Frances (Winckley) Shelley.

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block of rock was dashed down with violence. At
every fall clouds of black dust filled the air. In the
valley of Roethen, at the foot of Mount Ruffi, the
whole earth seemed in motion. Soon afterwards a
large opening appeared on the side of Roethen which
enlarged rapidly. The earth began to give way
softly, and then masses of rock rolled down into the
valley. The fir trees on the heights began to totter
before the great fall, and flocks of birds rose into
the air, uttering piercing cries. At length the trees
became detached, and began to slide gently, drag-
ging with them fragments of rock, until, increasing
in velocity as they advanced, whole forests and
gigantic rocks swept through the air with the rapidity
of lightning. Houses, cattle, men, all were carried
away, and seemed to fly through infinite space. The
waters of the Lake of Lowerz, impelled by the great
masses of rock which fell into them, rose like a
wall, and spread destruction far and wide. Midway
in its course towards the chapel of Olten, the great
mass of destruction divided into four distinct torrents
— one below Goldau to the foot of Mount Rigi, and
the others on the plain of Sattel towards the lake.
Two young girls and two boys tending their goats
on the Sattel were hurled through the air to an
immense distance. Amidst the universal destruction a
marvellous escape attended a party of travellers, con-
sisting of a newly married couple and some young men
and women. They had projected a party of pleasure
to the Rigiberg. After leaving the inn they entered
the village of Goldau, and heard a noise like thunder.
They ran back to the spot they had left, but nothing
was to be seen except a heap of ruins. Only one
of its inhabitants had escaped. They thought that
the day of judgment had arrived, and that they alone
had survived the destruction of the world. They
addressed themselves to God with prayers and sobs.


Among the heap of ruins they discovered a little
child, whom they rescued, and who is now a lively,
pretty, interesting girl, residing at Schwyz.

In giving these details I have omitted much of that
harrowing tale. We were deeply interested in this
desolate scene, where we passed a whole day walking
among the ruins. A new inn and a church now
stand slightly above the level of the former village
of Goldau. At Lowerz are monuments to those who
perished. This village has been rebuilt, and a new
road made across the valley to Goldau. The river,
choked in its passage, forms many pools, and perhaps
vegetation may, in the course of a century, as in some
other parts of Switzerland, efface all traces of the
present desolation.

The inn is delightful, and truly paysanne. From
the window you see the pretty Lake of Zug, with
its wooded sides separated from the Lake of the
Four Cantons by the Rigiberg frowning towards
the water. Its sloping wooded banks invited our

After dinner, we began the ascent, which, after
the first hour, became very rapid. After mounting
several flights of steps on horseback, on a sharp
turn of the road the girth of my saddle broke.
Shelley said it was madness to proceed, so I dis-
mounted and went on foot. After resting at the various
stations of the pilgrims on their way to the shrine
of Notre Dame des Neiges, stations which were
marked by a crucifix, and often by a seat, we at last
arrived at the chapel, hoping that our fatigues were
over. Alas ! there was not a room to be had, and no
view rewarded our pains. We had still an hour
further to go, and hoping to find the new inn on
the summit, and not be obliged to retrace our steps,
we proceeded in haste. The lengthened shadows
announced the setting of the sun, which would render
our fatigues vain, unless we could get to the brow

270 A FAIRY SCENE [ch. xiv

of the mountain before darkness fell upon us.
Harassed, fagged to death, and jaded in mind and
body, we advanced. After a desperate effort I reached
the summit. I cannot possibly describe the scene
which burst upon our view. It amply repaid all
our fatigue. The sun was still an hour above the
horizon on the plain, and every object appeared
clear as in a glass. The distant Alps of Savoy shone
against the sky in their lilac tints. Sixteen lakes of
burnished gold flashed upon the gay green of the
landscape, while the sparkling white of the houses
in the villages stood out distinct in their Liliputian
forms. On the Lake of Lucerne, boats skimmed like
mayflies over the unruffled surface of the water,
showing nothing to the eye but their tiny sails. I
felt that I should never be weary of the contemplation
of this fairy world. That nothing might be wanting
to make us forget our past discomforts, we were
told by gazers whom we met on the summit, that
had we arrived an hour sooner we should not have
seen anything, as the mountain had at the moment of
our arrival removed his nightcap. These people, who
were wrapped in great coats and woollen caps, had for
three days waited patiently the raising of the curtain
of clouds, which had enveloped the mountain.

