John Chetwode Eustace.

A classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) online

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ness, and the school of refinement. An accotint
of the state of society, as well as a description of
the city itself, would be both entertaining and in-
structive; but as Italy is the grand object of these
volumes, the reader will probably be as impatient
as the travellers themselves, and dispense with
details, which, however amusing elsewhere, would
here only retard him in his progress. We shall,
therefore, reserve the description of this city, as
well as that of Munich and the intermediate coun-
try, for our German tour, and only inform the
reader, that on Thursday, January the twenty-
eighth, 1802, we withdrew from the attractions of
Vienna, and commenced our journey, which we
continued through deep snow, with little interrup-
tion, till we reached Munich, where we arrived
late at night on the following Monday. We de-.
voted four days to the inspection of this Capital,
and the usual ceremonies of presentation at court;
and in justice to the Elector I must add, that by
his affability and condescension, he converted this
formality, in general dull and tiresome, into a very
pleasing interview.

On Friday the fifth of February, we set out
from Munich at eleven o'clock at night. At break
of day the Alps, just reddened by the beams of the
morning, and mingling with the clouds, presented
to our eyes a new and interesting object, and con-
tinued to attract our attention during the day, by


shifting their situation with the windings of the
road, and changing their tints with every shadow
that flitted over them. We entered Saltzhurg late
in the evening.

We are now at the foot of the Alps ; and con-
sidering ourselves as treading classical ground, we
may be allowed to expatiate more at large on the
surrounding scenery. The mountains now rising
immediately before us, were represented by the
ancients as an insuperable rampart raised by nature
to separate Italy from the less favoured regions of
the north, and to protect her beauties and her
treasures from the assault of barbarian invaders*.
Though this natural barrier has long ceased to
answer that end, because one or other of the petty
powers possessing the defiles has usually been in
the interests of the common enemies, yet it is well
calculated for such a purpose ; and may, in times
more favorable to Italy, be rendered a frontier
far more impenetrable than the triple range of
fortresses, which guarded the northern boundaries
of France, and on a late occasion saved that coun-
try from invasion and ruin. These defiles, accord-
ing to the same authors, were opened with incre-
dible labor by the early inhabitants of Italy, and
may be regarded as so many avenues leading to
the garden of Europe.

* Herodian, II. 39, viii, 2.


Saltzburg, a subalpine city, is placed, as if to
guard the entrance into the grand defile, which
traverses the Rhetian Alps ; and it may be con-
sidered, for that reason, as forming one of the
outposts of Italy. The cathedral is built of fine
stone, and has two towers in front. It is said to
be one of the earliest specimens of Italian archi-
tecture in Germany, and is fashioned internally on
the Roman model ; that is, with the choir behind
the altar, and a canopy over the latter, supported
by four marble pillars, an exact copy, as our guide
pretended, of a similar ornament in St. Peter's ;
yet, with all these supposed advantages, this church
is neither large nor beautiful, and has little to boast
of besides its solidity.

There are two palaces belonging to the Prince
Bishop. In one there are several very fine rooms,
in the other a spacious and most magnificent gal-
lery. But the most striking object that Saltzburg
presents, is a very noble gateway cut through the
solid rock, which rises perpendicularly to a con-
siderable elevation, is crowned with tall and spread-
ing elms, and forms a natural rampart equally
strong and beautiful. Through this mass of stone
a passage has been opened, three hundred feet in
length, thirty in height, and twenty-four in breadth.
The inscription, in honor of the bishop who exe-
cuted this noble work, is neat and appropriate —
Te scLva loquuntur (the rocks speak thy praise).


This grotto opens on a little square, the principal
ornament of which is an equestrian statue of St.
Sigismund, in dress, attitude, and form, extremely

The situation of this city is, however, its
principal beauty and advantage ; in a valley wa-
tered by the Salza, open only to the north, and
enclosed on the other sides by hills and moun-
tains of various forms and magnitude. Upon
one of these hills immediately contiguous to the
town, stands the citadel, an edifice large and
roomy, but ill supplied, ill furnished, and ill sup-
ported. The bishops of Saltzburg indeed, like all
the petty princes of Germany, rely more upon
the watchfulness and jealousy of the greater
powers, than upon their own strength, for defence
and independence. But however neglected the
citadel may be, its situation is very bold and com-
manding. Behind it, on the eminence, is a beau-
tiful walk; and from an oak near this walk,
expands a romantic view, extending over fertile
vales, deep dells, rocks and crags, hills and moun-
tains. The descent from this lofty site is worked
in the rock, and formed into regular flights of steps.
It brought us under the wall to the gate which I
have already described.

