Hotel de Byron, June 12th. - Yesterday afternoon we left Geneva by a steamer, starting from the quay at only a short distance from our hotel. The forenoon had been showery; but the suit now came out very pleasantly, although there were still clouds and mist enough to give infinite variety to the mountain scenery. At the commencement of our voyage the scenery of the lake was not incomparably superior to that of other lakes on which I have sailed, as Lake Windermere, for instance, or Loch Lomond, or our own Lake Champlain. It certainly grew more grand and beautiful, however, till at length I felt that I had never seen anything worthy to be put beside it. The southern shore has the grandest scenery; the great hills on that side appearing close to the water's edge, and after descending, with headlong slope, directly from their rocky and snow-streaked summits down into the blue water. Our course lay nearer to the northern shore, and all our stopping-places were on that side. The first was Coppet, where Madame de Stael or her father, or both, were either born or resided or died, I know not which, and care very little. It is a picturesque village, with an old church, and old, high-roofed, red-tiled houses, the whole looking as if nothing in it had been changed for many, many years. All these villages, at several of which we stopped momentarily, look delightfully unmodified by recent fashions. There is the church, with its tower crowned by a pyramidal roof, like an extinguisher; then the chateau of the former lord, half castle and half dwelling-house, with a round tower at each corner, pyramid topped; then, perhaps, the ancient town-house or Hotel de Ville, in an open paved square; and perhaps the largest mansion in the whole village will have been turned into a modern inn, but retaining all its venerable characteristics of high, steep sloping roof, and antiquated windows. Scatter a delightful shade of trees among the houses, throw in a time-worn monument of one kind or another, swell out the delicious blue of the lake in front, and the delicious green of the sunny hillside sloping up and around this closely congregated neighborhood of old, comfortable houses, and I do not know what more I can add to this sketch. Often there was an insulated house or cottage, embowered in shade, and each seeming like the one only spot in the wide world where two people that had good consciences and loved each other could spend a happy life. Half-ruined towers, old historic castles, these, too, we saw. And all the while, on the other side of the lake, were the high hills, sometimes dim, sometimes black, sometimes green, with gray precipices of stone, and often snow-patches, right above the warm sunny lake whereon we were sailing.

We passed Lausanne, which stands upward, on the slope of the hill, the tower of its cathedral forming a conspicuous object. We mean to visit this to-morrow; so I may pretermit further mention of it here. We passed Vevay and Clarens, which, methought, was particularly picturesque; for now the hills had approached close to the water on the northern side also, and steep heights rose directly above the little gray church and village; and especially I remember a rocky cliff which ascends into a rounded pyramid, insulated from all other peaks and ridges. But if I could perform the absolute impossibility of getting one single outline of the scene into words, there would be all the color wanting, the light, the haze, which spiritualizes it, and moreover makes a thousand and a thousand scenes out of that single one. Clarens, however, has still another interest for me; for I found myself more affected by it, as the scene of the love of St. Preux and Julie, than I have often been by scenes of poetry and romance. I read Rousseau's romance with great sympathy, when I was hardly more than a boy; ten years ago, or thereabouts, I tried to read it again without success; but I think, from my feeling of yesterday, that it still retains its hold upon my imagination.

Farther onward, we saw a white, ancient-looking group of towers, beneath a mountain, which was so high, and rushed so precipitately down upon this pile of building as quite to dwarf it; besides which, its dingy whiteness had not a very picturesque effect. Nevertheless, this was the Castle of Chillon. It appears to sit right upon the water, and does not rise very loftily above it. I was disappointed in its aspect, having imagined this famous castle as situated upon a rock, a hundred, or, for aught I know, a thousand feet above the surface of the lake; but it is quite as impressive a fact - supposing it to be true - that the water is eight hundred feet deep at its base. By this time, the mountains had taken the beautiful lake into their deepest heart; they girdled it quite round with their grandeur and beauty, and, being able to do no more for it, they here withheld it from extending any farther; and here our voyage came to an end. I have never beheld any scene so exquisite; nor do I ask of heaven to show me any lovelier or nobler one, but only to give me such depth and breadth of sympathy with nature, that I may worthily enjoy this. It is beauty more than enough for poor, perishable mortals. If this be earth, what must heaven be!

