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So once were ranged the sons of ancient Rome,
A noble show! While Roscius trod the stage.
As all commendable diligence was used by the officers of the peace to make
way for the bailiff, Herr Hofmeister and his companions were soon in their
allotted stations, which, it is scarcely necessary to repeat, were the
upper places on the estrade. Peter had seated himself, after returning
numerous salutations, for none in a situation to catch his eye neglected
so fair an opportunity to show their intimacy with the bailiff, when his
wandering glance fell upon the happy visage of Father Xavier. Rising
hastily, the bailiff went through a multitude of the formal ceremonies
that distinguished the courtesy of the place and period, such as frequent
wavings and liftings of the beaver, profound reverences, smiles that
seemed to flow from the heart, and a variety of other tokens of
extraordinary love and respect. When all were ended, he resumed his place
by the side of Melchior de Willading, with whom he commenced a
"We know not, noble Freiherr," (he spoke in the vernacular of their common
canton,) "whether we have most reason to esteem or to disrelish these
Augustines. While they do so many Christian acts to the travellers on
their mountain yonder, they are devils incarnate in the way of upholding
popery and its abominations among the people. Look you, the
commonalty--God bless them as they deserve!--have no great skill at
doctrinal discussions, and are much disposed to be led away by
appearances. Numberless are the miserable dolts who fancy the godliness
which is content to pass its time on the top of a frozen hill, doing good,
feeding the hungry, dressing the wounds of the fallen, and--but thou
knowest the manner in which these sayings run--the ignorant, as I was
about to add, are but too ready to believe that the religion which leads
men to do this, must have some savor of Heaven in it, after all!"
"Are they so very wrong, friend Peter, that we were wise to disturb the
monks in the enjoyment of a favor that is so fairly earned?"
The bailiff looked askance at his brother burgher, for such was the humble
appellation that aristocracy assumed in Berne, appearing desirous to probe
the depth of the other's political morals before he spoke more freely.
"Though of a house so honored and trusted, I believe thou art not much
accustomed of late to mingle with the council?" he evasively observed.
"Since this heavy losses in my family, of which thou may'st have heard,
the care of this sole surviving child has been my principal solace and
occupation, I know not whether the frequent and near sight of death among
those so tenderly loved may have softened my heart towards the Augustines,
but to me theirs seems a self-denying and a right worthy life."
"'Tis doubtless as you say, noble Melchior, and we shall do well to let
our love for the holy canons be seen. Ho! Mr. Officer--do us the favor to
request the reverend monk of St. Bernard to draw nearer, that the people
may learn the esteem in which their patient charities and never-wearying
benevolence are held by the lookers-on. As you will have occasion to pass
a night beneath the convent's roof, Herr von Willading, in your journey to
Italy, a little honor shown to the honest and pains-taking clavier will
not be lost on the brotherhood, if these churchmen have even a decent
respect for the usages of their fellow-creatures."
Father Xavier took the proffered place, which was nearer to the person of
the bailiff than the one he had just quitted, and insomuch the more
honorable, with the usual thanks, but with a simplicity which proved that
he understood the compliment to be due to the fraternity of which he was a
member, and not to himself. This little disposition made, as well as all
other preliminary matters properly observed, the bailiff seemed satisfied
with himself and his arrangements, for the moment.
The reader must imagine the stir in the throng the importance of the minor
agents appointed to marshal the procession, and the mixture of weariness
and curiosity that possessed the spectators, while the several parts of so
complicated and numerous a train were getting arranged, each in its
prescribed order and station. But, as the ceremonies which followed were
of a peculiar character, and have an intimate connexion with the events of
the tale, we shall describe them with a little detail, although the task
we have allotted to ourselves is less that of sketching pictures of local
usages, and of setting before the reader's imagination scenes of real or
fancied antiquarian accuracy, than the exposition of a principle, and the
wholesome moral which we have always flattered ourselves might, in a
greater or less degree, follow from our labors.
A short time previously to the commencement of the ceremonies, a guard of
honor, composed of shepherds, gardeners, mowers, reapers, vine-dressers,
escorted by halberdiers and headed by music, had left the square in quest
of the abbé, as the regular and permanent presiding officer of the abbaye,
or company, is termed. This escort, all the individuals of which were
dressed in character, was not long in making its appearance with the
officer in question, a warm, substantial citizen and proprietor of the
place, who, otherwise attired in the ordinary costume of his class in that
age, had decorated his beaver with a waving plume, and, in addition to a
staff or baton, wore a flowing scarf pendent from his shoulder. This
personage, on whom certain judicial functions had devolved, took a
convenient position in the front of the stage, and soon made a sign for
the officials to proceed with their duties.
