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ART. VIII.-Voyage dans les Petits Cantons et dans les Alpes
Rhétiennes. Par Mons. Kasthofer, Grand Forestier du Canton de Berne, &c. Traduit de l'Allemand, par E. J. Fazy-Cazal, Paris, 1827.
KASTHOFER visited those parts of Switzerland which are
• mentioned in the title-page, in the year 1822: his work appeared in German, at Berne, in 1825, and shortly afterwards it was translated into French by M. Fazy-Cazal. Our traveller's principal objects were, to examine into the condition and character of the mountaineers whom he visited, so as to be qualified to point out the best methods for their amelioration; and to register accurate and minute details of the state and nature of the vegetation in the mountainous districts which he traversed. From this it will be seen that statistics, and especially those branches of it which relate to domestic and rural economy, and to the causes which, by quickening or checking industry and skill, render the mass of the people poor or prosperous, form the chief and characteristic matter of this volume. Other topics, however, are by no means disregarded. Many curious and interesting illustrations of manners are given; physical geography is occasionally enriched with some striking and important facts, besides those which relate to the nature of vegetation at great altitudes; and to the etymologist and antiquarian, the notice of the Romansch language, though short and imperfect, will be highly attractive.
He who wishes to study, or to enjoy nature, where she exhibits herself in her most mysterious guise, and in the greatest variety of her beauty and sublimity, should follow the track of our author. The structure of the mountains, the forms into which they are thrown or broken, the nature of the intervening vallies, the course of the rivers, the avalanches and glaciers, are calculated at once to arrest the attention of the abstract physical geographer, and to satisfy the imagination and feelings of the enthusiastic lover of nature. Nor will the track followed by our author display man in circumstances less instructive to the political or moral philosopher, or less attractive to those who are fond of viewing him remote from the influence of high civilisation and artificial manners. In all these respects, Switzerland is rich above any other country in Europe, and the districts visited by M. Kasthofer are rich beyond any other part of Switzerland.
Our limits oblige us to confine this article to the rural and domestic economy of that country, the state of vegetation at different altitudes, and a few remarks on some other points of physical geography, omitting, for the present, at least, what we
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had to offer on the subject of the Romansch language. In order, however, that our readers may be exactly acquainted with those parts, to which the sketch of rural and domestic economy more directly and strictly applies, we shall trace, very shortly, the route pursued by this intelligent traveller.
He commences with Brientz; and on this place and the Oberland his first chapter is particularly full and instructive. The second chapter conducts him across the Brunig, from Brientz to Sarne, and is interspersed with remarks on popular education, and sketches of characteristic manners. The route from Schwytz to the Baths of Pfeffers occupies the third chapter. Our author next proceeded from Coire to Davos ; his remarks on this route, and an excursion to the High Prettegau, form the subject of the fourth chapter. The passage of the Fluella to Tarasp, and the journey from Tarasp to St. Maurice, fill up the fifth and sixth chapters. The high Engadine, with many valuable remarks. connected with the particular object of our author, are given in the seventh chapter. Maloya, Casaccia, Vicosoprano, Porta, Castelmuro, Pleurs, Chiavenna, Campodolieno, Isola, and the Splugen were the places next visited, and a description of them, with an account of the destruction of Porta, and the dismemberment from Switzerland of the Valteline, Bormio, and Chiavenna, form the contents of the two next chapters. The tenth chapter, which describes the route from Splugen to Ræzuns, contains our author's observations on the comparative conveniences and advantages of the routes by the Splugen and the Bernardin, as well as by the grand routes across the mountains of Switzerland into Italy, in general, and these observations display much good sense, and acquaintance with the subject.
If our readers have traced M. Kasthofer's route on the map, they will perceive that, at Coire, where he afterwards arrived, he had completed a course nearly circular, having passed through the Rhetian Alps, and those of Lombardy. The last chapter conducts him from Coire to Lucerne, by the vallies of the Higher Rhine, and of Tarvetsch, and by the passage of St. Gothard.
