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In 1847. 

















A REPRINT of the Swiss Letters, originally pub- 
lished in the " Spectator," has been found desirable 
on more than one ground. For thirty years this 
passage of domestic strife has only been casually 
reverted to by attentive observers of political 
events, and the subject had almost dropped out 
of the circle of topics possessing a modern in- 
terest when the recent Q-erman difficulties with 
the Catholic Church awakened the recollection of 
the Sonderbund quarrel. 

These difficulties have their origin in the very 
causes which engendered the disturbances of 1847 
among the Cantons of Switzerland. On the one 
hand there is the influence of . the Vatican, sus- 
tained by the free application of its vast revenues ; 
on the other, an able and resolute representative 
of the secular power, backed by the authority of a 
puissant temporal sovereign. It is the same piece 

a 2 



playing over again, only that the theatre on which 
the drama is enacted occupies a more extensive 
area of territory. The actual dispute excites 
memories in connection with Swiss affairs, which 
memories prompt numerous enquiries for the little 
work of Mr. Grote — a work clearly setting forth 
the causes of the struggle of 1847, and explaining 
the complex nature of the political relations ex- 
isting among the members of that interesting 

But the original edition had long been out of 
print, and it has not been without difficulty that 
a copy has been found to meet the demands of 
those who now desire to re-peruse the " Letters." 
When it was determined to reprint them, it was 
deemed a fitting occasion to produce a letter 
addressed by the Author to M. Alexis de Tocque- 
ville, wherein he takes a retrospective view of the 
closing incidents of this internecine conflict. It 
finishes the story, as it were ; and the reader will 
have the leading points more clearly fixed in his 
mind than they would have been left at the end of 
Letter VIL 

The letter itself was included among a packet 


of correspondence restored to the writers, in 1860, 
by the heirs of M. de Tocqueville. , 

This contest between the clerical element and 
the lay element — personfied in the Priest and 
the Civil Magistrate — is one that will in all pro- 
bability be maintained, in one quarter of Europe 
or another, for all time. The actors change, the 
conditions of the quarrel fluctuate, but the sources 
of the discord never dry up, and may, in fact, be 
characterised as sempiternal. 

* H. G. 

London, March 1876. 

a 3 


Letter I. 

Character of Swiss politics — The- Sonderbund — The Diet 
and its Representatives — M. Guizot's speeches and arti- 
cles — The Federal Pact — Cantonal selfishness. 

Letter II. 

Unpopularity of the Federal Pact — Ultramontanism in the 
Catholic Cantons^ Dr. Strauss' appointment resisted — 
Disturbances in Zurich — The , New Constitution for 

Letter III. 

Eevision of the Constitutions of Argau and Soleure — Ultra- 
montane tendencies — Politico-religious agitation — The 
monasteries instigators and promoters of the insurgents — 
Suppression of four monasteries. 

Letter IV. 

Presidential years of the Canton of Lucerne — Contests be- 
tween the Upper and Lower Valais — The brothers Barman — 
Young Switzerland — Activity of the Jesuits — Indignation 


against Lucerne and M. Meyer at the shooting-meeting at 
Basle — Proposition for the expulsion of the Jesuits brought 
before the Diet. 

Letter V. 

The Jesuits introduced into Lucerne — Protest of the Great 
Council of Zurich — The Corps Francs — Extraordinary Diet 
at Zurich — Anti-Jesuit feeling — Kevolution in the Canton 
de Vaud. 

Letter VI. 

Formation of tfie Sonderbund — Eevolution of Berne — Colonel 
Ochsenbein — Kevolution of Geneva — Revision of the Con- 
stitution of Bale-Ville — St. Gallen and its population. 

Letter VII. 

Unitary Government — Lucerne the head of the Catholic 
, Clerocracy of Switzerland — The Federal Pact and the 

Sonderbund — Ameliorated management of the Communes 

— Education — Pauperism. 

Letter to M. de Tocqueville. 

Termination of the war in Switzerland — Want of resolution 
in the Sonderbund — Lord Palmerston's influence in Italy 
and Switzerland — Dismissal of the Jesuits. 


The following letters embody the results of read- 
ing and enquiry during the course of a recent 
excursion in Switzerland. I thought at first that 
what I had to say would have been comprised 
in three letters at farthest ; but the matter has 
insensibly grown under my hands into the bulk of 
a small volume. 

The inhabitants of the twenty-two Cantons of 
Switzerland are interesting, on every ground, to 
the general intelligent public of Europe. But 
to one whose studies lie in the contemplation 
and interpretation of historical phenomena, they 
are especially instructive — partly from the many 
specialities and differences of race, language, 
religion, civilization, wealth, habits, &c., which 
distinguish one part of the population from an- 
other, comprising between the Rhine and the 
Alps a miniature of all Europe, and exhibiting 


the fifteenth century in immediate juxtaposition 
with the nineteenth — partly from the free and 
unrepressed action of the people, which brings 
out such distinctive attributes in full relief and 
contrast. To myself in particular, they present 
an additional ground of interest, from a certain 
political analogy (nowhere else to be found in 
Europe) with those who prominently occupy my 
thoughts, and on the history of whom I am still 
engaged — the ancient Greeks. 

In listening not only to the debates in the Diet, 
but also to the violent expressions of opposite 
sentiment manifested throughout the country dur- 
ing the present summer, I felt a strong impulse 
to understand how such dispositions had arisen ; 
to construe the present in its just aspect as a 
sequel to the past — and to comprehend that past 
itself in conjunction with the feelings which 
properly belong to it, not under the influence 
of feelings belonging to the present. The actual 
condition, and reasonable promise, of Swiss Federal 
politics, were different in 1841 and 1844, and 
have become again materially different in 1847: 
we have to study each period partly in itself, 


partly with reference to that which preceded it, 
and out of which it grew. 

A man must have little experience of historical 
phenomena to suppose that in any violent poli- 
tical contention, all the right is likely to lie on 
one side and all the wrong on the other. I have 
not disguised my conviction that both the Swiss 
parties have committed wrong, nor is my state- 
ment likely to give satisfaction to either of them : 
to shew the prolific power of wrong deeds in 
generating their like, is in my judgment one of 
the most important lessons of history. Whether 
I have distributed praise and blame in right, pro- 
portion, is a matter on which there is room for 
difference of opinion ; but I shall at least help 
my readers to conceive the main points of Swiss 
political dispute in historical sequence, and along 
with their concomitant circumstances. The Eng- 
lish or French criticisms which I have as yet 
seen, rarely attempt to do this ; yet without it no 
criticism can be either equitable or instructive. 

Tn regard to the future, I am sparing of pre- 
dictions. Amidst phenomena so complicated, so 
full of reciprocal excitement, and so little amenable 


to precedent as those which Switzerland now 
exhibits, a foreigner can do nothing more than 
put together the past in order to interpret the 
present. The business of prediction, as well as 
that of counsel and guidance, he must leave to 
natives ; and deeply indeed is it to be wished 
that the Swiss leaders may shew themselves at 
the actual crisis not incompetent to these lofty 

G. G. 

London, Odoher 14, 1847. 


Letter I. 

f^ept 4, 1847. 

Of the numerous travellers who during the course 
of every summer visit the magnificent scenery of 
Switzerland, there are not many who interest 
themselves in the political or social condition of 
the people. But in the present year, this latter 
topic has stood to an unusual degree in the fore- 
ground ; and the proceedings of the Diet, which 
has been sitting at Berne for the last two months, 
have attracted more notice than ever that assem- 
bly received before, not merely from visitors, but 
from the general public of Europe. Such in- 
creased notice is indeed abundantly justified by 
the serious character which Swiss politics have 
now assumed, and by the open collision, seemingly 
but one degree removed from actual hostilities, 
of a majority and minority of the Diet. On the 



20th of last July, a majority, including twelve 
Cantons and two Half-Cantons, came to the im- 
portant vote, that the separate league of seven 
Cantons, called the Sonderbund, was a contra- 
vention of the Federal Pact ; directed its dissolu- 
tion; and threw upon the Cantons composing it 
the responsibility of all the consequences of dis- 
obedience. Those Cantons — Lucerne, Friburg, 
Schwytz, Unterwalden, Uri, Zug, and Yalais — 
have not only protested against this decision, and 
refused to obey it, but have even persisted, and 
are still persisting, in military preparations, for 
the purpose of repelling any attempt on the part 
of the majority of the Diet to enforce its decision 
by arms. As yet, no proposition for forcibly 
executing the sentence has been submitted to the 
Diet, whose sentence of condemnation against the 
Sonderbund has been formally proclaimed, but 
remains unexecuted. It has been followed up only 
by one or two other resolutions against the Son- 
derbund, adopted by the same majority*. A supply 
of arms and ammunition, sent by the Austrians 
from Lombardy to the Cantons of the Sonderbund, 
but detained by the inhabitants of Tessin in its 


passage through that Canton, has been placed 
under sequestration by order of the Diet, in the 
hands of the Grovernment of Tessin : the Cantons 
of the Sonderbund have been formally admonished 
to discontinue their military preparations : more- 
over, a Commission has been nominated to examine 
and communicate with such officers of the Federal 
military force as hold commissions under the re- 
fractory Cantons ; and a resolution has been passed 
by the Diet, to dismiss them from the former 
unless they voluntarily renounce the latter. Still, 
no real progress is made towards the dissolution 
of the Sonderbund ; which continues inflexible — 
obstinate, and even insolent in the language of its 
Deputies — and unremitting in its warlike pre- 
parations. Presently the Diet will also pass a 
resolution, by the same majority, directing or 
inviting the expulsion of the Jesuits from Switzer- 
land : but this resolution will meet with the same 
angry opposition, and the same proclaimed dis- 
obedience, as the others. 

How long such open dissension can continue, or 
by what steps it will be brought to a close, no 
reasonable man will venture to pronounce. But 

B 2 


it is most certainly grave and menacing : it is 
pregnant with the possibih'ty, not to say more, of 
civil war in Switzerland, and with the further 
possibility of foreign interference in that country. 
Assuming even that such interference does not 
take place, the sympathies of Europe are of no 
mean account in reference to every individual 
country; and it is therefore worth while to form 
some rational estimate of the direction which those 
sympathies ought to take. The causes of what 
happens in a Swiss Diet are not a little compli- 
cated : for that assembly represents the result of 
what has been done and felt in each of the twenty- 
two Cantons — each a little political world, distinct 
from, though sympathising with, the rest. Swit- 
zerland consists of twenty-two Cantons, each 
having one vote in the Diet, though there is the 
greatest inequality between them in wealth and 
population; Berne containing about 430,000 in- 
habitants, and Zurich about 230,000, while Uri 
comprises only 15,000. Each Canton is inde- 
pendent and sovereign, except in so far as it is 
bound by the provisions of the Federal Pact, or 
by resolutions of the Diet in fulfilment of and in 


conformity with the Pact. Indeed, even this mul- 
tiplicity of elements does not represent the full 
complexity of Swiss political affairs : for three out 
of the twenty-two Cantons — Bale, Appenzell, and 
Unterwalden — are divided each into two Half- 
Cantons, each Half-Canton sovereign and indepen- 
dent, subject to the restriction above mentioned. 
The two sections of Bale (town and country), and 
of Appenzell (Inner-Rhoden and Ausser-Rhoden), 
not only differ from each other on the most ma- 
terial points, but are almost always politically 
opposed ; and whenever they are so opposed, their 
votes are of course neutralized in the Diet. So 
multiform are the elements — not to mention the 
many and important differences of race, religion, 
language, wealthy civilization, habits, residence in 
mountain, plain, town, or country, &c. — which go 
to form political society among the 2,400,000 inha- 
bitants of Switzerland: of whom about 900,000 
are Catholics, the remainder Protestants. 

To trace the working of these various causes, 
which have co operated more or less to form the 
majority called Radical, and the minority called 
Conservative, in the present Diet, is no very easy 


problem even for a native : a foreigner can only 
seize the principal and prominent circumstances. 
There is, however, one source of error which espe- 
cially deserves to be pointed out, and of which 
more will be said presently — that of estimating 
the character and tendencies of Swiss parties by 
the names which they bear of Radical and Conser- 
vative, These names have now got a footing in 
every language of Europe, and have very strong 
feelings of esteem or hatred associated with them ; 
they are nowise correct as designations of the two 
Federal parties prominently opposed in Switzer- 
land, and of. the points at issue between them : 
yet foreigners easily transfer to that country the 
established sentiments or established interests 
which they have contracted towards the parties so 
called at home. This is especially necessary to be 
borne in mind when we read the speeches delivered 
by M. Guizot in the French Chamber, or the 
articles in the Journal des Debats, which have so 
wide a circulation in Europe. Whoever judges of 
Switzerland from these sources, will carry away an 
impression not merely partial and inaccurate, but 
in many respects the direct reverse of real truth. 


M. Guizot speaks from the French tribune the 
language of an exaggerated Swiss party politician : 
omit the name and translate his speech into G-er- 
man, it might pass for one of the bitter invectives 
of M. Meyer, the Deputy of Lucerne in the Swiss 
Diet, against Eadical spirit and aggressions. The 
Journal des Dehats and other French journals are 
written in the same vein : to them, as well as to 
M. Guizot, it is sufficient if they find an opportunity 
of inflaming their readers against Radical prin- 
ciples, and of impressing upon them the dignity 
of Conservative politics sanctified by religious zeal. 
With M. Guizot^ probably, such discourses are 
more than an ebullition of feeling : they are also 
a useful manoeuvre in reference to his own posi- 
tion in France. For he owes that position not to 
any esteem or confidence entertained towards him 
by the French people — still less to any hopes 
which they feel of progress or improvement under 
his Ministry; but chiefly to the fears which the 
French electoral body have been taught to enter- 
tain of Radicalism. And the menaces, so offensive 
and indecent in the mouth of any foreign Power, 
which he addresses to the Swiss Diet, are intended 


to tell quite as much upon French Conservatives 
and French Eadicals as upon Lucerne and 

Two points deserve particular notice in the 
bitter animadversions which M. Gruizot and the 
French Conservative journals pour forth against 
the recent course of Swiss politics. 

1. They dwell continually, and almost exclu- 
sively, upon two facts in the recent history of that 
country — the invasion of the Canton of Lucerne, 
in the end of 1844, as well as in the beginning of 
1845_, by bands of volunteers from the other Can- 
tons, called the Corps Francs — and the separate 
league of seven Cantons, called the Sonderbund, 
which is represented as a consequence of this 
unjust invasion, and resorted to only as a means 
of defence. 

2. They depict the present majority of twelve 
Cantons and two Half-Cantons, which has just 
pronounced the Sonderbund to be unconstitutional 
and directed its dissolution, as a majority bent 
upon complete subversion of the Cantonal inde- 
pendent action throughout Switzerland, and upon 
the transfer of the twenty-two separate Govern- 


ments now existing, to one central and united 
republic at Berne. To add to the terrors of this 
impending republic, it is described as likely to 
become aggressive and formidable to all its neigh- 
bours ; since the 2,400,000 souls which the whole 
country contains would be so immensely strength- 
ened (we are told) by this concentration, that they 
would forthwith overstep their own rights and 
limits, for the purpose and with the power of 
imposing unjust conditions on others. 

Such are the two points principally insisted upon 
by M. Guizot, and many of the leading critics on 
Swiss affairs. In regard to the first of the two, 
they mislead by isolating one single event and pre- 
senting it apart from its preceding and accom- 
panying circumstances : in regard to the second, 
they mislead yet more, by imputing to a great 
party in Switzerland, designs which none of those 
who really represent that party have given the 
least ground for suspecting, and by holding forth 
as likely to be accomplished a centralization to 
which all present tendencies stand irrevocably 

That there may be persons in Switzerland, and 


those too not among the least patriotic of her 
citizens, who wish that such a centralization or 
something approaching to it could be established, 
is probable - enough : and it is not easy to see 
why any impartial foreigner, who desires nothing 
but the tranquillity, happiness, and improvement 
of the country, should denounce them for it; 
although it may suit the purpose of a French 
Minister, who wishes to see Switzerland at all 
times open to attack, to foment the maximum of 
disunion. Among the 2,400_,000 people who dwell 
between the Lakes of Constance and Greneva, there 
are now twenty-five independent establishments, 
each fitted up (better or worse) for the complete 
execution of all the purposes of government. 
In the time of Aristotle, and with his political 
experience, such minute subdivision would have 
appeared an indispensable condition of freedom 
and responsibility : but in the present state of 
political knowledge, it is surely neither crime 
nor folly to conceive that all the great purposes 
of society might be better fulfilled by locally- 
chosen governing bodies subordinate to one com- 
mon centre. And this is the ground actually 


taken by some of the French Opposition journals 
against M. Gruizot: they seem to admit that the 
Swiss poUtical leaders do contemplate an entire 
subordination of the Cantonal to the Central 
Government, and defend them in this supposed 
project. Both the attack and the defence are 
here founded on the same mistaken supposition : 
still the defence is perfectly well grounded to 
this extent — that if the Swiss leaders really did 
entertain the project imputed to them by the 
French Minister, and were striving to bring 
their own people to the same view, they would 
in nowise deserve those bitter denunciations which 
he has poured forth against them, though the 
particular circumstances of the case might render 
it inadmissible and impracticable. 

Wise or foolish as the conception of a single 
or unitary Grovernment, embracing all Switzer- 
land, may be in itself, it is not the conception 
entertained either by the leading politicians or 
by any one of the leading Cantons in that country. 
Revision of the Federal Pact is indeed what they 
strongly insist upon : but to revise the Pact is 
one thing — to constitute an unitary or single 


Government for the administration of all Switzer- 
land is another. It may safely be pronounced 
that a revision of the Pact, in such manner as 
to give too much power to the Central Govern- 
ment and to weaken the Cantonal Governments 
too much, is of all contingencies the most im- 
probable ; though there are so many French and 
English critics who represent this as a plan 
already organized by an oppressive majority in 
Switzerland, and only to be arrested by foreign 
interference. Of the two extreme and opposite 
political changes conceivable — first, complete 
fusion of the Cantonal Governments into one 
common and unitary Government, or secondly, 
complete disruption of the Pact and formation of 
several Governments out of it, altogether distinct 
from each other — the latter is decidedly the least 
improbable : nay, if we look at the present unyield- 
ing temper and excitement of the Swiss parties it 
might almost appear the least improbable solution 
of all, in a problem so essentially embroiled. 

The tendencies of the present time, indeed, are 
not to strengthen the authority of the Diet over 
the Cantons, but to reduce it still lower — from 


extreme weakness down to absolute nullity. The 
conduct of the recusant minority in this present 
affair of the Sonderbund, and still more the argu- 
ments by which they defend that conduct, amount 
to nothing less than a complete nullification of all 
imperative authority in the Pact, even as to its 
most positive and specific provisions. Assuredly, 
if there is to be any federation at all, one of its 
most essential provisions must be, that the mem- 
bers shall contract no separate alliances among 
themselves injurious or dangerous to the entire 
confederacy. The sixth Article of the Federal 
Pact distinctly says — " No alliance shall be formed 
among the several Cantons, detrimental either 
to the general confederacy or to the rights of 
other Cantons :" so that, under the terms of this 
Article, the competence of the Diet to entertain 
and pronounce upon the legality of the Sonder- 
bund cannot be impugned except by arguments 
which go to deny its competence universally. 
Now a majority of the Diet has pronounced the 
Sonderbund to be illegal and an infringement 
of the Pact : to which the members of the Sondei*- 
bund reply by a protest and a peremptory refusal 


to obey. Such proclaimed resistance, by so many 
Cantons at once, is of 'itself the most fatal blow 
which has yet been aimed at the authority of the 
Diet : and the dissolving effect of this practical 
measure is still further enlarged by the arguments 
upon which it is made to rest. " We maintain," 
say the Cantons of this separate league or Sonder- 
bund, " that our league is not at variance with 
the provisions of the Pact ; it is purely defensive, 
and has been rendered necessary by aggressions 
on the part of other Cantons or their citizens 
against the Grovernment of Lucerne : we intend 
no evil to others, if they do not attack us ; and 
we shall maintain our league as long as our own 
security seems to us to require." To employ such 
arguments as these while the question was under 
discussion in the Diet, and for the chance of 
influencing the decision of that body, was their 
incontestable right: but they still continue to 
hold the same language, and act upon the same 
principle, even after the Diet has decided against 
them. When it is urged that to apply the general 
provisions of the Pact to a particular case, and 
to decide judicially whether the case does or does 


not fall under a rule there laid down, is among 
the most indispensable attributes of the Diet — the 
Sonderbund meet this proposition by an unqua- 
lified negative. " We are sovereign Cantons," 
they say, "and recognise no authority in the 
majority of the Diet to apply or interpret the 
Pact against a recusant minority ; we admit no 
right to interpret the Pact except by the unani- 
mous decision of the twenty-two sovereign Can- 
tons ; we construe the sixth Article of the Pact 
in a manner perfectly consistent with our separate 
league, and we shall therefore, as sovereign 
Cantons, continue to act upon our own construc- 
tion of it, though a majority of the Cantons may 
decide otherwise." Here we find an act of avowed 
and unqualified resistance, sustained by arguments 
which amount to a complete negation of the 
authority of the Diet over individual Cantons in 
any case whatever — to a complete nullification 
of the Diet as a body acting by its majority. 
For if the decision of the majority is not to 
hold good against that of one or a few Cantons, 
as to the judicial application of an express article 
of the Pact to a given particular case, it is plainly 


of no binding authority on any question which 
may be conceived. The Federal Pact, in this 
reading, becomes a mere alliance of independent 
and sovereign States, each of them at liberty to 
put their own construction upon it and break 
it whenever they choose — of course at the hazard 
of war, if contradiction or provocation assume 
a character sufficiently grave. 

