Part 5 out of 10
It's awful undermining to the intellect, German is;
you want to take it in small doses, or first you know
your brains all run together, and you feel them sloshing
around in your head same as so much drawn butter.
But French is different; FRENCH ain't anything. I ain't
any more afraid of French than a tramp's afraid of pie; I can
rattle off my little J'AI, TU AS, IL A, and the rest of it,
just as easy as a-b-c. I get along pretty well in Paris,
or anywhere where they speak French. What hotel are you
"No! is that so? I never see you in the big reception-room.
I go in there a good deal of the time, because there's
so many Americans there. I make lots of acquaintances.
You been up the Rigi yet?"
"We think of it."
"What hotel you going to stop at?"
"I don't know."
"Well, then you stop at the Schreiber--it's full of Americans.
What ship did you come over in?"
"CITY OF CHESTER."
"Oh, yes, I remember I asked you that before. But I
always ask everybody what ship they came over in, and so
sometimes I forget and ask again. You going to Geneva?"
"What hotel you going to stop at?"
"We expect to stop in a pension."
"I don't hardly believe you'll like that; there's very few
Americans in the pensions. What hotel are you stopping
"Oh, yes. I asked you that before, too. But I always
ask everybody what hotel they're stopping at, and so I've
got my head all mixed up with hotels. But it makes talk,
and I love to talk. It refreshes me up so--don't it
you--on a trip like this?"
"Well, it does me, too. As long as I'm talking I never
feel bored--ain't that the way with you?"
"Yes--generally. But there are exception to the rule."
"Oh, of course. _I_ don't care to talk to everybody, MYSELF.
If a person starts in to jabber-jabber-jabber about scenery,
and history, and pictures, and all sorts of tiresome things,
I get the fan-tods mighty soon. I say 'Well, I must be going
now--hope I'll see you again'--and then I take a walk. Where you
"Why, bother it all, I asked you THAT before, too.
Have you seen the Lion of Lucerne?"
"Nor I, either. But the man who told me about
Mount Pilatus says it's one of the things to see.
It's twenty-eight feet long. It don't seem reasonable,
but he said so, anyway. He saw it yesterday; said it
was dying, then, so I reckon it's dead by this time.
But that ain't any matter, of course they'll stuff it.
Did you say the children are yours--or HERS?"
"Oh, so you did. Are you going up the ... no, I asked
you that. What ship ... no, I asked you that, too.
What hotel are you ... no, you told me that.
Let me see ... um .... Oh, what kind of voy ... no,
we've been over that ground, too. Um ... um ... well,
I believe that is all. BONJOUR--I am very glad to have
made your acquaintance, ladies. GUTEN TAG."
[The Jodel and Its Native Wilds]
The Rigi-Kulm is an imposing Alpine mass, six thousand
feet high, which stands by itself, and commands a mighty
prospect of blue lakes, green valleys, and snowy mountains
--a compact and magnificent picture three hundred miles
in circumference. The ascent is made by rail, or horseback,
or on foot, as one may prefer. I and my agent panoplied
ourselves in walking-costume, one bright morning,
and started down the lake on the steamboat; we got ashore
at the village of Waeggis; three-quarters of an hour distant
from Lucerne. This village is at the foot of the mountain.
We were soon tramping leisurely up the leafy mule-path,
and then the talk began to flow, as usual. It was
twelve o'clock noon, and a breezy, cloudless day;
the ascent was gradual, and the glimpses, from under
the curtaining boughs, of blue water, and tiny sailboats,
and beetling cliffs, were as charming as glimpses of dreamland.
All the circumstances were perfect--and the anticipations,
too, for we should soon be enjoying, for the first time,
that wonderful spectacle, an Alpine sunrise--the object
of our journey. There was (apparently) no real need
for hurry, for the guide-book made the walking-distance
from Waeggis to the summit only three hours and a quarter.
I say "apparently," because the guide-book had already
fooled us once--about the distance from Allerheiligen
to Oppenau--and for aught I knew it might be getting ready
to fool us again. We were only certain as to the altitudes
--we calculated to find out for ourselves how many hours
it is from the bottom to the top. The summit is six
thousand feet above the sea, but only forty-five hundred
feet above the lake. When we had walked half an hour,
we were fairly into the swing and humor of the undertaking,
so we cleared for action; that is to say, we got a boy whom
we met to carry our alpenstocks and satchels and overcoats
and things for us; that left us free for business.
I suppose we must have stopped oftener to stretch out
on the grass in the shade and take a bit of a smoke
than this boy was used to, for presently he asked if it
had been our idea to hire him by the job, or by the year?
We told him he could move along if he was in a hurry.
He said he wasn't in such a very particular hurry,
but he wanted to get to the top while he was young.
We told him to clear out, then, and leave the things at
the uppermost hotel and say we should be along presently.
He said he would secure us a hotel if he could, but if they
were all full he would ask them to build another one
and hurry up and get the paint and plaster dry against
we arrived. Still gently chaffing us, he pushed ahead,
up the trail, and soon disappeared. By six o'clock we
were pretty high up in the air, and the view of lake
and mountains had greatly grown in breadth and interest.
We halted awhile at a little public house, where we
had bread and cheese and a quart or two of fresh milk,
out on the porch, with the big panorama all before us--and
then moved on again.
Ten minutes afterward we met a hot, red-faced man plunging
down the mountain, making mighty strides, swinging his
alpenstock ahead of him, and taking a grip on the ground
with its iron point to support these big strides.
He stopped, fanned himself with his hat, swabbed the
perspiration from his face and neck with a red handkerchief,
panted a moment or two, and asked how far to Waeggis.
I said three hours. He looked surprised, and said:
"Why, it seems as if I could toss a biscuit into the lake
from here, it's so close by. Is that an inn, there?"
I said it was.
"Well," said he, "I can't stand another three hours,
I've had enough today; I'll take a bed there."
"Are we nearly to the top?"
"Nearly to the TOP? Why, bless your soul, you haven't
really started, yet."
I said we would put up at the inn, too. So we turned
back and ordered a hot supper, and had quite a jolly
evening of it with this Englishman.
The German landlady gave us neat rooms and nice beds,
and when I and my agent turned in, it was with the resolution
to be up early and make the utmost of our first Alpine sunrise.
But of course we were dead tired, and slept like policemen;
so when we awoke in the morning and ran to the window it
was already too late, because it was half past eleven.
It was a sharp disappointment. However, we ordered
breakfast and told the landlady to call the Englishman,
but she said he was already up and off at daybreak--and
swearing like mad about something or other. We could not
find out what the matter was. He had asked the landlady
the altitude of her place above the level of the lake,
and she told him fourteen hundred and ninety-five feet.
That was all that was said; then he lost his temper.
He said that between ------fools and guide-books, a man
could acquire ignorance enough in twenty-four hours in a
country like this to last him a year. Harris believed
our boy had been loading him up with misinformation;
and this was probably the case, for his epithet described
that boy to a dot.
We got under way about the turn of noon, and pulled out
for the summit again, with a fresh and vigorous step.
When we had gone about two hundred yards, and stopped
to rest, I glanced to the left while I was lighting my pipe,
and in the distance detected a long worm of black smoke
crawling lazily up the steep mountain. Of course that was
the locomotive. We propped ourselves on our elbows at once,
to gaze, for we had never seen a mountain railway yet.
Presently we could make out the train. It seemed incredible
that that thing should creep straight up a sharp slant
like the roof of a house--but there it was, and it was doing
that very miracle.
In the course of a couple hours we reached a fine breezy
altitude where the little shepherd huts had big stones
all over their roofs to hold them down to the earth when
the great storms rage. The country was wild and rocky
about here, but there were plenty of trees, plenty of moss,
Away off on the opposite shore of the lake we could
see some villages, and now for the first time we could
observe the real difference between their proportions
and those of the giant mountains at whose feet they slept.
When one is in one of those villages it seems spacious,
and its houses seem high and not out of proportion to the
mountain that overhands them--but from our altitude,
what a change! The mountains were bigger and grander
than ever, as they stood there thinking their solemn
thoughts with their heads in the drifting clouds,
but the villages at their feet--when the painstaking
eye could trace them up and find them--were so reduced,
almost invisible, and lay so flat against the ground,
that the exactest simile I can devise is to compare
them to ant-deposits of granulated dirt overshadowed
by the huge bulk of a cathedral. The steamboats skimming
along under the stupendous precipices were diminished
by distance to the daintiest little toys, the sailboats
and rowboats to shallops proper for fairies that keep
house in the cups of lilies and ride to court on the backs
Presently we came upon half a dozen sheep nibbling grass
in the spray of a stream of clear water that sprang
from a rock wall a hundred feet high, and all at once
our ears were startled with a melodious "Lul ...
l ... l l l llul-lul-LAhee-o-o-o!" pealing joyously
from a near but invisible source, and recognized that we
were hearing for the first time the famous Alpine JODEL
in its own native wilds. And we recognized, also,
that it was that sort of quaint commingling of baritone
and falsetto which at home we call "Tyrolese warbling."
The jodeling (pronounced yOdling--emphasis on the O)
continued, and was very pleasant and inspiriting to hear.
Now the jodeler appeared--a shepherd boy of sixteen
--and in our gladness and gratitude we gave him a franc
to jodel some more. So he jodeled and we listened.
We moved on, presently, and he generously jodeled us
out of sight. After about fifteen minutes we came across
another shepherd boy who was jodeling, and gave him half
a franc to keep it up. He also jodeled us out of sight.
After that, we found a jodeler every ten minutes;
we gave the first one eight cents, the second one
six cents, the third one four, the fourth one a penny,
contributed nothing to Nos. 5, 6, and 7, and during
the remainder of the day hired the rest of the jodelers,
at a franc apiece, not to jodel any more. There is somewhat
too much of the jodeling in the Alps.
