The New York Times, June 7, 1868, p.3:|
GERMANY AND SWITZERLAND.From Berlin to Canton St. Gallen--
The Prussians and Frankfort-on-the-Main--
German Railroads--The Town of Friedrichshafen--
Lincoln Hill--A Glimpse of Prince and Princess Salm-Salm.
From Our Own Correspondent.
CASTLE WIGGIN, CANTON ST. GALLEN,
I have not seen a newspaper a whole week, and in fact have scarcely missed it. I was perfectly satisfied with looking now and then in a St. Gallen little local sheet, where the whole politics of the world are discussed in some twenty or thirty lines. From that source I had at least the assurance that war was not yet commenced; that the Emperor NAPOLEON had not abdicated in favor of a Republican Government, and that Count BISMARCK was still alive, wide awake and busy with the Reichstag and Zoll Parliament...
SWITZERLAND, Saturday, May 16, 1868.
To proceed from Frankfort-on-the-Main to Switzerland one may go either by way of Carlsruhe [Karlsruhe] to Basel, or by way of Stuttgart to Friedrichshafen. As I had to meet American friends on the Lake of Constance, I had to take the latter route, which branches off at Bruchsal, a place reputed for its House of Correction, organized after the Pennsylvania system, and in which those patriots who in 1849 defended the German constitution were once confined. I could not help shuddering when I looked at that place, and was really glad when I left it very early in the morning.
As partial as Americans are to everything they have at home, they cannot help admitting that the railroads in Europe, and especially in Germany, are far more comfortable than those in our country, and that the whole system is organized in a more orderly and proper manner. Everything works with the regularity of clockwork. I therefore must confess that I was by no means agreeably surprised when I had at Bruchsal to enter a car built exactly after the American fashion, with the exception, however, that it was divided into three classes, as in all parts of Europe.
These cars have been adopted throughout Wurtemberg [Württemberg], and I see them also in Switzerland. In most of them the seats are arm chairs, but I had the bad luck to travel with a train where the seats were made to be overturned and were just as uncomfortable for sleeping purposes as their originals at home. To pass the night on such a seat, especially on the second night of your travels, is one of the most unpleasant of things...
Before sunrise we passed a rather steep fortified hill, with large, gloomy-looking buildings on the top; it was the Hohenasperg, a stronghold used as a State prison...
Stuttgart, the residence of the King of Wurtemberg, is a fine city, surrounded by hills crowned with old castles. The next station is Cannstadt, a very agreeable watering-place, which is noted for its good and cheap living. But you can find all these particulars in Murray, so I shall only point out on the road the very large fortress of Ulm, one of the newest and strongest in Germany...
I arrived about 10 o'clock P. M. at Friedrichshafen, a Wurtembergian town situated on the beautiful Lake of Constance, or Bodansee, the largest of Swiss lakes, with the river Rhine flowing through it. From Friedrichshafen steamers go at different hours to Bregentz, Lindau, Rorschach, Romanshorn, Constance and other places situated on the lake, the waves of which wash the shores of Austria, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Baden and Switzerland.
People who go to Switzerland sometimes imagine that they will see glaciers and chamois on entering that country, and are perhaps disappointed with the view from Rorschach. Facing the lake and looking to the north, a splendid sheet of water lies before you, as blue and beautiful as you can see in the world, and teeming with steamers and boats.
On the other side of the lake you behold a range of blue hills, and close to the lake are numerous towns and villages. Looking toward the east, where the Rhine enters the lake, and where the low south bank of the river projects into it, you see in the distance snow-covered mountains (Vorarlberge) about six thousand feet in height. To the west, looking along the lake toward the old City of Constance, which belongs to Baden, you see on its southern shore, and on three necks of land far projecting into the lake, Romanshorn, Arbon and Bad Horn.
On turning and looking south you behold behind Rorschach a rather high hill, dotted with villas and houses, and beautifully green. In fact, this whole long slope is one splendid orchard, covered with vineyards and meadows and fruit trees of all kinds.
This Rorschach is only called a village, but it is an important place and has been such for centuries. In history it is referred to in the seventh century under the Latin name of Rorsacum. It belongs to the Canton of St. Gallen, and was formerly ruled by the powerful abbots of that place.
One of them had in 1609 a very important linen trade, and many Italians were engaged in it. Some of them became very rich, and the beautifully and richly carved faces of some old houses in Rorschach show the opulence of the tenants.
This trade is still flourishing, while throughout the Canton of St. Gallen most beautiful embroidery is made. I saw yesterday some embroidered handkerchiefs in the hands of a peddler, and among them was one more beautiful than any ever shown me, and which would cost our fair countrywomen in Paris over five hundred france; here it was to be had for sixty, or about twelve dollars in gold.
