Fragrance in Travel Literature-Switzerland




Switzerland; its mountains, valleys, lakes, and rivers .. (1903)

Leaving Weissbad, we wend our way across the sloping green
meadows of the Valley of Schwendi, and ascend the fragrant mountain
pastures where the snow-white goats are feeding ; and, as we gaze
from the Bodmen Alp at the steep and ever steeper wall of rock
which rises perpendicularly to such a tremendous height before us, we
may well wonder how we shall ever reach the top. But up we must
go, for on the face of this wall hangs the Wildkirchlein, the object of
our expedition, and upon it or behind it stretches the famous pastur-
age called the Ebenalp. This precipitous and inaccessible ridge of
rock is the most easterly outpost of that one of the three ranges of the
Santis which lies farthest to the north, and forms the throne of the
hoary monarch. It stands in an isolated position, being completely
cut off from the '' realms of the Santis " by an abrupt precipice. As
we wander on among the trees and shrubs, enjoying the calm beauty
of the scene, and looking at the sweet Alpine flowers which grow
among the fallen debris, we hardly notice the height to which we
have ascended, until, on halting for a moment and turning round, we
see, to our astonishment, that the wood on our left has disappeared in a
deep hollow, and the houses at the bottom of the valley look like the
dwellings of pigmies, while above them rises a towering line of rocky
cliffs, similar to that which we are ascending. These heights, called
the Siodeten, are the sia-antic advanced oaiard of the middle Santis
range, which culminates in the Altmann peak in the west. Between
them and the Ebenalp block, deep down at the bottom of the valley,
lies a calm, dark-green lake called the Seealpsee, which reflects the
tops of the trees which clothe the mountains on either side, and the
bright green meadows of the Meglisalp.

A small door is opened, a breath of most delicious air comes
towards us, and suddenly we are in the midst of brilliant sunshine, with
all the signs of joyous life once more around us. We are surrounded
by flowers and fragrance, by the whirr of wings and the hum of insects ;
and when we are able quite to open our eyes, we see the fair land of
East Switzerland spread out before us. There, too, gleams Lake
Constance, and far, far away in the purple horizon, we catch a glimpse
of Germany. The mountain-pasture upon which we are standing is
the wonderful Ebenalp, which is so deservedly famous.


Lucerne's summer visitors, however, being butterflies who delight
in the sunshine, will look with something of a shiver at Nature's
ancient laboratory, and will congratulate themselves that she got over
most of her rough work before their day, and that her present opera-
tions are carried on in the midst of light and warmth, green trees and
fragrant flowers.

The lovely glen of Wiesenthal with its nut-trees, the beloved
seclusion of the dark fir-woods, which are fragrant with delicious
odours and melodious with the song of birds, the moss-covered blocks
of stone strewn all around, the sunny hills and bright flowers, the
view of the two lakes sparkling below and the menacing-looking
precipices opposite, the luxurious comfort of this the best of all hotels,
and the gay parties of people whom one encounters in the wood and
on the terrace all these things combine to make this a very delight-
ful resting-place ; and then, in addition, w r e have the beauty of the
cascade and the sound of its falling waters, which soothes us like soft,
distant fairy music, and leads us into the golden dreamland of peace
even in our waking hours.

The first excursion made is usually that to the Corner Grat and
the Riffelberg, where there is ^a good mountain inn. The ascent
from Zermatt takes us through a cool fragrant forest, and affords a
view of the Corner glacier, whence the river Visp flows down into
the valley. When we reach the Corner Grat, higher up, the view
becomes overpoweringly grand, and shows us alps, icebergs, snow-
fields, precipices, and glacier after glacier. Yonder rise the peaks
of the Cima di Jazzi and the Lyskamm, and there, above all, is
Monte Rosa in all its glorious splendour. Between the black savage-
looking Breithorn and the Lyskamm are the shining snow-covered
peaks of Castor and Pollux ; farther on are the Theodulshorn
and the Matterhorn. Glaciers innumerable fill the valley at their
feet, and to the north rise the mighty mountains of the Bernese
Oberland.


