The Little Land of Appenzell
THE traveller who first reaches the Lake of Constance at Lindau, or crosses that sheet of pale green water to one of the ports on the opposite Swiss shore, cannot fail to notice the bold heights to the southward, which thrust themselves between the opening of the Rhine Valley and the long, undulating ridges of the Canton Thurgau. These heights, broken by many a dimly hinted valley and ravine, appear to be the front of an Alpine table-land. Houses and villages, scattered over the steep ascending plane, present themselves distinctly to the eye ; the various green of forest and pasture land is rarely interrupted by the gray of rocky walls ; and the afternoon sun touches the topmost edge of each successive elevation with a sharp outline of golden light, through the rich gloom of the shaded slopes. Behind and over this region rise the serrated peaks of the Sentis Alp, standing in advance of the farther ice-fields of Glarus, like an outer fortress, garrisoned in summer by the merest forlorn hope of snow.
The green fronts nearest the lake, and the lower lands falling away to the right and left, belong to the Canton of St. Gall; but all aloft, beyond that frontier marked by the sinking sun, lies the Appenzeller Ländli, as it is called in the endearing diminutive of the Swiss-German tongue,—the Little Land of Appenzell.
If, leaving the Lake of Constance by the Rhine valley, you ascend to Ragatz and the Baths of Pfeffers, thence turn westward to the Lake of Wallenstatt, cross into the valley of the Toggenburg, and so make your way northward and eastward around the base of the mountains back to the starting-point, you will have passed only through the territory of St. Gall. Appenzell is an Alpine island, wholly surrounded by the former canton. From whatever side you approach, you must climb in order to get into it. It is a nearly circular tract, falling from the south towards the north, but lifted, at almost every point, over the adjoining lands. This altitude and isolation is an historical as well as a physical peculiarity. When the Abbots of St. Gall, after having reduced the entire population of what is now two Cantons to serfdom, became more oppressive as their power increased, it was the mountain shepherds who, in the year 1403, struck the first blow for liberty. Once free, they kept their freedom, and established a rude democracy on the heights, similar in form and spirit to the league which the Forest Cantons had founded nearly a century before. An echo from the meadow of Grütli reached the wild valleys around the Sentis, and Appenzell, by the middle of the fifteenth century, became one of the original states out of which Switzerland has grown.
I find something very touching and admirable in this fragment of hardly noticed history. The people isolated themselves by their own act, held together, organized a simple yet sufficient government, and maintained their sturdy independence, while their brethren on every side, in the richer lands below them, were fast bound in the gyves of a priestly despotism. Individual liberty seems to be a condition inseparable from mountain life ; that once attained, all other influences are conservative in their character. The Cantons of Unterwalden, Schwytz, Glarus, and Appenzell retain to-day the simple, primitive forms of democracy which had their origin in the spirit of the people nearly six hundred years ago.
Twice had I looked up to the little mountain republic from the lower lands to the northward, with the desire and the determination to climb one day the green buttresses which support it on every side ; so, when I left St. Gall on a misty morning, in a little open carriage, bound for Trogen, it was with the pleasant knowledge that a land almost unknown to tourists lay before me. The only summer visitors are invalids, mostly from Eastern Switzerland and Germany, who go up to drink the whey of goats’ milk ; and, although the fabrics woven by the people are known to the world of fashion in all countries, few indeed are the travellers who turn aside from the near highways. The landlord in St. Gall told me that his guests were almost wholly commercial travellers, and my subsequent experience among an unspoiled people convinced me that I was almost a pioneer in the paths I traversed.
It was the last Saturday in April, and at least a month too soon for the proper enjoyment of the journey ; but on the following day the Landsgemeinde, or Assembly of the People, was to be held at Hundwyl, in the manner and with the ceremonies which have been annually observed for the last three or four hundred years. This circumstance determined the time of my visit. I wished to study the character of an Alpine democracy, so pure that it has not yet adopted even the representative principle, — to be with and among a portion of the Swiss people at a time when they are most truly themselves, rather than look at them through the medium of conventional guides, on lines of travel which have now lost everything of Switzerland except the scenery.
There was bad weather behind, and, I feared, bad weather before me. “ The sun will soon drive away these mists,” said the postilion, “and when we get up yonder, you will see what a prospect there will be.” In the rich valley of St. Gall, out of which we mounted, the scattered houses and cloud-like belts of blossoming cherry-trees almost hid the green ; but it sloped up and down, on either side of the rising road, glittering with flowers and dew, in the flying gleams of sunshine. Over us hung masses of gray cloud, which stretched across the valley, hooded the opposite hills, and sank into a dense mass over the Lake of Constance. As we passed through this belt, and rejoiced in the growing clearness of the upper sky, I saw that my only prospect would be in cloud-land. After many windings, along which the blossoms and buds of the fruit-trees indicated the altitude as exactly as any barometer, we finally reached the crest of the topmost height, the frontier of Appenzell and the battle-field of Voglisegg, where the herdsman first measured his strength with the soldier and the monk, and was victorious.
“ Whereabouts was the battle fought ?" I asked the postilion.
Up and down, and all around here,” said he, stopping the carriage at the summit.
I stood up and looked to the north. Seen from above, the mist had gathered into dense, rounded clouds, touched with silver on their upper edges. They hung over the lake, rolling into every bay and spreading from shore to shore, so that not a gleam of water was visible ; but over their heaving and tossing silence rose, far away, the mountains of the four German states beyond the lake. An Alp in Vorarlberg made a shining island in the sky. The postilion was loud in his regrets, yet I thought the picture best as it was. On the right lay the land of Appenzell, — not a table-land, but a region of mountain ridge and summit, of valley and deep, dark gorge, green as emerald up to the line of snow, and so thickly studded with dwellings, grouped or isolated, that there seemed to be one scattered village as far as the eye could reach. To the south, over forests of fir, the Sentis lifted his huge towers of rock, crowned with white, wintry pyramids.
