תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

8

CHRISTIAN CHARITY.

I am amply repaid for the attentions which I have had it in my power to pay by the happiness of having made your acquaintance." These few words are sufficient to delineate the heart of this celebrated physician, whose skill is set off by a delicacy of sentiments which is daily becoming more rare. I had the satisfaction to prevail upon him to accept a trifling article which had belonged to me.

Would that I could tell you, too, all that I feel for those kind, those excellent, creatures, with whom I sought an asylum ! No, christian couple, never shall I forget you! on the banks of the Jordan, of the Lake of Tiberias, of the Dead Sea, of the Nile, as on the shores of the Lake of Lucerne, your image will always be present to my mind, and deeply engraven on my heart. Worthy Lucia B-, thou wilt be ever present with me, dressing my wound, and bathing my eye deprived of sight. And thou, too, her husband, my dear and venerable friend, who hast rendered to thy suffering guest all the services of a perfect charity, never, no never shall I forget thee! And to whom am I indebted for these services ? To poor people, actuated by the prospect of gain, by the hope of recompence? No, to wealthy but christian people, who know that the services rendered to our neighbour are recorded in heaven; to people who love God, who serve him with simplicity and fervour, and who behold Jesus Christ in every suffering fellow-creature.

I must also make mention to you, my dear friend, of a beloved family which has heaped kindness upon me during my illness ; which, during the paroxysms of my fever, wiped the hot perspiration from my brow, and

CHAPEL OF WILLIAM TELL.

9

gave me proofs of the most sincere attachment. Jules, Augustine, Hermine, and Marie de F--, never shall I forget you!

LETTER VI.

DEPARTURE FROM LOCBRNB — The Lake - Hili. OP GRUTLI-CHAPEL BCILT ON THE SPOT WHERB WILLIAM TELL ESCAPED FROM HIS GUARDS -WALTER FORST, ARNOLD MELCHTHAL, AND Werner STAUPPACHER.

Altorf, August 25th, 1831. At length I have bidden adieu to Lucerne, and, to avoid eight or ten hours' navigation, which might have been attended with some danger in my state of convalescence, I resolved to take a carriage to Fluelen, and there I embarked. Oh! what a lovely day! what a magnificent lake is that of Lucerne, and how sorry I am that my illness prevented me from visiting in detail its enchanting shore! I determined, however, to cross it from Fluelen to Altorf. I wanted to see, to feel, to admire. Is not Nature an exquisite prayer-book? How much is he to be pitied who does not perceive God in th beauties which, with lavish hand, he has scattered over this wide world!

I visited the spot memorable in the annals of Switzerland, that hill of Grütli, where three courageous men conceived the design of liberating their country. I saw the place where William Tell escaped from the custody of its oppressors. A chapel is erected on that spot ; there, mass is performed every year on the anniversary of his deliverance. The walls of the chapel are covered with wretched paintings, representing the oath of Grütli,

10

MOUNT GOTHARD.

and the different events of that period. I contemplated these pictures, and I said to myself, with a deep sigh: What crimes have been brought into the world by the abuse of that word liberty! what tears, what blood, has it caused to be shed! what calamities will it yet occasion !

Walter Furst, Arnold Melchthal, and Werner Stauffacher, ye who with noble heroism sacrificed yourselves for the happiness and the salvation of your country, could I have called forth your shades, could I, unfolding before you the history of the five centuries that have elapsed since ye were no more, have shown you all the calamities which ambitious men have brought upon the earth by profaning the sacred name of liberty, seized with horror, fain would ye have been to sink again into your graves.

LETTER VII.

MOUNT GOTHARD; NEW ROAD OVER IT-AIROLO — MAGADINO-STEAM

VESSEL-LAGO MAGGIORB - RECOLLECTIONS - COLOSSAL STATUB OF St. CHARLES BORROMEO — CREW OF THE STEAMER — MILAN - Its CATHEDRAL - HONGARIAN SOLDIERS — THE EMPEROR FRANCIS PIETY OF THE AUSTRIAN SOLDIERS — LIBUTENANT-GENERAL. BARON DE GERAMB.

Milan, August 27th. I have crossed the Gothard. That new road is truly worthy of the Romans. I tarried a considerable time on the most elevated point. The tops of mountains have in them something august, something religious; there the thoughts are raised to divine things, and they invite man to contemplation and prayer. The wind roared ; I could scarcely keep my cloak about me. Elevated

FAREWELL TO SWITZERLAND.

11

above the clouds, I adored the Creator of the universe; the world seemed at my feet, and I felt in my heart an impulse that hurried me on to other wonders, an impulse that transported me to the bosom of that God for whom my soul thirsted.

Never had I been so powerfully, so deeply, moved. I cast a look over the land that I was about to quit, and where I was leaving so many beings dear to my heart, beings whom I thought it likely I might never see again ; I recommended them to that great God, the father of all mercies; I prayed for you, ye brethren of my monastery, scattered over the mountains of Switzerland; and for you, too, my children, who, notwithstanding so long an absence, were as present to me as when I took you from the arms of your mother to press you to my heart.

I arrived in the evening at Airolo, exhausted with fatigue-I was still so very weak. Next day, at Magadino, near Lake Maggiore, I resolved to embark in the steam-boat. Separated from the world for the last seventeen years, I knew nothing of steam-vessels, either from experience or report; this trip, therefore, held out extraordinary attractions to me.

And here, my dear friend, I must reveal to you what was passing in my heart for a few moments, from which you will see what empire pride still had over me, though so long a monk of La Trappe. The steam-vessel is divided into two parts: the one, covered, is occupied by what are called people of respectability; underneath is an apartment for their use; the other part is open; beneath, less commodious and less elegantly fitted up, is scarcely ever occupied by any but persons of the lower

the room

12

WHIMSICAL DILEMMA.

class, or by those who wish to travel at a cheap rate. Well! would

you

believe it ! never was I so perplexed as when I was asked in a loud voice, and before all the passengers, what place I would take. A little contest ensued between M. the Baron de Geramb and Father Marie Joseph. The Baron de Geramb strove to prove to Father Marie Joseph that every consideration imperatively required him to take his place in the first-mentioned division. He had a thousand reasons to adduce: in the first place, decency; in the next, the danger of getting a coup de soleil, the cure of which would have been very expensive for one who had taken a vow of poverty; and then cleanliness, which is also a virtue, &c. Father Marie Joseph alleged, on his part, that, having taken a vow of humility, he was glad to have this opportunity of expiating certain little reproaches to which he had exposed himself on this head. With the blessing of God, Father Marie Joseph got the better of the Baron.

How beautiful, how ravishing is the Lago Maggiore ! what recollections it awakened in my soul ! I had crossed it at the age of eighteen. I dreamt then of nothing but happiness; an ocean of delight was outspread before my boiling imagination, for then I was surrounded by every thing that can confer happiness on earth. The future appeared to my view like an enchanted palace ; I saw no obstacle; I wanted every thing, and fancied that I could obtain whatever I wanted. Now, seated obscurely in a corner of the vessel, I called to mind those days when, on the same lake, I perceived already the enchanting sky of Italy; when I already felt that balmy air which so softly lulls the senses. Italy! on thy soil

« הקודםהמשך »