Twelve vine-dressers led by a chief, each having his person more or less
ornamented with garlands of vine-leaves, and bearing other emblems of his
calling, marched in a body, chanting a song of the fields. They escorted
two of their number who had been pronounced the most skilful and
successful in cultivating the vineyards of the adjacent côtes. When they
reached the front of the estrade, the abbé pronounced a short discourse
in honor of the cultivators of the earth in general, after which he
digressed into especial eulogiums on the successful candidates, two
pleased, abashed, and unpractised peasants, who received the simple prizes
with throbbing hearts. This little ceremony observed, amid the eager and
delightful gaze of friends, and the oblique and discontented regards of
the few whose feelings were too contracted to open to the joys of others,
even on this simple and grateful festival, the trumpets sounded again, and
the cry was raised to make room.
A large group advanced from among the body of the actors to an open space,
of sufficient size and elevation, immediately in front of the stage. When
in full view of the multitude, those who composed it arranged themselves
in a prescribed and seemly order. They were the officials of Bacchus. The
high-priest, robed in a sacrificial dress, with flowing beard, and head
crowned with the vine, stood foremost, chanting in honor of the craft, of
the vine-dresser. His song also contained a few apposite allusions to the
smiling blushing candidates. The whole joined in the chorus, though the
leader of the band scarce needed the support of any other lungs than those
with which he had been very amply furnished by nature.
The hymn ended, a general burst of instrumental music succeeded; and, the
followers of Bacchus regaining their allotted station, the general
procession began to move, sweeping around the whole area of the square in
a manner to pass in order before the bailiff.
The first body in the march was composed of the council of the abbaye,
attended by the shepherds and gardeners. One in an antique costume, and
bearing a halberd, acted as marshal. He was succeeded by the two crowned
vine-dressers, after whom came the abbé with his counsellors, and large
groups of shepherds and shepherdesses, as well as a number of both sexes
who toiled in gardens, all attired in costumes suited to the traditions of
their respective pursuits. The marshal and the officers of the abbaye
moved slowly past, with the gravity and decorum that became their
stations, occasionally halting to give time for the evolutions of those
who followed; but the other actors now began in earnest to play their
several parts. A group of young shepherdesses, clad in closely fitting
vests of sky-blue with skirts of white, each holding her crook, came
forward dancing, and singing songs that imitated the bleatings of their
flocks and all the other sounds familiar to the elevated pasturages of
that region. These were soon joined by an equal number of young shepherds
also singing their pastorals, the whole exhibiting an active and merry
group of dancers, accustomed to exercise their art on the sward of the
Alps; for, in this festival, although we have spoken of the performers as
actors, it is not in the literal meaning of the term, since, with few
exceptions none appeared to represent any other calling than that which,
in truth, formed his or her daily occupation. We shall not detain the
narrative to say more of this party, than that they formed a less striking
exception to the conventional picture of the appearance of those engaged
in tending flocks, than the truth ordinarily betrays; and that their
buoyant gaiety, blooming faces, and unweaned action, formed a good
introductory preparation for the saltation that was to follow.
The male gardeners appeared in their aprons, carrying spades, rakes, and
the other implements of their trade; the female supporting baskets on
their heads filled with rich flowers, vegetables, and fruits. When in
front of the bailiff, the young men formed a sort of fasces of their
several implements, with a readiness that denoted much study while the
girls arranged their baskets in a circle at its foot. Then, joining hands,
the whole whirled around, filling the air with a song peculiar to their
During the whole of the preparations of the morning, Adelheid had looked
on with a vacant eye, as if her feelings had little connexion with that
which was passing before her face. It is scarcely necessary to say, that
her mind, in spite of herself, wandered to other scenes, and that her
truant thoughts were busy with interests very different from those which
were here presented to the senses. But, by the time the group of gardeners
had passed dancing away, her feelings began to enlist with those who were
so evidently pleased with themselves and all around them, and her father,
for the first time that morning, was rewarded for the deep attention with
which he watched the play of her features, by an affectionate and natural
"This goes off right merrily, Herr Bailiff;" exclaimed the baron, animated
by that encouraging smile, as the blood is quickened by a genial ray of
the sun's heat when it has been long chilled and deadened by cold.--"This
goes off with a joyful will, and is likely to end with credit to thy town!
I only wonder that you have not more of this, and monthly. When joy can be
had so cheap, it is churlish to deny it to a people."