It was nearly eight o'clock when we arrived; and then we had a walk of at least a mile to the Hotel Byron. . . . . I forgot to mention that in the latter part of our voyage there was a shower in some part of the sky, and though none of it fell upon us, we had the benefit of those gentle tears in a rainbow, which arched itself across the lake from mountain to mountain, so that our track lay directly under this triumphal arch. We took it as a good omen, nor were we discouraged, though, after the rainbow had vanished, a few sprinkles of the shower came down.

We found the Hotel Byron very grand indeed, and a good one too. There was a beautiful moonlight on the lake and hills, but we contented ourselves with looking out of our lofty window, whence, likewise, we had a sidelong glance at the white battlements of Chillon, not more than a mile off, on the water's edge. The castle is wofully in need of a pedestal. If its site were elevated to a height equal to its own, it would make a far better appearance. As it now is, it looks, to speak profanely of what poetry has consecrated, when seen from the water, or along the shore of the lake, very like an old whitewashed factory or mill.

This morning I walked to the Castle of Chillon with J - - -, who sketches everything he sees, from a wildflower or a carved chair to a castle or a range of mountains. The morning had sunshine thinly scattered through it; but, nevertheless, there was a continual sprinkle, sometimes scarcely perceptible, and then again amounting to a decided drizzle. The road, which is built along on a little elevation above the lake shore, led us past the Castle of Chillon; and we took a side-path, which passes still nearer the castle gate. The castle stands on an isthmus of gravel, permanently connecting it with the mainland. A wooden bridge, covered with a roof, passes from the shore to the arched entrance; and beneath this shelter, which has wooden walls as well as roof and floor, we saw a soldier or gendarme who seemed to act as warder. As it sprinkled rather more freely than at first, I thought of appealing to his hospitality for shelter from the rain, but concluded to pass on.

The castle makes a far better appearance on a nearer view, and from the land, than when seen at a distance, and from the water. It is built of stone, and seems to have been anciently covered with plaster, which imparts the whiteness to which Byron does much more than justice, when he speaks of "Chillon's snow-white battlements." There is a lofty external wall, with a cluster of round towers about it, each crowned with its pyramidal roof of tiles, and from the central portion of the castle rises a square tower, also crowned with its own pyramid to a considerably greater height than the circumjacent ones. The whole are in a close cluster, and make a fine picture of ancient strength when seen at a proper proximity; for I do not think that distance adds anything to the effect. There are hardly any windows, or few, and very small ones, except the loopholes for arrows and for the garrison of the castle to peep from on the sides towards the water; indeed, there are larger windows at least in the upper apartments; but in that direction, no doubt, the castle was considered impregnable. Trees here and there on the land side grow up against the castle wall, on one part of which, moreover, there was a green curtain of ivy spreading from base to battlement. The walls retain their machicolations, and I should judge that nothing had been [altered], nor any more work been done upon the old fortress than to keep it in singularly good repair. It was formerly a castle of the Duke of Savoy, and since his sway over the country ceased (three hundred years at least), it has been in the hands of the Swiss government, who still keep some arms and ammunition there.