“ Here, where we are,” said the postilion, “ was the first battle ; but there was another, two years afterwards, over there, the other side of Trogen, where the road goes down to the Rhine. Stoss is the place, and there’s a chapel built on the very spot. Duke Frederick of Austria came to help the Abbot Kuno, and the Appenzellers were only one to ten against them. It was a great fight, they say, and the women helped, — not with pikes and guns, but in this way: they put on white shirts, and came out of the woods, above where the fighting was going on. Now, when the Austrians and the Abbot’s people saw them, they thought tnere were spirits helping the Appenzellers, (the women were all white, you see, and too far off to show plainly,) and so they gave up the fight, after losing nine hundred knights and troopers. After that, it was ordered that the women should go first to the sacrament, so that no man might forget the help they gave in that battle. And the people go every year to the chapel, on the same day when it took place.”
I looked, involuntarily, to find some difference in the population after passing the frontier. But I had not counted upon the levelling influence which the same kind of labor exercises, whether upon mountain or in valley. So long as Appenzell was a land of herdsmen, many peculiarities of costume, features, and manners must have remained. For a long time, however, Outer-Rhoden, as this part of the Canton is called, shares with that part of St. Gall which lies below it the manufacture of fine muslins and embroideries. There are looms in almost every house, and this fact explains the density of population and the signs of wealth on every hand, which would otherwise puzzle the stranger. The houses are not only so near together that almost every man can call to his neighbors and be heard, but they are large, stately, and even luxurious, in contrast to the dwellings of other country people in Europe. The average population of Outer-Rhoden amounts to four hundred and seventyfive persons to the square mile, being nearly double that of the most thickly settled portions of Holland.
If one could only transport a few of these houses to the United States ! Our country architecture is not only hideous, but frequently unpractical, being at worst shanties, and at best city residences set in the fields. An Appenzell farmer lives in a house from forty to sixty feet square, and rarely less than four stories in height The two upper stories, however, are narrowed by the high, steep roof, so that the true front of the house is one of the gables. The roof projects at least four feet on all sides, giving shelter to balconies of carved wood, which cross the front under each row of windows. The outer walls are covered with upright, overlapping shingles, not more than two or three inches broad, and rounded at the ends, suggesting the scale armor of ancient times. This covering secures the greatest warmth ; and when the shingles have acquired from age that rich burnt-sienna tint which no paint could exactly imitate, the effect is exceedingly beautiful. The lowest story is generally of stone, plastered and whitewashed. The stories are low (seven to eight feet), but the windows are placed side by side, and each room is thoroughly lighted. Such a house is very warm, very durable, and, without any apparent expenditure of ornament, is externally so picturesque that no ornament could improve it.
Many of the dwellings, I was told, could not be built with the present means of the population, at the present prices of labor and material. They date from the palmy clays of Appenzell industry, before machinery had reduced the cost of the finer fabrics. Then, one successful manufacturer competed with another in the erection of showy houses, and fifty thousand francs (a large sum for the times) were frequently expended on a single dwelling. The view of a broad Alpine landscape, clotted all over with such beautiful homes, from the little shelf of green hanging on the sides of a rocky gorge and the strips of sunny pasture between the ascending forests, to the very summits of the lower heights and the saddles between them, was something quite new in my experience.
Turning around the point of Voglisegg, we made for Trogen, one of the two capitals of Outer-Rhoden, which lay before us, across the head of the deep and wild St. Martin’s Tobel. (Tobel is an Appenzell word, corresponding precisely to the gulch of California.) My postilion mounted, and the breathed horse trotted merrily along the winding level. One stately house after another, with a clump of fruit-trees on the sheltered side, and a row of blooming hyacinths and wallflowers on the balcony, passed by on either side. The people we met were sunburnt and ugly, but there was a rough air of self-reliance about them, and they gave me a hearty “ God greet you ! ” one and all. Just before reaching Trogen, the postilion pointed to an old, black, tottering platform of masonry, rising out of a green slope of turf on the right. The grass around it seemed ranker than elsewhere.
This was the place of execution, where capital criminals are still beheaded with the sword, in the sight of the people. The postilion gave me an account, with all the horrible details, of the last execution, only three years ago, — how the murderer would not confess until he was brought out of prison to hear the bells tolling for his victim’s funeral, — how thereupon he was sentenced, and — but I will not relate further. I have always considered the death penalty a matter of policy rather than principle ; but the sight of that blood-stained platform, the blood-fed weeds around it, and the vision of the headsman, in his red mantle, looking down upon the bared neck stretched upon the block, gave me more horror of the custom than all the books and speeches which have been said and written against it.
At Trogen I stopped at the principal inn, two centuries old, the quaint front painted in fresco, the interior neat and fresh as a new toy, — a very gem of a house! The floor upon which I entered from the street was paved with flat stones ; a solid wooden staircase, dark with age, led to the guests’ room in the second story. One side of this room was given up to the windows, and there was a charming hexagonal oriel in the corner. The low ceiling was of wood, in panels, the stove a massive tower, faced with porcelain tiles, the floor polished nearly into whiteness, and all the doors, cupboards, and tables, made of brown nutwood, gave an air of warmth and elegance to the apartment. All other parts of the house were equally neat and orderly. The hostess greeted me with. “ Be you welcome ! ” and set about preparing dinner, as it was now nearly noon. In the pauses of her work she came into the room to talk, and was very ready to give information concerning the country and people.
