Rollo in Geneva by Jacob Abbott
Rollo in Geneva by Jacob Abbott 1803-1879
I.- -THE FAME OF GENEVA,
III.- -THE RIDE TO GENEVA,
IV.- -THE TOWN,
V.- -THE HOTEL,
VI.- -A RIDE IN THE ENVIRONS,
VII.- -THE JUNCTION OF THE ARVE,
VIII.- -SEEING MONT BLANC GO OUT,
IX.- -A LAW QUESTION,
X.- -AN EXCURSION ON THE LAKE,
XII.- -THE CASTLE OF CHILLON,
XIII.- -PLAN FORMED,
XIV.- -WALK TO AIGLE,
XV.- -THE JEWELRY,
XVI.- -A FORTUNATE ACCIDENT,
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
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
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