Francfort” (MS VIII)—The Ruskins arrived in Frankfurt am Main on Saturday, 1 June 1833, and departed Tuesday, 4 June. (The spelling is anglicized as Frankfort on the Main in Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 402; Ruskin likely took his spelling from Samuel Proutʼs Facsimiles of Sketches Made in Flanders and Germany, as in the plate, Sachsenhausen, Francfort).
Frankfurt was formerly a free city of the Holy Roman Empire, now modernized with its old fortifications replaced by public gardens. The city was important as a banking and mercantile center, with a large Jewish population including such prosperous families as the Rothschilds. Ministers from Great Britain and Europe were stationed here; accordingly, in his guidebook, Murray advises that “travellers going to Austria or Italy should not neglect . . . having their passport properly visé”, and Mary Richardson notes that the familyʼs passports were sent to the Austrian ambassador for signature. (See the poem, “The Descent” about descending from the Splügen Pass into Italy, where the Ruskinsʼ passports were again inspected by Austrian customs officials.) In Frankfurt, the family stayed in the Hotel de Russie, erected by a gentleman of property for his own use, according to Ruskinʼs cousin, Mary Richardson, and still recommended by Murray in 1836. On Sunday, all but Margaret attended Protestant services, and they were visited by a Mr. and Mrs. Koch (unidentified), who also received them in their home the next evening (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 28–30; Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 402–5).
On Monday, Mr. Koch drove the Ruskins to a cemetery, doubtless the New Cemetery (Neue Friedhof) beyond the city walls, which Murray recommended for its “charming view of Frankfort, and the Taunus [River]”. Opened in 1828 along with the adjacent Jewish cemetery, the New Cemetery presented an example of the public cemetery that was starting to replace church and churchyard burial, an antiquated custom according to John Claudius Loudon that “deserve[d] to be abolished” especially in “large and densely inhabited cities”. The most famous example of the new trend was the Cimetière du Père‐Lachaise in Paris, which the Ruskins visited toward the end of their tour (Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 405; Loudon, review of Der Neue Friedhof vom Frankfurt am Main).
Visiting the Frankfurt cemetery in about the same year as did the Ruskins, the English artist James Mathews Leigh (1808–60) noted, like Loudon, the neoclassicism of the architecture, while also enjoying propects influenced by the picturesque tradition. The structures were designed by the neoclassical architect, Friedrich Rumpf (1795–1867), and the grounds were laid out in English garden style by Sebastian Rinz (1782–1861). A Doric propylaeum formed the entrance, which doubled as apartments for burial preparations “undertaken by a Company at small cost”, indicating the new commercial cemetery operations that were displacing parish church control; and the burial plots were housed both in a necropolis‐style “simple colonnade . . . divided into fifty‐five compartments”, “each . . . devoted to a family vault”, and in grander, “handsome mausoleum[s]” that stood apart from the colonnade. Mary Richardson, with her usual British pride, considered the Frankfurt cemetery inferior to one in Liverpool, likely referring to St. Jamesʼs Cemetery, opened in 1829 as a pioneering British alternative to overcrowded urban churchyards. Designed by John Foster (1787–1846), this site likewise featured severe neoclassicism in the form of a Doric temple, the Oratory. Thus, contemporary cemetery architecture and sepulchral monuments presented Ruskin with one notable experience of modern neoclassicism; see also Neoclassical and Napoleonic‐Era Architecture in Milan; and see Early Victorian Cemetery Architecture (Leigh, Rhenish Album, 257; Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 28–30; “The Oratory and St. Jamesʼs Cemetery”).


Strasburg” (MS VIII)—For the Ruskinsʼ stay in Kehl and visit to Strasbourg, see “Oh the morn looked bright on hill and dale” [“The Black Forest”] and associated glosses. It is possible that Ruskin decided that the latter poem and its associated essay, “It was a wide and stretchy sweep of lovely blue champaign”, would become identical with the section Strasburg, since the section associated with those pieces, “The Swiss Cottages”, is omitted following Strasburg in Table 2 (Illustrations) of the List of Proposed Additional Contents for the “Account”; instead, the title “The Swiss Cottages” appears in Table 2 as an illustration.
In Strasbourg, the Ruskins visited the Gothic cathedral, climbing its tall spire “half way up” for the view—probably arresting their ascent at the platform where, according to Murray, fire watchmen were posted, who would accompany braver tourists past a locked grate into the higher, attenuated tracery, where “one might almost fancy oneself suspended in a cage over the city” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 34; Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 446).
The family also visited the Lutheran Church of St. Thomas, where they were impressed by the baroque mausoleum of the Maréshal de Saxe (1753–76) by Jean‐Baptiste Pigalle (1714–85). In her travel diary, Mary Richardson describes how the allegorical figure of France strains to hold the figure of Death at bay as the military hero descends toward the tomb (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 34). Since Maurice de Saxe remained a Lutheran throughout his life, the commission of his elaborate tomb by the French crown was regarded as a symbol of tolerance of Protestantism in the province of Alsace.
“In another part of town”, Mary writes, they viewed “a good deal of armour, some very old; some models of war engines, bridges, &c”. This site was probably the Arsenal and cannon foundry, “the largest depôt of artillery in France”, Murray explains, dating from the city's annexation by Louis XIV and defensive construction under Louis XV (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 34; Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 447).


