E. B. Murray (ed.), The Prose Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Vol. 1
pg 179Editor’s Note
pg 180Editor’s NotePreface.
1Nothing can be more unpresuming than this little volume. It 2contains the account of some desultory visits by a party of young 3people to scenes which are now so familiar to our countrymen, that 4few facts relating to them can be expected to have escaped the many 5more experienced and exact observers, who have sent their journals 6to the press. In fact, they have done little else than arrange the few 7materials which an imperfect journal, and two or three letters to 8their friends in England afforded. They regret, since their little 9History is to be offered to the public, that these materials were not 10more copious and complete. This is a just topic of censure to those 11who are less inclined to be amused than to condemn. Those whose 12youth has been past as their's (with what success it imports not) in 13pursuing, like the swallow, the inconstant summer of delight and 14beauty which invests this visible world, will perhaps find some Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus15entertainment in following the author, with her husband and sister, 16on foot, through part of France and Switzerland, and in sailing with 17her down the castled Rhine, through scenes beautiful in themselves, 18but which, since she visited them, a great Poet has clothed with the 19freshness of a diviner nature. They will be interested to hear of one Critical Apparatus20who has visited Meillerie, and Clarens, and Chillon, and Vevai— 21classic ground, peopled with tender and glorious imaginations of the 22present and the past.
23They have perhaps never talked with one who has beheld in the 24enthusiasm of youth the glaciers, and the lakes, and the forests, and 25the fountains of the mighty Alps. Such will perhaps forgive the 26imperfections of their narrative for the sympathy which the 27adventures and feelings which it recounts, and a curiosity respecting 28scenes already rendered interesting and illustrious, may excite.
Editor’s Note29The Poem, entitled "Mont Blanc," is written by the author of the 30two letters from Chamouni and Vevai. It was composed under the 31immediate impression of the deep and powerful feelings excited by 32the objects which it attempts to describe; and as an undisciplined pg 18133overflowing of the soul, rests its claim to approbation on an attempt 34to imitate the untameable wildness and inaccessible solemnity from 35which those feelings sprang.
pg 182pg 183
pg 185HISTORY OF A SIX WEEKS' TOUR
Critical Apparatus36It is now nearly three years since this Journey took place, and the 37journal I then kept was not very copious; but I have so often talked 38over the incidents that befel us, and attempted to describe the 39scenery through which we passed, that I think few occurrences of 40any interest will be omitted.
41We left London July 28th, 1814, on a hotter day than has been 42known in this climate for many years. I am not a good traveller, and 43this heat agreed very ill with me, till, on arriving at Dover, I was 44refreshed by a sea-bath. As we very much wished to cross the 45channel with all possible speed, we would not wait for the packet of 46the following day (it being then about four in the afternoon) but 47hiring a small boat, resolved to make the passage the same evening, 48the seamen promising us a voyage of two hours.
Critical Apparatus49The evening was most beautiful; there was but little wind, and the 50sails flapped in the flagging breeze: the moon rose, and night came 51on, and with the night a slow, heavy swell, and a fresh breeze, which Critical Apparatus52soon produced a sea so violent as to toss the boat very much. I was 53dreadfully seasick, and as is usually my custom when thus affected, I 54slept during the greater part of the night, awaking only from time to 55time to ask where we were, and to receive the dismal answer each 56time—"Not quite half way."
57The wind was violent and contrary; if we could not reach Calais, 58the sailors proposed making for Boulogne. They promised only two 59hours' sail from shore, yet hour after hour passed, and we were still 60far distant, when the moon sunk in the red and stormy horizon, and 61the fast-flashing lightning became pale in the breaking day.
62We were proceeding slowly against the wind, when suddenly a 63thunder squall struck the sail, and the waves rushed into the boat: 64even the sailors acknowledged that our situation was perilous; but 65they succeeded in reefing the sail;—the wind was now changed, and Critical Apparatus66we drove before the gale directly to Calais. As we entered the 67harbour I awoke from a comfortless sleep, and saw the sun rise 68broad, red, and cloudless over the pier.
69Exhausted with sickness and fatigue, I walked over the sands with 70my companions to the hotel. I heard for the first time the confused 71buzz of voices speaking a different language from that to which I had 72been accustomed; and saw a costume very unlike that worn on the 73opposite side of the channel; the women with high caps and short 74jackets; the men with earrings; ladies walking about with high Editor’s Note75bonnets or coiffures lodged on the top of the head, the hair dragged 76up underneath, without any stray curls to decorate the temples or 77cheeks. There is, however, something very pleasing in the manners 78and appearance of the people of Calais, that prepossesses you in Editor’s Note79their favour. A national reflection might occur, that when Edward 80III. took Calais, he turned out the old inhabitants, and peopled it 81almost entirely with our own countrymen; but unfortunately the 82manners are not English.
83We remained during that day and the greater part of the next at 84Calais: we had been obliged to leave our boxes the night before at the 85English custom-house, and it was arranged that they should go by 86the packet of the following day, which, detained by contrary wind, 87did not arrive until night. S and I walked among the fortifications 88on the outside of the town; they consisted of fields where the hay 89was making. The aspect of the country was rural and pleasant.
90On the 30th of July, about three in the afternoon, we left Calais, in 91a cabriolet drawn by three horses. To persons who had never before 92seen any thing but a spruce English chaise and post-boy, there was Critical Apparatus93something irresistibly ludicrous in our equipage. A cabriolet is 94shaped somewhat like a post-chaise, except that it has only two 95wheels, and consequently there are no doors at the sides; the front is 96let down to admit the passengers. The three horses were placed 97abreast, the tallest in the middle, who was rendered more formidable 98by the addition of an unintelligible article of harness, resembling a Critical Apparatus99pair of wooden wings fastened to his shoulders; the harnesses were 100of rope; and the postillion, a queer, upright little fellow with a long Editor’s Note101pigtail, craquéed his whip, and clattered on, while an old forlorn 102shepherd with a cocked hat gazed on us as we passed.