In Rorschach is one of the largest corn-markets in Switzerland, and on landing you become aware of it when you behold a beautiful corn-house, built in the middle of the last century by an Italian architect, by order of the Abbot GUGGER. Among other fine buildings, the most prominent is a very large Catholic church.
Though you find at one or two hours' distance far more wild, romantic spots, many visitors, attracted by the peaceable and lovely grandeur of the scenery, stay here a week or two. This place offers, indeed, many advantages.
In a few hours and for a few francs one may visit the principal places in Switzerland, and again return here, where living is so much cheaper than in towns in the usual train of tourists. There are in Rorschach four or five very good hotels.
I selected the Hotel Garni, from the door of which the train starts, and which is only about thirty paces distant from the lake. From the large balcony of my very fine front room the view is most beautiful. Though you pay only five francs for lodging, breakfast and dinner, you get a dinner as excellent as anybody could wish, and cannot understand how it is possible that the landlady can furnish it at so low a price.
In the lake you catch the most excellent fish, especially large trout, to be found near the entrance to the Rhine. Near Romanshorn is to be had a fish called felgen, which is peculiar to this lake.
Wine is ridiculously cheap, and if you spend two or three francs for a bottle you are looked upon as very extravagant; for common table wine only costs one franc.
As I intended to stay in this part of the country for a longer time, together with some friends who found the hotel rather too noisy, we looked out for a private house in the neighborhood. We walked to Arbon through a country like a garden, reminding me of Staten Island. We passed Bad Horn, a large hotel on the lake, where many people live in the Summer to enjoy the cold water cure and to drink whey.
Arbon is one of the oldest places in Switzerland; the Romans called it Arbor Felix, because here the first fruit-trees in Switzerland were planted. There is a very old tower, the building of which is ascribed to JULIUS CÆSAR. From a garden on the lake, belonging to a hotel, one has a fine view of the Saentis glaciers, which are 8,000 feet in height.
During our hunt for a lodging on the slope of the Rorschach Hill, we came upon the Castle of Wartegg, which once belonged to the Duchess of Parma, now deceased. It is the finest estate in the whole canton, and well worth seeing. Having no time to spare we did not go inside, and only walked around the fine but rather neglected park. Higher up stands the old Castle of Wartensee, a stately building.
Inquiring as to our way, we were agreeably surprised to hear the name of Lincoln Hill. It was awfully hot, but our patriotism and curiosity were not to be influenced by the weather, and after having climbed up a considerable height we came to a new house, which had on its gable a large statue of good Old Abe. It is true, it is a rather primitive statue, consisting of nothing but a carved board painted gray one side. Our President stands there holding in his hands a broken chain.
The view from this house, which was not finished yet, is most splendid. The place belongs to a gentleman of Rorschach named MUELLER, who seems to be a true republican and tries his best to make the names of the heros of liberty of other countries popular in his own.
On returning from Lincoln Hill to Rorschach we passed Garibaldi Hill, where we saw a whole row of houses, all belonging to Mr. MUELLER, which were named after GARIBALDI and the most reknowned heroes of Swiss history. Primitive presentments of these men were located on the roofs of all these houses.
Passing through a beautiful valley or ravine, at the bottom of which a fresh little rivulet warbled along, we came to a castle with a round tower, which seemed to be inhabited. After some little trouble we were admitted by a friendly old woman, who told us that this was Castle Wiggen, and belonging to the family of HOFFMAN, dwelling in St. Gallen. The female warder was very willing to show us the interior of the castle, and we were so much pleased with it that we resolved to try whether its owner would not rent us some rooms in it.
I therefore wrote to that gentleman, who is a member of the Government of the Canton of St. Gallen, and as he happened to know my name and whereabouts, he was kind enough to come over and to place the castle at our disposal for the trifling rent of six francs a day, linen, plate, silver &c., included.
A minute description of this interesting place would perhaps be interesting to American readers, but as I have already occupied so much space, I shall be brief. The house is built of solid stone, lies about a hundred feet above the lake on the slope, and is three hundred paces distant from the water. We have three very large rooms, from the windows of which is to be seen the most splendid view of the beautiful surroundings. Looking down we see the tops of blooming trees, while birds of all kinds give us a concert all day long.
My room is called the Winter room. Toward the south it has two very large arched windows, which are separated from each other by a curious stone column, on the top of which are carved in stone the coats of arms of the builder, a nobleman named SCHLABERITZ, and of his wife; a stone scroll above them bears the date 1582. Another and smaller arched window opens toward the east.
The room is painted in a manner which must have been considered quite wonderful three centuries ago, for there are marvelous exotic landscapes, trees, flowers, birds and monkeys. Painted boxes and curious cupboards are fixed to the walls, and are opened by keys of curious workmanship. The lock on my door, however, would delight a practical locksmith, for it is extremely simple and substantial.
PRINCE AND PRINCESS SALM-SALM.
