Sir Francis Ronalds' Travel Journal: Switzerland and Germany
[This final short section of the journal is in poor condition and partially illegible]
Frankfurt, Decr 1820
"Show me the man or woman who can warm his heart with fine scenery when his or her toes ache with Cold"
If you don't forget that it is Winter you will not be surprised at the rapidity of my journey through Switzerland. Show me the man or woman who can warm his heart with fine scenery when his or her toes ache with Cold. I mean to make the Course of Switzerland when I have a wife to keep me warm (alas when will that be). How delightfull to --- I won't begin on that subject --- I'll spare you this once.
I bargained with a Veterino to carry me to Domo d'Ossola and left Milan on the 23d of October. I passed out of the town near the Great Arch of Napoleon, not by it. Certainly the finest Modern thing of the kind existing if it were completed. I crossed the pretty little river called the Tessin at Macone[?] and slept at Arona on the banks of the Lago Maggiore. The next morning (24th) was fine and I got a good view of the 3 Islands Borromeo but did not visit them. They are much too old fashioned to suit my taste and would no doubt be considered so by Rousseau were he now living. The Greatest men as well as the least are more or less subjected by this tyrant [missing] but the position, the Lake, the Mountains, the [missing], the picture, the tout ensemble even at this late season [?] is ravishing. Slept at Domo where the people began to frenchify, I thought them all very affected.
In the morning (25th) started to Cross the Simplon by the Diligence (the King of Sardinia will not allow the line of Diligences to continue from Domo to Milan because he wants to make the people pass by Mt Cenis as much as he can). I was disappointed with the Simplon, I did not think it half so fine as Mt Cenis, not half so much of the terrible, the chaos. There is much more human wonderment about it than the other Certainly. It was dreadfully Cold when I arrived at the village of Simplon and the Conductor had great apprehensions that we should be stoped by the snow so that I began to feel a little conglomerated, but a good warm room & a good dinner served by a pretty girl at the Inn set all right and I started again with no very tremendous idea of the passage of Simplon at a late season or even in winter. We were not stoped by the snow. It is a singular fact that on the southern side of the Simplon the snow began to accumulate first and in the largest quantity. As to the galleries or archways cut through the rock they are trifles in appearance but as this rock is [missing] have been no trifling matter & in execution [missing] one considers that it was all done by explosion. I don't know whether hard as the rock is [missing] not as easily worked as a soft one it is [missing] certainly [?] then larger masses can be detatched by each explosion. The expenses of keeping the Road in order are said to be enormous, why don't they take a hint from us of establishing a sort of Turnpike. The number of passengers is very great and they might be made to pay at least something towards it. - Upon the whole one must consider this work as the greatest & most useful of modern times, it is ridiculous to deny the Devil his due.
Arrived at Glis or Brig in the evening & immediately proceeded by another diligence which brought me to Sion the next morning (26th) to breakfast. Met an englishman here who had broken his carriage in crossing some of the streams in coming from St Maurice. I had no time to stop at Sion, I believe there is nothing very remarkable there, the old town cut a good figure. Started at 9. I discerned[?] several people with the [blank] as we passed along - The Scenery not very interesting. The Rhone is shallow & insignificant but in Season no doubt embellishes very much the scenery of the Vallais. The Cascade called the Pissevache also is fine but wants the attendant woods & valleys to render the view fine. Arrived at St Maurice in the evening where I found several english on their way to Italy to pass the winter, I had also met several parties in the Vallais. Italy is not the Country I will ever chuse again to pass the winter in. It is even [missing] Naples just cold enough to require a fire [missing] cold enough to enjoy [missing] of the north of Italy is just constant enough [missing] you throw aside your flannel waistcoat and [missing] & changeable enough to give you a cursed rheumatism if you do so. I think with Brydone that Sicily furnishes good winter quarters for [?] who can get so far. They have not there so much wet weather and a much brighter atmosphere & they are now accustomed to English wants & habits. You don't live so well there it is true, the meat is not good - if you want good eating go to the barren Malta, but this is going out of my way.
