Frances (Winckley) Shelley.

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and eventually the carriage moved, and was dragged
and pushed to the top of the hill. The clouds now
gradually dispersed, and the night became clear, and
bright ; which was fortunate indeed, for, just as we
were on the point of descending, the postilion dis-
covered that the harness of one of the horses had
given way. If we had proceeded down that steep
hill in such circumstances, my journal would probably
have ended abruptly.


We once more got out of the carriage and walked

the rest of the way, which was not unpleasant. My

sole regret was that we were passing through this

beautiful country in the dark. We could just perceive

the river, and richly wooded mountains on the farther

side. We passed a curious well which they say has

never been fathomed, and which sometimes overflows

and throws out fish called ombres} We arrived at

Omans at midnight, and while the postilion was

vainly attempting to make his wretched cattle drag

the carriage into the remise, we entered the auberge

through the kitchen. An immense fire was burning —

the only light in the room — and I started on seeing

four tall men, with military caps and dripping cloaks,

seated in the chimney corner. Their whiskers, swords,

and hirsute appearance, their silence, and lack of

courtesy — for they did not move on the entrance of

a woman, a thing so unusual in France — caused me

to fear that we had tumbled upon banditti. I was

immensely relieved, when one of these men opened

his coat and displayed his medals and orders. They

turned out to be some of Napoleon's old soldiers, who

belonged to a Swiss regiment, and were on their way

to rejoin it at Besancon. They travelled in an open

conveyance with the mails, and when we entered were

drying their clothes while waiting for supper ! We

wondered what their supper would consist of in this

strange place. It comprised soup made of cheese and

onions. The mail-man sat at the same table with

them, in the room where we were drinking coffee.

They afforded us much amusement, partly by their

conversation, and partly by the difficulty which they

experienced in swallowing the stringy soup, which

reminded me of Grimaldi with the macaroni. In an

hour they set off; and we slept very soundly in clean


. • • • •

1 A kind of perch,


Next morning, rain as usual! But it cleared up at
times, and enabled us to walk up the hills, and enjoy
the beauty of the scenery.

Eventually we reached Pontarlier at the foot of the
Jura. We were again detained by the dislike of the
people to going with the limoniere, 1 by the usual
examination of passports, and by going to the douane.
They did not, however, examine anything, and were
very civil. On leaving, we saw the castle of Joux,
where Toussaint was confined by Napoleon.

After passing the frontier we entered upon a road
which has been so much neglected that the mountain
torrents cross it in many places and have completely
destroyed it. Until we reached the frontier of Switzer-
land, we expected every moment that our carriage
springs would break. The road from the frontier
improved every mile, and we began to enjoy the con-
sciousness of being in Switzerland. The pass of
St. Sulpice was as fine as even I had expected. An
old chain attached to the rock — a venerable relic of
antiquity — was originally placed there to defend the
pass in the twelfth century. The village itself, at the
foot of the pass, is indescribably beautiful. When we
came to Motiers Travers we longed to live there, and
fully understood Rousseau's regret at being driven
from it. We passed the house in which he had lived.
The clear stream of the Reuss, and the narrow road
on which we travelled, occupied the entire breadth of
the valley. On each side of us rose fine richly clad
mountains, which showed nature in her most riantc
aspect. One side of the valley was clothed with the
richest verdure, on the other a densely packed forest
of dark green trees. Having crossed the stream by
a rude stone bridge, we came to a cave which has
never been thoroughly explored. We were told that
some of the more venturesome of the explorers had
traced its passage for two leagues, into the heart of

1 Shafts. They preferred the pole.


the mountain. At that point their hearts failed them,
and they returned disappointed. We slept at a beauti-
ful village on the Reuss, which is celebrated for its
trout. It certainly deserves its reputation in a culinary
sense, for the fish served up at table was excellent.
They told us that the water is so cold that no other
fish could live in the stream. We were awakened at
five o'clock on the following morning by the beating
of drums. It happened to be Sunday morning, a day
upon which the National Guard amuse themselves by
military exercises. The sound of their fifes produced
a fine effect among the mountains, while the gaiety
and bustle of the inhabitants of this happy valley on
their way to church fully justified the general opinion
which had been formed of them, namely, that they
were the happiest people in the world. Strange to
say, the people think so themselves.

