Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 33, 1886

Travels in Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

September 2, 1886

Portions of this manuscript are published in 2SM 335; 5MR 194; EGWE 214-215.

We have just said farewell to three of our responsible men in the office who were summoned by the government to serve for three weeks of drill. It was a very important stage of our work in the publishing house, but the government calls do not accommodate themselves to our convenience. They demand that young men whom they have accepted as soldiers shall not neglect the exercise and drill essential for soldier service. We were glad to see that these men with their regimentals had tokens of honor for faithfulness in their work. They were trustworthy young men. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 1

These did not go from choice, but because the laws of their nation required this. We gave them a word of encouragement to be found true soldiers of the cross of Christ. Our prayers will follow these young men, praying that the angels of God may go with them and guard them from every temptation. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 2

The same night there was beautiful music and fireworks close by across the road. There is an extensive beer garden owned by the city and carried on by the city. This garden is made attractive with flowers and shrubs and noble trees, giving a nice shade. There are seats that will accommodate hundreds, and little oval tables are adjusted before these seats, and this most beautiful instrumental music is played by the band; and when there is danger of customers becoming less, then there is something new to draw in both men and women. This is a popular beer garden. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 3

Sunday afternoon and evening crowds visit this place made most attractive to secure the higher class while there is beer drinking and dancing; and as the stimulus of beer makes the visitors very talkative and lively, there is much noise and confusion. There are always those who devote time to practicing shooting at a mark. All this is in keeping with the laws of Switzerland; but should the press be run which is in the basement, disturbing no one, the office would serve a warrant upon the proprietor for working [on] Sunday. This is the consistency of these city laws. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 4

A short time since in riding out one Sunday, we met hundreds of people, men, women, and children with baskets, looking heated and weary. They, many of them, had mugs in their hands. They were coming quite a distance to assemble in some of the beer gardens. They took their bread, and their repast was of bread and beer. Almost every beautiful location of groves and gardens is converted into a beer garden. We saw whirling tents [with] men, women, and children within them, riding on wooden horses. There was a large swing; a man was laboriously turning a crank to make the swing revolve. There were baskets of fruit and bread for merchandise, and people who had no better chance had a table placed outside the house, and the family and friends, men, women, and children, were accommodated with their foaming mugs of beer; and as they began to be exhilarated, they laughed and talked fast and loud, and then we met large numbers staggering along, hardly able to walk straight, puffing their cigars, and they appeared to be without nobility and could hardly reason. But all this is considered according to law. It would be difficult to estimate the number of these beer gardens. While the authorities are very zealous to inflict the penalty for a good work on the first day of week in our missionary house, they tolerate any kind of pleasure in beer drinking, practicing shooting, and all is considered to be a good thing. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 5

A few weeks since, quite a number of the office hands went up to the Rigi. We first rode on the cars to Lucerne sixty miles, then we took a steamer which brought us to the place where we take the cars for to ascend the mountain. The name of the town is Vitznaa and Arth in connection. The car consists of one carriage holding fifty-four persons not divided into compartments. It is more like a city railway car. The gauge is that of ordinary railways. Between the rails in the center run two others close together provided with teeth on which a cog wheel under the locomotive works. The train is propelled upward by steam power. In descending, the speed is regulated by an ingenious mode of introducing atmospheric air into the cylinder. The carriage for passengers is placed both in ascending and descending above or before the engine to which it is not connected by coupling. In case of accident it can be stopped almost instantaneously. The speed does not exceed four miles an hour. The Rigi [is] 5,905 feet above the Lake of Lucerne. There is a group of mountains ___ miles in circumference lying between the Lakes of Lucerne, Zug, and Lowery. The cars pass through a wooded, hilly country. We pass farm houses—beautiful and expensive buildings. The Rigi Hotel is a very beautiful building, but far, far above to the _____ Hotel is our destination. This route seemed so much like California. In reaching the summit, there are precipices far, far down with rapid streams passing through them; fresh green pastures with many cattle feeding. The name Rigi is applied to the north peaks only which, owing to its isolated position, commands a singularly beautiful scenery spread out to the senses like a panorama of three hundred miles of circumference. Several new hotels have been erected for the accommodation of travelers. The Rigi is new, one of the most popular resorts of Switzerland. The view of the lake is greenish, bluish water—is seen giving a most beautiful sight to the eyes, and as we slowly ascend becomes more lovely. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 6

