stable where, for many winter nights, Neff shared the miserable accommodation the place supplied, along with mules and cows. In an adjoining hut, we distributed some tracts, which were greedily discussed; the mother of the family skimming them over with great delight, and repeating aloud the parts which most struck her. Amid all the external appearances of semibarbarism, we found a little girl, of five or six, able to read with great facility. Notwithstanding the efforts of Neff, those cabins, which can boast of both a chimney and window, are exceptions to the general rule: some being destitute of both, and subjected only to an annual cleansing. Public worship was conducted in the chapel by M. Handcotte, a Methodist clergyman, who purposed laboring permanently there. The little temple was the result of the proselytising efforts of the Roman Catholics, who, some years ago, sent a priest to try and shake the faith of these “tenants of the rock;" but, to their discomfiture, they found it would be as practicable to shake their mountains.

Leaving this supermundane spot, we returned to Violins at seven o'clock, where, in accordance with the kind request of Alart, we had agreed to return for our night's quarters. Our host prepared, unasked, a copious supper. He himself favored us with his company, and assisted in discussing the primitive viands-simple and compound-he placed before us. It may be mentioned, as a specimen of the fare, that their rye bread, for common use, is only baked once a year; and the colossal loaves have to be broken with a hatchet before being steeped.

Next morning, at seven o'clock, we left, with regret, this delightful little mansion, with its simple-minded inmates. The father and son had gone to their work at a much earlier hour. We had only time to ask the mother how she did? Her reply was, "Bien, à la grace de notre Seigneur,"—(“Well: Our Lord be thanked !") She bade us good bye with a hearty shake of the hand, accompanying it with a “ Dieu conduise,“May God guide you!"

Half-an-hour's walk found us once more in the little hamlet of Fressiniere, and, according to appointment, we visited the house of M. Barridon, the Precepteur, Tax-gatherer, &c., of the valleys. His niece, Susanna, who is particularly mentioned in Neff's life, served us with a sumptuous dejeuner of coffee, cheese, eggs, wine, and cherries. She spoke in a most affectionate tone of her early spiritual instructor, and took a deep interest in replying to the questions we put relative to her companions, who received from him, along with herself, their first impressions of Divine truth.

Having completed, in a day and a half, this interesting tour in the valleys of Dauphiné, we proceeded, without delay, in the direction of those of Piedmont. At five o'clock the same evening, we started for Guillestre, following the rapid waters of the Durance till we reached Mont Dauphin, a fortress built on a bold and isolated rock, commanding the three valleys which branch from it. A walk of twenty-five miles the following-day, in company with a youthful muleteer, brought us to the Scotch looking village of Abries. The pass of the Guil, through which our track lay, is a noble specimen of Alpine grandeur. In many places, the waters are hemmed in between lofty precipices, occupying the whole breadth of the defile, the heights above crested with pine, and the battlements of Chateau Queyras rising majestically at the mouth of the gorge.

A night's sleep had barely dissipated fatigue, when, anticipating a shorter day's journey, we set out to cross the Alps by the Col de la Croix. The ascent of the Col was tremendous; a burning sun was pouring down from above, and the ill-defined pathway was covered with loose gravel and fragments of rock. The transition was sufficiently agreeable on attaining the upper Alpine region, where the rapid torrent which had thundered at our side during the ascent, lay slumbering in its cradle of eternal snow.

After traversing a vast valley of virgin snow, half-an-hour longer brought us to the mountain summit, where a simple stone marks the boundary between Dauphiné and Sardinia, and where we bade farewell to France.

We had not proceeded many paces after crossing the boundary lines of France and Sardinia, when the valleys of the Waldenses, sleeping in their own loveliness amid the glories of an Italian sky, burst upon our view. The setting sun was, at the moment, gilding the summits of the Cottian Alps; the projecting cliffs were casting their deep shadows upon the valleys beneath; the tinklings of the distant sheep-folds broke, with their pleasing melody, the stillness of the scene; and a hundred rivulets, bounding from the rocks, wound their way to swell the torrent below.