There were already a little table and three plates in the oriel, and while I was occupied with my own dinner I did not particularly notice the three persons who sat down to theirs. The coarseness and harshness of their dialect, however, presently struck my ear. It was pure Appenzell, a German made up of singular and puzzling elisions, and with a very strong guttural k and g, in addition to the ch. Some knowledge of the Alemannic dialect of the Black Forest enabled me to understand the subject of conversation, which, to my surprise, was—the study of the classics ! It was like hearing an Irishman talk of Shelley’s “ Witch of Atlas ” in the broadest Tipperary brogue. I turned and looked at the persons. They were well-dressed young men, evidently the best class of Appenzellers, — possibly tutors in the schools of Trogen. Their speech in no wise differed from that of the common herdsmen, except that they were now and then obliged to use words which, being unknown to the people, had escaped mutilation. I entered into conversation, to ascertain whether true German was not possible to them, since they must needs read and write the language ; but, although they understood me, they could only partly, and with evident difficulty, lay aside their own patois. I found this to be the case everywhere throughout the Canton. It is a circumstance so unusual, that, in spite of myself, associating a rude dialect with ignorance, I was always astonished when those who spoke it showed culture and knowledge of the world.
The hostess provided me with a guide and pack-bearer, and I set out on foot across the country towards Hundwyl. This guide, Jakob by name, made me imagine that I had come among a singular people. He was so short that he could easily walk under my arm; his gait was something between a roll and a limp, although he stoutly disclaimed lameness ; he laughed whenever I spoke to him, and answered in a voice which seemed the cuneiform character put into sound. First, there was an explosion of gutturals, and then came a loud trumpet-tone, something like the Honk! honk! of wild geese. Yet, when he placed his squat figure behind a tavern table, and looked at me quietly with his mouth shut, he was both handsome and distinguished in appearance. We walked two miles together before I guessed how to unravel his speech. It is almost as difficult to learn a dialect as a new language, and but for the key which the Alemannic gave me, I should have been utterly at sea. Who, for instance, could ever guess that a' Ma' g’si, pronounced “ amaxi ” (the x representing a desperate guttural), really stands for einen Mann gewesen ?
The road was lively with country people, many of whom were travelling in our own direction. Those we met invariably addressed us with " God greet you ! ” or “ Guät-ti ! ” which it was easy to translate into " Good day ! ” Some of the men were brilliant in scarlet jackets, with double rows of square silver buttons, and caried swords under their arms; they were bound for the Landsgemeinde, whither the law of the Middle Ages still obliges them to go armed. When I asked Jakob if he would accompany me as far as Hundwyl, he answered, “ I can’t; I dare n’t go there without a black dress, and my sword, and a cylinder hat.”
The wild Tobels, opening downward to the Lake of Constance, which now shimmered afar through the gaps, were left behind us, and we passed westward along a broken, irregular valley. The vivid turf was sown with all the flowers of spring, — primrose, violet, buttercup, anemone, and veronica, — faint, but sweetest-odored, and the heralds of spring in all lands. So I gave little heed to the weird lines of cloud, twisting through and between the severed pyramids of the Sentis, as if weaving the woof of storms. The scenery was entirely lovely, and so novel in its population and the labor which, in the long course of time, had effaced its own hard traces, turning the mountains into lifted lawns and parks of human delight, that my own slow feet carried me through it too rapidly. We must have passed a slight water-shed somewhere, though I observed none ; for the road gradually fell towards another region of deeply cloven Tobels, with snowy mountains beyond. The green of the landscape was so brilliant and uniform, under the cold gray sky, that it almost destroyed the perspective, which rather depended on the houses and the scattered woods of fir.
On a ridge, overlooking all this region, was the large village of Teufen, nearly as grand as Trogen in its architecture. Here Jakob, whose service went no further, conducted me to the "Pike” inn, and begged the landlady to furnish me with “ a' Ma’” in his place. We had refreshments together, and took leave with many shakings of the hand and mutual wishes of good luck. The successor was an old fellow of seventy, who had been a soldier in Holland, and who with proper exertion could make his speech intelligible. The people nowhere inquired after my business or nationality. When the guide made the latter known, they almost invariably said, “ But, of course, you were born in Appenzell ? ” The idea of a traveller coming among them, at least during this season of the year, did not enter their heads. In Teufen, the large and handsome houses, the church and schools, led me, foolishly, to hope for a less barbarous dialect; but no, it was the same thing everywhere.
The men in black, with swords under their arms, increased in number as we left the village. They were probably from the farthest parts of the Canton, and were thus abridging the morrow’s journey. The most of them, however, turned aside from the road, and made their way to one farm-house or another. I was tempted to follow their example, as I feared that the little village of Hundwyl would be crowded. But there was still time to claim private hospitality, even it this should be the case, so we marched steadily down the valley. The Sitter, a stream fed by the Sentis, now roared below us, between high, rocky walls, which are spanned by an iron bridge, two hundred feet above the water. The roads of Outer-Rhoden, built and kept in order by the people, are most admirable. This little population of forty-eight thousand souls has within the last fifteen years expended seven hundred thousand dollars on means of communication. Since the people govern themselves, and regulate their expenses, and consequently their taxation, their willingness to bear such a burden is a lesson to other lands.
After crossing the airy bridge, our road climbed along the opposite side of the Tobel, to a village on a ridge thrust out from the foot of the Hundwyl Alp, beyond which we lost sight of Teufen and the beautiful valley of the Sitter. We were now in the valley of the Urnäsch, and a walk of two miles more brought us to the village of Hundwyl. I was encouraged, on approaching the little place, by seeing none except the usual signs of occupation. There was a great new tank before the fountain, and two or three fellows in scarlet vests were filling their portable tubs for the evening’s supply ; a few children came to the doors to stare at me, but there was no sign that any other stranger had arrived.