If this should be too far off,
however, we might at least manage an excursion to the next most
beautiful spot, namely, the ancient convent and pilgrimage church of
the Madonna del Sasso. It looks extremely picturesque seen from
the shore of the lake ; but when we reach the top of the eminence on
which it stands all the most charming features of the Locarno scenery
are at once revealed to our gaze. The church crowns the summit of
a very narrow cliff, which rises between two small wooded valleys,
whence issue the various streams which unite at the base of the cliff,
and form the wild mountain-torrent known as the Ramogna. This
torrent has destroyed the good road which formerly led up to the
convent, and the ascent is rather toilsome in consequence ; but the
view from the top is at once so grand and so lovely, and affords such
unexpected pleasure, that we are more than compensated for all our
exertions. Standing in front of the convent beneath the little pergola
(a trellis-work covered with vines, and supported on stone pillars), we
see before us a series of the most lovely pictures, in which mountains
and valleys, woods and groves, the glorious blue lake, and the
sparkling river Maggia form the principal features. There is some-
thing singularly charming about the elevated situation of this convent.
The tall trees wave around its walls, the birds sing, the air is
fragrant with the scent of innumerable flowers, and to a superficial
observer, the pictures of the Passion which adorn the convent walls,
albeit by the hand of Bernardo Luino, might seem at first sight to be
out of harmony with the general joyousness of nature.

The old men, who are mostly thin and sunburnt, stand leaning
against the bean-covered garden-fence, puffing away at their short
wooden pipes, and sending the smoke of their strong tobacco into
the fresh, hay-scented air. The married women sit at the oriel win-
dows, with glittering necklaces round their throats and red silk hoods
on their heads, either looking out over their bouquet of Sunday
flowers, or else gossiping busily, in their broad, kindly patois, with
any of the companions of their week's toil who may happen to be
passing.

HEREVER we wander throughout the fields of Latium, the
ancient history of old Rome is sure to meet us clad in
the charming garb of legend and tradition ; and this is
one reason why those delightful regions are so familiar to
the student of antiquity, and so dear to the ordinary traveller. Tales
of the past are told in their own grandly monotonous tones by the
very waves of the sea, as they break on the barren, sandy shore ;
they are sighed forth by the shuddering pines which stand like grave
and gloomy sentinels keeping watch over the low flat coast ; they are
whispered and wailed by the reeds which grow along the banks of
the Anio and the Tiber ; and they come to us in the scents which are
wafted from the bright and glowing Campagna.

The lovely glen of Wiesenthal with its nut-trees, the beloved
seclusion of the dark fir-woods, which are fragrant with delicious
odours and melodious with the song of birds, the moss-covered blocks
of stone strewn all around, the sunny hills and bright flowers, the
view of the two lakes sparkling below and the menacing-looking
precipices opposite, the luxurious comfort of this the best of all hotels,
and the gay parties of people whom one encounters in the wood and
on the terrace all these things combine to make this a very delight-
ful resting-place ; and then, in addition, w r e have the beauty of the
cascade and the sound of its falling waters, which soothes us like soft,
distant fairy music, and leads us into the golden dreamland of peace
even in our waking hours.

Glarus was originally a pastoral canton, and is now one of the
busiest in Switzerland. Until the sixteenth century its population
lived altogether on the produce of their pastures, on what they earned
by cow -keeping and cheese-making. One ancient product of its dairies
is the green Glarus cheese, often .called herb cheese, which is well
known throughout the whole civilised world, and is still despatched
to all parts, being everywhere considered a great delicacy, It is
peculiar to the Canton of Glarus and its immediate neighbourhood,
and owes its colour and smell to a strongly aromatic blue melilot
which grows here, and here only.

The mountains belonging to the Faulhorn chain which border on
the southern shore of the Lake of Brienz, now come into sight, and
shortly afterwards we reach Darligen, where we leave the steamboat,
cross the Bodeli, and take ship again on the Lake of Brienz, on our
way to pay a hurried visit to lovely Meiringen. Meiringen ! the very
name seems to conjure up a host of pleasant reminiscences, and we
are almost tempted to indulge in a panegyric in its honour ; and yet,
strange to say, it is difficult to define exactly in what its charms
consist, and many people never find them out at all. . What, indeed,
are the special attractions of Meiringen ? There are beautiful brown
wooden houses, built in the old Bernese style, there are meadows,
streams, waterfalls, green slopes, snowy peaks, sweet-smelling hay
and good-humoured villagers ; there are smart lads and merry lasses,
and there are inns and foreigners whichever way you turn but all of
these are to be met with in various other places, and yet somehow
they never seem so charming and delightful anywhere else as they do
here.