Among the mountains in the immediate neigh-
borhood of the town, the Unterberg is the most
conspicuous. Rough, craggy, and wooded, it


seems to frown upon the city and the vale below;
and by its shaggy mass, and dark sullen appear-
ance, forcibly attracts the attention. Popular tra-
dition, which seldom fails to select appropriate
scenery for its wayward tales, has converted the
Unterberg into a place of confinement for certain
perturbed spirits, or rather made it the haunt of
a club of infernal sportsmen. Confined to the
bowels of the mountain during the day, and per-
haps doomed there to undergo certain unknown
chastisements, these hapless spirits are said to fill
the cavern with groans and shrieks, and yells so
loud, as to pierce the surface of the earth, and not
unfrequently to reach the ear of the lonely wood-
man. But at night the dungeon is opened, the im-
prisoned spirits are at liberty, and the woods, that
overhang the steep brows of the mountain, echo
with the sound of an infernal trumpet, with the
barking of hellish dogs, and with shouts too deep
and loud to proceed from mortal organs. Tradi-
tion does not say, that the sportsmen have ever
condescended to shew themselves to any human
being ; but it is reported, that at midnight, flames
of a blueish tint and of various sizes have been
seen traversing the forests of the Untet^berg with
the velocity of lightning; and these flames the
people have turned into hounds and horses, hunts-
men and beasts, all of fire. Some conjecture, that
the chief of these restless sportsmen is one of the


former bishops, who, like many of his German
brethren, in ages not very remote, was accustomed
to pass in the chace the hours and days which he
ought to have devoted to the duties of his stirtion.
Others pretend, that it was a Count, or, what was
nearly the same thing in certain periods of German
history, a robber, who had built a castle amid these
fastnesses, and used to employ his days in pursuing
and arresting travellers, in ravaging the fields and
vallies below, and compelling all the country round
to pay him tribute. It would be difficult to decide
the question, as the bishop and the Count seem
both to have a fair claim to the manorial honours
of the Unterberg : we shall therefore wave the dis-
cussion of this knotty point ; and the more readily,
as the invisible horn has now ceased to sound ;
the infernal pack no longer disturbs the silence of
the woods, and the spirits of the chace have either
fulfilled the days of their punishment, or are sent
to sport in solitudes less liable to observation.
The Lhiterberg, however, is not the only mountain
in Germany supposed to be the haunt of preter-
natural hunters.

The salt mines at Halleim, about four miles
from Saltzburg, are deservedly celebrated. The
entrance is near the summit of a mountain, and
the ascent, though over a good road, long and
tedious. Near the summit is a village with a
handsome church. Seeing a crowd assembled


round the door of a public house, we were m-
formed, that they were celebrating a jubilee, on
the fiftieth anniversary of the marriage of an old
couple, and, at the same time, the wedding of a
grandson. We were invited in as soon as ob-
served, and treated with cake, wine, and beer.
The dance was going on merrily, and some of
our party joined in it, con spirit o ; a circumstance
which seemed to give much, satisfaction. The
persons of the younger damsels were not uncome-
ly, nor were their countenances without expres-
sion : but their dress was such as would have dis-
figured far more perfect forms, and turned beauty
itself into deformity. To enliven the dance, they
now and then clapped their hands, and uttered a
shriek very grating to ears unaccustomed to the
tones of Alpine merriment. We departed, pleased
with the novelty of the scene, and still more with
the hospitality of the good people.

