The Mountains and Lakes of Switzerland, with Descriptive Sketches of other
Parts of the Continent. By Mrs. v Author of" Letters from Normandy," "The Borders of the Tamar and Tory." " Trelawny," 8ce. In 3 vols. FICTION. Longman and Co. - Greville ; or a Season in Paris. By Mrs. Gore, Authoress of "Mrs. Armytage„" "The Peeress," ate. lu 3 Cotlbsta. The New Tale of a Tub' an Adventure to Verse. By F. W. N. Bayley. With Il- lustrations. designed II' Lieutenant .1. S. Cotton; lithograihed by Aubry. SOCIAL ECONOMY, Cant:yid and Puede. Slavery and the Internal Slave-trade in the United States of North America; being Replies to Qnestioos transmitted by the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society Ward and Co.
The Domestic Management of the Sick-Room, necessary in Aid of Medical Treat- ment for the Cure of Diseases. By Anthony Todd Thomson. M.D., F.L.S.,
Sze. 8:c Longman and Co.
MRS. BRAY'S MOUNTAINS AND EASES OF SWITZERLAND.
IN the summer of 1839, Mrs. BRAY, her husband, and nephew, made a Continental tour. Sailing from the Thames for Ostend, they had so rough a passage that the reverend gentleman who had, never been out of England before, was prostrated; but Mrs. BRAY bore the dire tossing like an old traveller. From Ostend they travelled by railroad to Brussels, and by diligence to Strasburg : at that city the party hired a voiturier, who carried theta through Switzerland to Geneva, and back again to Kehl; whence they descended the Rhine, and made an excursion into Holland ere they returned to London; their most adventurous exploit through- out the journey having been a partial ascent of Mont Blanc. Mrs. BRAY wrote notes of- the tour ; Mr. BRAY kept a jour- nal. On their return, Mrs. BRAY worked-up her memorandums into the shape of letters, and despatched them to her brother as soon as they were enabled " by the reduction of postage to travel at the very moderate charge of one penny each." To these letters are appended extracts from Mr. Br's journal, under the title of "First Impressions of a Sexagenarian in a Tour on the Continent, 1839 " : and these are the most solid parts of the work; for Mrs. BRAY writes, as she says to her brother, for ")Jour especial infor- mation and amusement : I shall strictly consider what would be likely the most to interest and amuse you. * * * Thus I now and then shall give you a short extract from works so well known perhaps as MURRAY'S Hand-Books. * * * I shall also be more personal when writing to you ; for though to the public it would be of little interest to know many a minor occurrence con- nected with oufselves, yet it would be otherwise with you." This principle of composition is a good one in private corre- spondence; but the public care nothing for extracts from the very excellent iland-Books of Mr. MURRAY, and not much for personal details connected with any one, unless they take a wider range than their individual peculiarities of taste, or personal discom- forts at inns. These minutiae, however, are not the main faults of Mrs. BRAY'S Mountains and Lakes of Switzerland, but the spirit of jogtrot family prosing which pervades her volumes. They are not without matter and reality ; they exhibit knowledge, habits of reflection, and an acquaintance with the history and the arts of the countries visited. Mrs. BRAY has also a critical percep- tion of the beauties of nature and of the manners of a people, tinged with a strong liking for all things English, and a strong aversion for mustachios, full whiskers, smoking, and the mum- meries of Popery. These qualities give a certain interest and value to her work ; but it is on the whole wiredrawn—in the slang of the day, her narrative is a "slow coach." She often takes for her theme subjects of small importance, and discusses those sub- jects at too great length.
It may be supposed that the well-trodden ground over which the party travelled has given an air of dulness to her book : and so perhaps it may have done, for neither Belgium, Switzerland, the Rhine, nor Holland, can yield much generic novelty to any one. There is, however, little direct repetition of the views of preceding travellers. Mr. and Mrs. BRAY have independent if not original minds, and each selects and treats subjects without reference to com- mon opinion. Nor, perhaps, is it often that persons travel this route so well qualified to pass an unbiassed judgment on what they saw, or so little swayed by vulgar notions of sight-seeing. For example, the far-famed Cathedral of Strasburg is subjected to a severe and searching criticism • and the conclusion arrived at by the connois- seurs is, that the tvio/e building is so badly designed that the won- drous spire seems low, and the workmanship of the parts, in de- spite of the beauty of their mechanical execution, is too hard in outline and sharp in effect—a vast display of excellent workmanship wasted for want of a directing mind: a criticism which, however opposed to the general judgment, has distinctness and probability to recommend it. This analysis of the Rhine is also distinguished. by similar qualities.
CRITICISM ON THE RIME.