We passed on, and found the view of it better, as we thought, from a farther point along the road. The raindrops began to spatter down faster, and we took shelter under an impending precipice, where the ledge of rock had been blasted and hewn away to form the road. Our refuge was not a very convenient and comfortable one, so we took advantage of the partial cessation of the shower to turn homeward, but had not gone far when we met mamma and all her train. As we were close by the castle entrance, we thought it advisable to seek admission, though rather doubtful whether the Swiss gendarme might not deem it a sin to let us into the castle on Sunday. But he very readily admitted us under his covered drawbridge, and called an old man from within the fortress to show us whatever was to be seen. This latter personage was a staid, rather grim, and Calvinistic-looking old worthy; but he received us without scruple, and forthwith proceeded to usher us into a range of most dismal dungeons, extending along the basement of the castle, on a level with the surface of the lake. First, if I remember aright, we came to what he said had been a chapel, and which, at all events, looked like an aisle of one, or rather such a crypt as I have seen beneath a cathedral, being a succession of massive pillars supporting groined arches, - a very admirable piece of gloomy Gothic architecture. Next, we came to a very dark compartment of the same dungeon range, where he pointed to a sort of bed, or what might serve for a bed, hewn in the solid rock, and this, our guide said, had been the last sleeping-place of condemned prisoners on the night before their execution. The next compartment was still duskier and dismaller than the last, and he bade us cast our eyes up into the obscurity and see a beam, where the condemned ones used to be hanged. I looked and looked, and closed my eyes so as to see the clearer in this horrible duskiness on opening them again. Finally, I thought I discerned the accursed beam, and the rest of the party were certain that they saw it. Next beyond this, I think, was a stone staircase, steep, rudely cut, and narrow, down which the condemned were brought to death; and beyond this, still on the same basement range of the castle, a low and narrow [corridor] through which we passed and saw a row of seven massive pillars, supporting two parallel series of groined arches, like those in the chapel which we first entered. This was Bonnivard's prison, and the scene of Byron's poem.

The arches are dimly lighted by narrow loopholes, pierced through the immensely thick wall, but at such a height above the floor that we could catch no glimpse of land or water, or scarcely of the sky. The prisoner of Chillon could not possibly have seen the island to which Byron alludes, and which is a little way from the shore, exactly opposite the town of Villeneuve. There was light enough in this long, gray, vaulted room, to show us that all the pillars were inscribed with the names of visitors, among which I saw no interesting one, except that of Byron himself, which is cut, in letters an inch long or more, into one of the pillars next to that to which Bonnivard was chained. The letters are deep enough to remain in the pillar as long as the castle stands. Byron seems to have had a fancy for recording his name in this and similar ways; as witness the record which I saw on a tree of Newstead Abbey. In Bonnivard's pillar there still remains an iron ring, at the height of perhaps three feet from the ground. His chain was fastened to this ring, and his only freedom was to walk round this pillar, about which he is said to have worn a path in the stone pavement of the dungeon; but as the floor is now covered with earth or gravel, I could not satisfy myself whether this be true. Certainly six years, with nothing else to do in them save to walk round the pillar, might well suffice to wear away the rock, even with naked feet. This column, and all the columns, were cut and hewn in a good style of architecture, and the dungeon arches are not without a certain gloomy beauty. On Bonnivard's pillar, as well as on all the rest, were many names inscribed; but I thought better of Byron's delicacy and sensitiveness for not cutting his name into that very pillar. Perhaps, knowing nothing of Bonnivard's story, he did not know to which column he was chained.

Emerging from the dungeon-vaults, our guide led us through other parts of the castle, showing us the Duke of Savoy's kitchen, with a fireplace at least twelve feet long; also the judgment-hall, or some such place, hung round with the coats of arms of some officers or other, and having at one end a wooden post, reaching from floor to ceiling, and having upon it the marks of fire. By means of this post, contumacious prisoners were put to a dreadful torture, being drawn up by cords and pulleys, while their limbs were scorched by a fire underneath. We also saw a chapel or two, one of which is still in good and sanctified condition, and was to be used this very day, our guide told us, for religious purposes. We saw, moreover, the Duke's private chamber, with a part of the bedstead on which he used to sleep, and be haunted with horrible dreams, no doubt, and the ghosts of wretches whom he had tortured and hanged; likewise the bedchamber of his duchess, that had in its window two stone seats, where, directly over the head of Bonnivard, the ducal pair might look out on the beautiful scene of lake and mountains, and feel the warmth of the blessed sun. Under this window, the guide said, the water of the lake is eight hundred feet in depth; an immense profundity, indeed, for an inland lake, but it is not very difficult to believe that the mountain at the foot of which Chillon stands may descend so far beneath the water. In other parts of the lake and not distant, more than nine hundred feet have been sounded. I looked out of the duchess's window, and could certainly see no appearance of a bottom in the light blue water.