"We complain not of the levities, noble Freiherr, for your light thinker
makes a sober and dutiful subject; but we shall have more of this, and of
a far better quality, or our time is wasted.--What is thought at Berne,
noble Melchior, of the prospects of the Emperor's obtaining a new
concession for the levy of troops in our cantons!"
"I cry thy mercy, good Peterchen, but by thy leave, we will touch on
these matters more at our leisure. Boyish though it seem to thy eyes, so
long accustomed to look at matters of state, I do confess that these
follies begin to have their entertainment and may well claim an hour of
idleness from him that has nothing better in hand."
Peter Hofmeister ejaculated a little expressively. He then examined the
countenance of the Signor Grimaldi, who had given himself to the merriment
with the perfect good-will and self-abandonment of a man of strong
intellect, and who felt his powers too sensibly to be jealous of
appearances. Shrugging his shoulders, like one that was disappointed, the
pragmatical bailiff turned his look towards the revellers, in order to
detect, if possible, some breach of the usages of the country, that might
require official reproof; for Peter was of that class of governors who
have an itching to see their fingers stirring even the air that is
breathed by the people, lest they should get it of a quality or in a
quantity that might prove dangerous to a monopoly which it is now the
fashion to call the conservative principle. In the mean time the revels
No sooner had the gardeners quitted the arena, than a solemn and imposing
train appeared to occupy the sward. Four females marched to the front,
bearing an antique altar that was decorated with suitable devices. They
were clad in emblematical dresses, and wore garlands of flowers on their
heads. Boys carrying censers preceded an altar that was dedicated to
Flora, and her ministering official came after it, mitred and carrying
flowers. Like all the priestesses that followed, she was laboriously
attired in the robes that denoted her sacred duty. The goddess herself was
borne by four females on a throne canopied by flowers, and from whose
several parts sweeping festoons of every hue and die descended to the
earth. Haymakers of both sexes, gay and pastoral in their air and attire,
succeeded, and a car groaning with the sweet-scented grass of the Alps,
accompanied by females bearing rakes, brought up the rear.
The altar and the throne being deposited on the sward, the priestess
offered sacrifice, hymning the praise of the goddess with mountain lungs.
Then followed the dance of the haymakers, as in the preceding exhibition,
and the train went off as before.
"Excellent well, and truer than it could be done by your real pagan!"
cried the bailiff, who, in spite of his official longings, began to watch
the mummery with a pleased eye. "This beateth greatly our youthful follies
in the Genoese and Lombard carnivals, in which, to say truth, there are
sometimes seen rare niceties in the way of representing the old deities."
"Is it the usage, friend Hofmeister," demanded the baron, "to enjoy these
admirable pleasantries often here in Vaud?"
"We partake of them, from time to time, as the abbaye desires, and much as
thou seest. The honorable Signor Grimaldi--who will pardon me that he gets
no better treatment than he receives, and who will not fail to ascribe
what, to all who know him, might otherwise pass for inexcusable neglect,
to his own desire for privacy--he will tell us, should he be pleased to
honor us with his real opinion, that the subject is none the worse for
occasions to laugh and be gay. Now, there is Geneva, a town given to
subtleties as ingenious and complicated as the machinery of their own
watches; it can never have a merry-making without a leaven of disputation
and reason, two as damnable ingredients in the public humor as schism in
religion, or two minds in a _ménage_. There is not a knave in the city
who does not fancy himself a better man than Calvin, and some there are
who believe if they are not cardinals, it is merely because the reformed
church does not relish legs cased in red stockings. By the word of a
bailiff! I would not be the ruler, look ye, of such a community, for the
hope of becoming Avoyer of Berne itself. Here it is different. We play our
antics in the shape of gods and goddesses like sober people, and, when all
is over, we go train our vines, or count our herds, like faithful subjects
of the great canton. Do I state the matter fairly to our friends, Baron de
Roger de Blonay bit his lip, for he and his had been of Vaud a thousand
years, and he little relished the allusion to the quiet manner in which
his countrymen submitted to a compelled and foreign dictation. He bowed a
cold acquiescence to the bailiff's statement, however, as if no farther
answer were needed.
"We have other ceremonies that invite our attention," said Melchior de
Willading, who had sufficient acquaintance with his friend's opinions to
understand his silence.