About the middle of the afternoon we passed through
a prodigious natural gateway called the Felsenthor,
formed by two enormous upright rocks, with a third lying
across the top. There was a very attractive little
hotel close by, but our energies were not conquered yet,
so we went on.
Three hours afterward we came to the railway-track. It
was planted straight up the mountain with the slant
of a ladder that leans against a house, and it seemed
to us that man would need good nerves who proposed
to travel up it or down it either.
During the latter part of the afternoon we cooled our
roasting interiors with ice-cold water from clear streams,
the only really satisfying water we had tasted since we
left home, for at the hotels on the continent they
merely give you a tumbler of ice to soak your water in,
and that only modifies its hotness, doesn't make it cold.
Water can only be made cold enough for summer comfort by
being prepared in a refrigerator or a closed ice-pitcher.
Europeans say ice-water impairs digestion. How do they
know?--they never drink any.
At ten minutes past six we reached the Kaltbad station,
where there is a spacious hotel with great verandas which
command a majestic expanse of lake and mountain scenery.
We were pretty well fagged out, now, but as we did
not wish to miss the Alpine sunrise, we got through our
dinner as quickly as possible and hurried off to bed.
It was unspeakably comfortable to stretch our weary limbs
between the cool, damp sheets. And how we did sleep!--for
there is no opiate like Alpine pedestrianism.
In the morning we both awoke and leaped out of bed at the
same instant and ran and stripped aside the window-curtains;
but we suffered a bitter disappointment again: it
was already half past three in the afternoon.
We dressed sullenly and in ill spirits, each accusing
the other of oversleeping. Harris said if we had brought
the courier along, as we ought to have done, we should
not have missed these sunrises. I said he knew very well
that one of us would have to sit up and wake the courier;
and I added that we were having trouble enough to take
care of ourselves, on this climb, without having to take
care of a courier besides.
During breakfast our spirits came up a little, since we
found by this guide-book that in the hotels on the summit
the tourist is not left to trust to luck for his sunrise,
but is roused betimes by a man who goes through the halls
with a great Alpine horn, blowing blasts that would
raise the dead. And there was another consoling thing:
the guide-book said that up there on the summit the guests
did not wait to dress much, but seized a red bed blanket
and sailed out arrayed like an Indian. This was good;
this would be romantic; two hundred and fifty people
grouped on the windy summit, with their hair flying and
their red blankets flapping, in the solemn presence of the
coming sun, would be a striking and memorable spectacle.
So it was good luck, not ill luck, that we had missed
those other sunrises.
We were informed by the guide-book that we were now
3,228 feet above the level of the lake--therefore
full two-thirds of our journey had been accomplished.
We got away at a quarter past four, P.M.; a hundred yards
above the hotel the railway divided; one track went
straight up the steep hill, the other one turned square
off to the right, with a very slight grade. We took
the latter, and followed it more than a mile, turned a
rocky corner, and came in sight of a handsome new hotel.
If we had gone on, we should have arrived at the summit,
but Harris preferred to ask a lot of questions--as usual,
of a man who didn't know anything--and he told us to go
back and follow the other route. We did so. We could ill
afford this loss of time.
We climbed and climbed; and we kept on climbing; we reached about
forty summits, but there was always another one just ahead.
It came on to rain, and it rained in dead earnest.
We were soaked through and it was bitter cold. Next a
smoky fog of clouds covered the whole region densely,
and we took to the railway-ties to keep from getting lost.
Sometimes we slopped along in a narrow path on the left-hand
side of the track, but by and by when the fog blew as aside
a little and we saw that we were treading the rampart
of a precipice and that our left elbows were projecting
over a perfectly boundless and bottomless vacancy,
we gasped, and jumped for the ties again.
The night shut down, dark and drizzly and cold.
About eight in the evening the fog lifted and showed us
a well-worn path which led up a very steep rise to the left.
We took it, and as soon as we had got far enough from the
railway to render the finding it again an impossibility,
the fog shut down on us once more.
We were in a bleak, unsheltered place, now, and had
to trudge right along, in order to keep warm, though we
rather expected to go over a precipice, sooner or later.
About nine o'clock we made an important discovery
--that we were not in any path. We groped around a while
on our hands and knees, but we could not find it;
so we sat down in the mud and the wet scant grass to wait.
We were terrified into this by being suddenly confronted
with a vast body which showed itself vaguely for an instant
and in the next instant was smothered in the fog again.
It was really the hotel we were after, monstrously magnified
by the fog, but we took it for the face of a precipice,
and decided not to try to claw up it.
We sat there an hour, with chattering teeth and quivering bodies,
and quarreled over all sorts of trifles, but gave most
of our attention to abusing each other for the stupidity
of deserting the railway-track. We sat with our backs
to the precipice, because what little wind there was
came from that quarter. At some time or other the fog
thinned a little; we did not know when, for we were facing
the empty universe and the thinness could not show;
but at last Harris happened to look around, and there stood
a huge, dim, spectral hotel where the precipice had been.
One could faintly discern the windows and chimneys,
and a dull blur of lights. Our first emotion was deep,
unutterable gratitude, our next was a foolish rage,
born of the suspicion that possibly the hotel had been
visible three-quarters of an hour while we sat there
in those cold puddles quarreling.
Yes, it was the Rigi-Kulm hotel--the one that occupies
the extreme summit, and whose remote little sparkle
of lights we had often seen glinting high aloft among
the stars from our balcony away down yonder in Lucerne.
The crusty portier and the crusty clerks gave us the surly
reception which their kind deal out in prosperous times,
but by mollifying them with an extra display of obsequiousness
and servility we finally got them to show us to the room
which our boy had engaged for us.
We got into some dry clothing, and while our supper was
preparing we loafed forsakenly through a couple of vast
cavernous drawing-rooms, one of which had a stove in it.
This stove was in a corner, and densely walled around
with people. We could not get near the fire, so we moved
at large in the artic spaces, among a multitude of people
who sat silent, smileless, forlorn, and shivering--thinking
what fools they were to come, perhaps. There were some
Americans and some Germans, but one could see that the
great majority were English.
We lounged into an apartment where there was a great crowd,
to see what was going on. It was a memento-magazine.
The tourists were eagerly buying all sorts and styles of
paper-cutters, marked "Souvenir of the Rigi," with handles
made of the little curved horn of the ostensible chamois;
there were all manner of wooden goblets and such things,
similarly marked. I was going to buy a paper-cutter, but I
believed I could remember the cold comfort of the Rigi-Kulm
without it, so I smothered the impulse.
Supper warmed us, and we went immediately to bed--but first,
as Mr. Baedeker requests all tourists to call his attention
to any errors which they may find in his guide-books, I
dropped him a line to inform him he missed it by just
about three days. I had previously informed him of his
mistake about the distance from Allerheiligen to Oppenau,
and had also informed the Ordnance Depart of the German
government of the same error in the imperial maps.
I will add, here, that I never got any answer to those letters,
or any thanks from either of those sources; and, what is still
more discourteous, these corrections have not been made,
either in the maps or the guide-books. But I will write
again when I get time, for my letters may have miscarried.
We curled up in the clammy beds, and went to sleep without
We were so sodden with fatigue that we never stirred nor
turned over till the blooming blasts of the Alpine horn
aroused us. It may well be imagined that we did not lose
any time. We snatched on a few odds and ends of clothing,
cocooned ourselves in the proper red blankets, and plunged
along the halls and out into the whistling wind bareheaded.
We saw a tall wooden scaffolding on the very peak
of the summit, a hundred yards away, and made for it.
We rushed up the stairs to the top of this scaffolding,
and stood there, above the vast outlying world, with hair
flying and ruddy blankets waving and cracking in the fierce
"Fifteen minutes too late, at last!" said Harris,
in a vexed voice. "The sun is clear above the horizon."
"No matter," I said, "it is a most magnificent spectacle,
and we will see it do the rest of its rising anyway."
In a moment we were deeply absorbed in the marvel before us,
and dead to everything else. The great cloud-barred disk
of the sun stood just above a limitless expanse of tossing
white-caps--so to speak--a billowy chaos of massy mountain
domes and peaks draped in imperishable snow, and flooded
with an opaline glory of changing and dissolving splendors,
while through rifts in a black cloud-bank above the sun,
radiating lances of diamond dust shot to the zenith.
The cloven valleys of the lower world swam in a tinted
mist which veiled the ruggedness of their crags and ribs
and ragged forests, and turned all the forbidding region
into a soft and rich and sensuous paradise.
We could not speak. We could hardly breathe.
We could only gaze in drunken ecstasy and drink in it.
Presently Harris exclaimed:
"Why--nation, it's going DOWN!"
Perfectly true. We had missed the MORNING hornblow,
and slept all day. This was stupefying.
"Look here, the sun isn't the spectacle--it's US--stacked
up here on top of this gallows, in these idiotic blankets,
and two hundred and fifty well-dressed men and women down
here gawking up at us and not caring a straw whether the sun
rises or sets, as long as they've got such a ridiculous
spectacle as this to set down in their memorandum-books.
They seem to be laughing their ribs loose, and there's
one girl there at appears to be going all to pieces.
I never saw such a man as you before. I think you are
the very last possibility in the way of an ass."
"What have _I_ done?" I answered, with heat.
"What have you done? You've got up at half past seven
o'clock in the evening to see the sun rise, that's what
"And have you done any better, I'd like to know? I've
always used to get up with the lark, till I came under
the petrifying influence of your turgid intellect."
"YOU used to get up with the lark--Oh, no doubt
--you'll get up with the hangman one of these days.
But you ought to be ashamed to be jawing here like this,
in a red blanket, on a forty-foot scaffold on top
of the Alps. And no end of people down here to boot;
this isn't any place for an exhibition of temper."