The last thing that the guide showed us was a trapdoor, or opening, beneath a crazy old floor. Looking down into this aperture we saw three stone steps, which we should have taken to be the beginning of a flight of stairs that descended into a dungeon, or series of dungeons, such as we had already seen. But inspecting them more closely, we saw that the third step terminated the flight, and beyond was a dark vacancy. Three steps a person would grope down, planting his uncertain foot on a dimly seen stone; the fourth step would be in the empty air. The guide told us that it used to be the practice to bring prisoners hither, under pretence of committing them to a dungeon, and make them go down the three steps and that fourth fatal one, and they would never more be heard of; but at the bottom of the pit there would be a dead body, and in due time a mouldy skeleton, which would rattle beneath the body of the next prisoner that fell. I do not believe that it was anything more than a secret dungeon for state prisoners whom it was out of the question either to set at liberty or bring to public trial. The depth of the pit was about forty-five feet. Gazing intently down, I saw a faint gleam of light at the bottom, apparently coming from some other aperture than the trap-door over which we were bending, so that it must have been contemplated to supply it with light and air in such degree as to support human life. U - - declared she saw a skeleton at the bottom; Miss S - - - thought she saw a hand, but I saw only the dim gleam of light.

There are two or three courts in the castle, but of no great size. We were now led across one of them, and dismissed out of the arched entrance by which we had come in. We found the gendarme still keeping watch on his roofed drawbridge, and as there was the same gentle shower that had been effusing itself all the morning, we availed ourselves of the shelter, more especially as there were some curiosities to examine. These consisted chiefly of wood-carvings, - such as little figures in the national costume, boxes with wreaths of foliage upon them, paper knives, the chamois goat, admirably well represented. We at first hesitated to make any advances towards trade with the gendarme because it was Sunday, and we fancied there might be a Calvinistic scruple on his part about turning a penny on the Sabbath; but from the little I know of the Swiss character, I suppose they would be as ready as any other men to sell, not only such matters, but even their own souls, or any smaller - or shall we say greater - thing on Sunday or at any other time. So we began to ask the prices of the articles, and met with no difficulty in purchasing a salad spoon and fork, with pretty bas-reliefs carved on the handles, and a napkin-ring. For Rosebud's and our amusement, the gendarme now set a musical-box a-going; and as it played a pasteboard figure of a dentist began to pull the tooth of a pasteboard patient, lifting the wretched simulacrum entirely from the ground, and keeping him in this horrible torture for half an hour. Meanwhile, mamma, Miss Shepard, U - - , and J - - -sat down all in a row on a bench and sketched the mountains; and as the shower did not cease, though the sun most of the time shone brightly, they were kept actual prisoners of Chillon much longer than we wished to stay.

We took advantage of the first cessation, - though still the drops came dimpling into the water that rippled against the pebbles beneath the bridge, - of the first partial cessation of the shower, to escape, and returned towards the hotel, with this kindliest of summer rains falling upon us most of the way In the afternoon the rain entirely ceased, and the weather grew delightfully radiant, and warmer than could well be borne in the sunshine. U - - and I walked to the village of Villeneuve, - a mile from the hotel, - and found a very commonplace little old town of one or two streets, standing on a level, and as uninteresting as if there were not a hill within a hundred miles. It is strange what prosaic lines men thrust in amid the poetry of nature. . . . .

