« AnteriorContinuar »
glittering lakes in the plains below, and the white broken majestic Alps glittering in the far horizon; and, perhaps, Nature can hardly supply a more enchanting scene of beauty and all-varied grace and luxuriance. A tone of retired peace and primitive repose reigns throughout the place. The old Swiss warrior of the 13th century, who stands on the fountain in the little market-place, looks as if he had lifted his stone sword without molestation for centuries. A fine heechtree luxuriates on the walls of the gate of entrance, and the cascade formed by the Orbe, under the picturesque stone bridge, murmurs in harmony with the beauties of nature and the tranquil spirit of the place. The day after our arrival we went to dine with one of the old families of the country. The dinner was at one o'clock. The house and establishment had an air of respectability, and, without any indications of wealth or luxury, a certain air of gentlemanlike simplicity. Its inhabitants we found hospitable, simple, and well-informed. A veteran Swiss gentleman, an officer of rank in the Swiss guards, was particularly pleasing. Though his life had been half spent with his regiment at Paris, he was perfectly Swiss in character and manners; plain, unaffected, loyal, and sensible, attached in every thing to the old regime, eloquent on all matters of rural economy, crops, vintages, seasons, &c. much like an English country squire, with the exception of more of polish in his manners, and less of shrewdness in his conversation. In the evening (that is, at six o'clock) we accompanied our hospitable friends to a soirée dansante, at the house of a Juge de paix for the district-an officer of modern introduction since the suppression of the old aristocratic jurisdiction of Bailiffs, and the erection of the Pays de Vaud into an independent republican canton. Here we saw united all the beau monde of Orbe and the neighbourhood. Coffee, tea, liqueurs, delicious fruit, and home-made confectionary, were handed about in great abundance-not by liveried lacqueys, but by the neat-handed Phyllises of the establishment. The old family-nurse, of portly dimensions, and adorned with a stately well-starched mob-cap, presided over the refectory and its administrators. A bright galaxy of Swiss mothers and daughters, dressed with simplicity and taste, encompassed the saloons; while the gentlemen, without any of the English display of silk stockings and pumps, occupied the centre of the rooms in clusters, as they used of yore to do in London, and still do, we believe, in cardparties at two days' journey from the metropolis. A spacious temporary saloon was lighted up as a salle de danse, where waltzing, in all its varieties, was kept up with great spirit. The ladies appeared to be passionately fond of dancing, and many more married women, and women of " a certain age,” were among the couples than are seen in an English ball. The Juge de pair was among the most conspicuous waltzers; and members of the “Grand Conseil,” and Deputies to the Diet, did not disdain the pleasures of a ball. A rational, unpretending, and sociable mirth reigned in the entertainment, with an absence of all luxury and costly preparation which I never saw equalled in any society of equal rank in other countries. We took leave at midnight--no crush of carriages and servants blocked up the gateway. The moon had risen high above the Jura, and was glittering on the river Orbe which flowed close by the house ; and the fair dancers regained their homes, after their simple amusement, By the lights of nature and a fine climate, without the aid of lamps or prancing horses.
We drove the other day to Val Orbe, three leagues from Orbe. No traveller who visits this part of Switzerland should neglect seeing this beautiful village, and the singular and lovely source of the Orbe in its neighbourhood. In our way we visited a cascade formed by the river Orbe, near the village of Ballaigne. The exquisite limpidness of the water, the grandeur of the rocks fringed and tufted with luxuriant brushwood and beech saplings, the sequestered shades which embosom the foaming torrent, render this one of the most interesting waterfalls I have seen.
At Ballaigne we left the carriage, and put ourselves under the guidance of a sturdy Swiss peasant, to conduct us to the cascade. The man was dressed in a greasy plush jerkin, a large straw hat, loose trowsers, no stockings, and shoes not weather-tight. He appeared civil and intelligent; and a Swiss gentleman, who accompanied us, seemed to pay him some deference. On returning from the cascade, and wishing him good morning, I begged him to take three francs for his trouble, which he declined with a civil and dignified bow. I soon learned my mistake, when our Swiss friend informed us that our Cicerone was no less a personage than a member of the Grand Council of the Canton de Vaud-a modern Cincinnatus, who mingles the labours of the field with the dignified functions of the senate. We had forgotten that we were now under a pastoral government. How far the crook and the forensic toga consort advantageously together, may perhaps be a question.
