Welsh Newspapers

Search 15 million Welsh newspaper articles

Hide Articles List

4 articles on this Page



AMONGST THE REUNIONISTS IN SWITZERLAND. II.—LUCERNE. When the tired brain-worker, or the wonied business man, or the fugitive from ennui seeks change, rest, and occupation on foreign shores, persons who like to see our own watering places Jlourish, indignantly ask why home beauties should be neglected in favour of foreign, and why hun- dreds of miles should be traversed to obtain what is within a stone's throw of our own doors. The complaint savours of patriotism, but it rarely comes from any who have had experience of con- tinental travel. The essence of a true holiday is a complete change, and where, I wonder, in the whole of Great Britain could one obtain so com- plete a change of scenery, associations, social cus- toms, and diet, as awaits the traveller, for in- stance, at Lucerne ? You leave London by one of the continental expresses, and in 24 hours' time emerge from the dirty looking railway train at the other end, to find yourself in a new world- the apex of travel in Central Europe. It is the height of the season. The station is beseiged, with hotel porters looking out for their victims, j there is the usual long line of gaudily painted I 'b:.aes ready to hurry the visitors off to their des- tinations; around one a perfect babel of tongues is raging—French, German, Italian, English, and a few others contributing to the linguistic medley. By and by the commotion subsides, and you have time to look around. In the distance are seen the great peak of Pilatus, the Rigi, the Stanser- horn, with here and there the snow covered tip of some giant of the Bernese Oberland. Frjm the slopes on the further side of the city rise a suc- cession of watch towers of quaint design, and some of gorgeous ornamentation, these being con- nected by the old city wall erected in the four- teenth century. Nearer at hand the scene is one of indescribable animation. There are the innu- merable fruit vendors, with their bronzed but Eleasant faces, tempting the thirsty tourist to uy, and should he happen to do so, inviting him in broken English to renew his patronage 4' Another time please, sir." The inevitable beer garden is well in evidence. In shady retreats th* visitors may be seen drinking their huge pots of lager beer, and despatching formidable lanks of sausage, sipping their tea, coffee, cocoa, or milk, smoking their cigars, or cracking bottles of light wine. A few steps brings one to the bridge by which we enter the city. On the right stretches cut the Vierwaldstatter See (lake of the Four Forest Cantons). Gay and crowded steamers are cleaving its blue waters, surrounded by scores of email craft which are plying their way in all direc- tions. The native oarsmen are easily distinguish- able, as instead of sitting in the boat and pulling backward they invariably stand and row forward On the left of the bridge the lake narrows quickly, and a short distance away the River Reuss, which fiows through the lake from its source in the St. Gothard, makes its exit, and proceeds on its way towards the Rhine. On either bide of the bridge are amateur fishermen hanging half over the parapet trying, vainly for the most part, to secure some of the myriads of fish which are sporting in the clear waters beneath. Crossing the bridge you are at the end of a long boulevard, which throughout the day is thronged with repre- sentatives of fashion from almost all nations. An hour or two can be pleasantly passed in sitting beside the lake studying the characters which pass to and fro. Of these a very large proportion are English and American. You can spot them at once, if not by their speech, by their tree and easy manners. In such a meeting.place a large number of French, German, and Italians are to be expected. The former undoubtedly carry oil the palm so far as style is concerned. The men are mainly of the dandy-type, dressy in the highest degree, slightly built, and in the main rather under-sized. But the women What ex- travagance of dress, what worship of the hair, dresser, what brilliant painting and delicate powdering, what incessant chatter, and what a size, too The men are insignificant beside them, and remind one of a satellite revolv- ing round some greater centre of attraction. They do not like the freedom with which the. English, and especially the Americans, trifle with the dictates of lash ion. A few of us w«re coming alone' in a bo'erous mood one afternoon, and -ere flattered to bear a French dame of mature years, exclaim in French, My God, look at these En-lish The Italians, though less showy, are easily picked out, the distinctive features of the women conspicuously indicating their nationality. The Germans here, as every- where I suppose, have the usual characteristics. The men display an unmistakeable military bear- ing, and their tine physique and sober demeanour are in marked contrast with their natural enemy, the slight and flippant Frenchman. The women generally are plain, and dress well but quietly. The English residents need no description. The Swiss are much the same here as in the rural dis- tricts—plain in feature and dress, pitient, indus- trious, contented, intelligent, and tree. It would be well perhaps if they were a little smarter. Their police, who are cluefly young men or boys, alk about in clothes several sizes too large for theiii, and which suggest that the race must have deteriorated since the regulation measure was last revised. Lucerne is the centre of a rural district, and the farmers may be seen bringing into the city their produce from the neighbouring farms. By the bye, all vehicles in Switzerland pass on the i right of the road instead of on the left as with us. The waggons in use are of the most primitive type, heavy, and lumbersome and the oxen which draw them m.ke such slow progress as to remind one of Mark Twain's journey on a glacier. In the afternoons tte milk carts ply to and fro. They are drawn by dogs-;he milkman in the shafts, with a dog harnessed on either -side--L-,tient brutes they are, putting all their strength into their masters' service, and not even stopping to ^nvy the happier lot of the handsome pet St. Bernard dogs, which abound in the city. Jtjou are in an indolent mood, it is easy to while away the time watching .the continual flow of life and iashion which goes on under the cool shade of the thickly foliaged toees. If you are thirsty, .there are drinks or fruit a few yards away; hot and dusty, the baths axe close at