Switzerland as described by great writers (1912, c1908)
Singleton, Esther, d. 1930



THE situation of Montreux is delightful. It is a
sort of earthly paradise. Below us stretch the
lovely waters of the Lake of Geneva. On the
other side rise the snow-capped Alps, the Dent du Midi
splendid in their midst. On our own side of the lake, the
hills rise above Montreux in terraced gardens, rich in vege-
tation : the fruit of the vine mingling with the blossom of
the rose-tree, a delicious perfume scenting the air. Houses
high up nestle on the hill-sides : Swiss chalets with their
painted roofs and overhanging eaves. Everywhere the eye
is arrested by gorgeous creepers. Many a wall is a hang-
ing garden of graceful, trailing leaves, of dazzling, vivid
colouring.

Now it is pastures that we cross, rich, fat pastures, where
we find a few rustic houses with pots of flowers in their
windows; and round them, like a double girdle, one varie-
gated and one all green, lie a garden and a vineyard.
Splendid cows browse among the succulent herbs swelled
with the aromatic juices which perfume the milk of which
*he celebrated Gruyere cheeses are made. They are known
and appreciated throughout the world, but by one of those
whimsicalities which it is impossible to explain, the admi-
rable little country which gives name to them is still neg-
lected and almost ignored by the foreigner ; and yet where
will you find more velvet lawns, more fresh and tranquil
woods, paths so shady and sweet, mountains where you can
have excursions to your wish, either restful walks or easy
ascents not exceeding 8,200 feet.


Now the church bells began to chime under this body of
mist, and voices from the invisible villages, mingled with
the tinkle of sheep-bells and the various stir of life awaken-
ing from sleep, came stilly up the mountain. And now
some of the mountain peaks themselves began suddenly to
be touched with fleeces of cloud, as if smoking with incense
in morning worship. Detachments of mist began also to
rise from the lakes and valleys, moving from the main body
up into the air. The villages, chalets and white roads, dot-
ting and threading the vast circumference of landscape,
come next into view. And now on the Lake Zug you may
see reflected the shadows of clouds that have risen from the
surface, but are themselves below us.

Village life in Switzerland (1865)
Delmard, Sophia Duberly


Such are a few of the drawbacks, if they can be
called such, to the outdoor amusements in this lovely
land, where, with a climate so delicious, the bare
sensation of existence is almost happiness enough;
where for seven or eight months of the year the
radiant beauty of the day fades away, only to give
place to the serener beauty of the night, that is
scarcely less lovely; where flowers of rarest form,
most dazzling colour, and most delightful perfume,
gladden the senses at every step, and form a carpet
brighter than the diadem of a queen ; where every
sound is replete with music, and every object,
surrounded by such an atmosphere, a study for a
painter.

M. generally sallied forth with knapsack and easel
on back as soon as breakfast was over, to some spot
among the mountains, where he would remain
sketching so long as the sun kept above the hills ;
and as it was always my office to take him his dinner,
I had the most delightful walks and rambles among
the woods skirting the Aven^on, and always preferred
the old road by the river to the newer one higher up
on the mountain-side, on account of its leading me
for about a mile through the most charming and
fascinating scenery it is possible to imagine. Nature
has been almost too prodigal of her riches in most
parts of this lovely land, but nowhere more so than
in that favoured spot. What lovely glades ! What
splendid groups of beech trees and stupendous pines,
through which the sun slanted so richly on the soft
carpet of grass and mosses lying between the rocks
and stones beneath, giving a deeper ruby to the
strawberries that contrasted so charmingly with the
rich green I How the river rushed madly along, ever
and anon receiving additional force from the torrents
pouring into it from the sides, over which the path
was carried by means of rustic bridges formed of
trunks of pine trees, that added to the beauty of the
picture ! The purple mountains seen above the giant
pines towering to a height that made me dizzy to
look up at ; the peasants in their picturesque dresses,
among the hay in the meadows sloping down to the
opposite bank; the gorgeous butterflies, splendid
flowers, delicious perfumes ; the pure air, so warm,
yet never oppressive, combined to form almost a
Paradise upon earth.

Hebe she is not the halting, shy, cool goddess of our
more northern clime; but, assured, warm, and rosy,
she comes with quick step that treads so soon on the
retreating footsteps of autumn, you can hardly say
you have had a glimpse of winter, before she decks
the trees with green, and changes the brown mossy
pastures into gardens of sweetest flowers. As soon
as the first hepaticas open their lovely blue eyes to
the sun, the hills are all alive with peasants delving
their vineyards and pruning their vines ; the songs of
innumerable birds mingle with the merry whistle of
the labourers, and the air blown to you from the west
is heavy with the perfume of violets that literally
cover the earth on hill and mountain side, in copse
and wood and valley, by dusty hedgerows and limpid
streams ; they are everywhere, and you wonder how
ail the hepaticas and primroses and cowslips and
birds in a hedge, pink and white and yellow, and
snowdrops and crocuses, ever find room to show
their heads ; but show them they do.


