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of the cottage; whether it be the elderly dame who rears her top-knot of black gauze in the form of a cap of Elizabethan style, bidding you, with a smile, good-day; whether you are saluted in French or German, by Catholic or Protestant, whether by the cordial inn-keeper or the obliging vetturino-driver, there is the same blandness of manner and kindness of spirit manifested and felt.
It would repay us but little to travel without seeing something besides material prospects. It is well to see the spirit of the people, in their every-day life and conversation. More glorious than snow-clad mounts, more harmonious than cascades, rises the soul of a people, informed with the true feeling of contentment, and conscious of their individual independence. This is our impression of the Swiss. When we saw inscribed over the quaint portal which led us into the confederation hall at Geneva, "The children of Tell shall ever be blessed!" when we saw the simple and unostentatious places for the meeting of the people and for the deposit of their suffrages; when we saw in their manly air the idea of personal liberty, embodied and expressed; when we looked upon the cultivated landscape, and into the busy workshops, then we felt that we were not in a land which is under the dominion of irresponsible powers, but breathing the air of republicans, who have an account with God, truth, and their country; and we felt too that there was a strange remissness on the part of the American Republic, in not providing an ambassador to this mountain sisterhood of states, whose presence and countenance should shine as an encouragement and a hope to the people amid the surrounding tyrannies. But when we listened to the lofty spirituality of D'Aubignè, the Homer to Luther, who was the Achilles of the Reformation; when we walked with him along the grassy marge of the placid lake, where he resides, and saw in his soul the re flection of the mountain thoughts which towered above the ordinary level of life's experience; when we caught the deep meaning which beamed from his expressive eye, as he talked of
the Church and State, of the relations of the former to the latter, and of the abuses which spring from their union; when he spoke of Truth as superior to Protestantism, we felt that there was yet in Switzerland a something more excellent than all the hierarchies of the South and East, and even grander than the republicanism of the mass. I wondered not that Switzerland was a republic, and that from her emanated such powerful spiritual influences. Here, where John Knox lived, after being banished by a Stuart; here, where the Regicides, or many of them, lived after the Restoration; here, where our Puritanism imbibed its austere spirit of personal accountability, there lives in as noble forms as when Farel preached, Ecolampadius reasoned, or Calvin and Zwingle taught and ruled, the genuine spirit which ever protests against absorbing the individual in the State or in the hierarchy. Dr. Malan, and Merlè D'Aubignè are the truest embodiment of this spirit living; and that too without the intolerance which stained the name of Calvin, or the love of secular power which now weakens the Protestant Church as at present connected with the State in Geneva.
It seemed as if we were coming home when we started for Geneva. Here were our letters, and here were some friends to whom I had the kindest introductory letters from a classmate, who had sought in Geneva the fountain-head of Calvinism, and while quaffing its waters, had plucked an Alpine flower (a daughter of the celebrated Dr. Malan), and had borne it to America, where I saw him with his bride, full happy, at New Brunswick. To them we were indebted for so cordial a greeting from the venerable Doctor and his talented family.
Dr. Malan is one of the leaders of Protestantism in Europe, which has always found its front and lead in Geneva. I would refer the curious reader to Dr. Cheever for an animated and
glowing eulogy upon his amiable character. It is not overwrought. How kind is his mien, with his bright eye and elastic step (though he is eighty), and flowing white hair. He seems like one of the Evangelists returned to earth. Since 1810, he has been a noble soldier amid the most trying crosses.
But most I enjoyed my visit to Dr. Merlè D'Aubignè, author of the History of the Reformation. His residence is upon the shores of clear placid Leman, which wooed Byron to 'leave life's troubled waters for a purer spring'-in vain. Our conversation was prolonged for more than an hour, walking (as is the hospitable custom here) under the shade-trees which line the water of the blue lake. He is like Dr. Wayland in feature, in energy of speech, and in character. There is such a pure spirituality in his presence, such a light of intelligence beaming in his black eye, under his long eye-brow, such a persuasiveness in his pure, though not perfectly pronounced English, that I listened with thrilling delight to his earnest conversation, as if it were an hour to be embalmed for ever. In speaking of the East, and the God-forsaken aspect of the old and favorite land of Deity, he changed his mournful tone into one of living energy as he said, “ But—the Spirit of Almighty God knows no locality! For well saith Luther, (how he loves to quote the hero of his history,) they who do not cherish the seed when it is sown in their midst, it must-must die out. God ordains it!" Regretfully I left these choice men of the Protestant world, to feel, if not to see, their shadowy contrast at Ferney, where we visited the house, tomb, and old elm tree of Voltaire. We walked down the green arbor of beech (it is nearly 300 yards long), where the Infidel shrivelled and sneered, as he dictated his godless sentiments to his secretary. The arbor commands the view of Mont Blanc and his range. The house is being repaired, and the relics of Voltaire removed. The church he erected over his tomb, is now-a carriage house!