Such is the state of public law in Switzerland, 
as proclaimed and now acted upon by one-third 
of the twenty-two Cantons^ and tacitly sanctioned 
by a minority, more or less considerable, in the 
others ; and it is strange, in the face of this 
obvious fact, to hear the French Minister pro- 
claim, that the power to be feared in Switzerland 
is, an overruling and oppressive interference on 
the part of the Diet, with an extinction of Can- 
tonal independence ! Never before has the judicial 
competence of the Diet been so glaringly defied 
in practice, and so explicitly denied in theory, 
as in the present year ; and this too by a very 
powerful minority. That minority, in the excite- 
ment of party contest, may perhaps in part really 
believe themselves to be the defenders of Cantonal 


rights unjustly assailed by their opponents ; but 
among them are those who, knowing the case 
too well to believe in the reality of such danger, 
also know that the pretence of such belief is 
the most popular of all topics in reference to 
Swiss feeling. 

It is in fact impossible to study attentively 
the march of Swiss affairs without seeing, that 
what really lies next to the hearts of the people 
is, their Cantonal and communal system ; and 
that, although on some particular questions con- 
nected with Swiss Federal politics, there may 
be rare and temporary moments of excitement — 
although there is a growing desire, and a very 
rational desire, for better-assured nationality in 
the event of foreign danger — nevertheless, the 
idea of interference on the part of the Diet in 
Cantonal affairs is habitually unfamiliar and re- 
pulsive. This is not less true of the Cantons 
called Radical than of the Cantons called Con- 
servative — in both of them alike, the citizens 
look for protection, as well as for command, to 
their p^vn Cantonal authority. Nothing can be 
more memorable, throughout the history of the 



past years, than the uniform indecision and im- 
potence of the Diet; indeed, one reason why so 
much has been said about terrible projects of 
over-centralization at the present moment, is, that 
now, almost for the first time, a majority of the 
Diet has been found to take a decisive resolution 
on an important subject. Throughout the past 
history of the Diet, we find discussion after dis- 
cussion without determination ; no majority at 
all being found to agree in any — sometimes not 
even in a negative or vote of rejection. To 
prevail upon twelve Cantons to agree in any 
positive vote, has been generally found a difficulty 
all but insurmountable. Among the many dif- 
ferent questions put to the vote, those which 
are the most trying and important do not often 
obtain a majority ; because several Deputies abstain 
altogether from voting, some reserving to them- 
selves the liberty of voting, subsequently, when 
they shall have asked and received instructions 
from their Canton. It is to be remarked that 
every Deputy present votes, not agreeably to 
any opinion of his own, but to instructions 
received from the G-reat Council, or supreme 


legislative authority, in his own Canton — which 
may sometimes, though this does not often happen, 
confer upon him plenary powers of self-decision 
upon some given subject ; but, excepting in these 
cases, the instructions, prepared in each separate 
Canton, include conditions or adopt modifications 
different from each other, which usually prevent 
any number of Deputies from concurring in one 
substantive proposition. Speaking from his in- 
structions, as a counsel speaks from a brief, a 
Deputy may sustain his opinion by powerful 
arguments — and the speeches of some of them 
are eloquent and creditable; but his conclusion 
is prescribed to him before the meeting of the 
Diet. And in fact, the forms and language of 
the Diet consider each Deputy as an ambassador 
from his Canton : he is always styled " Der 

Gresandte des Standes ," by the President, 

when inviting the opinions of every one at the 
table seriatim^ and most frequently so styled 
throughout the course of discussion. The rela- 
tions of the Deputy to his Canton are doubtless 
those of a delegate bound by instructions ; yet 
the relations of the Cantons towards each other 

c 2 


are not those of independent States, but of States 
which have bound themselves in confederacy to 
obey the provisions of a solemn and common 
Pact, and have formally constituted the body 
called the Diet to uphold and enforce the Pact. 

What the Cantons mostly stand chargeable with 
is, the feeling of Cantonal selfishness — each being 
careless of the interests of other Cantons as com- 
pared with its own : at least, the tendency to error 
is almost uniformly in this direction. Thus, when 
we follow the discussions of the Diet, not upon the 
present embittered questions of Federal politics, 
but upon internal taxes, tolls, or commercial regu- 
lations in the various Cantons, which fall to a 
certain extent within its competence — we find this 
feeling of Cantonal egoism not less prevalent in 
the Radical Canton of Vaud than in the Sonder- 
bund Cantons of Lucerne and Valais. During the 
past winter and spring, the suffering from dearth 
and high prices of provisions being very severe in 
all parts of Switzerland, each of these three Can- 
tons made regulations either prohibiting or imped- 
ing the export of provisions to other Cantons, — a 
proceeding contrary to the Federal Pact. This 


subject being broiigbt on for discussion in the Diet 
shortly after the passing of the vote to dissolve 
the Sonderbund, the Eadical Deputy of Yaud 
(M. Druey, a coarse but animated and emphatic 
speaker, not very unlike the late Mr. O'Connell) 
was found in the same line of defence as the 
Ultra-Catholic M. de Oourten, Deputy of the 
Yalais — the most outspoken and even insolent 
among all the persons assembled. Whoever 
imagines that the Eadical Cantons are disposed to 
be liberal in the sacrifice of Cantonal independence 
to Federal supremacy, would have been unde- 
ceived if he had listened to the speech of M. Druey 
— seasoned, moreover, with many sneers against 
free trade : he employed one familiar comparison 
which illustrates the relation of the Cantonal to 
the Federal feelings throughout Switzerland — 
" My shirt is nearer to me than my coat." In the 
course of another discussion, in which the Conser- 
vative Canton of Valais was proved to be uphold- 
ing a scheme of tolls not only at variance with the 
Pact, but also without that formal communication, 
in respect to tolls imposed, which every Canton 
is bound to furnish to the Federal authority, the 


Deputy of Yalais, M. de Courten, went so far as to 
tell the Diet flatly — "Nous n'y renoncerons ja- 
mais." So jealous and irritable is the sentiment 
of Cantonal independence on both sides, even in 
matters where the rights of conscience are noway 
concerned, and where the matter in dispute is 
nothing greater than the raising of revenue in one 
way rather than in another. To show the diffe- 
rent cross-divisions among the Cantons, I may add, 
that Neufchatel, which is highly Conservative in 
general politics, and makes almost common cause 
with the Sonderbund, though not a member of it, 
is at the same time extremely liberal and right- 
minded on questions of trade and transit. 

If we except the arrangements for the Federal 
military force, — for the relations between Switzer- 
land and foreign countries, and for some few ques- 
tions of toll and transit — on all other points the 
Cantonal Governments may be said to act without 
any positive interference on the part of the Diet. 
Doubtless the Pact, with its solemn recognition of 
a common country and brotherly obligation be- 
tween the Cantons, exercises a considerable moral 
influence over their proceedings ; and the meet- 


ings of the Diet, in spite of the feebleness of its 
coercive sanction, are indispensably necessary to 
keep alive and strengthen this moral influence. 
Hence arises a partial disposition, feebler than 
might be desired, yet still precious, to adapt their 
legislation to the interests of each other — and a 
facility for special agreements between them hav- 
ing this object in view. Yet that the Pact itself 
ought also to be modified, so as to enlarge the 
attributions of the Diet and impart to the country 
a more efficient and better protected nationality, 
has long been a widespread conviction in Switzer- 
land, and seems as a general position not denied 
even by the Government of Lucerne ; though that 
Canton, as well as the other Cantons of the Sonder- 
bund, protests against attempting to alter it at the 
present time and under present feelings. And the 
Diet itself has on several occasions entertained the 
general idea of revising the Pact, though no speci- 
fic plan has ever found approval : it has again in 
its present session, by the same majority which 
pronounced the Sonderbund to be illegal, decided 
that the Pact required alteration, and that a Com- 
mittee should be appointed to make a report on 


the best means of attaining this end. It is re- 
markable, that every one of the Deputies who 
formed this majority, disclaimed in the most em- 
phatic manner the idea imputed to them, of sur- 
rendering Cantonal independence and aiming at 
an unitary Government in Switzerland. This 
Committee, composed of all the Deputies of the 
majority — it could hardly be otherwise composed, 
since the Deputies of the Sonderbund refused to 
take part in the proceeding — are now assembled ; 
and it will remain to be seen whether they can 
agree in recommending any positive scheme of 
real importance and efiSciency. One effect can 
hardly fail to ensue from their report — a complete 
refutation of that charge of anti-Cantonal tendency 
which is so loudly urged against them by the 
Sonderbund and its foreign partisans. But whether 
these Deputies will all be able to concur in any 
specific plan of reform, with due respect to this 
limit — still more, whether their respective Cantons 
(in each of which there is a Conservative minority 
ready to raise opposition on any plausible ground, 
and in many of which there are Catholics more or 
less open to the intrigues of Lucerne) will all 


concur in adopting their recommendation — must 
remain for the future to decide : should mattei 
proceed even so far as this, there will still remain 
the Sonderbund, a large minority who will oppose 
anything and everything. Yet, assuming such 
unqualified repugnance on the part of the Sonder- 
bund for the present to continue, still, if the exist- 
ing majority of Cantons, comprising four-fifths of 
the population, and more than four-fifths of the 
intelligence and wealth of Switzerland, should 
agree in sanctioning any definite reform of the 
Federal Pact — above all, if a sentiment should 
grow up among them of deeper attachment and 
more willing submission to the Pact so improved, 
than that which is felt towards the Pact as it now 
stands — a great point will be gained for the future 
march, organization, and tranquillity of Switzer- 
land. Berne and Zurich, the first and second 
among the Cantons in respect of population and 
power, are on this occasion in cordial co-operation, 
— a rare conjunction, since jealousy between these 
two powerful Cantons is among the standing phe- 
nomena of Swnss politics. And this increases 
materially the chance both of arriving at some 


definite result in respect to Federal reform, and of 
repressing disorderly ebullitions amidst the con- 
flicting elements with which Switzerland is now 

In touching upon Swiss affairs, the first impulse 
of an impartial observer is to repel those false 
charges which M. Guizot — with a looseness of 
speech altogether unbecoming in a statesman of his 
position — has advanced against the majority of 
the Diet. I shall in a future letter say something 
respecting that series of preliminary events, one 
growing out of another, which has brought about 
the present serious conflict of parties in Switzer- 
land. Though it cannot for a moment be con- 
tended that all the right is on one side and all the 
wrong on the other, yet, if we look for the great 
cause both of mischief in the past and of danger 
for the future, we shall find it in the statesmen, 
miscalled Conservative, who are now at the head 
of the Government of Lucerne. 


Letter II. 

Sept. 11, 1847. 

The Federal Pact under which the Swiss Cantons 
now live has become unpopular not merely from 
its own intrinsic defects and ambiguities, but also 
from the time and circumstances of its origin. 
It was framed in 1815, in place of the constitu- 
tion called the Act of Mediation; which, having 
been introduced and guaranteed by Napoleon_, had 
fallen with the extinction of his power. It was 
the product of a time when the patrician families 
in politics and Ultramontane influences in religion 
were in a state of triumphant reaction against the 
restraints imposed upon them from 1798 down- 
ward: both of them seconded by the Allied 
Powers at the Congress of Vienna ; who, how- 
ever, to their credit be it spoken, mitigated on 
several points the exorbitant pretensions of the 
revived native oligarchies. Since 1830, almost 
all the Cantonal Governments have undergone 
a capital change^ and have become thoroughly 


popular : so that the Federal Pact remains as the 
only unaltered relic of an odious time. In 1832, 
the majority of the Diet recognised the necessity 
of modifying it, and named a Committee for the 
purpose, of which M. Rossi of Geneva was the 
reporter. Their scheme of Federal reform — 
maintaining intact the Cantonal sovereignty and 
equal representation in the Diet, but remodelling 
the Federal authority, and introducing in every 
way valuable improvements — was signed by the 
Deputies of fourteen Cantons (including the three 
directing Cantons of Berne^ Zurich, and Lucerne), 
and recommended by them earnestly to the ac- 
ceptance of Switzerland. Unhappily for the 
country, it was rejected; chiefly from the reso- 
lute opposition of the primitive and Conservative 
Cantons, who would endure no change at all — 
partly from the indifference, rather than the 
opposition, of extreme politicians on the other side, 
who wished for something more comprehensive 
and symmetrical. 

Prior to the year 1798, the condition of a Swiss 
Canton was that of a great feudal lord, with an 
aggregate of many separate seigneurial properties, 


acquired partly by conquest, partly by purchase : 
in the town Cantons — such as Berne, Solenre, 
Basle, Zurich, &c. — the town was the lord, the 
country districts were attached to it as dependent 
properties : in the rural Cantons — such as Uri, 
Schwytz, &c. — it was an aggregate of rural and 
democratical communes which exercised lordship 
over other dependent communes in their neigh- 
bourhood. This system of profound political 
inequality, broken up between 1798 and 1815, 
was revived to a great degree in the latter year : 
in the town Cantons, the Government again fell 
into the hands of the citizens of the town, and 
was even confined to a small number of persons 
among those citizens ; while the country districts 
were either essentially subject, or had a share in 
it little more than nominal. Most of the Cantons 
had their two Councils — Great and Small Council ; 
the former legislative, the latter executive : but 
the real powers of government were all exercised 
by the Small or Executive Council, while the Great 
Council had neither initiative, nor independent 
play of its own, nor publicity of debate ; but was 
in practice a mere acquiescent adjunct of the 


Executive, rather than a check upon it. In the 
Catholic Cantons, the reaction of 1815 took the 
form of a devoted Ultramontanism ; the governing 
few surrendering themselves to the inspirations of 
the Papal Nuncio with a compliance not paralleled 
in any part of Europe, and forming a strong 
contrast with the resolute independence of the 
old Catholic Cantons before 1798 in maintaining 
their civil authority against the Court of Rome. 
In the Canton of Yalais, this Ultramontanism 
reached its maximum ; the priests being subject 
to a special jurisdiction for their persons, and 
enjoying immunity from taxation as to their pro- 
perties, in a manner more suitable to the fifteenth 
century than to the nineteenth. The primitive 
Cantons of Uri, Unterwalden, and Schwytz (the 
latter with modifications in consequence of the 
unequal relation of what were called the outer 
districts), retained their old primitive constitution 
unchanged : the Landesgemeinde, or general 
assembly of all the adult citizens, meets once in 
the year, has the exclusive power of making laws 
when needed, and elects the administrators re- 
quired, who are very seldom changed. Such form 


of Democracy is universally acceptable to the 
people of these Cantons : though, when taken in 
conjunction with their dull and stationary intelli- 
gence, their bigotry, and their pride in bygone 
power and exploits, it works in practice as a mere 
routine of power, practically secret and irre- 
sponsible, in the hands of a small number of old 
families ; very different from the Canton of Ap- 
penzell Ausser Rhoden, where substantially the 
same form of government prevails among a popu- 
lation industrious, orderly, intelligent, and public- 
spirited, far beyond the average of Switzerland. 

These Swiss Grovernments, all springing out of 
the reaction of 1815, acted in harmony with each 
other as to general politics ; though even then, in 
questions of fiscal and internal administration, the 
spirit of Cantonal egoism was not less rife than it 
is at present. Moreover, they were all, in the 
proper sense of the word. Conservative Grovern- 
ments — founded upon privilege and exclusion of 
the mass of the people from political power — 
satisfied to remain stationary in this system, doing 
nothing in the way of correction or amelioration, 
and leaving the separate communes in the Cantons 


to their own management or mismanagement ; but 
prudent in respect to their finances, and true to 
the old Swiss idea of keeping a public fund in 
hand bearing interest. During the last years be- 
fore" 1830, however, a public feeling was gradually 
growing up against these oligarchies ; so that even 
before the French Revolution of July, the people 
of some Cantons had begun to demand, and that 
of Tessin had actually obtained, a measure of 
popular reform. But the Revolution of July 
roused the public mind throughout nearly all 
Switzerland : during the few years following, the 
Governments of Berne, Zurich, Argau, Soleure, 
Lucerne, Friburg, Schaffhausen, Thurgau, St. 
G-allen, and Griarus, became all popularized ; the 
changes being carried without bloodshed, but by 
the same sort of intimidation which, in 1832, 
pushed the English Reform Bill through the 
House of Lords — meetings and demonstrations of 
sentiment such as the actual Governments were 
unable to resist. These movements — directed to 
obtain recognition of the sovereignty of the people, 
with an elective franchise exercised by the people 
alike in town and country — were properly Radical 


movements, just as the party in power to which 
they were opposed was Conservative ; it was then 
that the denominations Radical and Conservative 
became current in reference to the two opposing 
parties ; and they have continued to be so appli'ed 
after their fitness and appropriate meaning had to 
a great degree ceased. 

During the years immediately after 1830, the 
Governments of most of the Cantons became thus 
thoroughly popularized. The privilege of town 
over country which had been the characteristic 
mark of the previous oligarchies, was first dimi- 
nished and has been subsequently effaced ; for 
though in the first changes an artificial preponder- 
ance was still left to the town in the number of 
its representatives compared with those of the 
country, such preponderance has since been an- 
nulled, and the suffrage has become practically 
equal and universal. Moreover, the Great or 
Legislative Council was exalted to be the control- 
ling superior of the Executive ; it debated publicly, 
under the stimulus of an active press, with meet- 
ings, and all the exaggerated movement of a 
vigorous political life. The preceding Conserva- 


tive functionaries were replaced by men of the 
movement and either retired from pubhc life or 
were thrown into opposition. To regain power as 
avowed Conservatives, or champions of the old 
privileges, was impracticable; they were obliged 
to accept and work under the popular forms, by ap- 
pealing to some feeling in the public mind ; and it 
was in this manner that religion came to be invoked 
as a weapon of excitement for political purposes. 

The first memorable manifestation of this new 
phase of Swiss political life took place on the 6th 
of September, 1839, at Zurich ; where the Eadical 
Government was violently overthrown, in conse- 
quence of their nomination of Dr. Strauss to a 
chair of theology. Not only did the political 
opposition in the Council, the public, and the 
press, raise the most vehement outcry against this 
appointment, but the clergy (most of whom had 
received their appointments from, and sympa- 
thized with, the prior Government before 1830) 
employed their pulpits in the most direct and 
exciting manner against the Government ; which 
was obliged to give way, and cancel the nomina- 
tion. Had the matter stopped here, no one 


(whether assenting with their opinions or not) 
would have had any right to blame them. But 
having gained this point, they found the path too 
promising not to push on farther. They organised 
what were called Committees of Faith, composed 
of clergymen as well as laymen ; preached insur- 
rection throughout the villages adjoining Zurich ; 
prevailed upon a large number of the rural popu- 
lation to take up arms under the cry of " Eeligion 
in danger," and marched into the town to put 
down the Government by force. A clergyman 
named Hirzel was actually at the head of these 
armed assailants ; who overpowered the resistance 
opposed to them, and drove the Executive Council 
out of the city. One of the members of that 
Council, Dr. Hegetschwyler, in endeavouring to 
restore peace, was among those slain in the streets. 
This violent revolution — in consequence of which 
the Grovernment of Zurich passed entirely into the 
hands of the politico-religious party (still called 
Conservative) who had made it — took place at the 
time when not only Zurich was presiding Canton 
of the Confederation, but when the Diet was 
actually assembled in the town. 

D 2 



If the religious feelings of the population ad- 
mitted of being turned so profitably to party 
account in a Protestant Canton like Zurich, much 
more could they be so employed by Catholic 
leaders and priests amidst a Catholic population. 
And this was the movement which really took 
place in those Catholic Cantons which had been 
liberalized after 1830. In Lucerne and Soleure — 
and even in Friburg, though to a less decided 
extent — new and popular constitutions had been 
promulgated in 1831, and the Government had 
come into the hands of the leading Liberal politi- 
cians in the Cantons. The old Conservative party 
and the Ultramontane priests joined to form an 
opposition against them : and though the Lucerne 
Government had given no such plausible ground 
to that opposition as the nomination of Dr. Strauss 
furnished at Zurich, nevertheless the ascendency 
of the Catholic hierarchy and clergy was suffici- 
ently cramped by the constitution of 1831 to in- 
duce them to raise the cry of danger to religion. 
The year 1840 was the year predetermined for 
submitting the constitutions of Lucerne, Soleure, 
and Argau, to decennial revision. In the elections 


whicli took place in the first half of that year 
throughout the Canton of Lucerne, for choosing a 
constituent body empowered to review and propose 
amendments in the constitution of 1831, the party 
called Conservative, with the Ultramontane clergy, 
were completely successful, and a majority of the 
constituent body were chosen in a sense hostile 
both to the existing constitution and to the exist- 
ing Grovernment. This change was effected in a 
manner constitutional and pacific, very different 
from the revolution at Zurich in the preceding 
year ; but it was effected under a similar rallying 
cry, and gave a triumph to reactionary influences 
in both Cantons, which were at first in hearty 
sympathy with each other. 

