Rollo in Geneva

Rollo in Geneva

Author:
Jacob Abbott
Author:
Jacob Abbott
Format:
epub
language:
English

%title插图%num
Author: Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879
Geneva (Switzerland) — Description and travel
Rollo in Geneva

ROLLO IN GENEVA,

 

BY

 

JACOB ABBOTT.


 
NEW YORK:
SHELDON & COMPANY, PUBLISHERS,
498 & 500 BROADWAY.


1867.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858,
by Jacob Abbott,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.


THE CASTLE OF CHILLON.



ROLLO’S TOUR IN EUROPE.

ORDER OF THE VOLUMES
ROLLO ON THE ATLANTIC.
ROLLO IN PARIS.
ROLLO IN SWITZERLAND.
ROLLO IN LONDON.
ROLLO ON THE RHINE.
ROLLO IN SCOTLAND.
ROLLO IN GENEVA.
ROLLO IN HOLLAND.
ROLLO IN NAPLES.
ROLLO IN ROME.

PRINCIPAL PERSONS OF THE STORY.

Rollo; twelve years of age.
Mr. and Mrs. Holiday; Rollo’s father and mother, travelling in Europe.
Thanny; Rollo’s younger brother.
Jane; Rollo’s cousin, adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Holiday.
Mr. George; a young gentleman, Rollo’s uncle.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER   PAGE
I.— The Fame of Geneva, 11
II.— Planning, 24
III.— The Ride to Geneva, 35
IV.— The Town, 55
V.— The Hotel, 64
VI.— A Ride in the Environs, 71
VII.— The Junction of the Arve, 93
VIII.— Seeing Mont Blanc go out, 108
IX.— A Law Question, 122
X.— An Excursion on the Lake, 134
XI.— Villeneuve, 148
XII.— The Castle of Chillon, 155
XIII.— Plan Formed, 171
XIV.— Walk to Aigle, 179
XV.— The Jewelry, 197
XVI.— A Fortunate Accident, 209

ENGRAVINGS.

  PAGE
The Castle of Chillon, Frontispiece
The Great Net, 30
Going through the Village, 46
View of Geneva, 58
The Water Wheel, 100
Fishing, 104
Going to take a Sail, 132
The Dungeons of Chillon, 161
The Basket Ride, 185
Shopping at Geneva, 203

ROLLO IN GENEVA.

Chapter I.

The Fame of Geneva.