Having described his course, we must now attend to the various statements respecting the condition of the people, their rural economy, and their general character. Their poverty, defective agriculture, and rage for emigration, struck him every where; but especially in the Oberland : and it is in his chapter on this district that he enters somewhat minutely into this subject. The complaints he makes on these points are, however, by no means, new. M. Herzell, in his Rustic Socrates, (which was published half a century ago,) speaks in nearly the same terms of remonstrance and lamentation.
The following statements, though they have an especial reference to the community of Brientz, may, he assures us, give, at the same time, a clear and just idea of the condition of a very large portion of the mountaineers of Switzerland. As the food of the cattle is sought for six months in the year in the mountains, the proprietor or his servants must thus consume a large portion of their time. But, in the winter, there is comparatively little necessity or opportunity for work. The consequences of such a constant and regular alternation must be injurious, both to the condition and the character of the people. In summer there is unremitted activity, with little beneficial result: in winter, the sedentary habits necessary for manufacturing employment, are repugnant to those habits acquired during the summer; idleness, therefore, and mischievous and hurtful employments occupy their winter hours. The peasants of the Oberland are, besides, suffering under the pressure of heavy mortgages on their lands, due either to the community of Berne, or to individuals there ; and as their debts were contracted when money was of comparatively less value, or, what is the same thing, when their produce sold at a higher rate, the pressure of these burdens is most severely felt : * other
• M. Kasthofer, being an employé of the Bernese, touches rather lightly on this evil: but we may add here, that the distress in the Oberland of the Canton of Berne is increasing to a frightful extent; for the peasantry, once wealthy and independent, have become tenants of the aristocracy at Berne. We feel it our duty to state, that the aristocracy of Berne, in order to break the proud spirits of the people of the Oberland, has for years been inducing this state of things. The Oberland has been long dis. affected to the patricians of Berne; many of their old rights had been nullified, and, as late as 1814, an insurrection broke out against the government of Berne, which was only crushed by the most violent measures. Hence the aristocracy thought, that, in possessing itself of the greatest part of the landed property, they would render the inhabitants of the Oberland depeudent on themselves; and it became, therefore, a concerted plan to buy up every freehold property in the district. Under the pretence of assisting the Oberlanders in difficulties, loans were made to them, and when payment was not forthcoming at the appointed day, their property was wrested from them with heartless cruelty. Advantage also was taken of the famine, in 1817, and of the subsequent general stagnation in trade ; and, at length, the system having been pursued with unrelenting obstinacy, the wealthy part of the inhabitants of the Oberland found themselves surrounded by mere tenants of the patricians of Berne, indeed, by a class of serfs to all intents and purposes. Then they perceived that it was useless to stem the torrent of patrician influence, and most of them withdrew even from the election of country members for the council of Berne.
But it was more easy to dispossess the people of the Oberland of their landed property than to foretel the exact measure of their poverty and beggary. With the loss of property their hearts were broken, and the stimulus of activity was gone. A number of respectable small proprietors bad either been changed into poor tenants, or into lazy vagabonds. A high rent soon brought the former to a level with the latter. Workhouses and poor laws made the thing worse ; and we are sorry to say that it will, in the present state of things, be difficult to devise any efficient remedy.
As we before mentioned the Council of Berne, we beg leave to say, that this Sovereign Council consists of two hundred and ninety-nine members, two hundred being patricians, and ninety-nine country members. It is evident that an opposition of
causes tend to the same result-poverty and distress. Among these may be enumerated, the minute division of the land by the operation of the law of inheritance- the system of common lands, and the increasing population. The law of inheritance has, indeed, been long in operation ; but, while the people were in better circumstances, it seldom produced a minute division of land, one of the sons renting or purchasing his brother's share. Thus, on the death of the father of Klizogg, the rustic Socrates, M. Herzell informs us, that his eldest brother took his portion in land, and his other brothers sold their share to Klizogg* An increasing population with diminished resources or industry, tends necessarily and uniformly to diminish still more those resources and that industry.