The new constitution framed by these so-called 
Conservatives, and accepted by the people of Lu- 
cerne in 1841, was, however, no return to Con- 
servatism as it had stood between 1815 and 1830. 
On the contrary, it was a great deal more Eadical 
(measuring Radicalism by the extent of direct 
power given to the people) than that which the 
Radicals themselves had framed in 183 L The 
grand object was to enlarge the power of the 


Catholic ecclesiastics, and to render them as com- 
pletely independent of lay authority as the people 
could be persuaded to tolerate. The constitution 
of 1831 had been a representative Democracy : 
that of 1841 (called by some Swiss writers a 
Theocratic Ochlocracy) introduced, among other 
changes, the popular veto, or power of submitting 
to the vote of the people throughout the. Canton, 
all laws passed by the Legislative Council. On 
the supposition that this Council should pass any 
law unacceptable to the priests, the priests had 
thus a good chance of procuring its rejection by 
the people. By enfeebling the lay ascendency, 
more room was made for the ecclesiastical. To 
illustrate the interest of the Catholic ecclesiastics 
in this arrangement, we may mention, that in the 
Canton of Yalais, where their power is greater 
than in any other part of Europe, and where (as 
has already been observed) they even enjoy com- 
plete immunity from taxation for their large pro- 
perty, as well as a special jurisdiction for their 
persons — in the Yalais there subsists not merely 
the popular veto, but even what is called the 
referendum ; that is, every law passed by the Re- 


presentative Council not only may, if required, be 
submitted to the vote of the primary assemblies, 
but it must in every case be so submitted, before 
it acquires validity. 

In the Canton of Zurich, the party which ac- 
quired power by the revolution of 1839, lost it in 
1845 by the quiet change of electoral majority — 
partly from causes which will presently be ex- 
plained, but partly also from the shame now felt 
for the means whereby that revolution was accom- 
plished. In the Canton of Lucerne, the case is 
otherwise : the party who acquired power in 1841 
have retained it ever since ; and to them, more 
than to any other cause whatever, the subsequent 
bitter dissensions of Switzerland, as well as the 
present almost inextricable embarrassments in the 
way of future union, are to be traced. They are 
animated with an indefatigable Ultramontane zeal, 
and have constituted themselves the central point 
of Catholic Switzerland, for the protection and 
extension of the political interests of that church. 
Of the way in which this disposition has been 
manifested more will be said in a future letter : 
but it is impossible to comprehend the present 


condition of Swiss politics unless we go back to 
that alliance of clerical aggressiveness and ambi- 
tion witb the employment of religion as a party 
engine, by Conservative or Anti-Eadical politi- 
cians, which first manifested itself in Zurich and 
Lucerne in 1839 and 1840. 


Letter III. 

Sept. 18, 1847. 

It has already been stated, in the preceding letter, 
that the Cantons of Soleure and Argau were des- 
tined to a revision of their political constitutions 
(both established in 1831) during the course of 
1840, in like manner with Lucerne. Soleure is 
entirely Catholic : Argau is a Canton of parity, 
divided between Protestants and Catholics in the 
proportion of about three-fifths to two-fifths, but 
recognising equality of political rights between the 
two confessions. In both these Cantons Ultramon- 
tane tendencies, the same as in Lucerne, had been 
active since 1831 i "Catholic unions," formed 
throughout most of the villages in these Cantons, 
as well as in the Catholic portion of Berne, were 
worked through public meetings and the press, as 
well as by the pulpit and the confessional, to in- 
culcate the religious duty incumbent on Catholics 
of liberating the hierarchy from civil control, and 
aggrandizing them at the expense of the civil 
power ; and so impatient did this feeling become, 


that the Cathohcs near Porentru in Berne, as well 
as those in the neighbourhood of the convent of 
Muri in Argau, actually rose in armed insurrec- 
tion against their Governments in the course of 
1835. Both movements were put down by mili- 
tary force, and in both cases the parties concerned 
were treated with remarkable mildness. Proceed- 
ings by violence were thus repressed ; but the Ul- 
tramontane agitation still continued, and reached 
its height during the year 1840, appointed for 
revision. On that occasion, the party might well 
hope to obtain their purpose by pacific means ; 
and as they had been completely successful in the 
elections in Lucerne during the first half of that 
year, so they were encouraged to anticipate the 
same result in Soleure and Argau during the last 
half. At that time there were eight monasteries 
in the Canton of Argau — four of nuns and four of 
monks; two of the latter, Muri and Wettengen, 
both rich. These convents were, throughout 1840, 
the great seats of the politico-religious agitation 
then going forward. While the leaders from the 
three Cantons held meetings and concerted their 
measures there, the ample funds of the convents 


were not spared for the movement ; which was 
impressed upon the neighbouring population as a 
religious cause in the strictest sense, and enforced 
as well by the strongest appeals which the Catholic 
faith and the authority of priests and monks could 
furnish, as by unmeasured cries of irreligion against 

Notwithstanding these strenuous efforts, how- 
ever, the movement was not successful either in 
Soleure or in Argau. In both of them, the revising 
assemblies proposed projects of amended constitu- 
tions, containing neither that extension of Catholic 
privilege as compared with Protestant, and Ca- 
tholic church-power as compared with lay-power 
— nor that introduction of direct appeal to the 
people in veto or referendum — which the leaders 
in this triple Cantonal agitation demanded : their 
projects were submitted to the votes of the general 
body of citizens, and sanctioned by large majori- 
ties. Eespecting the Canton of Argau, two circum- 
stances deserve notice — First, that the constitution 
of 1831 (then under revision) not only placed the 
Catholics under no political disadvantages as com- 
pared with the Protestants, but even gave them 


more than reasonable privileges ; for in spite of 
their inferior numbers, and their still greater infe- 
riority in wealth, industry, and intelligence, it 
secured to them a numerical half of the members 
of the Great Council. Secondly, although there 
were thus no real political grievances of Catholics 
to be removed, nevertheless the revising Council 
was at first so influenced by the powerful agitation 
going forward, that they proposed a scheme of 
constitution in which a portion of the Catholic 
claims were conceded ; and this scheme, on being 
submitted to vote, was rejected, not merely by 
Protestants, who thought the concessions unrea- 
sonable, but also by the Catholics themselves, who 
despised them as insufScient, and thought that a 
second trial with persevering efforts would extort 
more. But they were disappointed : the attempt 
at conciliation having failed, the second scheme 
which was proposed made no unreasonable conces- 
sions to Catholic demands — proceeded upon reason 
and justice — and was accepted by a large majority 
of the citizens on the oth January, 1841. Even 
this constitution, however (the one still subsisting), 
though it did not grant the Catholic demands, is 


still politically such as to favour Catholics at the 
expense of Protestants. For the Argovian Exe- 
cutive Council consists of nine members, of whom 
four must be Catholics and four Protestants ; the 
ninth may belong to either confession. The Su- 
preme Judicial College is divided in the same 
manner. Considering the inferiority of the Ca- 
tholics in number (not to mention other points of 
inferiority), the constitution, even as it now stands, 
thus gives them justice and something more. It is 
right to add that these revisions were, on almost 
all points, material improvements on the constitu- 
tions as they had stood before, both in Argau and 

These two votes, both in Soleure and Argau, 
took place nearly at the same time ; and the dis- 
appointment as well as exasperation of those who 
guided the systematic agitation which pervaded 
both Lucerne and these two Cantons was extreme. 
Not choosing to acquiesce in the pacific solution 
which had gone against them, they had recourse 
to arms : simultaneous risings took place both in 
Soleure and Argau, with the instigation and con- 
currence of the brother agitators in Lucerne. In 


Argau, that rising took place among the CathoHc 
population of the Southern districts, or Freien 
Aemter, near to the borders of Lucerne : it was 
in the immediate neighbourhood of the convents, 
whose inmates fomented it in every way — their 
buildings having been made places for the conceal- 
ment of arms and munitions, their funds employed 
to distribute money, wine, and brandy, among the 
insurgents — and their armed servants and de- 
pendents in the foremost ranks of the latter. The 
purpose of the insurgents was to march directly 
upon Aarau, the chief town of the Canton, to 
overpower the Grovernment, and to erect their 
own portion of Argau into a separate Canton 
apart from the rest — a little Catholic neighbour 
and appendage of Lucerne. They also did what 
they could to provoke a simultaneous rising among 
the Catholics of the Frickthal (on the northern 
side of the Canton of Argau, near the left bank of 
the Ehine, wherein are Laufenburg and Rhein- 
felden). But these latter Catholics remained quiet, 
and refused to take any part : they were not in 
the neighbourhood or under the direct influence of 
the convents. 


It happened that both the G-overnment of 
Soleure and that of Argau were strong enough 
to suppress these dangerous risings: the latter, 
however, only by the aid of troops from Berne. 
The Catholic insurgents in the Freien Aemter 
were put down and disarmed : the insurgent 
leaders both from Soleure and Argau, as well as 
the monks out of the implicated convents, fled to 
Lucerne for refuge : some of the parties seized 
were tried before the ordinary courts of justice, 
but neither as to person nor property was any 
extraordinary severity displayed towards them. 
As a consequence of this insurrection the Argo- 
vian Great Council was forthwith assembled, and 
one of its first measures was to decree the sup- 
pression of the convents. Provision for life was 
made for the existing inmates : subject to this 
deduction, all the remaining conventual properties 
were consecrated to the religious worship, the 
instruction, the charitable purposes, and general 
welfare of the Catholic communes in the district 
around — those very communes most of which had 
just been engaged in actual insurrection. 

That this suppression of convents sprang neither 


from rapacity nor from any feeling hostile to 
Catholic citizens or the Catholic faith, is suifi- 
ciently shown by the act of appropriation last 
mentioned — the application made of the property : 
moreover, the decree was proposed in Council by 
one of the leading Catholics in Argau — Augustin 
Keller, Director of the Catholic Seminary — and 
received the support of many Catholic members. 
There is, however, in the Federal Pact an Article 
expressly relating to the convents, guaranteeing 
their perpetuity as they were found in 1815, so 
far as the Cantons in which they stand are con- 
cerned : this twelfth Article is historically known 
to have been inserted at the urgent instance of the 
Papal Nuncio, contrary to the wish of most of the 
Cantons even in their then reactionary spirit. 
When the Diet assembled shortly after this trans- 
action, the Canton of Lucerne preferred loud com- 
plaints against the suppression of the Argovian 
convents, as a robbery, an outrage on the Catholic 
faith, and a direct violation of the twelfth Article 
in the Pact ; the plenary application of which Lu- 
cerne invoked at the hands of the Diet — total, un- 
conditional, and compulsory restitution of all the 


convents and their property. The Deputy of 
Argau defended the act of his Canton by alleging 
the flagrant rebellion of which the convents had 
recently been accomplices and instigators : such 
appeal to arms on their part had forfeited their 
title to the Federal guarantee, and rendered their 
continuance inconsistent with the security and 
authority of the Cantonal Grovernment. Though 
the sentiment of the majority of the Diet was 
unfavourable to the recent proceeding of the 
Canton of Argau, they nevertheless did not go 
so far as to accede to the proposition of Lucerne : 
the majority passed a resolution disapproving 
generally what had been done by Argau, and 
requiring that it should be modified, but without 
expressly prescribing how. The Argovian Go- 
vernment was constrained to conform to this sen- 
timent, and offered to restore three out of the four 
suppressed female convents : this compromise, 
however, was not deemed sufficient to satisfy an 
entire majority of the Diet, and the question 
remained under long and angry debate during 
the sittings both of 1841 and 1842 — no majority 
being obtained for any positive conclusion. At 


length, in the session of 1843, the Canton of 
Argau enlarged its offer of compromise by pro- 
posing to restore all the four suppressed female 
convents. So enlarged, the offer was held to be 
satisfactory by the majority of the Diet, and a 
vote was passed in the session of 1843 to treat the 
subject as settled : not without the strongest 
protest, however, from a considerable minority, 
including Lucerne. 

The question of the Argovian convents was 
thus closed, as far as the majority of the Diet 
could close it ; but it has been revived in discussion 
over and over again ; and even during the present 
year M. Bernard Meyer, the Deputy of Lucerne, 
pronounced it to have been the beginning of all 
the present evils of Switzerland. He chose to call 
it a beginning, and to forget the circumstances 
which had preceded : and your correspondent, " A 
G-enevese," in inquiring why the Diet did not 
interfere to protect the property of the Argovian 
convents, appears to treat the suppression as if it 
were a simple question between a robber on one 
side and a party robbed on the other ; though in 
reality there is no incident with respect to which 


it is more essential to observe his own admonition, 
" not to state an affair as a mere question of law 
without reference to antecedent circumstances." If 
ever there was a proceeding which grew out of, 
and was imperiously driven on by, antecedent 
circumstances, it was the suppression of the con- 
vents of Argau. In my judgment the Diet inter- 
fered in enforcement of the Pact quite as far as 
the case justified them, not to say farther : they 
procured the restitution of four convents out of the 
eight ; and if the " Genevese " thinks that they 
ought to have taken up and executed the demand 
of Lucerne for total and unconditional restitution, 
I dissent from his view. To compel the restitution 
of the convent of Muri — probably the instigator 
of the insurrection among the Catholics around it 
in 1835, and certainly the foremost among the 
rebellious convents in 1841 — would have been a 
blow not merely to Cantonal Government, but 
also to all civil Government as compared with 
ecclesiastical immunity, more worthy of the time 
of Gregory the Seventh than of the nineteenth 
century. In the Catholic kingdoms of Bavaria 
and Austria, how many days' purchase would the 

E 2 


existence of a convent be worth if its monks were 
strongly suspected of having raised a first insur- 
rection, and certainly known to have raised a 
second ? Estimate Cantonal rights as low as you 
will, no reasonable man will believe that the Can- 
tons who signed the Pact of 1815 intended to 
guarantee the inviolability of convents caught in 
flagrant rebellion. 

As we descend from 1843 down to the present 
time, we shall find that one party-wrong be- 
gets another ; and if we are to look for what 
M. Meyer calls the beginning , we must go back 
farther than the suppression of the Argovian con- 
vents. Such suppression, under the particular cir- 
cumstances of the case, may well be contended to 
have been no wrong at all, but a step justified by 
the past, and essential as a protection and remedy 
for the future : if we even admit that it was a 
wrong, we must at the same time admit that it 
grew out of a previous wrong — the rebelHon of 
the convents. That rebellion, connected both in 
time and in origin with the rising against the 
Government of Soleure, was the last resort of 
a widespread political rehgious agitation, and of a 


string of active " Catholic unions " which pervaded 
the Cantons of Lucerne^, Argau, Soleure, and Ca- 
tholic Berne, during the years immediately pre- 
ceding 1841. These Catholic unions had of course 
the fullest right to enforce their views by public 
discussion and appeal. Nay, let us even grant, 
large as the concession is, that they had a right to 
resort as they did to an unscrupulous employment 
of religious hopes and fears, to promise the bless- 
ing of the saints and to denounce opponents as 
heretics beyond the pale of salvation, for the pur- 
pose of procuring such changes as they desired in 
the political constitution — still the votes of the 
whole people were collected on the subject of this 
constitution, the decision was against them, and 
there their rights ended. To take arms against 
that decision was a political wrong, not only clear 
and decisive, but unprovoked, unbegotten by any 
previous wrong. It was the cry of " Religion in 
danger," employed to put arms into the hands of 
Catholic insurgents, just as the same cry, sixteen 
months before, had been successfully used by Pro- 
testants to overthrow by force the Government of 
Zurich : and the Capuchin friar who, in January 


1841, headed the Argovian Catholic insurgents on 
their march against Aarau, forms a parallel to the 
Protestant clergyman M. Hirzel who, on the 6th 
September, 1839, conducted the armed zealots of 
the country round Zurich into that city. The 
same phsenomenon appears in both — the intrusion 
of direct and violent religious agency in politics ; 
by the Conservative Protestants, as an antithesis 
and diversion to political Radicalism; by the 
Catholic leaders, as a nominal reinforcement of 
popular control, but a real transfer of power from 
the laity to the priesthood. This phsenomenon 
manifests itself largely throughout the Swiss world 
towards the period which we are now examining ; 
and it requires to be understood if we would follow 
the train of events down to the Jesuits and the 
Sonderbund. For a certain time, these two move- 
ments are in sympathy with one another : leaders 
at Zurich opposed to Radicalism in their own 
Canton, were not displeased to see it exaggerated 
in name, but degraded into a secondary force and 
becoming a mere implement of the altar, although 
by a Catholic hierarchy, in the Catholic Cantons ; 
and, in 1841, the Government of Zurich, then pre- 


siding Canton, friendly to Lucerne and hostile to 
Argau, was even displeased with Berne for having 
furnished those troops to the Argovian Grovern- 
ment, which enabled it promptly to put down 
the insurrection. This sympathy between the Go- 
vernment, called Conservative, at Zurich, which 
acquired power by the insurrection of the 6 th 
September, 1839 — and the Ultramontane Govern- 
ment of Lucerne, since 1840 — proved after a certain 
time the cause of the overthrow of the former ; 
the subsequent conduct of Lucerne, as will be 
hereafter mentioned, having been such as to alien- 
ate the population of the Canton of Zurich. 

As to the question of Federal right involved in 
the suppression of the convents, the majority of 
the Diet must be held to be the only competent 
judges, — unless, indeed, we are to admit the doc- 
trine now laid down by the Sonderbund, that 
every Canton has a right to interpret the Pact for 
itself; in which case the Canton of Argau would 
of course be as much in the right as its opponents. 
According to the verdict of that majority, the 
suppression of the convents of monks must be 
held to have been justified by sufficient reasons ; 


that of the other four not justified. The Govern- 
ment of Argau, having at first partially done 
wrong, made expiation, and put itself right with 
the Diet. This is a matter to be recollected when 
we come to discuss the recent conduct of the 

But, apart from the question of right, how far 
were the Catholics of Argau gainers or losers by 
the suppression ? Whoever reads one of the most 
interesting books published in modern times — 
the Autobiography of the historian Zschokke, of 
Aarau — will find an authentic account of three 
out of the eight monasteries as they stood in 1833, 
seven years before the suppression ; especially of 
the convent of Muri. M. Zschokke, together with 
two Catholic gentlemen, was named Inspecting 
Visitor of the Monasteries by the Argovian Go- 
vernment. He found the population around the 
convent of Muri the idlest, poorest, most bar- 
barous, and most ignorant, in the whole Canton : 
a long train of able-bodied beggars of both sexes 
to be seen at the doors of the monastery, dirty and 
in rags, receiving distributions of soup from the 
kitchen — but exhibiting the lowest average both 


of physical and moral well-being throughout the 
neighbouring villages. Unquestionably, the Ca- 
tholic population around the monastery has been 
the real gainer by its suppression : the Cantonal 
Government has acquired nothing in a pecuniary 
point of view, but it has gained unspeakably in 
respect of assured position, by being relieved from 
a rich establishment always ready to pay for an 
insurrection among the neighbouring Catholics, 
on the strength of its assured Federal inviola- 
bility, whenever the priestly party in Lucerne 
might be disposed to give the word. The present 
sentiment of these Catholic parts of Argau has 
now become much more favourable towards their 
own Cantonal Government ; and it deserves to be 
mentioned that they, as immediate neighbours of 
Lucerne, were the great sufferers by the severe 
measures which the Lucerne Government adopted 
last winter to restrict the exportation of provi- 
sions : they were obliged to throw themselves on 
their own Government, which made unavailing 
applications to Lucerne for relaxation. This trans- 
action has tended not only to alienate their feel- 
ings from Lucerne, but also to throw them into 


connexion with tlie markets of Zurich ; a tendency 
which will probably be farther facilitated by the 
railway recently opened from Zurich to Baden, 
the central point of Catholic Argau. 

The compromise respecting the Argovian con- 
vents was carried into effect in the spring of 
1843 : an explanation of that event with its pre- 
liminary circumstances has been unavoidably ne- 
cessary, partly because it produced a great effect 
on Federal proceedings, partly because it ushered 
in the state of things in 1843, which will be 
touched iipon in the next letter. The Presidency 
of Lucerne occupies the years 1843 and 1844; and 
the Presidential conduct of that Canton (especially 
in regard to the revolution of Valais, to be here- 
after noticed), constitutes the immediate preli- 
minary to the Jesuits, the Corps Francs, and the 


Letter IY. 

Sept. 25, 1847. 

The years 1843 and 1844, as has been mentioned 
in the last letter, were the presidential years of 
the Canton of Lucerne. Such exercise of the 
Federal executive authority, not by any special 
magistrate or council, but by the Council of one or 
other of the three directing Cantons, has of course 
the inconvenience, among many others, of causing 
the employment of Federal authority to be more or 
less guided by the politics actually prevalent in 
each of the three. In the project of reform drawn 
up by M. Rossi and the Commission of 1833, this in- 
convenience was pointed out, and a special Federal 
Executive, apart from all the Cantonal Govern- 
ments but under the control of the Diet, was pro- 
posed to be created. More or less partiality in 
the management of the directing Canton is cer- 
tain, and has been witnessed in Berne and Zurich 
as well as in Lucerne. But in the conduct of the 
latter during 1844, such partiality exceeded all 


pardonable limits, and all former parallel : it de- 
generated into grave and manifest treason, and 
contributed essentially to rouse against that Canton 
the strong animosity which we shall find breaking 
out in December 1844 and April 1845. 

