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THE PLAYGROUNDS OF EUROPE :

Cheap Switzerland.

URELY everybody ought to have their holiday! Holidays (whether regularly periodical or irregularly occasional) are the grand elixir of life, the true aurum potabile, for busy people. As for people who do not know what it is to be busy, whose life is one long holiday, they are more to be pitied than they in the least suspect.

I may therefore lay down the axiom that a holiday is a medicinal restorative, a pleasurable necessity, for every hardworked individual who has not made up his mind to shorten his natural term of life. About that, there can be no dispute or doubt. It may be taken for granted. The only points open to discussion are the How, When, and Where of the holiday. I leave private convenience and inclination to settle with the two first of those adverbs — although, as to the second, for multitudes, the close of summer or the beginning of autumn is the

time selected ; and a capital time it is, and will confine myself to the consideration of the last: Where? Whither? In which direction? North or South East or West?

Now, without discussing particulars, I will assume that the pleasantest, the grandest, the most attractive, the least wearisome playground in all Europe, is Switzerland. If one country is more cosmopolite than another in respect to its visitors, Switzerland is probably that country. Wherever you go, from table d'hôte to mountain top, you fall in indiscriminately with İtalians, Russians, Spaniards, Germans, Americans (fewer since the civil war), Dutch, French, English. Strangers are Switzerland's staff of life; they enable her to purchase bread and wine; they pay the rent of many a dwelling; they render the desert habitable, and cause provisions to abound where none are produced naturally. With the amusement to be derived from this polyglot throng, Switzerland unites great geographical variety and diversity of altitude. You may keep snug in the valley, or climb up to the clouds, or, mounting above them to the highest peaks, may learn, from the evidence of your senses, that the fields of air are anything but boundless. Dear Switzerland! It is needless to sound your praise. I know that you can be and are often dear; but I also want to show people of moderate fortune that you may and can be cheap.

In the first place, the Alps are rapidly reached, nowadays. How times are changed, in respect to travelling! Overhauling some old memoranda, I find a note of a journey from Geneva to Paris, in 1835, taken with the same pair of horses, under the conduct of a Swiss voiturier, who boarded and lodged me on the road, giving a good knife-and-fork breakfast at noon, a dinner in the evening, and a bed. We started early, reposed a couple of hours in the middle of the day, and reached our quarters for the night about six or seven. At every halt, we came to a fresh town or village ; every half-day's journey brought a change of scene which would have been very amusing but for the monotony of the grand interior plain of France in spite of all its wealth and all its agricultural interest. Still we did see the towns and villages, and mixed with their inhabitants. I remember that the Swiss's name was Claude, and that of Brittany was the Rock of Cancale he left Geneva the day after his wed- (honoured of epicures), from the ding, his wife and a female friend summit of St. Michael's Mount; nor coming to see us off. I paid him six have we seen more of it up to the louis-d'or and ten "francs bonne- present day. It is best, therefore, main, or sl. 48. English, and was to rush straight to your intended well served in every respect; but we object. Remember the copy, 'Destarted on the 24th of May, and lays are dangerous.' Fancy yourself arrived on the ist of June. My a queen's messenger until you get note concludes : ‘After seeing Italy, where you want to go. the road has but little to interest, and Another advantage of rapid and one is glad to reach the end of the economical locomotion is, that the journey. The interest, now, is that pleasure of distant travel is thrown such a journey is historical. Who, open to a multitude of persons to in 1864, will perform the feat of whom it was hermetically closed going from Geneva to Paris, in nine before. Moreover, many people days, with the same pair of horses ? who could well afford more than

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As a contrast to the above, you sufficient sums of money, could not can now, in the course of four-and- afford anything like sufficient time. twenty hours, traverse the whole of But other persons besides those with France by its longest diagonals; two or three thousand a year and an which is a much more extensive indefinite extent of leisure may now sweep than that which took me nine enjoy the exhilarating influence of days. This certainly is rather a Alpine air and scenery. The Jura fatiguing trot; but it is an approach range, the Swiss Lakes, the Bernese to the migratory powers of the Oberland, nay Italy itself, are no swallow and the crane. In 1864, a longer secluded behind the formivery respectable continental tour dable barrier, impassable to, most, may be completed in less time than which is raised by having to look at it could be half begun thirty or forty your horses' tails for five or six long years ago.