As we proceeded on our way fresh beauties struck
us almost at every turn. The river at Rosieres is
lovely, and the waterfall, which springs from a bare
rock at a great height, plunges into the stream with
force enough to turn five or six millwheels.

Our first view of the lake of Neufchatel delighted
me ; and, as we approached, we saw Mont Blanc
surrounded by snow mountains, but easily recog-
nised by its altitude and its broad, flat front. We
approached Neufchatel through pine woods. Some
of the trees were of great size, some mere seedlings,
but the variety of foliage, spruce, fir, and pine, pre-
sented a beautiful effect as we drove along. We
entered the town by a gateway which adjoins an
old Roman castle. It is a very small town, and its
streets are unusually steep. We dined in the salle
piiblique, where we made the acquaintance of an old
gentleman, who gave us a great deal of information
about Neufchatel. Since the time of Frederick the First,
this State had belonged to Prussia, but, in the recent
convulsion, Napoleon gave the principality to Berthier,


who, however, never came here. By means of the
Governor whom he appointed to administer the State,
Berthier attempted to levy a conscription, which
met with strong opposition. On the passage of the
Allies, in 18 14, the people rose en masse against the
French, and returned to their allegiance to the King
of Prussia, who is much liked by the inhabitants of
this place. His power, however, is trifling, and
his revenue has been fixed at the modest rate of
30,000 francs a year. There are no taxes of any
kind here now. Berthier put a tax on French wine,
and tried to convince the people that it was for
their benefit. However, they had no difficulty in
convincing the Prussian Minister that it was not, it
being more advantageous to the inhabitants to sell
their own wine, and drink that of Burgundy, than
to consume their own.

The bourgeoisie here has so great a dread of taxa-
tion in any form, that when it became necessary to
raise a trifling sum for the Allies by taxation, the
people at once raised the money required by volun-
tary contributions. So great was the feeling against
the proposed taxation, that several thousands of francs
were subscribed over and above what was required.
The extra money is now being spent on the improve-
ment of the town by lengthening the quays. Although
they have a regiment in the service of Prussia, they
possess the singular privilege of enlisting and fighting
against their sovereign if they choose to do so !

During the Seven Years' War a Neufchatelois,
Captain Jacobin, who was in the service of France,
was taken prisoner by the Prussians, and brought
before the great Frederick. That monarch reproached
Captain Jacobin for serving against him. The Neuf-
chatelois claimed his privilege, and said that he was
merely performing his duty in fighting for the
sovereign who paid him for his services. Frederick
the Great acknowledged the justice of that plea,


returned him his sword, and gave him permission
to return to his country.

July 15. — We visited the Lac de Bienne to-day,
and saw the He St. Pierre, where Rousseau lived
after he had been driven from Motier Travers. 1
The whole country, along the valley through which
the Thiele runs, is completely inundated, and the
three lakes now form but one. The season has been
calamitous. All the crops were destroyed, and much
of the beauty of the scenery has been spoiled by
the wintry aspect of the meadows. We saw num-
bers of storks standing on the edge of the waters ;
and were told that during the winter the valley is
much frequented by wild-fowl. We travelled in a
char-a-banc — which is quite as rough a conveyance
as one could wish for — as far as Erlach, in the Canton
de Berne, where German is spoken by the peasants.
There we took a boat, and were rowed by two
women, singularly dressed. One of them — a girl of
twenty years — rowed us for at least two miles against
a stiff breeze. As it rained during the whole time
that we passed on the island, we had plenty of time
to inspect the interior arrangements of the farmhouse.

Rousseau's room is merely four bare walls, with
a stove in it. The house is very large, and stands
alone upon the island, which belongs to the hospital
of Berne. In the centre there is a court, with open
arcades on three sides of it. In the middle of the
court flourishes a large lime tree, which casts its
shade over the whole space. On the back of the
court there is a wood, in which stands a small
pavilion surrounded by grass, with oaks and beeches
close at hand. In spite of the rain we visited this
spot. Alas ! our imagination was forced to supply
the brilliant sunshine which would have enhanced
its beauties.

1 Rousseau left Motier Travels May 1765. He left the He St. Pierre
October 29, 1765 : on that day he finished his "Confessions."