Though Lucerne in these last months of 1844 
was thrown upon the defensive, and suflfered from 
the wrongful assaults of others, the case was other- 
wise during the time which preceded : that Canton 
was then the forward and aggressive mover. I 
have already noticed the politico-religious agitation 
throughout the Catholic unions in Lucerne, Soleure, 
and Argau, and Catholic Berne, down to 1841 : 
the defeat of the insurrections in Soleure and 
Argau disappointed without extinguishing the 
Ultramontane spirit. Shortly after Lucerne came 
to the presidency, the Grovernment of Argau found 
itself exposed to farther agitation, and to fresh 
attempts at insiirrection ; which, however, it was 
strong enough to put down. Lucerne became 
associated with the League of Sarnen_, to which 
it had stood decidedly opposed previous to 1840. 
That league was formed about 1832, for the pur- 
pose of resisting the Liberal or Eadical tendencies 


then current throughout Switzerland : it consisted 
originally of Uri, Schwytz, and Under walden, to 
which subsequently Friburg, Zug, and Lucerne, 
and lastly (after the counter-revolution of 1844) 
the Valais, became added : it is in fact an earlier 
stage of the present Sonderbund, only that the 
Sonderbund has been drawn tighter and provided 
with a formal military organisation. In the year 
1843, the plan entertained, and much talked of 
by the State Gazette of Catholic Switzerland (a 
journal then published at Lucerne), was to form a 
great separate league comprehending all the Ca- 
tholic Cantons, for the protection of the Catholic 
religion against the oppression and peril under 
which it was alleged to labour: Soleure was to 
be either gained over or counter-revolutionized. 
M. Munzinger, the Deputy of Soleure, read in the 
Diet during discussions of the present year 1847, 
the plan of this great Catholic Sonderbund, which 
Lucerne had circulated in his Canton during the 
year 1843, but which found little favour among 
the Solothurnian citizens : moreover, the same 
scheme of a separate league was so distinctly an- 
nounced in the resolution of the Grreat Council of 


Lucerne of 20th October, 1843, that both Berne 
and Zurich protested against it as tending to the 
breaking up of the Confederacy, and forwarded 
their protest in circular to all the Cantons. In 
point of fact the Catholic religion neither had 
then, nor has now, any oppression to complain of 
in Switzerland : if there were ground for com- 
plaint on the side of either of the two confessions, 
it would be with the Protestants, who are ex- 
cluded from all political rights in Lucerne and 
its confederate Cantons, while there is no ana- 
logous exclusion of Catholics in the Cantons mostly 

It was during the year 1843 that the political 
state of the Canton of Yalais became disordered, 
and that the foundation was laid for Federal inter- 
ference in its affairs. That Canton is altogether 
Catholic : but the two portions of which it con- 
sists — the Upper and Lower Valaisans— are of 
different race and language; and down to 1798 
the latter, although more numerous, having been 
originally conquered by the former, remained their 
subjects. Suspended or abated between 1798 and 
1815, the privileges of the Upper Yalaisans were 


partially revived in 1815, when an imperfect repre- 
sentative constitution was established, with unjust 
preponderance to the Upper Yalais, and with a 
large fraction of the representation vested in the 
Bishop of Sion. For several years after 1830, the 
Lower Yalaisans attempted to obtain a political 
reform, which was at length finally accomplished 
in April 1840, after opposition both of fraud and 
force on the part of the Upper Valaisans aided by 
their clergy, and after much indirect discourage- 
ment thrown in their way by the Conservative 
Government of Zurich, then directing the Canton 
of Yorort. 

The fate of the Liberal Government in the 
Yalais, at the head of which were the two brothers 
Maurice and Joseph Barman, during its short-lived 
career from April 1840 to May 1844, forms one of 
the most melancholy pages of recent history. Its 
leaders were among the most patriotic and most 
instructed men in the Canton : they went straight 
to practical, genuine, and serious reforms, but with 
strict respect for legal means, and with as little 
offence as possible towards the prejudices opposed 
to them : they stand chargeable with various 


faults of weakness and misjudgment, but the 
greatest of all their errors was that they could not 
shake off their expectation of honourable dealing 
from unscrupulous antagonists. They had to deal 
with a system, fiscal, judicial, and administrative, 
which included ancient abuses in all their luxu- 
riance ; and with a people, ignorant and bigoted, 
whose minds are much more obedient to their reli- 
gious than to their political superiors. The state 
of these religious superiors, the Catholic hierarchy 
and clergy, is indeed enviable : their large pro- 
perties are exempt from taxation, by a continuance 
of the old privilege of the middle ages, while their 
persons are subject only to the jurisdiction of their 
own order. If a priest stands charged with grave 
crime, such as infanticide, or highway robbery, he 
is taken before the episcopal authority, and de- 
tained for examination : by some unaccountable 
negligence, he presently escapes, nor has any 
example been known of a priest being actually 
punished. Their education, and indeed the whole 
education of the Yalais, such as it is, is and has 
long been under the superintendence of the Jesuits. 
The wonder seems rather to have been, how a 


good and liberal Grovernment ever became esta- 
blished in the Valais at all : perhaps this might 
never have come to pass, if the excitement of the 
Lower Yalais prior to the revolution of 1840 had 
not been permitted at least, if not favoured, bj the 
clergy in that region. And while the disadvantages 
of the position were thus serious, even the men 
who had stood most ardent and forward in that 
excitement did not afterwards act in such a manner 
as to lend effective support to the Government 
which they had themselves contributed to set up. 
The most pronounced among them formed the 
society called Young Switzerland; who, while 
they found themselves unavoidably in collision 
with the privileges of the clergy, and amidst a 
controversy carried on with great exasperation on 
both sides, took no account of the difficulties of 
the Government, but were harsh in their re- 
proaches because more was not done, and thus 
weakened a weak Government still further. The 
clergy defended the maintenance of their privileges 
by the most emphatic enforcements and denuncia- 
tions of the pulpit : and their mode of warring 
with the political society called Young Switzerland 


deserves particular mention. The Bishop of Sion 
issued a mandate forbidding the elegy to administer 
the sacraments to any member of Young Switzer- 
land, or to any of their relatives, or to any reader 
of their journal called The Echo of the Alps : it 
should be added, that the clergy had at the same 
time a journal of their own, called The Simplon 
Gazette y which employed in their cause the most 
vehement partisanship. The scandals which arose 
out of this excommunication were monstrous, and 
furnish a further example of the abuse of religious 
agencies for political purposes by the clergy of 
various Cantons of Switzerland. Furthermore, in 
order to defeat constitutionally those measures 
which were especially odious to them, the clergy 
made efficient use of their influence over the popular 
referendum : thus among other laws, one for ame- 
liorating the wretched system of public education, 
and another for distributing military charges with 
an equality which did not respect clerical immu- 
nities, were rejected by the people after having 
passed the legislature. 

Under these circumstances, the Lower Valais 
became more and more the scene of lawlessness 


and conflict between individuals of different poli- 
tical parties. On the other hand, the Upper Yalais 
partook less in this discord : its inhabitants were 
.more nnanimons among themselves, unfriendly 
to the Liberal Grovernment from the beginning, 
and still more unfriendly to it in consequence of 
the continued opposition of the clergy. In 1843, 
the election in the Canton returned a small majority 
hostile to the Liberals ; and an Executive Council 
was constituted with a majority of the same senti- 
ments, yet not strong enough to take any decisive 
part. It was under these circumstances that the 
leaders of the Upper Yalais, with the connivance 
of the Executive or at least of some of its members, 
carried on for months together a secret and illegal 
military organisation of the inhabitants ; marched 
to Sion in May 1844 ; were enabled by the trea- 
chery of the Executive to forestal and break the 
preparations of the disunited Bas-Yalaisans ; be- 
came masters of the Government, proclaimed the 
latter to be rebels, and then, being joined by their 
own partisans in the Lower Yalais, vanquished 
them in various encounters, especially on the river 
Trient. In this defeat — with its consequence, the 

F 2 


complete extinction of the Liberal party in Yalais 
— there was more bloodshed, more cruelty, and 
more brutality, than had ever before been seen in 
the civil dissensions of Switzerland. And to crown 
the whole, the Bishop of Sion issued an order to 
his clergy forbidding them to administer the sacra- 
ments of the Church to the dying combatants of 
the Liberal party. When we consider that these 
combatants were Catholics, as well as fellow-citizens, 
on the point of death, and when we reflect besides 
on the consequences which the Catholic Church 
connects with the absence of the sacraments at such 
a moment, it is difficult even to imagine the feelings 
under which so monstrous a mandate was issued. 

The Government of the Valais, after the elec- 
tions of 1843 — if we are to call it by that name — 
at least the majority of the Executive Council, ap- 
pears throughout this transaction in the character 
of a conspirator : privy to the illegal organisation 
of the Upper Yalais — secretly conniving at it 
until it was completed — issuing proclamations 
against these Upper Yalaisans, when known to be 
on their actual march to Sion — directing them to 
disband as an unauthorised and illegal armament 


keeping at a distance, by perfidious assurances, the 
Lower Valaisan volunteers under M. Barman, who 
had armed, though unprepared, after and on the 
news of the actual march of the Upper Yalaisans, 
and who might have got into Sion first, if they 
had not relied upon such false assurances of 
the Grovernment — inviting the Upper Yalaisans 
into Sion, then immediately converting them from 
an illegal body of Corps Francs into authorised 
troops of the state, and making use of them to 
crush the Lower Yalaisans under M. Barman, these 
latter being then proclaimed as the only rebels, and 
delivered into the hands of men more properly 
rebels than themselves. To play such a part, was 
bad enough in the Government of the Yalais ; but 
it was the climax of disgrace that the presiding 
Canton Lucerne consented to play the part along 
with them. It appears that the illegal organisation 
of the Upper Yalais, known from the beginning to 
a portion of the Executive Council of the Yalais, 
was still better known to the leaders in Lucerne, 
and concerted with them beforehand ; M. Bernard 
Meyer, the Lucerne Secretary, making private 
visits to the Canton during the previous months as 


an underhand auxiliary. On the 13th May, 1844, 
when the Upper Yalaisan volunteers were actually 
on their march to Sion, M. Meyer appeared in the 
latter town, carrying a commission of Federal 
envoy in his pocket, to be produced or not accord- 
ing as it might suit his views: if the Lower 
Yalaisans under M. Barman had been victorious, 
he would have shown himself as commissioner, 
and would have employed the Federal authority to 
arrest their progress ; but so long as the Upper 
Yalaisans were in full advance, he was a partisan, 
attending the private meetings destined to facilitate 
their entry into Sion. As soon as they had en- 
tered that town and received the recognition of 
the Government, M. Meyer lent his best aid not 
only to the maintenance of the new Government, 
but also to the denunciation of the opposite party 
as rebels. His conduct was from the beginning 
that of an unscrupulous party-man, infringing the 
most sacred obligations incumbent on a Federal 
superior, and unredeemed even by any sentiment 
either of candour or of mercy towards the van- 
quished : for his language, even at the subsequent 
Diet, towards the Barmans and their fellow exiles. 


who were in this ease less of rebels than the victors, 
was harsh and fierce in the extreme. Lucerne 
received its reward by the passing of the Canton 
of Yalais into the hands of the Ultramontane or 
clerical party, and by its adjunction to the League 
of Sarnen. 

It may be proper to mention — though nothing 
of importance turns upon it in reference to the 
preceding narrative — that the Executive of the 
Valais had, on the 4th May, on the ground of the 
lawless state of the country, sent a secret message 
to Lucerne invoking Federal intervention. This 
proceeding first became known in the Valais itself 
through the newspapers of Lucerne ; and strong 
reproaches were addressed to the Government for 
having done so ; upon which the Government dis- 
avowed having made such an application. They 
produced what they affirmed to be the copy of 
their letter sent, which difiered from the letter 
received at Lucerne ; there was some fraud or 
mystery about this letter, which was not fully 
explained. However the fact may stand as to 
the letter of request, the presiding Canton, on 
receiving it, issued a requisition for a Federal 


army : which, partly from unavoidable delays, 
partly from mistrust in some of the Cantons in- 
vited to furnish it, was not in a situation to enter 
the Yalais until after the complete victory of the 
Upper Valaisans. 

The excitement which these events caused 
throughout Switzerland was prodigious. The 
combats at the river Trient and other places in 
Valais, which had been disputed with great 
bravery on both sides, and severe loss to the 
vanquished — the harshness and cruelties exer- 
cised by the victors — more than all, the numerous 
body of exiles, many of them the most respectable 
men in the Canton, who fled with their wives and 
families into the neighbouring Cantons of Vaud 
and Geneva, to the sacrifice of their property and 
their prospects, — all this was more than suflScient 
to rouse throughout a large proportion of the 
country both profound sympathy and vehement 
indignation. Upon whom did the public mind 
fasten as the authors of the mischief? Upon 
the Jesuits, and upon the Canton of Lucerne. 
Upon the second with perfect truth, whatever 
may be thought about the first. It was at this 


time, and in this way, that the anti-Jesuit move- 
ment first began in Switzerland ; for we shall not 
properly understand that movement unless we 
take it (to use an expression of the late Lord 
Eldon) ^' clothed in circumstances " — in connexion 
with its antecedents and accompaniments. 

It has been already mentioned that the Jesuits 
had for a long time been established in the Yalais, 
with control over the education both of clergy and 
people. But during the years 1842 and 1843, 
this order appeared in unusual activity. They 
perambulated the Catholic Cantons publicly and 
ostentatiously, as missionaries and special preach- 
ers — especially Lucerne and the Yalais ; never 
before had so many Jesuits been seen in motion. 
In the latter Canton, they denounced the Liberal 
Grovernment as impious and hostile to religion ; 
and such was the effect of their exhortations, that 
on various occasions the assembled people who 
heard them swore to rise in insurrection on the 
first summons. Such language, indeed, was no- 
thing different from that which had been used 
by the Catholic Clergy generally, as well in the 
Valais recently, as in Soleure, Argau, and Lu- 


cerne in 1840, and by the Zurich Protestant 
clergy in September 1839. But these Jesuit mis- 
sions were of all religious agencies the most con- 
spicuous to the public eye : they came immediately 
previous to the misfortunes of 1844 ; they were 
blazoned by the Catholic journals as having pro- 
duced almost miraculous effects ; and opponents 
were on this occasion quite ready to credit the 
Catholic statement literally — to believe that the 
Jesuits had really done all the good ascribed to 
them, or all the harm, as it would appear from the 
opposite point of view. It is therefore indisput- 
able that the Jesuits had actually been employed 
as instruments, in preaching down the Liberal 
G-overnment of the Yalais, by the native clergy 
and the politicians of Lucerne ; and what they had 
really done was enough to cause persons who 
already profoundly hated the Order to arraign 
them as the master architects of the whole. 

The 22nd May, 1844, saw the closing scene of 
the melancholy tragedy in the Yalais ; during the 
days immediately ensuing, the agitation arising 
from it pervaded most of Switzerland, and meet- 
ings were held in many of the Cantons to demand 


the convocation of an extraordinary Diet. Among 
the rest, the Great Council of the Canton of Argan 
was convoked for that purpose on the 28 th of May : 
the purpose was, to urge the presiding Canton to 
summon an extraordinary Diet in reference to the 
recent events, and to instruct the Argovian Depu- 
ties as to their votes and proceeding. It was in 
this assembly that the name of the Jesuits was 
first publicly denounced. Augustin Keller — a 
distinguished Catholic, and the Director of the 
Catholic Seminary in Argau, the same person 
who three years before had proposed the sup- 
pression of the Argovian convents — moved that 
the Deputy of the Canton should be instructed 
to demand from the Diet measures for the expul- 
sion of the Jesuits from Switzerland ; that order 
being (he urged) the great cause of the deplor- 
able dissensions reigning throughout the country, 
and especially of the recent calamities in the 

In enforcing this point, he dwelt particularly on 
the Jesuit missions which a few months before had 
made so much noise in the Yalais ; whilst he en- 
larged on the corrupt morals, slavish politics, and 


intrigues against civil authority as well as against 
religious liberty, which marked the history of the 
order. The motion of M. Keller was carried in 
the Council of Argau by a large majority : the 
Argovian Deputy was instructed to make the pro- 
position in the Diet for expelling the Jesuits ; and 
a circular was sent (according to custom) to the 
other Cantons, to request that each would instruct 
its Deputy in reference to the proposition. 

Though the circular thus sent round for dis- 
cussion among the Cantons met with no favour at 
that time in the various G-reat Councils, it was 
enthusiastically welcomed among the Liberal Swiss 
public without, and had of course presented itself 
to many of them as well as to M. Keller. It pre- 
cisely harmonized with the existing state of their 
minds, overflowing with sympathy for the suffering 
Yalaisans, and with indignation for the treacher- 
ous means whereby the late counter-revolution 
had been consummated : it presented to them an 
»old enemy as the author of a new mischief — an 
enemy who certainly had sown some tares among 
the wheat, and was not wanting in will to have 
sown the whole field — an enemy, moreover, against 


whom some definite resolution admitted of being 
taken. It was in this temper that the proposition 
Was received at various meetings, especially at the 
periodical meeting of Swiss rifle-shooters from all 
parts of the Confederation, which took place on 
the 30th June, 1844, at Basle. These shooting- 
meetings are in many respects the parallel of the 
ancient Greek festival games : they serve the same 
purposes of keeping alive the national sympathies 
and supplying the defects of a very loose political 
union. Abundance of speeches on the political 
topics of the day are usually delivered by various 
orators at these meetings, which are largely fre- 
quented by the more ardent Liberal politicians 
from all the Cantons. The calamities of the Va- 
laisan Liberals — expulsion of the Jesuits — indig- 
nation against Lucerne as an accomplice in these 
calamities — were among the prominent matters 
which agitated the feelings of this numerous and 
excitable assembly. The successful Upper Va- 
laisans hardly appeared, and their flag could not 
be kept up among those of the other Cantons ; 
while the defeated exiles, Messrs. Barman, were 
greeted with the warmest sympathy, and, sub- 


scriptions were raised for the general body of 
Yalaisan sufferers. 

If the indignation against Lucerne and M. 
Meyer was vehement at the time of this shooting- 
meeting, it became greatly heightened when the 
Diet was assembled, and when the question of the 
Yalais was discussed, on the 13th July, 1844. 
M. Bernard Meyer on that occasion occupied the 
chair of the Diet ; and, replying to various crimi- 
nations from the Deputies of other Cantons, he 
not only avowed, but actually boasted of, the share 
ascribed to him in the counter-revolution of Yalais. 
He admitted the deliberate conspiracy and long- 
concerted military organisation in the Upper 
Yalais to effect a counter-revolution, together with 
his own previous knowledge as well as concern 
in it; he justified all the previous measures by 
what he called the happy termination of every- 
thing ; and his fierce language against the Liberals 
of the Bas- Yalais, at that time prostrate and in 
exile, would have been hardly tolerable even had 
their antecedent conduct been that of the most 
guilty rebels. His speech excited indignant com- 
ments from the Deputies of Yaud, Thurgau, and 


Soleure, and contributed much to swell the previous 
animosity against Lucerne. On the voting of the 
Diet, no majority was obtained, either to approve 
or to disapprove the conduct of Lucerne : the 
approvers were only the seven states constituting 
the League of Sarnen, together with Appenzell 
Inner-Rhoden ; while the majority declared against 
all further interference of the Diet in the affairs 
of Yalais. 

The proposition of Argau for expelling the 
Jesuits from Switzerland was brought before the 
Diet ; but it obtained no votes except those of 
Argau and Bale-Oampagne — one vote and a half. 
None of the Great Councils in the other Cantons 
instructed their Deputies to support it, though it 
had become more and more popular among the 
Liberal public without. And in this state pro- 
bably the question would have rested, if the Jesuits 
themselves had remained as they then stood — esta- 
blished merely in Yalais, Friburg, and Schwytz. 
But in the months immediately following, the im- 
portant step was taken of introducing them also 
into the presiding Canton Lucerne, and that too 
under circumstances in themselves eminently 


aggravating. The two streams of feeling, eacb 
arising out of the catastrophe in the Yalais, but 
both at first separate -r-- the feeling against the 
Jesuits, and that against Lucerne — became in this 
manner confluent, each tending to exaggerate the 
other. Their united force broke down all the obli- 
gations of in tercan tonal morality, and led to the 
flagrant political wrong committed by the Corps 
Francs in invading Lucerne; at which point we 
shall arrive in the next letter. 


Letter Y. 

Oct. 2, IU7. 
1 RECOUNTED in mv last letter how the Anti- Jesuit 
feeling in Switzerland first arose, as a direct con- 
sequence of the catastrophe in the Yalais ; how it 
rapidly got hold of the mind of the Liberal public ; 
and how the expulsion of the Order was first sub- 
mitted to the Diet in July 1844, on the proposi- 
tion of Argau, but obtained no votes except those 
of Argau and Bale-Campagne. That same cata- 
strophe had also provoked a vehement animosity 
against the presiding Canton, Lucerne, as a treach- 
erous accomplice in the counter-revolution of the 
Valais for the profit of Ultramontane politics and 
of the Sarnen League. 