The village of Val Orbe, with its neat and well-roofed cottages, its picturesque spire embosomed in poplars and orchards, stands by the side of the Orbe in one of the most romantic and lovely valleys of the Jura. The Orbe has its singular source a mile higher in the valley. Leaving the village, we followed the windings of the stream through the richest meadows, the valley gradually narrowing, the majestic fir-clad mountains on each side growing bolder and more perpendicular, and finally enclosing, with their gloomy wooded barrier, the lovely glen through which the stream flows and murmurs. Dark funereal pines and delicate larches shade the rocky precipices, and overhang the stream. The scene is wild, sequestered, and filled with a solitary and shady stillness. We began to wonder whence the stream could issue, till we at last found its source, and beheld it, with delight and astonishment, gliding forth in all its pellucid beauty, from a lofty wall of rock amidst the shade of these sylvan recesses. The stream is seventeen feet in width, and four or five in depth at its issuing from the rocks. It flows forth from the rock without a ripple, and at first glides and waves over the most green and graceful moss, till masses of rock, detached from the heights above, interrupt its course, and break its waters into murmuring eddies and cascades. It is impossible to conceive any thing more romantic than the whole scene ; and no one who has visited it can wonder that poets should have peopled the fountains and streams of the woods with Naiads and Undines. Saussure prefers the source to that of Vaucluse, for beauty and interest. Its singularity is not less remarkable than its beauty. The water is furnished by the small Lakes of Joux and Rousses,
The town pre
which are situated above the rocks of Val Orbe at an elevation of 680 feet above the source. These lakes discharge themselves through tunnels between the vertical couches of rock, and penetrate through the mountain down to the source. We returned to dine at Val Orbe, at a comfortable inn, where delicious trout from the river were served up in various attractive shapes. The Orbe, among its other recommendations, is famous for its trout; and those caught in the basin of the source are reckoned the most delicate. We returned to Orbe in a lovely summer evening.
The drive from Orbe to Lausanne, by La Sarra and Cossonay, is a continued scene of fertility and graceful beauty. The haziness of a sultry atmosphere cleared up as we approached Lausanne, and opened to us the majestic chain of the rugged and purple Alps, with their white heads capped by the clouds, or glittering in the sun for a continuous length of above thirty leagues. Lausanne itself is one of the ugliest and most inconvenient towns on the Continent. The hills and slopes in the town render it almost impossible to drive in a carriage with safety. The cathedral is a venerable Gothic structure, in a fine situation, commanding the lake and the mountains. sents scarcely any objects of interest; but it is surprising how little they are missed. Nature in Switzerland is all in all. She has here built her perennial throne, and reigns unquestioned mistress of all our sympathies and sensations. Art scarcely puts in a single claim-to our regard; and those which it does present are of a very inferior interest. Monsieur de Chateaubriand would say that the hand of man has here been kept in awe, and checked by the overwhelming wonders of the universe, and the præsens Deus, which manifests itself in every glacier and every valley, has taught him a lesson of humility, and confined his aspiring powers to the humble occupations of tilling his fields and protecting his dwelling from the avalanche and the torrent. Certain it is that no country possesses more of useful economy and institutions, and less of the interest of the fine arts, or of the tasteful refinements of social life, than Switzerland. Splendid churches, handsome palaces, costly monuments, fine country-seats, galleries of pictures, showy equipages, luxurious mansions, are here sought for in vain; but, on the other hand, you have neat farms and good farmers, good breeds of cattle, excellent dairies, drill-ploughs, cream cheeses, and even admirable gold watches and musical snuff-boxes. In a word, the genius of man has here a tendency to the useful and mechanical. It is in nature alone that the mind finds those unbounded stores of beauty, grace, and curiosity, which form the interest of the country—that the philosopher meets new wonders to excite his speculation and
repay search-the poet living scenes, that embody the loveliest visions of his fancy-while the mere rambling desultory traveller refreshes his feelings and his faculties at the pure fountain of nature, quickens his perceptions of the beautiful and the grand, and brings home with him to the dull routines of life a feast of sweet and innocent remembrances.
At Lausanne we had the gratification of visiting the great classic hero of our stage, whom we found enjoying leisure and literary ease, and distinguished reputation, amongst all the charms of picturesque nature.