And so the customary quarrel went on. When the sun
was fairly down, we slipped back to the hotel in the
charitable gloaming, and went to bed again. We had
encountered the horn-blower on the way, and he had tried
to collect compensation, not only for announcing the sunset,
which we did see, but for the sunrise, which we had
totally missed; but we said no, we only took our solar
rations on the "European plan"--pay for what you get.
He promised to make us hear his horn in the morning,
if we were alive.
[Looking West for Sunrise]
He kept his word. We heard his horn and instantly got up.
It was dark and cold and wretched. As I fumbled around
for the matches, knocking things down with my quaking hands,
I wished the sun would rise in the middle of the day,
when it was warm and bright and cheerful, and one
wasn't sleepy. We proceeded to dress by the gloom of a
couple sickly candles, but we could hardly button anything,
our hands shook so. I thought of how many happy people
there were in Europe, Asia, and America, and everywhere,
who were sleeping peacefully in their beds, and did not
have to get up and see the Rigi sunrise--people who did
not appreciate their advantage, as like as not, but would
get up in the morning wanting more boons of Providence.
While thinking these thoughts I yawned, in a rather ample way,
and my upper teeth got hitched on a nail over the door,
and while I was mounting a chair to free myself, Harris drew
the window-curtain, and said:
"Oh, this is luck! We shan't have to go out at all
--yonder are the mountains, in full view."
That was glad news, indeed. It made us cheerful right away.
One could see the grand Alpine masses dimly outlined
against the black firmament, and one or two faint stars
blinking through rifts in the night. Fully clothed,
and wrapped in blankets, and huddled ourselves up,
by the window, with lighted pipes, and fell into chat,
while we waited in exceeding comfort to see how an Alpine
sunrise was going to look by candlelight. By and by
a delicate, spiritual sort of effulgence spread itself
by imperceptible degrees over the loftiest altitudes of
the snowy wastes--but there the effort seemed to stop.
I said, presently:
"There is a hitch about this sunrise somewhere.
It doesn't seem to go. What do you reckon is the matter
"I don't know. It appears to hang fire somewhere.
I never saw a sunrise act like that before. Can it be
that the hotel is playing anything on us?"
"Of course not. The hotel merely has a property interest
in the sun, it has nothing to do with the management of it.
It is a precarious kind of property, too; a succession
of total eclipses would probably ruin this tavern.
Now what can be the matter with this sunrise?"
Harris jumped up and said:
"I've got it! I know what's the matter with it! We've
been looking at the place where the sun SET last night!"
"It is perfectly true! Why couldn't you have thought of
that sooner? Now we've lost another one! And all through
your blundering. It was exactly like you to light a pipe
and sit down to wait for the sun to rise in the west."
"It was exactly like me to find out the mistake, too.
You never would have found it out. I find out all the mistakes."
"You make them all, too, else your most valuable faculty
would be wasted on you. But don't stop to quarrel,
now--maybe we are not too late yet."
But we were. The sun was well up when we got to the
On our way up we met the crowd returning--men and women
dressed in all sorts of queer costumes, and exhibiting
all degrees of cold and wretchedness in their gaits
and countenances. A dozen still remained on the ground
when we reached there, huddled together about the scaffold
with their backs to the bitter wind. They had their red
guide-books open at the diagram of the view, and were
painfully picking out the several mountains and trying
to impress their names and positions on their memories.
It was one of the saddest sights I ever saw.
Two sides of this place were guarded by railings,
to keep people from being blown over the precipices.
The view, looking sheer down into the broad valley,
eastward, from this great elevation--almost a perpendicular
mile--was very quaint and curious. Counties, towns,
hilly ribs and ridges, wide stretches of green meadow,
great forest tracts, winding streams, a dozen blue lakes,
a block of busy steamboats--we saw all this little
world in unique circumstantiality of detail--saw it
just as the birds see it--and all reduced to the smallest
of scales and as sharply worked out and finished as a
steel engraving. The numerous toy villages, with tiny
spires projecting out of them, were just as the children
might have left them when done with play the day before;
the forest tracts were diminished to cushions of moss;
one or two big lakes were dwarfed to ponds, the smaller
ones to puddles--though they did not look like puddles,
but like blue teardrops which had fallen and lodged
in slight depressions, conformable to their shapes,
among the moss-beds and the smooth levels of dainty
green farm-land; the microscopic steamboats glided along,
as in a city reservoir, taking a mighty time to cover
the distance between ports which seemed only a yard apart;
and the isthmus which separated two lakes looked as if
one might stretch out on it and lie with both elbows
in the water, yet we knew invisible wagons were toiling
across it and finding the distance a tedious one.
This beautiful miniature world had exactly the appearance
of those "relief maps" which reproduce nature precisely,
with the heights and depressions and other details graduated
to a reduced scale, and with the rocks, trees, lakes,
etc., colored after nature.
I believed we could walk down to Waeggis or Vitznau
in a day, but I knew we could go down by rail in about
an hour, so I chose the latter method. I wanted to see
what it was like, anyway. The train came along about
the middle of the afternoon, and an odd thing it was.
The locomotive-boiler stood on end, and it and the whole
locomotive were tilted sharply backward. There were
two passenger-cars, roofed, but wide open all around.
These cars were not tilted back, but the seats were;
this enables the passenger to sit level while going down a
There are three railway-tracks; the central one is cogged;
the "lantern wheel" of the engine grips its way along
these cogs, and pulls the train up the hill or retards its
motion on the down trip. About the same speed--three miles
an hour--is maintained both ways. Whether going up or down,
the locomotive is always at the lower end of the train.
It pushes in the one case, braces back in the other.
The passenger rides backward going up, and faces forward
We got front seats, and while the train moved along
about fifty yards on level ground, I was not the
least frightened; but now it started abruptly downstairs,
and I caught my breath. And I, like my neighbors,
unconsciously held back all I could, and threw my weight
to the rear, but, of course, that did no particular good.
I had slidden down the balusters when I was a boy,
and thought nothing of it, but to slide down the balusters
in a railway-train is a thing to make one's flesh creep.
Sometimes we had as much as ten yards of almost level
ground, and this gave us a few full breaths in comfort;
but straightway we would turn a corner and see a long steep
line of rails stretching down below us, and the comfort
was at an end. One expected to see the locomotive pause,
or slack up a little, and approach this plunge cautiously,
but it did nothing of the kind; it went calmly on, and went
it reached the jumping-off place it made a sudden bow,
and went gliding smoothly downstairs, untroubled by
It was wildly exhilarating to slide along the edge of
the precipices, after this grisly fashion, and look straight
down upon that far-off valley which I was describing a while ago.
There was no level ground at the Kaltbad station;
the railbed was as steep as a roof; I was curious
to see how the stop was going to be managed.
But it was very simple; the train came sliding down,
and when it reached the right spot it just stopped--that
was all there was "to it"--stopped on the steep incline,
and when the exchange of passengers and baggage had
been made, it moved off and went sliding down again.
The train can be stopped anywhere, at a moment's notice.
There was one curious effect, which I need not take the
trouble to describe--because I can scissor a description
of it out of the railway company's advertising pamphlet,
and save my ink:
"On the whole tour, particularly at the Descent, we undergo
an optical illusion which often seems to be incredible.
All the shrubs, fir trees, stables, houses, etc., seem to be bent
in a slanting direction, as by an immense pressure of air.
They are all standing awry, so much awry that the chalets
and cottages of the peasants seem to be tumbling down.
It is the consequence of the steep inclination of the line.
Those who are seated in the carriage do not observe that they
are doing down a declivity of twenty to twenty-five degrees
(their seats being adapted to this course of proceeding
and being bent down at their backs). They mistake their
carriage and its horizontal lines for a proper measure
of the normal plain, and therefore all the objects outside
which really are in a horizontal position must show a
disproportion of twenty to twenty-five degrees declivity,
in regard to the mountain."
By the time one reaches Kaltbad, he has acquired confidence
in the railway, and he now ceases to try to ease the
locomotive by holding back. Thenceforth he smokes his
pipe in serenity, and gazes out upon the magnificent
picture below and about him with unfettered enjoyment.
There is nothing to interrupt the view or the breeze;
it is like inspecting the world on the wing. However--to be
exact--there is one place where the serenity lapses for a while;
this is while one is crossing the Schnurrtobel Bridge,
a frail structure which swings its gossamer frame down
through the dizzy air, over a gorge, like a vagrant
One has no difficulty in remembering his sins while
the train is creeping down this bridge; and he repents
of them, too; though he sees, when he gets to Vitznau,
that he need not have done it, the bridge was perfectly safe.
So ends the eventual trip which we made to the Rigi-Kulm
to see an Alpine sunrise.
[Harris Climbs Mountains for Me]
An hour's sail brought us to Lucerne again. I judged
it best to go to bed and rest several days, for I knew
that the man who undertakes to make the tour of Europe
on foot must take care of himself.
Thinking over my plans, as mapped out, I perceived that
they did not take in the Furka Pass, the Rhone Glacier,
the Finsteraarhorn, the Wetterhorn, etc. I immediately
examined the guide-book to see if these were important,
and found they were; in fact, a pedestrian tour of Europe
could not be complete without them. Of course that decided
me at once to see them, for I never allow myself to do
things by halves, or in a slurring, slipshod way.
I called in my agent and instructed him to go without delay
and make a careful examination of these noted places,
on foot, and bring me back a written report of the result,
for insertion in my book. I instructed him to go to Hospenthal
as quickly as possible, and make his grand start from there;
to extend his foot expedition as far as the Giesbach fall,
and return to me from thence by diligence or mule.
I told him to take the courier with him.