Mr. Wilbraham and Lady Anne accompanied us
on this expedition ; and as we were determined to be
gay in spite of the weather, we amused ourselves by
talking bad German to the peasants, and very un-
sentimentally ate bread and cheese, where Rousseau
had lived and dreamed, and where he had, for a
short time, enjoyed that idyllic existence which he
loved. We returned, wet through, to Erlach, and
got into our char-a-banc, whose jolting kept us

July 16. — Went to see La Petite Rochette. Sketched
and spent a pleasant, quiet day. We dined at table
d'hote, and were amused by Mr. Legh's bad French,
and the twaddling talk of Monsieur Meuron (who is
mentioned in Cox's guide book), with whom Mr. Legh
had been en pension.

July 17. — Monsieur Meuron 1 invited us to breakfast
early at La Rochette. He had hoped that the weather
would permit us to enjoy the magnificent view from
thence to the Alps — the most extensive in Switzerland.
Alas! thesehopeswerecruellydisappointed. Itwasonly
fine enough to enable us to take a few turns on the
terrace. We were driven back into the house by the
violence of the rain. The house is most comfortable,
and I never had a better breakfast in my life. Professor
Picot, and a friend of his from Geneva, were of the
party. I hope that they are not good specimens of the
clever men of Geneva ! Professor Picot was fool
enough, in the middle of breakfast, to read some verses
which he had just composed. This was bad enough,
to be sure ; but he preluded with a sentimental story
about a young man with whom he had travelled in the
diligence. This young man, it seems, was, after many
years' absence, returning to his native country. The
Professor, who had witnessed the family greetings,
was entirely overcome, and could not resist the inspira-

1 M. Meuron's father was Proem eur-Genenil of the Canton de Berne in
Rousseau's time, 1765.


tions of his Muse ! I cannot help quoting the opening
lines of this wondrous production :

u Quand il revoit de Neufchatel les murailles
II sent par tout son corps remuer ses entrailles."

I regret that I am unable to do full justice to the
nonsense of the whole piece. Nor can I convey any
idea of the self-satisfied, pedantic tone of voice with
which this Genevese Professor, with his round hat and
wadded silk great-coat, gave it utterance. Of course
we warmly applauded the poet, and I feel sure that he
did not discover the laughter in our sleeves.

The road along the lake side to Yverdun is pictur-
esque. We passed many old castles, notably that of
Grandson. It is a fine old castle which, since the tenth
century, was the seat of the Barons de Grandson, whose
motto was " A petite cloche grand son." It is in a fine
state of preservation, but no longer the property of its
ancient owners. The road beyond the castle was
completely under water. The lake was violently lash-
ing its waves upon our carriage wheels as we crawled
along its marge. Yverdun, always marshy, wore a
wintry aspect, the surrounding lands being under
water, and the harvest destroyed. By a police regula-
tion the baking of white bread is prohibited in view of
the threatened scarcity of the people's food. The
peasant's brown bread is to them the very staff of life.
We found an excellent inn at Yverdun, an intelligent
landlord, and some very pleasant English people in
the house — the Wilbrahams, Sir John Sebright and
his daughter, from whom I gained much information
about the people of the country, he having, many years
ago, lived so entirely among them as to become a
perfect Swiss. Sir John Sebright is very romantic in
spite of his advanced age, and told us of an attachment
in his early youth. The lady, though married, still
retains for her first love the same ardent passion which
she felt for him thirty years ago, a feeling which


he apparently reciprocates, for he told us, in the
presence of his daughter and her children, that if he
could begin his life again, that lady should have been
his companion. He amused us very much during the
evening, and told us so many good stories, that I
suspect the next time we meet we shall have a second
edition of them.

July 18. — Rose early to go to Pestalozzi's school,
which is established in the castle. He professes to
impart a clearness of ideas that is little attended to
in the usual method of teaching. We merely saw a
repetition of the classes, from which nothing of the real
merits of the system could be tested. We were obliged
to take the master's word for it, that the boys performed
fluxions 1 by the mere force of reasoning without even
opening a book ! Pestalozzi himself is a German Swiss
from Zurich, speaks unintelligibly both in French and
German ; is old ; and by no means clear himself in his
explanations. It is of course possible that this woolly-
headed exponent of an obscure method of teaching
may have a genius for clearing the ideas of his scholars.
I am sure that I hope so. The school contains eighty
pupils, and thirteen instructors besides himself.