hand; desirous-of an excursion, there ase boats and steamers on the lake, or carriages on hire, ready to place them- selves at your disposal at a nominal charge; in- clined for a ramble, .there are scones of attractive places to visit withis easy distance; or if content where you are, you may still sit on, watching-the, busy throng, listening to th6 music of the bands,; the splash of the water on the shore, and the con-: stant buzz of human voices, gazing upon the great mountain peaks ithieh .rise in the diittanae. think- ing anon of home, and-dwelling wonderingly upon the new and dazzling aspects under wbieb .life may present itself, while underneath all this ap- parent dive:sity, there ie the old, alinoat mduoton- ous sameness, which no amount of artistic draping can altogether conceal In such places there is much to be learned, and thoughts comr, quicidy but I must proceed. Lucerne is a centre of all-round attractions. It caters for all classes, and there would be few .who could not Iktd something to interest them. Per- haps the thing which would strike a dweller in .a Protestant gantry would be the aggressive pace- ] sence oi Rowan Catholicism. At street coroe over doorwayr, in the publie .squares, along the, highways, representations of ilie crucifixion are so thickly erected that it is cteflLsuft to take any direction without meeting with a Calvary." The priests, too, are very numerous. Between the services they are ito be seen strolfUjig about pre- senting with their hooded closure and shaven heads anything bqt an inviting appearance. In the morning after eaj-ly mass you may see them in the r robes retuktiv-g from the Cathedral, the members of their flock reverently aalut&ag them Jis they pa3a. The Cathedral itself is :Plair, heavv pile of masonrv .of rather auaint &i>r>p»r- ance. It is of course a cq^tre around whieh the life of the city has gathered for many centuries. Its sculpture is time-worn aad decayed, but it is interesting on account of the olue it affords to the 'ration of scriptural events in by-gen# days. The cloisters around the cathedral contain some beautiful monuments, brasses, wood carvings, and paintings. A common practice is to insert in' the tombstone a photograph of the debased per- son, The hsly water" abounds everywhere, [ each little fo«t Ueg a small byugh, which some j of us took to be an instrument for keeping it J clean, but subsequent observation showed it to be J provided for the purpose of sprinkling the graves. All who visit the Cathedral stay of course for the organ recital. The instrument is one of the finest three in the country, and the performance of the Storm," a descriptive piece which generally con- cludes the programme, is something to be remem- bered. Two very interesting features of Lucerne are the wooden-roofed bridges which cross the Reuss. The Kapellbrucke, or Chapel Bridge, dating from remote times, contains 154 triangular pic- tures which fit in beneath the roof, and represent scenes from the lives of St. Leodeyar and St. Mauritius, the patron saints of Lucerne. The SprenerbrucTce, the other bridge, is generally re- garded as the more interesting on account of the I description of it which appears in Longfellow's Golden Legend (Act v.), where Prince Henry and Elsie pass over on horseback. I think it best not to attempt an improvement on Longfellow. This bridge also has a large collection of triangu- lar pictures illustrating the "Dance of Death." The artist must have been of an erratic type, for the King of Terrors is interpreted with great variety. One expects to see him over- shadowing all sorts of ceremonies and meetings, but one scarcely looked for a figure with a skeleton head and body and great plump legs suggesting remembrances of a too vigorous love during lite of German sausage. From this bridge a good view of the town laundry is obtained. The washing is done in the river. On one side floats a long line of pontoons, with boxes at the edge, in which the washerwomen kneel and pollute with dirty linen the bright waters of the lake. The barracks are close to, and it is rather interesting to watch the soldiers engaged in ther washing operations beside the women. The chief place of amusement in the city is the Kursaal, a sort of half-theatre, half-music-hall, with a gambling saloon attached. The latter is a mere trifle, of course, compared with Monte Carlo; but Lucerne is a likely centre for the gambling spirit to develope. The two favourite games are played with horses and flags. Each deposit is supposed to be limited to 5 francs, but the limit is not rigidly enforced. The gambling is now prohibited. A young Englishman lost one evening 1,600 francs, and being unable to pay informed the police with the result- that the pro- prietors were first cautioned, and the gambling den finally shut up altogether. Monuments and similar objects are numerous, but by far the grandest is one of nature's production-the Gletschergarten (glacier garden). The visitor has here relics of the glacier period, which were discovered in 1878-75, and carry us back in thought to a time when almost the whole of Switzerland was under ice. There are several glacier mills-one of them the largest ever found in a wonderful state of preservation,—deep pits worn out of the solid rock by the force of the current, with great stone marbles, three or four feet in diameter lying in their cavities at the bottom, and reminding the spectator of the mighty forces long ages since exhausted, when the river Reuss was but a glacier leading down from the great St. Gothard over thuite of the present city of Lucerne. From this workshop of nature paths lead up to the Kiosk, where a very old baa-relief of central Switzerland is exhibited, made by General Pfyffer, who is claimed to be the inventor of bas-reliefs. Adjoining the glacier gardens is the Lion of Lucerne," a huge monument sculp- tured out of the face of solid rock 60 feet high. The origin of this monument can be given in a few words. Louis XVI. had as a bodyguard a Swiss company of yeomen and a regiment of paid Swiss. On the outbreak of the Revolution most of these were 1 cated at the Tuileries in Paris. On August 10th, 1792, defending there the person of the King against the Revolutionists they were overpowered by numbers and shot to a man. Carlyle, in his French Revolution," has paid them an eloquent tribute. Over the monument is an inscription with a list of the Swiss officers who were slain. There are many other points] worth mentioning, but space suggests at this point an adjournment.



[No title]