“ I 'll take you to the Crown,” said the guide; “all the Landamänner will be there in the morning, and the music ; and you ’ll see what our Appenzell government is.” The landlady gave me a welcome, and the promise of a lodging, whereupon I sat down in peace, received the greetings of all the members of the family, as they came and went, and made myself familiar with their habits. There was only one other guest in the house, —a man of dignified face and intellectual head, who carried a sword tied up with an umbrella, and must be, I supposed, one of the chief officials. He had so much the air of a reformer or a philosopher, that the members of a certain small faction at home might have taken him for their beloved W. P.; others might have detected in him a resemblance to that true philanthropist and gentleman, W. L. G, ; and the believers in the divinity of slavery would have accepted him as Bishop―. As no introductions are required in Appenzell, I addressed myself to him, hoping to open a profitable acquaintance ; but it was worse than Coleridge’s experience with the lover of dumplings. His sentiments may have been elevated and refined, for aught I knew, but what were they ? My trumpeter Jakob was more intelligible than he; his upper teeth were gone, and the mutilated words were mashed out of all remaining shape against his gums. Then he had the singular habit of ejaculating the word Ja ! (Yes !) in three different ways, after answering each of my questions. First, a decided, confirmatory Ja! then a pause, followed by a slow, interrogative Ja ? as if it were the echo of some mental doubt; and finally, after a much longer pause, a profoundly melancholy, desponding, conclusive Ja-a-a ! sighed forth from the very bottom of his lungs. Even when I only said, “ Good morning ! ” the next day, these ejaculations followed, in the same order of succession.
One may find a counterpart to this habit in the Wa'al of the Yankee, except that the latter never is, nor could it well be, so depressing to hear as the Ja of Appenzell.
In the evening a dozen persons gathered around one of the long tables, and drank a pale, weak cider, made of apples and pears, and called “ Most.” I gave to one, with whom I found I could converse most easily, a glass of red wine, whereupon he said, " It is very impudent in me to take it.”
Upon asking the same person how it was that I could understand him so much more readily than the others, he answered, "O, I can talk the written language when I try, but these others can't.”
“ Here,” said I, pointing to the philosopher, “is one who is quite incomprehensible.”
“ So he is to me.”
They were all anxious to know whether our American troubles were nearly over; whether the President had the power to do further harm (he had too much power, they all thought); and whether our Congress could carry out its plan of reconstruction. Lincoln, they said, was the best man we ever had ; when the play of “ Lincoln’s Death ” was performed in the theatre at St. Gall, a great many Appenzellers hired omnibuses and went down from the mountains to see it.
I was aroused at daybreak by the chiming of bells, and soon afterwards muskets began to crack, near and far. Then there were noises all over the house, and presently what seemed to be a procession of horses or elephants began to thunder up and down the wooden stairs. In vain I tried to snatch the last and best morning nap ; there was no end to the racket. So I arose, dressed, and went forth to observe. The inn was already transformed, from top to bottom, into a vast booth for meat and drink. Bedding and all other furniture had disappeared; every room, and even the open hall on each story, was filled with tables, benches, and chairs. My friend of the previous evening, who was going about with a white apron on and sleeves rolled up, said to me : “ I am to be one of the waiters to-day. We have already made places for six hundred.”
There were at least a dozen other amateur waiters on hand and busy. The landlord wore a leathern apron, and went from room to room, blowing into the hole of a wooden top which he carried in his hand, as if thereby to collect his ideas. A barrel of red and a barrel of white wine stood on trestles in the guests’ room, and they were already filling the schoppins by hundreds and ranging them on shelves, — honestly filling, not as lager-bier is filled in New York, one third foam, but waiting until the froth subsided, and then pouring to the very brim. In the kitchen there were three fires blazing, stacks of Bratwurst on the tables, great kettles for the sour-krout and potatoes, and eggs, lettuce, and other finer viands, for the dignitaries, on the shelves. “ Good morning,” said the landlady, as I looked into this sanctuary, “you see we are ready for them.”
While I was taking my coffee, the landlord called the waiters together, gave each a bag of small money for change, and then delivered a short, practical address concerning their duties for the day, — who were to be trusted and who not, how to keep order and prevent impatience, and, above all, how to preserve a proper circulation, in order that the greatest possible number of persons might be entertained. He closed with : “ Once again, take notice and don't forget, every one of you, — Most io rappen (2 cents), bread 10, Wurst 15, tongue 10, wine 25 and 40,” etc.
In the village there were signs of preparation, but not a dozen strangers had arrived. Wooden booths had been built against some of the houses, and the owners thereof were arranging their stores of gingerbread and coarse confectionery; on the open, grassy square, in front of the parsonage, stood a large platform, with a handsome railing around it, but the green slope of the hill in front was as deserted as an Alpine pasture. Looking westward over the valley, however, I could already see dark figures moving along the distant paths. The morning was overcast, but the Hundwyl Alp, streaked with snow, stood clear, and there was a prospect of good weather for the important day. As I loitered about the village, talking with the people, who, busy as they were, always found time for a friendly word, the movement in the landscape increased. Out of firwoods, and over the ridges and out of the foldings of the hills, came the Appenzellers, growing into groups, and then into lines, until steady processions began to enter Hundwyl by every road. Every man was dressed in black, with a rusty stove-pipe hat on his head, and a sword and umbrella in his hand or under his arm.