At noon, we set off for Lausanne. The lower road
being under water, we went two leagues out of our way,
by Orbe and La Sara. This was enjoyable, as the
country is magnificent, abounding with scenes worthy of
an artist's pencil. We dined at La Sara, and visited the
castle where Queen Brunhild 3 was confined. In the
noble river at its foot are some fine trout. This is
general throughout Switzerland. Every village has
its trout stream. At sunset we approached Lausanne.
At first sight, we thought the scenery finer than on
the Lake of Neufchatel. The boldness and grandeur
of the rocks above Meillerie, and the two points of
the Simplon were very fine. But when I saw more

' In mathematics.

- Brunhild, Queen of Austrasia, end of sixth century.

* — J 5


of the Lake of Geneva I changed my opinion. The
height of the mountains opposite to Lausanne makes
the lake appear too narrow ; while the country
between this place and Geneva is flat and tame.
The higher Alps are not visible from Lausanne ;
but the nearer mountain-tops are covered with
snow, which is unusual at this time of the year.
Lausanne is decidedly picturesque : its antiquity is
only too apparent from the condition of its dwellings,
which look wretched. The castle, and the tower of
the cathedral, built on one of the three hills upon
which the city stands, rise proudly above the sur-
rounding buildings. The streets are narrow, steep,
and dirty. The outside of the inn where we are
located looks most forbidding. We hesitated whether
we should try elsewhere, when the proprietor came
out, and persuaded us to take up our quarters in a
house at the back of the "Lion d'or" which he had
lately added to that Inn. We were more than satis-
fied when we found that our rooms looked towards
the lake, and opened on to a small terrace, over-
hanging a garden of roses and orange trees. The
rocks of Meillerie, and the clear lake peeped at us
through the trees. Next morning we awoke to find
the weather bright and warm, while the lake and the
mountains shimmered in all the glory of an Italian
aria and sky.

Mr. Brougham 1 has joined us; and we have been
driving in a barouche (if a clumsy, heavy, dirty sort
of sociable deserves that name) to Mon Repos and
Ouchy, 2 a beautiful village close to the lake. Saw
a number of those lovely birds who fly, like bright
spirits of another world, over the face of the calm
blue lake. Returned, and dined under the trees on
the terrace. Sir John Sebright and his daughter

1 Afterwards Lord Brougham (1778— 1868).

* Exactly nineteen days after Byron, in that beautiful village, wrote his
" Prisoner of Chillon,"


joined us there. Mr. Brougham told me a good mot
of Talleyrand's. Bobus Smith l was one day expa-
tiating at great length upon the wondrous beauty
of his mother. It was during dinner. After boring
every one to death with a subject in which none
of the company could be in the least interested,
Talleyrand said in a drawling voice: " Monsieur Smith,
c'etait done monsieur votre pere qui n'etait pas

After dinner we all took a walk round the town.
We visited the Promenades and the Signal, at a great
height, from whence the whole neighbourhood can
be seen. From here Lausanne, with its castle and
cathedral, looks very picturesque. While we were
resting on the steep ascent, I spoke to an aged dame
who was gathering simples. She had a large bunch
of vervain in her hand. I asked her why she gathered
it ? " Madame," she replied, " e'est mon remede contre
la melancholic C'est bon pour les douleurs, tres bon ;
mais pour la melancholie il n'y a que cela. Pour les
douleurs il faut le prendre en the ; mais pour la
melancholie mettez dans du vin. Quand je suis
revenue de la France, j'avais une melancholie a n'en
pouvoir guerir ! J'en ai pris tous les jours dans un
bon pot de vin — et me voila gaie ! "

The old lady was certainly not tipsy, and thoroughly
believed all she said. I wish I could describe the
awful solemnity of her manner, while trying to impress
me with the virtues of vervain !

