|C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the Worlds Best Literature.|
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.
|A Vaudois Walking Trip: Pauline|
|By Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (18091847)|
From the Letters from Italy and Switzerland: Translation of Grace Wallace
AFTER BREAKFAST. HEAVENS! here is a pretty business. My landlady has just told me with a long face that there is not a creature in the village to show me the way across the Dent, or to carry my knapsack, except a young girl; the men being all at work. I usually set off every morning very early and quite alone, with my bundle on my shoulders, because I find the guides from the inns both too expensive and too tiresome; a couple of hours later I hire the first honest-looking lad I see, and so I travel famously on foot. I need not say how enchanting the lake and the road hither were: you must recall for yourself all the beauties you once enjoyed there. The footpath is in continued shade, under walnut-trees and up-hill, past villas and castles, along the lake which glitters through the foliage; villages everywhere, and brooks and streams rushing along from every nook in every village; then the neat tidy houses,it is all quite too charming, and you feel so fresh and so free. Here comes the girl with her steeple hat. I can tell you she is vastly pretty into the bargain, and her name is Pauline; she has just packed my things into her wicker basket. Adieu!
EVENING, CHÂTEAU DOEX, CANDLE-LIGHT. I have had the most delightful journey. What would I not give to procure you such a day! But then you must first become two youths and be able to climb actively, and drink milk when the opportunity offered, and treat with contempt the intense heat, the many rocks in the way, the innumerable holes in the path and the still larger holes in your boots,and I fear you are rather too dainty for this; but it was most lovely! I shall never forget my journey with Pauline: she is one of the nicest girls I ever met,so pretty and healthy-looking, and naturally intelligent; she told me anecdotes about her village, and I in return told her about Italy: but I know who was the most amused.
| The previous Sunday, all the young people of distinction in her village had gone to a place far across the mountain, to dance there in the afternoon. They set off shortly after midnight, arrived while it was still dark, lighted a large fire, and made coffee. Towards morning the men had running and wrestling matches before the ladies (we passed a broken hedge testifying to the truth of this); then they danced, and were at home again by Sunday evening, and early on Monday morning they all resumed their labors in the vineyards. By Heavens! I felt a strong inclination to become a Vaudois peasant while I was listening to Pauline, when from above she pointed out to me the villages where they dance when the cherries are ripe, and others where they dance when the cows go to pasture in the meadows and give milk. To-morrow they are to dance in St. Gingolph; they row across the lake, and any one who can play takes his instrument with him: but Pauline is not to be of the party, because her mother will not allow it, from dread of the wide lake; and many other girls also do not go for the same reason, as they all cling together.|| 3|
| She then asked my leave to say good-day to a cousin of hers, and ran down to a neat cottage in the meadow; soon the two girls came out together and sat on a bench and chattered; on the Col de Jaman above, I saw her relations busily mowing, and herding the cows.|| 4|
| What cries and shouts ensued! Then those above began to jodel, on which they all laughed. I did not understand one syllable of their patois, except the beginning, which was Adieu, Pierrot! All these sounds were taken up by a merry mad echo, that shouted and laughed and jodeled too. Towards noon we arrived at Allière. When I had rested for a time, I once more shouldered my knapsack, for a fat old man provoked me by offering to carry it for me; then Pauline and I shook hands and we took leave of each other. I descended into the meadows: and if you do not care about Pauline, or if I have bored you with her, it is not my fault, but that of the mode in which I have described her; nothing could be more pleasant in reality, and so was my further journey. I came to a cherry orchard, where the people were gathering the fruit; so I lay down on the grass and ate cherries for a time along with them. I took my midday rest at Latine in a clean wooden house. The carpenter who built it gave me his company to some roast lamb, and pointed out to me with pride every table and press and chair.|| 5|
| At length I arrived here, at night, through dazzling green meadows, interspersed with houses, surrounded by fir-trees and rivulets; the church here stands on a velvet-green eminence; more houses in the distance, and still further away, huts and rocks; and in a ravine, patches of snow still lying on the plain. It is one of those idyllic spots such as we have seen together in Wattwyl, but the village smaller and the mountains more green and lofty. I must conclude, however, to-day by a high eulogy on the Canton de Vaud. Of all the countries I know, this is the most beautiful, and it is the spot where I should most like to live when I become really old: the people are so contented and look so well, and the country also. Coming from Italy, it is quite touching to see the honesty that still exists in the world,happy faces, a total absence of beggars or saucy officials: in short, there is the most complete contrast between the two nations. I thank God for having created so much that is beautiful; and may it be his gracious will to permit us all, whether in Berlin, England, or in the Château dOex, to enjoy a happy evening and a tranquil night!|| 6|