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Document number: 934
Date: 31 Jul 1821
Recipient: FEILDING Elisabeth Theresa, née Fox Strangways
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA21-27
Last updated: 30th June 2011

Letter 4th.

July 31st 1821

I came here yesterday from Italy, & have stayed all today, because the weather was so cloudy & cheerless that nothing could be seen. What a change from Como & Lugano! <1> This evening it is beginning to clear up, & if it does I shall start early tomorrow morning for Glarus. The post is so slow that I daresay I shall be with you as soon as my letter. The Devils Bridge <2> has disappointed me more than anything I have seen in Switzerland. There is certainly a fine waterfall, & a picturesque bridge, but there are many such waterfalls & many such bridges in the country. There is nothing terrible, nothing horrible. The gorge in which it is situated is however very fine, & extends for a great distance – The worst of it is, that things in themselves really beautiful, are so exaggerated that when they are seen they disappoint instead of pleasing – It is false that a violent wind rushes over the bridge excited by the falling water. It is equally false that you are wet through with showers of spray – What has led travellers to such inventions – I will give you a short sketch of my Tour.

18th July, Wednesday. Berne to Kandersteg.

19th Over the Gemmi to the baths of Louësche or Leukerbad. Magnificent weather. From the top of the mountain a splendid view of the Piedmontese Alps – The descent on the south side is very remarkable; but what the books say of its difficulty, is nonsense & absurd exaggeration – It would be disagreeable however on horseback. – The road is wide & good, but without the road I think not even a Chamois could cross this mountain for it is cut thus in the face of the perpendicular rock [illustration] I have drawn it in profile. So that the rock overhangs the road, which I suppose is the danger the books allude to: but the traveller may comfort himself with the reflection that the arch which has stood a hundred years, will probably last while he passes under it. In crossing the mountain we looked down into the valley of Gaster, from a great height. A pine forest in the valley had [illegible deletion] exactly the effect of a large crop of nettles. – I will mention a curious thing I saw in the morning before I went over the mountain. A cliff of immense height rises [above?]<3> Kandersteg, the top of it is fringed with pine trees, that appear from the distance like little nettles, as I have said before. I placed myself just within the shadow of this cliff, so that a part of its edge just hid the sun, and all the [illegible deletion] trees that grew near that point became like the finest gold lace, brightly illuminated – While I was looking at this, I saw something like a shower of gold dust above the trees, the particles of which [illegible deletion] were flying backwards & forwards in all directions – I stayed some time observing them, being one of the most curious things I ever saw – They were either little birds or butterflies, I have not a guess which – There was one brighter & more sparkling than the rest which appeared by fits & starts, I think it must have been a transparent butterfly. – Mont Blanc I did not see from the top, it being unluckily hid by part of the Gemmi. – Of those I saw, the Matterhorn or Mt Cervin appeared by far the highest; but I suppose this was owing to its being nearer, for the measures make Mt Rosa higher. It is a most elegant & lofty spire. Mt Rosa is a huge, lumpish cluster.

In the evening walked on to the village of Leuk – the road sometimes bordered with precipices, where, as the guide informed me, if a person fell down he would probably break his neck, which he expressed thus: “Si vous manquerez là de tomber, vous trouverez là son compte.” <4> The Guide pointed out to Pierre the road to Martigny, upon which P. told me, he understood we were near Martinique. Thus have I come to the end of the sheet

[address panel:]
À Miladi
Miladi Elisabeth Feilding

Poste Restante


1. See Doc. No: 00932.

2. Devils Bridge, Swiss Alps. [See Doc. No: 00932].

3. Text torn away under seal.

4. If you nearly fall there, you’ll meet one’s doom.