From time to time the church bells chimed ; a brass band played the old melodies of the Canton ; on each side of the governing Landamman’s place on the platform stood a huge two-handed sword, centuries old, and the temper of the gathering crowd became earnest and solemn. Six old men, armed with pikes, walked about with an air of importance : their duty was to preserve order, but they had nothing to do. Policeman other than these, or soldier, was not to be seen ; each man was a part of the government, and felt his responsibility. Carriages, light carts, and hay wagons, the latter filled with patriotic singers, now began to arrive, and I took my way to the Crown, in order to witness the arrival of the members of the Council.
In order to make the proceedings of the day more intelligible, I must first briefly sketch certain features of this little democracy, which it possesses in common with three other mountain Cantons, — the primitive forms which the republican principle assumed in Switzerland. In the first place the government is only representative so far as is required for its permanent, practical operation. The highest power in the land is the Landsgemeinde, or General Assembly of the People, by whom the members of the Executive Council arc elected, and who alone can change, adopt, or abolish any law. All citizens above the age of eighteen, and all other Swiss citizens after a year’s residence in the Canton, are not only allowed, but required, to attend the Landsgemeinde. There is a penalty for non-attendance. Outer-Rhoden contains forty-eight thousand inhabitants, of whom eleven thousand are under obligations to be present and vote, from beginning to end of the deliberations.
In Glarus and Unterwalden, where the population is smaller, the right of discussion is still retained by these assemblies, but in Appenzell it has been found expedient to abolish it.
Any change in the law, however, is first discussed in public meetings in the several communities, then put into form by the Council, published, read from all the pulpits for a month previous to the coming together of the Landsgemeinde, and then voted upon. But if the Council refuses to act upon the suggestion of any citizen whomsoever, and he honestly considers the matter one of importance, he is allowed to propose it directly to the people, provided he do so briefly and in an orderly manner. The Council, which may be called the executive power, consists of the governing Landamman and six associates, one of whom has the functions of treasurer, another of military commander, — in fact, a ministry on a small scale. The service of the persons elected to the Council is obligatory, and they receive no salaries. There is, it is true, a secondary Council, composed of the first, and representatives of the communities, one for every thousand inhabitants, in order to administer more intelligently the various departments of education, religion, justice, roads, the militia system, the poor, etc. ; but the Assembly of the People can at any time reject or reverse its action. All citizens are not only equal before the law, but are assured liberty of conscience, of speech, and of labor. The right of support only belongs to those who are born citizens of the Canton. The old restriction of the Heimathsrecht,—the claim to be supported at the expense of the community in case of need, — narrow and illiberal as it seems to us, prevails all over Switzerland. In Appenzell a stranger can only acquire the right, which is really the right of citizenship, by paying twelve hundred francs into the cantonal treasury.
The governing Landamman is elected for two years, but the other members of the Council may be re-elected from year to year, as often as the people see fit. The obligation to serve, therefore, may sometimes seriously incommode the person chosen ; he cannot resign, and his only chance of escape lies in leaving the Canton temporarily, and publishing his intention of quitting it altogether in case the people refuse to release him from office ! This year, it happened that two members of the Council had already taken this step, while three others had appealed to the people not to re-elect them. The Landsgemeinde at Hundwyl was to decide upon all these applications, and therefore promised to be of more than usual interest. The people had had time to consider the matter, and, it was supposed, had generally made up their minds ; yet I found no one willing to give me a hint of their action in advance-
The two remaining members presently made their appearance, accompanied by the Chancellor, to whom I was recommended. The latter kindly offered to accompany me to the parsonage, the windows of which, directly in the rear of the platform, would enable me to hear, as well as see, the proceedings. The clergyman, who was preparing for the service which precedes the opening of the Landsgemeinde, showed me the nail upon which hung the key of the study, and gave me liberty to take possession at any time. The clock now struck nine, and a solemn peal of bells announced the time of service. A little procession formed in front of the inn ; first the music, then the clergyman and the few members of the government, bareheaded, and followed by the two Weibels (apparitors), who wore long mantles, the right half white and the left half black. The old pikemen walked on either side. The people uncovered as they took their way around the church to the chancel door ; then as many as could be accommodated entered at the front.
I entered with them, taking my place on the men’s side, — the sexes being divided, as is usual in Germany. After the hymn, in which boys’ voices were charmingly heard, and the prayer, the clergyman took a text from Corinthians, and proceeded to preach a good, sound political sermon, which, nevertheless, did not in the least shock the honest piety of his hearers. I noticed with surprise that most of the men put on their hats at the close of the prayer. Only once did they remove them afterwards,— when the clergyman, after describing the duties before them, and the evils and difficulties which beset every good work, suddenly said, “ Let us pray to God to help and direct us ! ” and interpolated a short prayer in the midst of his sermon. The effect was all the more impressive, because, though so unexpected, it was entirely simple and natural. These democrats of Appenzell have not yet made the American discovery that pulpits are profaned by any utterance of national sentiment, or any application of Christian doctrine to politics. They even hold their municipal elections in the churches, and consider that the act of voting is thereby solemnized, not that the holy building is desecrated ! But then, you will say, this is the democracy of the Middle Ages.
When the service was over, I could scarcely make my way through the throng which had meanwhile collected. The sun had come out hot above the Hundwyl Alp, and turned the sides of the valley into slopes of dazzling sheen. Already every table in the inns was filled, every window crowded with heads, the square a dark mass of voters of all ages and classes, lawyers and clergymen being packed together with grooms and brown Alpine herdsmen ; and, after the government had been solemnly escorted to its private chamber, four musicians in antique costume announced, with drum and fife, the speedy opening of the Assembly. But first came the singing societies of Herisau, and forced their way into the centre of the throng, where they sang, simply yet grandly, the songs of Appenzell. The people listened with silent satisfaction ; not a man seemed to think of applauding.