The inn on the summit was not yet habitable, and that
at the shrine was filled with pilgrims and travellers.
However, two gentlemen most hospitably gave up
their room to us, and descended the mountain. This
struck me as being exceedingly kind, but I felt that
had I been in their place I would rather have slept
on the bare ground than leave this enchanting spot.
We could not tear ourselves away. Long after dusk
a goatherd came and sang the Ranz des Vaches, and
eventually led us by various short cuts back to the
inn, where amusement and interest of another kind
awaited us. While we were looking from the door
of the great salon at the varied costumes of the


pilgrims with which the inn was filled, we suddenly
heard a strain of pure Italian melody coming from
afar. Three voices were accompanied upon the
guitar. The female voice was the sweetest and
most chaste that I ever heard. The episode seemed
the work of enchantment, for I could not imagine
such a voice among the peasants. We asked our
host for an explanation, and he told us that Madame
Shumacher of Lucerne, a celebrated singer, and two
gentlemen had spent a month on the mountain to
drink goats' milk. With that true foreign feeling of
giving, while they received, pleasure, they passed
their evenings in thus delighting the simple peasants,
and weary travellers, with exquisite melody. We
accepted their invitation to join their supper party
consequently we had but two hours' rest that night,
as we had determined to see the sun rise in the

Next morning we rose in the dark and had
a two hours' walk by moonlight, amid the soft
shadows of the surrounding Alps. We passed cattle
sleeping on their pastures. The perfect silence was
only broken by the gay laugh of some distant
pedestrian, which fell at intervals upon the ear.
The memory of that scene, so soft, so calm, so
beautiful, transports me in imagination to Arcadia,
that region of which poets sing. Nothing can sur-
pass the charm of lovely Rigiberg. Alas ! on reaching
the summit I realised that no poetry, save that of
" Hudibras," could find a place in the ludicrous scene
that presented itself. About fifty people were col-
lected, robed in blankets, nightcaps, flannels, wraps
of every kind and description, to guard them from
the cold breeze of the approaching dawn. Some
crouched over the half-extinguished fires, which were
fanned by the morning air ; others took refuge in
the goatherd's shed, and breakfasted on goats' milk.
1 also drank it, and, in this romantic situation, thought


it excellent. The Princess Hohenzollern, whom I
afterwards knew so well at Vienna, was among the
number of these votaries of nature. As she was
travelling for health, her courage and strength as-
tonished me. A foreign woman has always strength
to amuse herself, and I confess there is something
in the Swiss air which gives strength and spirits.

Next morning was unpropitious, but at last, after
many trials, the sun's powerful beams darted through
the thick bed of clouds beneath our feet, which began
to separate. They rolled off majestically, and left the
valleys clear, brightening by degrees, till the whole
landscape lay revealed in all its beauty. With many
a backward glance, and lingering step, we descended
the crags to our miserable inn ; and from thence
began our descent to Arth, which, after the wild
scenes of the Rigiberg, appeared lovely in a wealth
of wooded scenery. The hot sun and the flies made
us glad to arrive at Arth, where we engaged a boat
and crossed the Lake of Zug. We were delighted
by the songs of our boatman, an honest-hearted
mountaineer, who gave to his national melodies the
charm of careless gaiety.

After an amusing table d'hote dinner at Zug, we
entered our long-deserted carriage, which we greeted
with a feeling of home after our pedestrian rambles.
Our interpreter jumped on to his horse with a glee at
least equal to ours, as his thick boots had torn his
feet to pieces in the mountains.

Our road lay through the narrowest lanes, bordered
by trees, whose spreading branches scarcely allowed
the carriage to pass.

We reached Zurich that night, having passed its
beautiful lake, and admired the cultivation of its
banks. The inn at Zurich, L'Epee, is excellent, and
commands a fine view. Alas ! our happy Swiss tour
draws to a close. In the evening we reached the
Falls of the Rhine, near Schaffhausen, with which I


was disappointed. The breadth of the river detracts
from the sublimity of the fall by lessening its apparent
height. It is divided into three parts by rocks. The
colour of the water is a beautiful clear blue, and the
fall, when we saw it, was, in consequence of a wet
summer, in full perfection.

