« VorigeDoorgaan »
A curious bass-relief is that upon the Cathedral at Fribourg, which represents St. Peter and the Devil winnowing mankind from their several thrones. The latter personage also appears with a hog's head and a big basket on his back, chock full of sinners, whom he is turning into a seething caldron, stirred up by imps, and into a crocodile's mouth, opening wide. Again there is a pair of scales held up, with souls in it, and an imp hanging to one side, to make it kick the beam in favor of perdition. Surely John Bunyan has a rival in allegory in this artist. Rough in execution, it may be; but more expression than I can tell. Yet not more curious than the clock we saw to-day at Berne. Who would not have laughed to have seen us, with a dozen other travellers, German students, soldiers, English and French, waiting, with a pain in the neck, to see it strike? Well, the hour came. Up rises a rooster, flaps his wings, Cock-adoodle-doo-oo-00! Ha! ha! ha! ha! roar the astonished idlers. Out rush a company of bears, (the national brute of Berne; they keep several hundred at public expense; we saw their dens ;) some on horseback, some with swords, all looking most quizzical and grotesque; when-pause-then an odd gentleman in knightly armor, a ghost of the middle ages, beats the hour in the tower above, while an old fellow who sits above the bears, opens his mouth and nods his head, as the stroke falls, and gradually turns over an hour-glass in his hands. Surely we are coming into Germany now. Indeed, the yaw and nein begin to announce the fact, had we no curious horologues to tell it.
None but a German, although a Swiss, could like a bear. Why? If the reader cannot tell, read on!-Every where, on the coins, at the fountains, upon the crackers and gingerbread, stuffed in the Museum, and alive climbing trees and in their dens at Berne,-is Bruin, the pet of the people and the glory of art. The French carried off some two hundred bears to Paris, and put them in the Jardin des Plantes, in 1798; but they were demanded back with as much ceremony by Berne, as were franchises by other nations.
We may be said to have fairly entered German Switzerland, when we cross the great bridge at Fribourg. This bridge, by the way, deserves a notice. It spans the Saarine river, which runs into the Rhine below Schaffhausen. It is a wire-suspension, and has the longest single curve of any in the world, not even excepting Menai, near Liverpool. Menai is 580 feet long, 130 feet high; that of Fribourg is 941 feet long and 180 feet high. It commands a magnificent prospect; though we did not, on account of the drizzle, see much more than the beautiful vale.
We feared that we should leave Switzerland without a view of the Bernese Alps, with their Jungfrau and Wetterhorn, their Lauterbrunnen, and Grindenwald. But no! Scarcely had we left Berne, when a few minutes of sunshine cleared the sky, so as to permit us a farewell to this magnificent range, the scene of Manfred and William Tell; the glittering snow-peaks whose evening hues shine like the gates of heaven to which they everlastingly aspire. This view from a terrace near Berne, is its greatest charm. Although celebrated as the capital of the Cantons, whose Diet is now in session; although curious for its bears, and, like other Swiss towns, for its fountains; although celebrated for its fine streets with paves, roofed above for footpassengers; yet nothing attracts the stranger so much as the distant Alps, with their robes of white and peaks of terror!
At all times fortunate, we enjoyed the vision. It well suffices for a closing view of these capital characters of the Creatorthese 'unambiguous footsteps of the Deity'-written so clearly and boldly over these cantons of freedom. May the latter ever be as free from the footsteps of the despot, as Tell would have had them, and as the Alps themselves, in their lofty state of individual yet linked independence; and may they be as permanent, too, as those Alps upon their sunless pillars deep in earth!
Apon the Confines of Switzerland.
"Farewell, with thy glad dwellers, green vales among the rocks!"
PON the evening of the 28th of July, the most ancient and walled city of Soleure, received us at its great gate, in feudal style, and regaled us with strawberries and cream, fountains that murmur, and promenades that please. As I write at the midnight hour, the sweetest of fountains, twins in melody and in beauty, burst near my window beneath the reverend forms of Moses smiting the rock, and Gideon wringing the fleece, sculptured in superb style, and guarding the steps which lead up to the Corinthian Cathedral before our hotel.