I took my place in the pastor’s study, and inspected the crowd. On the steep slope of the village square and the rising field beyond, more than ten thousand men were gathered, packed as closely as they could stand. The law requires them to appear armed and “ respectably dressed.” The short swords, very much like our marine cutlasses, which they carried, were intended for show rather than service. Very few wore them : sometimes they were tied up with umbrellas, but generally carried loose in the hand or under the arm. The rich manufacturers of Trogen and Herisau and Teufen had belts and silver-mounted dress-swords. With scarce an exception, every man was habited in black, and wore a stovepipe hat, but the latter was in most cases brown and battered. Both circumstances were thus explained to me : as the people vote with the uplifted hand, the hat must be of a dark color, as a background, to bring out the hands more distinctly ; then, since rain would spoil a good hat (and it rains much at this season), they generally take an old one. I could now understand the advertisements of “ secondhand cylinder hats for sale,” which I had noticed, the day before, in the newspapers of the Canton. The slope of the hill was such that the hats of the lower ranks concealed the faces of those immediately behind, and the assembly was the darkest and densest I ever beheld. Here and there the top of a scarlet waistcoat flashed out of the cloud with astonishing brilliancy.
With solemn music, and attended by the apparitors, in their two-colored mantles, and the ancient pikemen, the few officials ascended the platform. The chief of the two Landammanner present took his station in front, between the two-handed swords, and began to address the assembly. Suddenly a dark cloud seemed to roll away from the faces of the people ; commencing in front of the platform, and spreading rapidly to the edges of the compact throng, the hats disappeared, and the ten thousand faces, in the full light of the sun, blended into a ruddy mass. But no ; each head retained its separate character, and the most surprising circumstance of the scene was the distinctness with which each human being held fast to his individuality in the multitude. Nature has drawn no object with so firm a hand, nor painted it with such tenacious clearness of color, as the face of man. The inverted crescent of sharp light had a different curve on each individual brow before me ; the little illuminated dot on the end of the nose under it hinted at the form of the nostrils in shadow. As the hats had before concealed the faces, so now each face was relieved against the breast of the man beyond, and in front of me were thousands of heads to be seen, touching each other like so many ovals drawn on a dark plane.
The address was neither so brief nor so practical as it might have been. Earnest, well meant, and apparently well received, there was nevertheless much in it which the plain, semi-educated weavers and Alpadores in the assembly could not possibly have comprehended ; as, for instance, “ May a garland of confidence be twined around your deliberations ! ” At the close, the speaker said, " Let us pray ! ” and for a few moments there were bowed heads and utter silence. The first business was the financial report for the year, which had been printed and distributed among the people weeks before. They were now asked whether they would appoint a commission to test its accuracy, but they unanimously declined to do so. The question was put by one of the apparitors, who first removed his cocked hat, and cried, in a tremendous voice, “ Faithful and beloved fellow-citizens, and brethren of the Union!”
Now came the question of releasing the tired Landammänner of the previous year from office. The first application in order was that of the governing Landamman, Dr. Zurcher. The people voted directly thereupon ; there was a strong division of sentiment, but the majority allowed him to resign. His place was therefore to be filled at once. The names of candidates were called out by the crowd. There were six in all ; and as both the members of the Council were among them, the latter summoned six well-known citizens upon the platform, to decide the election. The first vote reduced the number of candidates to two, and the voting was then repeated until one of these received an undoubted majority. Dr. Roth, of Teufen, was the fortunate man. As soon as the decision was announced, several swords were held up in the crowd to indicate where the new governor was to be found. The musicians and pikemen made a lane to him through the multitude, and he was conducted to the platform with the sound of fife and drum. He at once took his place between the swords, and made a brief address, which the people heard with uncovered heads. He did not yet, however, assume the black silk mantle which belongs to his office. He was a man of good presence, prompt, and self-possessed in manner, and conducted the business of the day very successfully.
The election of the remaining members occupied much more time. All the five applicants were released from service, and with scarcely a dissenting hand : wherein, I thought, the people showed very good sense. The case of one of these officials, Herr Euler, was rather hard. He was the Landessäckelmeister (Treasurer), and the law makes him personally responsible for every farthing which passes through his hands. Having, with the consent of the Council, invested thirty thousand francs in a banking-house at Rheineck, the failure of the house obliged him to pay this sum out of his own pocket. He did so, and then made preparations to leave the Canton in case his resignation was not accepted.
For most of the places from ten to fourteen candidates were named, and when these were reduced to two, nearly equally balanced in popular favor, the voting became very spirited. The apparitor. who was chosen on account of his strength of voice (the candidates for that office must be tested in this respect), had hard work that day. The same formula must be repeated before every vote, in this wise : “ Herr Landamman, gentlemen, faithful and beloved fellow - citizens and brethren of the Union, if it seems good to you to choose so-and-so as your treasurer for the coming year, so lift up your hands !” Then, all over the dark mass, thousands of hands flew into the sunshine, rested a moment, and gradually sank with a fluttering motion, which made me think of leaves flying from a hillside forest in the autumn winds. As each election was decided, and the choice was announced, swords were lifted to show the location of the new official in the crowd, and he was then brought upon the platform with fife and drum. Nearly two hours elapsed before the gaps were filled, and the government was again complete.