103The roads are excellent, but the heat was intense, and I suffered 104greatly from it. We slept at Boulogne the first night, where there was pg 187Editor’s Note105an ugly but remarkably good-tempered femme de chambre. This 106made us for the first time remark the difference which exists 107between this class of persons in France and in England. In the latter 108country they are prudish, and if they become in the least degree 109familiar they are impudent. The lower orders in France have the 110easiness and politeness of the most well-bred English; they treat you 111unaffectedly as their equal, and consequently there is no scope for 112insolence.
113We had ordered horses to be ready during the night, but we were 114too fatigued to make use of them. The man insisted on being paid for Editor’s Note115the whole post. Ah! Madame, said the femme-de-chambre, pensez-y; 116ç'est pour dédommager les pauvres chevaux d'avoir perdues leur douce 117sommeil. A joke from an English chamber-maid would have been 118quite another thing.
119The first appearance that struck our English eyes was the want of 120enclosures; but the fields were flourishing with a plentiful harvest. 121We observed no vines on this side Paris.
122The weather still continued very hot, and travelling produced a 123very bad effect upon my health; my companions were induced by 124this circumstance to hasten the journey as much as possible; and 125accordingly we did not rest the following night, and the next day, 126about two, arrived in Paris.
127In this city there are no hotels where you can reside as long or as 128short a time as you please, and we were obliged to engage apartments 129at an hotel for a week. They were dear, and not very pleasant. As 130usual in France, the principal apartment was a bedchamber; there Critical Apparatus131was another closet with a bed, and an ante-chamber, which we used 132as a sitting-room.
133The heat of the weather was excessive, so that we were unable to 134walk except in the afternoon. On the first evening we walked to the 135gardens of the Thuilleries; they are formal and uninteresting, in the Critical Apparatus136French fashion, the trees cut into shapes, and without any grass. I Editor’s Note137think the Boulevards infinitely more pleasant. This street nearly 138surrounds Paris, and is eight miles in extent; it is very wide, and 139planted on either side with trees. At one end is a superb cascade 140which refreshes the senses by its continual splashing: near this stands 141the gate of St. Denis, a beautiful piece of sculpture. I do not know 142how it may at present be disfigured by the Gothic barbarism of the 143conquerors of France, who were not contented with retaking the Editor’s Note144spoils of Napoleon, but with impotent malice, destroyed the pg 188145monuments of their own defeat. When I saw this gate, it was in its 146splendour, and made you imagine that the days of Roman greatness 147were transported to Paris.
Editor’s Note148After remaining a week in Paris, we received a small remittance 149that set us free from a kind of imprisonment there which we found 150very irksome. But how should we proceed? After talking over and 151rejecting many plans, we fixed on one eccentric enough, but which, 152from its romance, was very pleasing to us. In England we could not 153have put it in execution without sustaining continual insult and 154impertinence: the French are far more tolerant of the vagaries of Editor’s Note155their neighbours. We resolved to walk through France; but as I was Critical Apparatus156too weak for any considerable distance, and my sister could not be 157supposed to be able to walk as far as S each day, we determined to 158purchase an ass, to carry our portmanteau and one of us by turns.
159Early, therefore, on Monday, August 8th, S and C went to Critical Apparatus160the ass market, and purchased an ass, and the rest of the day, until 161four in the afternoon, was spent in preparations for our departure; Critical Apparatus162during which, Madame l'hôtesse paid us a visit, and attempted to 163dissuade us from our design. She represented to us that a large army 164had been recently disbanded, that the soldiers and officers wandered Editor’s Note165idle about the country, and that les Dames seroient certainement 166enlevées. But we were proof against her arguments, and packing up a Editor’s Note167few necessaries, leaving the rest to go by the diligence, we departed 168in a fiacre from the door of the hotel, our little ass following.
169We dismissed the coach at the barrier. It was dusk, and the ass 170seemed totally unable to bear one of us, appearing to sink under the 171portmanteau, although it was small and light. We were, however, 172merry enough, and thought the leagues short. We arrived at 173Charenton about ten.
174Charenton is prettily situated in a valley, through which the Seine 175flows, winding among banks variegated with trees. On looking at 176this scene, C exclaimed, "Oh! this is beautiful enough; let us live 177here." This was her exclamation on every new scene, and as each 178surpassed the one before, she cried, "I am glad we did not stay at 179Charenton, but let us live here."
180Finding our ass useless, we sold it before we proceeded on our Editor’s Note181journey, and bought a mule, for ten Napoleons. About nine o'clock 182we departed. We were clad in black silk. I rode on the mule, which 183carried also our portmanteau; S and C followed, bringing a 184small basket of provisions. At about one we arrived at Gros Bois, pg 189185where, under the shade of trees, we ate our bread and fruit, and drank 186our wine, thinking of Don Quixote and Sancho.
187The country through which we passed was highly cultivated, but 188uninteresting; the horizon scarcely ever extended beyond the 189circumference of a few fields, bright and waving with the golden 190harvest. We met several travellers; but our mode, although novel, did Editor’s Note191not appear to excite any curiosity or remark. This night we slept at Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus192Guignes, in the same room and beds in which Napoleon and some of Editor’s Note193his Generals had rested during the late war. The little old woman of 194the place was highly gratified in having this little story to tell, and 195spoke in warm praise of the Empress Josephine and Marie Louise, 196who had at different times passed on that road.
197As we continued our route, Provins was the first place that struck 198us with interest. It was our stage of rest for the night; we approached 199it at sunset. After having gained the summit of a hill, the prospect of 200the town opened upon us as it lay in the valley below; a rocky hill 201rose abruptly on one side, on the top of which stood a ruined citadel 202with extensive walls and towers; lower down, but beyond, was the 203cathedral, and the whole formed a scene for painting. After having 204travelled for two days through a country perfectly without interest, 205it was a delicious relief for the eye to dwell again on some 206irregularities and beauty of country. Our fare at Provins was coarse, 207and our beds uncomfortable, but the remembrance of this prospect 208made us contented and happy.