At length we reached the summit, and entered
the mines by a long subterranean gallery, which
terminated in the mouth of the first descent. We
there accoutred ourselves in miners' dresses, and
slid down five hundred feet, in a manner perfectly
safe and commodious. It is managed thus. The
shaft may be about four feet broad, and about five
high, worked above into the form of an arch. The
line may diverge about thirty feet in the hundred
from the perpendicular. The space in the middle


is hollowed and worked into steps. On each side
of these steps at about a foot distance, runs a pole
like the side of a ladder. On these poles a miner
reclines with his feet extended, so that the poles
pass under his knees and under his arms. A tra-
veller places himself behind him in the same pos-
ture, but so close, as to rest the inside of his knees
on the miner's shoulders. The others follow the
example, and form a line, in such a manner, that
the one above always rests gently on the shoulders
of the one below. Another miner generally goes
in the middle, and a third closes the rear. The
first miner regulates the motion, and if he find it
necessary to check or stop it entirely, he need
only to put his foot backward, and touch one of
the steps behind. The miners carry torches made
of the fir tree. When the line is formed, upon a
signal given, the miner undermost lets the ropes
loose (for two ropes run parallel with the poles
and nearly touch them) and glides down with'great
rapidity. We suddenly found ourselves in an im-
mense hall, lighted up with a prodigious number
of candles. This hall was very long and broad,
but extremely low, and as the cieling was flat,
unsupported either by pillars or props, and ap-
parently of very crumbling materials, it was na-
tural to feel some apprehension of its giving way.
The miners, however, tranquillized us, by assuring
us that such accidents never happened, however


probable they might appear. The sides were
adorned here and there with basso relievos of
different bishops, rudely worked in the earth or
rock. The lights, as I said above, were numerous ;
but instead of being reflected from a great variety
of spars and shining minerals, which a traveller
might naturally expect to find in a salt mine, the
blaze falls sullen and dead from the walls, and
serves only to shew the thickness of the surround-
ing gloom. From this hall we passed into a gal-
lery, and thence descended, in the same manner as
before, into a second, a third, and a fourth, of
nearly the same form and dimensions. These
halls are used for the following purpose : the salt
is worked from the sides and cieling ; then water
is let in, and kept confined till it is impregnated
with salt, after which it is drained away into the
salt works, and the earthly particles remain de-
posited on the floor.

We quitted the mine with as much facility as
we entered. We were placed astride a long
bench ; one miner moved before to guide, two
others were placed behind to push this bench
down a gently inclined plane. After some minutes
of rapid motion, we perceived the appearance of a
star, which gradually increased upon us, till we
Avere launched once more into full day. The exit
is as picturesque as the entrance is gloomy. It
opens under a cliff, clad with brambles growing


out of its crevices^ and overhung with pines and
firs, clinging to the sides, and bending tVom the
brows of the precipice. On one side, a torrent
bursting from the crag, tumbles from steep to
steep, till it engulphs itself in a deep shaded dell;
and on the other, far below, stretches the town of
Halleifn, with its white houses and spire. On our
exit, the miners presented each of us with a little
box, containing specimens of salt. They were
very beautiful in color and shape, but are not
easily preserved, as they crumble into dust by the
motion of the carriage, and are dissolved by the
least humidity. On the whole our visit to the
mines of Halleim, was a very pleasant, and not an
unimproving excursion.

Our stay at Saltzburg was much enlivened by
the hospitality of Prince J. Schwartzenburg^ a
canon of the cathedral, to whom the Princess of
Schwartzenburg had obligingly recommended us.
This young nobleman entertained us with great
splendor, pointed out to us the most interesting
objects, introduced us to the best company at his
dinners, concerts, and suppers, and rendered the
place so agreeable, that we fixed the day of our
departure with no small reluctance. We must
ever retain a grateful recollection of his attention
and kindness.

February the 10th. About nine in the morning
we set off from Saltzburg. A thick fog hung over



the surrounding scenery. We could only perceivq
that the road ran over a plain, naked in general,
but occasionally ornamented with villages, whose
graceful spires at intervals attracted our attention.
After having crossed the plain, we reached the
skirts of a vast mountain, presenting at first a
black indistinct mass, which cast a dark shade on
the fog that enveloped it, and then just displayed
its fir-clad summit so far above the mist, that it
appeared to hang in the air, and to belong to some
other region.