Descending the rocky sides of the Col de la Croix, we came to a few scattered huts at Pras; thence, skirting the banks of the rapid stream which waters the valleys of Lucerna, masses of rock, of enormous size, obstruct its waters; and a continued succession of cataracts are formed nearly the whole way to Bobi. We had now exchanged the steeps of the mountain for the thickets of the valley; and evening having set in, the lofty trees which overshadowed the footpath, effectually screened out what light was still remaining,-with the exception of those artificial lights which form so remarkable a feature in the Italian nightly landscape-myriads of fire-flies fluttering around. We were compelled thus to sacrifice much noble scenery; but there was no help for it; and another hour's walk found us seated in the midst of a circle of Protestants in the little inn of Bobi. Next morning, we called for M. Muston, the respected pastor of the Commune, and were received with much kindness. He conducted us to the interior of his church, an old-fashioned fabric, capable of containing 500 people. Its construction was similar to those in our own land-a pulpit, a precentor, or reader's desk—the communion-table below and no altar. They employ a liturgy. M. Muston informs us, that they have office-bearers ("ancienne")-individuals advanced in years and piety, whose office is to visit the sick, and minister to the temporal, as well as spiritual interests of the flock. At the dispensation of the Lord's supper, these lay elders assist; but take no part in the distribution of the elements. They generally amount to eight or ten in number in each parish, and along with the clergyman, compose the

Consistory." Three festivals are observed-Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost; on each of which occasions the sacrament is dispensed, and the ceremony of confirmation takes place. There are two sets of churches in the valleys—the one embracing the mountainous districts, where the population is scattered, and the work consequently more arduous. These are supplied by the younger and more active pastors. The other set include


the lower and more accessible, as well as more fertile valleys, and are reserved for the older and more infirm. Their pastors thus ascend, or, rather, descend, by a regular gradation—the last ordained being presented to the remotest parish, and from this obtaining promotion as the aged ministers die out. This rule is perhaps not invariably, but generally, followed, unless there be some special disqualification. The period of study for probationers is fifteen years, seven of which are spent at their native college at La Tour, for literature and belles-lettres, and the remainder at Lausanne, for theology and philosophy.

This and other information we obtained from M. Muston, who left us in the afternoon to prosecute the route to La Tour, through the valley of Lucerna. No spot in Switzerland combines more of the grand and beautiful than this. In the back ground are mountains whose top is lost amid the clouds; nearer, rocky hills clothed with wood to the summit, while the valley below is studded with gigantic chesnut trees,-its gentle slopes covered with vines, hanging in graceful festoons over the soil. The banks of the river are clothed with pasturage of the brightest emerald green, or occasionally enlivened with patches of yellow corn, amid which the reaper was then busied with his sickle. The whole scene forcibly brought to mind that verse in the noblest of pastorals:

“With flocks the pastures clothed be,

The vales with corn are clad;
And now they shout and sing to Thee,

For Thou hast made them glad.” Passing the night at La Tour, we proceeded, next morning, to wait on M. Revel, Professor in Trinity College, an Institution which owes its existence to the devoted efforts of Dr. Gilly, to prevent the necessity of the Vaudois students leaving their native valleys to prepare for the work of the ministry. Till within a recent period, Geneva or Lausanne were the only schools for their training; and the consequence was, that many of them returned contaminated with the rationalism and socinianism of Switzerland.

We inspected, in the neighbourhood, a large manufactory for the winding of silk. Upwards of sixty women were employed in hanking the exquisitely slender fibres from the cocoons of


the silk-worm. The manager was kind enough to permit us to inspect the whole works, and to explain the process. The cocoons are, first of all, placed in large baskets, in a small room, heated to a very high temperature by means steam, which, in the course of two or three days, causes the death of the

After this, they are taken to a room and picked,—the good ones being ascertained by their sound when shaken. If no sound is produced, it shews that part of the thread is still attached to the worm, and is, consequently, of little or no value. Those of a yellow hue are then separated from the white, which is the prevailing color, and put into the hands of the sixty women referred to, to undergo their last process of winding. This is done by first steeping them in a small vat, into which there is a continual influx of boiling water, and by the repeated appliance of a coarse brush, the glutinous substance is removed, and the end of the thread obtained. Five or six of these are wound simultaneously; and great expertness is displayed in attaching new threads, when any of these happen to break, or to be finished.

On Sabbath, our kind friend, M. Revel, conducted us to the morning service in the Church of St. Giovanni, the richest commune in Piedmont, embosomed in vineyards and oliveyards. On entering, the aspect of the congregation was novel and imposing. Immediately in front of the pulpit, sat the male part of the audience; behind them the women, who were neatly arrayed in a uniform costume,--a black gown and plain muslin cap. The reader was busy with the service, which was commenced by singing or chanting a metre version of the Psalms, reading a chapter from a Swiss Bible, with reflections, and a short liturgy, in which were contained the Lord's prayer and the commandments. M. Bonjour, the pastor, then ascended the pulpit; and before commencing sermon, performed the ceremony of baptism. The father was attended by the godfather and godmother. The godfather occupied the centre of the

group with the child in his arms, which was concealed with a high covering of rich crimson silk, ornamented with lace and tassels, which hung from the neck of the young man who presented it. During the time of prayer, while the rest of the congregation stood, these kneeled in front of the pulpit. At the

« ForrigeFortsett »