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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.
Switzerland of the Swiss
UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME
ITALY OF THE ITALIANS. BY HELEN
FRANCE OF THE FRENCH. BY E.
SPAIN OF THE SPANISH. BY MRS.
GERMANY OF THE GERM ANS
President of the Swiss Republic
Switzerland of the Swiss
Officier d' Academic
Author of "La Suisse Intime
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
I 53- I 57 Fifth Avenue
IT is hoped that this work will be the means of conveying an
accurate impression of Switzerland of to-day, and throw
some light upon the life and pursuits of the inhabitants. It
has been the writer's endeavour to avoid subjects of the
guide-book order, while sparing the reader all unnecessary
platitudes, the pitfall of writers of this class of book. He
has emphasized what is commendable and lightly touched
upon that which is open to criticism.
It is a curious fact that writers, for centuries, have dwelt
upon the avarice and inhospitableness of the Swiss.
Frau Kordon, an Austrian poetess of some renown, com-
ments in verse upon Schiller's famous lines, " Ein harmlos
Volk von Hirten," and says
" Es nannte dich ein harmlos Volk von Hirten
Der Grossten einer einst in grosser Zeit ;
O Sang, so hehr und traut, so grim wie Myrthen,
Wie haben die Besung'nen dich entweiht ? " . . .
Ruskin says that the Swiss are stubborn, with more than
recorded stubbornness ; devoid of all romantic sentiment,
neither chivalrously generous nor pathetically humane.
Other authorities : Voltaire, Mme. de Stael, Hugo, Dumas,
might be cited, whose opinions corroborate those already
mentioned. None, however, better than the writer, in the
course of his thirty years' contact with the Switzers, has had
the same opportunities of judging them.
On the other hand, the notes on Art and Literature will
open up a new vista, and it is hoped may induce the vast
numbers of English and American visitors to this land to read
some of the authors and thus become better acquainted with
the manners and customs of the people.
The author has had recourse to such useful works as
the " Eidgen, Statistisches Jahrbuch," the " Dictionnaire
Geographique de la Suisse," Numa Droz' " Essais Econo-
miques," and to Pierre Clerget's excellent " Etude Economique
et Sociale de la Suisse" (Librairie Armand Colin, Paris), as
well as to Irving B. Richman's " Appenzell," besides other
works mentioned in various parts of the book, and to the
authors of these he expresses his indebtedness.
Several of the sketches have appeared at different periods
in The Swiss and Nice Times.
Figures are given according to the decimal system of the
country. As they are quoted chiefly as a means of comparison
they will be perfectly understandable. Moreover, by reducing
sums by four one obtains the approximate amount in English
pounds sterling. A kilometre is 0'621 of a mile, and a mile
1-609 kilometres. One hundred miles 160-93 kilometres.
A hectolitre is a hundred litres, equivalent to about the same
number of quarts.
After what has been said in the opening chapter, the Swiss
folks may express astonishment at this new addition to the
pile of books on their country, and argue, in the words of
Racine : " Nous ne meritons ni cet exces d'honneur, ni cette
This, indeed, would be a case of ingratitude.
PREFACE ...... V
I. A GENERAL SURVEY . . . . . 1
II. TYPES OF LIFE ..... 37
III. INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE . . 59
IV. ART AND LITERATURE .... 84
V. SWISS HOME LIFE . . . . .110
VI. INSTITUTIONS AND ALPINISM . . . 136
VII. EDUCATION AND RELIGION .... 172
VIII. EINSIEDELN AND CHILLON . . . 211
IX. THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM . . . .231
PRESIDENT OF REPUBLIC .... Frontispiece
CHUR : ST. MARTIN'S FOUNTAIN . . . 12
HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT . . . . .20
STREET IN BRIENZ ..... 38
STREET IN THUN ...... 40
OLD HOUSES AT WASSEN .... 44
WINTER SCENE ...... 52
ALETSCH GLACIER ..... 56
SKI-ING IN GRINDELWALD . . . . .78
FRAULEIN GERHARDT ..... 100
BERNERINEN . . . . . . .110
MILKMAN . . . . . . . 112
MULE BOY . . . . . . .116
STREET IN BERNE . . . . . 126
CLOCK AT BERNE ...... 128
BERNE CATHEDRAL . . . . . 130
BRIDGE AT BERNE . . . . . .134
BALE I GENERAL VIEW . . . . . 142
COLONEL SCHAECK . . . . . .152
MATTERHORN . . . . . . 162
GLACIER DES BOSSONS . . . . .164
MT. PILATUS RAILWAY . . . . . 166
CONSTANCE CATHEDRAL . . . . .178
BALE : ST. PAUL'S GATE . . . . 182
RELIGIOUS PROCESSION . . . . .188
VIEW OF BERNE FROM THE RIVER . . . 194
LORETTO CHAPEL, FRIBOURG . . . .198
LAUSANNE. . . . . . . 206
ZURICH CATHEDRAL . . . . . .212
ANGERSTEIN CASTLE 230
Switzerland of the Swiss
A GENERAL SURVEY
How comes it that Switzerland has tempted the pen of the
writer more than any other country on the map of Europe ?