weary days. The upper and wealTwo advantages result. You want thier class of English are already to see a place or a province, and you a nation of travellers; so are anodart down upon it at once with all ther class, often not wealthy, but your faculties fresh. By making one frugal and good managers, who regrand stride by night, when the side abroad for longer or shorter country you traverse is veiled in periods. With the present economy darkness,

you escape all temptation to in the times of transit, the middle linger and loiter, and consequently to classes, professional and business lose valuable time. Many and many people, might likewise be travellers, a travelling project has been ren- if they would only regulate their dered abortive by syren attractions incomes and their general outlay so which peeped out along the road. as to leave some margin for travelMyself and small party once set offling expenses. If they will spend to see Brittany. Our route lay their last farthing—they often say through Normandy. But Normandy they must, and have not the courage is very pleasant; and the women's to say they will not-in keeping up caps are funny to behold. They give appearances to the utmost in matyou a warm foot-bath after your dip ters of dress, equipage, and estain the sea; or if you like to bathe in blishment, barely making two ends cyder, you easily can, there are such meet while striving to pass for oceans of it. And they do not greater folks than they are, they breakfast and dine, as elsewhere; must necessarily debar themselves they eat two dinners per day, one at from the mind-enlarging, soul-eleeleven, and one at six. And the vating, body-strengthening pleabanks of the Seine are picturesque. sures of travel. But what an inThere are melons, plums, and figs to coinplete existence, to pass out of be eaten; there are churches and life without ever beholding a snowy stained-glass windows to be beheld. peak, a natural cascade, an alpine When October came, all we had seen lake, a self-sown forest hanging on

some

crags where man never set foot, and 1864. Olten, now, is the point of with the clouds entangled in the meeting of the railways from Neufir-tree tops! Surely, the sight of a chatel and Solothurn, from Thun monntain chain will compensate for and Berne, from Freyburg and a little less household show; an Berne, froin Lucerne, from Zurich annual trip to the rocky hills, with and Aarau, and from France and their brawling streams and their Basel. Olten boasts some of the bracing gales, will make

best-managed refreshment-rooms in amends for the absence of a footinan Europe; and close to the station is a from your entrance-hall.

capital boarding-house and hotel, What will be the eventual results Von Arx's, where the weary traveller of the new system of travelling, no may rest and restore himself with one can predict as yet. The changes every comfort, at moderate prices. to be brought about are manifold, It is not probable that, for some and are only at their commence- time to come, the means of transport ment. One curious consequence is from London to Switzerland will be the starting into life of mushroom easier or speedier than they are at localities that attain full growth, or present. There is the choice beat least considerable development, tween express and omnibus trains; in the interval between two editions and that is all. It is a question of of · Bradshaw. The latent germs expense. But in Switzerland itself of towns that have lain dormant on the facilities for rambling hither and the ground ever since the fall of the thither are constantly increasing. Roman Empire, sprout suddenly, Everywhere, the railway skirting the make vigorous shoots, and burst lake is superseding the steamer into blossoms of glass roofs and which rode on its bosom, and which painted walls. Take Culoz, for in- every now and then, if it did not stance, which figures in small capi- sink to the bottom,, caused other tals in Time-tables and Indicateurs lakefaring craft to sink. On the for the Mediterranean line. Where Lake of Neuchatel alone, the sumis Culoz, and what? Search for it mer of '63 saw seven steamers less in ‘Guy's Geography,' in ‘Brooks's than there were in '60. An always Gazetteer,' in the maps of the Useful inconvenient, often unpleasant, and Knowledge Society, in “Chambers's sometimes dangerous mode of tranEducational Atlas;' you may as well sit is thus exchanged for one that is look for a watering-place in the map quite the contrary. Carriage roads of the moon. But I have Culoz on take the place of what were only a map, in a 'Guide to Savoy.' pub- bridle-paths; economical diligences, lished since its annexation to France. open to the commonalty, run where It is the point where the line from expensive posting once held the Maçon to Chambery (and thence to monopoly. In all sorts of places, the foot of Mount Cenis, on the high little wooden hotels, organized in road to Turin) branches off to the conformity with the tariff of a franc left, to go to Geneva. Culoz is a per bed per night, if down in the little town, a handful of houses, just valley, somewhat dearer if up enough to keep a mayor and a no- amongst the peaks, are starting up, tary amongst them, lying in a nook holding their own, and yielding behind a rocky mountain, about a satisfactory profits. Competition, quarter of an hour away from the and the growing consciousness that station. Hundreds and thousands over-exaction tells badly in the long pass the station without seeing, or run, are reducing the prices of suspecting the town. But the name, guides, innkeepers,