"I will certainly before I die visit Vevey again with my Wife"
I left St Maurice on the Morning of the 27th by a Diligence and arrived at Vevey to Dinner. Now it was that I began truly to regret the Season being so much advanced and some uncomfortable thoughts unbended[?] themselves about Venice. Even now Vevey was beautiful, I will certainly before I die visit Vevey again with my Wife and remain there some weeks or so. How Rousseau has indeed pitched upon a lovely romantic corner of the earth. I called upon a celebrated Mineralogist & Antiquarian Dr [blank] there and was much amused with his Cabinet of [missing] productions of his native mountains, he has the finest collections of quartz crystals[?] that I ever saw. I had a fine ride over to Lausanne in the afternoon. There was a french lady in the Coach, I thought her excessively affected. The Italians are more natural than the french but only in as much as they are [?] [missing] manners do not proceed from better [missing] but from less tact, ton, I don't know. Spent the 28th at Lausanne but it was Cloudy. [missing] the Promenade & from the Cathedral reminded me of [missing] and terrace something of the same style with the addition of Cloud capped[?] Mountains. I could see very little of its beauty[?] & so the next day (29th) took myself off to Geneva. Weather[?] still thick people in the Coach [missing]. I in a rage with myself from loosing so much fine weather in Italy. I need not mention the towns you pass through. The late Md de Stael's formerly Mr Necker's Castle or House casts a very respectable figure at a little distance from the old Walls very unapropos by the [?]. My view could extend out the Coach window only far enough to see the difference in the care in cultivating, this is something.
"[at] the Theatre I could get no good music & a nasty little squat French [?] woman was applauded to the skies"
Whether or not the bad weather or my ill humour made Geneva look so different to what it did when I was there in 1814 I don't know but I never found myself at a place where I found so little agreement. The people all seemed churlish & reserved & it was with some pain that I could attain a sight of their litterary institution, the Theatre I could get no good music & a nasty little squat French [?] woman was applauded to the skies [?]. I waited a week at Geneva with the intention of seizing the first fine day that should occur to set off for [missing] &c but no fine day came so I started on the 8th of Novr for Berne despairingly resolved [missing] seeing[?] anything of Switzerland & so got to Berne on the 9th passing [missing] Lausanne 3 merchants got [missing] diligence here who not knowing that I was english it being dark began a Conversation [missing] the english commoner & I had the pleasure of hearing my country & countrymen damned to all eternity for not allowing the admission of french & swiss merchandize. They wanted our Ships sunk for they said that they penetrated Switzerland. I liked the approach to Berne very much & the Farm Houses. The Conductors of the Diligences (which by the by are excessively dim) are damned imprudent scoundrels, they treat one with very little [?] & expect to be well paid but I chose to Resist and gave the fellow in this instance nothing, at which he & his Countrymen were perfectly astonished. Ein Englander! nichts! nichts!
I stayed a few days at Berne for the weather was little better, just good enough to tantalize me. I liked the town better than Geneva too & the people, they were much less Frenchified. I got a few very pleasing shocks[?] about the neighbourhood. I got an invitation to a [?] Ball too which was amusing[?] and[?] the quick Waltz seems in fashion most here, there were some tolerably pretty women. The [?] or Piazzas remind one of Bologna but the town is infinitely more clean & the streets spacious & airy.
I left Berne on the 12th taking the road to Bale. The sun had not long risen, the neighbouring hills & the distant mountains were covered with snow, their sides were cloathed with the dark fir, patches of green were still to be seen in the valleys & the river still flowed around the elevated site of this picturesque town. The view was not without its charms. A prospective writer should see something of Switzerland in all seasons thought I & even endeavoured to persuade myself that the snow produced an agreeable effect. The view of Berne can never[?] be disagreeable. "Rain descendeth upon the good & upon the evil[?]" & upon[?] the rich & upon the poor & so doth snow but rain runneth away [missing] Snow beddeth upon the good house tops & upon the evil[?] house tops, upon the cottage & the Pallace. I never felt the sentiment [missing] (I have a right to be sentimental in Switzerland) or [missing] away like into the rain - The lonely [missing] equally covered with snow fixed[?] it better.