Hotel de l'Angleterre, Geneva, June 14th. - Yesterday morning was very fine, and we had a pretty early breakfast at Hotel Byron, preparatory to leaving it. This hotel is on a magnificent scale of height and breadth, its staircases and corridors being the most spacious I have seen; but there is a kind of meagreness in the life there, and a certain lack of heartiness, that prevented us from feeling at home. We were glad to get away, and took the steamer on our return voyage, in excellent spirits. Apparently it had been a cold night in the upper regions, for a great deal more snow was visible on some of the mountains than we had before observed; especially a mountain called "Diableries" presented a silver summit, and broad sheets and fields of snow. Nothing ever can have been more beautiful than those groups of mighty hills as we saw them then, with the gray rocks, the green slopes, the white snow-patches and crests, all to be seen at one glance, and the mists and fleecy clouds tumbling, rolling, hovering about their summits, filling their lofty valleys, and coming down far towards the lower world, making the skyey aspects so intimate with the earthly ones, that we hardly knew whether we were sojourning in the material or spiritual world. It was like sailing through the sky, moreover, to be borne along on such water as that of Lake Leman, - the bluest, brightest, and profoundest element, the most radiant eye that the dull earth ever opened to see heaven withal. I am writing nonsense, but it is because no sense within my mind will answer the purpose.

Some of these mountains, that looked at no such mighty distance, were at least forty or fifty miles off, and appeared as if they were near neighbors and friends of other mountains, from which they were really still farther removed. The relations into which distant points are brought, in a view of mountain scenery, symbolize the truth which we can never judge within our partial scope of vision, of the relations which we bear to our fellow-creatures and human circumstances. These mighty mountains think that they have nothing to do with one another, each seems itself its own centre, and existing for itself alone; and yet to an eye that can take them all in, they are evidently portions of one grand and beautiful idea, which could not be consummated without the lowest and the loftiest of them. I do not express this satisfactorily, but have a genuine meaning in it nevertheless.

We passed again by Chillon, and gazed at it as long as it was distinctly visible, though the water view does no justice to its real picturesqueness, there being no towers nor projections on the side towards the lake, nothing but a wall of dingy white, with an indentation that looks something like a gateway. About an hour and a half brought us to Ouchy, the point where passengers land to take the omnibus to Lausanne. The ascent from Ouchy to Lausanne is a mile and a half, which it took the omnibus nearly half an hour to accomplish. We left our shawls and carpet-bags in the salle a manger of the Hotel Faucon, and set forth to find the cathedral, the pinnacled tower of which is visible for a long distance up and down the lake. Prominent as it is, however, it is by no means very easy to find it while rambling through the intricate streets and declivities of the town itself, for Lausanne is the town, I should fancy, in all the world the most difficult to go directly from one point to another. It is built on the declivity of a hill, adown which run several valleys or ravines, and over these the contiguity of houses extends, so that the communication is kept up by means of steep streets and sometimes long weary stairs, which must be surmounted and descended again in accomplishing a very moderate distance. In some inscrutable way we at last arrived at the cathedral, which stands on a higher site than any other in Lausanne. It has a very venerable exterior, with all the Gothic grandeur which arched mullioned windows, deep portals, buttresses, towers, and pinnacles, gray with a thousand years, can give to architecture. After waiting awhile we obtained entrance by means of an old woman, who acted the part of sacristan, and was then showing the church to some other visitors.

The interior disappointed us; not but what it was very beautiful, but I think the excellent repair that it was in, and the Puritanic neatness with which it is kept, does much towards effacing the majesty and mystery that belong to an old church. Every inch of every wall and column, and all the mouldings and tracery, and every scrap of grotesque carving, had been washed with a drab mixture. There were likewise seats all up and down the nave, made of pine wood, and looking very new and neat, just such seats as I shall see in a hundred meeting-houses (if ever I go into so many) in America. Whatever might be the reason, the stately nave, with its high-groined roof, the clustered columns and lofty pillars, the intersecting arches of the side-aisles, the choir, the armorial and knightly tombs that surround what was once the high altar, all produced far less effect than I could have thought beforehand.