209We now approached scenes that reminded us of what we had 210nearly forgotten, that France had lately been the country in which Editor’s Note211great and extraordinary events had taken place. Nogent, a town we Editor’s Note212entered about noon the following day, had been entirely desolated Critical Apparatus213by the Cossacs. Nothing could be more entire than the ruin which 214these barbarians had spread as they advanced; perhaps they 215remembered Moscow and the destruction of the Russian villages; 216but we were now in France, and the distress of the inhabitants, 217whose houses had been burned, their cattle killed, and all their 218wealth destroyed, has given a sting to my detestation of war, which 219none can feel who have not travelled through a country pillaged and 220wasted by this plague, which, in his pride, man inflicts upon his 221fellow.
222We quitted the great route soon after we had left Nogent, to strike 223across the country to Troyes. About six in the evening we arrived at Critical Apparatus224St. Aubin, a lovely village embosomed in trees; but on a nearer view pg 190225we found the cottages roofless, the rafters black, and the walls 226dilapidated;—a few inhabitants remained. We asked for milk—they 227had none to give; all their cows had been taken by the Cossacs. We 228had still some leagues to travel that night, but we found that they 229were not post leagues, but the measurement of the inhabitants, and Editor’s Note230nearly double the distance. The road lay over a desart plain, and as 231night advanced we were often in danger of losing the track of wheels, 232which was our only guide. Night closed in, and we suddenly lost all 233trace of the road; but a few trees, indistinctly seen, seemed to 234indicate the position of a village. About ten we arrived at Trois 235Maisons, where, after a supper on milk and sour bread, we retired to 236rest on wretched beds: but sleep is seldom denied, except to the 237indolent, and after the day's fatigue, although my bed was nothing 238more than a sheet spread upon straw, I slept soundly until the 239morning was considerably advanced.
240S had hurt his ancle so considerably the preceding evening, 241that he was obliged, during the whole of the following day's journey, 242to ride on our mule. Nothing could be more barren and wretched 243than the track through which we now passed; the ground was chalky 244and uncovered even by grass, and where there had been any attempts 245made towards cultivation, the straggling ears of corn discovered 246more plainly the barren nature of the soil. Thousands of insects, 247which were of the same white colour as the road, infested our path; 248the sky was cloudless, and the sun darted its rays upon us, reflected 249back by the earth, until I nearly fainted under the heat. A village 250appeared at a distance, cheering us with a prospect of rest. It gave us 251new strength to proceed; but it was a wretched place, and afforded us 252but little relief. It had been once large and populous, but now the 253houses were roofless, and the ruins that lay scattered about, the 254gardens covered with the white dust of the torn cottages, the black 255burnt beams, and squalid looks of the inhabitants, presented in every 256direction the melancholy aspect of devastation. One house, a Editor’s Note257cabaret, alone remained; we were here offered plenty of milk, 258stinking bacon, sour bread, and a few vegetables, which we were to 259dress for ourselves.
260As we prepared our dinner in a place, so filthy that the sight of it 261alone was sufficient to destroy our appetite, the people of the village 262collected around us, squalid with dirt, their countenances ex-263pressing every thing that is disgusting and brutal. They seemed 264indeed entirely detached from the rest of the world, and ignorant of pg 191265all that was passing in it. There is much less communication between 266the various towns of France than in England. The use of passports 267may easily account for this: these people did not know that 268Napoleon was deposed, and when we asked why they did not 269rebuild their cottages, they replied, that they were afraid that the 270Cossacs would destroy them again upon their return. Echemine (the 271name of this village) is in every respect the most disgusting place I 272ever met with.
273Two leagues beyond, on the same road, we came to the village of Editor’s Note274Pavilion, so unlike Echemine, that we might have fancied ourselves 275in another quarter of the globe; here every thing denoted cleanliness 276and hospitality; many of the cottages were destroyed, but the 277inhabitants were employed in repairing them. What could occasion 278so great a difference?
279Still our road lay over this track of uncultivated country, and our 280eyes were fatigued by observing nothing but a white expanse of 281ground, where no bramble or stunted shrub adorned its barrenness. 282Towards evening we reached a small plantation of vines, it appeared 283like one of those islands of verdure that are met with in the midst of 284the sands of Lybia, but the grapes were not yet ripe. S was totally 285incapable of walking, and C and I were very tired before we 286arrived at Troyes.
287We rested here for the night, and devoted the following day to a 288consideration of the manner in which we should proceed. S 's 289sprain rendered our pedestrianism impossible. We accordingly sold Editor’s Note290our mule, and bought an open voiture that went on four wheels, for 291five Napoleons, and hired a man with a mule for eight more, to 292convey us to Neufchâtel in six days.
293The suburbs of Troyes were destroyed, and the town itself dirty Critical Apparatus294and uninviting. I remained at the inn writing, while S and C 295arranged this bargain and visited the cathedral of the town; and the Editor’s Note296next morning we departed in our voiture for Neufchâtel. A curious 297instance of French vanity occurred on leaving this town. Our Editor’s Note298voiturier pointed to the plain around, and mentioned, that it had 299been the scene of a battle between the Russians and the French. "In 300which the Russians gained the victory?"—"Ah no, Madame," replied 301the man, "the French are never beaten." "But how was it then," we 302asked, "that the Russians had entered Troyes soon after?"—"Oh, 303after having been defeated, they took a circuitous route, and thus 304entered the town."
pg 192305Vandeuvres is a pleasant town, at which we rested during the 306hours of noon. We walked in the grounds of a nobleman, laid out in 307the English taste, and terminated in a pretty wood; it was a scene that 308reminded us of our native country. As we left Vandeuvres the aspect 309of the country suddenly changed; abrupt hills, covered with 310vineyards, intermixed with trees, enclosed a narrow valley, the 311channel of the Aube. The view was interspersed by green meadows, 312groves of poplar and white willow, and spires of village churches, 313which the Cossacs had yet spared. Many villages, ruined by the war, 314occupied the most romantic spots.