· When the great mass of a people,' observes our author, 'pursue a species of industry, which they either cannot, or know not how to render more productive, which, however, occupies every day, but not so as to fill up all their time, and which does not permit them to engage in such additional work as would enable them to obtain, besides bare subsistence, comforts and a small capital ; and when this portion of the people, which merely vegetate, increase, while the class immediately above them diminishes, it is evident that such a state of things must have an evil influence on the character, as well as. the condition of the community at large.'-pp. 28, 29.
In proof that the evil is spreading in the mountainous districts of Berne, he cites many facts, all of which show an increase in the poorer classes, and a concomitant diminution in the richer. He asserts that it would be difficult to find in all Oberland twelve peasants who possessed twenty arpents of land in cultivation, or such an extent of meadow as would winter twenty cows. The increase of the population, the consequent subdivision of the land into smaller and smaller portions, point out the resulting poverty in no respect more clearly and strongly than in the diminution of the number of paysans à vache, and in the proportional ninety-nine against two hundred would be unavailable, even if the ninety-nine were all unanimous. But the fact is, that the patricians get themselves again elected in the country, and we have just shown, that it cannot be difficult for them to carry their election in the Oberland. More than half of those who should be representatives of the country, are, in this way, also patricians. These patricians elect themselves for life. The nearest relatives may sit in the council. Therefore the concession of ninety-nine country members by the aristocracy to the people is a mere mockery.
For more than a year the aristocracy of Berne kept Switzerland in the dread of civil war; it made efforts at the Congress of Vienna to recover the Pays de Vaud, and Are govia, and to deprive those cantons of the independence which they had acquired by solemn treaties. But public opinion was so decidedly against the aristocracy of Berne, that the allied powers would not comply with their request.
* In the canton of Schwytz the land is not exposed to this minute subdivision, as there the management of it is, by law, given exclusively to the youngest son. In the Emmenthal, a valley celebrated for its beauty and cultivation, the land descends to the youngest son, who pays his brothers and sisters their portion by mortgaging it.
goats. He und more milk, able quantity
increase of goats. He who is not able to keep cows, prefers goats to sheep ; they yield more milk, and being kept in sheds during the night, they afford a considerable quantity of manure : whereas the sheep, remaining night and day during summer on the mountains, do not produce the same advantage
M. Kasthofer's remarks on the measures adopted by the government of Berne, respecting the poor, are worthy of notice.
In 1643, 1676, and 1690, they established regulations evidently borrowed from the poor-laws of Queen Elizabeth. The regulation of 1690, which was made after the plague had ravaged the district, complains of the numerous hordes of beggars that oppressed the country. This fact, our author seems to think, deserves particular notice. At this period, he remarks, the common lands were not distributed ; few goats were kept; potatoes were not known ; commerce was free; the land was not, as at present, subdivided into minute portions; and the small-pox was constantly repressing the population, scanty as it then was. Can then, he asks, the regulations, formed under these circumstances, be effectual at present, when nearly all the common lands are distributed ; the number of goats is very great; the culture of potatoes can hardly be extended ; commerce is paralysed, and vaccination has put a stop to the ravages of the small-pox ? And yet one of the regulations of 1690 enacted, that those who married, and were reduced to a state of poverty, should have no claim to parish relief. The necessity of such an enactment, at present, he seems to admit; but he justly doubts whether it, or any other mode to check marriages, could be carried into effect. It appears, however, that, in many of the communities, a bounty is actually given on marriage ; for, as soon as a young man marries, he obtains a portion of the common land, as well as other privileges, which he could not possess as long as he was a bachelor. The encouragement thus given to marriage was, indeed, in some measure counteracted by a regulation common to all Switzerland, which made it necessary for every peasant to provide himself with the arms and uniform of a militia-man, before he could obtain permission to marry. This would at once limit the number of marriages, and promote industry and economy; but the law has been repealed, or fallen into neglect, since the political revolutions in that country. A law somewhat similar prevailed in the seventeenth century in several places betwixt Hanau and Francfort ; no young farmer being there permitted to marry till he had planted a certain number of walnut trees. A little reflection, however, will convince us that no regulations, the object of which is to check marriages, can be