[Zurich—Saturday, 3 September 1859]
Saturday 3d A white letter day. Clear lovely morning. We shook hands with Zurich early and well and gay steamed down the lake (which we both declare inferior to Lake Winnipiseoge) to Horgen where we fretted ourselves with the idea of passing over a few miles of this delicious scenery in a diligence. However Jamie walked part of the way to Zug and I kept both eyes out and a French tongue in to talk with an old “Parisienne” who was a dealer in “elephants tusks” which amused J. excessively and on the whole we saw and enjoyed all. But, as we came to Zug and gently steamed across the lake to the tiny village of Arth, the only moving things it seemed in this glorious panorama except the few white clouds hurrying over the mountain tops measuring these impossible distances to our unskilled eyes, then for the time we saw Switzerland in all its majesty and glory. The Rigi rose directly from the lake on one side and kinder mountains sheltering the shepherds and their herds on the others, while the quiet little lake “bright jewel of the mine” lay between, with an ever changing smile over its lovely face. It was our first look with clear sun-light at the marvellous color of these lakes and we concluded it was more like molten chrystal with one third Italian sky-color to soften it, than anything else we could think of. At last we left the lake, but only to see scenes of still greater majesty and beauty. The lovely summer sunlight, as it seemed, although the sweet autumn flower, “colchique,” covered the meadows, glowed upon the valleys and warmed the hearts of all who dwellt there hoping yet for harvests; even the fatal Rossberg was disarmed of half its terrors and made itself esteemed as contrasted with the verdurous Rigi. Rousseau may well speak of the contrasts in Nature among the Alps it is something too wonderful to conceive or to be prepared for in the least. Goldau itself already grows green fertile and placid out of the frightful desolation of this mountain slide. On and on we drove to the canton of Unterwalden, the home of William Tell and many brave patriots passing the lake of Lowertz which is so beautiful. I feel its name must be a talisman to all interpreting its own beauty like some great man whose name alone is hope & safeguard to mankind. We waited on the borders of Lucerne at Brunnen for the boat gazing with many a backward glance at the rude days it had seen upon the old Rath-Haus where the famous councils were formerly held between the 4 great Swiss cantons. As we looked and then again forgot all but the lake with its now unruffled peace a German professor who had been chatting in the corner with a friend ran softly to the piano and flooded the whole air with such delicious tones that we were full of the pure extasy of sound. In broken German I told him how much pleasure it gave us and that I hoped he would come to America, but he did not know how well his music chimed with the tumultuous music rung in our souls by Nature’s exultant beauties all this lovely day. Reached Lucerne as night came down veiling all the mountains in cloud-vapour.