Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

pilgrims visit the shrine of some departed saint. It is simple, and the exquisite beauty of the site is worthy of him to whom the monument is erected. It stands on a verdant spot, embosomed in trees, weeping willows bending over it, and bounded on each side by the clear and rapid rivers, the Limmat and Sil, whose confluence occurs here. Nothing can surpass the view from this point; the glowing foliage of the woods around, the limpid sparkling water, on which glide many a sunny sail ; luxuriant gardens, and pointed steeples, seen rising through the trees ;-these form a landscape whose beauties must be felt, but never can be described. The tomb bears an inscription from Gessner's beautiful and pathetic “ Death of Abel.” Had this poet, who so well understood and painted the attributes of nature, that deity which he worshipped, selected a spot in which his mortal remains should find a resting-place, he never could have found a more lovely one than that which is now graced by his tomb. With what interest did I view his bust! which is said to be an excellent resemblance. As I gazed on the lineaments of that venerable face, and remembered of how many tears his “ Death of Abel” had beguiled my days of childhood, as also the touching simplicity of his Idyls, which had so often transported me into the ideal regions of pastoral life, ere yet I knew aught of the actual world or its delusions, save what books afforded me, I gave to his memory the tribute which had formerly been won from me by his imagination. But there was more of self in this tear; for it was half caused by regret for the loss of that freshness of feeling, which an intercourse with the world but too often destroys, and of which we recall the remembrance, as of a buried friend, lost in early youth, whom we pitied for leaving this beautiful earth, the happiness to be found on which we had not then learnt to doubt. The Idyls of Gessner possess a charm for me that I have rarely discovered in other books. The sentiments seem to emanate less from the head than the heart, and the touching pathos of his sketches conveys the conviction that his own home furnished him with those scenes of primitive peace and affection which he so loved to paint. The family of Gessner were worthy of him ; for his wife realized the fair ideal of a poet's wife, cheering and animating his labours, and rewarding them by her smiles. She was the muse who inspired him, and his works formed her best panegyric. People do not often reflect how much the writings of even the greatest authors may be influenced by the persons with whom they live ; and, consequently, are not sufficiently grateful to the memory of those individuals to whose bland influence many productions which charm us owe their attractions. With a less amiable sharer of his hearth, Gessner might never have written his Idyls; peaceful then be the rest of her who inspired them!

Lavater, also, was a native of Zurich, and met his death by the hand of a French soldier, in the endeavour to protect one of his friends from violence. Here was he visited by his friend Zimmerman, who has commemorated the circumstance by an animated description of the lake and its environs. One can fancy these two amiable visionaries, seated on the terrace of Lavater's house, enjoying the beautiful prospect it commanded; the latter perhaps occupied in analyzing the physiognomy of his friend, in order to establish some hypothesis: and the former, notwithstanding his taste for seclusion, finding how agreeable it was to have a companion to whom he might exclaim, “ How sweet is solitude!" Though phrenology has superseded physiognomy, in this all-changeful age, it is difficult, if not impossible, to divest oneself of the impression conveyed by an agreeable or disagreeable countenance. I am not disposed to adopt the whole of Lavater's system, which, like that of most systems, is carried too far, verifying the old adage, that “ they who attempt to prove too much, prove nothing ;" but we all must feel the power of attraction that a fine face possesses, and vice versa. By a fine face, I do

, not mean mere symmetry of features and beauty of complexion, but that harmony of both, joined to an expression of candour, intelligence, and goodness, that more than supplies their absence-countenances which the Italians designate by the phrase “sympatica,” and which attract our good-will at the first glance. In most, if not all, hypothetical systems, there is much to be rejected: but unfortunately the founders claim implicit faith for all their tenets, and the sceptical, following the other extreme, reject all, because they cannot believe all. I once witnessed a meeting between a phrenologist, a believer in chiromancy, and one who pronounced that the feet were the true medium by which characters could be accurately judged. Each of these individuals was persuaded that his own system alone was infallible, and that of the other absurd and erroneous. One of the company present proposed that each of the theorists should give a proof of his scientific skill, and I saw the phrenologist submit a hand to one, and a foot to the other disputant, while he was examining and comparing the heads of both, searching, probably, for the peculiar organ whose development might serve to elucidate their prevailing propensities. Many characteristics of each were pointed out in the course of the examination, and, ludicrous as was the exhibition, it left the impression on my mind, that some judgment of the individual character might be deduced from the head, hands, and feet, though not at all to the extent claimed by the founders of these systems.

30th.-Zurich is not without considerable pretensions, as is evinced by its styling itself the Athens of Switzerland. It boasts of having given birth, even so early as the fourteenth century, to one hundred and forty poets, of whom Roger Maness, in that century, wrote an account, which is now as obsolete as the poets it was meant to transmit to posterity. How few of the works, professedly bequeathed to it, does posterity accept! Nevertheless, every writer aspires to conciliate it, seemingly unconscious that excellence alone can insure its favour.

The cathedral of Zurich, said to have been built in 697, has nothing remarkable to boast of, and had lately been subjected to the barbarous operation of a thorough white-washing, on the exterior and interior, which gave it a most unseemly appearance. The Carolinian library, founded in the thirteenth century, has lost many of the treasures of antiquity that it is said once to have contained, but still retains the MSS. of Zuinglius, and other reformers, in sixty folio volumes, with many rare and curious black-letter books.

The town library, founded in 1628, had more attraction for us, as it boasts the possession of three letters of Lady Jane Grey to Henricus Bulingerus ; one written in Latin, in a very fine Italian hand; the others in German, and all signed with her name, The accounts handed down to us of the beauty, grace, talents, and extraordinary acquirements of this lovely and unfortunate being, never made so deep an impression on me as while looking at her beautiful penmanship. I seemed to see her, as her preceptor, Roger Ascham, found and described her (when he paid her an unexpected visit), reading Plato, while the rest of the family were occupied with the chase in the park. Her gentle voice seemed to sound in my ear, uttering these words in answer to his inquiry, of why she also was not engaged in the sports :

“ The sports they are enjoying are but as a shadow, compared to the pleasure which I derive from the sublime author I am perusing."

The rare union of such remarkable personal beauty, piety, modesty, and profound erudition, at a period when learning was as a sealed well to her sex, would always have rendered Lady Jane Grey the most interesting female character of her day; but her tragical death, and the fortitude with which she met it, stamp her as a heroine in the best and most exalted sense of the word. It was remarked by one of our party, that had Lady Jane Grey been less beauti

« ZurückWeiter »