Page images

Not far from Vevey rises the romantic castle of Blonay, in which for eight hundred years dwelt one of the most powerful and distinguished of the old Vaudois families, the lords of twenty villages, as well as of manors and castles on the other side of the lake. Many of them are honourably mentioned in old chronicles. Their motto was, "Pure as gold, prompt as lightning." One De Blonay led soldiers from Vevey to the Crusades. Another in the war with Berne, when Chillon was taken, jumped into the lake on horseback, and in full armour, and got safely across to Savoy. An old rhyming legend tells how Catherine de Blonay, the wife of Baron Simon, sat in a meadow in the shade of her battlements, when she was surprised at the approach of the young Chevalier de Corsant, who knelt and begged her pardon. He was executing his penance for having been worsted at a "Court of Love" as the champion of Celibacy, by Catherine's husband as the champion of Married Life. The young defeated champion was well received and entertained in De Blonay Castle, and introduced by Catherine to her cousin, Yolande, who, having no fortune, was about to take the veil. But the chevalier fell in love with her, and persuaded her to give up her idea of entering a convent; and Baron Simon, on arriving home, assisted at the wedding of the wedding of his twice-conquered antagonist.

Nearer to the lake stands a picturesque old stronghold, the Tour de Peilz, built by a Duke of Savoy in the thirteenth century, but with round towers of a far earlier date. "Clarens, sweet Clarens, birthplace of deep love," still shows a "Bosquet de Julie," as the favourite resort of "La Nouvelle Héloïse." The town is much frequented by invalids and lovers of the exquisite scenery, the sylvan walks, the romantic associations, and the

[merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

graceful about its towers and turrets. It has memorable associations, however, and Lord Byron, by the power of his genius, has given it a world-wide fame. Its massive solidity and its isolated position on a rock, connected with the shore by a wooden bridge,

render it somewhat impressive. Above the entrance is the inscription-" God bless all who come in and go out." Its old feudal hall and bed-rooms that have accommodated princes, are now fit for little else than storehouses for lumber, or dwelling-places for rats. Visitors are

shown the rockhewn dungeons underneath the castle, the beam to which criminals were hung, besides the torture-chamber, the oubliette, and other horrors.

A thousand

years ago, upon the rock where Chillon Castle now stands there was only a single massive tower,

[graphic][merged small]

which was used as a lighthouse and a prison. On the ruins of this old tower, Peter, Duke of Savoy, raised the present castle in 1238. It was for a time a ducal palace, and then became the residence of the castellans sent to govern this district. Many are the shameful deeds of atrocious cruelty that have been perpetrated within these walls. One notable instance occurred in 1348, when pestilence was raging, and the rumour went abroad that the Jews were poisoning the wells. Several hundred suspected Hebrews were seized, immured for a time in the dungeons of Chillon, and then burnt alive, or, according to other accounts, drowned wholesale in the adjacent lake, which is six hundred feet deep close to the castle walls.


The first Castle of Chillon had a prisoner placed in it in 830 by Louis le Debonnaire. This was an abbot of Corvey who had instigated the king's sons rebellion. Many illustrious captives have pined for freedom in the present structure. The most noted of these was Francis Bonnivard, the prior of St. Victor's, near Geneva, who incurred the hatred of the Duke of Savoy by his steadfast patriotism and his frequent attempts to ally Geneva with the other Swiss cantons. Bonnivard had been imprisoned by the tyrannical duke for two years in the Castle of Grolée, but still persisted in aiding the Genevan Republic, and opposing feudalism. In 1530 the duke again seized the prior, and shut him up for six years in the dungeons of Chillon. At the time of his capture, Bonnivard was visiting his dying mother, with a safe-conduct, or passport, which the duke refused to respect. The pillar to which it is alleged that Bonnivard was chained, and a ring of the chain itself, are still in existence in the damp prison vault, and all around the column is the path worn on the stone pavement by the prisoner, as commemorated by Byron. The