Rekhenhall is a well-built little town, or rather
village, remarkable for its salt works, and in a
prosperous condition. We were now at the very
foot of the Alps, and entered their defiles at a
place called Unkin, about one mile from Rcichcn-
hall. The road first sweeps along the base of a
noble eminence covered with firs ; a church spire
rises on the side of a hill ; and on the summit of
the same hill stands a castle in ruins. Proceed-
ing onwards we come to the foot of the precipice,
which with its castle overhangs the road in tre-
mendous majesty. We then enter a dell, a sudden
turn of which presents on one side a vast moun-
tain clad with firs ; while on the other the preci-
pice, girded with a zone of forest trees, increases
in height and grandeur, and, surmounted with the
old rampart walls, looks like the battlemented
dwelling of a race of giants. In front an immense


mass, covered with a hundred woods, and half
wrapped in fogs and clouds, obstructs the view,
and forms an awful foreground to the picture.
Still continuing to ascend, we wind along the dell,
with a torrent murmuring by the road side, and
all around mountains in various grotesque forms,
increasing in height, in shagginess, and in horror.
The scene was here truly tremendous. The
defile is very narrow, leaving space only for the
road and for the torrent. Tlie mountains rise on
each side so nearly perpendicular, that the vast
forests growing on their sides cast a dismal shade
over the road, and loaded as they were with a
weight of snow, seemed ready to fall, and bury
the traveller as he passed below. Now and then,
a chasm broke the uniformity of this gloomy
scenery, and presented an object less dark, but
equally terrific — a torrent arrested in its fall by
the frost, hanging from the brow of a crag in
solid masses, and terminating in immense pointed
icicles. The least of these icicles, if detached
from the sheet above, would have crushed the
whole party ; and, when contemplated thus sus-
pended over our heads, jamjam lapsura cadmtique
adsimilis*, could not fail to excite some emotions
of terror. Whenever the mountains receded and

* That promises a fall, and shakes at ev'ry blast.

Dry den.


sloped backwards, they only enabled us to discover
forests rising above each other, and swelling into
new regions, till they concealed their extent and
eJevatioH in the clouds. The snow lay deep on
the road, and on the approach of night began to
fall again in great quantities. We moved slowly
on ; and when night set in with all the darkness of
the season, our situation appeared such as might
have discouraged even experienced travellers.
After some hours' exertion, and very little progress,
our drivers were seriously alarmed, and entreated
us to allow them to return with their horses,
before the depth of the snow, which was every
moment increasing, should render the roads im-
passable. They promised to come to oor assist-
ance early in the morning, with a sufficient number
of persons to remove the snow, and enable ns to
proceed. This proposal, as may be supposed, was
rejected, and the drivers were, partly by represen-
tations, and partly by threats, induced to remain.
All the horses were put alternately to each car-
riage, whilst we proceeded on foot, and with no
small difficulty at length reached the post house,
where we took sledges, and continued our journey
at the rate of ten miles an hour. We reached
St. John at a late hour. A neat collegiate church
is the only remarkable object in this little town.

February 11th. The scenery this day did not
appear so grand and awful as on the preceding ;


whether this part of the defile be more open, or
whether our eyes were more accustomed to its
gloomy magnificence I know not; but I believe
the former to be the case, as the road gradually
ascends, and consequently the elevation of the
mountains apparently diminishes ; whereas, while
at the bottom of the defile, we beheld the whole
mass of the Alps in full elevation above us.

I need not, I suppose, caution even the untra-
velled reader against a mistake, into which some
have fallen, that any of the passages through the
Alps crosses the ridges, or even approaches the
summits of these mountains. The various roads
traversing the Alps are conducted through as many
defiles, and were probably traced out by the paths,
that have served from time immemorial as means
of communication between the fertile valleys that
lie interspersed up and down the windings of this
immense chain. These defiles are always watered,
and were perhaps formed, by streams incessantly
gliding down from the eternal snows that mantle
the highest regions : these streams, increasing as
they descend, work their way between the rocks,
and continue for ever opening and enlarging their
channels. Such is the Inn that now bordered our
road, and such is the Salza still nearer the plains
of Bavaria. When therefore it is asked, who first
crossed the Alps, or opened such a particular pas-
sage over these mountains, the question means