It was at this period, and under this state of 
Swiss feeling, that the Canton of Lucerne, hitherto 
unconnected with the Jesuits, and before 1840 de- 
cidedly adverse to them, determined for the first 
time to introduce them, and to confide to them the 
care of its Cantonal education. The leading men 



in the Canton knew perfectly well the storm which 
it would excite among the larger half of the Con- 
federacy, as well as the resistance which it would 
call forth from a large minority of their own Can- 
tonal citizens : lastly, they knew how much it 
would offend the expressed feelings, and even 
endanger the stability, of those Cantonal Grovern- 
ments which had declined to support the proposi- 
tion of Argau in the Diet. Of this latter fact, the 
preceding debates in the Great Council, and the 
instructions given to their Deputies in the Diet, 
had presented sufficient warning. The G-reat 
Council of Zurich had passed the following resolu- 
tion : — " The Deputy of Zurich is instructed in the 
name of his Canton to intimate the conviction that 
the Order of Jesuits contributes by its doctrines 
as well as by its missions to embitter the mutual 
relation between the Protestant and Catholic con- 
fessions in Switzerland ; and that it thus exercises 
a disturbing influence on the political harmony of 
the nation. The Canton of Zurich therefore ex- 
presses its regret that some Cantons have received 
this Order among them ; and intimates its wish, in 
the spirit of confederate brotherhood (den freund- 


eidgenossischen wunsch), that these Cantons may 
withdraw from the influence of the Jesuits, and 
that their fellow Catholic Cantons may of their 
own accord resist the farther extension of the 
Order." This was the voice of a Great Council 
then in majority Conservative, and of a Grovern- 
ment in which the Conservative Dr. Bliintschli 
was the leading member ; it was rendered, more- 
over, yet more significant by the antecedent cir- 
cumstances. Ten thousand citizens of Zurich (the 
total population of the Canton being about 230,000 
souls) had signed a petition to the Great Council, 
praying that the vote of the Canton might be 
given in favour of the peremptory motion of 
Argau at the Diet : it was known that these sig- 
natures had been collected in a short time, and 
that the sentiment which they represented was 
much more widely spread. The Government of 
Zurich resisted this petition, but resisted at much 
disadvantage ; for they could not take the ground 
(nor were they disposed to take it) that the ad- 
mission of Jesuits into any one Canton, especially 
into a presiding Canton, was a matter in which 
the rest had no concern — they admitted that it 

a 2 


involved both mischief and danger to the whole 
Confederation. " If you grant thus much," argued 
the supporters of the petition, " does not the spirit 
of the Pact, and the general obligation of ensuring 
internal tranquillity which it expressly imposes 
on the Diet, require the expulsion of the Jesuits, 
though the letter may be silent ?" Dr. Bluntschli 
and his colleagues were here unfavourably placed : 
against a strong popular feeling supported by con- 
siderable plausibility of reason, they had to main- 
tain the danger of going beyond a strict construc- 
tion of the Pact, except where extreme necessity 
might compel an appeal to its spirit ; and to main- 
tain this principle — of cardinal importance, yet 
appealing only to a far-sighted reason — against 
exciting allusions to the great Protestant name of 
Zwingli, of which they had themselves made so 
much use in rousing the people to arms in Sep- 
tember 1839. It was evident that the resistance 
was ruining their hold upon the Cantonal popula- 
tion ; and in point of fact, the elections of the next 
year put an end to their majority. Under such 
circumstances, the friendly wish, addressed to the 
Diet and to Lucerne by a Conservative Cantonal 

Lbttbe v.] politics OF SWITZEELAND. 85 

Government, came with double emphasis, convey- 
ing full warning of the consequences if it were not 
wholly or partially complied with. That wish was 
addressed not merely by Zurich, but by the many 
other Cantonal Governments who thought the 
Jesuits a public mischief to the Confederacy, with- 
out deeming themselves authorised by the Pact to 
support a vote of expulsion. Now, under such 
circumstances, one may indeed assign sufficient 
reason why those Cantons who already had Jesuits, 
and who, moreover, were not presiding Cantons 
— Friburg, Yalais, and Schwytz — might decline 
to comply with the request for dismissing them ; 
but it is not easy to imagine how the Canton of 
Lucerne, not already having them, could bring 
itself to introduce them immediately afterwards for 
the first time — in direct contempt of the antipathy 
manifested by a large portion of the Confederacy, 
and of the "friendly wish" of another large por- 
tion, expressed without the insulting appearance 
of coercion. We must take this fact into consider- 
ation when we look at the extraordinary excite- 
ment which follows : immediately after the people 
have put forth their deep and widespread convic- 


tion that the existence of Jesuits even in non- 
presiding Cantons is mischievous to the entire 
Confederacy, the very next following incident in 
Swiss history is, that the Order, besides maintain- 
ing itself in Friburg, Yalais, and Schwytz, makes 
the conquest of the presiding Canton also. 

It has been often attempted to bar all such con- 
siderations by simply saying — " This is a case 
wherein the Federal Pact imposes no restriction, 
and gives to no other Canton a right of interven- 
tion : Lucerne chooses to exercise its right of 
sovereignty, and there is an end of the matter." 
So the question might be argued, indeed, simply 
and nakedly, if there were a Federal Court about 
to give judgment on it ; but in the conduct of life, 
the right of others to step in and hinder is only 
one portion of a wider argument, and cannot be 
discussed apart. There are a thousand things 
which you ought not to do, though other persons 
may have no right to hinder you from doing 
them : and if this be true of a private man, still 
more is it true of a statesman — most of all will it 
hold good for the presiding Canton of a dissentient 
and imperfectly cemented confederacy. As pre- 


siding Canton, you are under serious obligations 
to the entire Confederacy : you are made aware 
that a large fraction of it construes the Pact so as 
to dispute your right altogether ; and that another 
large fraction, admitting your right because they 
determine to adhere to the strict letter of the Pact, 
nevertheless pronounce the exercise of it to be 
mischievous, and conjure you to abstain. Surely 
this is a case in which it will not suffice simply to 
assert and reassert that you have an incontestable 
Federal right : the exercise of the right must 
further be shown to be essential to some para- 
mount individual interest or individual duty. 
How far Lucerne took any pains to show this, 
may be judged by the language of M. Siegwart- 
Miiller, then President of the Diet in that town. 
" The Radicals and Protestants," said he, " have 
poured out their venom on the Jesuits every- 
where: so much the more necessary is it for those 
Governments who love order to introduce the 
Jesuits." Here the extreme, though unmerited 
odium, attached to the name of the Jesuits 
throughout a large portion of the Confederacy 
was admitted, and converted into a positive reason 


for introducing them into Lucerne. What wonder 
that the harmony of Switzerland has perished, 
when the directing Canton adopts such maxims 
for its rule of proceeding ? 

Shortly after the Diet, the question of inviting 
the Jesuits into Lucerne, and confiding to them 
the Cantonal education, was brought into formal 
discussion before the Cantonal G-reat Council. The 
missions of the Order during the preceding year 
had been made to work strongly on the public 
mind ; and the majority of the Cantonal Education 
Council had also pronounced in favour of intro- 
ducing Jesuit superintendence — not without a 
strong protest from the minority, and vehement 
marks of repugnance from a considerable part of 
the population, especially in the town of Lucerne. 
The discussion in the Great Council was long and 
turbulent ; but the proposition for admitting the 
Jesuits was carried in the affirmative, by a large 
majority, on the 24th October, 1844. It was sub- 
sequently submitted to the general body of the 
citizens throughout the Canton, for the exercise of 
their veto. Though nearly all the citizens in the 
town of Lucerne voted against it, a majority 


throughout the rural districts declared in its 
favour, and it became confirmed law. 

During the discussion of the measure in the 
Great Council, the opposing minority urged as 
one of their many grounds of objection, that it 
violated one of the articles of the constitution, and 
therefore could not be entertained as an ordinary 
project of law, but only under the forms and con- 
ditions prescribed for revisions of the constitution. 
This objection was overruled by the majority ; but 
it was nevertheless made the ground of a formal 
protest, drawn up, signed, and published, by five 
of the leading members of the minority, including 
among them Dr. Casimir Pfyfier, one of the ablest 
jurists in Switzerland. It represented moreover 
the full belief and conviction of the Liberal mi- 
nority throughout the Canton, and aggravated 
their discontent arising out of genuine hatred to 
the Jesuits. So strongly did this discontent mani- 
fest itself, at the moment when the law was 
accepted by the majority of voting citizens, that 
the Government was induced to arrest and im- 
prison many of the most forward Anti-Jesuits in 
the town of Lucerne. 


It was at this point, the beginning of December 
1844, that the aggressions of the Corps Francs 

I have already described the different feelings 
which had been roused in the Liberal and Radical 
population of Switzerland by the catastrophe in 
the Yalais : indignation against Lucerne, for 
treachery in discharge of the presidential duties — 
indignation against the Jesuits, whose missions 
had been employed as instruments to bring about 
the counter-revolution in Yalais — and both now 
materially heightened during the preceding three 
months, by the conduct of the Lucerne Grovern- 
ment in adopting the Jesuits, precisely at a time 
when the majority of the Cantons expressed their 
friendly wish that the Order might be dismissed 
even from those Cantons where it previously ex- 
isted ; one of the actual reasons for such adoption 
being (as Mr. Sieg war t-M tiller proclaimed in the 
Diet), that the Jesuits were unjustly hated in 
many parts of Switzerland. To these feelings 
was now added a new cause of excitement — 
sympathy for the minority in Lucerne; who be- 
lieved, and made others believe, that their Can- 


tonal constitution had been violated for the purpose 
of introducing the Jesuits, and who were suffering 
arrest and imprisonment for their resistance in a 
cause eminently popular. All these feelings con- 
spiring, created in the Liberal and Radical public 
throughout Switzerland an animosity against the 
Lucerne Government, so violent that they lost all 
sense of political right and wrong, and resolved to 
put it down by the most unwarrantable employ- 
ment of force. 

The first Corps Francs who invaded Lucerne 
were not numerous, and were apparently alto- 
gether unorganised: the invaders had been ap- 
prised of the number of malcontents in the town 
of Lucerne, and expected that an insurrection 
would have broken out there as soon as they were 
heard to have crossed the border ; but no insur- 
rection took place. The Government easily re- 
pelled the invaders, and proceeded to very severe 
steps against the malcontents, real and presumed, 
in the town. Many of them were arrested and 
imprisoned ; while those who escaped, or fled to 
avoid such treatment, were yet more numerous. 
During the winter of 1844-45, there were not less 


than 1100 exiles from Lucerne spread through 
the neighbouring Cantons : and this contributed to 
aggravate still farther the pre-existing animosity 
against the Grovernment of Lucerne. It is to be 
remarked, that in none of the various revolutions 
which Switzerland has experienced, has there ever 
been harsh treatment of a mulitude of individuals, 
or any numerous body of exiles spread through 
the neighbouring Cantons, except in the two cases 
of Valais in May 1844 and Lucerne in the begin- 
ning of 1845. These are the only two cases of 
political disturbance or revolution in which there 
has been any severe reaction, visited upon a 
number of individuals within the Canton and 
driving a still larger number out of it : and both 
of them produced an extraordinary effect in ex- 
citing the violent sympathies of the neighbouring 

In consequence of the first invasion of the Canton 
of Lucerne by citizens from other Cantons, on the 
8th December, 1844^ an extraordinary Diet was 
summoned at Zurich (which had become presiding 
Canton on the 1st January, 1845), at the beginning 
of the following year. This Diet continued in 


session for two months, until the third week in 
March. Resolutions were adopted, strongly con- 
demning the Corps Francs or volunteers violating 
by arms the territory of other Cantons, and re- 
quiring each separate Canton to incorporate in its 
legislation prohibition and punishment of such 
persons. But the excitement in the Cantons sur- 
rounding Lucerne was too great to be restrained 
by any such efforts; and some of the Cantonal 
Governments had no sincere desire to restrain it. 
On the 30th of March, a second invasion of the 
Canton of Lucerne was organised, in conjunction 
with the exiles : this time the invaders were nu- 
merous, not unprovided with artillery : and the 
plan of attack was concerted deliberately before- 
hand by Colonel Ochsenbein and other considerable 
persons who accompanied and took command of it. 
These invaders or Corps Francs were formed of 
volunteers from the four neighbouring Cantons of 
Berne, Soleure, Bale-Campagne, and Argau ; the 
Governments of which all connived at the pro- 
ceedings. Colonel Ochsenbein with his division 
and cannon actually reached the suburb of Lucerne, 
though not until nightfall : it is alleged that had 


he immediately commenced an attack, or fired a 
few shots, the Grovernment would have abandoned 
the town ; but the account published by the Govern- 
ment itself does not countenance such a suppo- 
sition. Lucerne was not unprepared for the attack, 
and had organised an alliance with Uri, Zug, and 
Unterwalden, for the purpose of defence: the 
arrival of contingents from these allies on the 
following day enabled it to defeat and expel the 
invaders, many of whom were slain by the Can- 
tonal Landsturm in their flight, while several hun- 
dred others remained as prisoners. 

These two invasions of Lucerne by the Corps 
Francs are so well known, and so unanimously 
judged, as to dispense with the necessity both of 
comment and detail. If I take pains to gather 
together the antecedent circumstances which caused 
the aggressive feeling of the invaders, it is with 
no view of justifying such a proceeding. It was a 
flagrant and unquestionable public wrong, merit- 
ing all the censure which has been since bestowed 
upon it; disgracing the country in the eyes of 
Europe, and exposing the Swiss to hear from foreign 
ambassadors lectures the more galling because they 


admitted of no fair reply. Its main effect has been 
to weaken and hamper the party who committed 
it, and to fortify the position, as well as to efface 
in part the previous faults, of Lucerne. The pre- 
ceding circumstances do not at all divest this inva- 
sion of its culpability; but they are essential to 
explain it — to explain that violent animosity, under 
the influence of which so many citizens of regular 
life and easy circumstances (the Landsturm of 
Lucerne obtained from their prisoners among the 
Corps Francs an abundant plunder, and in parti- 
cular a large number of gold watches) were induced 
to imperil their lives and expend their money, 
besides throwing aside the most obvious restraints 
of intercantonal duty. The citizens of Argau and 
Soleure, who took arms to assist the Lucerne 
minority, recollected that the Catholic agitators of 
Lucerne had helped their minorities to raise simul- 
taneous insurrections, to the infinite danger of both 
Grovernments, in the beginning of 1841 ; while the 
Cantonal Grovernments of Berne, Soleure, Argau, 
and Bale-Campagne, who connived at the organi- 
sation and march of the Corps Francs against 
Lucerne, had before them the precedent of Lucerne 


itself a few months before, when that Canton had 
been in privity and deliberate connivance with the 
conspirators who produced the counter-revolution 
in Yalais — and that, too, in abuse not merely of 
Cantonal obligations, but of yet more sacred duties 
as directing Canton. Lastly, when it is indig- 
nantly remarked that Colonel Ochsenbein, com- 
mander of the Corps Francs in their invasion, is 
now in the exalted position of Chief Magistrate of 
Berne and President of the Diet, we must remem- 
ber that he sees on his immediate left hand, as 
Deputy of Lucerne, M. Bernard Meyer, the director 
and instrument of Lucerne treachery in the con- 
spiracy of the Valais. 

If it were important to take a comparative esti- 
mate of the wrongs on both sides, we might remark 
that those committed by Lucerne spring from a 
cause at once permanent and fatal to the tranquil- 
lity of the Confederacy — the spirit of Catholic 
Ultramontanism and aggrandizement ; while those 
of the Corps Francs had their rise in a state of ex- 
citement, which, however culpable, depended on 
a pecuKar combination of recent events, and was 
in its nature essentially transitory. But in truth, 


such a comparison would answer little purpose : 
the important circumstance to remark is, that both 
wrongs are real, and that the later of the two may 
be traced back by a visible thread of causality to 
the earlier. At the present moment, both parties 
in Switzerland have the conviction that their 
opponents have acted wrongly towards them : in 
each, that conviction is well founded. " Convicia 
et probra invicem rixantes ingerunt : neuter falso." 
Herein lies one of the great difficulties of finding 
any solution for the existing complication of affairs. 

I have touched upon the two expeditions of the 
Corps Francs together, because both grew out of 
one and the same state of excited feeling. But 
between the dates of the two (8th December, 1844, 
and 1st April, 1845), events of material im- 
portance took place — the discussion on the subject 
at the Diet, and the revolution in the Canton of 

At the previous Diet, in July 1844, only one 
Canton and one Half-Canton had voted for the 
expulsion of the Jesuits from Switzerland : in the 
Diet of 1845, ten Cantons and two Half-Cantons 
voted for the same proposition : so great was the 



difference made by the fact of Lucerne, the pre- 
sidential Canton, having adopted them in the 
interval. Zurich, presiding at the extraordinary 
Diet convoked in January 1845, did not support 
the proposition for expelling the Jesuits, nor re- 
cognise the competency of the Diet to do so : but 
its circular address proclaimed in the strongest 
manner the mischief, insecurity, and discord, which 
the reception of the Order into the Catholic di- 
recting Canton would be sure to excite in Switzer- 
land, and urgently invited Lucerne to revoke its 
resolution. It is to be remarked that the Jesuits 
had not yet actually come into the latter Canton, 
though the law had been passed to introduce them. 
The Zurich circular farther insisted that the cha- 
racter of the Order was not to be considered as 
purely religious, but as partly political, partly 
sectarian and controversial : its direct aim being 
to aggrandize the Church at the expense of the 
State, and the Catholic religion at the expense of 
the Protestant. From the first of these two ten- 
dencies, it is repugnant to a large portion even of 
the Catholic world ; from tne second, it is placed 
in hostility with the Protestants ; and both reasons 


concurred to render its admission into the pre- 
siding Canton of Switzerland disastrous, as a 
direct aggravation of the two great sources of 
discord inherent in the Confederacy. The lan- 
guage of the Deputy of Geneva, then strongly 
Conservative, on the subject of the Jesuits, was of 
the same tenour; though he voted against the 
resolution for expelling them, on the ground of 
want of competence in the Diet. There needs no 
farther argument to shew that the Anti-Jesuit 
feeling in Switzerland was a perfectly genuine and 
substantive feeling — not a mere pretence got up 
for the purpose of revolutionizing the Pact, as so 
many persons have argued. Here were Deputies 
expressing the same Anti-Jesuit feeling as strongly 
as it could be expressed, who yet would not sup- 
port a sentence of the Diet for expulsion. Indeed, 
the whole past history of the Jesuits, from the 
commencement of their Order, betokens an or- 
ganised and systematic teaching of religion, not 
for religious ends, but as a means for procuring 
political and social ascendency : other priests have 
done the same to a greater or less extent, but none 
except the Order of Jesus has become notorious as 

H 2 


reducing it to rule, craft, and professional duty. 
It was against this tendency, not against any 
matters essential to the Catholic religion, that even 
the Catholic world protested in the last century, 
when the Order was abolished : it is against the 
same tendency that the opponents of the Order 
protest at present ; though they doubtless greatly 
exaggerate its present power to do mischief. The 
argument has often been urged — " What pro- 
digious harm can seven Jesuits in Lucerne (the 
number at first introduced) effect, to justify such 
strong excitement?" But it is to be recollected, 
that when the Great Council of Lucerne first de- 
termined to adopt the Jesuits, no one knew to 
what extent they would be employed. There was 
every reason to believe that they would be made 
actively available in prosecution of those Ultra- 
montane intrigues which Lucerne had been push- 
ing, both as Canton and as Yorort : they had been 
so turned to account in the Yalais, and their 
agency might be indefinitely extended : moreover, 
it is to be remarked that the name Jesuit cannot 
be heard, on the Continent, without a cluster of 
odious associations derived from the past — and 


that the proclamation, "The Jesuits are coming!" 
is really more terrific than the men so called 
when they stand before you in flesh and blood. 
The Corps Francs invaded Lucerne before the 
Jesuits were actually in it : they did not invade 
Friburg, where the Jesuits had been long esta- 
blished. It was the double and confluent senti- 
ment, against the Jesuits and against Lucerne, 
which roused them to the pitch of armed ag- 

It was on the J 4th of February, 1845, during 
the sitting of the Diet, that the revolution of Vaud 
occurred. Yaud is the Canton immediately adjoin- 
ing to Yalais : its citizens were almost witnesses 
of the battles in the preceding May in that Canton, 
though without taking the least part in them : its 
surgeons and its ambulances went across the border 
to administer succour to the wounded on both sides : 
it received and fostered the greater part of the 
exiled sufferers ; the two chiefs of whom, Maurice 
Barman and Colonel Joris, escaped into its terri- 
tory only by swimming the Rhone, after having 
exhausted every effort of brave commanders. 
From all these circumstances, the excitement in 


Vaud^ arising out of the Yalaisan catastrophe, 
was unusually great; and the two feelings in 
which that excitement manifested itself — animosity 
against the Jesuits, and animosity against Lu- 
cerne — became proportionably aggravated. The 
Deputy of Yaud, though the Grovernment of the 
Canton was then what is called Conservative, and 
did not support the vote for expelling the Jesuits 
in July 1844, expressed the strongest indignation 
when M. Meyer of Lucerne avowed in that as- 
sembly his long cognizance of the conspiracy for 
counter-revolutionizing the Yalais. If such was 
the strong feeling general in Yaud in July 1844, 
much stronger did it become during the months 
immediately succeeding, when Lucerne, in defiance 
of the sentiment expressed throughout the larger 
portion of Switzerland, passed the law for admit- 
ting the Jesuits ; and when the Lucerne minority, 
through the consequences of their opposition to 
that measure, were cast into banishment and 
spread through the sympathising Cantons. When 
the Great Council of Yaud met for the purpose of 
instructing their Deputy in prospect of the Diet 
convoked for the last week in January, a petition 


was presented praying that he might be directed 
to support in the Diet two points — expulsion of 
the Jesuits from Switzerland, and amnesty for the 
Lucerne exiles. This petition, signed by no fewer 
than 32,000 persons, was supported by a minority 
both in the Executive and in the Legislative 
Council ; but the majority of both were opposed 
to it. 