There are other small countries : Holland,
Th Liber? f Servia ' Luxembur g J even that other Republic
of Andorre. The truth is, Switzerland appeals
to our idealism. In our college days we were taught to look
upon this little corner of Europe as the cradle of liberty ;
liberty that the sons of the soil fought stubbornly for from the
early centuries, and what is more, have succeeded in maintain-
ing. To what psychological influence this fierce struggle was
due, it is not necessary to consider now, but if the Swiss have
championed the cause of their own liberty throughout past
centuries, they, in the early ages, formed the bulk of the
fighting armies of Europe and were the defenders of monarchies
From the days of Charles the Bold (A.D. 1470) to the fall of
the kingdom of Ferdinand of Naples (1860) hardly a battle
was fought in Europe without the presence on one side or
another, and sometimes on both, of Swiss soldiers.
A leading French paper made the curious proposal that
a Swiss Guard should be recruited for service in China. This
was at the time of the revolution of the Boxers. The proposi-
tion was brought to the notice of the federal authorities.
The reply officially given was that the present constitution
forbids the enlistment of Swiss citizens for foreign service.
2 Switzerland of the Swiss
The days are over when a Swiss Guard was considered the
proper thing for a monarch to have, who valued his safety
more than he trusted his own subjects. The Pope, it is true,
has a Swiss Guard, but these men are not enlisted in this
country. We congratulate Switzerland on the fact that
though knowing how to defend herself, her efforts tend to
Perhaps no country has been so much written about as this
little land. Poets have sung its praise. The philosopher has
been to it for his examples of civism and patriotism. With
the rising tide of books and pamphlets, the Switzer has come
to resent this excess of notice and attention. It is not an
uncommon complaint with him that his country serves as the
experimental field of Europe, because it has been called the
home of a temperate democracy governed by common sense.
It has been lauded to the skies, and occasionally criticized,
by the few knowing ones. It is a convenient summer hunting-
ground for commissions and delegations, on investigation
bent. Writers on a pet theory are as thick as leaves in
Vallombrosa. Many of these are studying the militia organ-
ization, others are interested in social legislation or scholastic
systems, the working of mountain railroads, or the making
of chocolate, cheese or jams, all admirable produce of the
country. The result of all this strenuous mental work is a
mass of voluminous reports, pamphlets, tomes and script of all
kinds that nobody reads, while the Swiss merely smiles,
amused by the exaggeration of style and other eccentricities.
One writer affirms that the Swiss people are an example
to the world and a model State. Another will say that as a
people they combine the grace of the French
T AssidStks US wi* 11 the solidit y of the Teuton. They are
amiable, but reserved ; a worthy race,
without false pride, but conscious of their value and merit.
In other words, they deserve to be the rulers of the world,
which they would govern to perfection if only allowed the
A General Survey 3
Thus much we have heard said by Switzers in presence of
the notice and attention they receive. These fulsome eulogies
may inwardly gratify them, for human nature is alike. One
can never be too sure. However, it all confirms the remark
already made that the Swiss are the people most talked and
written about in Europe.
As for a just appreciation of the people, their manners and
customs, the result of a sober-minded opinion and careful
observation, we must agree with the Switzers themselves.
To find it in the tangle of books, poems, and MSS., such a thing
would be as difficult as the task Diogenes set himself.
As a specimen of the lyricism that may flatter the Swiss,
although they outwardly and not unreasonably complain of
it, the example herewith may serve as a specimen.