315In the evening we arrived at Bar-sur-Aube, a beautiful town, 316placed at the opening of the vale where the hills terminate abruptly. 317We climbed the highest of these, but scarce had we reached the top, 318when a mist descended upon every thing, and the rain began to fall: 319we were wet through before we could reach our inn. It was evening, 320and the laden clouds made the darkness almost as deep as that of Editor’s Note321midnight; but in the west an unusually brilliant and fiery redness 322occupied an opening in the vapours, and added to the interest of our 323little expedition: the cottage lights were reflected in the tranquil 324river, and the dark hills behind, dimly seen, resembled vast and 325frowning mountains.
Editor’s Note326As we quitted Bar-sur-Aube, we at the same time bade a short Editor’s Note327farewel to hills. Passing through the towns of Chaumont, Langres 328(which was situated on a hill, and surrounded by ancient Editor’s Note329fortifications), Champlitte, and Gray, we travelled for nearly three 330days through plains, where the country gently undulated, and 331relieved the eye from a perpetual flat, without exciting any peculiar 332interest. Gentle rivers, their banks ornamented by a few trees, stole 333through these plains, and a thousand beautiful summer insects 334skimmed over the streams. The third day was a day of rain, and the 335first that had taken place during our journey. We were soon wet 336through, and were glad to stop at a little inn to dry ourselves. The 337reception we received here was very unprepossessing, the people 338still kept their seats round the fire, and seemed very unwilling to 339make way for the dripping guests. In the afternoon, however, the 340weather became fine, and at about six in the evening we entered 341Besançon.
342Hills had appeared in the distance during the whole day, and we 343had advanced gradually towards them, but were unprepared for the 344scene that broke upon us as we passed the gate of this city. On pg 193345quitting the walls, the road wound underneath a high precipice; on 346the other side the hills rose more gradually, and the green valley that 347intervened between them was watered by a pleasant river; before us 348arose an amphitheatre of hills covered with vines, but irregular and 349rocky. The last gate of the town was cut through the precipitous 350rock that arose on one side, and in that place jutted into the road.
351This approach to mountain scenery filled us with delight; it was 352otherwise with our voiturier: he came from the plains of Troyes, and 353these hills so utterly scared him, that he in some degree lost his 354reason. After winding through the valley, we began to ascend the 355mountains which were its boundary: we left our voiture, and walked 356on, delighted with every new view that broke upon us.
357When we had ascended the hills for about a mile and a half, we 358found our voiturier at the door of a wretched inn, having taken the 359mule from the voiture, and obstinately determined to remain for the Critical Apparatus360night at this miserable village of Mort. We could only submit, for he 361was deaf to all we could urge, and to our remonstrances only replied, Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus362Je ne puis plus.
363Our beds were too uncomfortable to allow a thought of sleeping 364in them: we could only procure one room, and our hostess gave us to 365understand that our voiturier was to occupy the same apartment. It 366was of little consequence, as we had previously resolved not to enter 367the beds. The evening was fine, and after the rain the air was 368perfumed by many delicious scents. We climbed to a rocky seat on 369the hill that overlooked the village, where we remained until sunset. 370The night was passed by the kitchen fire in a wretched manner, 371striving to catch a few moments of sleep, which were denied to us. At 372three in the morning we pursued our journey.
373Our road led to the summit of the hills that environ Besançon. Editor’s Note374From the top of one of these we saw the whole expanse of the valley 375filled with a white undulating mist, which was pierced like islands by 376the piny mountains. The sun had just risen, and a ray of red light lay 377upon the waves of this fluctuating vapour. To the west, opposite the 378sun, it seemed driven by the light against the rocks in immense 379masses of foaming cloud, until it became lost in the distance, mixing 380its tints with the fleecy sky.
381Our voiturier insisted on remaining two hours at the village of Critical Apparatus382Noé, although we were unable to procure any dinner, and wished to 383go on to the next stage. I have already said, that the hills scared his Critical Apparatus384senses, and he had become disobliging, sullen, and stupid. While he pg 194385waited we walked to the neighbouring wood: it was a fine forest, 386carpeted beautifully with moss, and in various places overhung by 387rocks, in whose crevices young pines had taken root, and spread 388their branches for shade to those below; the noon heat was intense, 389and we were glad to shelter ourselves from it in the shady retreats of 390this lovely forest.
391On our return to the village we found, to our extreme surprise, 392that the voiturier had departed nearly an hour before, leaving word 393that he expected to meet us on the road. S 's sprain rendered him 394incapable of much exertion; but there was no remedy, and we Editor’s Note395proceeded on foot to Maison Neuve, an auberge, four miles and a half 396distant.
Critical Apparatus397At Maison Neuve the man had left word that he should proceed to Critical Apparatus398Pontarlier, the frontier town of France, six leagues distant, and that if 399we did not arrive that night, he should the next morning leave the 400voiture at an inn, and return with the mule to Troyes. We were 401astonished at the impudence of this message, but the boy of the inn 402comforted us by saying, that by going on a horse by a cross road, 403where the voiture could not venture, he could easily overtake and 404intercept the voiturier, and accordingly we dispatched him, walking 405slowly after. We waited at the next inn for dinner, and in about two 406hours the boy returned. The man promised to wait for us at an 407auberge two leagues further on. S 's ancle had become very 408painful, but we could procure no conveyance, and as the sun was 409nearly setting, we were obliged to hasten on. The evening was most Critical Apparatus410beautiful, and the scenery lovely enough to beguile us of our fatigue: 411the horned moon hung in the light of sunset, that threw a glow of 412unusual depth of redness over the piny mountains and the dark deep Critical Apparatus413vallies they enclosed; at intervals in the woods were beautiful lawns 414interspersed with picturesque clumps of trees, and dark pines 415overshadowed our road.