It was asserted by some of those who opposed 
this petition — what has been so often asserted of 
petitions emanating from Swiss Radicals — that 
those who signed it did not really care about the 
substantive thing asked for, but only asked it as a 
means to arrive underhand at the abolition of the 
Cantonal sovereignty and the erection of an Unitary 
Government in Switzerland. A • similar insinua- 
tion had been made in the preceding month of 
July in the Great Council of Zurich, by Dr. 
Bliintschli, in reference to the 10,000 petitioners 
of that Canton, who asked for the expulsion of 
the Jesuits : it was a remark captious and un- 
seasonable, overleaping causes obvious and forcible 
in order to arrive at others which were at once 
weaker and more distant ; and it was likely more- 


over to irritate petitioners who knew themselves 
to be in earnest. How widely the feeling dis- 
played in the petition was diffused throughout 
Yaud, is proved by the number of signatures : for 
the total population of the Canton is only 190,000 
souls, and 32,000 signatures must represent seven- 
eighths of the qualified voters under a system of 
universal suffrage. According to political maxims 
very widely diffused in Switzerland, it was con- 
tended by the supporters of the prayer of the peti- 
tion, among other reasons for granting it, that 
this enormous majority ought of itself to be im- 
perative, and to overrule any objection which the 
Council might entertain. In England, no such 
general maxim would be admitted : but we may 
safely assert, that if ever the time should come 
when five millions of petitioners (about the same 
proportion of our population) demand anything at 
the hands of Parliament, and are known to care 
for it intensely and earnestly, that petition will 
not be refused, even though it contain matter more 
questionable than the two items demanded by the 
32,000 persons who signed in Yaud. The majority 
of the two Councils in the Canton of Yaud, refused 


to comply with the prayer of the petitioners. To 
wait for the return of the quinquennial elections, 
and then choose a Council of different sentiments 
(which would have been the constitutional course), 
while in the mean time the Cantonal vote would 
have been given in Diet to sustain the Jesuits and 
the Grovernment of Lucerne — appeared intolerable 
to a population all excited on one and the same 
immediate point. We may doubt whether even 
the English people would have submitted thus to 
wait if they had been baulked at the moment of 
their feverish excitement about the Reform Bill in 
1832 : and it is to be noted, that no Swiss consti- 
tution contains any provision analogous to the 
power of discretionary dissolution of Parliament 
by the English Crown. The immediate result of 
the refusal of the Councils was, that large numbers 
of armed citizens from the neighbourhood, marched 
into Lausanne ; while the G-overnment, on calling 
out the militia, found that this force was disposed 
to act not against, but in unison with, the insur- 
gents. The movement throughout the Canton 
appears to have been not less unanimous than pas- 
sionate : the Councils were forced to abdicate, and 


a Provisional Grovernment was formed, at the 
head of which was M. Druey, the leader of Oppo- 
sition. It is right to mention, that in this revolu- 
tion no man sustained the least damage either in 
person or property. A new constitution, more 
popular than the preceding, was drawn up, and 
accepted by the people during the ensuing summer : 
but in truth, the preceding constitution had also 
been very popular, and was so regarded even by 
Radical writers who wrote during the year 1844: 
so that the new constitution worked no violent 
transfer of the seat of power, and was more analo- 
gous to a change of Ministry in England, with a 
dissolution of Parliament, than to the ideas com- 
monly suggested by a revolution. 

The proceedings of the former Grovernment of 
Yaud, by which they had in part lost popularity 
before this change, would be instructive to remark 
upon, inasmuch as they illustrate the subsequent 
conduct of the pastors and the reaction against the 
latter which manifested itself under the new Go- 
vernment. But upon these I do not touch, since 
they have no direct bearing on the Federal politics, 
to which the present letters are chiefly confined. 


Letter VI. 

Oct. 9, 1847. 
The perilous disposition to unauthorised employ- 
ment of force, which had pervaded Switzerland 
during the winter of 1845, was quenched by the 
repulse of the Corps Francs from Lucerne on the 
1st of April, disastrous and humiliating to the last 
degree. The Grovernments which had connived 
at it were under the ignominious necessity of ne- 
gotiating with Lucerne for the ransom of their 
prisoners; which they obtained at the cost of 
between 500,000 and 600,000 francs: besides 
which sum, Lucerne claimed and received from 
the Diet, assembled in July, a further indemnity of 
150,000 francs for damage sustained, out of the 
general Federal treasury. Resolutions strongly 
condemnatory of Corps Francs were again passed 
at that Diet ; and it must be added that from the 
1st April, 1845, to the present day, the peace of 
Switzerland, as between Canton and Canton, has 
never once been disturbed : every one of the 


Governments has manifested an unshaken deter- 
mination to maintain it, and to repress individual 
" sympathisers," if they attempted to march in 
armed bands across their own Cantonal border. 

But though the spirit of armed invasion had 
thus been extinguished, the political feeling con- 
tinued unaltered; and the elections of 1845 in the 
Canton of Zurich returned a majority in the Great 
Council which displaced the Government called 
Conservative, the offspring of the 6th September, 
1839. That Government had maintained, as long 
and as much as it could, a sympathy with the 
Lucerne politics, which at length robbed it of its 
popularity with the citizens of the Canton, though 
none of the latter had taken part in the expedition 
of the Corps Francs. In the Diet of July, 1845, 
the expulsion of the Jesuits from Switzerland was 
again discussed : ten Cantons and two Half-Cantons 
voted for it ; nine Cantons, including Geneva, 
against it. St. Gallen did not vote at all ; its Great 
Council were equally divided on the question, 75 
foT it and 75 against it, 

To the question of the Jesuits, the one great 
matter of controversy during 1845, was added in 


the early part of 1846 the formation of the armed 
separate league called Sonderbund, between Lu- 
cerne, Uri, Schwytz, Unterwalden, Friburg, Zug, 
and Yalais. Formal announcement of this league 
with its conditions was made to all the Swiss Go- 
vernments : in point of fact, these same seven 
Cantons had long before been connected by a 
league called the League of Sarnen ; but their new 
organisation, called the Sonderbund, brought with 
it the important addition, that it became profess- 
edly an armed confederation — its members bound 
themselves to furnish contingents of men and 
money, and to obey a common military authority 
— all announced to be exclusively for purposes of 
common defence. To this is to be added the still 
more important fact, that the Cantons of the Son- 
derbund not only bound themselves by covenant 
to arm, but actually did arm and organise them- 
selves, providing means of offence as well as means 
of defence. The question was thus raised. Is a 
separate league, thus armed and organised, con- 
trary to the Pact, the sixth Article of which says 
expressly — "No alliances shall be formed by the 
Cantons among each other, prejudicial either to 


the general Confederacy or to the rights of other 
Cantons " ? 

This question was brought before the Diet at 
Zurich, for the first time, on the 4th September, 
1846, by the proposition of the Canton of Thurgau 
to declare the Sonderbund illegal. Ten Cantons 
and two Half-Cantons voted in favour of this pro- 
position, — Berne, Zurich, Grlaris, Soleure, Schaff- 
hausen, Argau, Tessin, Yaud, Thurgau, Grrisons, 
Appenzell-Exterieur, Bale-Campagne. The seven 
Cantons of the Sonderbund voted against it, to- 
gether with Appenzell-Interieur. Neufchatel, St. 
Grallen, Geneva and Bale-Yille, did not vote at all, 
but referred for fuller instructions to their Cantons. 
Neither on this question, nor on that of the expul- 
sion of the Jesuits, which was again discussed, was 
any majority of the Diet obtained. 

So these two questions stood over, to be re-dis- 
cussed in the Diet of the present year. But the 
year 1846, and the first half of 1847, produced 
events in Switzerland which materially altered the 
second discussion as compared with the first. Be- 
volutions took place in Berne and Geneva ; a revi- 
sion of the constitution in Bale-Ville ; and the 


attainment of an electoral majority in the Great 
Council of St. Grallen. 

The revolution of Berne, properly speaking, was 
only partially connected with Federal politics, and 
would not have been much spoken of in connexion 
with them, if it had not happened to raise to the 
Presidency so marked a man as Colonel Ochsen- 
bein, the previous commander of the Corps Francs. 
For in truth, the Grovernment of M. J^euhaus, which 
Colonel Ochsenbein supplanted, was just as much 
Eadical and Anti-Jesuit, and would have been, if 
it had lasted, just as much against the Sonderbund, 
as himself: and it is one among many proofs of 
the loose use of names as applied to Swiss political 
parties, that M. Neuhaus is spoken of in 1845 as 
the leader of all the Kadicals, and in 1846, though 
his politics had not at all altered, as a Conserva- 
tive, merely because he stood opposed to Colonel 
Ochsenbein. After the repulse of the Corps Francs 
from Lucerne on the 1st April, 1845, the Grovern- 
ment of M. Neuhaus, which had before connived 
at them, thought it necessary to make demonstra- 
tions against them, and to take some steps calcu- 
lated to prevent any repetition of the attempt. In 


this they were certainly right, whatever censure 
they may deserve for their previous connivance : 
moreover, it may be remarked, that in the state of 
widespread excitement which preceded the 1st of 
April, their interference would probably have been 
of little effect, had they really applied themselves 
to the task ; whereas, in that state of depression 
which succeeded the repulse, there remained only 
a provoked minority anxious for farther action, and 
that minority was not too large for the Grovern- 
ment to control. The anger and vexation which 
pervaded a large mass of the people after the 
defeat of the Corps Francs was pretty sure to vent 
itself upon some one ; and the Government of M. 
Neuhaus, disavowing and beginning to repress 
what it was known to have previously connived 
at, became the object of discontent .with a consi- 
derable party which took Colonel Ochsenbein for 
its leader. 

The opposition against the Government of M. 
Neuhaus thus doubtless began in causes connected 
with Federal politics ; but it was enabled to succeed 
by agencies of a totally different character. It col- 
lected together all the financial malcontents and 


embarrassed interests from the different parts of 
the Canton, promising some special Government 
intervention to meet the particular case of each. 
The proprietors of land in the communes of the 
Bernese Oberland were distressed and surcharged 
with mortgages at high interest : to them was pro- 
mised an advance of 5,000,000 francs from the 
funds of the Government at an interest of 5 per 
cent., 14 of which was to be laid by as a sinking- 
fund for repayment of the principal. This was to 
be ultimately enlarged into a general caisse hypo- 
thecaire for the whole Canton. Next, the communes 
of the Emmenthal were borne down by the weight 
of pauperism: to them was offered an enactment 
relieving each separate commune from legal lia- 
bility to maintain its own poor, and making that 
charge public or Cantonal — at the same time con- 
solidating the poor-funds of all the separate com- 
munes into one aggregate Cantonal poor-fund, 
whereby the richer communes would have borne a 
large part of the charges of the less affluent. 

Such was the scheme as originally projected, 
though not carried into full effect : its tendencies 
appeared so dangerous that it met with the most 


strenuous opposition in passing through the con- 
stituent assembly, and was ultimately modified so 
as to leave to every commune its own poor-fund 
apart, but at the same time to alter for the future 
the principle of poor-law relief from compulsory 
to spontaneous, and to abolish the legal claim of a 
poor person on his commune. This latter change 
is recognised in principle, and is to be gradually 
approached in practice : over and above the 
amount of the poor-fund (which of course remains 
consecrated to its original purpose), the amount of 
compulsory rates hitherto levied upon the different 
communes is to be gradually diminished^ until at 
length, after the lapse of four years^ no farther 
recourse is to be had except to voluntary collec- 
tion. To smooth this transition, and to aid the 
distressed communes, the Cantonal treasury is to 
furnish to each commune assistance proportioned 
to the amount of its rates : but the aggregate 
charge thus arising on the Cantonal treasury is 
not to exceed in any case the maximum of 400,000 
Swiss francs (about 600,000 French francs, or 
24,0001, sterling : the population of the Canton is 
at present about 430,000 souls). It will be seen. 

LettebVI] politics of SWITZERLAND. 115 

that in the poor-law thus modified, the change first 
projected, or Cantonal aid to the pauperised com- 
munes, was retained in principle, but much con- 
tracted in extent ; while the new provision of 
abolishing compulsory poor-rates was introduced. 

Lastly, a third financial operation, besides what 
related to mortgages and pauperism, was included 
in this same party move. The communes of the 
Seeland and other parts of the Canton were subject 
to various burdens of immemorial antiquity — 
tithes, rent-charges, &c., old feudal redevances 
attaching to the different districts, and which had 
passed into the hands of the Cantonal Grovernment 
when it first conquered or purchased the seig- 
neurial rights, and under which of course the land 
had often changed proprietors. These burdens 
had always been odious, from their association 
with the ideas and feelings of feudal superiority ; 
after 1798, the Helvetic Republic then framed had 
tried partly to abolish, partly to commute them : 
but this was found impracticable, and they were 
ultimately rendered redeemable at a rate which 
the Government of M. Neuhaus in 1845 had re- 
duced from eighteen to twelve years' purchase. 



His opponents promised a still further reduction 
to six years' purchase ; and inasmuch as by such a 
step those who had already redeemed at the higher 
rate would be placed in a worse condition, an 
indemnity was insured to them out of the public 
treasury, equal to the difference between the 
higher and the lower rate. This operation has 
since been carried into effect; and its result has 
been, that the Government has had to pay out in 
the way of indemnity (partly to private impro- 
priators of tithe, partly to those who had before' 
redeemed at the higher rate), a greater positive 
amount than all which it received of principal 
money from redemption on the reduced scale. It 
thus not only ceases to receive for the future a 
certain tithe-revenue, but has incurred a positive 

The defalcation arising in the public revenue 
out of these various operations, is to be made up 
by imposing a direct property-tax upon the entire 
Canton, excepting only those Catholic portions 
which formerly constituted the Bishopric of Basle, 
and which are subject already to an impot foncier 
of fixed amount. The property-tax — a painful 

LetteeVI.] politics OF SWITZEELAND. 117 

novelty to the Bernese — has been distinctly an-, 
nounced in perspective, but not yet actually 
levied : it is to be hoped that the actual collection 
of it, which is now become indispensable to cover 
a large deficiency in the public revenue, will not 
prove too unpopular to be carried into efi*ect. 

Such were the various financial combinations 
whereby the party of M. Ochsenbein gathered 
together sufficient support to displace M. Neuhaus, 
procure a constituent assembly, and frame a new 
constitution. In that constitution the new finan- 
cial changes stand embodied, though in point of 
fact they have no proper right of admission into 
an act of political constitution : they are all serious 
matters of legislation, proper to be considered 
and settled by the elective Councils which that 
constitution may provide : they threaten, more- 
over, to embarrass greatly the future state of the 
revenue. The new coDstitution, politically speak- 
ing, is an improvement, since it substitutes direct 
election of the Great Council in place of election 
by two stages : but this would hardly have been 
sufficient of itself to displace the former Govern- 
ment, which might well have adopted such a 


change if recommended by popular feeling. Con- 
sidered with reference to Federal politics, the revo- 
lution of Berne in 1846 is of no great moment: 
considered with reference to internal affairs, to the 
stability of public property, and to the precedent 
afforded of acquiring partisans by helping em- 
barrassed debtors out of the public purse, it is 
one of the most unpromising which as yet oc- 
curred in Switzerland. It was accomplished 
merely by popular meetings and demonstrations, 
without the use of arms on either side : M. Neu- 
haus was displaced during the winter, the Con- 
stituent Assembly held its sittings through the 
spring, and the constitution was published and 
ratified by the popular vote in July 1846. 

On all these points the Kevolution which occurred 
at Geneva on the 7th of October, 1846, was ma- 
terially different. It was of great Federal import- 
ance : it was purely politioal, a triumph of Radicals 
over Conservatives, without any appeal to pecu- 
niary interests : moreover, it involved a serious 
armed contest. The proximate cause of it was, 
the debate and decision in the Great Council re- 
specting instructions to be given to the deputation 


at the Diet in reference to the Sonderbund and the 
Jesuits. I have already mentioned, that when the 
former question was discussed at the Diet on 
the 4th September, 1846, the Deputy of Geneva 
reserved his vote ; and in the beginning of Oc- 
tober, the Executive Council of Geneva proposed 
to the Great Council a draft of instructions for his 
future conduct. 

After 1814, the year of liberation from France, 
the government of Geneva became representative 
in principle, yet with a restricted suffrage and 
little responsibility to the people. Though con- 
fined to the hands of the old Genevese families 
in the Upper Town, however, it was administered 
with liberality and intelligence, and formed in this 
respect an honourable contrast to the retrograde 
and reactionary spirit which animated nearly all 
the Swiss Governments between 1815 and 1830. 
Hence, the vehement burst of popular feeling 
which traversed Switzerland after 1830, remained 
for a long time without much effect on Geneva ; 
nor was it until 1841 that a movement at length 
broke out which that Government was unable to 
resist : a new constitution was then framed, with 


suffrage substantially universal, and with the 
voters distributed into ten electoral colleges. 
The practical working of this system was, to 
transfer the real power from the Upper Town to 
a combination of the Upper and Lower Town, 
and to throw the Radicals of St. Gervais into 
a minority. The politics of Greneva have been 
not a little influenced by its topography: the 
Rhone divides the town into two unequal parts — 
the larger part on the left bank containing the 
Haute and Basse Yille, while the smaller part on 
the right bank forms the district called St. Gervais. 
The Haute Yille or Upper Town contains the 
Hotel de Ville, the public buildings, and the resi- 
dences of the old families or aristocracy of Geneva 
— men wealthy and prudent as a class, socially as 
well as politically exclusive, and proud in the 
recollections of the ancient town when it figured 
during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 
as a refuge for persecuted Protestantism, and when 
its professors and clergy, enjoying European cele- 
brity, added some dignity to a government essen- 
tially narrow and repulsive. The Basse Yille 
contains the bourgeois of various occupations, mer- 


chants, tradesmen, &c., who are separated from 
the aristocracy of the Haute Yille by a social line 
not the less felt and observed because it is nowhere 
traced on the map. On the opposite side of the 
river, in St. Grervais, dwell the artisans and opera- 
tives, with smaller tradesmen among them : a class 
industrious and energetic, as well as intelligent — 
of independent spirit — strongly attached to the- 
ories of Democracy and social equality, and hating 
priestly dominion not less than political privileges 
— moreover^ though last not least, every man 
among them more or less a soldier, possessing his 
rifle and familiar with the use of it. The move- 
ment of 1841 had been one in which the Basse 
Ville joined with St. Grervais to abrogate the privi- 
leges of the Haute Yille : but when the new con- 
stitution was formed and put in working, the result 
of it was found to be that the Haute and Basse 
Yille combined together against St. Grervais — 
aristocracy and bourgeois against the Eadicals. 
The newly-allied parties seem to have acted under 
a persuasion that universal suffrage was in itself 
dangerous and full of bad tendencies which it was 
their duty to neutralize ; and for this purpose they 


constituted themselves a government of resistance. 
Their principal supporters formed themselves into 
secret societies, both in the G-reat Council and out 
of it, which were made to act powerfully upon the 
elections as well as upon legislative proceedings : 
and so strongly did the tide of party organisa- 
tion set among these Conservatives, that whoever 
among their own number declined to join some 
one of these societies, was looked upon coldly and 
unfavourably. The effect of such organisation was 
of course sensibly felt, and the existence of the 
societies as a general fact well known by the 
Eadical leaders. M. James Fazy in the G-reat 
Council, and others, commented upon them severely 
under the usual title of " les embrigades." To the 
Eadicals, moreover, the symptoms of aristocratical 
pretension in the newly admitted members of 
Government from the Basse Ville — who had united 
with them to bring about the movement of 1841, 
and who but for that movement would not have 
been accounted worthy to occupy the chairs of the 
Executive Council — were more galling than those 
same dispositions would have proved in the mem- 
bers of the old families whom they had been so 


long accustomed to see in the seats of power. The 
G-enevese Government between 1841 and 1846 
was thus in its political spirit a government of 
resistance as well as of party ; though its adminis- 
tration then, as well as before 1841, gave little 
ground for complaint. It commanded a large 
majority in the Great Council ; but it had the 
considerable and compact minority of Radicals in 
St. Gervais in strong opposition — on one occasion, 
indeed, in 1843, in actual revolt, which was only 
put down by force. M. James Fazy was the lead- 
ing Radical representative in the Great Council. 