Then followed the election of judges for the judicial districts, which, in most cases, were almost unanimous re-elections. These are repeated from year to year, so long as the people are satisfied. Nearly all the citizens of Outer-Rhoden were before me ; I could distinctly see three fourths of their faces, and I detected no expression except that of a grave, conscientious interest in the proceedings. Their patience was remarkable. Closely packed, man against man, in the hot, still sunshine, they stood quietly for nearly three hours, and voted upwards of two hundred and seven times before the business of the day was completed. A few old men on the edges of the crowd slipped away for a quarter of an hour, in order, as one of them told me, “to keep their stomachs from giving way entirely,” and some of the youger fellows took a schoppin of Most for the same purpose ; but they generally returned and resumed their places as soon as refreshed.
The close of the Landsgemeinde was one of the most impressive spectacles I ever witnessed. When the elections were over, and no further duty remained, the Parson Etter of Hundwyl ascended the platform. The governing Landamman assumed his black mantle of office, and, after a brief prayer, took the oath of inauguration from the clergyman. He swore to further the prosperity and honor of the land, to ward off misfortune from it, to uphold the Constitution and laws, to protect the widows and orphans, and to secure the equal rights of all, nor through favor, hostility, gifts, or promises to be turned aside from doing the same. The clergyman repeated the oath sentence by sentence, both holding up the oath-fingers of the right hand, the people looking on silent and uncovered.
The governing Landamman now turned to the assembly, and read them their oath, that they likewise should further the honor and prosperity of the land, preserve its freedom and its equal rights, obey the laws, protect the Council and the judges, take no gift or favor from any prince or potentate, and that each one should accept and perform, to the best of his ability, any service to which he might be chosen. After this had been read, the Landamman lifted his right hand, with the oath-fingers extended ; his colleagues on the platform, and every man of the ten or eleven thousand present, did the same. The silence was so profound that the chirp of a bird on the hillside took entire possession of the air. Then the Landamman slowly and solemnly spoke these words : “ I have well understood that — which has been read to me ; — I will always and exactly observe it, — faithfully and without reservation, — so truly as I wish and pray — that God help me ! ” At each pause, the same words were repeated by every man, in a low, subdued tone. The hush was else so complete, the words were spoken with such measured firmness, that I caught each as it came, not as from the lips of men, but from a vast, supernatural murmur in the air. The effect was indescribable. Far off on the horizon was the white vision of an Alp, but all the hidden majesty of those supreme mountains was nothing to the scene before me. When the last words had been spoken, the hands sank slowly, and the crowd stood a moment locked together, with grave faces and gleaming eyes, until the spirit that had descended upon them passed. Then they dissolved ; the Landsgemeinde was over.
In my inn, I should think more than the expected six hundred had found place. From garret to cellar, every corner was occupied ; bread, wine, and steamy dishes passed in a steady whirl from kitchen and tap-room into all the roaring chambers. In the other inns it was the same, and many took their drink and provender in the open air. I met my philosopher of the previous evening, who said, “ Now, what do you think of our Landsgemeinde ? ” and followed my answer with his three Ja’s, the last a more desponding sigh than ever. Since the business was over, I judged that the people would be less reserved,— which, indeed, was the case. Nearly all with whom I spoke expressed their satisfaction with the day’s work. I walked through the crowds in all directions, vainly seeking for personal beauty. There were few women present, but a handsome man is only less beautiful than a beautiful woman, and I like to look at the former when the latter is absent. I was surprised at the great proportion of under-sized men ; only weaving, in close rooms, for several generations, could have produced so many squat bodies and short legs. The Appenzellers are neither a handsome nor a picturesque race, and their language harmonizes with their features; but I learned, during that day at Hundwyl, to like and to respect them.
Pastor Etter insisted on my dining with him ; two younger clergymen were also guests, and my friend the Chancellor Engwiller came to make further kind offers of service. The people of each parish, I learned, elect their own pastor, and pay him his salary. In municipal matters the same democratic system prevails as in the cantonal government. Education is well provided for, and the morals of the community are watched and guarded by a committee consisting of the pastor and two officials elected by the people. Outer-Rhoden is almost exclusively Protestant, while Inner-Rhoden — the mountain region around the Sentis — is Catholic. Although thus geographically and politically connected, there was formerly little intercourse between the inhabitants of the two parts of the Canton, owing to their religious differences ; but now they come together in a friendly way, and are beginning to intermarry.
After dinner, the officials departed in carriages, to the sound of trumpets, and thousands of the people followed. Again the roads and paths leading away over the green hills were dark with lines of pedestrians : but a number of those whose homes lay nearest to Hundwyl lingered to drink and gossip out the day. A group of herdsmen, over whose brown faces the high stovepipe hat looked doubly absurd, gathered in a ring, and while one of them yodelled the Ranz des Vaches of Appenzell, the others made an accompaniment with their voices, imitating the sound of cow-bells. They were lusty, jolly fellows, and their songs hardly came to an end. I saw one man who might be considered as positively drunk, but no other who was more than affectionately and socially excited. Towards sunset they all dropped off, and when the twilight settled down heavy, and threatening rain, there was no stranger but myself in the little village. “ I have done tolerably well,” said the landlord, “but I can't count my gains until day after to-morrow, when the scores run up to-day must be paid off.” Considering that in my own bill lodging was set down at six, and breakfast at twelve cents, even the fifteen hundred guests whom he entertained during the day could not have given him a very splendid profit.
Taking a weaver of the place as guide, I set off early the next morning for the village of Appenzell, the capital of Inner-Rhoden. The way led me back into the valley of the Sitter, thence up towards the Sentis Alp, winding around and over a multitude of hills. The same smooth, even, velvety carpet of grass was spread upon the landscape, covering every undulation of the surface, except where the rocks had frayed themselves through. There is no greener land upon the earth. The grass, from centuries of cultivation, has become so rich and nutritious, that the inhabitants can no longer spare even a little patch of ground for a vegetable garden, for the reason that the same space produces more profit in hay. The green comes up to their very doors, and they grudge even the foot-paths which connect them with their neighbors. Their vegetables are brought up from the lower valleys of Thurgau. The first mowing had commenced at the time of my visit, and the farmers were employing irrigation and manure to bring on the second crop. By this means they are enabled to mow the same fields every five or six weeks. The process gives the whole region a smoothness, a mellow splendor of color, such as I never saw elsewhere, not even in England.