Geneva is one of the most remarkable and most celebrated cities in Europe. It derives its celebrity, however, not so much from its size, or from the magnificence of its edifices, as from the peculiar beauty of its situation, and from the circumstances of its history.
Geneva is situated upon the confines of France, Switzerland, and Sardinia, at the outlet of the Lake of Geneva, which is perhaps the most beautiful, and certainly the most celebrated, lake in Switzerland. It is shaped like a crescent,—that is, like the new moon, or rather like the moon after it is about four or five days old. The lower end of the lake—that is, the end where Geneva is situated—lies in a comparatively open country, though vast ranges of lofty mountains, some of them covered with perpetual snow, are to be seen in the distance all around. All the country near, however, at this end of the lake, is gently undulating, and it is extremely fertile and beautiful. There are a great many elegant country seats along the shore of the lake, and on the banks of the River Rhone, which flows out of it. The waters of the lake at this end, and of the river which issues from it, are very clear, and of a deep and beautiful blue color. This blue color is so remarkable that it attracts the attention of every one who looks down into it from a bridge or from a boat, and there have been a great many suppositions and speculations made in respect to the cause of it; but I believe that, after all, nobody has yet been able to find out what the cause is.
The city of Geneva is situated exactly at the lower end of the lake, that is, at the western end; and the River Rhone, in coming out of the lake, flows directly through the town.
The lake is about fifty miles long, and the eastern end of it runs far in among the mountains. These mountains are very dark and sombre, and their sides rise so precipitously from the margin of the water that in many places there is scarcely room for a road along the shore. Indeed, you go generally to that end of the lake in a steamer; and as you advance, the mountains seem to shut you in completely at the end of the lake. But when you get near to the end, you see a narrow valley opening before you, with high mountains on either hand, and the River Rhone flowing very swiftly between green and beautiful banks in the middle of it. Besides the river, there is a magnificent road to be seen running along this valley. This is the great high road leading from France into Italy; and it has been known and travelled as such ever since the days of the old Romans.
The River Rhone, where it flows into the lake at the eastern end of it, is very thick and turbid, being formed from torrents coming down the mountain sides, or from muddy streams derived from the melting of the glaciers. At the western end, on the other hand, where it issues from the lake, the water is beautifully pellucid and clear. The reason of this is, that during its slow passage through the lake it has had time to settle. The impurities which the torrents bring down into it from the mountains all subside to the bottom of the lake, and are left there, and thus the water comes out at the lower end quite clear. The lake itself, however, is of course gradually filling up by means of this process.
There are several large and handsome houses on the northern shore of the lake; but Geneva, at the western end of it, entirely surpasses them all.
Geneva is, however, after all, a comparatively small town. It contains only thirty or forty thousand inhabitants. It would take ten Genevas to make a New York, and nearly a hundred to make a Paris or London.
Why, then, since Geneva is comparatively so small, is it so celebrated? Almost every person who goes to Europe visits Geneva, and talks of Geneva when he comes back; while there are multitudes of other cities and towns, many times as large in extent and population, that he never thinks of or speaks of at all.
There are several reasons for this.
1. The first reason is, that this town stands on the great high road leading from England and France into Italy. Of course it comes naturally in the way of all travellers making the grand tour. It is true that at the present day, since steam has been introduced upon the Mediterranean, a very large proportion of travellers, instead of passing through Switzerland, go down the Rhone to Marseilles, and embark there. But before the introduction of steam, for many ages, the way by Geneva was almost the only way to Italy; and the city acquired great celebrity through the accounts of tourists and travellers who visited it on their journeys.
2. The second reason is, that Geneva is a convenient and agreeable point for entering Switzerland, and for making excursions among the Alps. There are two great avenues into Switzerland from France and Germany—one by way of Geneva, and the other by way of Basle. By the way of Basle we go to the Jungfrau and the Oberland Alps which lie around that mountain, and to the beautiful lakes of Zurich and of Lucerne. All these lie in the eastern part of the Alpine region. By the way of Geneva we go to the valley of Chamouni and Mont Blanc, and visit the vast glaciers and the stupendous mountain scenery that lie around this great monarch of the Alps.
There is a great question among travellers which of these two Alpine regions is the most grand. Some prefer the mountains about Mont Blanc, which are called the Alps of Savoy. Others like better those about the Jungfrau, which are called the Oberland Alps. The scenery and the objects of interest are very different in the two localities; and it seems to me that any difference which travellers may observe in the grandeur of the emotions which they severally produce upon the mind must be due to the peculiar circumstances or moods of mind in which they are visited. It is true you can get nearer to the Jungfrau than you can to Mont Blanc, and so can obtain a more impressive view of his icy and rocky sides and glittering summit. But then, on the other hand, Mont Blanc is really the highest peak, and is looked upon as the great monarch of them all.
And here, as the name of Mont Blanc will of course often appear in this volume, I have a word or two to say in respect to the proper pronunciation of it in America; for the proper mode of pronouncing the name of any place is not fixed, as many persons think, but varies with the language which you are using in speaking of it. Thus the name of the capital of France, when we are in France, and speaking French, is pronounced Par-ree; but when we are in England and America, and are speaking English, we universally pronounce it Par-is. It is so with almost all names of places. They change the pronunciation, and often the mode of spelling, according to the analogy of the language used by the person speaking of them.
Many persons suppose that in order correctly to pronounce the name of any place we must pronounce it as the people do who live in and around the place. But this is not so. The rule, on the other hand, is, that we must pronounce it as the people do who live in and around the place the language of which we are speaking. Thus the people of France call their capital Par-ree; those of Spain call theirs something like this,—Madhreedth; the Italians pronounce theirs Roma; but we, in talking English, say simply, Paris, Madrid, and Rome; in other words, when we are talking English, we talk English throughout, using English words for names of things, and English pronunciation for names of places, in all cases where there is an English pronunciation established,—as there is in respect to all the rivers, towns, mountains, and other localities on the globe that are well known and often spoken of in the English world.