First, then, although the banks are in many places of vast height, yet are they generally too sloping to produce a striking effect. There are very few precipitous rocks, and none of those are of the fine forms and colour of our Morwel rocks in Devon, which are not half so high. Indeed, one great defect in the rock scenery of the Rhine is its want of good colour. There is in it little of variety, and still less of richness—no woods on the sides of the emi- nences above the mighty river, but a never-ending succession of low, stunted, unpicturesque vineyards ; and these rendered more disagreeable to the eye by an additional formality—that of walls to divide or bank them up. The earth, we are informed, haring in very many places been brought to the spot to make a bed of soil for the vineyards, needs such support, or it would fall down the slopes of the eminences. Then the castles so much talked of—with a few exceptions, they are ges morally nothing more than plain walls and as plain towers. Many have not even a battlement upon them; yet I am perfectly willing to admit that some few of these buildings have great beauty, and that, standing aloft on heights and crowning promontories' they give an importance to the rocks as they are seen from the river beneath, which they would not possess without them. The Gothic walled towns and villages that stand low on the banks of the Rhine are, generally speaking, of much greater interest and beauty than most of the old castles. One solitary battlemented tower, standing near a most picturesque town of this description, (which tower, I think, has been drawn by Stanfield, and published in one of the Annuals), we thought most beautiful in itself and in its position. Another castle, peering aloft on a portion of projecting rock, was (though a miniature resemblance) somewhat like Falkenstein : this we also greatly admired, But the finest of the whole, and by far the most striking scene on the Rhine, is where the lofty heights ind the castle of the Dmehenfels 'come into view. This does, indeed, deserve its fame. Lord Byron's feeling for every majestic object in nature made him at once select this as a subject for his poetic praise.
Here is another picture, in which the critical judgment originates the description.
Has not even the slightest approach to the picturesque in any of its objects. Canals, often like ditches in character and smell, run in straight lines for miles and miles together on every side. Sometimes they are completely covered with duck-weed. Long rows of mop-stick trees frequently adorn both them and the road-side. Every now and then you see a Dutch villa or a country-house situated near the road as you pass along ; and in these I invariably observed that the summer-house which decorates their gardens is placed Close to the side of the duck-weeded ditches, frequently overhanging them ; so that the company who are seated in these retreats may have the best possible opportu- nity of enjoying the smell which arises from the green and stagnated waters beneath. However, as the Dutch are the greatest smokers on the face of the earth, (though my husband thinks the Germans equal them,) the fumes of tobacco may in some measure overcome those of the nuisance whose precincts they seem to delight in with a taste so unique. In their gardens may often be seen Chinese bridges crossing some minor or connecting canal. Cupids made of lead, fat, winged, and punchy, are likewise now and then observed standing on one foot and lifting up the other, as if these attempts at a flying motion had suddenly been converted into a fossil state, for nothing can appear of a more fixed or immovable nature than such heathen
fods of Dutch fashioning. Flower-beds in stiff rows, and flower-pots no less ormally arranged, are also conspicuous adornments in the garden of Mynheer. All is, of course, very neat, for I am convinced the flowers themselves would be scrubbed and dusted would they admit such rough handling. * * *
As you drive on you see the speckled cows of Paul Potter and Berghem
grazing on every side in low marshy fields, one field being divided from another, not by hedge-rows as in England, but by ditches and canals. Cows and pas- turage are most abundant ; yet I never even once tasted butter in Holland that I could eat, accustomed as I had been to the excellent butter of Devon- shire. Considering the quantity of fine grass there is in this country, I never could comprehend how this could be, till it was by chance explained to me soon after our return to England. My husband held a court, as lord of theinanor of Cudlipp town, near Tavistock, and I went with him to keep the feast : many farmers were present ; from one, a most intelligent old man' who had a great knowledge of cattle, I learned, that experience bad proved to him beyond all question, that the excellence of the cream from which butter is made, and on which the flavour of butter entirely depends, arises solely from the purity of the water drunk by the cows : no wonder, therefore that the Dutch cows, that suck in nothing better than the impurities of ditch-water in marshy grounds and duck-weeded canals, produce a cream that becomes rancid and disagreeable when formed into butter. And I may here also remark, that the water used generally for drinking in Holland is so extremely unwholesome, that it frequently makes strangers very ill : this is more especially the case in B.otterdam.
The system of travelling tutors is sometimes amusing. I met with an in- stance of their care at Lucerne, or rather that of leaving the pupils to take care of themselves, that was not a little diverting.
On the night of our arrival, not very long before we retired to rest, prepara- tions were made in the salon for a most magnificent supper for several persons. Judge of my surprise, when the party for whom this was prepared were a set of very young boys from Eton or Westminster, whose tutor having let them take a flight from his presence, was to join them again at Lucerne. One of these youths was so truly beautiful, that his head might have served as a model to a sculptor for the young Apollo : he had, in addition to the finest features, a pair of dark blue eyes and a fair and ruddy complexion. A most costly supper was served, and I was not a little amused to see the eagerness with which it was devoured, and with how much ease the lads got through several bottles of French wine—and this at night too! I could not help thinking that it would have been quite as well if the futor had been in his place, to play the part of Doctor Pedro Rizio Tertefuero, at such au hour, over the dishes. I must say that the beautiful youth, though in point of person he might have been a Gany- mede to Jupiter himself, was very moderate, and did his best to keep the younger ones in order.