A walk of two hours through such scenery brought me out of the Sitter Tobel, and in sight of the little Alpine basin in which lies Appenzell. It was raining slowly and dismally, and the broken, snow - crowned peaks of the Kamor and the Hohe Kasten stood like livid spectres of mountains against the stormy sky. I made haste to reach the compact, picturesque little town, and shelter myself in an inn, where a landlady with rippled golden hair and features like one of Dante Rossetti’s women, offered me trout for dinner. Out of the back window I looked for the shattered summits of the Sentis, which rise five thousand feet above the valley, but they were invisible. The vertical walls of the Ebenalp, in which are the grotto and chapel of Wildkirchli, towered over the nearer hills, and I saw with regret that they were still above the snow line. It was impossible to penetrate much farther without better weather; but I decided, while enjoying my trout, to make another trial,— to take the road to Urnäsch, and thence pass westward into the renowned valley of the Toggenburg.
The people of Inner-Rhoden are the most picturesque of the Appenzellers. The men wear a round skull-cap of leather, sometimes brilliantly embroidered, a jacket of coarse drilling, drawn on over the head, and occasionally kneebreeches. Early in May the herdsmen leave their winter homes in the valleys and go with their cattle to the Matten, or lofty mountain pastures. The most intelligent cows, selected as leaders for the herd, march in advance, with enormous bells, sometimes a foot in diameter, suspended to their necks by bands of embroidered leather ; then follow the others, and the bull, who, singularly enough, carries the milking-pail, garlanded with flowers, between his horns, brings up the rear. The Alpadores are in their finest Sunday costume, and the sound of yodel-songs — the very voice of Alpine landscapes — echoes from every hill. Such a picture as this, under the cloudless blue of a fortunate May day, makes the heart of the Appenzeller light. He goes joyously up to his summer labor, and makes his herbcheese on the heights, while his wife weaves and embroiders muslin in the valley until his return.
In the afternoon I set out for Urnasch, with a bright boy as guide. Hot gleams of sunshine now and then struck like fire across the green mountains, and the Sentis partly unveiled his stubborn forehead of rock. Behind him, however, lowered inky thunder-clouds, and long before the afternoon’s journey was made it was raining below and snowing aloft. The scenery grew more broken and abrupt the farther I penetrated into the country, but it was everywhere as thickly peopled and as wonderfully cultivated. At Gonten. there is a large building for the whey-cure of overfed people of the world. A great many such, I was told, come to Appenzell for the summer. Many of the persons we met not only said, " God greet you!” but immediately added, " Adieu ! ” — like the Salve el vale ! of classical times.
Beyond Gonten the road dropped into a wild ravine, the continual windings of which rendered it very attractive. I found enough to admire in every farm-house by the wayside, with its warm wood-color, its quaint projecting balconies, and coat of shingle mail. When the ravine opened, and the deep valley of Urnasch, before me, appeared between cloven heights of snow, disclosing six or eight square miles of perfect emerald, over which the village is scattered. I was fully repaid for having pressed farther into the heart of the land. There were still two hours until night, and I might have gone on to the Rossfall, — a cascade three or four miles higher up the valley, — but the clouds were threatening, and the distant mountain-sides already dim under the rain.
At the village inn I found several herdsmen and mechanics, each with a bottle of Rheinthaler wine before him. They were ready and willing to give me all the information I needed. In order to reach the Toggenburg, they said, I must go over the Krätzernwald. It was sometimes a dangerous journey; the snow was many cubits deep, and at this time of the year it was frequently so soft that a man would sink to his hips. To-day, however, there had been thunder, and after thunder the snow is always hard-packed, so that you can walk on it; but to cross the Krätzernwald without a guide,—never! For two hours you were in a wild forest, not a house, nor even a Sennhütt' (herdsman’s cabin) to be seen, and no proper path, but a clambering hither and thither, in snow and mud : with this weather, — yes, one could get into Toggenburg that way, they said, but not alone, and only because there had been thunder on the mountains.
But all night the rain beat against my chamber window, and in the morning the lower slopes of the mountains were gray with new snow, which no thunder had packed. Indigo-colored clouds lay heavily on all the Alpine peaks ; the air was raw and chilly, and the roads slippery. In such weather the scenery is not only shrouded, but the people are shut up in their homes, — wherefore further travel would not have been repaid. I had already seen the greater part of the little land, and so gave up my thwarted plans the more cheerfully. When the post-omnibus for Herisau came to the inn door, I took my seat therein, saying, like Schiller’s Scnnbub' “ Ihr Matten, lebtwohl, Ihr sonnigen Weiden ! ”
The country became softer and lovelier as the road gradually fell towards Herisau, which is the richest and stateliest town of the Canton. I saw little of it except the hospitable home of my friend the Chancellor, for we had brought the Alpine weather with us. The architecture of the place, nevertheless, is charming, the town being composed of country-houses, balconied and shingled, and set down together in the most, irregular way, every street shooting off at a different angle. A mile beyond, I reached the edge of the mountain region, and again looked down upon the prosperous valley of St. Gall. Below me was the railway, and as I sped towards Zurich that afternoon, the top of the Sentis, piercing through a mass of dark rain-clouds, was my last glimpse of the Little Land of Appenzell.