4 NOVEMBER 1882, Page 12


YET, you fair, fickle, excitable, provoking, delightful France, how absolutely you stand in the place of scapegrace to Europe, and how entirely every well-constituted being loves you accordingly ! The true scapegrace, of course, has always a touch of genius about him ; for your dull-witted bad character is redeemed by nothing of that kind, and is like to develope into a criminal of an ordinary sorb. It seems incredible now-a-days to any Englishman of common cultivation to think that it is but a few years since France was his bugbear, and " Mounseer " his detestation. Paris has become a second home to many of us, now ; and nothing is more marked. than the spirit of fraternity, which draws a Frenchman and an Englishman together in the course of Continental travel. One feels even a sort of co-partner- ship in France's work ; her literature seems to belong to us, her wit to refine us, her curious and cat-like grace to exercise a fascination over sympathetic minds, which produces a feeling akin to a loving gratitude. When I turn to the "Foreign Intelligence" in my journal in the morning, it is first to see what they are saying and doing in France. If I want to find political or social thought made at once attractive and enlarging, I like to turn to some essay in the Revue des Deux. Mendes, and wonder why, in this age of Humbug, it seems to be an accepted axiom in England that the first essential of Thought is to be dull ; and that to be intelli- gible is to be suspected, and frivolous. It is Germanisation that has done it, I believe. If I want to find the true charm of style thrown over fiction, I indulge in seine French novel which may be as free from offence as Miss Edgeworth or Miss Austen, —or even where offence sometimes justifies Burke's words, and loses half its evil in losing all its grossness. I resent the appari- tion of Zola as a personal injury, for the atmosphere of pothouse- and-shambles which be has for the first time thrown over French literature, and. I look for the day when the passing atmo- spheric disturbance shall be over, and that charming and gracious figure shall emerge in all her loveableness. I go to France for my music, since Italy's sceptre, for some occult reason, seems for the present abdicated. The melodious flow of tune which belongs to Lecoq and. Pla,nquette —trim inheritance of Auber, and one may fairly say, Balfe—soothes me in tired moments like a spell; and if I want something of higher entertainment, I would not sell one bar of Gounod, or ev en of Bizet, for a whole "cycle" of Cathay,—I mean Wagner, who is and will remain Chinese to the average and humble Christian, however much a Council of Taste, desirous of being thought clever, may pretend to admire him, and force him at the point of the trombone down the ear- passages of a gullible Public. England is music-mad just now, under Royal patronage, and in her John-Bull-in-a-china-shop sort of way, and it is curious to speculate on the outcome. As that delightful Matthew Arnold says, with that suppressed laugh of his, she needs lucidity. Oh! Matthew, Matthew ! sole licensed trustee amongst us of that same esprit ganlois, sole utterer of serious and suggestive thoughts, to whom it is per- mitted to be entertaining, without being frowned down as superficial by the superincumbent mass of intellectual prighood under which we groan, how I do thank thee for that amusing word ! If we ever think it consistent with our dignity to believe in God again, as an outside chance, once again we may become cheerful. Under the influence of the great Woss movement, set going by that masterful and cranky old Carlyle, do we propose to incorporate Wagner as the corner-stone of our coming College P At present, I am tremulously grateful that we show no signs of producing one for ourselves. Whether we are lucid or not, we are astonishingly, though unintentionally, funny. Unlike other people, who more or less distribute their forces, we have always our universal-emergency-man for every- thing. What Garnet Wolseley is in military and settling-down matters (and more power to his elbow, for faith, the elbow shakes it royally), and Lord Dafferin in. diplomacy, that is Doctor Arthur Sullivan in matters musical. Gounod writes oratorios and serious operas, but he is not consulted. upon questions of opera-bouffe. Whether we want an oratorio, or a burlesque Opera, or an evening hymn, we go to Arthur Sullivan. It is

p lensant for Sullivan, but it lacks variety. • At this point of my argument, quoth Mrs. Balbue, leaning over my shoulder, "Considering, Tom, that France is about the