We entered SchafThausen in the dark, rattled
through its gloomy streets, and regretted that our
voiturier, who had faithfully served us during our
tour, must be exchanged for stupid German postboys.
We anticipated little pleasure from our German tour,
and I most sincerely grieve at leaving this romantic,
happy land.

1— 18


On August 14, 1816, we took the post from Schaff-
hausen. The horses were bad, and the hills steep.
We entered the Black Forest. On its borders the
peasants' dresses were beautiful, similar to that of
the Duchy of Baden. There is a difference in the
hats, which are here bent down to shade them from
the sun. The Black Forest is uninteresting. There
is no fine timber, chiefly fir trees. Where it ends
the country becomes an open plain ; the only object
which the uniformity for many miles affords is a
fine fortress, named Hohenzwill, situated on a hill.
It was destroyed by the French in 1800, and is now
a ruin. The country looks gloom}', is immensely
large, and thinly inhabited. Stobach, where we
dined, is, like most German towns, on a very steep
hill. Additional horses were sent us from the inn
to assist in dragging the carriage up. We slept at
Mengen, having travelled for the last hour in per-
fect darkness, relieved now and then by flashes of
lightning. We had, it seems, escaped a tremendous
storm ; but we had many disagreeables during the
day, owing to our coxcomb courier, and to our ignor-
ance of the language. This augured ill for the gaiety
of our journey, except that our blunders, and attempts
at talking, afforded us much amusement. The only
novelty during the day was the post-horn, which
gave me pleasure, though the postilions generally
play ill and out of tune. The Wurtemberg postilions



are dressed in yellow, turned up with blue, with a
great deal of silver lace. It is the royal livery.
The horns are slung across their shoulders. In
Germany one postilion drives four horses. The two
leaders are fastened together by a rein, while from
the head of the near horse there is a long rein, which
is attached to the horse ridden by the postilion,
who very seldom touches any rein at all. He
carries a long whip, and guides the horses with his
voice. They have no blinkers, and are constantly
watching the motion of their rider's hand. Their
intelligence, docility, and strength, particularly in
Bavaria, are beyond belief.

When we arrived, at nine o'clock in the evening,
all the inhabitants of this little town, who were in
their beds, were roused by our courier. They
afterwards made us pay dearly for breaking their
rest. The beds in the inn are so short that poor
Shelley sleeps every night with his feet protruding
from the bottom of his bed. The sheets are fine,
smooth, and extremely clean, and trimmed with lace,
They are made in a complete square, and so short
that they do not reach halfway down the bed. We
found our leather sheets most useful. As a cover-
ing there is no sheet at the top, but an eiderdown,
packed into a clean linen bag, which, in hot weather,
almost suffocates one. A dozen bolsters at the head
compel one almost to sit up in bed. In short, I
can conceive nothing more wretched. Fortunately,
there are generally so many beds in a room, that
out of two you can make one comfortable.

August 15. — At Reidlingen we had a good oppor-
tunity of seeing the national costume, which is very
striking. It happened to be the Fete de la Vierge,
and the whole population, in gala dresses, was
going to church. Tiaras of gold, silver, or black
chenille, with large bows of ribbon suspended from
the circular piece of embroidery to which the tiara

276 WE- LOSE OUR WAY [ch. xv

is fastened, descend below the waist. Their hair is
parted in front, a la Grecque. Rose-coloured or
blue petticoats, red or green slippers, with coloured
silk handkerchiefs, form a very gay costume. But
the silence of the groups assembled around the
carriage made us realise that we were in the land
of thoughts and not of words.

I entered the church, having been attracted by the
music, and heard a fine organ, and the richest
choruses, in which all the congregation joined. This
is the first time that church music abroad has satisfied
or even affected my feelings. I prayed for my dear
absent children.

On leaving the town we crossed the Danube, here
a small stream. The country to Ulm is decidedly
monotonous, until, from a hill near the town, you
see the windings of the Danube backed by the Tyro-
lean Alps.

We were detained above two hours at Ulm for
the examination of our passports, and a scarcity
of horses.