He objected to the courier, and with some show of reason,
since he was about to venture upon new and untried ground;
but I thought he might as well learn how to take care of
the courier now as later, therefore I enforced my point.
I said that the trouble, delay, and inconvenience
of traveling with a courier were balanced by the deep
respect which a courier's presence commands, and I must
insist that as much style be thrown into my journeys
So the two assumed complete mountaineering costumes
and departed. A week later they returned, pretty well
used up, and my agent handed me the following
OF A VISIT TO THE FURKA REGION. BY H. HARRIS, AGENT
About seven o'clock in the morning, with perfectly
fine weather, we started from Hospenthal, and arrived at
the MAISON on the Furka in a little under QUATRE hours.
The want of variety in the scenery from Hospenthal made
the KAHKAHPONEEKA wearisome; but let none be discouraged;
no one can fail to be completely R'ECOMPENS'EE for
his fatigue, when he sees, for the first time, the monarch
of the Oberland, the tremendous Finsteraarhorn. A moment
before all was dullness, but a PAS further has placed us
on the summit of the Furka; and exactly in front of us,
at a HOPOW of only fifteen miles, this magnificent mountain
lifts its snow-wreathed precipices into the deep blue sky.
The inferior mountains on each side of the pass form
a sort of frame for the picture of their dread lord,
and close in the view so completely that no other prominent
feature in the Oberland is visible from this BONG-A-BONG;
nothing withdraws the attention from the solitary grandeur
of the Finsteraarhorn and the dependent spurs which form
the abutments of the central peak.
With the addition of some others, who were also bound
for the Grimsel, we formed a large XHVLOJ as we descended
the STEG which winds round the shoulder of a mountain
toward the Rhone Glacier. We soon left the path and took
to the ice; and after wandering amongst the crevices UN PEU,
to admire the wonders of these deep blue caverns, and hear
the rushing of waters through their subglacial channels,
we struck out a course toward L'AUTRE CO^T'E and crossed
the glacier successfully, a little above the cave from
which the infant Rhone takes its first bound from under
the grand precipice of ice. Half a mile below this
we began to climb the flowery side of the Meienwand.
One of our party started before the rest, but the HITZE
was so great, that we found IHM quite exhausted,
and lying at full length in the shade of a large GESTEIN.
We sat down with him for a time, for all felt the heat
exceedingly in the climb up this very steep BOLWOGGOLY,
and then we set out again together, and arrived at last
near the Dead Man's Lake, at the foot of the Sidelhorn.
This lonely spot, once used for an extempore burying-place,
after a sanguinary BATTUE between the French and Austrians,
is the perfection of desolation; there is nothing in sight
to mark the hand of man, except the line of weather-beaten
whitened posts, set up to indicate the direction of the pass
in the OWDAWAKK of winter. Near this point the footpath joins
the wider track, which connects the Grimsel with the head
of the Rhone SCHNAWP; this has been carefully constructed,
and leads with a tortuous course among and over LES PIERRES,
down to the bank of the gloomy little SWOSH-SWOSH, which
almost washes against the walls of the Grimsel Hospice.
We arrived a little before four o'clock at the end
of our day's journey, hot enough to justify the step,
taking by most of the PARTIE, of plunging into the crystal
water of the snow-fed lake.
The next afternoon we started for a walk up the Unteraar glacier,
with the intention of, at all events, getting as far
as the HUETTE which is used as a sleeping-place by most
of those who cross the Strahleck Pass to Grindelwald.
We got over the tedious collection of stones and DE'BRIS
which covers the PIED of the GLETCHER, and had walked
nearly three hours from the Grimsel, when, just as
we were thinking of crossing over to the right,
to climb the cliffs at the foot of the hut, the clouds,
which had for some time assumed a threatening appearance,
suddenly dropped, and a huge mass of them, driving toward
us from the Finsteraarhorn, poured down a deluge of
HABOOLONG and hail. Fortunately, we were not far from
a very large glacier-table; it was a huge rock balanced
on a pedestal of ice high enough to admit of our all
creeping under it for GOWKARAK. A stream of PUCKITTYPUKK
had furrowed a course for itself in the ice at its base,
and we were obliged to stand with one FUSS on each side
of this, and endeavor to keep ourselves CHAUD by cutting
steps in the steep bank of the pedestal, so as to get
a higher place for standing on, as the WASSER rose rapidly
in its trench. A very cold BZZZZZZZZEEE accompanied
the storm, and made our position far from pleasant;
and presently came a flash of BLITZEN, apparently in the
middle of our little party, with an instantaneous clap
of YOKKY, sounding like a large gun fired close to our ears;
the effect was startling; but in a few seconds our attention
was fixed by the roaring echoes of the thunder against
the tremendous mountains which completely surrounded us.
This was followed by many more bursts, none of WELCHE,
however, was so dangerously near; and after waiting a long
DEMI-hour in our icy prison, we sallied out to talk through
a HABOOLONG which, though not so heavy as before, was quite
enough to give us a thorough soaking before our arrival at the
The Grimsel is CERTAINEMENT a wonderful place; situated at
the bottom of a sort of huge crater, the sides of which
are utterly savage GEBIRGE, composed of barren rocks
which cannot even support a single pine ARBRE, and afford
only scanty food for a herd of GMWKWLLOLP, it looks as
if it must be completely BEGRABEN in the winter snows.
Enormous avalanches fall against it every spring,
sometimes covering everything to the depth of thirty
or forty feet; and, in spite of walls four feet thick,
and furnished with outside shutters, the two men who stay here
when the VOYAGEURS are snugly quartered in their distant homes
can tell you that the snow sometimes shakes the house to its
Next morning the HOGGLEBUMGULLUP still continued bad,
but we made up our minds to go on, and make the best of it.
Half an hour after we started, the REGEN thickened unpleasantly,
and we attempted to get shelter under a projecting rock,
but being far to NASS already to make standing at all
AGRE'ABLE, we pushed on for the Handeck, consoling ourselves
with the reflection that from the furious rushing
of the river Aar at our side, we should at all events
see the celebrated WASSERFALL in GRANDE PERFECTION.
Nor were we NAPPERSOCKET in our expectation; the water
was roaring down its leap of two hundred and fifty feet
in a most magnificent frenzy, while the trees which cling
to its rocky sides swayed to and fro in the violence of the
hurricane which it brought down with it; even the stream,
which falls into the main cascade at right angles,
and TOUTEFOIS forms a beautiful feature in the scene,
was now swollen into a raging torrent; and the violence
of this "meeting of the waters," about fifty feet below
the frail bridge where we stood, was fearfully grand.
While we were looking at it, GLUECKLICHEWEISE a gleam
of sunshine came out, and instantly a beautiful rainbow
was formed by the spray, and hung in mid-air suspended over
the awful gorge.
On going into the CHALET above the fall, we were
informed that a BRUECKE had broken down near Guttanen,
and that it would be impossible to proceed for some time;
accordingly we were kept in our drenched condition for
EIN STUNDE, when some VOYAGEURS arrived from Meiringen,
and told us that there had been a trifling accident,
ABER that we could now cross. On arriving at the spot,
I was much inclined to suspect that the whole story was a ruse
to make us SLOWWK and drink the more at the Handeck Inn,
for only a few planks had been carried away, and though
there might perhaps have been some difficulty with mules,
the gap was certainly not larger than a MMBGLX might cross
with a very slight leap. Near Guttanen the HABOOLONG
happily ceased, and we had time to walk ourselves tolerably
dry before arriving at Reichenback, WO we enjoyed a good DINE'
at the Hotel des Alps.
Next morning we walked to Rosenlaui, the BEAU ID'EAL
of Swiss scenery, where we spent the middle of the day
in an excursion to the glacier. This was more beautiful
than words can describe, for in the constant progress
of the ice it has changed the form of its extremity
and formed a vast cavern, as blue as the sky above,
and rippled like a frozen ocean. A few steps cut
in the WHOOPJAMBOREEHOO enabled us to walk completely
under this, and feast our eyes upon one of the loveliest
objects in creation. The glacier was all around divided
by numberless fissures of the same exquisite color,
and the finest wood-ERDBEEREN were growing in abundance
but a few yards from the ice. The inn stands in a CHARMANT
spot close to the C^OTE DE LA RIVIE`RE, which, lower down,
forms the Reichenbach fall, and embosomed in the richest
of pine woods, while the fine form of the Wellhorn
looking down upon it completes the enchanting BOPPLE.
In the afternoon we walked over the Great Scheideck
to Grindelwald, stopping to pay a visit to the Upper
glacier by the way; but we were again overtaken by bad
HOGGLEBUMGULLUP and arrived at the hotel in a SOLCHE
a state that the landlord's wardrobe was in great request.
The clouds by this time seemed to have done their worst,
for a lovely day succeeded, which we determined to devote
to an ascent of the Faulhorn. We left Grindelwald just as
a thunder-storm was dying away, and we hoped to find GUTEN
WETTER up above; but the rain, which had nearly ceased,
began again, and we were struck by the rapidly increasing
FROID as we ascended. Two-thirds of the way up were
completed when the rain was exchanged for GNILLIC,
with which the BODEN was thickly covered, and before we
arrived at the top the GNILLIC and mist became so thick
that we could not see one another at more than twenty
POOPOO distance, and it became difficult to pick our way over
the rough and thickly covered ground. Shivering with cold,
we turned into bed with a double allowance of clothes,
and slept comfortably while the wind howled AUTOUR DE
LA MAISON; when I awoke, the wall and the window looked
equally dark, but in another hour I found I could just
see the form of the latter; so I jumped out of bed,
and forced it open, though with great difficulty from
the frost and the quantities of GNILLIC heaped up against it.