The little

allied forces of Berne and Geneva came to his rescue on March 29th, 1536. Genevan navy attacked the castle from the lake, whilst at the same time the Bernese troops bombarded it from the hill. In four-and-twenty hours it surrendered, and Bonnivard was set at liberty. He went back to Geneva, being then forty years of age, and, in spite of the cruel hardships he had undergone, lived on to be seventy-five. When Byron wrote "The Prisoner of Chillon" at the hotel at Ouchy, he had not heard of Bonnivard, but simply wrote an imaginary poem suggested by a previous visit to the dungeon. Subsequently he prefaced the poem with the stanzas referring to Bonnivard, which are not, however, to be taken as connected with the subsequent poem. The castle became the property of the Canton of Vaud in 1803, and some years afterwards it was turned into an arsenal and prison, for which purposes it is used by the Vaudois Government at the present time. Thousands of names of pilgrims to the dungeons of Chillon are inscribed on the columns. The signature of Byron is said to be a forgery, but there are authentic autographs of Eugène Sue, Georges Sand, Victor Hugo, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and others.

A railway runs round the northern shore of Lake Leman, with stations at the various places we have mentioned. At Villeneuve the railway leaves the lake, and enters the Rhône Valley. On the southern shore are several places of interest. Bouveret is near the mouth of the Rhône, which here winds through a marsh to the lake with an impetuous current, visible a mile from the shore. St. Gingolph, on both sides of a ravine, is half in Valais, half in Chablais; and for a long period the people on the eastern cliff were in Switzerland when at home and in Savoy when they went to church. The cliffs of La Meillerie it has long been customary to compare to the Leucadian rock. The greatest depth of Lake Leman, 950 feet, is in close proximity to these rocks. Evian-a picturesque little town-is now a fashionable watering-place, with mineral springs and various attractions. Near at hand is the old castle of La Ripaille, to which the famous and eccentric Victor Amadeus VIII. of Savoy, who was successively duke, Pope, and friar, withdrew for several years with six companions, and founded the order of the Knights-Errant of St. Maurice. Some say these knights caroused merrily, and gave rise to the French expression, "faire ripaille”—to make merry; others say they led a very exemplary and abstemious life. Thonon, the capital of Chablais, was once the residence of the Counts and Dukes of Savoy. Its handsome buildings present from the lake a very effective appearance.

We have now circled the shores of the celebrated lake which the Romans called the "Lake of the Desert," but which in later times has seen upon its banks, as a modern writer remarks, "the most powerful minds of each succeeding generation. Calvin, Knox, Voltaire, Gibbon, Rousseau, Madame de Staël, Byron, John Kemble, have, with all their essential diversities and degrees of intellectual powers, been united here in one common feeling of the magnificence of the scenery round it. This land of Alp and lake is indeed a mountain temple reared for the human mind on the dull, unvaried plains of Europe."


CHRISTIANIA: Oslö-Industries-Houses-The Palace-Storthing-University-Churches-Public Buildings-Castle of Agershuus-Cistercian Monastery-Oscarshall-Egeberg. THRONDHJEM: Beauty of its Situation-The Founding of the CityCathedral-Palace-Museum-Munkholm-Lerfossen. BERGEN: The Harbour-Murders and Massacres-Trade-Fires -Streets and Houses-Markets -Fisher Folk-Tydskebruggen-Peasant Costumes-Churches-Scenery around Bergen. STOCKHOLM: General View- King Agne-Wars and Tumults-The Norrbro-Royal Palace-Esplanade-LibraryMuseum-Churches-Assembly Hall-Riddarhuus-Town Hall-The Blood Bath-Royal Theatre-Parks and Gardens ---Palace of Drottningholm-Lake Mälar-Gripsholm-Upsala. COPENHAGEN: Origin and Growth-Historical EventsEnglish Conquest-Plague and Cholera-Citadel-Forts- King's New Market-Christiansborg Palace-Picture Gallery -Rosenborg Castle-Palace of Amalienborg-Other Palaces-Museum of Northern Antiquities-Ethnographic Museum-Thorwaldsen Museum-Churches-Arsenal-Library-Charitable Institutions-Exchange-Theatre-Environs.



HE capital of Gamle Norge-as the Norwegians love to call their picturesque land of mountain and lake and forest-is Christiania, approached from the sea by a broad fjord, studded with islands and surrounded by charming hill scenery. In a fertile and picturesque valley eighty-four miles from the sea stands the city, with the little Agerselv, one of the hardest-worked rivers in Europe, intersecting it, and supplying motive-power to innumerable mills and factories. The fir-clad heights around look down upon corn-fields and orchards and gardens, amongst which rise the handsome country houses of well-to-do citizens, all combining with the fjord and its wood-crowned islands, and its ships riding at anchor, to make up a delightful prospect.