The trouble is, the writer, willingly or not, makes one
fundamental error in his soaring after effect. There happen
to be more than three languages in Switzerland, and he has
left out not the most unimportant, the Romansch, which has
a place among living languages.
" The truth is that Switzerland is the highest as she is the
oldest clear symbol of racial unity. Her trinity of languages
is, as one of her poets describes, the conjunction of the national
tongues, on a parallel with the trinity of race, for the three
races, German, French, Italian are three-in-one, which is
In what way must one approach the subject of Switzerland
of the Swiss ? Are we to deal with the Swiss of to-day in his
pastoral life, the Swiss as the modern mechanic, or the hotel-
keeper, all three of which play a leading part in the social
It is as well to examine individually the different elements
that help to make the social structure. But better still to
trace in a short sketch the Swiss from his early origin, in his
rapid development, to his present highly fit, cultivated, and
4 Switzerland of the Swiss
Helvetia, the symbolic figure of the Fatherland, takes her
name from the Helvetians, a Celtic tribe that
Early History, settled in a part of actual Switzerland and
did away with the lake-dwellers.
By the time (58 B.C.) Julius Caesar had defeated the
Helvetians they had lost all traces of their Celtic origin.
In A.D. 264 the Alemannen made their first considerable
incursion into Helvetia. They made another in 305. Finally,
in 406, they gained permanent possession of the country.
They came from the region between the Main and the Rhine ;
they were called Suabians, whence the Latinized word Suebi
of Caesar and Tacitus. They, also, according to some author-
ities, at one time were called Mannie, a word said to mean
united or nation. Later the word Heer (army) being prefixed
to Mannie, the result was the compound word Heermanie,
meaning army-nation. This word, through mispronunciation,
became at length Sheermanie (Germany), whence Airmanie
The Suabian, or Aleman, was tall, strong, with light hair and
blue eyes ; in other words, typical of the Teuton races and
the German-Swiss of the present day.
As we are dealing with the individual, without retracing
his genealogy, it is only right to say that from an ethnical
point of view few pure types of the original races are to be
found at the present day : the dolichocephalic have broad-
ened out, the brachycephalic lengthened. The Alemans are
of a less vivid auburn, and with a Rhetian skull will be seen a
German physiognomy and vice versa.
The inhabitants are separated by language, a fact that
explains their autonomy or free state. Had Helvetia become
completely Alemanic she might have been subject to the
influences of national affinities, such as go to constitute a
monarchy or other form of personal rule. This circumstance
is worthy of mention in order to show that the ethnical ques-
tion does not solely explain the special condition of the Swiss
system ; but that the fact of diversity of race and character,
A General Survey 5
the difference of language, and, above all, the geographical
question are all-powerful factors in the traditional unity of
the country in a bond of freedom.
The division of Helvetian soil between the Alemans and
Franks brought about the first diversity of tongues. In
accordance with the law of nature, the greater fertility of
the northern races and that aspiration of nations to trek
westward and to follow the sun in its course will always cause
a predominance of the Teuton. A startling proof of which
is the rapid Germanization of the Italian Canton and the
It is among the pastoral populations that live retired and
isolated in the remote valleys or on the mountain plateaux
that will be found the remnants of types of the ancestors of
the Swiss people. These democrats still adhere to the
primitive forms, as, for example, the Landsgemeinde.
As regards the theory of Swiss independence, much has
been said on the subject. But it is sufficiently explained by
the geographical situation of the country
Inde^ndence and a natural love of liberty that causes
peoples of opposite nationalities to hold
Eugene Rambert has written : " Switzerland exists because
the Swiss people will it ; their only incentive is the freedom
they enjoy. Other countries exist by the bond of race and
Switzerland is a vast stronghold of mountains that no one
country can conquer, much less hold possession of. History
is there to prove it. And living in these mountains, in the
higher valleys, a people was brought up to freedom. The
severe climate engendered in the goatherds of the mountains
a disdain for death and a thirst for liberty. Constantly face
to face with danger they wanted no tutelary lord, but were
able to settle their affairs among themselves.