"one's stomach does not growl quite so loud for dinner or supper when one is amused whilst waiting for it"
Diligence ticket from Strasbourg to Carlsruhe dated 30 November 1820
"If they open this they may learn that they are acting upon principles well calculated to add one more to... [those] who never thought that the contribution of his write... could help the downfall of governments"
"I am tigerish sulky & insulted and every thing disgusts me in this bearish country, it is worse than the Turks & Arabs because they pretend to justice & civilization"
I slept the same night at [blank]. I liked [missing] have in Switzerland of cramming the walls of the Salons[?] with prints of all kinds (some very good) & [missing] Conversation a little amongst strangers & affords [missing] from it at others, besides one's stomach does not growl quite so loud for dinner or supper when one is amused whilst waiting for it. Before I started for Bale in the Morning I got up to the [blank] where the morning being fine (for a wonder) I had the View of the extensive range of mountains from Mt Blanc to [blank] almost. It was a glorious View indeed, what must it be in Summer? The panoramic sketch which I afterwards bot at Bale seems to be very correct. I need not enumerate the Villages I passed thru.
They say the Swiss have very much degenerated of late and are no better than their neighbours. They may be but they seemed to me very good folks that I had to do with, particularly the woman folks all the long time I was in Switzerland & did not nick me so much as the Greeks & Romans. They certainly are still better people than either their french or italian neighbours. The Farm houses have I suppose been frequently described and descanted upon, they appeared to me the very pictures of Comfort. There seems to be much comfort in Switzerland Peter and more accompanying absurd prejudices too, I suppose. If (as the world goes[?]) a Goth attempts to improve his taste by throwing away his comfortable prejudices and fails in the attempt, what does he become? If he succeeds which he perhaps not very often really does what equivalent does he get in for his comfort? Why an uncomfortable or else an affected distrust for [?] about him. The risque is too great. Least I should come into the 1st [?] [ends].
Carlsruhe 1st December 1820
I have reason to believe from the many questions put to me at the Police offices, the strict examination of my papers &c &c that I am suspected of belonging to the Society of Carbonari & that my letters were treacherously opened and detained by the Ministers of Police. No matter. If they open this they may learn that they are acting upon principles well calculated to add one more to the rapidly increasing and inextinguishable set of people, one who never thought that the contribution of his write, his feather in the scale, could help the downfall of governments whose unworthy proceedings every day more & more prove that no foreign aid is wanting to spur on this desirable event and that no foreign aid can prevent it. I shall tomorrow demand the cause of the detention of my letters & of the treatment I have received. Explanation will no doubt be refused. But they shall not so easily deprive me of my english passport as the Neapolitans did. I told the Neapolitan Minister[?] of Police that I did not want the protection of the King of Macaroni because I thought it insufficient and events have proved that I thought right - We will see if they dare to [?] my privileges here too. I am tigerish sulky & insulted[?] and every thing disgusts me in this bearish country, it is worse than the Turks & Arabs because they pretend to justice & civilization alas even at home & they have not a good [?] a good building or a good Cabinet to show you. You must excuse a little politicks this once. I never talk politicks except when I am obliged and then they say I talk treason.
Here I am escaped from Strasbourg and Carbonarism & seated writing to you in Il Signore Barone Bergami's arm chair at Carlsruhe, I'm not going to say a word, now don't squak I tell you, altho' in the very room, the very --- I won't say a word but ---. You tell me to fix the day when I shall be at home. I can't, I always truck in these parts by Diligences, can't afford porting & can't abide veterini. I can't summon brass enough to ask for corners in people's carriages…