We visited the interior of the Cathedral. Noiselessly we walked under its white and chaste canopy of carved stone, and amid its silent worshippers. Nought was heard to break the religious stillness, save the whisper of the confessing and the suppressed bass of the priest in the gloomy confessional. The radiant images of the Virgin and of the Saviour beamed with mild love from the walls, and led our hearts away from the fastnesses and sublimities of nature, with which they had become so familiar, into the serener atmosphere of affection. The loved ones at home smiled so tearfully and happily, that, entranced in thoughts of them, we soon saw with the mental eye, only their invisible forms. After all, there are no forms we see while abroad, so enrapturing to behold as those which rise impurpled in love's own light, at the heart's warm bidding. Sculpture hath no such grace, painting no such warmth as that which moves
and glows around the hearth-stone. We may visit the home where Calvin lived and died, as we did in Geneva, and claim him as a kindred spirit; we may see, as we did a few hours since, the house where Kosciusko lived, while an exile from the land he so loved, and revere his memory as connate with that of our own Washington; we may glow, while contemplating their excellencies, with kindred sparks; but at last, the mild and heavenly eye of a Madonna, from the minster-wall, will recall a mother's tenderness and care, and awaken the filial fear and love; while tearfully will go up the orison to Him who can guard, that he will protect from harm and woe, those to whom we are bound by the closest ties of earth.
Since writing the foregoing, we have traversed the remaining portion of Switzerland which lies between Soleure and Basle. This morning, we arrived at the latter place and found it-like Soleure, well walled, with pepper-box towers around, and protcullises and the other paraphernalia of a free city of the middle ages, which it once was. Indeed it has not lost its character. This is the ancient city which furnished such convenient refuge to French Protestants, when to be one was to be burned Farel, Anemand, Esch, Touissaint and their friends, here estab lished the first general Evangelical Society. Hither fled those refugees of Lyons and Grenoble, which the good Margaret Valois, sister to Francis I., attempted in vain to shield. It was here that Luther's works and the Scriptures were first published in French, and here was the first Bible and Tract Society estab lished. We had heard that so religiously strict were the descendants of these French refugees and of their protectors, that we could not obtain ingress within the walls, if the people were attending service. But we had not arrived within a half mile of the gate, before we saw a crowd of over two hundred collected around a circus, under the tent of which, a dozen hobby horses were flying around, mounted by youngsters with steels picking off rings as they passed a spot, to the great diversion of the elders. We had just left Soleure when the chimes
were ringing the people to church, and a sawmill was cutting timber under the belfry's shadow; we had seen the stores all open there, and the peasants cutting their grain and working as usual all along the road; but we were not prepared for such impiety at Basle. Shade of Erasmus! where is your "praise of folly?" Your coterie of brilliants no longer shines around your witty board. Myconnis, Amberbach, Glarean-astute scholars and cordial spirits-where are they now? Have they no voice, to sting with satire the degeneracy of these Basle-folk? Alas! Erasmus lies in the old Cathedral, with the ungainly picture of St. George on horseback piercing the dragon as its frontispiece; and the noisy city rumbles by, unconscious of the Sabbath, intent on pleasure, and unwounded by the satire of the scholar.
We were down to see the Rhine. It was our first glance at this magician. I will not speak of him yet. The righteous people of ancient Basle were not on its bridge; and you cannot even truthfully repeat Longfellow's stanza,
"There sat one day in quiet,
By an ale-house on the Rhine,
And drank the precious wine.”
The fellows and the wine are not wanting; but the quietah! one must go farther away from French neighborhood and into phlegmatic North-Germany, to find that-at least on a Sunday. Every body is out pitching quoits, rolling nine-pins, drinking wine, listening to music at cafés, and playing the noisy Diabolus generally.
In Switzerland, our mode of travel has been performed by means of vetturino-a hired carriage, for which we have a special contract, and which we can control as we please. Through a country sparkling with cascades and frowning with mountains, this ad libitum mode of conveyance is as convenient as it is pleasant. The roads every where are of the best quality, being in direct contrast with the roads at home, where,