Mont Blanc is one of these. Like the word Paris it has its French pronunciation for the French, and its English pronunciation for the English; and its English pronunciation is as if it were spelled Mount Blank or Mont Blank. Under this name it has been known and spoken of familiarly all over England and America for centuries; and this, it seems to me, is the proper name to give it when we are speaking English.
Its French pronunciation is very different. It is one which none but a practical French scholar can possibly imitate, except in a very awkward manner. Those who have visited France and Switzerland, and have been accustomed to the French sound, often give the word the French pronunciation; but it is not at all necessary to do so. The word, like Paris, has its own established English sound; and if it is not pedantry to attempt to give it the French sound when speaking English, it certainly is not a mispronunciation to give it the English one. Indeed, to require the French pronunciation of the word from English speakers would be in effect to banish it almost altogether from conversation; for among the ten millions, more or less, in England or America, who speak English well, there is probably not one in a thousand that can possibly give the word its true French pronunciation.
In reading this book, therefore, and in speaking of the great Swiss mountain, you are perfectly safe in giving it its plain English sound, as if it were written Mont Blank; and remember the principle, as applicable to all other similar cases. Wherever a foreign name has become so familiar to the English world as to have obtained an established English pronunciation, in speaking English we give it that pronunciation, without any regard to the usage of the people who live on the spot.
But now I must return to Geneva, and give some further account of the reasons why it has been so celebrated.
3. The third reason why Geneva has acquired so much celebrity among mankind is the great number of learned and distinguished philosophers and scholars that have from time to time lived there. Switzerland is a republic, and the canton of Geneva is Protestant; and thus the place has served as a sort of resort and refuge for all the most distinguished foes both of spiritual and political tyranny that have risen up in Europe at intervals during the last five hundred years. Geneva was indeed one of the chief centres of the Reformation; and almost all the great reformers visited it and wrote about it, and thus made all the world familiar with it, during the exciting times in which they lived.
Besides this, Geneva has been made the residence and home of a great many moral and political writers within the last one or two centuries; for the country, being republican, is much more open and free than most of the other countries of Europe. Men who have incurred the displeasure of their own governments by their writings or their acts find a safe asylum in Geneva, where they can think and say what they please. All this has tended very strongly to attract the attention of mankind to Geneva, as to a sort of luminous point in respect to moral and political science, from which light radiates to every part of the civilized world.
4. There is one more reason, very different from the preceding, which tends to make Geneva famous, and to draw travellers to visit it at the present day; and that is, it is a great manufacturing place for watches and jewelry—one of the greatest, indeed, in the world. Travellers, in making the tour of Europe,—and American travellers in particular,—always wish to bring home with them a great number and variety of purchases; and the things that they buy they very naturally desire to buy at the places where they are made. It is not merely that they hope to get them better and cheaper there, but it is a pleasant thought to be associated always afterwards with any object of use or luxury that we possess, that we bought it ourselves at the place of its original manufacture. Thus the gentlemen who travel in Europe like to bring home a fowling-piece from Birmingham, a telescope from London, or a painting from Italy; and the ladies, in planning their tour, wish it to include Brussels or Valenciennes for laces, and Geneva for a watch.
Thus, for one reason or another, immense numbers of people go every year to Geneva, in the course of the tour they make in Europe, either for business or pleasure. It is estimated that the number of these visitors annually is not less than thirty thousand; and the chief streets and quays of the town are marked almost as strikingly by the conspicuousness and splendor of the hotels as Broadway in New York.
The place of departure in France for Geneva is Lyons. If you look upon the map you will see the situation of Lyons on the River Rhone, almost opposite to Geneva. There is a railroad from Paris to Lyons, and so on down the Rhone to Marseilles. But from Lyons up to Geneva—which is likewise situated on the Rhone, at the place where it issues from the Lake of Geneva—there was no railroad at the time of Rollo’s visit, though there was one in the process of construction. The party were obliged to travel by diligence on that part of the journey. The diligence is the French stage coach. The diligence leaves Lyons in the evening, and travels all night. As Mr. Holiday arrived at Lyons the evening before, Rollo had the whole of the day to walk about the town before setting out for his evening ride. His father gave him leave to go out alone, and ramble where he pleased.
“The most curious places,” said his father, “are on the other side of the river, where the silk weavers live. Notice what bridge you go over, so that you will know it again, and then if you get lost on the other side it will be no matter. All you will have to do is to keep coming down hill till you reach the river, and then look up and down till you see the bridge where you went over. That will bring you home. And be sure to be at home by five o’clock. We are going to have dinner at half past five.”
“Then won’t it be in season,” asked Rollo, “if I am at home by half past five?”
“In season for what?” asked his father.
“Why, to save my dinner,” said Rollo.
“Yes,” said his father; “it might be in season to save your dinner, but that is not what I am planning to save. I have no particular uneasiness about your dinner.”
“Why, father!” said Rollo, surprised.
“I have no wish to have you go hungry,” replied his father; “but then if by any chance you happened to be late at dinner, it would be of no great consequence, for you could buy something, and eat it in the diligence by the way. So I was not planning to save your dinner.”
“Then what were you planning to save, father?” asked Rollo.
“My own and mother’s quiet of mind,” replied Mr. Holiday, “especially mother’s. If five minutes of the dinner hour were to come and you should not appear, she would begin to be uneasy; and indeed so should I. In such cases as this, children ought always to come before the time when their parents would begin to feel a

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