How infinite in its influence is the intellectual power which clustered in former times around Lake Leman. Not alone that infernal satanic sneer which lived on the lip and flashed in the antitheses of the arch infidel of Ferney; not alone the attractive sentimentality and social principles which were the seed of the French Revolution, and which filled the novels and imprinted the 'Social contract' of Rousseau, whose home, where he lived
with Madame De Warens at the head of the lake near Vevay, we saw; not alone the learned and philosophic influence of Gibbon, who, amid the green bowers which shade the city of Lausanne, and along the delicious margin of the lake, turned over pages of Latin which none but the schoolmen of the middle ages had read, in order to write the decline of the Roman power, and to array his immense stores against the holiest of Religions;, not alone, these elements of Revolution, Godliness, and Anarchy; but, thank God! the elements of construction and inspiration more lasting than tomes of learning, more beautiful than sentiment, all invincible to satire, were here-mirrored in thy crystal waters, Oh Leman, even as Mont Blanc, with his summit of purity high reaching into heaven, is there reflected. Here was nursed and cultured that Puritanism, which was the chief cause of the American Revolution. Here that Protestantism grew which shook the Vatican; and here still, with Malan, Gaussen and D'Aubignè, grows the spirit of the Pilgrim Fathers, which, purer than that of Calvin, seeks to sever the State from the Church, and will never be ensanguined with the blood of a Servetus. Whole nations, constitutions, and revolutions, had their germs planted by the intellects who studied, wrote, and lived upon these beautiful shores.
We saw the house of John Calvin in Geneva, which (strange mutation!) now overlooks the theatre, which he so despised, and an ice-cream saloon, which in defiance of his sumptuary laws rises under his window. If the Genevese have not the stern religion of their ancestors, yet, as Dr. Malan remarked, God is shaking the sieve, and pearls are appearing, not mere Protestants, but true men.
Madame de Stäel at Coppet found a congenial place, and even yet it speaks of the taste and elegance of the author of Corinne. We walked down its leafy promenades by its bubbling brooks, around its time-honored Chateau, and even around the chapel where beside her father, the ill starred Minister, M. Neckar, her dust reposes. What a magnificent woman was she !
What a cotemporary of Napoleon! The widow of Baron de Stäel, one of her descendants, lives in the Chateau. She was in Paris, and the building was in process of repair.
Geneva and its beautiful environs constitute a complete rural city. Owing to its rurality, it scarcely seems circumscribed, as far up as the Castle of Chillon, out of whose gloomy prison Byron evoked such a genius of poetry, or bounded by the Jura upon the one side answering the Alps on the other.
While at Geneva, we drove to pay a visit to the junction of the Arve and Rhone, which Dr. Cheever vaunts upon the tallest stilts of his style. It was a very great disappointment. The furious Arve, which we had heard in the depths of the gorges, and which roared at the base of Blanc, timidly creeps along without mingling with the Rhone, which is a different river from that which empties its mud into Leman, in this, that it darts away clear and blue. It is an entire misnomer to call this the Rhone. How can any one discover the muddy mountain elf in the aerial sylph which glides through Lake Leman. It is owing to the presence of iodine, as Sir Humphrey Davy thought, that Leman is indebted for its poetical azure so transparently beautiful. Our ride up the Lake was in a little steamboat, which stopped at each village upon the banks. Mountain scenes still hung in the distant air, almost forgotten amidst the profusion of beauty which Art, the handmaiden of Nature, has strewn along the shore. Como has a half wild and rocky beauty; Maggiore is still wilder, answering as a preface to the Alps; Leman has all the softness and finish of loveliness. She is Beauty adorned, and wearing the adornment with a naturalness that Rousseau knew how to paint, and Byron, even in his roughest temper, to feel.
At the head of the Lake, near Vevay, the great St. Bernard shone in his cloud and snow garments, with a noble mien and a halo encircling his brow, bespeaking the first in command under Blanc! He rules the plains of Italy, as well as those of Swit zerland, when the Monarch retires within his pavilion of clouds.