only, what general or what army first forced a way
through this immense barrier, or made such a par-
ticular track or path practicable ? Of these tracks,
that which we are now pursuing seems to have
been one of the most ancient and most frequented.
The first people who passed it in a body were pro-
bably the Gauls ; that race ever restless, wander-
ing, and ferocious, who have so often since forced
the mighty rampart, which nature raised to protect
the fertile provinces of Italy from the rapacity of
northern invaders. Of a tribe of this people, Livy
says*, that in the consulship of Spurius Posthu-
mius AlbinuSj and Quintus Marcus Philippus, that
is, in the year of Rome 566, they passed the Alps
by roads till then undiscovered, and entering Italy,
turned towards Aquileia. Upon this occasion,
contrary to their usual practice, they came in small
numbers, and rather in the character of suppliants
than of enemies. But the most remarkable army
that ever crossed these mountains was that of the
Cimbri, who in less than a century after the above-
mentioned period, climbed the Rhetian Alps, and
rushed like a torrent down the Tridentine defile.
The first successes and final destruction of this
horde of savages are well known. At length
Augustus, irritated by the lawless and plundering
Spirit of some of the Rhetian tribes, sent a Roman

* L. xxxix. 22.


army into their territory under Drusus, who in a
very short space of time entirely broke the spirit
of the mountaineers, brought their country into
perfect subjection, and opened a commodious com-
munication through the whole range of Alps that
bears their name. This expedition is celebrated
by Horace, and forms the subject of one of his
most spirited productions*. Ever since this event,
this road has been frequented, and always con-
sidered as the best and safest passage from the
Transalpine regions to Italy.

As we had set out late, darkness fell upon us
before we had made any very considerable pro-
gress, and deprived us of the view of the celebrated
vale of Inspruck. We travelled nearly the whole
night, and entered that city about four o'clock in
the morning.

Inspruck is the capital of the Tyrol, a large
Alpine province of the Austrian empire, and as it
was once the residence of a sovereign prince, is
still the seat of government, and has frequently
been visited by the emperors. It possesses some
noble edifices, more remarkable however, as is
usual in Germany, for magnitude than for beauty.
The style of architecture, therefore, both of the
palace and the churches, is, as may be expected,
below criticism; and when I mention the great

* L. iv. 4.


hall in the palace, I point out to the traveller
almost the only building that deserves his notice.
To this I will add another object, that has a claim
upon his attention far superior to any that can be
derived from mere architectural beauty. It is a
little chapel, erected upon a very melancholy and
interesting occasion. It is well known that the
Emperor Francis the First, husband to the cele-
brated Maria Teresa, died suddenly at Inspruck.
He was going to the Opera, and while walking
through the passage from the palace to the theatre,
he fell down and instantly expired. He was con-
veyed to the nearest room, which happened to be
that of a servant, and there laid upon a miserable
bed. Attempts were made to bleed him, but to no
purpose ; and it is stated, that for a considerable
time the body remained with the blood trickling
slowly from the arm, unnoticed, and unattended,
by a servant of any description. The Empress,
who loved him with unusual tenderness, shortly
after raised an altar on the very spot where he fell,
and, clearing the space around, erected over it a
chapel. Both the chapel and the altar are, though
plain, extremely beautiful, and a pleasing monu-
ment both of the affection and of the taste of the
illustrious widow. This princess, then in the full
bloom of youth and beauty, and the first sovereign
in Europe in title and in territorial possessions,
continued ever after to wear mourning; and to


some subsequent matrimonial overtures, is said to
have replied in the animated lines of Virgil,

Ille, meos primus qui me sibi junxit amores,
Abstulit, ille habeat secum servetque sepulcro ! *

The inscription runs as follows, and breathes more
grief than elegance.

D : O : M.

Memorize eternie fati, quo

Princeps optimus

Throni decus

Populi delicise

Franciscus D : G : Rom : Imp : Aug :

Germ : & Jerus. Rex

M : D : Het : Loth et Bur : D.


Vitee hie loci et nobis ereptus

Monumentum posteritati positum — f

Online LibraryJohn Chetwode EustaceA classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 27)