The fortifications were demolished after the capitu-
lations of Mack, and gardens are now raised on the
former batteries. We crossed the Danube over a
stone bridge, and then found that we had taken the
wrong road. The post had supplied us with farm-
horses, and, there being none for the courier, we were
very near finding ourselves on the road to Augsburg.
Fortunately I recollected we ought not to cross the
river, so we retraced our steps, and finally reached
Nerestetten. Here our courier attached four wretched
tired animals to the carriage, and, at six o'clock,
allowed us to proceed, with an assurance that we
should arrive at the next post by eight o'clock. We
soon discovered the wretched condition of our horses,
and wished to return ; but being over-persuaded by
the courier, we went on until it was too late to retreat.
From a jog trot we soon dropped to a fatal walk,


which convinced us that we were in for three hours
of darkness. Suddenly we saw the courier, who
had preceded us on the road, close to our carriage.
He was exchanging his horse for a char, as he said
the beast would not carry him.

I had never seen a stronger horse. He told us
he had just heard that there was a village, a league
away, where he could get fresh horses, and that he
would go on and bring them to meet us. This
intelligence was welcome indeed, and we proceeded
in patience for nearly two hours. Then total dark-
ness overtook us. There was not a sign of a village,
or even a habitation, and, of course, no courier. We
contrived at last to understand from our postilion
that the village in question was a league out of the
road where the courier had gone, and that we must
either proceed there, or drive double the distance.
We submitted to our fate with a sigh. Fortunately,
the greater part of the road was tolerable, but
within a stund of the village (that undefinable distance
which may mean one, or perhaps two leagues) the
road became so bad that we expected every moment
to be overturned. I never was so happy as when
I saw the lights of the inn, where stood our detest-
able " fine gentleman," whose total ignorance of the
language had got us into this scrape. With match-
less assurance, he told us that we had arrived at the
station originally fixed upon for our sleeping. This
appeared to us incomprehensible, and after examining
a map, which was incorrect, a dictionary, and signs
with mine host, we found that the real truth was
that we had actually come two leagues out of the
way. It was explained to us that we should be
obliged to retrace our steps next morning. This
afforded us a good specimen of our courier's in-
telligence. But there was worse to come.

On the following day, at Hudenheim, we got into
the great road, and congratulated ourselves upon


the impossibility of mistaking the way. Away
went Monsieur le Courier on his nag, flourishing his
whip, displaying his medal, and expecting universal
admiration. Two roads branched off; he took
the wrong one, of course. We took the right one,
but unfortunately our postilion discovered from a
waggoner that the courier was not on the road,
at which he swore terribly, for his horse was very
tired. Eventually the courier joined us again. He
looked sheepish, as he had been six English miles
out of the way.

The road to Neresheim runs through a forest.
The town is striking. A large convent stands on
the rising round. We found a very bad pavement
at Nordlingen, the frontier of Bavaria ; there were
such holes in the pavements as to make them
scarcely passable. Our whole travelling equipage,
postboy, whip, harness, all was changed here ; and
smart Bavarian blue, covered with silver, replaced
the dirty Wurtemberg yellow. At Orttigen we saw
a number of beautiful women. The town dirty, and,
as usual, horridly ill paved. The civility of the people
remarkable. They stood at their windows and bowed
as we passed. The peasants' dress changed : bare
legs and feet, red petticoats, and large black beaver
hats, bending down all round like an umbrella. Slept
at Gungenhausen, which is full of Jews. Prince
Wrede has a fine estate near here, which was given
to him by the King after the Peace. He has also
estates near Augsburg. He is a man of no family,
and owes his position to merit.

On leaving the town we passed along an excellent
chaussee through a magnificent forest; in places the
waters overflowed the road. All at once we plunged
into the sands of Ansbach, where the chaussee ends
abruptly ; and in an instant we were up to the axle
of the wheel in deep sand-holes. We escaped an
overturn by a miracle. We were obliged to walj*

i8i6] NUREMBERG 279

to Schwabach, a large town with a beautiful fountain,
and frightful women ; uglier than any I had ever
seen. Here the horses alone are beautiful. We
admired all those in the carts, while the post-horses
would have been admired in a carriage in England.
They are so much better broke in than our English
horses, that I cannot understand why our carriage
horses are so much sought after. Our riding horses
are certainly superior to those of any other country.