416In about two hours we arrived at the promised termination of our Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus417journey, but the voiturier was not there: after the boy had left him, he 418again pursued his journey towards Pontarlier. We were enabled, Critical Apparatus419however, to procure here a rude kind of cart, and in this manner Critical Apparatus420arrived late at Pontarlier, where we found our conductor, who 421blundered out many falsehoods for excuses; and thus ended the 422adventures of that day.
423On passing the French barrier, a surprising difference may be 424observed between the opposite nations that inhabit either side. The 425Swiss cottages are much cleaner and neater, and the inhabitants 426exhibit the same contrast. The Swiss women wear a great deal of 427white linen, and their whole dress is always perfectly clean. This 428superior cleanliness is chiefly produced by the difference of religion: 429travellers in Germany remark the same contrast between the 430Protestant and catholic towns, although they be but a few leagues 431separate.
432The scenery of this day's journey was divine, exhibiting piny Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus433mountains, barren rocks, and spots of verdure surpassing imag-434ination. After descending for nearly a league between lofty rocks, 435covered with pines, and interspersed with green glades, where the 436grass is short, and soft, and beautifully verdant, we arrived at the 437village of St. Sulpice.
438The mule had latterly become very lame, and the man so 439disobliging, that we determined to engage a horse for the remainder 440of the way. Our voiturier had anticipated us, without in the least Critical Apparatus441intimating his intention to us: he had determined to leave us at this 442village, and taken measures to that effect. The man we now engaged 443was a Swiss, a cottager of the better class, who was proud of his 444mountains and his country. Pointing to the glades that were 445interspersed among the woods, he informed us that they were very 446beautiful, and were excellent pasture; that the cows thrived there, 447and consequently produced excellent milk, from which the best 448cheese and butter in the world were made.
449The mountains after St. Sulpice became loftier and more Critical Apparatus450beautiful. We passed through a narrow valley between two ranges of 451mountains, clothed with forests, at the bottom of which flowed a 452river, from whose narrow bed on either side the boundaries of 453the vale arose precipitously. The road lay about half way up 454the mountain, which formed one of the sides, and we saw the 455overhanging rocks above us and below, enormous pines, and the 456river, not to be perceived but from its reflection of the light of 457heaven, far beneath. The mountains of this beautiful ravine are so Editor’s Note458little asunder, that in time of war with France an iron chain is thrown pg 196Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus459across it. Two leagues from Neufchâtel we saw the Alps: range after Critical Apparatus460range of black mountains are seen extending one before the other, 461and far behind all, towering above every feature of the scene, the Critical Apparatus462snowy Alps. They were an hundred miles distant, but reach so high 463in the heavens, that they look like those accumulated clouds of 464dazzling white that arrange themselves on the horizon during 465summer. Their immensity staggers the imagination, and so far sur-466passes all conception, that it requires an effort of the under-Critical Apparatus467standing to believe that they indeed form a part of the earth.
468From this point we descended to Neufchâtel, which is situated in 469a narrow plain, between the mountains and its immense lake, and 470presents no additional aspect of peculiar interest.
471We remained the following day at this town, occupied in a 472consideration of the step it would now be advisable for us to 473take. The money we had brought with us from Paris was nearly Editor’s Note474exhausted, but we obtained about £38. in silver upon discount from 475one of the bankers of the city, and with this we resolved to journey 476towards the lake of Uri, and seek in that romantic and interesting 477country some cottage where we might dwell in peace and solitude. 478Such were our dreams, which we should probably have realized, had 479it not been for the deficiency of that indispensible article money, 480which obliged us to return to England.
Editor’s Note481A Swiss, whom S met at the post-office, kindly interested 482himself in our affairs, and assisted us to hire a voiture to convey us 483to Lucerne, the principal town of the lake of that name, which is Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus484connected with the lake of Uri. This man was imbued with the 485spirit of true politeness, and endeavoured to perform real services, 486and seemed to regard the mere ceremonies of the affair as things of Critical Apparatus487very little value. The journey to Lucerne occupied rather more 488than two days. The country was flat and dull, and, excepting that 489we now and then caught a glimpse of the divine Alps, there was 490nothing in it to interest us. Lucerne promised better things, and as 491soon as we arrived (August 23 d) we hired a boat, with which we 492proposed to coast the lake until we should meet with some suitable Editor’s Note493habitation, or perhaps, even going to Altorf, cross Mont St. 494Gothard, and seek in the warm climate of the country to the south 495of the Alps an air more salubrious, and a temperature better fitted 496for the precarious state of S 's health, than the bleak region to 497the north. The lake of Lucerne is encompassed on all sides by high 498mountains that rise abruptly from the water;—sometimes their pg 197499bare fronts descend perpendicularly and cast a black shade upon the 500waves;—sometimes they are covered with thick wood, whose dark 501foliage is interspersed by the brown bare crags on which the trees 502have taken root. In every part where a glade shews itself in the forest 503it appears cultivated, and cottages peep from among the woods. The 504most luxuriant islands, rocky and covered with moss, and bending 505trees, are sprinkled over the lake. Most of these are decorated by the 506figure of a saint in wretched waxwork.
507The direction of this lake extends at first from east to west, then 508turning a right angle, it lies from north to south; this latter part is 509distinguished in name from the other, and is called the lake of Uri. 510The former part is also nearly divided midway, where the jutting 511land almost meets, and its craggy sides cast a deep shadow on the 512little strait through which you pass. The summits of several of the 513mountains that enclose the lake to the south are covered by eternal 514glaciers; of one of these, opposite Brunen, they tell the story of a 515priest and his mistress, who, flying from persecution, inhabited a Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus516cottage at the foot of the snows. One winter night an avalanche 517overwhelmed them, but their plaintive voices are still heard in 518stormy nights, calling for succour from the peasants.