His abode is one of the handsomest and most pleasingly situated campagnes near Lausanne, commanding a lovely prospect of the lake and the Alps. The interior unites all the elegance of a foreign villa with the comfort of an English gentleman's mansion ; and we considered ourselves highly fortunate in spending some most agreeable hours with its interesting host and a selection of individuals eminent in the literary rolls of our country. Mrs. Siddons was a chief ornament of this interesting circle ; and her conversation seemed to have acquired a new warmth and eloquence from the inspiring scenes which she was visiting for the first time. Her descriptions of the sensations she had experienced, and the deep admiration she had felt in witnessing the wonders of Alpine nature, particularly on her first entrance into Switzerland, and her visit to the Alps of Berne, had all the energy of truth and the glow of real sensibility. As we stood in a window of Mr. Kemble's villa, listening to Mrs. Siddons's charming enthusiasm, and joining in her expressions of admiration, the moon was streaming in all her lustre across the glassy lake spread out before the house. The Alps on the opposite bank marked out their dark and jagged outlines on the pure blue of the Heavens. It was impossible to behold an evening or a scene of more exquisite and lovely repose ; and the society in which we enjoyed it, and by which it was enjoyed, gave an increased zest to its beauties. Lord Byron, who by the way is the best of companions and guides in Switzerland, has seized every feature of a moonlight scene on the lake with his usual power and felicity.
It is the hush of night, and all between
Thy margin and the mountains dusk yet clear,
Save darken’d Jura, whose capt heights appear
There breathes a living fragrance from the shore
Drops the light drip of the suspended oar,
Childe Harold, Canto iii. We happened to be at Lausanne on occasion of a very strictly observed fast, which occurs annually in the month of September. It was observed with a degree of ceremony and strictness much beyond the observances of a sabbath. Divine service commenced at seven and cight o'clock in the morning in the Cathedral and the other churches, and a succession of prayers and sermons was delivered without interruption till three or four in the afternoon. All business was suspended-not a single shop was open--and the churches were thronged to overflowing. As soon as one service was at an end, the congregation departed to make room for fresh worshippers ; while the pulpit was occupied by a fresh pastor. Notwithstanding all this zealous solemnization of the day, it was somewhat extraordinary, that after an inquiry of at least a score individuals, many of them of considerable information, we found it impossible to obtain any specific account of the origin of the fast. All agreed that it was of great antiquity, and intended to commemorate some signal instance of the divine protection extended to the country: beyond this, no information was to be obtained. If this had been in a Catholic canton, where ceremonies descend as an inheritance from generation to generation, without inquiry as to their meaning or origin, it would have excited no wonder ; but it appeared very singular to see a shrewd inquiring race of Calvinists praying and singing from morning till night, without being able to give a satisfactory account of the tendency of their devotions.
Lausanne is now the capital of the modern Republic of the Canton de Vaud-a strict democracy founded on French principles, and governed according to French systems. By the instigation and help of the French, the Vaudois threw off in 1798, the domination of the aristocratic government of Berne, which had governed the Pays de Vaud with a mild and paternal rule, favourable to the happiness and welfare of the people, but apparently somewhat too exclusive in the preference of the Bernese to all municipal and magisterial offices, and not at all congenial in its spirit to the new theories of freedom disseminated in Switzerland by the French. From the rule of the nobles and citizens of Berne, the country has now passed to that of the native citizens and peasants. A great revolution in property and consequence has taken place, to the depression of the noble families and gentlemen of the country, and the elevation of the bourgeois, and the whole second class, to increased authority and affluence. Feudal rights are for ever abolished. Manors, lordships, tithes, seignorial privileges of every kind, are destroyed. These formed a principal source of income to most of the old families of the country, who received a very inadequate indemnification for their losses in a redemption of these rights, not of the most equitable or honourable kind, by the new government of the canton. An old Baron, who had left his patrimonial chateau, and retired to another canton in consequence of these proceedings, told me in an indignant tone, “ Il ne me contenoit plus de vivre sous un gouvernement de paysans.” A short time ago, a contested election for a seat in the Grand Council took place between a man of family, education, and talents, and a clever and aspiring blacksmith. The present state of parties in the canton enabled the latter to succeed with triumph. The Canton de Vaud is the only part of Switzerland in which posts have recently been established. They are not remarkably well regulated. The stations are in general too long, from the difficulty of finding individuals willing to undertake the novel trade of Postmaster ; and their expense, compared with those of other continental posts, is exorbitant. Nominally, the whole system is copied from that existing in France—the prices of horses and postilions are the same. А post is, as in France, nominally two leagues. But in France there is a tolerably honest conformity between the lieue de pays and the lieue de poste; whereas, under the “ Peasant Government' of the Canton de Vaud, this relation is most shamefully forgotten. For instance, from Lausanne to Geneva is a distance of eleven leagues, as the government mile-stones themselves inform you ; but the government post-book also informs you, that the distance for which travellers are to pay is no less than sixteen leagues: viz. eight posts. The fact is, the families of the country rarely avail themselves of the posts, travelling, for the most part, either with their own horses or those of a voiturier — and the “ Peasant