As soon as we had taken our first meal in our
new home, we sauntered out to take a survey of the
little hamlet, that seemed quite transformed in our
eyes now we had taken up our abode in it. We
no longer regarded the gardens for their beauty alone ;
it was of far more importance to discover if good
vegetables and salads grew in them ; and the lovely
chalets covered with roses and fragrant honeysuckles,
once contemplated only as adding greatly to the
beauty of the landscape, were now criticised by us
matter-of-fact housekeepers, who lived in one of the
same, as to the number of rooms they contained,
their dimensions, &c. As we strolled up the rising
ground from which you have a view of the valley in
which Bex lies, we found many more chalets than
we had seen before nestling in the hollows or among
the trees, and my lads ran to give me the joyful
intelligence that they had discovered a cobbler at
work in one of them, an artisan whose good offices
were generally needed before those of any other
handicraftsman.

Many an afternoon we spent on a hill cleared of
large trees, but covered with raspberry bushes, to
the left as you approach the Pont de Nant, pitching
our tent on a level sward at the foot for baby and
his guard, while the rest mounted to pluck the
delicious fruit whose fragrance scented the air long
before you came to them. As without seeing I
never could have credited the quantities that grew
there, I don't expect that any description I can
give will convey to anyone more than a very imper-
fect idea of their profusion. My readers must
imagine a hill as high as the Wrekin, if they have
seen it, so thickly overgrown with raspberry bushes
to the top that you have some trouble in forcing
a way through them; fancy also every bough so
laden with ripe fruit that they were bent down by
the weight, and fell off by thousands as you touched
them ; and even if they are able to picture all this,
they cannot taste how good they were, how much
superior to any grown in gardens ; nor will it do to
mention how many we ate besides the basketsful we
took home for tea, and boiling for puddings and
cakes. In an hour you may have bushels, if you
have but hands enough to gather them; we used
them for syrup, preserves, creams, and anything we
could think of, and after all large quantities were
thrown away.

The mountain was so grey and bare, that there was
very little on the way to call forth our admiration,
save where now and then in the sheltered valleys we
came upon large patches of flowers that absolutely
dazzled us with their brilliance. • We gathered quan-
tities of that most beautiful flower, the Aquilegia
Alpina^ of such a lovely blue, with petals so trans-
parent, their graceful heads hanging from the tall
stems by such slender filaments, that I wondered
they ever came to flower's estate in that sterile spot.
What great masses, too, of that magnificent flower, the
Gentiana purpurea we saw wherever there was
shelter ! — while the Rhododedron ferruginem so
often called the Alpine rose, and the sweet-scented
yellow violets, were commoner still.

Here there is far more use made of the plants for
medicinal purposes than with us, and amongst many
others, the flowers of the sweet-scented violet are
gathered in large quantities, and dried, to make an
infusion that is considered an infallible remedy in
low nervous fevers, from which the inhabitants sufifer
greatly at times, as well as for inflammatory colds,
especially in children ; but of the cowslip — smelling,
too, like the sweet cow's breath— they make no use ;
and once, when I told some people about the sweet
wine made from the pips, I positively could not make
them believe that it was possible to manufacture
anything drinkable from flowers and water.

At the back of the house the meadow extends
some few hundred yards to the foot of the mountains,
that, facing the south, can always boast the first
flowers and leaves of spring, and the earliest and
finest vines; and it is there — among the trees growing
on the rocky uncultivated spots, where no vines can
be planted, but where the syringa and mezereon
bloom and scent the air — that the nightingales send
forth their first songs. Every night, for weeks, we
used to stand on the balcony listening to the en-
trancing melody, unable to tear ourselves away.
When the cowslips are faded, there come the lilies of
the valley, the beloved flowers that seem to be no
less prized here, where they are so common, than in
England, where they are comparatively so rare as a
wild flower. What thousands my children gathered
for garlands on May morning, taking knives to mow
them ofif, it being too much trouble to gather them
singly. Girls and Loys, with baskets full of the same
tied in bouquets, that they offer you for five centimes
the half-dozen, besiege your doors ; and though you
know your rooms are choke full, you cannot resist
the temptation of buying a lot more to deck your
window-sills, where every morning since the sun
shone warmly the old cure's pigeons come to be fed,
and remain cooing away nearly all day long.