Travel Letters: Thusis, Switzerland (1866)

DEAR FATHER, — I wrote the other day to Fred, but I suppose that will not be allowed to pass for my weekly letter. At any rate, as there are only two more to write, I won’t be mean, but give you the full measure. We are beginning to see our way through Switzerland now, and there are no broken heads or legs. Last Sunday I wrote from the lower end of lake Maggiore. Since then we have seen the lakes Maggiore, Lugano, and Como ; all of them, especially the last, very beautiful. Indeed, in its own sort, nothing can be more lovely than lake Como. We stayed one day at Bellagio on its eastern shore, and then sailed down to Como, where we spent a night, and then up to Colico near its head.

From here we drove over the Maloja Pass into the upper Engadine, one of the most interesting regions of all Switzerland, peculiar in climate, scenery, and customs. Their own description of their climate is that they have ” nine months winter and three months cold,” and as we entered their high table-land, out of sunny Italy, we put on great-coats and buttoned up to the chin against the bitter cold. The scenery is very grand, hardly surpassed in the region of Mont Blanc or Monte Rosa. We stopped at Pontresina, and from there climbed the Piz Languard, the observatory mountain of the district, and had snow-peak and glacier views of surpassing grandeur to our hearts’ con-tent. Think of that, while you were sweltering in Boston dog-days. They call their language, down there, the Ladein, and it comes nearer to the genuine old Latin than anything else in existence. It was very interesting. There is a great bathing establishment in the Engadine, called St. Moritz, with lots of visitors, among others, a Mr. G. McClellan, formerly an American general. I did not see him.

From Pontresina we drove over the Alps again by the Julier Pass to Tiefenkasten, and from there walked across one of the picturesque foot passes to this little village on the banks of the infant Rhine, at the gate of the great Splugen Pass. From here we shall explore the Splugen and its wonderful Via Mala, then go north by Zurich to Constance, through their lakes, and so on to Munich. From there a little trip into the Austrian Tyrol, then back to Paris, where I hope to be three weeks from to-day. Four weeks from yesterday my boat is on the shore, my bark is on the sea, and my foreign travels will be over.

There has been a great deal of heavy rain in Switzerland this year, but we have very happily escaped it almost all. I remember only four rainy days. It looks now a little as if it might be ugly weather tomorrow.

No letters from home lately. Some more are ordered to Zurich, where I shall get them Wednesday or Thursday. I hope you are all well and begin to have a sort of confidence that, as all has gone so capitally so far, I shall have no disappointment or bad news for the rest of my time. I hope you will have as perfect a success when you come. The Exposition, you know, is next summer.

Strong wishes to be remembered to you. I suppose he will return to Paris with me.