A row of huge icicles hung down from the edge of the roof,
and anything more wintry than the whole ANBLICK could
not well be imagined; but the sudden appearance of the
great mountains in front was so startling that I felt no
inclination to move toward bed again. The snow which had
collected upon LA FENE^TRE had increased the FINSTERNISS
ODER DER DUNKELHEIT, so that when I looked out I was
surprised to find that the daylight was considerable,
and that the BALRAGOOMAH would evidently rise before long.
Only the brightest of LES E'TOILES were still shining;
the sky was cloudless overhead, though small curling
mists lay thousands of feet below us in the valleys,
wreathed around the feet of the mountains, and adding
to the splendor of their lofty summits. We were soon
dressed and out of the house, watching the gradual approach
of dawn, thoroughly absorbed in the first near view
of the Oberland giants, which broke upon us unexpectedly
after the intense obscurity of the evening before.
"KABAUGWAKKO SONGWASHEE KUM WETTERHORN SNAWPO!" cried some one,
as that grand summit gleamed with the first rose of dawn;
and in a few moments the double crest of the Schreckhorn
followed its example; peak after peak seemed warmed
with life, the Jungfrau blushed even more beautifully
than her neighbors, and soon, from the Wetterhorn in the
east to the Wildstrubel in the west, a long row of fires
glowed upon mighty altars, truly worthy of the gods.
The WLGW was very severe; our sleeping-place could
hardly be DISTINGUEE' from the snow around it, which had
fallen to a depth of a FLIRK during the past evening,
and we heartily enjoyed a rough scramble EN BAS to the
Giesbach falls, where we soon found a warm climate.
At noon the day before Grindelwald the thermometer could
not have stood at less than 100 degrees Fahr. in the sun;
and in the evening, judging from the icicles formed,
and the state of the windows, there must have been at least
twelve DINGBLATTER of frost, thus giving a change of 80
degrees during a few hours.
"You have done well, Harris; this report is concise,
compact, well expressed; the language is crisp,
the descriptions are vivid and not needlessly elaborated;
your report goes straight to the point, attends strictly
to business, and doesn't fool around. It is in many
ways an excellent document. But it has a fault--it
is too learned, it is much too learned. What is 'DINGBLATTER'?
"'DINGBLATTER' is a Fiji word meaning 'degrees.'"
"You knew the English of it, then?"
"What is 'GNILLIC'?
"That is the Eskimo term for 'snow.'"
"So you knew the English for that, too?"
"What does 'MMBGLX' stand for?"
"That is Zulu for 'pedestrian.'"
"'While the form of the Wellhorn looking down upon it
completes the enchanting BOPPLE.' What is 'BOPPLE'?"
"'Picture.' It's Choctaw."
"What is 'SCHNAWP'?"
"'Valley.' That is Choctaw, also."
"What is 'BOLWOGGOLY'?"
"That is Chinese for 'hill.'"
"'But we were again overtaken by bad HOGGLEBUMGULLUP.'
What does 'HOGGLEBUMGULLUP' mean?"
"That is Chinese for 'weather.'"
"Is 'HOGGLEBUMGULLUP' better than the English word? Is
it any more descriptive?"
"No, it means just the same."
"And 'DINGBLATTER' and 'GNILLIC,' and 'BOPPLE,'
and 'SCHNAWP'--are they better than the English words?"
"No, they mean just what the English ones do."
"Then why do you use them? Why have you used all this
Chinese and Choctaw and Zulu rubbish?"
"Because I didn't know any French but two or three words,
and I didn't know any Latin or Greek at all."
"That is nothing. Why should you want to use foreign words,
"They adorn my page. They all do it."
"Who is 'all'?"
"Everybody. Everybody that writes elegantly. Anybody has
a right to that wants to."
"I think you are mistaken." I then proceeded in the following
scathing manner. "When really learned men write books
for other learned men to read, they are justified in using
as many learned words as they please--their audience
will understand them; but a man who writes a book for the
general public to read is not justified in disfiguring
his pages with untranslated foreign expressions.
It is an insolence toward the majority of the purchasers,
for it is a very frank and impudent way of saying,
'Get the translations made yourself if you want them,
this book is not written for the ignorant classes.' There are
men who know a foreign language so well and have used it
so long in their daily life that they seem to discharge whole
volleys of it into their English writings unconsciously,
and so they omit to translate, as much as half the time.
That is a great cruelty to nine out of ten of the
man's readers. What is the excuse for this? The writer
would say he only uses the foreign language where the
delicacy of his point cannot be conveyed in English.
Very well, then he writes his best things for the tenth man,
and he ought to warn the nine other not to buy his book.
However, the excuse he offers is at least an excuse;
but there is another set of men who are like YOU;
they know a WORD here and there, of a foreign language,
or a few beggarly little three-word phrases, filched from
the back of the Dictionary, and these are continually
peppering into their literature, with a pretense of
knowing that language--what excuse can they offer? The
foreign words and phrases which they use have their exact
equivalents in a nobler language--English; yet they think
they 'adorn their page' when they say STRASSE for street,
and BAHNHOF for railway-station, and so on--flaunting
these fluttering rags of poverty in the reader's face
and imagining he will be ass enough to take them for the
sign of untold riches held in reserve. I will let your
'learning' remain in your report; you have as much right,
I suppose, to 'adorn your page' with Zulu and Chinese
and Choctaw rubbish as others of your sort have to adorn
theirs with insolent odds and ends smouched from half
a dozen learned tongues whose A-B ABS they don't even know."
When the musing spider steps upon the red-hot shovel,
he first exhibits a wild surprise, then he shrivels up.
Similar was the effect of these blistering words upon the
tranquil and unsuspecting Agent. I can be dreadfully rough
on a person when the mood takes me.
[Alp-scaling by Carriage]
We now prepared for a considerable walk--from Lucerne
to Interlaken, over the Bruenig Pass. But at the last moment
the weather was so good that I changed my mind and hired
a four-horse carriage. It was a huge vehicle, roomy, as easy
in its motion as a palanquin, and exceedingly comfortable.
We got away pretty early in the morning, after a hot breakfast,
and went bowling over a hard, smooth road, through the summer
loveliness of Switzerland, with near and distant lakes
and mountains before and about us for the entertainment
of the eye, and the music of multitudinous birds to charm
the ear. Sometimes there was only the width of the road
between the imposing precipices on the right and the clear
cool water on the left with its shoals of uncatchable
fish skimming about through the bars of sun and shadow;
and sometimes, in place of the precipices, the grassy land
stretched away, in an apparently endless upward slant,
and was dotted everywhere with snug little chalets,
the peculiarly captivating cottage of Switzerland.
The ordinary chalet turns a broad, honest gable end
to the road, and its ample roof hovers over the home
in a protecting, caressing way, projecting its sheltering
eaves far outward. The quaint windows are filled with
little panes, and garnished with white muslin curtains,
and brightened with boxes of blooming flowers.
Across the front of the house, and up the spreading eaves
and along the fanciful railings of the shallow porch,
are elaborate carvings--wreaths, fruits, arabesques,
verses from Scripture, names, dates, etc. The building
is wholly of wood, reddish brown in tint, a very
pleasing color. It generally has vines climbing over it.
Set such a house against the fresh green of the hillside,
and it looks ever so cozy and inviting and picturesque,
and is a decidedly graceful addition to the landscape.
One does not find out what a hold the chalet has taken
upon him, until he presently comes upon a new house
--a house which is aping the town fashions of Germany
and France, a prim, hideous, straight-up-and-down thing,
plastered all over on the outside to look like stone,
and altogether so stiff, and formal, and ugly, and forbidding,
and so out of tune with the gracious landscape, and so deaf
and dumb and dead to the poetry of its surroundings,
that it suggests an undertaker at a picnic, a corpse at
a wedding, a puritan in Paradise.
In the course of the morning we passed the spot where Pontius
Pilate is said to have thrown himself into the lake.
The legend goes that after the Crucifixion his conscience
troubled him, and he fled from Jerusalem and wandered
about the earth, weary of life and a prey to tortures of
the mind. Eventually, he hid himself away, on the heights
of Mount Pilatus, and dwelt alone among the clouds and
crags for years; but rest and peace were still denied him,
so he finally put an end to his misery by drowning himself.
Presently we passed the place where a man of better odor
was born. This was the children's friend, Santa Claus,
or St. Nicholas. There are some unaccountable reputations
in the world. This saint's is an instance. He has
ranked for ages as the peculiar friend of children,
yet it appears he was not much of a friend to his own.
He had ten of them, and when fifty years old he left them,
and sought out as dismal a refuge from the world as possible,
and became a hermit in order that he might reflect upon
pious themes without being disturbed by the joyous and other
noises from the nursery, doubtless.
Judging by Pilate and St. Nicholas, there exists no rule
for the construction of hermits; they seem made out of all
kinds of material. But Pilate attended to the matter of
expiating his sin while he was alive, whereas St. Nicholas
will probably have to go on climbing down sooty chimneys,
Christmas eve, forever, and conferring kindness on other
people's children, to make up for deserting his own.
His bones are kept in a church in a village (Sachseln)
which we visited, and are naturally held in great reverence.
His portrait is common in the farmhouses of the region,
but is believed by many to be but an indifferent likeness.
During his hermit life, according to legend, he partook
of the bread and wine of the communion once a month,
but all the rest of the month he fasted.
A constant marvel with us, as we sped along the bases
of the steep mountains on this journey, was, not that
avalanches occur, but that they are not occurring all
the time. One does not understand why rocks and landslides
do not plunge down these declivities daily. A landslip
occurred three quarters of a century ago, on the route
from Arth to Brunnen, which was a formidable thing.
A mass of conglomerate two miles long, a thousand feet broad,
and a hundred feet thick, broke away from a cliff three
thousand feet high and hurled itself into the valley below,
burying four villages and five hundred people, as in a grave.
