+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

And bring thy breeze, with soothing wing,
Around my heated brows to flutter,
And teach the waves more sad to sing,
More yearning mysteries to utter.

Come gliding softly from the east,
Come, breathing over distant cities,
And crown the hills with holy rest,
And fill the winds with plaintive ditties.


ON an August morning, as unlike as
possible to the rainy one on which, we
started by special train for Brixlegg a year
ago,* we found ourselves on the shores
of the beautiful lake of Lucerne, prepared
to assist at another and a very different
exhibition. It was a singular chance which
had brought all the members of our party
together as witnesses of a popular national
performance, precisely a twelvemonth after
the date of the Passion Play at Brixlegg,
to the day.
* See ALL THE YEAR ROUND, First Series, vol. xx.,
p. 397.

On our first arrival in Lucerne, we
observed that the town was gaily decorated
with streaming flags of many colours, and
with triumphal arches, and pillars twined
tastefully with evergreens, at the head of
every principal street.

In answer to our inquiries we learned
that on the following day (Sunday), there
was to be held a "Cantonal Singing Festival"
(Kantonal Sängerfest) in Lucerne:
the invited choirs were to be received with
all sorts of honours by the local authorities;
were to be marched in procession through
the streets; and, after the concert, were
to be entertained with meat and drink in
a spacious temporary dining-hall erected
for the occasion on the shore of the lake.

The picturesque town was alive and
bright with anticipation of, and preparations
for, the morrow's festival, as we
strolled about it on the Saturday afternoon.
Lucerne was full of foreign tourists;
chiefly British and Americans. The vast
hotels swarmed with guests; the steam-
boats on the lake were crowded; every
train brought fresh additions to the already
inconveniently large number of temporary
dwellers in the place. But these were not
the persons who were interested in the
forthcoming performance. Bond-street and
Broadway were both amply represented on
the Swiss lake shores, but they were
apparently far more interested in the
International Chignon-show, to be seen on the
fashionable promenade, than in what was
causing considerable excitement and pleased
anticipation amongst the native population.

From eighteen different towns and
villages, of which Zurich was incomparably
the most important, choirs were sent to
compete against each other. When to these
were added the Lucerne Cecilia Society,
and Liedertafel, their united numbers
became very considerable.

After having wandered through the
principal streets, and looked at all the arches
and garlands and inscriptions, we made
our way to the Fest-hütte. This was a
large building of pine-wood, little more
than a colossal shed, in truth, but very
prettily and tastefully decorated with
evergreens and banners.

In the Fest-hütte the dinner was to be
given to the united choirs after the
concert; and, notwithstanding the simplicity
of the materials, it would be difficult to
imagine a prettier dining-hall, or one more
thoroughly adapted to the special occasion
for which it was intended. The side of it
which faced the lake was not boarded in.
The wide intervals between the wooden
pillars supporting the roof were left open,
giving to view the delicious panorama of
the lake, with the opposite shore, and the
long, quaint, covered bridge running
obliquely from one side to the other. The two
ends of the Fest-hütte were also open; but
the one long wall that was entirely closed
in, was tapestried from roof to floor with
fragrant greenery. Pine-branches, ivy,
flag-grass, and fresh velvety moss, woven
together so as to present an unbroken
surface, made a very appropriate arras for this
rustic banquet-hall. Long narrow tables
and benches were ranged in order, along
the floor. At the head of each table was
hung a placard inscribed with the name of
one of the competing choirs, together with
the date of the year in which that choir
obtained the victory in the annual trial of
musical skill. Above, was a balcony
overhung with banners; and here the musicians
were to be stationed. Throughout the
dinner a local band was to perform at
intervals, and there was to be some part-
singing also.

The preparations were by no means
completed at a pretty late hour on Saturday
afternoon. Busy men and women thronged
in and out of the Fest-hütte, bearing green
branches and garlands, tables, benches,
plates and dishes, and whole armies of
bottles: which latter were disposed in long
array upon the ground. Lucerne (it must
be understood that we speak of the native
population) was busy up to an unusually