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the rest of the Italians. For the great mischiefs they have suffered from them are still fresh upon their memories, and notwithstanding this interval of peace, one may easily trace out the several marches which the French armies have made through their country, by the ruin and desolation they have left behind them. I passed through Piemont and Savoy, at a time when the duke was forced, by the necessity of his affairs, to be in alliance with the French.
I came directly from Turin to Geneva, and had a very easy journey over mount Cennis, though about the beginning of December, the snows having not yet fallen. On the top of this high mountain is a large plain, and in the midst of the plain a beautiful lake, which would be very extraordinary were there not several mountains in the neighbourhood rising over it. The inhabitants thereabouts pretend that it is unfathomable, and I question not but the waters of it fill up a deep valley, before they come to a level with the surface of the plain. It is well stocked with trouts, though they say it is covered with ice three quarters of the year.
There is nothing in the natural face of Italy that is more delightful to a traveller, than the several lakes which are dispersed up and down among the many breaks and hollows of the Alps and Appennines. For as these vast heaps of mountains are thrown together with so much irregularity and confusion, they form a great variety of hollow bottoms, that often lie in the figure of so many artificial basons; where, if any fountains chance to rise, they naturally spread themselves into lakes before they can find any issue for their waters. The ancient Romans took a great deal of pains to hew out a passage for these lakes to discharge themselves into some neighbouring river, for the bettering of the air, or the recovering of the soil that lay underneath them. The draining of the Fucinus, by the emperor Claudius, with the prodigious multitude of spectators who attended it, and the
famous Naumachia and splendid entertainment which were made upon it before the sluices were opened, is a known piece of history. In all our journey through the Alps, as well when we climbed as when we descended them, we had still a river running along with the road, that probably at first occasioned the discovery of this passage.
I shall end this chapter with a description of the Alps, as I did the last with those of the Appennines. The poet, perhaps, would not have taken notice, that there is no spring nor summer on these mountains, but because in this respect the Alps are quite different from the Appennines, which have as delightful green spots among them as any
Cuncta gelu canâque æternum grandine tecta,
GENEVA AND THE LAKE.
Near St. Julian in Savoy the Alps begin to enlarge themselves on all sides, and open into a vast circuit of ground, which in respect of the other parts of the Alps may pass for a plain champaign country. This extent of lands, with the Leman lake, would make one of the prettiest and most defensible dominions in Europe, was it all thrown into a single state, and had Geneva for its metropolis. But there are three powerful neighbours who divide among them the greatest part of this fruitful country. The duke of Savoy has the Chablais, and all the fields that lie beyond the Arve, as far as to the Ecluse. The king of France is master of the whole country of Gex; and the canton of Berne comes in for that of Vaud. Geneva and its little territories lie in the heart of these three states. The greatest part of the town stands upon a hill, and has its views bounded on all sides by several ranges of mountains, which are, however, at so great a distance, that they leave open a wonderful variety of beautiful prospects. The situation of these mountains has some particular effects on the country, which they enclose. As first, they cover it from all winds, except the south and north. "Tis to the last of these winds that the inhabitants of Geneva ascribe the healthfulness of their air; for as the Alps surround them on all sides, they form a vast kind of bason, where there would be a constant stagnation of vapours, the country being so well watered, did not the north wind put them in motion, and scatter them from time to time. Another effect the Alps have on Geneva is, that the sun here rises later and sels sooner than it does to other places of the same latitude. I have often observed that the tops of the neighbouring mountains have been covered with light above half an hour after the sun is down in respect of those who live at Geneva. These mountains likewise very much increase their summer heats, and make up an horizon that has something in it very
singular and agreeable. On one side you have the long tract of hills, that goes under the name of mount Jura, covered with vineyards and pasturage, and on the other huge precipices of naked rocks rising up in a thousand odd figures, and cleft in some places, so as to discover high mountains of snow that lie several leagues behind them. Towards the south the hills rise more insensibly, and leave the eye a vast uninterrupted prospect for many
miles. But the most beautiful view of all is the lake, and the borders of it that lie north of the town.
This lake resembles a sea in the colour of its waters, the storms that are raised on it, and the ravage it makes on its banks. It receives too a different name from the coasts it washes, and in summer has something like an ebb and flow, which arises from the melting of the snows that fall into it more copiously at noon than at other times of the day. It has five different States bordering on it, the kingdom of France, and the duchy of Savoy, the canton of Berne, the bishopric of Sion, and the republic of Geneva. I have seen papers fixed up in the canton of Berne, with this magnificent preface; “ Whereas we have been informed of several abuses committed in our ports and harbours on the lake,” &c,
I made a little voyage round the lake, and touched on the several towns that lie on its coasts; which took up near five days, though the wind was pretty fair for us all the while.
The right side of the lake from Geneva belongs to the duke of Savoy, and is extremely well cultivated. The greatest entertainment we found in coasting it were the several prospects of woods, vineyards, meadows, and corn-fields, which lie on the borders of it, and run up all the sides of the Alps, where the barrenness of the rocks, or the steepness of the ascent will suffer them. The wine, however, on this side of the lake is by no means so good as that on the other, as it has not so open a soil, and is less exposed to the sun.
We here passed by Yvoire, where the duke keeps his gallies, and lodged at Tonon, which is the greatest town on the lake belonging to the Savoyard. It has four convents, and they say about six or seven thousand inhabitants. The lake is here about twelve miles in breadth. At a little distance from Tonon stands Ripaille, where is a convent of Carthusians. They have a large forest cut out into walks, that are extremely thick and gloomy, and very suitable to the genius of the inhabitants. There are vistas in it of a great length, that terminate upon the lake. At one side of the walks you have a near prospect of the Alps, which are broken into so many steps and precipices, that they fill the mind with an agreeable kind of horror, and form one of the most irregular mis-shapen scenes in the world. The house that is now in the hands of the Carthusians belonged formerly to the hermits of St. Maurice, and is famous in history for the retreat of an anti-pope, who called himself Felix the fifth. He had been duke of Savoy, and, after a very glorious reign, took on him the habit of a hermit, and retired into this solitary spot of his dominions. His enemies will have it, that he lived here in great ease and luxury, from whence the Italians to this day make use of the proverb, Andare a Ripaglia, and the French, Faire Ripaille, to express a delightful kind of life. They say too, that he had great managements with several ecclesiastics before he turned hermit, and that he did it in the view of being advanced to the pontificate. However it was, he had not been here half a year before he was chosen pope by the council of Basil, who took upon them to depose Eugenio the fourth. This promised fair at first, but by the death of the emperor, who favored Amadeo, and the resolution of Eugenio, the greatest part of the church threw itself again under the government of their deposed head. Our anti-pope, however, was still supported by the council of Basil, and owned by Savoy, Switzerland, and a few other little states. This schism lasted in the church nine years, after which Felix voluntarily resigned his title into the hands of pope Nicholas the fifth, but on the following conditions, that Amadeo should be the first cardinal in the conclave; that the pope should always receive him standing, and offer him his mouth to