which there is a daily performance for the benefit of those who will invest one franc. It has two side-altars, with carved wood reliefs, and finely carved stalls, and painted glass windows; but more interesting than the church itself are the cloisters surrounding it, in which are some fine paintings (two by Deschwanden), and numerous monuments in good preservation.
A short distance from this church will be found the
Lion of Lucerne, the greatest curiosity of the town, and perhaps one of the most beautiful, certainly the most original, monuments in the world. It represents a huge lion hewn out of the solid rock, which is overhung with ivy. A broken lance pierces the dying body of the lion, and sheltered under his paw is the Bourbon lily. At the base is a pool of water, and around are maple trees and pines. It is emblematic of the defence of Louis XVI. and his family at the Tuileries, August 1792 ; which was annihilated in the struggle. This monument, while it commemorates the fidelity of the Swiss, commemorates also the eternal disgrace on the nobility of France, who abandoned its hapless sovereign, with his majestic wife and helpless family, to the fury of a brutalized mob. The monument was not sculptured by Thorwaldsen, as has been sometimes stated, but after a model by that celebrated Danish sculptor, which model may be seen in a building hard by. The inscription is to the “memory of 26 officers and 760 soldiers of the Swiss Guard, who were cruelly massacred in the defence of the Tuileries, August 10th, 1792.” The figure is 28ft. long and 18 ft. high. In the chapel adjoining the monument, where masses are offered for the repose of the souls of these heroes, the altar-cloth is the work of the Duchess d'Angoulême, daughter of Louis XVI., the last survivor of that terrible scene, who to the end of her life showed the deepest devotion to the memory of her benefactors.
Near here we shall be well repaid by looking in at
The Glacier Garden, a genuine curiosity, showing traces of an old glacier, etc., and
Stauffer's Museum, which contains groups of Alpine animals, numbering about 600.
There are not many “sights” to be seen at Lucerne, but no one should visit the town without seeing the
Arsenal, where may be seen many interesting objects commemorative of the history of the Swiss. Lucerne boasts of having taken an important part in the struggle in which Switzerland was engaged against the House of Hapsburg, from which it revolted in consequence of its tyranny; and trophies taken from the battle of Sempach, where one of the said dukes was slain, and the cause of Swiss liberty triumphed, are shown in the Arsenal—an ancient structure bearing witness to the military prowess of the forefathers of the canton.
The Town Hall, with its frescoes, the Church of the Jesuits, and the Church of the Franciscans, are places of interest.
It is not for its attractions as a town, that Lucerne is so crowded with tourists, but for its glorious surroundings, groves of trees, tempting promenades, all reflected in the crystal face of the sparkling lake. Standing in the front of our hotel (The Swan), we never weary of the view right before us of the Rigi, and in the cool of the evening a walk