Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 63, 1886

Journey From Italy to Switzerland (Supplementary Account)


[April 29, 1886]

See Ms 62, 1886. Previously unpublished.

On the cars from Torre Pellice to Geneva the mountains are stretching upward to a very great height on either side of us. These mountains are cultivated nearly to their summit. We come now where we look down thousands of feet, and there is a ravine in which is a swiftly running stream. It is [a] mountain of rocks on either side of this deep precipice. We see most beautiful green valleys and orchards, houses all built in the mountainsides. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 1

We come to a village, very, very old—Chiomonte. There are many houses built standing two thousand feet above level sea. The roofs are of broad, flat stones which give them an ancient appearance. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 2

Now the mountains run up thousands of feet above the village, and houses are built upon the steep mountain sides to the very summit which seems to touch the heavens. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 3

We come to another precipice. We have passed through ten tunnels, one following another in such quick succession that I have been able to write only this one page. We pass now a tunnel. Below us is seen, way down in the valley, which is nicely cultivated, walls of rock that once composed a building, but it is now in ruins. Up hundreds of feet is quite a large village—tunnel. This is a varied scenery. Now is the terraced mountain. Rocky walls are built to keep the mountain from washing away; and then there are the little patches of green mingled with the brown cultivated land; and this is repeated again and again. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 4

Up, up, thousands of feet we pass through a tunnel seven miles long. There is a flock of goats up amid rough, bare rocks. Above these cragged, rugged rocks, there are houses built. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 5

Now we come to more modern houses and again a village—ancient buildings, centuries old—tunnel—ancient village very old. Up on the side and summit of mountains are dwelling houses. In the ravines is a swiftly flowing stream. There is snow in a gulch, very deep. This snow reaches from the top of the mountains to the gulch below. Rocks, rocks, nothing but rocks, except there has been planted pines for a forest—tunnel. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 6

Flocks of goats upon the apparently bare rocks very high up. Rocks, rocks, and yet away up hundreds of feet there are dwelling houses and little patches of grass. It is surely curious to see the mountain trail made in the side of the rocky mountain. Oulx is the name of the place. Here the goats and sheep make their way and find something to live on. It is difficult to tell what. Small old village—a forest of evergreens that has been planted by the railroad track and on the mountainsides. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 7

France, 3 P.M. We are passing now through a corner of France. We left Italy at Modane about twelve o’clock and entered Switzerland, and now we are in France—a beautiful country surrounded with hills and mountains; beautiful trees; the earth is in her new dress of green; the trees covered with the brightest green foliage; the varied scenery of indescribable loveliness. This earth would be indeed beautiful if it were not for the foul blot of sin that corrupts it in every place where human beings inhabit it. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 8

The rocky mountains rise abruptly, and the tops seem to touch the heavens. At my left is a grand old castle situated upon the mountaintops; and still higher towers a mountain that, to human eye, appears inaccessible, thousands of feet, and on the very summit of the highest point is a tower. Ambition of man will do great things. This is a beautiful valley. Forests rise above fresh snow-clad mountains. Hedges of lilacs, horse chestnuts in full bloom, and a tree just like the chestnut filled with blossoms—deep pink. Chambery in France has 18,550 (eighteen thousand, five hundred and fifty) inhabitants. This is a thickly settled place. The houses look very old, but it has for situation a beautiful valley. It is wonderful to see the trees—apple, plum, peach trees, horse chestnuts in full bloom—and inhale the fragrance; and then in striking contrast only a little from this are the snow-covered Alps. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 9

This is indeed the most beautiful tame and wild scenery blended I have looked upon in Europe; but there is one thing that spoils it all—Catholics have a stronghold in all these beautiful places. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 10

And the inquiry arises, How are these people to be reached? How is the message to go to them? How will they be warned? We can only wait the providence of God. He has means and ways by which He can reach the people. The work is the Lord’s. He so loved man that He gave His own life a ransom, and He will love them by giving them opportunities to know what is truth. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 11

I see a large granite structure. On its top are towers, and on the highest points of rock towering [upwards] that seems to touch the very heavens is placed a cross upon this battlement of rocks, dark and without verdure, stretching for a distance. This is Aix-les-Bains, the great watering place—not sulphur springs. There is an immense building on the right, four thousand, four hundred inhabitants; on the left are high pointed mountains; at the base a beautiful valley with its cultivated lands and very fine poplars. It was dark when we passed this point before. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 12

This town is of modern mold. We come to a valley planted with rows of poplars. On the left are high, sharp ranges of rocks, vineyards, lake, beautiful rocks, sharp and edgewise. 4LtMs, Ms 63, 1886, par. 13