My companions in this interesting castle are people with whom I became acquainted in America, and who acquired in later times a very well deserved fame by their excellent behavior in Mexico, Prince and Princess SALM-SALM. The Prince was first Aid-de-Camp to the Emperor MAXIMILIAN, who loved him very much and had the utmost confidence in him. He was placed in another prison when his efforts to secure the escape of the Emperor were discovered. He was after that watched so carefully that he was unable to carry out any of his plans.
The adventures of the Princess [photo] are really marvelous, and one cannot but admire her courage, energy, and cleverness. Had the foreign Ministers behaved a little better, and not to the last moment imagined that JUAREZ would not dare to shoot MAXIMILIAN, the Princess would have succeeded in saving his life. These gentlemen refused to countersign a check of MAXIMILIAN'S for $200,000, which were to be paid to two Colonels, after MAXIMILIAN had made good his escape. Then MAXIMILIAN wrote a check himself, made payable by the Imperial family in Vienna; but the payment appeared doubtful to one of the Colonels, and he betrayed the attempt of Princess SALM-SALM.
The Princess still has that check in her possession, and will, of course, keep it as a keepsake. She is now busy preparing her diary for publication, and it will be extremely interesting, though a great many persons will not like it. The Princess speaks rather free, and has no reason whatever to flatter anybody. Her noble and heroic behavior in Mexico has secured for her here a very flattering reception.
Her husband is writing a history of the siege of Querétaro, which will also be published. He brought with him a great many relics of MAXIMILIAN; among others a piece of his blood-stained sash, and a large piece of his beard, and even a portion of the poor Emperor's heart, which he preserved in a small bottle.
The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1868 was equivalent to $16.14 in 2008.
The New York Times, March 19, 1872:|
The Little Republic
Switzerland is a country to which every one nowadays who travels at all goes, but it is in the eyes of most regarded as simply a playground, and we will venture to say that comparatively few who visit Chamouni and Zurich, and sail over the Lake of Geneva, have any distinct notions of its history, constitution and progress. Yet it is an interesting country in these respects, and has special claims to be studies by Americans.
The venerable little Republic dates from 1307, when the cantons of Uri, Schwtz and Underwalden entered into a confederacy for mutual aid against Austria. It was at this time that the incident, regarded by some as apocryphal, which made William Tell famous, occurred. The three cantons were successful in their endeavors to shake off the Austrian yoke, and within fifteen years Lucerne, Zurich, Glarus, Zug and Berne joined the young confederacy. Aargau was conquered from Austria in 1415; the abbey and town of St. Gall joined the other cantons between 1451 and 1454; Thurgau was taken in 1460, Friburg and Solothurn admitted in 1481, The Grisons in 1497, Basle and Schaffhausen in 1501, and Appenzell in 1513. About that time Tessin, or Tieino, was conquered from the Milanese, and Vaud was taken from Saxony by the Bernese in 1560. The remaining Cantons were not finally united to the Confederation until the time of Napoleon, and the present compact, by which all are placed on a perfect equality, only dates from the peace of 1814.
The area of these little United States is 15,233 square miles. It must be admitted that the federation has been on the whole a success. This is the more remarkable when the heterogeneous character of the races who go to make up the nation is considered. The cold, calculating Calvinistic German of the north has little in common with the semi-Italian in Ticino or semi-French in the Vaud. No doubt the priniple cause of the pact having answered so successfully is to be found in the individual independence of each state, so far as regards internal administration.
The present federal constitution, founded on that of 1815, only dates from 1843. It vests the supreme legislation and executive authority in two chambers, and both chambers united are called the Federal Assembly. What answers to our Cabinet consists of seven members, elected for three years by the Federal Assembly. The President of this council of Ministers receives $2,000 a year, the rest $1,700. There is no class of paid permanent officials existing either in connection with the cantonal administration or the general management of the Republic.
Notwithstanding the absence of such funtionaries, it may be doubted whether any people on this earth are governed to such a degree as the Swiss. The communal or municipal authorities of the section of a canton in which a Swiss resides seem almost to determine what he shall or shall not eat for dinner.
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The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons. In succeeding years, other localities joined the original three. The Swiss Confederation secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499.
A constitution of 1848, subsequently modified in 1874, replaced the confederation with a centralized federal government. Switzerland's sovereignty and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers, and the country was not involved in either of the two World Wars.
The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland's role in many UN and international organizations, has strengthened Switzerland's ties with its neighbors. However, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002.
Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organizations but retains a strong commitment to neutrality.
CIA World Factbook: Switzerland
Area of Switzerland:
41,290 sq km
slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey
Population of Switzerland:
July 2008 estimate
Languages of Switzerland: all official
German 63.7%, French 19.2%,
Italian 7.6%, Romansch 0.6%
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