519Brunen is situated on the northern side of the angle which the lake 520makes, forming the extremity of the lake of Lucerne. Here we rested 521for the night, and dismissed our boatmen. Nothing could be more 522magnificent than the view from this spot. The high mountains 523encompassed us, darkening the waters; at a distance on the shores of Editor’s Note524Uri we could perceive the chapel of Tell, and this was the village 525where he matured the conspiracy which was to overthrow the 526tyrant of his country; and indeed this lovely lake, these sublime 527mountains, and wild forests, seemed a fit cradle for a mind aspiring 528to high adventure and heroic deeds. Yet we saw no glimpse of his 529spirit in his present countrymen. The Swiss appeared to us then, and 530experience has confirmed our opinion, a people slow of compre-531hension and of action; but habit has made them unfit for slavery, 532and they would, I have little doubt, make a brave defence against 533any invader of their freedom.
534Such were our reflections, and we remained until late in the 535evening on the shores of the lake conversing, enjoying the rising 536breeze, and contemplating with feelings of exquisite delight the 537divine objects that surrounded us.
538The following day was spent in a consideration of our pg 198539circumstances, and in contemplation of the scene around us. A 540furious vent d'Italie (south wind) tore up the lake, making immense 541waves, and carrying the water in a whirlwind high in the air, when it 542fell like heavy rain into the lake. The waves broke with a tremendous 543noise on the rocky shores. This conflict continued during the whole 544day, but it became calmer towards the evening. S and I walked on 545the banks, and sitting on a rude pier, S read aloud the account of Editor’s Note546the Siege of Jerusalem from Tacitus.
547In the mean time we endeavoured to find an habitation, but could 548only procure two unfurnished rooms in an ugly big house, called the 549Chateau. These we hired at a guinea a month, had beds moved into 550them, and the next day took possession. But it was a wretched place, 551with no comfort or convenience. It was with difficulty that we could 552get any food prepared: as it was cold and rainy, we ordered a fire— 553they lighted an immense stove which occupied a corner of the room; 554it was long before it heated, and when hot, the warmth was so 555unwholesome, that we were obliged to throw open our windows to 556prevent a kind of suffocation; added to this, there was but one 557person in Brunen who could speak French, a barbarous kind of 558German being the language of this part of Switzerland. It was with 559difficulty, therefore, that we could get our most ordinary wants Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus560supplied.
Critical Apparatus561These immediate inconveniences led us to a more serious Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus562consideration of our situation. The £28. which we possessed, was all 563the money that we could count upon with any certainty, until the 564following December. S 's presence in London was absolutely 565necessary for the procuring any further supply. What were we to do? 566we should soon be reduced to absolute want. Thus, after balancing 567the various topics that offered themselves for discussion, we 568resolved to return to England.
569Having formed this resolution, we had not a moment for delay: 570our little store was sensibly decreasing, and £28. could hardly appear 571sufficient for so long a journey. It had cost us sixty to cross France 572from Paris to Neufchâtel; but we now resolved on a more 573economical mode of travelling. Water conveyances are always the 574cheapest, and fortunately we were so situated, that by taking 575advantage of the rivers of the Reuss and Rhine, we could reach 576England without travelling a league on land. This was our plan; we Critical Apparatus577should travel eight hundred miles, and was this possible for so small Editor’s Note578a sum? but there was no other alternative, and indeed S only 579knew how very little we had to depend upon.
pg 199580We departed the next morning for the town of Lucerne. It rained 581violently during the first part of our voyage, but towards its 582conclusion the sky became clear, and the sun-beams dried and 583cheered us. We saw again, and for the last time, the rocky shores of 584this beautiful lake, its verdant isles, and snow-capt mountains.
585We landed at Lucerne, and remained in that town the following Editor’s Note586night, and the next morning (August 28th) departed in the diligence Editor’s Note587par-eau for Loffenburgh, a town on the Rhine, where the falls of that Editor’s Note588river prevented the same vessel from proceeding any further. Our 589companions in this voyage were of the meanest class, smoked 590prodigiously, and were exceedingly disgusting. After having landed 591for refreshment in the middle of the day, we found, on our return to 592the boat, that our former seats were occupied; we took others, when 593the original possessors angrily, and almost with violence, insisted 594upon our leaving them. Their brutal rudeness to us, who did not 595understand their language, provoked S to knock one of the 596foremost down: he did not return the blow, but continued his 597vociferations until the boatmen interfered, and provided us with 598other seats.
599The Reuss is exceedingly rapid, and we descended several falls, Critical Apparatus600one of more than eight feet. There is something very delicious in the 601sensation, when at one moment you are at the top of a fall of water, 602and before the second has expired you are at the bottom, still rushing 603on with the impulse which the descent has given. The waters of the Editor’s Note604Rhone are blue, those of the Reuss are of a deep green. I should think 605that there must be something in the beds of these rivers, and that the 606accidents of the banks and sky cannot alone cause this difference.
607Sleeping at Dettingen, we arrived the next morning at 608Loffenburgh, where we engaged a small canoe to convey us to 609Mumph. I give these boats this Indian appellation, as they were of 610the rudest construction—long, narrow, and flat-bottomed: they 611consisted merely of straight pieces of deal board, unpainted, and 612nailed together with so little care, that the water constantly poured 613in at the crevices, and the boat perpetually required emptying. The 614river was rapid, and sped swiftly, breaking as it passed on 615innumerable rocks just covered by the water: it was a sight of some 616dread to see our frail boat winding among the eddies of the rocks, 617which it was death to touch, and when the slightest inclination on 618one side would instantly have overset it.
Editor’s Note619We could not procure a boat at Mumph, and we thought pg 200620ourselves lucky in meeting with a return cabriolet to Rheinfelden; 621but our good fortune was of short duration: about a league from 622Mumph the cabriolet broke down, and we were obliged to proceed Critical Apparatus623on foot Fortunately we were overtaken by some Swiss soldiers, who 624were discharged and returning home, who carried our box for us as 625far as Rheinfelden, when we were directed to proceed a league 626farther to a village, where boats were commonly hired. Here, 627although not without some difficulty, we procured a boat for Basle, 628and proceeded down a swift river, while evening came on, and the air 629was bleak and comfortless. Our voyage was, however, short, and we 630arrived at the place of our destination by six in the evening.