As it happened, we had more ample time and freedom to inspect this cathedral than any other that we have visited, for the old woman consented to go away and leave us there, locking the door behind her. The others, except Rosebud, sat down to sketch such portions as struck their fancy; and for myself, I looked at the monuments, of which some, being those of old knights, ladies, bishops, and a king, were curious from their antiquity; and others are interesting as bearing memorials of English people, who have died at Lausanne in comparatively recent years. Then I went up into the pulpit, and tried, without success, to get into the stone gallery that runs all round the nave; and I explored my way into various side apartments of the cathedral, which I found fitted up with seats for Sabbath schools, perhaps, or possibly for meetings of elders of the Church. I opened the great Bible of the church, and found it to be a French version, printed at Lille some fifty years ago. There was also a liturgy, adapted, probably, to the Lutheran form of worship. In one of the side apartments I found a strong box, heavily clamped with iron, and having a contrivance, like the hopper of a mill, by which money could be turned into the top, while a double lock prevented its being abstracted again. This was to receive the avails of contributions made in the church; and there were likewise boxes, stuck on the ends of long poles, wherewith the deacons could go round among the worshippers, conveniently extending the begging-box to the remotest curmudgeon among them all. From the arrangement of the seats in the nave, and the labels pasted or painted on them, I judged that the women sat on one side and the men on the other, and the seats for various orders of magistrates, and for ecclesiastical and collegiate people, were likewise marked out.

I soon grew weary of these investigations, and so did Rosebud and J - - -, who essayed to amuse themselves with running races together over the horizontal tombstones in the pavement of the choir, treading remorselessly over the noseless effigies of old dignitaries, who never expected to be so irreverently treated. I put a stop to their sport, and banished them to different parts of the cathedral; and by and by, the old woman appeared again, and released us from durance. . . . .

While waiting for our dejeuner, we saw the people dining at the regular table d'hote of the hotel, and the idea was strongly borne in upon me, that the professional mystery of a male waiter is a very unmanly one. It is so absurd to see the solemn attentiveness with which they stand behind the chairs, the earnestness of their watch for any crisis that may demand their interposition, the gravity of their manner in performing some little office that the guest might better do for himself, their decorous and soft steps; in short, as I sat and gazed at them, they seemed to me not real men, but creatures with a clerical aspect, engendered out of a very artificial state of society. When they are waiting on myself, they do not appear so absurd; it is necessary to stand apart in order to see them properly.

We left Lausanne - which was to us a tedious and weary place - before four o'clock. I should have liked well enough to see the house of Gibbon, and the garden in which he walked, after finishing "The Decline and Fall"; but it could not be done without some trouble and inquiry, and as the house did not come to see me, I determined not to go and see the house. There was, indeed, a mansion of somewhat antique respectability, near our hotel, having a garden and a shaded terrace behind it, which would have answered accurately enough to the idea of Gibbon's residence. Perhaps it was so; far more probably not.

Our former voyages had been taken in the Hirondelle; we now, after broiling for some time in the sunshine by the lakeside, got on board of the Aigle, No. 2. There were a good many passengers, the larger proportion of whom seemed to be English and American, and among the latter a large party of talkative ladies, old and young. The voyage was pleasant while we were protected from the sun by the awning overhead, but became scarcely agreeable when the sun had descended so low as to shine in our faces or on our backs. We looked earnestly for Mont Blanc, which ought to have been visible during a large part of our course; but the clouds gathered themselves hopelessly over the portion of the sky where the great mountain lifted his white peak; and we did not see it, and probably never shall. As to the meaner mountains, there were enough of them, and beautiful enough; but we were a little weary, and feverish with the heat. . . . . I think I had a head-ache, though it is so unusual a complaint with me, that I hardly know it when it comes. We were none of us sorry, therefore, when the Eagle brought us to the quay of Geneva, only a short distance from our hotel. . . . .

To-day I wrote to Mr. Wilding, requesting him to secure passages for us from Liverpool on the 15th of next month, or 1st of August. It makes my heart thrill, half pleasantly, half otherwise; so much nearer does this step seem to bring that home whence I have now been absent six years, and which, when I see it again, may turn out to be not my home any longer. I likewise wrote to Bennoch, though I know not his present address; but I should deeply grieve to leave England without seeing him. He and Henry Bright are the only two men in England to whom I shall be much grieved to bid farewell; but to the island itself I cannot bear to say that word as a finality. I shall dreamily hope to come back again at some indefinite time; rather foolishly perhaps, for it will tend to take the substance out of my life in my own land. But this, I suspect, is apt to be the penalty of those who stay abroad and stay too long.