As early as the thirteenth century, popular legislation was
completely developed in the forest cantons as well as in Glarus
and Appenzell. The judicial and legislative deliberations of
6 Switzerland of the Swiss
their assemblies, at first subordinate to the Holy Empire,
ended by becoming entirely free of control. The long enjoy-
ment of these ancient rights did much to prevent the Con-
federation at a later date from being subject to one particular
house and to keep up the Republican spirit, among at least
a part of the Swiss people. The Republican spirit of the
Confederation succeeded, gradually, in drawing the inde-
pendent cantons into the cycle, these being, as a matter of
fact, actuated by a sentiment of self-preservation ; but
convinced that the Confederation would respect their
The present union of the twenty-two cantons was not
accomplished without difficulty. A great barrier was found
in rival interests, racial distrusts, the element of discord
introduced by the Reformation, as also in the French revolu-
tionary spirit. The Confederation has triumphantly survived
all these crises and gathered beneath her protecting wing such
opposing elements as the Rhetian and Valaisan leagues, and
intellectual Neuchatel and Geneva. The present age of general
development and progress can only strengthen the bond.
Switzerland owes, as it has been said, her peculiar inde-
pendence to her geographical situation. " Switzerland is a
geographical expression," was one of Bismarck's favourite
sayings. Something more than a mere expression. The whole
country covers an extent of 15,965 square miles, and serves
as an admirable buffer to certain States. By guaranteeing
her independence the surrounding powers have less frontier
line to submit to vigilant surveillance. It is to the high
altitude the highest part of Europe that Switzerland owes
many of her characteristics, and also to her central position
on the map of Europe, the fact of having been overrun by
different peoples from the prehistoric ages. Only three-
quarters of the area of the soil is productive. The habitable
part is even less extended. The pasturages lie higher up
than the highest mountain chalets.
According to the " Dictionnaire Geographique, " the country
A General Survey 7
is divided into three regions, which, from south to north, are
the Alps, the Plateau, and the Jura. The Alps occupy nearly
three-fifths of the territory, forming an imposing mass. The
immense valleys, longitudinal with the rivers Rhone, Rhine,
Reuss, Tessin, Aare, and Toce, mark out, in fan-like shape,
so to say, six other ranges at the base of the Gothard.
The Plateau, which forms a sort of basin between the Alps
and the Jura, consists of about a fourth (29' 5 per cent.) of
the entire country ; less of a plateau since the prehistoric era,
owing to the rivers that run through it and the various lakes.
The highest mountain in Switzerland is the Finsteraarhorn
(14,026 feet). The contrast of climate is consequently very
marked within a comparatively short range. In Canton
Valais (through which the Rhone flows) you will find a southern
climate in the enclosed valley, grapes and prickly pears
growing. Higher up, the walnut-trees and grasshoppers
chirping, rich vineyards and fields of maize. Progressively, as
you ascend the mountains, you come to the oak and elm trees,
then the pines, which soon you get beyond and come upon
saxifrage with briar leaves and other plants of Lapland and
northern regions. All this in a space of half-a-day's climb.
Before examining the conditions of the population of
Switzerland, according to the topographical division of the
country, it is well to deal with the question of population in
a general sense.
The Swiss Confederation is composed of twenty-one cantons.
Three of these Basel, Unterwalden, and Appenzell are
divided into half-cantons. A half-canton
Population differs from a whole in that it is accorded less
representation in the National Assembly.
No country shows such a diversity of aspect as regards
variety of race, manners and customs, as well as occupations,
as these organisms. The most remote document relating to
the population of Helvetia is a passage in Caesar's " Commen-
taries. ' ' According to this authority the inhabitants numbered
336,000 souls, dwelling in twelve towns and four hundred
8 Switzerland of the Swiss
villages. The first Federal Census was taken in 1817, but
the figures obtained were not considered reliable. The census
taken at various periods from 1850 to 1907 shows the gradual
increase of population. The males outnumber the females.
In the large cities it is estimated that there are 88 females to
every 100 of the other sex, and 99 in other parts of the country.
The excess in proportion (96 per cent.) of females is to be
met with in the urban "agglomerations," owing to domestic
service. In the country the males are often in the majority,
owing to the immigration of girls to towns, while farm-hands
remain on the land. Then again, emigration to foreign lands
often draws on the male country population ; thus, no
strict rule can be established as to the male and female
population outside towns.
Federal statistics show the fluctuation of the marriage-rate.