631Before we slept, S had made a bargain for a boat to carry us to Editor’s Note632Mayence, and the next morning, bidding adieu to Switzerland, we 633embarked in a boat laden with merchandize, but where we had no 634fellow-passengers to disturb our tranquillity by their vulgarity and 635rudeness. The wind was violently against us, but the stream, aided by 636a slight exertion from the rowers, carried us on; the sun shone Editor’s Note637pleasantly, S read aloud to us Mary Wollstonecraft's Letters 638from Norway, and we passed our time delightfully.
639The evening was such as to find few parallels in beauty; as it 640approached, the banks which had hitherto been flat and uninter-641esting, became exceedingly beautiful. Suddenly the river grew nar-642row, and the boat dashed with inconceivable rapidity round the 643base of a rocky hill covered with pines; a ruined tower, with its 644desolated windows, stood on the summit of another hill that jutted 645into the river; beyond, the sunset was illuminating the distant moun-646tains and clouds, casting the reflection of its rich and purple hues 647on the agitated river. The brilliance and contrasts of the colours on 648the circling whirlpools of the stream, was an appearance entirely 649new and most beautiful; the shades grew darker as the sun descended 650below the horizon, and after we had landed, as we walked to our inn 651round a beautiful bay, the full moon arose with divine splendour, 652casting its silver light on the before-purpled waves.
653The following morning we pursued our journey in a slight canoe, 654in which every motion was accompanied with danger; but the 655stream had lost much of its rapidity, and was no longer impeded by pg 201656rocks, the banks were low, and covered with willows. We passed 657Strasburgh, and the next morning it was proposed to us that we 658should proceed in the diligence par-eau, as the navigation would 659become dangerous for our small boat.
660There were only four passengers besides ourselves, three of these 661were students of the Strasburgh university: Schwitz, a rather 662handsome, good tempered young man; Hoff, a kind of shapeless 663animal, with a heavy, ugly, German face; and Schneider, who was 664nearly an ideot, and on whom his companions were always playing a 665thousand tricks: the remaining passengers were a woman, and an 666infant.
667The country was uninteresting, but we enjoyed fine weather, and 668slept in the boat in the open air without any inconvenience. We saw 669on the shores few objects that called forth our attention, if I except 670the town of Manheim, which was strikingly neat and clean. It was 671situated at about a mile from the river, and the road to it was planted 672on each side with beautiful acacias. The last part of this voyage was 673performed close under land, as the wind was so violently against us, 674that even with all the force of a rapid current in our favour, we were 675hardly permitted to proceed. We were told (and not without reason) 676that we ought to congratulate ourselves on having exchanged our 677canoe for this boat, as the river was now of considerable width, and 678tossed by the wind into large waves. The same morning a boat, 679containing fifteen persons, in attempting to cross the water, had 680upset in the middle of the river, and every one in it perished. We saw 681the boat turned over, floating down the stream. This was a Critical Apparatus682melancholy sight, yet ludicrously commented on by the batelier; 683almost the whole stock of whose French consisted in the word 684seulement. When we asked him what had happened, he answered, Editor’s Note685laying particular emphasis on this favourite dissyllable, Ç'est seule-686ment un bateau, qui étoit seulement renversée, et tous les peuples sont 687seulement noyés.
688Mayence is one of the best fortified towns in Germany. The river, 689which is broad and rapid, guards it to the east, and the hills for three 690leagues around exhibit signs of fortifications. The town itself is old, 691the streets narrow, and the houses high: the cathedral and towers of Editor’s Note692the town still bear marks of the bombardment which took place in 693the revolutionary war.
694We took our place in the diligence par-eau for Cologne, and the 695next morning (September 4th) departed. This conveyance appeared pg 202696much more like a mercantile English affair than any we had before 697seen; it was shaped like a steam-boat, with a cabin and a high deck. 698Most of our companions chose to remain in the cabin; this was 699fortunate for us, since nothing could be more horribly disgusting 700than the lower order of smoking, drinking Germans who travelled Critical Apparatus701with us; they swaggered and talked, and what was hideous to English 702eyes, kissed one another: there were, however, two or three 703merchants of a better class, who appeared well-informed and polite.
704The part of the Rhine down which we now glided, is that so Editor’s Note705beautifully described by Lord Byron in his third canto of Childe 706Harold. We read these verses with delight, as they conjured before us 707these lovely scenes with the truth and vividness of painting, and with 708the exquisite addition of glowing language and a warm imagination. 709We were carried down by a dangerously rapid current, and saw 710on either side of us hills covered with vines and trees, craggy 711cliffs crowned by desolate towers, and wooded islands, where 712picturesque ruins peeped from behind the foliage, and cast the 713shadows of their forms on the troubled waters, which distorted 714without deforming them. We heard the songs of the vintagers, and if 715surrounded by disgusting Germans, the sight was not so replete with 716enjoyment as I now fancy it to have been; yet memory, taking all the 717dark shades from the picture, presents this part of the Rhine to my 718remembrance as the loveliest paradise on earth.
719We had sufficient leisure for the enjoyment of these scenes, for the 720boatmen, neither rowing nor steering, suffered us to be carried 721down by the stream, and the boat turned round and round as it 722descended.
723While I speak with disgust of the Germans who travelled with us, I Editor’s Note724should in justice to these borderers record, that at one of the inns 725here we saw the only pretty woman we met with in the course of our 726travels. She is what I should conceive to be a truly German beauty; 727grey eyes, slightly tinged with brown, and expressive of uncommon 728sweetness and frankness. She had lately recovered from a fever, and 729this added to the interest of her countenance, by adorning it with an 730appearance of extreme delicacy.
731On the following day we left the hills of the Rhine, and found that, 732for the remainder of our journey, we should move sluggishly 733through the flats of Holland: the river also winds extremely, so that, 734after calculating our resources, we resolved to finish our journey in a 735land diligence. Our water conveyance remained that night at Bonn, pg 203736and that we might lose no time, we proceeded post the same night to 737Cologne, where we arrived late; for the rate of travelling in Germany 738seldom exceeds a mile and a half an hour.