The train after twenty minutes ascending brings us into a projecting conglomerated rock by means of a tunnel eighty-two yards long and crosses a ravine seventy-five feet deep by a bridge upheld by two iron pillars. This is a very interesting point in the journey. In a few minutes we reach a watering place and station at Freibergen. From this point the line is double [for] five miles [to] Kaltbad, 4,728 feet from the level, or from the Lake Lucerne. Here is built a health resort on a plateau sheltered from the north and east winds. This place looked interesting, and I would have much liked to have spent some hours here. A path leads through a narrow opening in the rock to the left of the hotel to St. Michael’s Chapel. The walls, I learn, are hung with numerous tablets. One records that two pious sisters sought refuge here from persecutions of a governor of the district in the time of King Albert and built the chapel. The spring (42 degrees Fahr.) which bubbles forth from the rock adjoining the chapel was formerly called the Schwesternborn in memory of the two sisters. A path among the blocks of conglomerate near the chapel and onward traversing parklike grounds leads to the Kangli, 4,770, a pavilion on a projecting rock which commands a fine view of the snowy Alps and of the plains toward the north with its numerous lakes. In five minutes the train reaches Staffelhohe, then ascends to the left around the Rigi Rothstock. In some minutes to Rigi-Staffel, 5,210, the junction of the Arth line. This is a place I would have been pleased to stop for a day. The scenery seems very fine. The central part of Lake Lucerne is seen, and I am told a clear view is often gained from this point, while the highest point, the Klein, is enveloped in dense fog. From this point, the sunset is seen in greater perfection from the Rothstock than from the Klein. From the latter place, when the atmosphere is clear, the sunrise is a scene of great beauty. We climb, climb higher and still higher until we become almost giddy, and we have reached at last the summit. I am pointed to the Rigi path one-half mile on the Kunsnucht road where stands Tell’s chapel. At the base of the Rigi to the [place] where we returned, we had a nice chance to view the scenery. We looked down into canyons thousands of feet and where streams of water were running swiftly. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 7

After we left the cars, we passed through the depot and found ourselves under majestic trees. There were seats where we could be accommodated while waiting for the boat which we saw approaching. We found ourselves in proximity to a beer garden which had been made attractive as possible. It was Sunday, and a large number of people were collected together, both men and women, and children. There was one man fiddling and singing. I wished to see the effect of this upon those present, for it was a little more close than we had ever been to a beer and wine garden. The performer was playing upon his fiddle and going through all the grotesque movements of a clown. He acted in my sight like the fools I have read about that are in kings’ courts. After he had ceased singing, then there was a great demonstration: clapping of [hands], stomping of feet—for there was a board platform—and thumping of canes. I was astonished that this kind of thing should delight the taste of even pleasure lovers. And now came the drinking of beer and wine. This was apparently their height of enjoyment. Earthly and sensual! Here was a low kind of amusement which is almost universal in Europe. Drink beer, brandy, and wine, dancing, smoking. This is not found alone in crowded cities, but nearly every spot inhabited by human beings. Those in high life and those in low life, from youth of ten years to men of gray hairs who seem prepared for to be cut down by the scythe of death, every rank and condition of life is represented in these pleasure gardens. If they can find a cluster of trees or reduce it to two or one tree, you will see its shadow converted into a place for seats and tables for the people to congregate to drink beer, wine, and brandy. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 8