only country we didn't see, this time, except for the bit between Calais and Belgium, and a day in Paris on our way home, I never read anything more stupid than all this ; I thought you were going to tell us something about Switzerland." Then it was that for the first time I felt appalled by the nature of the task I had undertaken, with the light heart of an 011ivier, in agreeing to tell anybody anything about Switzerland, Could the needy Knife-grinder himself have been more absolutely at a loss P No wonder I have been dreaming of the Cider- lauds, and the bits of character and scraps of event which, as possibly some of my readers may remember, a man— student, as in my bumble way I am, may meet with in wander- ings off the more absolutely beaten track. My stout Norman farmer, my cheery little Caen noise landlady, my unforgotten petit Paul, the baby-Republican, above all, my incomparable twins, recur to me as with a sense of yearning. There is no character in Switzerland, and no event. To such a dead-level of common-place equality is the great god Transit gradually reducing everything and everybody, that not only wars, but nations, begin to look as if they might be finally effaced. It was with much of the old sense of hope and elasticity, and an idea as of favours to come, that I started with my companion, to whom, as it happened, anything further was a terra incognita, upon the more northern of the well-known Swiss-ward roads which diverge from the good town of Basle. The morning had been fine; the Three Kings—monarchs who, I grieve to find —perhaps I was an exception—have grown with advancing years exceeding careless, exceeding inhospitable, and uncon- stitutional in a general way—had charged us enough to pay for the coronation of Six of them ; the nice little Swiss- dressed maiden at the station eating-place, with her honest face, and civil, active ways, had given us a pleasant sense of release from Woss ; and we looked forward, through three or four hours of idle journey, to the cosy harbour on the Schaffhausen Falls, and afterwards to a vista of snow-peaked mountains, and of much healthy walking over pass and. fell; of ice- carved cameos set sharp against the sapphire blue, and of high- level valleys looking as if they had, been crushed out flat by the silent tread of the big mountains shutting them in ; health resorts for over-eaten and much be-dmnered season-sufferers, fruitful in springs of more or less unpalatable water, and—as, to my delight, I once saw one of them described. in a German. doctor's polyglot list of recommendatious, entarement inaccessible awe courants d'air —entirely inaccessible to the influences of air. That was the stuffy, little sweltering-pot of Engelberg ; and well do I remember how, one hot summer, I found it so, now too many years ago. Fresh air would have been ashamed to look at it.

Now it would seem that hot summers are things of the past, and that a cycle of bad seasons is as fashionable as a cycle of Wagner, and almost as long. The astonishing penetration of the Professor was certainly not at fault, if he was on the watch •

that day when we happened to leave Basle. It had been pour- ing at Waterloo and pelting at Cologne, where we lionised under our umbrellas—did it ever rain, by the way, before those challenges to wet were invented P—the place where the Guards lay down ; and the cathedral, which never had much in it, except that one leg used to be longer than the other. It poured all along the Rhine, and cleared at Heidel- berg, only to pelt again as we skirted. the Black Forest, and endured our last indigestion of cold. sausage, hard as the dura Germanorunt ilia which love to assimilate it. And now, after pausing for breath, the new Deluge began again, began in the steady and. unchanging eastward march of Heaven's own Black Watch of clouds, time after time coming remorselessly to the front about mid-clay out of their ambush in the west, and never pausing on their way, except to give us a fitful glimpse of some distant mountain, struggling to hold its own. Just after we passed eddying Laufenburg, down it came. We had but just the time to admire, under the threatening sky, that curious gem of Rhineland scenery where Turner painted and Lord Montague was tempted. to his wanton fate, surely by that very nymph of the Rhine who formerly carolled her death-song from the Loreley Rock, and. shifted. her quarters higher up, when the wits began to write disagreeable songs about her, and the other Mermaids refused to call. I have always coupled Lord Montague in my mind with that other foolish young man who insisted on jumping over the Strid, or trying to do so, where the Wharfe comes bickering down towards Bolton Abbey, and was pulled under water by his greyhound in the leash, as told by the poet Wordsworth. I never can remember that other

young man's name, but I suppose, if he had been alive now, he and Lord Montague would have been climbing stray Alps +without a guide.