Nuremberg is a large, clean town, and well paved.
A new church, in the worst possible taste, is being
built. On leaving the gate our road became nearly
impassable. No road in England could possibly be
so bad. The box of tools was twice buried in the
mud, and we were compelled to walk two leagues.
We passed wretched-looking peasants, bent double
under the heavy weights they were carrying on their
backs, and bearing in their faces the marks of hard
labour, poverty, and suffering. The neighbouring
forest, from whence they are allowed to get the
dead wood, affords a scanty and hardly earned supply.
They say that they are making a new road here ;
and certainly not before it was wanted. It was little
consolation to us to know that in a few years there
will be a hard road to Nuremberg, for I trust never
again to pass along this uninteresting country. After
Eschenbach the country becomes very hilly and
picturesque, and the road safe, though stony and
rough. It is very like the forest of Fontainebleau,
but larger. The entrance is formed by a romantic-
looking town, built on a calcareous rock. A ruined
castle in the midst of the forest invokes a thousand
wild legends of banditti, but the many cottages and
patches of cultivation in the valleys show that those
times have gone by.

Abrupt rocks rise in a thousand fanciful shapes,
while clumps of trees are disposed artificially, as in
an English park. In the distance stand, hills covered

2 8o BAYREUTH [ch. xv

with black firs. It was growing dark as we reached
Leopoldstadt, a wretched village in the centre of the
forest, and we had no choice but to sleep at an auberge
into which we entered through the stable. We were
surprised to find clean beds, an excellent supper, and
no banditti !

Next morning we left the forest, and entered an
open and endlessly hilly country. On the left rose
some of those bumpy rocks which we saw in the
Valais, and which De Saussure calls moutonnee. How
cold and triste is this vast Germany ! What a same-
ness, what monotony ! During five days we have
travelled through a country whose features, with
trifling exceptions, are so exactly the same, that it
appeared as if some malicious fairy had carried us
back in the night over the distance we had advanced
during the day.

The town of Bayreuth, where there is an excellent
inn, looks deserted, and bears traces of having seen
better days. I visited the palace and gardens in
memory of the Margravine. The alleys of the garden
are fine, and were crowded with people, in Sunday
dress, assembled to hear the band play. The inside
of the palace was completely dismantled, having been
pulled to pieces by the Bavarians, who established their
public offices there. Eugene de Beauharnais wished
to make it his residence, and caused the offices to
be removed ; but it was found too expensive to make
it habitable.

I never saw anything so unbecoming and ugly as
the dress in this part of Germany. A child of six,
a girl of sixteen, and an old woman of sixty are all
dressed exactly alike — a waist down to the knees,
a fly cap bound tight round with a straight, coloured
handkerchief, as if they had sore heads, and a jacket
with long peaks before and behind. Some of the
women wear hoops, all of them full-bottomed petti-
coats. The men wear cocked hats and Quaker coats.


As we ascended the long, steep hill out of Bayreuth
both our pe'lonniers snapped at once, and if we had
not had the spike we should have had a fine roll.
Though we were passing through immense forests,
we saw nothing green during the day except the
young corn. The trees are quite black, especially
when seen at a distance. After crossing a small
stream we entered Berneck, a town picturesquely
situated at the foot of a hill, on which stand the
ruins of an old castle. The National Guard, whom
we met going to exercise, looked as if they belonged
to the olden times. They descended from the castle
with stiff gauntlets and hatchets on their shoulders.

Berneck is remarkable for its pearl fishery. We
went to see the spot where the mussels lay in the
clear water. The pearls are found in the black ones,
but not one in a hundred contains a pearl.

They have a singular custom all over Germany of
plucking the breasts of the geese. The poor animals
look wretched.

After constantly passing up hills of black sand, a
few bluish trees, spruce, alders, and willows, as well
as the eternal firs, we reached Munchberg, where, in
spite of their dress, we saw several very pretty
women. A mile beyond Hof, where we slept, we
passed the first barrier, which, in Saxony, is a
long pole fastened across the road and raised by a

It was not necessary to tell us that we had passed
the frontier, for the road now became bad beyond
description. That of Nuremberg was, by comparison,
smooth and safe. Nothing but the uncommon skill

Online LibraryFrances (Winckley) ShelleyThe diary of Frances lady Shelley (Volume 1) → online text (page 22 of 33)