Upon this state of dissentient parties fell the 
passionate course of Swiss Federal pohtics during 
the interval between 1841 and 1846. The Radi- 
cals of Geneva sympathised strongly with the 
feeling against the Jesuits, and still more strongly 
with that against the Sonderbund in 1846. On 
the first of these questions, the Government of 
Geneva, while refusing to concur in any vote 
for expelling the Jesuits out of other Cantons, 
as a matter beyond their competence, always 
expressed their strong opinion that the Jesuits 
were noxious to the peace of the country, and 


invited other Cantons to dismiss them volun- 
tarily. This reserve did not suit the views of 
the Radicals ; nevertheless, on the question of 
the Jesuits, the Government obtained large ma- 
jorities and an easy triumph. With the question 
of the Sonderbund their course might have been 
even easier, since there was really less difference 
of opinion : but it was rendered unnecessarily 
difficult, and became ultimately even critical and 
perilous, from the political feelings with which 
the Grovernment approached it in October 1846, 
in proposing the instructions for their Deputies 
at the future Diet. There were two points to 
be determined : first, whether the Sonderbund 
should be declared illegal ; next, what security 
should be provided against renewal of the Corps 
Francs, which the Cantons of the Sonderbund 
set forth as one of their main justifications for 
the formation of the separate league. Now on 
neither of these points does there seem to have 
been any substantial difference of opinion between 
the Government and the Radicals — both agreed 
that the Sonderbund was contrary to the Pact, 
and both agreed that the Corps Francs ought 


to be repressed. But though there was little 
difference of opinion, there was an immense differ- 
ence of feeling between the two parties: the 
Government did not approve the Sonderbund, but 
it cordially detested the Corps Francs and the 
vein of feeling in which they had originated; 
while the Radicals on their part did not approve 
the Corps Francs, and were nowise unwilling 
to concur in prohibiting them, but their positive 
hatred was directed against the Sonderbund and 
its originating sentiment. Now the Government, 
even though consenting to declare the Sonder- 
bund illegal, were most afraid of appearing to 
give a triumph to Radical principles : accordingly, 
they proposed to instruct the Deputy, while pro- 
nouncing the illegality of the League, to couple 
his vote with such strict conditions respecting the 
Corps Francs as would probably not have been 
realized, so that he would have been prevented 
from forming one of a majority against the Son- 
derbund. Moreover, M. Demole, the first Syndic 
of Geneva, one of the most vehement Anti- 
Radical speakers in Switzerland, would probably 
have gone to the Diet with these instructions. 


and would have given all the right of the case, 
and all the weight of the Cantonal authority^ to 
the Lucerne side of politics, even while pro- 
nouncing that Canton to have gone further than 
the Pact justified, in forming the Sonderbund. 
The instructions thus proposed by the Govern- 
ment, repugnant in the extreme to the Eadical 
minority, were Anti-Eadical to so impolitic a 
degree as even to offend many of their own 
partisans in Council; several of whom supported 
an amendment, moved by one of their number 
(M. Senn), which was a certain approximation 
towards the Radical view, and as such was sup- 
ported also by M. Fazy and his friends, though 
rejected by the Government. Ultimately the 
original instructions were carried, but by a ma- 
jority much smaller than the Government were 
in the habit of obtaining. Moreover, there were 
other points in these instructions which provoked 
the displeasure of the Radicals, such as the pro- 
position made to appoint Federal Representatives 
in restraint upon the recently formed Radical 
Government of Berne, when that Canton should 
become Yorort on the 1st of January, 1847. Such 


a power is given to the Cantons in the Pact, 
but has never yet been actually exercised; and 
the mere proposition of it was a party move 
indicating a dislike of Radicalism, which the 
Radicals on their side were not backward in 

As soon as the instructions had passed the 
Council, vehement manifestations of discontent 
broke out in St. Gervais : meetings were held ; 
and M. Fazy with others proclaimed an indignant 
protest, to be addressed to the Vorort, against the 
resolution taken by the Council. This was re- 
garded as a decided act of illegality by the Q-overn- 
ment, who thought it their duty to arrest M. Fazy. 
He refused to obey ; and the Radicals of St. Ger- 
vais, full of sympathy for him as well as indigna- 
tion against the course of political affairs, rose 
in insurrection to defend him : while the Govern- 
ment, trying to overpower them by military force 
and by cannonade, found itself worsted in the 
attempt and obliged to abdicate. For all ordinary 
purposes it was doubtless strong enough, but not 
for such an act of force as the arrest of the popular 
leader under the existing state of feeling. No 


one, however, seems to have been prepared, cer- 
tainly not M. Fazy himself, for the spontaneous 
burst as well as the obstinate determination mani- 
fested by the Radicals. When once political dis- 
pute passes from words to arms, new forces which 
before slumbered are found to awake, while those 
which were before in evidence fall short of their 
apparent promise, in a way which renders calcula- 
tion of the result extremely difficult, and throws 
much to the score of accident. 

The strong and unmixed political character of 
this revolution — the courage manifested by the 
men of St. Gervais — and the absence of reactionary 
lawlessness after success — rendered it a most im- 
pressive event throughout Switzerland; and its 
future influence upon Swiss affairs will be the 
greater, inasmuch as it has elevated M. Fazy, 
known before only as an able Opposition speaker 
and journalist, to a post wherein he has been 
enabled to display powers of positive government 
and organisation for which few had given him 
credit. In the constitution as now changed, the 
elective franchise remains nearly the same in ex- 
tent, having been before practically universal ; 


but it has been distributed anew ; the aggregate 
of about 12,000 voters is now divided into three 
electoral colleges, instead of ten, while the number 
of members in the Great Council has been dimi- 
nished by one half. On both these points the 
previous arrangement was highly favourable to 
the influence of the Genevese aristocracy, who 
have thus by the present change lost an under- 
hand advantage adroitly infused into universal 
suffrage by the constitution of 1841. In all times 
of political quiet, a wealthy aristocracy like that 
of Geneva will be able to sway more or less the 
fair expression of electoral opinion, even under the 
present or any other system : but they cannot 
reasonably expect that the constitution should be 
so framed as to help them in the work. The most 
questionable change introduced by the new con- 
stitution appears to be the election of the Execu- 
tive Council by the aggregate body of Cantonal 
electors, instead of by the Great Council, as is the 
practice in the other Swiss Cantons. But we may 
remark, in regard to the Genevese constitution of 
1847, what was already observed about the new 
constitution of 1845 in the canton of Yaud — that 


it does not bring about any capital transfer of 
the seat of power : it is a change from universal 
suffrage, partially hampered and laid open to cor- 
rupt influence, to universal suffrage more free and 
spontaneous. But the 12,000 electors continue 
now, as before 1846, to constitute the political 
sovereign ; and the large majority now possessed 
by the Radicals in the Great Council is probably 
more owing to the strong temporary stimulus of 
the revolution itself, than to any inherent differ- 
ence between the working of the present and the 
former systems of election. Whether that large 
majority will be durable, depends much on the 
conduct of the Radical Government ; but under 
all circumstances it may well be considered 

Bale-Yille has always been inflexibly Conserva- 
tive down to the beginning of the present year, 
in sympathy with Lucerne and its allied Cantons. 
The rich mercantile aristocracy of Basle forms 
in many respects a parallel to that of Geneva, 
and the minds of its population were strongly 
affected by the revolution in the latter. At the 
beginning of the year 1847, political discontent 


being on the increase in Basle, the Government 
were prudent enough to take warning by the occur- 
rences in Greneva, and to determine on a revision 
of their constitution, which is supposed to have 
averted the chance of a revolution. Since that 
revision, the Federal politics of Bale-Ville have 
assumed a neutral or a juste-milieu character; 
neither supporting the Sonderbund nor voting 
with the majority. 

The vote of St. G-allen, at the Diet of the 
present year, was determined by the elections 
of last May for the Great Council of the Canton. 
Previous to last May, the Great Council was 
divided into two parties equal in number, so that 
at the Diet of 1846, the Canton gave no vote 
on the questions of the Jesuits or the Sonderbund. 
In May last, the elections for the Catholic district 
of Gasters returned new men, of the Liberal or 
Radical party ; and this gave a majority, though 
a small majority, to that party in the Great 
Council. St. Gallen is a Canton of parity, divided 
between Catholics and Protestants, with equal 
political rights to each confession : the population 
is about three-fifths Catholic and two-fifths Pro- 

K 2 


testant, not inhabiting continuous districts, but 
Catholic and Protestant communes intermingled 
one with another. There exists moreover in 
this Canton what is called the Confessional Separa- 
tion, — a distinct organisation of both confessions, 
apart from and to a great degree independent 
of the Grovernment, for the management of all 
that relates to religion, education, matrimony, 
and a range of other matters connected with 
these general heads. There is a Catholic Council 
of Administration, elected by the general body 
of Catholics, and a Catholic Executive Board, 
chosen by that Council : and as the fund belong- 
ing to the confession is ample, this board is well 
paid, exercises great influence, and is almost a 
match for the Government itself. Moreover, a 
Bishop for the Canton exclusively has recently 
been named, and endowed, together with several 
Canons, out of a remaining portion of the pro- 
perty belonging to the old Abbots of St. Gallen. 
The Catholic religious leaders in that Canton 
have thus received a reinforcement which will 
make their organisation even more effective than 
it has hitherto been in correspondence with 


Lucerne, and may probably enable them to break 
down the present narrow majority. The know- 
ledge of this fact is of course familiar to the 
Grovernment of Lucerne ; who have even been 
led to doubt whether the Great Council of St. 
Gallen, with so small a majority, would go so 
far as to sanction measures of execution against 
the Sonderbund : this explains in part the lan- 
guage of inflexible determination and defiance 
which they have maintained. 

The two votes of Geneva and St. Gallen, added 
to the ten and two half-votes of 1846, constitute 
the majority against the Sonderbund and the 
Jesuits in the Diet of the present year. Bale- 
Yille, which was before favourable to the League, 
is now in a position of neutrality. 

I have now followed down the course of Swiss 
Federal politics from their causes in the past to 
their present condition. One letter more — con- 
taining some general remarks on these past facts, 
and on the probable tendencies of the future, in 
so far as they admit of being dimly discerned — 
will close the series. 


Letter YII. 

Oct. 16, 1847. 
We trace a distinct though compHcated sequence 
of events, one growing out of another, from the 
poh'tico-rehgious movements prior to 1840 down 
to the present Diet and its votes respecting the 
Sonderbund. It is impossible even to comprehend, 
still less fairly to appreciate, the feelings and posi- 
tion of Switzerland at present, without going back 
to these previous circumstances. If the Sonder- 
bund is to be characterised as an effect resulting 
from the expeditions of the Corps Francs^ these 
expeditions resulted even more directly from the 
peculiar train of events which preceded them in 
1843 and 1844. And it has been the more neces- 
sary to go briefly over these, because the actual 
condition of Switzerland is usually presented in a 
totally erroneous point of view — as resulting from 
the systematic efforts of the party called Radical 
to merge the Cantonal sovereignty in a unitary 
government, and to oppress the Catholic religion. 


The invasions of the Corps Francs — the real wrong 
for which the Radicals of four Cantons adjacent to 
Lucerne are responsible- — had their rise in neither 
of these dispositions. It seems, indeed, strange 
that the Radicals should be so often charged with 
preference for a unitary government, since Radi- 
calism, as such, could not possibly gain, and would 
in all probability lose, by the change; for it is 
certain that government has less weight as a sub- 
stantive force apart from the people, and that the 
demagogic influences are more perpetually opera- 
tive, in the separate Cantons, than they would be 
in the case of one concentrated system pervading 
all Switzerland. If any one reads M. Tillier's 
valuable History of the Helvetic Republic down 
to the Act of Mediation in 1803 — a time during 
which the comparative fitness of the unitary and 
Cantonal systems of government was really under 
serious deliberation, which it never has been since 
— he will see that one of the objections urged by 
opponents of the Cantonal system was, that it 
opened so many easy and tempting markets for 
demagogic speculation. Some particular Radical 
leaders might gain in importance by a unitary 


government ; but the greater number of them 
would be personally losers — to say nothing of the 
feeling common to the population of every Canton, 
which puts all idea of unitary government out of 
the question. Nor is the alleged hostility towards 
the Catholic religion on the part of Radicals at all 
better founded. Hostility to the Jesuits is not 
hostility to the Catholic religion : still less was the 
act of suppressing the Argovian convents a proof 
of this latter feeling ; for the real persons who 
have gained by that suppression are the Catholic 
ministers, Catholic schoolmasters, and Catholic 
parishioners of the Canton; while the means of 
inculcating the Catholic faith and duties are un- 
questionably strengthened and not weakened. 
The monks of Muri did not employ their property 
for any such purpose ; though they were ready 
enough to assist politico-religious agitation, either 
in their own Canton or in others. 

The series of facts set forth in the preceding 
letters, sufficiently shews that the two parties in 
the Federal quarrel are not distinguished from 
each other by systematic respect or disrespect 
for Cantonal independence. On the two matters 


of contention which have stood out most pro- 
minent — the suppression of the Argovian con- 
vents and the maintenance of the Jesuits — the 
position of the two parties in respect to Cantonal 
rights has been reversed. On the first of the 
two, the Radicals were the upholders of Cantonal 
sovereignty, which was then held very cheap by 
Lucerne and its allies ; while on the second, 
Lucerne has pushed its separate rights to their 
extreme limits (as may be seen from the language 
addressed to that Canton by the Conservative 
Cantonal Governments, nowise unfriendly to 
Lucerne), against the Anti- Jesuit feeling enforcing 
a wide construction of the Pact. If Lucerne in 
1842-43 had been able to obtain a majority in 
the Diet for the unconditional restitution of the 
Argovian convents, and had Argau refused to 
obey, the Cantons now forming the Sonderbund 
would have marched out their entire military 
force to execute it, at any cost of bloodshed : they 
would have left to Radicals all the talk about 
sanctity of Cantonal rights. It suits their policy 
now to take stand upon unrestrained Cantonal 
omnipotence; but when we put 1843 and 1847 


together, we may see plainly that this forms no 
fixed line of distinction between the two parties. 

That which runs through the Federal quarrels 
during the last seven or eight years is, not so 
much the disputed competence of Canton against 
Diet, as the struggle for ascendency between the 
Catholic church and the political power. The 
success of the Catholic priestly agitators in the 
revision of the Lucerne constitution in 1840 — 
their attempt, even by force, to accomplish a 
similar change in Soleure and Argau — the sub- 
sequent events connected with the Argovian con- 
vents, the Yalais, and the Jesuits — all these are 
under one form or another the continuation of 
the struggle above mentioned, brought into pro- 
minent relief by the action of Lucerne both as 
Canton and as Yorort. That Canton has put 
itself at the head of the Catholic Clerocracy (if 
we may venture to add one to this already 
numerous family of compound words) of Switzer- 
land, working through Democratical forms, and 
adopting the Jesuits as the most effective of all 
trainers for a political priesthood ; while on the 
other hand the party called Radical, including 


both Catholics and Protestants, throughout Swit- 
zerland, have been brought together by common 
antipathy to this movement — of which antipathy 
the great and perfectly natural manifestation has 
been, the protest against the introduction of 
Jesuits into Lucerne. We here discover the 
real pivot of Swiss Federal dissensions during 
the last few years ; dissensions which have divided 
the country into two hostile camps, and have 
given to the proceedings of the Diet a positive 
and central character foreign to its habitual 
negation and impotence. Of course each Canton 
has had its own local parties and grounds of 
dissension, and with these the Federal politics 
have blended, often in predominant proportion. 
In Zurich, in Yaud, and in Greneva, the then 
existing Conservative Governments were placed 
in a false position, — an ti -Jesuit in theory and 
pro- Jesuit in vote, — which distinctly caused the 
overthrow of the two former, and mainly aided 
in that of the latter. Allowing for such separate 
Cantonal individualities, it is not the less true 
that the general cast of Swiss parties is as follows. 
1. The Clerocracy of Lucerne, working for the 


promotion of Catholic priestly ascendency through- 
out Switzerland — ultra Democratical in constitu- 
tional forms, and leaning upon the veto or 
referendum as a means of nulHfying the lay 
representative council. 2. The Eadicals of both 
confessions — bound together chiefly, if not en- 
tirely, by a strong common antipathy to what 
may be termed the Lucerne policy. 3. The Con- 
servatives, principally Protestants, distinct from 
both — adverse to the Radicals (who form their 
own immediate opponents), and thrown by this 
circumstance into sympathy with Lucerne, which 
does not always proceed from coincidence of views 
— now generally in opposition, except in Neuf- 
chatel and partially in Bale-Yille, having been 
elsewhere elbowed out by the stronger contentions 
between the two other parties. The conduct of 
Lucerne has indeed been such as to do much 
unintentional service to the Radicals its oppo- 
nents, and much mischief to the Conservatives 
its supporters. 

Such is the manner in which the contending 
parties now stand opposed in Switzerland : the 
main antithesis is that between lay-power and 


priest-power, each working through Democratical 
forms — the same Hne of parties, substantially, 
as that which now divides Belgium; whilst the 
powerful organisation of the Catholic Church, 
pervading as it does so large a portion of the 
country, and applied as it has been systematically 
to convert political questions into religious, is 
in truth a much stronger restraint on Cantonal 
sovereignty than the feeble powers exercised by 
the Diet. The purely political question, between 
privilege on the one side and the sovereignty 
of the people on the other, is one of subordinate 
moment in Switzerland. The former creed is 
not found convenient to proclaim anywhere as 
a party formula, even by those who regret the 
times anterior to 1830 : either the Landsgemeinde, 
or universal suffrage with or without direct ex- 
pression of the popular voice in veto or referen- 
dum^ prevails everywhere ; and the competition 
lies between the priest and the magistrate, which 
of the two shall influence that voice, or in what 
proportions it shall be divided between them. 
Throughout the Cantons of the Sonderbund, 
and amidst much of the Catholic population in 


the other Cantons, the larger share of such in- 
fluence is in the hands of the priest : in the 
Protestant Cantons, the sphere of the latter is 
much more limited, in spite of a frequent dis- 
position to extend it by direct political preaching. 
The difference between popular government under 
Catholic priestly ascendency and under lay as- 
cendency, is strikingly manifested in the fact, 
that in the Cantons of the Sonderbund there is 
at this moment no free expression of opinion 
on the part of the minority : not only is the 
Cantonal press under restraint, but even Liberal 
newspapers, published in other Cantons, are sys- 
tematically refused admittance ; while in the 
Radical Cantons, the Opposition press is as out- 
spoken as in any part of Europe, and every one 
who chooses to denounce the Government or 
uphold the Sonderbund is at liberty to do so. 

The preceding observations on the general cast 
of Swiss parties are not calculated to lighten our 
conception of the political dilemma in which that 
country is now placed. On the contrary, they 
bring to view forcibly the points of repugnance 
between one part of the Confederation and an- 


other^ and the diffieultj of maintaining that degree 
of harmony which is absolutely essential to the 
idea of a common " Vaterland," recognised in 
words in the Federal Pact. The two hostile camps 
into which the country is now divided, and the 
tone of discussion hence arising, go to deprive 
this impressive German word not only of all hold 
upon the feelings but of all import and reality in 

If we assent to the claims and to the reasoning 
set up on behalf of the Sonderbund, we should be 
driven to pronounce the Pact entirely at an end — 
we should be driven to affirm that the majority of 
the Confederation have no right in any case what- 
ever to bind the minority. The right of the Diet 
to condemn that League cannot be denied, except 
upon arguments which go to deny it in all and 
every case. It would be clear, even upon general 
reasoning simply, that the most essential purposes 
of the Pact would be frustrated if armed leagues 
among the separate Cantons were allowed to sub- 
sist. But this is a matter not left to inference ; 
for the sixth Article of the Pact (already alluded 
to) expressly says — *' No alliance prejudicial either 


to the general Confederacy or to the rights of 
other Cantons shall be formed by separate Cantons 
among themselves." Commentators on the Pact, 
such as Professor Stettler of Berne (not a Radical 
writer), distinctly read this clause as constituting 
the Sonderbund Anti-Federal ; and it is hardly 
possible to construe it otherwise. The Sonderbund 
do indeed contend — " Our League is necessary for 
self-defence ; it is formed exclusively for purposes 
of defence, and is therefore not prejudicial either 
to the Confederacy or to any other Canton : of 
this we ourselves, as sovereign Cantons, are the 
only competent judges, and we deny the com- 
petence of the majority of the Diet to determine 
it for us." Here the point at issue is distinctly 
raised, " Have the majority of the Diet competence 
to determine whether a particular league formed 
comes under the general description of league 
forbidden by the Pact?" In other words, "Have 
they the right to apply the general provisions of 
the Pact to a particular case? Or has every 
separate Canton a right to determine this for 
itself?" To concede this latter point, would be to 
extinguish altogether the practical obligation of 


the Pact. Commentators upon the Pact always 
reason upon it as an instrument according to 
which each Canton has voluntarily renounced a 
certain definite portion of its independent sove- 
reignty, and in which the majority of the Diet 
have a right judicially to construe its provisions 
and apply them to particular cases, but no right 
to enlarge or modify them ; such judicial decision 
being binding on the minority. Unless we grant 
this, the whole business of voting at the Diet, and 
of distinguishing between Cantons of half vote and 
Cantons of whole vote, would be an absurdity : 
indeed, the Sonderbund themselves grant it, in 
cases where they are the parties complaining and 
not the parties to be bound. Not to mention the 
efibrts of Lucerne to procure a majority for the 
purpose of enforcing restitution of the Argovian 
convents— efforts which of course imply that the 
majority had a right to overrule the step taken by 
Argau, and to dictate an authoritative construc- 
tion of the Pact — during the past session of the 
Diet, and at the very time when the Sonderbund 
formally refused to obey its resolution, the Deputy 
of Friburg preferred complaints to it against the 


Government of Yaud, for having laid undue taxes 
upon the properties in that Canton belonging to 
the Abbey of St. Bernard. The case was one 
much less clear, in respect to contravention of the 
Pact, than the very existence of the Sonderbund 
itself: but whether clear or not, the Deputy of 
Yaud would have had a ready answer, if he in his 
turn had denied the competence of the majority to 
construe the Pact judicially, and had claimed for 
his Canton the right of separate and independent 

To deny the right of judicial construction in the 
majority when it goes against you, and to invoke 
it when it makes in your favour^ is an inconsistency 
not at all likely to be tolerated. And the more we 
look at the resistance of the Sonderbund to the 
Diet, combined with the arguments whereby it is 
defended, the more we shall be satisfied that it 
amounts to nothing less than a suspension of the 
Pact in practice as well as in theory. If a French 
or an Austrian army were at this moment to cross 
the frontier, it is certain that they would meet 
with no unanimous resistance, even if they were 
not hailed as positive allies, by the Cantons of the 


Sonderbund. The continuance of that separate 
armed League is plainly incompatible with the 
continuance of the Pact as something real, vital, 
and operative. Lucerne cannot be Vorort of the 
Confederation, and at the same time chief of a 
Catholic Sonderbund. 