And so rain,—rain,—rain! allowing us occasional snatches of mountain loveliness, but no more. The tourists of the year, I confess, disappointed me. They looked very damp, and very limp, and very cross ; but there was nothing in the way of character to be got out of them. And, oddly enough, I suppose by a kind of instinctive sympathy with the gloomier sides and seasons of life, the German tourists seemed this year to have swamped everybody else, almost as much as the rain. Even the irrepressible American was conspicuous by his absence, and the Briton was nowhere. The iandlords were quite pathetic on the subject, with many veiled shoulder-shrugs, and forlorn confidences apart. " Deutscher 1" with a sort of despairing wink, as some very large man with very little luggage made his way through the hall, without paying any attention to the expecting army of waiters. And there was an evident sense of astonishment about at the absence ,of the English, arising from the assumption that the weather was so much in their own way, that they ought to have liked it.

One very peculiar fact I noted with regard to my countrymen, sa which I should be very glad to have the Professor's opinion. lE allude to the astonishing prevalence of clergymen on the loose, which was the marked characteristic of the travelling vintage of 'eighty-two. I sat over that cigar and coffee of mine, hoping against hope, in front of the palace-hotels of sweet Lucerne, and sadly contemplating, out of my old-world knowledge, the per- sistent and provoking clearness of Pilatus's bald old head, and ids refusal to wear that cap of his which is fabled, with curious truth, to be the token of fine weather :—

"Bat "'flatus semen lint?

Wird das Wetter sohiin und gut."

When the Rigi and the Burgenstock, and all the surrounding points and peaks, stand out clear in the sunlight, then it is that the stern proconsul loves to don the black cap, as if passing again the terrible sentence which changed the world's history, and gave birth to the world's hope in a promise of fair weather.

When everything else frowns, he smiles, the obstinate and per- 'verse old heathen ; and the weather-wise look at him with fear, .and believe in the old adage, as in my Lord Dundreary's famous test :—

"A sunset at night Is the shepherd's delight; A. sunset in the morning Is the shepherd's warning."

'So, watching Pilatus on one side, and the Church Emigrant on the other, I fell to speculation in the impossibility of excursions, thought of the number of flocks without a shepherd which must be now bleating for their usual pasture at home, and wondered if the unusual exodus of very long coats and very large wide.

awakes had anything to do with the wrongs of Mr. Green ; .who, on a general view, seems to be locked up because he likes it. I tried to make friends with one cleric, and, find out ; but his wife was on guard. I think, from the travellers' book, that her name was Mrs. Verjuice, and that he had taken her name for cash. They sat opposite Mrs. Balbus and myself at the table d'hôte of the Kleinehof — the bigger caravanserais were full of weather.bound wanderers, and we took the lower room with difficulty—with young Miss Verjuice and young Mr. Verjuice under the parental wing. The dinner was quite the worst that E have ever seen ; them were about two waiters to run the whole show, and it was three-quarters of an hour before the fish reached me. I was given but one bone, and I asked for more. The two waiters went to catch it. I became bitter under my wrongs, the weather and other things having fairly soured me; and, as I thought, humorous. Mrs. Balbus thought so, too, though a little frightened. I saw sympathy in the Reverend Verjuice's face, as I began to remark upon the cheer, in a way of my own ; and the younger Verjuices became apoplectic with suppressed laughter. More and more black, or rather green, grew the face of Mrs. V., and her ribbons—they were long, and curiously at odds with the colours of her dress—quivered like

leaves before a storm. A vol-au-vent quite curiously disgusting came upon its funeral-baked-meat rounds. It was too much for me, and I spoke. Mrs. Verjuice fixed me with her eye, and the vol-au-vent with her fork, and spoke clearly and deliberately, that all might hear :—" This," she said, "is the most perfect

dish I ever remember to have eaten. How admirably they do cook, abroad 1" Even the Reverend almost rebelled, and showed signs of taking counsel with me. "Mr. Verjuice," said the

lady, in an aside distinctly audible to Mrs. Balbus, "'forbid you to speak to that sort of man." I saw Verjuice in the reading-room the next morning. He looked as if he had been ill over-night, and also as if he had been talked to. When he saw me, he turned very red, stumbled to his feet with the Times and the Telegraph crumpled in picturesque confusion, and disappeared through the window. I never saw him more. If this should meet his eye, I hope he will recall the incident, and rest assured of my sympathy.