At the Signal we were shown the place under the
trees where the peasants dance on Sundays and
holidays. We returned through a guinguette, cut
out of the rock, from whence there is a beautiful view.
We did not reach Lausanne until it was quite dark.
Mr. Brougham throughout this expedition had made
himself very agreeable, and we told him that we had

1 Robert Smith (1770 — 1845), M.P. for Grantham 781?. lie was an elder
brother of the celebrated Sydney Smith.


saved him from committing suicide. He hates travel-
ling, abhors Switzerland and the Swiss generally,
scoffs at fine views, does not go to see anything if
he can avoid it. He by choice travels at night, and
passes the day in writing letters. He wishes himself
back in England, and yet has no intention of going
there. He stays in places where he has no reason
for staying, and is always dissatisfied. It is evident
that great talents are of no use, without a little sun-
shine of the mind !

We left Lausanne early in the morning of the fol-
lowing day, and reached Rolle by noon. Dined at
the table d'hote. Conversed with a fabriquant
d Indiennes from Berne, with whom we had a good
deal of mercantile talk. There are no great capitalists
in Switzerland, consequently but few manufactories.
Most of the Swiss linens are made in the private
houses of the inhabitants. Little or no use is made
of machinery. He said that it would be a great
misfortune if machinery were employed. In these
conditions Swiss linen is not cheap, and we English
much undersell them.

He was surprised to hear the rate of wages in
England. The common rate in Switzerland is 30 sols
Swiss x for the best workmen. Whether the use of
machinery (affecting the rate of wages) would be
advantageous to the Swiss or not, is a question in
political economy which I am not qualified to answer.
In spite of low wages, the Swiss appear to be a happy
and contented people. Our friend told us that the
cost of keeping a cow was about 27 batz 2 per week.

The heat during the day was excessive, and I am
disappointed in the beauty of this part of the country
— it is too flat and tame. Soon after leaving Lausanne
we caught sight of Mont Blanc, which continued to

1 1 Swiss franc, equal to if francs French
■ 4 French francs,


increase upon us until, at Secheron, its entire front
was visible. The lake was transparent, and every
object was distinctly mirrored on its smooth surface.
Although Mont Blanc was forty miles away, we saw it
reflected upon the water as clearly as that of the
nearer mountains. I make a special note of this,
because my word was doubted when I stated that I
had distinctly seen the reflection of Westminster
Abbey in the Serpentine.

Shortly after our arrival at Secheron, whose pretty
gardens reach down to the lakeside, we took a boat,
and were rowed about until bedtime. The perfume
from the lime trees, which the breeze wafted towards
us, was delicious.

July 20. — A long letter from the Duke of Welling-
ton, dated July 10, from Cheltenham :

The Duke of Wellington to Lady Shelley

" Cheltenham, July 10, 1816.

" My dear Lady Shelley, —

" I received your letter of the 3rd and 4th this
evening, and I am very much obliged to you, and
flattered by your recollection of me. Notwithstanding
that I dined with the Regent, and every day while I
was in London at some large dinner, I have escaped
as well as could be expected ; and I am already so
well that I believe half the world take me for a

" As I came here, however, partly by way of
precaution against the next winter, I shall stay during
the time I originally intended, that is, till the end of
July. I shall interrupt my course, however, on
Friday, to go to the Regent's fete, in order to be
presented to the Queen. I could not otherwise have
that honour, and 1 don't believe that the interruption
will be of any consequence. I am obliged to live
quietly here, there being nobody here excepting the
Duchess and my boys and Lord Lynedock, who is
come down here to see me, and some few sick and
wounded officers of the army.

" I have not seen your friend Dr. Borregan, but I
will before I shall leave the place, and will mention


your name to him. Sir Walter Farquhar had written
to another person to attend me, who called the day
after I arrived, and as I am rather indifferent about
these matters, I spoke to him about my health, and
here he is established as my physician.

" The Rebellion 1 has not actually commenced yet,
but I think the seeds of it are deeply laid. I certainly
did Calantha 2 some good ; but she is ' fit to be tied,' as
the Irishman says. I asked Lady Downshire to give
her an order for a ticket for Almack's, which she
would not do without consulting her sister patronesses,
and they (excepting Lady Bathurst, who was not
present) unanimously agreed they would not. I then
applied to Lady Bathurst, who gave her an order ; but
some of the others left directions at the door that she
should not have a ticket, or admittance, when she

Online LibraryFrances (Winckley) ShelleyThe diary of Frances lady Shelley (Volume 1) → online text (page 18 of 33)