The next group that approached was composed of those who lived by the
products of the dairy. Two cowherds led their beasts, the monotonous tones
of whose heavy bells formed a deep and rural accompaniment to the music
that regularly preceded each party, while a train of dairy-girls, and of
young mountaineers of the class that tend the herds in the summer
pasturages, succeeded, a car loaded with the implements of their calling
bringing up the rear. In this little procession, no detail of equipment
was wanting. The milking-stool was strapped to the body of the dairyman;
one had the peculiarly constructed pail in his hand, while another bore
at his back the deep wooden vessel in which milk is carried up and down
the precipices to the chalet. When they reached the sodded arena, the men
commenced milking the cows, the girls set in motion the different
processes of the dairy, and the whole united in singing the Ranz des
Vaches of the district. It is generally and erroneously believed that
there is a particular air which is known throughout Switzerland by this
name, whereas in truth nearly every canton has its own song of the
mountains, each varying from the others in the notes, as well as in the
words, and we might almost add in the language. The Ranz des Vaches of
Vaud is in the patois of the country, a dialect that is composed of words
of Greek and Latin origin, mingled on a foundation of Celtic. Like our own
familiar tune, which was first bestowed in derision, and which a glorious
history has enabled us to continue in pride, the words are far too
numerous to be repeated. We shall, however, give the reader a single verse
of a song which Swiss feeling has rendered so celebrated, and which is
said often to induce the mountaineer in foreign service to desert the
mercenary standard and the tame scenes of towns; to return to the
magnificent nature that haunts his waking imagination and embellishes his
dreams. It will at once be perceived that the power of this song is
chiefly to be found in the recollections to which it gives birth, by
recalling the simple charms of rural life, and by reviving the indelible
impressions that are made by nature wherever she has laid her hand on the
face of the earth with the same majesty as in Switzerland.
Lé zermailli dei Colombietté
Dé bon matin, sé san léha.--
Ha, ah! ha, ah!
Liauba! Liauba! por aria.
Bllantz' et naire,
Rodz et motaile,
Dzjouvan' et etro
Dezó ou tzehano,
Io vo z' ario
Dezo ou triembllo,
Io ië triudzo,
Liauba! Liauba! por aris.
[The cowherds of the Alps
Arise at an early hour.
Ha, ah! ha, ah!
Liauba! Liauba! in order to milk.
Come all of you,
Black and white,
Red and mottled,
Young and old;
Beneath this oak
I am about to milk you.
Beneath this poplar,
I am about to press,
Liauba! Liauba! in order to milk.]
The herdsmen and dairymaids no sooner uttered the first notes of this
magic song, than a deep and breathing stillness pervaded the crowd. As the
peculiar strains of the chorus rose on the ear, murmuring echoes issued
from among the spectators, and ere the wild intonations could be repeated
which accompanied the words "Liauba! Liauba!" a thousand voices were
lifted simultaneously, as it were, to greet the surrounding mountains with
the salutations of their children. From that moment the remainder of the
Ranz des Vaches was a common burst of enthusiasm, the offspring of that
national fervor, which forms so strong a link in the social chain, and
which is capable of recalling to the bosom that, in other respects, has
been hardened by vice and crime, a feeling of some of the purest
sentiments of our nature.
The last strain died amid this general exhibition of healthful feeling.
The cowherds and the dairy-girls collected their different implements, and
resumed their march to the melancholy music of the bells, which formed a
deep contrast to the wild notes that had just filled the square.
To these succeeded the followers of Ceres, with the altar, the priestess,
and the enthroned goddess, as has been already described in the approach
of Flora. Cornucopiæ ornamented the chair of the deity, and the canopy was
adorned with the gifts of autumn. The whole was surmounted by a sheaf of
wheat. She held the sickle as her sceptre, and a tiara composed of the
bearded grain covered her brow. Reapers followed, bearing emblems of the
season of abundance, and gleaners closed the train. There was the halt,
the chant, the chorus, and the song in praise of the beneficent goddess of
autumn, as had been done by the votaries of the deity of flowers. A dance
of the reapers and gleaners followed, the threshers flourished their
flails, and the whole went their way.
After these came the grand standard of the abbaye and the vine-dressers
the real objects of the festival, succeeded. The laborers of the spring
led the advance, the men carrying their picks and spades, and the women
vessels to contain the cuttings of the vines. Then came a train bearing
baskets loaded with the fruit, in its different degrees of perfection and
of every shade of color. Youths holding staves topped with miniature
representations of the various utensils known in the culture of the grape,
such as the laborer with the tub on his back, the butt, and the vessel
that first receives the flowing juice, followed. A great number of men,
who brought forward the forge that is used to prepare the tools, closed
this part of the exhibition. The song and the dance again succeeded, when
the whole disappeared at a signal given by the approaching music of
Bacchus. As we now touch upon the most elaborate part of the
representation, we seize the interval that is necessary to bring it
forward, in order to take breath ourselves.
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