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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsSaunterings - Hearing The Freiburg Organ--First Sight Of Lake Leman
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Saunterings - Hearing The Freiburg Organ--First Sight Of Lake Leman Post by :rossl58 Category :Nonfictions Author :Charles Dudley Warner Date :May 2012 Read :2564

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Saunterings - Hearing The Freiburg Organ--First Sight Of Lake Leman

Freiburg, with its aerial suspension-bridges, is also on a peninsula, formed by the Sarine; with its old walls, old watch-towers, its piled-up old houses, and streets that go upstairs, and its delicious cherries, which you can eat while you sit in the square by the famous linden-tree, and wait for the time when the organ will be played in the cathedral. For all the world stops at Freiburg to hear and enjoy the great organ,--all except the self-satisfied English clergyman, who says he does n't care much for it, and would rather go about town and see the old walls; and the young and boorish French couple, whose refined amusement in the railway-carriage consisted in the young man's catching his wife's foot in the window-strap, and hauling it up to the level of the window, and who cross themselves and go out after the first tune; and the two bread-and-butter English young ladies, one of whom asks the other in the midst of the performance, if she has thought yet to count the pipes,--a thoughtful verification of Murray, which is very commendable in a young woman traveling for the improvement of her little mind.

One has heard so much of this organ, that he expects impossibilities, and is at first almost disappointed, although it is not long in discovering its vast compass, and its wonderful imitations, now of a full orchestra, and again of a single instrument. One has not to wait long before he is mastered by its spell. The vox humana stop did not strike me as so perfect as that of the organ in the Rev. Mr. Hale's church in Boston, though the imitation of choir-voices responding to the organ was very effective. But it is not in tricks of imitation that this organ is so wonderful: it is its power of revealing, by all its compass, the inmost part of any musical composition.

The last piece we heard was something like this: the sound of a bell, tolling at regular intervals, like the throbbing of a life begun; about it an accompaniment of hopes, inducements, fears, the flute, the violin, the violoncello, promising, urging, entreating, inspiring; the life beset with trials, lured with pleasures, hesitating, doubting, questioning; its purpose at length grows more certain and fixed, the bell tolling becomes a prolonged undertone, the flow of a definite life; the music goes on, twining round it, now one sweet instrument and now many, in strife or accord, all the influences of earth and heaven and the base underworld meeting and warring over the aspiring soul; the struggle becomes more earnest, the undertone is louder and clearer; the accompaniment indicates striving, contesting passion, an agony of endeavor and resistance, until at length the steep and rocky way is passed, the world and self are conquered, and, in a burst of triumph from a full orchestra, the soul attains the serene summit. But the rest is only for a moment. Even in the highest places are temptations. The sunshine fails, clouds roll up, growling of low, pedal thunder is heard, while sharp lightning-flashes soon break in clashing peals about the peaks. This is the last Alpine storm and trial. After it the sun bursts out again, the wide, sunny valleys are disclosed, and a sweet evening hymn floats through all the peaceful air. We go out from the cool church into the busy streets of the white, gray town awed and comforted.

And such a ride afterwards! It was as if the organ music still continued. All the world knows the exquisite views southward from Freiburg; but such an atmosphere as we had does not overhang them many times in a season. First the Moleross, and a range of mountains bathed in misty blue light,--rugged peaks, scarred sides, white and tawny at once, rising into the clouds which hung large and soft in the blue; soon Mont Blanc, dim and aerial, in the south; the lovely valley of the River Sense; peasants walking with burdens on the white highway; the quiet and soft-tinted mountains beyond; towns perched on hills, with old castles and towers; the land rich with grass, grain, fruit, flowers; at Palezieux a magnificent view of the silver, purple, and blue mountains, with their chalky seams and gashed sides, near at hand; and at length, coming through a long tunnel, as if we had been shot out into the air above a country more surprising than any in dreams, the most wonderful sight burst upon us,--the low-lying, deep-blue Lake Leman, and the gigantic mountains rising from its shores, and a sort of mist, translucent, suffused with sunlight, like the liquid of the golden wine the Steinberger poured into the vast basin. We came upon it out of total darkness, without warning; and we seemed, from our great height, to be about to leap into the splendid gulf of tremulous light and color.

This Lake of Geneva is said to combine the robust mountain grandeur of Luzerne with all the softness of atmosphere of Lake Maggiore. Surely, nothing could exceed the loveliness as we wound down the hillside, through the vineyards, to Lausanne, and farther on, near the foot of the lake, to Montreux, backed by precipitous but tree-clad hills, fronted by the lovely water, and the great mountains which run away south into Savoy, where Velan lifts up its snows. Below us, round the curving bay, lies white Chillon; and at sunset we row down to it over the bewitched water, and wait under its grim walls till the failing light brings back the romance of castle and prisoner. Our garcon had never heard of the prisoner; but he knew about the gendarmes who now occupy the castle.

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Not the least of the traveler's pleasure in Switzerland is derived from the English people who overrun it: they seem to regard it as a kind of private park or preserve belonging to England; and they establish themselves at hotels, or on steamboats and diligences, with a certain air of ownership that is very pleasant. I am not very fresh in my geology; but it is my impression that Switzerland was created especially for the English, about the year of the Magna Charta, or a little later. The Germans who come here, and who don't care very much what they eat,

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If you come to Bale, you should take rooms on the river, or stand on the bridge at evening, and have a sunset of gold and crimson streaming down upon the wide and strong Rhine it rushes between the houses built plumb up to it, or you will not care much for the city. And yet it is pleasant on the high ground are some stately buildings, and where new gardens are laid out, and where the American consul on the Fourth of July flies our flag over the balcony of a little cottage smothered in vines and gay