We had such a beautiful day, and such endless pictures
of limpid lakes, and green hills and valleys,
and majestic mountains, and milky cataracts dancing
down the steeps and gleaming in the sun, that we could
not help feeling sweet toward all the world; so we tried
to drink all the milk, and eat all the grapes and apricots
and berries, and buy all the bouquets of wild flowers
which the little peasant boys and girls offered for sale;
but we had to retire from this contract, for it was too heavy.
At short distances--and they were entirely too short--all
along the road, were groups of neat and comely children,
with their wares nicely and temptingly set forth
in the grass under the shade trees, and as soon as we
approached they swarmed into the road, holding out their
baskets and milk bottles, and ran beside the carriage,
barefoot and bareheaded, and importuned us to buy.
They seldom desisted early, but continued to run and
insist--beside the wagon while they could, and behind
it until they lost breath. Then they turned and chased
a returning carriage back to their trading-post again.
After several hours of this, without any intermission,
it becomes almost annoying. I do not know what we
should have done without the returning carriages to draw
off the pursuit. However, there were plenty of these,
loaded with dusty tourists and piled high with luggage.
Indeed, from Lucerne to Interlaken we had the spectacle,
among other scenery, of an unbroken procession of
fruit-peddlers and tourists carriages.
Our talk was mostly anticipatory of what we should see
on the down-grade of the Bruenig, by and by, after we
should pass the summit. All our friends in Lucerne had
said that to look down upon Meiringen, and the rushing
blue-gray river Aar, and the broad level green valley;
and across at the mighty Alpine precipices that rise
straight up to the clouds out of that valley; and up
at the microscopic chalets perched upon the dizzy eaves
of those precipices and winking dimly and fitfully
through the drifting veil of vapor; and still up and up,
at the superb Oltschiback and the other beautiful cascades
that leap from those rugged heights, robed in powdery spray,
ruffled with foam, and girdled with rainbows--to look upon
these things, they say, was to look upon the last possibility
of the sublime and the enchanting. Therefore, as I say,
we talked mainly of these coming wonders; if we were conscious
of any impatience, it was to get there in favorable season;
if we felt any anxiety, it was that the day might
remain perfect, and enable us to see those marvels at their best.
As we approached the Kaiserstuhl, a part of the harness gave way.
We were in distress for a moment, but only a moment.
It was the fore-and-aft gear that was broken--the thing
that leads aft from the forward part of the horse and is
made fast to the thing that pulls the wagon. In America
this would have been a heavy leathern strap; but, all over
the continent it is nothing but a piece of rope the size
of your little finger--clothes-line is what it is.
Cabs use it, private carriages, freight-carts and wagons,
all sorts of vehicles have it. In Munich I afterward saw
it used on a long wagon laden with fifty-four half-barrels
of beer; I had before noticed that the cabs in Heidelberg
used it--not new rope, but rope that had been in use
since Abraham's time --and I had felt nervous, sometimes,
behind it when the cab was tearing down a hill. But I
had long been accustomed to it now, and had even become
afraid of the leather strap which belonged in its place.
Our driver got a fresh piece of clothes-line out of his
locker and repaired the break in two minutes.
So much for one European fashion. Every country has its
own ways. It may interest the reader to know how they "put
horses to" on the continent. The man stands up the horses
on each side of the thing that projects from the front end
of the wagon, and then throws the tangled mess of gear
forward through a ring, and hauls it aft, and passes the
other thing through the other ring and hauls it aft on the
other side of the other horse, opposite to the first one,
after crossing them and bringing the loose end back,
and then buckles the other thing underneath the horse,
and takes another thing and wraps it around the thing I spoke
of before, and puts another thing over each horse's head,
with broad flappers to it to keep the dust out of his eyes,
and puts the iron thing in his mouth for him to grit his
teeth on, uphill, and brings the ends of these things aft
over his back, after buckling another one around under
his neck to hold his head up, and hitching another thing
on a thing that goes over his shoulders to keep his head
up when he is climbing a hill, and then takes the slack
of the thing which I mentioned a while ago, and fetches it
aft and makes it fast to the thing that pulls the wagon,
and hands the other things up to the driver to steer with.
I never have buckled up a horse myself, but I do not think
we do it that way.
We had four very handsome horses, and the driver was very proud
of his turnout. He would bowl along on a reasonable trot,
on the highway, but when he entered a village he did it on
a furious run, and accompanied it with a frenzy of ceaseless
whip-crackings that sounded like volleys of musketry.
He tore through the narrow streets and around the sharp
curves like a moving earthquake, showering his volleys
as he went, and before him swept a continuous tidal wave
of scampering children, ducks, cats, and mothers clasping
babies which they had snatched out of the way of the
coming destruction; and as this living wave washed aside,
along the walls, its elements, being safe, forgot their fears
and turned their admiring gaze upon that gallant driver
till he thundered around the next curve and was lost to sight.
He was a great man to those villagers, with his gaudy
clothes and his terrific ways. Whenever he stopped
to have his cattle watered and fed with loaves of bread,
the villagers stood around admiring him while he
swaggered about, the little boys gazed up at his face with
humble homage, and the landlord brought out foaming mugs
of beer and conversed proudly with him while he drank.
Then he mounted his lofty box, swung his explosive whip,
and away he went again, like a storm. I had not seen
anything like this before since I was a boy, and the
stage used to flourish the village with the dust flying
and the horn tooting.
When we reached the base of the Kaiserstuhl, we took
two more horses; we had to toil along with difficulty
for an hour and a half or two hours, for the ascent
was not very gradual, but when we passed the backbone
and approached the station, the driver surpassed all
his previous efforts in the way of rush and clatter.
He could not have six horses all the time, so he made
the most of his chance while he had it.
Up to this point we had been in the heart of the William
Tell region. The hero is not forgotten, by any means,
or held in doubtful veneration. His wooden image,
with his bow drawn, above the doors of taverns, was a
frequent feature of the scenery.
About noon we arrived at the foot of the Bruenig Pass,
and made a two-hour stop at the village hotel, another of
those clean, pretty, and thoroughly well-kept inns which are
such an astonishment to people who are accustomed to hotels
of a dismally different pattern in remote country-towns.
There was a lake here, in the lap of the great mountains,
the green slopes that rose toward the lower crags
were graced with scattered Swiss cottages nestling
among miniature farms and gardens, and from out a leafy
ambuscade in the upper heights tumbled a brawling cataract.
Carriage after carriage, laden with tourists and trunks,
arrived, and the quiet hotel was soon populous.
We were early at the table d'ho^te and saw the people
all come in. There were twenty-five, perhaps. They were
of various nationalities, but we were the only Americans.
Next to me sat an English bride, and next to her sat her
new husband, whom she called "Neddy," though he was big
enough and stalwart enough to be entitled to his full name.
They had a pretty little lovers' quarrel over what wine
they should have. Neddy was for obeying the guide-book
and taking the wine of the country; but the bride said:
"What, that nahsty stuff!"
"It isn't nahsty, pet, it's quite good."
"It IS nahsty."
"No, it ISN'T nahsty."
"It's Oful nahsty, Neddy, and I shahn't drink it."
Then the question was, what she must have. She said he
knew very well that she never drank anything but champagne.
"You know very well papa always has champagne on his table,
and I've always been used to it."
Neddy made a playful pretense of being distressed about
the expense, and this amused her so much that she nearly
exhausted herself with laughter--and this pleased HIM
so much that he repeated his jest a couple of times,
and added new and killing varieties to it. When the bride
finally recovered, she gave Neddy a love-box on the arm
with her fan, and said with arch severity:
"Well, you would HAVE me--nothing else would do
--so you'll have to make the best of a bad bargain.
DO order the champagne, I'm Oful dry."
So with a mock groan which made her laugh again,
Neddy ordered the champagne.
The fact that this young woman had never moistened
the selvedge edge of her soul with a less plebeian
tipple than champagne, had a marked and subduing effect
on Harris. He believed she belonged to the royal family.
But I had my doubts.
We heard two or three different languages spoken by
people at the table and guessed out the nationalities
of most of the guests to our satisfaction, but we
failed with an elderly gentleman and his wife and a
young girl who sat opposite us, and with a gentleman
of about thirty-five who sat three seats beyond Harris.
We did not hear any of these speak. But finally the
last-named gentleman left while we were not noticing,
but we looked up as he reached the far end of the table.
He stopped there a moment, and made his toilet with a
pocket comb. So he was a German; or else he had lived
in German hotels long enough to catch the fashion.
When the elderly couple and the young girl rose to leave,
they bowed respectfully to us. So they were Germans, too.
This national custom is worth six of the other one,
After dinner we talked with several Englishmen, and they
inflamed our desire to a hotter degree than ever,
to see the sights of Meiringen from the heights of
the Bruenig Pass. They said the view was marvelous,
and that one who had seen it once could never forget it.
They also spoke of the romantic nature of the road over
the pass, and how in one place it had been cut through
a flank of the solid rock, in such a way that the mountain
overhung the tourist as he passed by; and they furthermore
said that the sharp turns in the road and the abruptness
of the descent would afford us a thrilling experience,
for we should go down in a flying gallop and seem to be
spinning around the rings of a whirlwind, like a drop
of whiskey descending the spirals of a corkscrew.
I got all the information out of these gentlemen that we
could need; and then, to make everything complete, I asked
them if a body could get hold of a little fruit and milk
here and there, in case of necessity. They threw up their
hands in speechless intimation that the road was simply paved
with refreshment-peddlers. We were impatient to get away,
now, and the rest of our two-hour stop rather dragged.
But finally the set time arrived and we began the ascent.
Indeed it was a wonderful road. It was smooth, and compact,
and clean, and the side next the precipices was guarded
all along by dressed stone posts about three feet high,
placed at short distances apart. The road could not have
been better built if Napoleon the First had built it.
