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Italy in Prospective-Convent of St. Bernard. 219
The distance to the Convent from Martigny, the nearest resting village, is twenty-seven miles, nine miles of it being the steep ascent of the mountain; of course it takes a long day to achieve it. When Napoleon made the celebrated passage of the St. Bernard, with the army of reserve in 1804, just before the battle of Marengo, the path was much worse than it is now, and the idea of transporting heavy ordnance, etc., for an army of sixty thousand, over a mountain, which even now the sure-footed mules must tread with great caution, was considered madness. But Napoleon and Hannibal were not easily discouraged, neither were the heroic ladies of our little caravan, who were content to earn their supper and lodging in these upper regions, by two days' hard work of climbing and descending.
We did not achieve the victory without bloodshed. Two of the ladies were thrown violently from their mules, and one of the animals took it into his head to stop short in the midst of a pretty strong thunder-shower; and I had a nice chance of earning a reputation for gallantry, by pushing boldly forward, and returning with another mule for the hapless danie.
We all at last arrived, however, without broken limbs, plentifully drenched by the shower, and well able to appreciate the hospitality of the monks. They provided changes of raiment for those who brought none, piled the wood liberally on the fire, and soon spread the table as liberally with an excellent supper. The ladies and their attending squires supped by themselves, two of the most intelligent of the brothers officiating, and dispensing bon café and
bon mots, while the supernumerary men-kind were entertained in another room by the other monks, headed by the Superior.
This famous convent is a very plain, large wooden building, which at a distance you would take for a barn, situated far above the regions of vegetation, and several miles from the nearest habitation. It is supported partly by the governments of Sardinia and Switzerland, for the purpose of relieving travellers over the mountain; for without it, the pass would scarcely be passed at all. The monks appear to be plain, sensible and intelligent men, without that austerity usually associated with that order. They freely receive all who come here, either for curiosity or necessity, without charge; but visiters contribute whatever they please to the box in the chapel. They turned out their famous dogs for our amusement; in the winter, they are used for more important purposes. They are not so large as I expected, but they are really noble animals. Many a weary traveller have they rescued from death in the snow. Some of the monks are the same who were here when Napoleon's army came over, and they have a picture of his arrival at the convent, in the little museum of antiquities. In the hall, is a tablet with this inscription:
'Napoleoni primo Francorum Imperatori
We were nearly all early to bed, and those who linger
Ride and Sail to Lausanne.
ed, were packed off by the monks at ten, according to rule. We were roused before sunrise by the lusty ringing of the chapel bell for matins, which were zealously kept up for two or three hours; but I was heretic enough to abscond, for the purpose of climbing the peak behind. the convent, from which I could look down on the side of the mountain toward Italy;
'Italia! too, Italia! looking on thee,
Full flashes on the soul the light of ages,
From the Convent to the Lake of Geneva-Castle of ChillonClarens-LAUSANNE-Dilemma-Morat-Traits of Tourists BERNE-Oberlands-THUN-INTERLACKEN-Swiss Lakes-Inns.
Lausanne, August 26.-We left St. Bernard, well pleased with our hosts, and hastened back to Martigny, where we procured an open carriage, and proceeded directly to St. Maurice, there to lodge. The ride along the banks of the Rhone, in the cool of the evening, was delicious. As it grew dark, the bonfires of the chamoishunters were lit up here and there on the distant moun
tains; and among other things, we passed a beautiful cascade, seven hundred feet high, flowing out of a solid rock. At half past three this morning, we were aroused from our slumbers at St. Maurice, to take the omnibus for Villeneuve, at the head of the Lake of Geneva. It was just after sunrise, on another soft and lovely morning, when we stepped on board the steamer 'Le Leman' to sail down this glorious lake, now placid and smooth as a mirror. The boat was well filled, principally with English tourists. We passed near the walls of the famous Castle of Chillon, where Bonnivard, Byron's 'Prisoner,' lingered in chains: 'Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,
And thy sad floor an altar-for 'twas trod,
Worn as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
The castle is at the foot of the hill, on the very margin of the Lake, and seems almost to rise out of the water. The poet has finely pictured in his 'Prisoner' a striking scene of loneliness, amidst nature's fairest works. We passed Clarens, too, the 'sweet Clarens' of the author of 'Heloise :'
"Twas not for fiction chose Rousseau this spot,
And wonderful, and deep, and hath a sound,
And sense, and sight of sweetness: here the Rhone
Hath spread himself a couch,* the Alps have reared a throne.' At eleven o'clock we arrived at Lausanne, via its port, Ouchi, for the town is a fourth of a mile up the hill.
* Flowing in and from the lake.
Castle of Chillon--Language, etc.
This is a large but irregularly-built town, and is much frequented by the English. The house where Gibbon lived yet remains, and is now occupied by an English family. Here I took leave of the friendly party, and am to proceed alone to regions as yet to me unknown.
Berne, Aug. 28.-Had a moonlight night-ride from Lausanne, whence we departed at seven, P. M. I am now coming to the Cantons where German is usually spoken, so I suppose I must play deaf and dumb, and talk by signs, guessing the import of what they say to me, as I did, for example, at the diligence office, when I paid my fare; but in this case I was left in a nonplus. When I took my seat, they motioned me out; and I stood patiently waiting to be disposed of. My luggage was put on, the diligence was filled and started off, leaving me there, solus, in deep cogitation. Well, thinks I to myself,' they are very polite! Presently, however, a smart buggy came along, and the driver civilly beckoned me to take a seat. Feeling very cool and good-natured, in I jumped, at the risk of going where 'the d-1 drives;' for I really was somewhat in the dark, and I could n't be positive whether it was not the old gentleman' himself. Soon, however, these dismal doubts were dispelled by our overtaking the diligence, and receiving an English gentleman into the buggy; and then the simple truth flashed upon me, that the diligence was full, and they were 'forwarding' me in an extra, as they are obliged to do, by law of the land, all who apply before the time.
In some learned discussions about England, I happened