How the majority of the Diet will deal with 
this grave and critical conjuncture — how they will 
construe their Federal rights, and what degree of 
firmness combined with moderation they will show 
in exercising them — we shall see when they re- 
assemble on the 18th of this month. If we were 
to judge by the recent manifestations on both 
sides, we should conclude that the melancholy con- 
tingency of a civil war was all but inevitable. 
Berne, Zurich, and Yaud, the three most populous 
Cantons in the Confederation, have placed them- 
selves in a complete state of military readiness ; 
while the Landsgemeinden in Schwytz, Uri, and 
Zug, have also passed the strongest resolution of 
resisting force by force ; and arms have been trans- 
mitted to the Sonderbund both by France and 
Austria. It will be seen after the 18th — first, 
whether all the Cantons of the majority concur in 

L 2 


sanctioning measures of forcible execution,* in case 
pacific tentatives fail ; next, whether the popula- 
tion of all or most of those Cantons heartily 
espouses the cause; thirdly, what species of com- 
promise they are disposed to offer or accept, as a 
means of avoiding war. On none of these points 
can we safely venture to indulge predictions at 
present. If the Cantons of the majority, with 
their population, are all unanimous, and most of 
them really earnest in the cause, there can be no 
reasonable doubt (looking at the question merely 
as one of military superiority) that they could take 
Lucerne and Friburg, in the latter of which there 
is already a discontented and compressed minority : 
the principal force and agency of the Sonderbund 
resides in these two Cantons. But this alone will 
be very far from- accomplishing what is really 
desired — the renovation of a Pact which has been 
practically set aside, and of an extinct confederate 
brotherhood. The population of the recusant 
Cantons^ instead of being conciliated, would pro- 
bably be still farther alienated : no man supposes 

* AH the Cantons have now concurred : the decision of St. Gallen 
having recently become known. (Oct. 24.) 


that they could be permanently constrained by 
force, or hindered from renouncing, the Confedera- 
tion, should such be their confirmed wish ; and in 
such case the separation would only become formal 
and avowed, without any maintenance of the Pact 
even in name. Mere superiority of force, assuming 
it to be ever so complete, lands us only in this 
untoward result. 

We may, however, spare ourselves the trouble 
of speculating at present on a subject so melan- 
choly as well as so perplexing; for a civil war 
would be sure to throw up contingencies such as 
no man can foresee — not to mention the chance 
of foreign intervention which opens the door to a 
host of new mischiefs. 

The present majority of the Cantons has on its 
hands a grave and responsible task. They are 
now in a state of positive and intimate co-operation 
altogether unusual in Switzerland, which it is 
deeply to be wished that they may have the 
wisdom to preserve, resisting that spirit of Can- 
tonal egoism which has hitherto constituted the 
chronic malady of the country. They possess by 
far the larger portion of the wealth, the intel- 


ligence, the industry, and the population, of 
Switzerland : all the progressive elements in the 
country, and all its means of future permanent 
union, reside with them. The Sonderbund may 
break up the Confederation, but cannot possibly 
guide or hold it together : all its tendencies are 
those of discord and disintegration — setting Can- 
tonal individuality against Confederate brother- 
hood, Protestant against Catholic, one half of the 
Catholic world against the other half, priest 
against layman, and the dictation of religious 
preaching against the liberty of political discus- 
sion. That M. G-uizot or Prince Metternich, who 
have every interest in the disunion of Switzerland, 
should patronize the Sonderbund, is extremely 
intelligible : that this sentiment should also be 
shared by those who desire to see Swiss nationah'ty 
maintained, at least at such a pitch of efficiency as 
will defend the integrity of the territory, is more 
extraordinary, and has its source probably in an 
un distinguishing aversion to Radicalism. Even if, 
by some fortunate compromise, the present quarrel 
were appeased, it would still be an indispensable 
condition of future unity that the Government of 


Lucerne should desist from its Ultramontane and 
aggressive policy, and from acting as the champion 
of the political aggrandizement of the Catholic 
Church throughout Switzerland : if such policy 
were renewed, the same antipathies and excite- 
ment would again be roused throughout the 

It deserves to be remarked, that the Diet at 
its last meeting passed a peremptory resolution 
against the Sonderbund, but only a modified re- 
solution against the Jesuits — inviting each Canton 
to dismiss them, but not putting forth the lan- 
guage of command. This, in point of fact, is no 
more than what has been expressed as a wish even 
by the Conservatives. We may perhaps infer 
from such difference of language that the majority 
of the Diet is not likely to be unanimous in insist- 
ing upon the worst part of its case — the expulsion 
of the Jesuits from Schwytz, Friburg, and Yalais. 
If this shall be publicly declared, it will be a 
material step towards narrowing the ground of 
contention, and depriving the Sonderbund of its 
common motive for resistance. And it seems not 
wholly impossible that the present excellent Pope 


might think the motive of restoring peace in 
Switzerland sufficient to warrant his interference, 
and might enjoin the Jesuits to withdraw from 
Lucerne. In the present excited state of the 
country, however, with the party manoeuvres of an 
active Opposition in each separate Canton, and 
with the taunts thrown out against the majority 
that they are afraid to execute their own resolu- 
tions — no man can reckon on the dispositions 
necessary to a moderate compromise on both sides : 
not to mention the chance of some accidental colli- 
sion on the borders of Friburg or Lucerne, which 
might produce a state of ungovernable exaspera- 
tion, and destroy all chance of adjustment. 

There is so much of all that constitutes both the 
good man and the good citizen distributed through- 
out Switzerland, that the present dissensions which 
agitate that country cannot but inspire a profound 
and anxious interest. Industry, forethought, self- 
supporting energy, and reciprocal dispositions to 
neighbourly help, pervade a larger portion of the 
population than perhaps in any other country of 
Europe. Of the spontaneous tendency to order 
which prevails there with the minimum of poHce 


agency, a striking proof is afforded by tlae fact 
that there were no food riots in any part of the 
country throughout the last winter and spring, 
though the distress was of the severest kind, the 
price of bread in some parts even higher than in 
London, and the necessity for extraordinary pri- 
vate aid unexampled. Of none of the neighbour- 
ing countries can the same thing be said : in 
France, Germany, Italy, even in England, such 
riots were but too notorious. Political revolutions 
have undoubtedly been frequent in Switzerland : 
but these revolutions have rarely been attended 
with any loss at all, either of life or property ; and 
never in any case, except Lucerne and the Valais, 
have they produced any harshness, or cruelty, or 
multiplied exiles. Proprietary rights have never 
been disturbed, and are especially protected by 
the fact that property in land is widely dissemin- 
ated among the people. In most of the Cantons, 
the Small or Executive Council addresses every 
year to the Great Council a report of its annual 
administration, and the series of these reports 
forms a record of the internal government of the 
Canton. If we follow that series for the larger 


Cantons, such as Berne, Zurich, St. Gallen, So- 
leure, &c., we trace proofs of an improving and 
corrective administration, and the greatest pains 
taken to turn limited powers to the best account. 
In particular we observe gradual and systematic 
amelioration in the management of the Communes, 
resulting from increased activity of Cantonal super- 
intendence : the Commune is the unit of Swiss 
social life, and its common funds as well as its 
common obligations are of the most essential im- 
portance to the comfort of the citizen ; both the 
one and the other have been subjected to good 
rules, and rescued from neglect and jobbing, with- 
out at all extinguishing the principle of distinct 
Communal management. The two grand items of 
expense which figure in the budget of a Swiss 
Canton, are the roads and public education : the 
sums which have been bestowed on both these 
purposes since the changes of 1831 have been 
immense, relatively to the total means of the 
Cantons. The habit of borrowing money on the 
security of Cantonal or Communal credit, has 
happily obtained little footing in Switzerland : far 
from being disposed to spare themselves by throw- 


ing burdens on successors, the Swiss think it 
necessary to get together and keep together a 
capital which shall produce interest — a school-fund 
or poor-fund — so that the weight of annual taxa- 
tion for the purpose may be lightened : the actual 
generation thus imposes burdens upon itself 
greater than those which will be borne by the 
succeeding. Elementary education is nearly uni- 
versal ; and in many Cantons, the public senti- 
ment, even among the poor population, sustains 
the principle of making it compulsory. The dark 
side of the picture presents itself in increasing 
pauperism^ as in so many other countries of 
Europe : the poor families multiply but too fast, 
and a proletary population appears to be augment- 
ing in the manufacturing Cantons; and this is 
unfortunately an evil which, when once estab- 
lished, contains in itself a principle of contagion 
spreading more and more. The indirect taxes, 
from which a large proportion of the Cantonal 
revenues are derived, have tended everywhere to 
become more and more productive ; but it seems 
that the difficulties by which Swiss manufactures 
are surrounded in respect of sale of their products, 


by the restrictive systems of other nations, are 
found almost insuperable even by present capital- 
ists, and are at least likely to check further in- 
crease. In many of the Cantons much has been 
done since 1830 to improve the security and 
facility of the relation of lender and borrower on 
landed security, by means of cheap and authentic 
registration of mortgages and sales, and in some 
cases even by formal cadastre of the territory. It 
is only since 1831 that any general habit of can- 
vassing public affairs has obtained among the 
people : before that period, neither the proceedings 
of the Great Council nor even the Cantonal budgets 
were in general published. This new activity 
of public life, and strong attachment to the theory 
as well as the practice of popular government, has 
produced its full crop of political dissension ; but 
it has at the same time awakened a zeal for turn- 
ing the powers of government to profitable public 
account, and a sensibility to the exposure of wrong 
or abuse, which have already manifested them- 
selves in a thousand beneficial ways, and which 
present every chance of improvement in the 
future. i 


The Cantons of the Sonderbund are in every 
respect the stationary and backward portions of 
the Confederacy. It would be unjust and un- 
reasonable to disturb their population in a state of 
things suitable to their feelings ; but there will be 
the deepest reason for regret, if the preservation 
of that which they cherish is found, through the 
intrigues of their partisan Vorort, to break up the 
union, arrest the progress, or endanger the inde- 
pendence, of the larger and more improving Can- 
tons. Whether such shall be the case or not, the 
intelligence of the next two or three months, so 
full of anxious anticipation, will reveal. 


Supplemental Letter. 


London, Dec. 21, 1847. 

I AM glad to hear, by your letter received a day 
or two ago, that you have at last been put in pos- 
session of the third and fourth volumes of my 
History of Greece. They ought to have been 
delivered to you much earlier ; my bookseller had 
orders to send them immediately on their being 
published, and the delay which occurred is to me 
surprising, as well as vexatious. 

I have desired a few copies of my letters on 
Switzerland to be sent over to Gralignani at Paris ; 
and orders will be given to Galignani to deliver 
your copy to you, if you will take the trouble of 
asking there for it. I shall be very glad if you 
will read them before your debates come on in the 
Chamber : whether you will agree in all points 
with the opinions which I give, I do not knpw ; 
but the value of my letters consists in the series of 


facts which they set forth, showing that the anti- 
Jesuit movement cannot be understood except in 
connection with the peculiar circumstances which 
preceded it. You will see that I sympathize with 
the Diet, or (as it is called by its opponents) the 
Radicals : which does not at all mean that I defend 
everything that they have done. 

The manner in which the war has terminated 
exceeds everything which my most sanguine hopes 
could have anticipated. I never ventured to ex- 
pect that 90,000 citizens would have turned out 
at the orders of the Diet, not only to brave all the 
perils and all the hardships of war, but also to 
execute with perfect order and system all the com- 
mands of an able general. I never ventured to 
expect that the Bonderbund would have displayed 
so little of that resolution, at the moment of trial, 
which was so much extolled before the moment 
arrived. Lastly, I never expected that M. Guizot 
and Prince Metternich, having so admirable a 
game to play, could have been guilty of such 
extravagant blunders. These three chances have 
all turned out so much better than any one could 
have reasonably predicted, that I am almost tempted 


to augur (my mind being now very full of Hero- 
dotus and his point of view in reference to human 
affairs) that there must be some countervailing 
misfortunes in reserve for the Diet. When I left 
Switzerland, I came away with very melancholy 
anticipations as to the prospects of the country. I 
fancied that the Sonderbund, aided by Gruizot and 
Metternich, would be quite strong enough to keep 
Switzerland disunited and helpless, if not to tear 
it entirely in pieces. The magnificent and unani- 
mous military demonstration which the people have 
just made has been the salvation of the country — 
not merely from the loss of its political existence 
and independent working, but also from the spread 
of that degrading fanaticism over the Catholics of 
Switzerland generally, which was the only engine 
for the Government of Lucerne to operate upon. 

You know that I am no great admirer generally 
of Lord Palmerston, and that especially, in regard 
to his proceedings in 1840, I strenuously and 
publicly condemned him. But his conduct during 
the present year, both in Italy and in Switzerland, 
appears to me to have been no less prudent than 
liberal ; while I quite agree with you in saying, 



that Guizot has committed, in regard to tlie latter, 
almost all the faults which a Government pos- 
sibly could commit. It will be a great misfortune, 
if, in consequence of the strong anti-English pre- 
possessions common to all the parties in France, 
he is enabled to throw the blame of his own 
blunders on the alleged hostility of Lord Palmer- 
ston. Gruizot and Metternich were in reality the 
accomplices and allies of the Sonderbund, in the 
most barefaced manner, for the purpose of treading 
down and humiliating " Radicalism " in Switzer- 
land : they constituted themselves parties in the 
case, and arrogated to themselves the right of 
interpreting and enforcing the Swiss Federal 
Pact : putting themselves out of condition to act 
as impartial mediators and arbitrators. So far 
from wishing to prevent war, it was they who got 
up the internal war, in order that they might have 
a pretext for interfering. What right can they 
have to complain of Palmerston because he would 
not sympathise in such a policy, or that he re- 
fused to concur in any intervention except one 
purely amicable, and confined to a case of pressing 
necessity ? It will really be a pity if a few adroit 


sentences about the '' Machiavelism'' of Palmer- 
ston and of England, should enable Guizot to 
escape from the censure which his conduct so 
justly deserves. He has made his own position 
completely for himself: he has endeavoured, by a 
furious and calumnious use of the press, and by 
the aid of the Conservative press in Switzerland, 
to persuade the French people that the Swiss 
majority had neither courage nor conduct, and 
were unfit to manage their own affairs: he has 
been accusing them of intentions which are not 
only untrue, but are the reverse of the truth, e.g., 
a disposition to put down cantonal sovereignty 
and establish an unitary government. The truth 
is, that his hatred of Radicalism is so intense as to 
blind him to all rational estimate of what is before 
him : he has been the dupe of the lies of his own 
partisans. And the result of his manoeuvres has 
been, that he has strengthened Switzerland at 
home, and the cause of Eadicalism generally in 
Europe, more than any Swiss patriot or Radical 
could at all have calculated on doing. 

You will perceive that my Swiss Letters do not 
go beyond the 18th or 19th of October, just the 

M 2 


time when the Diet resumed its sittings after 
adjournment. But the events which happened 
after that period, and before the actual commence- 
ment of war, are important to understand : if you 
will procure the files of the Constitutionnel, which 
has had a very good correspondent in Switzer- 
land, from the 18th of October to the 7th or 8th 
of November, you will follow the series of facts 
without much labour. In particular, I beg you to 
remark the conduct of the majority of the Diet, as 
well as that of the Sonderbund, in reference to 
compromise, immediately before the war. The 
Sonderbund made no offer to treat at all — no offer 
at all tending to procure peace — until after the 
25th October, the day on which the Austrian 
Ambassador wrote to the Diet to acquaint them 
" that he should withdraw in case war broke out, 
but that his Government would not interfere in the 
war for or against either party." The next day 
(or next but one), after this intimation of the 
Austrian, the Sonderbund communicated certain 
terms on which they would consent to dissolve 
their separate league. These terms were not a 
diminution, but an enlargement of their demands : 


for they required that not only the question of 
retaining or expelling the Jesuits, but also that of 
re-establishing the suppressed Argovian convents, 
should be submitted to the determination of the 
Pope. This reference to the Argovian convents 
was in reality the introduction of a new element 
of dispute, and of a demand more inadmissible 
,than anything concerning the Jesuits: for it re- 
opened a question which had been formally decided 
by the Diet in 1843, and which the Diet could not 
possibly consent to submit to arbitration anew, 
thereby reversing its own former determination. 
You see thus that the Sonderbund really made no 
offer of compromise at all — no offer to surrender 
a portion of the disputed ground in order to keep 
the rest. But the majority of the Diet, in the 
private conferences which took place immediately 
before the Sonderbund Deputies left the Diet, really 
did make a very genuine and serious offer of com- 
promise. They offered to leave the Jesuits undis- 
turbed in Friburg, Schwytz^, and Yalais, provided 
the Government of Lucerne would dismiss them 
from that Canton. This was peremptorily refused 
by the Sonderbund. You will see this stated in 

M 3 


the Proclamation of the Diet, issued 4th No- 
vember, immediately before going to war, which 
I beg of you to read : it is so good, that our 
newspaper the Times, in its fondness for the Son- 
derbund, suppressed the document. 

I felt particular satisfaction — sympathising as 
I do with the majority of the Diet — that they had 
offered this compromise in order to avoid the evils of 
war. At that time, it was the reasonable and fair 
compromise : for the admission of the Jesuits into 
one of the three presiding Cantons always appeared 
to me to be much more open to complaint from the 
other Cantons, than their admission (or rather 
their continuance) in Friburg, &c. Now that 
the evils and hazards of war have actually been 
incurred, I think the Diet are quite right to turn 
the Jesuits out of all Switzerland : but the case 
stood very differently before the war, when there 
were chances on both sides. 

To think of the blindness of Guizot and the 
Sonderbund, in refusing to compromise on such 
terms ! The dismissal of the Jesuits from Lucerne 
alone would really have been but little loss to the 
Sonderbund party and little gain to the other : 


the real Jesuit power was in Friburg and the 
Yalais, and their expulsion from those Cantons 
is a serious blow to their influence everywhere. 
If the Sonderbund had accepted the compromise 
then offered, and consented to dissolve themselves, 
they would have remained hardly less strong than 
before the dissolution. For while the same Go- 
vernments remained in the seven Cantons, the 
mere formal act of proclaiming that the league 
had ceased, would have been of very little prac- 
tical effect, and pretexts might easily have been 
found for renewing it afterwards. Moreover, the 
large majority in the Diet would still have re- 
mained, breaking up all harmony of political 
action, and the policy might still have been 
pursued, with hardly less chance of success, of 
trying to fanaticise the minds of the Catholics all 
over Switzerland. The acceptance of that com- 
promise would have been a partial defeat in name, 
for the Sonderbund, but a victory in substance 
and reality ; and it would, in all probability, have 
sown the seeds of disunion among their antago- 
nists, the majority — many of whom would have 
been much displeased at the offer. Fortunately 


for Switzerland, the Sonderbund refused the com- 
promise, and took the chances of war : it was 
absolutely necessary for G-uizot that a war should 
break out, in order that he might have a pretext 
for intervention. 

I think you will be inclined to consider the Son- 
derbund party (when you i:ead my Letters) as a 
knot of men trying to turn religion to political 
account, and to put the priest above the political 
leader; employing for that purpose all the artifices 
of an ultra democracy : unfortunately, the Con- 
servatives of Geneva, Neufchatel, and Basle, and 
elsewhere, have lent their support to this party, 
without any direct sympathy with its objects, but 
from ungovernable hatred of their political rivals, 
the Radicals — the same monomania which now 
besets Gruizot. There never was any mistake 
greater than that of supposing the Sonderbund to 
represent religious liberty : on the contrary, it 
represented an intensity of Church predominance 
and power, such as could not have existed any- 
where but in these Cantons, and such as has now 
ceased to exist even in them. Nothing, in my 
judgment, can be more important than the general 


principle of leaving every man to tliat form, of 
religious belief and practice which he approves : 
but when a band of men (like the Jesuits) con- 
federate for the express purpose of making re- 
ligion an instrument of political power, they become 
most proper subjects for interference, restraint, or 
expulsion (in case of need), on the part of the 
magistrate. I do not understand how Gruizot will 
prove that he has promoted the credit or the per- 
manent ascendency of France by identifying him- 
self with these " ligueurs " of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, and by employing these traitors (who are 
now proved to have been in correspondence with, 
and to have borrowed money from, Austria) as 
means for disuniting and dismembering Switzer- 
land. The principle which he laid down about 
that country appears to me to be most unjust and 
detestable, treating it as a country which was to 
be governed, not according to the choice of its own 
people, but according to the bon plaisir of the 
allied Powers. Believing, as I do, that his end was 
thoroughly mischievous, I will not quarrel with 
him for the egregious mistakes which he has 
made in the means. Intending the direct contrary, 


he has been really the great creator and sustainer 
of Swiss nationality — he has brought about the 
greatest and most important revolution which has 
happened in the country since 1798, and has im- 
parted to the people a sentiment of force as well 
as of union, which Eadicals might long have 
prayed for in vain. Yive Guizot ! You are 
almost the only Frenchman to whom I would 
venture to write so frankly and copiously about 
Guizot : for I know well that, generally speaking, 
condemnation of him from an Englishman is a 
sure way of procuring for him support, or at least 
of softening opposition against him, in your 
Chamber. For any one who, like me, wishes 
for the progressive advance of liberal ideas in 
Europe, and desires also to see Fiance in the van 
of that movement — it is melancholy to see that 
the foreign policy of France has receded to the 
same sympathy with Austria and Russia as it had 
before 1830, and that we might almost fancy 
ourselves in 1827, as far as the French Govern- 
ment is concerned, instead of in 1847. I trust 
the nation, at any rate, will not be found to have 
remained thus stationary. 


Adieu — my dear M. de Tocqueville — I am 
almost ashamed at the length of this letter. Give 
my very best compliments and regards to Madame 
de Tocqueville : I was very glad to hear from 
Milnes that she was well. I am pretty well, and 
am progressing with my Greek history. 

Yours most faithfully, 

G. G. 

to^JDOx: riu.NtKD by Avrti.tAM cr,o\vi;s aXd soxs, stamfokd street 




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