739Cologne appeared an immense town, as we drove through street 740after street to arrive at our inn. Before we slept, we secured places in 741the diligence, which was to depart next morning for Clêves.
742Nothing in the world can be more wretched than travelling in this 743German diligence: the coach is clumsy and comfortless, and we 744proceeded so slowly, stopping so often, that it appeared as if we 745should never arrive at our journey's end. We were allowed two hours 746for dinner, and two more were wasted in the evening while the coach 747was being changed. We were then requested, as the diligence had a 748greater demand for places than it could supply, to proceed in a 749cabriolet which was provided for us. We readily consented, as we 750hoped to travel faster than in the heavy diligence; but this was not 751permitted, and we jogged on all night behind this cumbrous Critical Apparatus752machine. In the morning when we stopped, we for a moment 753indulged a hope that we had arrived at Clêves, which was at the 754distance of five leagues from our last night's stage; but we had only 755advanced three leagues in seven or eight hours, and had yet eight 756miles to perform. However, we first rested about three hours at this 757stage, where we could not obtain breakfast or any convenience, and 758at about eight o'clock we again departed, and with slow, although far 759from easy travelling, faint with hunger and fatigue, we arrived by 760noon at Clêves.
761Tired by the slow pace of the diligence, we resolved to post the 762remainder of the way. We had now, however, left Germany, and 763travelled at about the same rate as an English post-chaise. The 764country was entirely flat, and the roads so sandy, that the horses 765proceeded with difficulty. The only ornaments of this country are Editor’s Note766the turf fortifications that surround the towns. At Nimeguen we Critical Apparatus767passed the flying bridge, mentioned in the letters of Lady Mary Critical Apparatus768Montague. We had intended to travel all night, but at T〈h〉iel where 769we arrived at about ten o'clock, we were assured that no post-boy 770was to be found who would proceed at so late an hour, on account of 771the robbers who infested the roads. This was an obvious imposition; pg 204772but as we could procure neither horses nor driver, we were obliged 773to sleep here.
774During the whole of the following day the road lay between 775canals, which intersect this country in every direction. The roads 776were excellent, but the Dutch have contrived as many incon-777veniences as possible. In our journey of the day before, we had 778passed by a windmill, which was so situated with regard to the road, 779that it was only by keeping close to the opposite side, and passing 780quickly, that we could avoid the sweep of its sails.
781The roads between the canals were only wide enough to admit of 782one carriage, so that when we encountered another we were obliged 783sometimes to back for half a mile, until we should come to one of the 784drawbridges which led to the fields, on which one of the cabriolets Critical Apparatus785was rolled, while the other passed. But they have another practice, 786which is still more annoying: the flax when cut is put to soak under 787the mud of the canals, and then placed to dry against the trees which 788are planted on either side of the road; the stench that it exhales, when 789the beams of the sun draw out the moisture, is scarcely endurable. 790We saw many enormous frogs and toads in the canals; and the only 791sight which refreshed the eye by its beauty was the delicious verdure 792of the fields, where the grass was as rich and green as that of England, 793an appearance not common on the continent.
794Rotterdam is remarkably clean: the Dutch even wash the outside 795brickwork of their houses. We remained here one day, and met with 796a man in a very unfortunate condition: he had been born in Holland, 797and had spent so much of his life between England, France, and 798Germany, that he had acquired a slight knowledge of the language of 799each country, and spoke all very imperfectly. He said that he 800understood English best, but he was nearly unable to express himself 801in that.
Critical Apparatus802On the evening of the 8th of September we sailed from 803Rotterdam, but contrary winds obliged us to remain nearly two days Critical Apparatus804at Marsluys, a town about two leagues from Rotterdam. Here our 805last guinea was expended, and we reflected with wonder that we had 806travelled eight hundred miles for less than thirty pounds, passing 807through lovely scenes, and enjoying the beauteous Rhine, and all the 808brilliant shews of earth and sky, perhaps more, travelling as we did, 809in an open boat, than if we had been shut up in a carriage, and passed Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus810on the road under the hills.
811The captain of our vessel was an Englishman, and had been a pg 205812king's pilot. The bar of the Rhine a little below Marsluys is so 813dangerous, that without a very favourable breeze none of the Dutch 814vessels dare attempt its passage; but although the wind was a very 815few points in our favour, our captain resolved to sail, and although 816half repentant before he had accomplished his undertaking, he was 817glad and proud when, triumphing over the timorous Dutchmen, the 818bar was crossed, and the vessel safe in the open sea. It was in truth an 819enterprise of some peril; a heavy gale had prevailed during the night, 820and although it had abated since the morning, the breakers at the bar 821were still exceedingly high. Through some delay, which had arisen 822from the ship having got a-ground in the harbour, we arrived half an 823hour after the appointed time. The breakers were tremendous, and 824we were informed that there was the space of only two feet between 825the bottom of the vessel and the sands. The waves, which broke 826against the sides of the ship with a terrible shock, were quite 827perpendicular, and even sometimes overhanging in the abrupt 828smoothness of their sides. Shoals of enormous porpoises were 829sporting with the utmost composure amidst the troubled waters.
830We safely past this danger, and after a navigation unexpectedly 831short, arrived at Gravesend on the morning of the 13th of 832September, the third day after our departure from Marsluys.
The little volume which you have been quicksighted enough to attribute to its real authors is composed of two letters written 〈by〉 me signed S, & some 〈two〉 other letters & the Journal signed M. written by Mrs. Shelley. I ought to say that the Journal was written some years ago—the style of it is almost infantine, & it was published in the idea that the Author would never be recognized…. I ought to say that Mrs. Shelley, tho' sorry that her secret is discovered, is exceedingly delighted to hear that you have derived any amusement from our book.—Let me say in her defence that the Journal of the Six Weeks Tour was written before she was seventeen, & that she has another literary secret which I will in a short time ask you to keep in return for having discovered this.