and other travelCuloz, has sprung at one bound out ling necessaries. The presence of a of oblivion into notoriety; and the crowd of middle-class tourists has town and the station may one day, called forth, and led to the discovery perhaps, effect a junction of conti- of, a sufficient number of middlenuity.

class hosts. The demand for ' Cheap Olten, again, may be found on old Switzerland' has raised a supply. good maps of Switzerland, such as There are now three lines of rail. Keller's; but it is not the Olten of way completed and open from Paris

to Switzerland. First, to Geneva, we followed the outline of the leftby Macon and Culoz; secondly, to

hand buttress, hanging, somehow, Basel, by Vesoul and Mulhouse; not far from its summit.

First we thirdly, to Neuchatel, by Dijon and saw great masses of mist hoiling up, Pontarlier. We will follow the last, as if from some great subterranean as the shortest, cheapest, and most caldron; and then, a verdant valstriking way of entering Helvetian ley seemed to have been suddenly territory. The descent from Pon- excavated beneath us out of the tarlier, down the Val de Travers, to bowels of the earth. We looked Neuchatel, is indescribably magnifi- down into a beautiful abyss; but cent. Weather permitting, there is still it was an abyss. It was as if a theatrical succession of mountain the ground had suddenly sunk down scenery ending with a climax-picture under our feet, like an enormous of the town and lake in the fore- pitfall, with trees, rivers, roads, ground, the Simmen Thal mountains human dwellings, and everything in the middle distance, with the else standing upon it, leaving us snowy Jungfrau at the back of all, trembling on the very edge of terra which renders theatres poor trum- firma. Far and deep below you see pery. What it is, may be guessed a busy village. It is just such a view from the following trait.

as a hawk would have when he The first time I travelled on the hovers over the cottage in which his line, soon after passing the French quarry has taken refuge in despair. frontier, the conductor of the train Like him, you dart down towards it entered our carriage with a smiling with a curvilinear course, which reface, and seated himself as one of sembles the descending sweep of a the company:

Thinking that we bird from the skies. The inclination were favoured with his presence for of the railroad, as it hangs on the business purposes merely, I ten- brow of the mountain and glides dered my ticket to be snipped or across its face, is fearful to behold, inspected.

when you can behold it. Oh, no; I don't want that,' he • Oh dear! oh dear!' groaned one gaily observed. “I like to come in, of our party. This is dreadful ! to watch and see what travellers It is most lovely, certainly, if you think of the Val de Travers. You will; but if I had known what it are coming to it soon. Sit on that was like, I could never have venside, to the right of the carriage as tured here—no, that I could not. Do you face the engine. On this side, tell me, pray, when will this frightwhere I am, you would see nothing ful part of the line come to an —which some people seem to like

end ?' best, for they very often shut their Our ticket-taking cicerone was in eyes.'

such high glee that he nearly jumped 'Either very cool, or very sympa

out of his uniform. He feasted on thetic and obliging !' thought I to the combined expression of wonder, myself. 'A capital specimen of Swiss delight, alarm, and pleased surprise, independence. Even where we that was stamped on every passenwere, there was much to admire, and ger's countenance. I could not help expressing my

• There is no end of it at present, admiration.

he said. “You will have ever so Oh! this is nothing,' said the much more. I hope you are not volunteer showman. Wait till you tired yet of going in and out of tuncome to the Val de Travers. Look nels. But you should have seen the at that narrow opening between the railway while it was making. At hills.'

first there was not foothold on the We, the occupants of that railway face of the cliff. The engineers were carriage, grouped ourselves round obliged to be held by ropes tied the right-hand window, as we were round their waists; they were hauled bid, in a social little semicircle, as if up and down by means of a windwe had been in the private box of a lass. But I must go; for here's a theatre. As we advanced, the station.' mountain portal opened wide, and And such a station! It's just an

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