He seems to have been the introducer of the sort of roads
which Europe now uses. All literature which describes
life as it existed in England, France, and Germany up
to the close of the last century, is filled with pictures
of coaches and carriages wallowing through these three
countries in mud and slush half-wheel deep; but after
Napoleon had floundered through a conquered kingdom he
generally arranged things so that the rest of the world
could follow dry-shod.
We went on climbing, higher and higher, and curving hither
and thither, in the shade of noble woods, and with a rich
variety and profusion of wild flowers all about us;
and glimpses of rounded grassy backbones below us occupied
by trim chalets and nibbling sheep, and other glimpses
of far lower altitudes, where distance diminished the
chalets to toys and obliterated the sheep altogether;
and every now and then some ermined monarch of the Alps
swung magnificently into view for a moment, then drifted
past an intervening spur and disappeared again.
It was an intoxicating trip altogether; the exceeding
sense of satisfaction that follows a good dinner added
largely to the enjoyment; the having something especial
to look forward to and muse about, like the approaching
grandeurs of Meiringen, sharpened the zest. Smoking was
never so good before, solid comfort was never solider;
we lay back against the thick cushions silent, meditative,
steeped in felicity.
I rubbed my eyes, opened them, and started. I had been
dreaming I was at sea, and it was a thrilling surprise to wake
up and find land all around me. It took me a couple seconds
to "come to," as you may say; then I took in the situation.
The horses were drinking at a trough in the edge of a town,
the driver was taking beer, Harris was snoring at my side,
the courier, with folded arms and bowed head, was sleeping
on the box, two dozen barefooted and bareheaded children
were gathered about the carriage, with their hands
crossed behind, gazing up with serious and innocent
admiration at the dozing tourists baking there in the sun.
Several small girls held night-capped babies nearly
as big as themselves in their arms, and even these fat
babies seemed to take a sort of sluggish interest in us.
We had slept an hour and a half and missed all the scenery!
I did not need anybody to tell me that. If I had been
a girl, I could have cursed for vexation. As it was,
I woke up the agent and gave him a piece of my mind.
Instead of being humiliated, he only upbraided me for being
so wanting in vigilance. He said he had expected to improve
his mind by coming to Europe, but a man might travel to the
ends of the earth with me and never see anything, for I
was manifestly endowed with the very genius of ill luck.
He even tried to get up some emotion about that poor courier,
who never got a chance to see anything, on account of
my heedlessness. But when I thought I had borne about
enough of this kind of talk, I threatened to make Harris
tramp back to the summit and make a report on that scenery,
and this suggestion spiked his battery.
We drove sullenly through Brienz, dead to the seductions
of its bewildering array of Swiss carvings and the
clamorous HOO-hooing of its cuckoo clocks, and had not
entirely recovered our spirits when we rattled across
a bridge over the rushing blue river and entered the
pretty town of Interlaken. It was just about sunset,
and we had made the trip from Lucerne in ten hours.
[The Jungfrau, the Bride, and the Piano]
We located ourselves at the Jungfrau Hotel, one of those
huge establishments which the needs of modern travel
have created in every attractive spot on the continent.
There was a great gathering at dinner, and, as usual,
one heard all sorts of languages.
The table d'ho^te was served by waitresses dressed
in the quaint and comely costume of the Swiss peasants.
This consists of a simple gros de laine, trimmed with ashes
of roses, with overskirt of scare bleu ventre saint gris,
cut bias on the off-side, with facings of petit polonaise
and narrow insertions of pa^te de foie gras backstitched
to the mise en sce`ne in the form of a jeu d'esprit. It gives
to the wearer a singularly piquant and alluring aspect.
One of these waitresses, a woman of forty,
had side-whiskers reaching half-way down her jaws.
They were two fingers broad, dark in color, pretty thick,
and the hairs were an inch long. One sees many women on
the continent with quite conspicuous mustaches, but this
was the only woman I saw who had reached the dignity of whiskers.
After dinner the guests of both sexes distributed themselves
about the front porches and the ornamental grounds belonging
to the hotel, to enjoy the cool air; but, as the twilight
deepened toward darkness, they gathered themselves together
in that saddest and solemnest and most constrained of
all places, the great blank drawing-room which is the chief
feature of all continental summer hotels. There they
grouped themselves about, in couples and threes, and mumbled
in bated voices, and looked timid and homeless and forlorn.
There was a small piano in this room, a clattery, wheezy,
asthmatic thing, certainly the very worst miscarriage
in the way of a piano that the world has seen. In turn,
five or six dejected and homesick ladies approached
it doubtingly, gave it a single inquiring thump, and retired
with the lockjaw. But the boss of that instrument was
to come, nevertheless; and from my own country--from Arkansaw.
She was a brand-new bride, innocent, girlish, happy in herself
and her grave and worshiping stripling of a husband; she was
about eighteen, just out of school, free from affections,
unconscious of that passionless multitude around her;
and the very first time she smote that old wreck one
recognized that it had met its destiny. Her stripling
brought an armful of aged sheet-music from their room
--for this bride went "heeled," as you might say--and bent
himself lovingly over and got ready to turn the pages.
The bride fetched a swoop with her fingers from one end
of the keyboard to the other, just to get her bearings,
as it were, and you could see the congregation set their teeth
with the agony of it. Then, without any more preliminaries,
she turned on all the horrors of the "Battle of Prague,"
that venerable shivaree, and waded chin-deep in the blood
of the slain. She made a fair and honorable average
of two false notes in every five, but her soul was in arms
and she never stopped to correct. The audience stood it
with pretty fair grit for a while, but when the cannonade
waxed hotter and fiercer, and the discord average
rose to four in five, the procession began to move.
A few stragglers held their ground ten minutes longer,
but when the girl began to wring the true inwardness out
of the "cries of the wounded," they struck their colors
and retired in a kind of panic.
There never was a completer victory; I was the only
non-combatant left on the field. I would not have
deserted my countrywoman anyhow, but indeed I had no
desires in that direction. None of us like mediocrity,
but we all reverence perfection. This girl's music
was perfection in its way; it was the worst music that
had ever been achieved on our planet by a mere human being.
I moved up close, and never lost a strain. When she
got through, I asked her to play it again. She did it
with a pleased alacrity and a heightened enthusiasm.
She made it ALL discords, this time. She got an amount
of anguish into the cries of the wounded that shed a new
light on human suffering. She was on the war-path all
the evening. All the time, crowds of people gathered on
the porches and pressed their noses against the windows
to look and marvel, but the bravest never ventured in.
The bride went off satisfied and happy with her young fellow,
when her appetite was finally gorged, and the tourists
swarmed in again.
What a change has come over Switzerland, and in fact
all Europe, during this century! Seventy or eighty years
ago Napoleon was the only man in Europe who could really
be called a traveler; he was the only man who had devoted
his attention to it and taken a powerful interest in it;
he was the only man who had traveled extensively;
but now everybody goes everywhere; and Switzerland,
and many other regions which were unvisited and unknown
remotenesses a hundred years ago, are in our days
a buzzing hive of restless strangers every summer.
But I digress.
In the morning, when we looked out of our windows,
we saw a wonderful sight. Across the valley,
and apparently quite neighborly and close at hand,
the giant form of the Jungfrau rose cold and white into
the clear sky, beyond a gateway in the nearer highlands.
It reminded me, somehow, of one of those colossal billows
which swells suddenly up beside one's ship, at sea,
sometimes, with its crest and shoulders snowy white, and the
rest of its noble proportions streaked downward with creamy foam.
I took out my sketch-book and made a little picture
of the Jungfrau, merely to get the shape. [Figure 9]
I do not regard this as one of my finished works, in fact I
do not rank it among my Works at all; it is only a study;
it is hardly more than what one might call a sketch.
Other artists have done me the grace to admire it; but I
am severe in my judgments of my own pictures, and this
one does not move me.
It was hard to believe that that lofty wooded rampart on
the left which so overtops the Jungfrau was not actually
the higher of the two, but it was not, of course.
It is only two or three thousand feet high, and of course
has no snow upon it in summer, whereas the Jungfrau is not
much shorter of fourteen thousand feet high and therefore
that lowest verge of snow on her side, which seems nearly
down to the valley level, is really about seven thousand feet
higher up in the air than the summit of that wooded rampart.
It is the distance that makes the deception. The wooded
height is but four or five miles removed from us,
but the Jungfrau is four or five times that distance away.
Walking down the street of shops, in the fore-noon, I
was attracted by a large picture, carved, frame and all,
from a single block of chocolate-colored wood.
There are people who know everything. Some of these had
told us that continental shopkeepers always raise their
prices on English and Americans. Many people had told
us it was expensive to buy things through a courier,
whereas I had supposed it was just the reverse.
When I saw this picture, I conjectured that it was worth
more than the friend I proposed to buy it for would
like to pay, but still it was worth while to inquire;
so I told the courier to step in and ask the price, as if he
wanted it for himself; I told him not to speak in English,
and above all not to reveal the fact that he was a courier.
Then I moved on a few yards, and waited.
The courier came presently and reported the price.
I said to myself, "It is a hundred francs too much,"
and so dismissed the matter from my mind. But in
the afternoon I was passing that place with Harris,
and the picture attracted me again. We stepped in,
to see how much higher broken German would raise the price.
The shopwoman named a figure just a hundred francs lower
than the courier had named. This was a pleasant surprise.
I said I would take it. After I had given directions as to
where it was to be shipped, the shopwoman said, appealingly:
"If you please, do not let your courier know you bought it."
This was an unexpected remark. I said:
"What makes you think I have a courier?"
"Ah, that is very simple; he told me himself."
"He was very thoughtful. But tell me--why did you charge
him more than you are charging me?"