From 1871 to 1890 the mean number given is 7*4 marriages
per thousand. The agrarian districts are lower in the statis-
tics than the manufacturing centres. Religion has much
to do with the fluctuations. It is a fact that the Catholics
marry less than the Protestants, whatever their occupations
or pursuits. There is a higher percentage of marriages in the
German-speaking cantons. The general age at which people
marry is twenty-eight for men and twenty-six for women.
Over twenty-eight years of age more than half the male
population are married men.
The manufacturing towns and Protestant cantons hold the
record for early marriages. Since 1870 the marriages between
couples of different religions have increased from 3 per cent,
to 9 per cent.
The statistics concerning divorce only date from 1876.
The first records show a decrease, then there is a stationary
period, and now, since 1896, an alarming upward movement.
In cases of divorce there are no restrictions contained in
the final decision, such as forbidding the respondent to marry
again, as happens in America.
Religious belief, too, shows its influence in regard to divorce.
A General Survey 9
The average rate of divorce is 0'67 per 1,000 among Catholics,
2-65 among Protestants, and 4*02 in cases of mixed marriages.
It is calculated, then, that the Protestants divorce three
times more than the Catholics, and in cases of mixed marriages
five times more divorces take place. Townsfolk are inclined
to divorce more than countryfolk, while a difference of age
between the wedded couple, especially if the wife be the elder,
is proved to be a frequent cause for separation. Out of every
100 cases 40 of the divorces are childless.
The fluctuations of the birth-rates are, generally speaking,
on a parallel with those concerning marriage. There are
periods of rise and fall, partly influenced by the economic
conditions of the country. For the period 1871-1890, births
were 30'8 per 1,000 inhabitants taking Switzerland on the
whole. The average number of children per family is 4'1.
The number of illegitimate births is decreasing. The pro-
portion is, for Geneva 9 per cent., Bale 8 per cent., from
statistics referring to 1900-1904. The number of males born
is 106 as compared to 100 girls. This slight predominance
of males is general to all cantons.
The death-rate shows signs of decreasing, taking the
population as a whole. The average number is 23 '8 per 1,000
for the period from 1871-75 and 18'5 from 1901-1905.
In 1904 the births for the entire country were 9*9 per cent,
over the number of deaths, and vary from 1*4 for Geneva to
14*6 in Canton Uri. Mortality is more considerable among
the unmarried people than among the married, while deaths
among children was averaged at 17 '9 per cent, in 1890. As
usual, infantile mortality is due to insufficient milk nourish-
ment. In one part of Canton St. Gallen it has been shown that
only 15 per cent, of the newly born are nursed at the breast,
and the deaths among infants reached the awful rate of
34 per cent.
Emigration is decreasing in proportion with the growing
prosperity of the country. The federal authorities record
only emigrants who cross the seas and hold no records of those
10 Switzerland of the Swiss
who settle in neighbouring countries. The annual average of
emigrants from 1881 to 1885 was 10,505, and 4,862 from 1901
to 1905. Farm-hands and other country people form the
majority 89 per cent, of emigrants go to the United States
and 6 per cent, to Argentina. The Swiss leaves his country
easily. Several hundreds of thousands live abroad. After
the United States, the greatest number is to be found in
France 74,735 in 1896. There were 55,494 in Germany in
1900 ; 17,710 in Argentina, and 9,079 in Italy. There are
comparatively few Swiss in England.
From 1850 to 1900 the number of foreigners residing in the
country was quadrupled, passing from 3 to 1 1 *6 per cent.
Immigration is especially intense in the frontier cantons.
This fact is looked upon as a national calamity. By this
steady and pacific invasion it is feared that the national
character of certain cantons will be effaced : Bale, Zurich,
and Geneva, for instance.
The influx is not of such a nature as to affect the country
in general, representing, however, 10 per cent, of the whole
The movement of the foreign population from 1888 to 1900
is seen by the following table
Germany .. .. 112,342 168,451
Italy .. .. .. 41,881 117,059
France .. .. .. 53,627 58,522
Austria-Hungary .. 14,181 24,433
Great Britain . . . . 2,577 3,535
The Germans have settled in preference in the northern
cantons, where their language, if not spoken, is understood.
However, like Italians, they are to be met with in all parts
of the country.
French settlers rarely go beyond the French-speaking
cantons, 34,500 inhabiting Geneva and 7,700 Canton Vaud,
5,500 that of Berne, 4,400 Neuchatel, and 1,800 Bale. Natur-
alization is not proportional with the importance of the foreign