« ZurückWeiter »
very cheap, notwithstanding the great distance between the vineyards and the towns that sell the wine. But the navigable rivers of Switzerland are as commodious to them in this respect, as the sea is to the English. As soon as the vintage is over, they ship off their wine upon the lake, which furnishes all the towns that lie upon its borders.
What they design for other parts of the country they unload at Vevy, and after about half a day's land-carriage convey it into the river Aar, which brings it down the stream to Berne, Soleurre, and, in a word, distributes it through all the richest parts of Switzerland; as it is easy to guess from the first sight of the map, which shows us the natural communication Providence has formed between the many rivers and lakes of a country that is at so great a distance from the sea. The canton of Berne is reckoned as powerful as all the rest together. They can send a hundred thousand men into the field ; though the soldiers of the Catholic cantons, who are much poorer, and, therefore, forced to enter oftener into foreign armies, are more esteemed than the Protestants.
We lay one night at Meldingen, which is a little Roman catholic town with one church, and no convent. It is a republic of itself, under the protection of the eight ancient cantons. There are in it a hundred bourgeois, and about a thousand souls. Their government is modelled after the same manner with that of the cantons, as much as so small a community can imitate those of so large an extent. For this reason, though they have very little business to do, they have all the variety of councils and officers that are to be met with in the greater states. They have a town-house to meet in, adorned with the arms of the eight cantons their protectors. They have three councils, the great council of fourteen, the little council of ten, and the privy council of three. The chief of the state are the two avoyers: when I was there, the reigning avoyer, or the doge of the commonwealth, was son to the inn-keeper where I was lodged; his father having enjoyed the same honours before him. His revenue amounts to about thirty pound a year. The several councils meet every Thursday upon affairs of state, such as the reparation of a trough, the mending of a pavement, or any the like matters of importance. The river that runs through their dominions puts them to the charge of a very large bridge, that is all made of wood, and coped overhead, like the rest in Switzerland. Those that travel over it pay a certain due towards the maintenance of this bridge. And as the French ambassador has often occasion to pass this way, his master gives the town a pension of twenty pound sterling, which makes them extremely industrious to raise all the men they can for his service, and keeps this powerful republic firm to the French interest. You may be sure the preserving of the bridge, with the regulation of the dues arising from it, is the grand affair that cuts out employment for the several councils of state. They have a small village belonging to them, whither they punctually send a bailiff for the distribution of justice; in imitation still of the great cantons. There are three other towns that have the same privileges and protectors.
We dined the next day at Zurich, that is prettily situated on the outlet of the lake, and is reckoned the handsomest town in Switzerland. The chief places shown to strangers are the arsenal, the library, and the town-house. This last is but lately finished, and is a very fine pile of building. The frontispiece has pillars of a beautiful black marble streaked with white, which is found in the neighbouring mountains. The chambers for the several councils, with the other apartments, are very neat. The whole building is indeed so well designed, that it would make a good figure even in Italy. It is pity they have spoiled the beauty of the walls with abundance of childish Latin sentences, that consist often in a jingle of words. I have indeed observed in several inscriptions of this country, that your men of learning here are extremely delighted in playing little tricks with words and figures; for your Swiss wits are not yet got out of anagram and acrostic. The library is a very large room, pretty well filled. Over it is another room fur:
nished with several artificial and natural curiosities. I saw in it a huge map of the country of Zurich drawn with a pencil, where they see every particular fountain and hillock in their dominions. I ran over their cabinet of medals, but do not remember to have met with any in it that are extraordinary rare. The arsenal is better than that of Berne, and they say has arms for thirty thousand men.