The suburb of Oslö, on the east bank of the Agerselv, represents the ancient city that was built here by Harold Haardrada in 1058. This was the king who died with an English arrow in his throat, at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, on September 20th, 1066. The city grew populous and wealthy, and had convents and churches and a grand Cathedral, in which our James I. married Anne of Denmark in 1589. But Oslö, after passing through various experiences, almost totally disappeared in a great conflagration in 1624, and the inhabitants transferred themselves to the new city of Christiania, which Christian IV. had just founded on the other side of the river, under protection of the guns of Agershuus; for Oslö had at times suffered much from Swedish incursions. The new city flourished, and was long closely connected with England by commerce and other ties. Its citizens made much money by supplying timber for the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire. Christiania, however, was a comparatively small city at the beginning of the present century; its population in 1812 was 10,000; but at the union of Norway with Sweden, it was made the capital of Norway, and is now the first port in the country, with a population, including the suburbs, of 94,000. As a place of commerce it has outstripped Bergen, and its railway communications with the interior have made it the chief emporium of the produce of the country. Its numerous industrial establishments include weaving and cotton-spinning factories, saw-mills, paper-mills, oil and soap works,

distilleries, breweries, and tobacco manufactories. It maintains direct steam communication. with several German, Danish, Dutch, and English ports, as well as with all the ports of Norway, although its harbour is frozen over for about four months in the year.

Since the great fire of 1858, which swept away a large proportion of the ancient picturesque log-houses, Christiania has, for the most part, been laid out in rectangular streets, lined with houses of brick or stone-spaces being reserved for markets, squares, and gardens. The Karl Johans-gade is the finest street in the town, with pretty publicgardens, good shops, and some of the best buildings; the vista looking up it is closed by the Palace. Norwegian shops are not very showy, and a blunt independence characterises their proprietors. It is usual for a customer to remove his hat on entering a shop, and remain uncovered. Many of the dwelling-houses are in flats; a gateway leads to a large courtyard, around which are the apartments in tiers. By Act of Parliament no wooden house may now be erected in Christiania, the crowd of wooden buildings in this, as in all other Norwegian cities, having aforetime led to many frightful conflagrations.

On a gentle hill, formed by extensive blasting from a sharp mountain ridge, at the end of the Karl Johans-gade, stands the Palace. The view of the city and the adjacent land and sea from the front of the Palace has been pronounced by some enthusiastic travellers to be one of the finest in Europe. The edifice itself, founded under King Karl Johan (Bernadotte), is a plain, classical building, with some pretty ornamental gardens.

The House of Parliament, or Storthings Huset, is an imposing structure of Byzantine and Romanesque architecture. The Hall of Debate, tastefully decorated in gold and imitation oak, contains the seats of the representatives, arranged in semicircular tiers, and a gallery for three hundred of the public. Here meet the Lower House, who at the beginning of each three years' session elect one-fourth of their number to form an Upper House. A bill having passed both Houses requires the consent of the King before it becomes law. But if passed by the Storthing three years in succession, an Act of Parliament becomes the law of the land, in spite of the royal veto.

The pleasantly situated University near the Palace educates about a thousand students. A spacious court, open to the Karl Johans-gade, is surrounded on three sides by the main edifice and two wings, all of brick and stucco, with a little stone-work. Besides the lecture halls, for the forty professors, there is a library of 150,000 volumes; also several museums and collections, of which the Collection of Northern Antiquities is the most remarkable. Nowhere are the arms and implements of the Viking era (A.D. 700 to 1,000) better represented. Here, too, are splendidly carved porticoes of twelfth and thirteenth century churches; bridal crowns and ornaments; and knives and girdles used when men were buckled face to face to fight to the death in the celebrated "duel of the girdle." These, and many other intensely interesting illustrations of Norwegian life in the past, are constantly descanted on by the affable professors, some of whom usually attend when the collections are open. There is no Norwegian school of art; the painters of Norway have assimilated themselves to foreign schools in which they have studied. Some of their works appear in the Tegneskolle,

or National Gallery.

The churches of Christiania are not numerous. The Cathedral of St. Saviour-Vor

« PreviousContinue »