We thought much as we looked upon this scene. Here are men created by God upright, surrounded with the most grand works of God in nature that should charm the senses and inspire the heart with love and gratitude to the Giver. All these things are turned from for selfish, sensual indulgences. God has surrounded man with pure scenes to awaken high and noble aspirations and desires for pure pleasures, healthful and happy enjoyments. But man has left the fountain of living waters and hewn out to himself broken cisterns that can hold no water. How astonishing it is that man, created in the image of God, fitted for the heaven of bliss, should fall through indulgence of appetite, separate himself from his Maker and withdraw his eyes from the heaven of bliss, from Jesus who is altogether lovely, and fix them on earth; and like our first parents, continue to disobey God and eating of forbidden fruit, courting disease, that he may die! I thought as I looked upon these human beings draining their glasses of stimulus, death lurks there. He is clad in the livery of heaven and tempts the appetite, and multitudes do just as Eve did—disobey God, eat, and dying, they shall die. Sinful pleasures, how deceptive—promising much, but disappointing so many. Indulgence of perverted appetite is laying the foundation for disease and premature death. Satan has his plans matured to create an appetite for stimulus. In this he enfeebles the physical and mental powers. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 9

Satan has displayed his infernal wisdom in the devices that cluster around the steps of youth. The various amusements of society have been the ruin of thousands who, but for these, would have had pure taste for uncorrupting enjoyments. They might have been upright and respectable. But Satan solicited Christ to worship him, Satan. Christ meets him with, “It is written,” etc. He comes to man as he came to Christ, and he is not resisted by men as Christ has given us the example how to resist him. Men, women, and youth bow to Satan in his temptations to indulgence of appetite. The only safety for our youth is total abstinence. Taste not, touch not, handle not. Abstain, restrain, deny should be the motto. One step in the direction of selfish indulgence is one step to ruin, one step in the path of perdition, following a demon clothed as an angel of light. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 10

We see youth who have been richly endowed of heaven with valuable talents in trust to be used to the glory of God, debased to the fascinations of pleasures. Wrecks are seen everywhere and thousands press on in the same path, seeking forbidden indulgences notwithstanding they have before them the lives of so large a number ruined—of no worth to society, but to act as tempters and destroying their prospects of a future eternity of bliss. Thousands crowding upon the heels of thousands to certain ruin. Why will they not open their eyes upon the fearful work that the indulgence of appetite is making? Why will they not arise in the strength of their God-given powers and roll back this tide of moral woe until there shall be an awakening and strenuous efforts put forth? The monuments of ruin will stand like sunken rocks—at times concealed from view—to wreck the barks of others. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 11

The steamer glides up to the landing and we step on board. It is crowded so that it seems next to impossible to urge your passage in the closely packed crowd. The scenery on this Lake Lucerne is very beautiful, but we see a shower arising. The muttering thunder and the lightning flash warn (us) to take shelter in the saloon below. We hasten down before the crowd gets in motion; and there out of the cabin windows we see a most beautiful sight—the large drops of rain falling upon the smooth surface of the lake look like glittering diamonds. I never witnessed such a scene as this before. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 12

We are approaching our landing place, Lucerne, and we begin to make our way out in the passage, but this seems a hard task; inch by inch we creep along, but the crowd is densely packed, and before we get through it the steamer is again in motion. We have lost our chance of landing. After a time we make another landing. This is our last chance. We press to the front of the crowd and step off in a pouring rain and try to get a hack; but no, every one is employed for private purposes, and we must walk in the pouring rain. We feared we shall all have to remain over night in Lucerne, which would cost us quite a sum of money. We hastened almost on the run and were told the cars were gone, but wet and bedraggled we went through three apartments and out on the platform and found the cars about ready to start. We stepped on board the train and were glad that we could have our own apartment to ourselves. We were rather a wet, uncomfortable, sorry-looking set. Ella clapped her hands and in a joyous tone exclaimed, “Now Sarah, aren’t you glad you went to the Rigi? Sarah, aren’t you glad you went to the Rigi?” We had a good laugh and tried to look at the matter in her light and drop out the dark colorings. 4LtMs, Ms 33, 1886, par. 13