"That is very simple, also: I do not have to pay you
"Oh, I begin to see. You would have had to pay the courier
"Undoubtedly. The courier always has his percentage.
In this case it would have been a hundred francs."
"Then the tradesman does not pay a part of it
--the purchaser pays all of it?"
"There are occasions when the tradesman and the courier
agree upon a price which is twice or thrice the value of
the article, then the two divide, and both get a percentage."
"I see. But it seems to me that the purchaser does
all the paying, even then."
"Oh, to be sure! It goes without saying."
"But I have bought this picture myself; therefore why
shouldn't the courier know it?"
The woman exclaimed, in distress:
"Ah, indeed it would take all my little profit! He would
come and demand his hundred francs, and I should have
"He has not done the buying. You could refuse."
"I could not dare to refuse. He would never bring
travelers here again. More than that, he would denounce me
to the other couriers, they would divert custom from me,
and my business would be injured."
I went away in a thoughtful frame of mind. I began to see why
a courier could afford to work for fifty-five dollars a month
and his fares. A month or two later I was able to understand
why a courier did not have to pay any board and lodging,
and why my hotel bills were always larger when I had him
with me than when I left him behind, somewhere, for a few days.
Another thing was also explained, now, apparently.
In one town I had taken the courier to the bank to do
the translating when I drew some money. I had sat
in the reading-room till the transaction was finished.
Then a clerk had brought the money to me in person,
and had been exceedingly polite, even going so far as to
precede me to the door and holding it open for me and bow
me out as if I had been a distinguished personage.
It was a new experience. Exchange had been in my favor
ever since I had been in Europe, but just that one time.
I got simply the face of my draft, and no extra francs,
whereas I had expected to get quite a number of them.
This was the first time I had ever used the courier at
the bank. I had suspected something then, and as long
as he remained with me afterward I managed bank matters
Still, if I felt that I could afford the tax, I would
never travel without a courier, for a good courier is
a convenience whose value cannot be estimated in dollars
and cents. Without him, travel is a bitter harassment,
a purgatory of little exasperating annoyances, a ceaseless
and pitiless punishment--I mean to an irascible man
who has no business capacity and is confused by details.
Without a courier, travel hasn't a ray of pleasure
in it, anywhere; but with him it is a continuous and
unruffled delight. He is always at hand, never has to be
sent for; if your bell is not answered promptly--and it
seldom is--you have only to open the door and speak,
the courier will hear, and he will have the order attended
to or raise an insurrection. You tell him what day
you will start, and whither you are going--leave all
the rest to him. You need not inquire about trains,
or fares, or car changes, or hotels, or anything else.
At the proper time he will put you in a cab or an omnibus,
and drive you to the train or the boat; he has packed your
luggage and transferred it, he has paid all the bills.
Other people have preceded you half an hour to scramble
for impossible places and lose their tempers, but you can
take your time; the courier has secured your seats for you,
and you can occupy them at your leisure.
At the station, the crowd mash one another to pulp in the
effort to get the weigher's attention to their trunks;
they dispute hotly with these tyrants, who are cool
and indifferent; they get their baggage billets, at last,
and then have another squeeze and another rage over the
disheartening business of trying to get them recorded and
paid for, and still another over the equally disheartening
business of trying to get near enough to the ticket
office to buy a ticket; and now, with their tempers gone
to the dogs, they must stand penned up and packed together,
laden with wraps and satchels and shawl-straps, with the
weary wife and babies, in the waiting-room, till the doors
are thrown open--and then all hands make a grand final
rush to the train, find it full, and have to stand on
the platform and fret until some more cars are put on.
They are in a condition to kill somebody by this time.
Meantime, you have been sitting in your car, smoking,
and observing all this misery in the extremest comfort.
On the journey the guard is polite and watchful--won't
allow anybody to get into your compartment--tells them
you are just recovering from the small-pox and do not
like to be disturbed. For the courier has made everything
right with the guard. At way-stations the courier comes
to your compartment to see if you want a glass of water,
or a newspaper, or anything; at eating-stations he sends
luncheon out to you, while the other people scramble
and worry in the dining-rooms. If anything breaks about
the car you are in, and a station-master proposes to pack
you and your agent into a compartment with strangers,
the courier reveals to him confidentially that you are
a French duke born deaf and dumb, and the official comes
and makes affable signs that he has ordered a choice car
to be added to the train for you.
At custom-houses the multitude file tediously through,
hot and irritated, and look on while the officers
burrow into the trunks and make a mess of everything;
but you hand your keys to the courier and sit still.
Perhaps you arrive at your destination in a rain-storm
at ten at night--you generally do. The multitude
spend half an hour verifying their baggage and getting
it transferred to the omnibuses; but the courier puts
you into a vehicle without a moment's loss of time,
and when you reach your hotel you find your rooms have been
secured two or three days in advance, everything is ready,
you can go at once to bed. Some of those other people will
have to drift around to two or three hotels, in the rain,
before they find accommodations.
I have not set down half of the virtues that are
vested in a good courier, but I think I have set down
a sufficiency of them to show that an irritable man
who can afford one and does not employ him is not a
wise economist. My courier was the worst one in Europe,
yet he was a good deal better than none at all.
It could not pay him to be a better one than he was,
because I could not afford to buy things through him.
He was a good enough courier for the small amount he
got out of his service. Yes, to travel with a courier
is bliss, to travel without one is the reverse.
I have had dealings with some very bad couriers; but I have also
had dealings with one who might fairly be called perfection.
He was a young Polander, named Joseph N. Verey. He spoke
eight languages, and seemed to be equally at home in all
of them; he was shrewd, prompt, posted, and punctual;
he was fertile in resources, and singularly gifted in
the matter of overcoming difficulties; he not only knew
how to do everything in his line, but he knew the best ways
and the quickest; he was handy with children and invalids;
all his employer needed to do was to take life easy
and leave everything to the courier. His address is,
care of Messrs. Gay & Son, Strand, London; he was formerly
a conductor of Gay's tourist parties. Excellent couriers
are somewhat rare; if the reader is about to travel,
he will find it to his advantage to make a note of this one.
[We Climb Far--by Buggy]
The beautiful Giesbach Fall is near Interlaken, on the
other side of the lake of Brienz, and is illuminated
every night with those gorgeous theatrical fires whose
name I cannot call just at this moment. This was said
to be a spectacle which the tourist ought by no means
to miss. I was strongly tempted, but I could not go
there with propriety, because one goes in a boat.
The task which I had set myself was to walk over Europe
on foot, not skim over it in a boat. I had made a tacit
contract with myself; it was my duty to abide by it.
I was willing to make boat trips for pleasure, but I could
not conscientiously make them in the way of business.
It cost me something of a pang to lose that fine sight,
but I lived down the desire, and gained in my self-respect
through the triumph. I had a finer and a grander sight,
however, where I was. This was the mighty dome of the Jungfrau
softly outlined against the sky and faintly silvered by
the starlight. There was something subduing in the influence
of that silent and solemn and awful presence; one seemed
to meet the immutable, the indestructible, the eternal,
face to face, and to feel the trivial and fleeting nature
of his own existence the more sharply by the contrast.
One had the sense of being under the brooding contemplation
of a spirit, not an inert mass of rocks and ice--a spirit
which had looked down, through the slow drift of the ages,
upon a million vanished races of men, and judged them;
and would judge a million more--and still be there,
watching, unchanged and unchangeable, after all life
should be gone and the earth have become a vacant desolation.
While I was feeling these things, I was groping,
without knowing it, toward an understanding of what the
spell is which people find in the Alps, and in no other
mountains--that strange, deep, nameless influence, which,
once felt, cannot be forgotten--once felt, leaves always
behind it a restless longing to feel it again--a longing
which is like homesickness; a grieving, haunting yearning
which will plead, implore, and persecute till it has its will.
I met dozens of people, imaginative and unimaginative,
cultivated and uncultivated, who had come from far countries
and roamed through the Swiss Alps year after year--they
could not explain why. They had come first, they said,
out of idle curiosity, because everybody talked about it;
they had come since because they could not help it, and they
should keep on coming, while they lived, for the same reason;
they had tried to break their chains and stay away,
but it was futile; now, they had no desire to break them.
Others came nearer formulating what they felt; they said they
could find perfect rest and peace nowhere else when they
were troubled: all frets and worries and chafings sank to
sleep in the presence of the benignant serenity of the Alps;
the Great Spirit of the Mountain breathed his own peace
upon their hurt minds and sore hearts, and healed them;
they could not think base thoughts or do mean and sordid
things here, before the visible throne of God.
Down the road a piece was a Kursaal--whatever that may be
--and we joined the human tide to see what sort of enjoyment
it might afford. It was the usual open-air concert,
in an ornamental garden, with wines, beer, milk, whey,
grapes, etc.--the whey and the grapes being necessaries
of life to certain invalids whom physicians cannot repair,
and who only continue to exist by the grace of whey
or grapes. One of these departed spirits told me,
in a sad and lifeless way, that there is no way for him
to live but by whey, and dearly, dearly loved whey,
he didn't know whey he did, but he did. After making
this pun he died--that is the whey it served him.
Some other remains, preserved from decomposition
by the grape system, told me that the grapes were of
a peculiar breed, highly medicinal in their nature,
and that they were counted out and administered by the
grape-doctors as methodically as if they were pills.
The new patient, if very feeble, began with one grape
before breakfast, took three during breakfast, a couple
between meals, five at luncheon, three in the afternoon,
seven at dinner, four for supper, and part of a grape
just before going to bed, by way of a general regulator.
The quantity was gradually and regularly increased,
according to the needs and capacities of the patient,
until by and by you would find him disposing of his one
grape per second all the day long, and his regular barrel
He said that men cured in this way, and enabled to discard
the grape system, never afterward got over the habit