At about a day's journey from Zurich we entered on the territories of the abbot of St. Gaul. They are four hours riding in breadth, and twelve in length. The abbot can raise in it an army of twelve thousand men well armed and exercised. He is sovereign of the whole country, and under the protection of the cantons of Zurich, Lucerne, Glaris, and Switz. He is always chosen out of the abby of Benedictines at St. Gaul. Every father and brother of the convent has a voice in the election, which must afterwards be confirmed by the pope. The last abbot was cardinal Sfondrati, who was advanced to the purple about two years before his death. The abbot takes the advice and consent of his chapter, before he enters on any matters of importance, as the levying of a tax, or declaring of a war. His chief lay-officer is the grand maitre d'hôtel, or high steward of the household, who is named by the abbot, and has the management of all affairs under him. There are several other judges and distributers of justice appointed for the several parts of his dominions, from whom there always lies an appeal to the prince. His residence is generally at the Benedictine convent at St. Gaul, notwithstanding the town of St. Gaul is a little Protestant republic, wholly independent of the abbot, and under the protection of the cantons.
One would wonder to see so many rich Bourgeois in the town of St. Gaul, and so very few poor people in a place that has scarce any lands belonging to it, and lit. tle or no income but what arises from its trade. But the great support and riches of this little state is its linen manufacture, which employs almost all ages and conditions of its inhabitants. The whole country about them, furnishes them with vast quantities of flax, out of which they are said to make yearly forty thousand pieces of linen cloth, reckoning two hundred ells to the piece. Some of their manufacture is as finely wrought as any that can be met with in Holland; for they have excellent artisans, and great commodities for whitening. All the fields about the town were so covered with their manufacture, that coming in the dusk of the evening we mistook them for a lake. They send off their works upon mules into Italy, Spain, Germany, and all the adjacent countries. They reckon in the town of St. Gaul, and in the houses that lie scattered about it, near ten thousand souls, of which there are sixteen hundred bourgeois. They chuse their councils and burgomasters out of the body of the bourgeois, as in the other governments of Switzerland, which are every where of the same nature, the difference lying only in the numbers of such as are employed in state affairs, which are proportioned to the grandeur of the states that employ them. The abby and the town bear a great aversion to one another; but in the general diet of the cantons their representatives sit together, and act by concert. The abbot deputes his grand maitre d'hôtel, and the town one of its burgomasters.
About four years ago the town and abby would have come to an open rupture, had it not been timely prevented by the interposition of their common protectors. The occasion was this. A Benedictine monk, in one of their annual processions, carried his cross erected through the town with a train of three or four thousand peasants following him. They had no sooner entered the convent but the whole town was in a tumult, occasioned by the insolence of the priest, who, contrary to all precedents, had presumed to carry his cross in that
The bourgeois immediately put themselves in arms, and drew down four
pieces of their cannon to the gates of the convent. The procession, to escape the fury of the citizens, durst not return by the way
it came, but after the devotions of the monks were finished, passed out at a back door of the convent, that im
mediately led into the abbot's territories. The abbot on his part raises an army, blocks up the town on the side that faces his dominions, and forbids his subjects to furnish it with any of their commodities. While things were just ripe for a war, the cantons, their protectors, interposed as umpires in the quarrel, condemning the town, that had appeared too forward in the dispute, to a fine of two thousand crowns; and enacting at the same time, that, as soon as any procession entered their walls, the priest should let the cross hang about his neck without touching it with either hand, till he came within the precincts of the abby. The citizens could bring into the field near two thousand men well exercised, and armed to the best advantage, with which they fancy they could make head against twelve or fifteen thousand peasants, for so many the abbot could easily raise in his territories. But the Protestants, subjects of the abby, who, they say, make up a good third of its people, would probably, in case of a war, abandon the cause of their prince for that of their religion. The town of St. Gaul has an arsenal, library, town-houses, and churches, proportionable to the bigness of the state. It is well enough fortified to resist any sudden attack, and to give the cantons time to come to their assistance. The abby is by no means so magnificent as one would expect from its endowments. The church is one huge nef with a double aisle to it. At each end is a large choir. The one of them is supported by vast pillars of stone, cased over with a composition that looks the most like marble of any thing one can imagine. On the ceiling and walls of the church are lists of saints, martyrs, popes, cardinals, archbishops, kings, and queens, that have been of the Benedictine order. There are several pictures of such as have been distinguished by their birth, sanctity, or miracles, with inscriptions that let you into the name and history of the persons represented. I have often wished that some traveller would take the pains to gather all the modern inscriptions which are to be met with in Roman Catholic countries, as Gruter and others have copied out the an