Constance” (MS VIII)—Arriving on June 10, Mary Richardson laconically summed up the Ruskinsʼ opinion of Constance as an ugly town but with a fine view of the lake. J. G. Ebel in his guidebook to Switzerland advised tourists that, “when this town was free [as an imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire], it was in a flourishing state; but it is now very much decayed, notwithstanding the efforts which Buonaparte made to re-establish it. The town is badly built, the houses filthy, and many of them uninhabited”. As principal tourist sites, Ebel recommends places associated with the Council of Constance, highlighting the martyrdom of Protestant forerunners Jan Hus (1369–1415) and Jerome of Prague (1379–1416), burned as heretics, and the councilʼs anathematizing of the works of John Wyclif (d. 1384) and ordering the posthumous burning of his remains (Ebel, Travellerʼs Guide through Switzerland, 226).


Werdenberg” (MS VIII)—Mary Richardson mentions this village in passing on the route between Rorschach and Bad Pfäfers, spelling the name (or the transcriber of the diary interpreting her spelling as) “Wirtenberg”. J. G. Ebel, whose guidebook Mary had begun to rely on by this point in the journey, dismisses the place as a “mean little town”, so it is not obvious what Ruskin would have written about Werdenberg itself. As suggested by his proposed illustration for this section (Table 2), however, he surely planned to describe a storm along the way that Mary says caused the mountains to appear “very grand”. John Murray III was more generous to the place, briefly describing the castle that stood “in good preservation above the town” of Werdenberg; the building “was the seat of a noble family . . . who played an important part in early Swiss history” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 38; Ebel, Travellerʼs Guide through Switzerland, 504; Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 173).


“Pfaffers” (MS VIII)—Spelled Pfeffers in nineteenth-century English guidebooks, and today known by Pfäfers. Since the early Middle Ages Pfäfers was the site of a Benedictine abbey, but the place was best known for its mineral springs, which John Murray III declared “one of the most extraordinary spots in Switzerland” (Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 173). The physician and travel writer, William Beattie (1793–1875), described Bad Pfäfers (today called the Tamina Gorge) as a “golden fleece guarded by a frightful dragon”, approached through a “wild scene . . . without competitor among the many savage regions to which the human foot has found access”, yet affording in its waters medicinal virtues that “in numerous cases . . . , in pharmaceutic principles, [are] . . . impossible to explain” (Beattie, Switzerland Illustrated, 1:178, 179, 185). Mary Richardson begins her account with a sentence taken nearly verbatim from J. G. Ebel: “The waters have their source in an abyss from whence runs the Tamina, they are conducted to the bathing house by an aqueduct, raised about 200 feet above the river” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 39; see Ebel, Travellerʼs Guide through Switzerland, 233). She then describes their intrepid descent into the gorge, again borrowing on the following account in Ebel:
The most lively imagination could not describe the entrance of Tartarus, under so hideous a form as that which nature has displayed in framing the defile of the Tamina. You enter it over a bridge composed of planks that rest on wedges beat into the rocks. This bridge is 6 or 700 paces long, which requires above a quarter of an hour to get over, as you must proceed with great caution. It is suspended over the Tamina, which is heard to roll furiously beneath it thirty or forty feet deep. Near to the bridge the defile is thirty feet wide, but lower down it straitens as it descends along the torrent. The lateral walls, cleft and torn in divers ways, rise 200 feet high, bend towards each other in the shape of a dome, and are 290 feet in height at that part where they entirely join. The faint light which illumines the entrance of the defile disappears in proportion as you proceed; and the damp cold that prevails increases the horror of the place. Sometimes the rocks that overhang the bridge are so close, that they will not allow one to stand up; and at another time they are so distant from it, that they no longer serve as a support. The bridge is narrow, often very slippery, and it will sometimes occur that one single plank stands between the traveller and the dark abyss of the Tamina. . . . The best method of avoiding danger is to walk between two men, each of them holding the extremities of a pole on the side of the precipice, which will serve as a support and a railing to the tourist. The spring is situated beyond the bridge. . . . I shall invite all such people, who are unwilling to expose themselves to the danger of going as far as the spring, to advance at least fifty paces on the bridge, beyond the entrance of the defile, and to sit down there to view at leisure the terrific prospect of that dreadful passage.
The Ruskins took this advice, Mary commenting: “We did not go quite to the end for it was so frightful, the rocks rise high above the shelf, and are so close to each other as almost to exclude daylight” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 39).


“The corso of Milan” (MS VIII)—In 1847, the Hand‐book for Travellers in Northern Italy reported that, “[d]uring the summer, the fashionable evening drive is in the Corso di Porta Orientale; most particularly on Sundays and Thursdays” (Maule, Hand‐book for Travellers in Northern Italy, 142). Taking their drive on a Wednesday, June 19, Mary Richardson remarked that the Corso “was full of carriages like our Hyde Park, but not half so splendid”, contradicting an 1836 Italian guidebook written for British tourists that promised “English tourists, who join in a few of the usual drives from Porta Orientale to Porta Nuova, and back again, will for a moment forget their ‘Hyde‐Park’ and ‘Kensington Gardens’, and conceive an idea both of the wealth and good taste of the Milanese”. The Ruskins did, at least, enjoy an ice, in “Milanese fashion” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 50; Mazzoni, The Travellerʼs Guide of Milan, 62).
Nonplussed by these modern urban public spaces, Mary and John responded enthusiastically to the Gothic cathedral, a preference that led early in the development of the “Account” to Ruskinʼs only completed poem about Milan, “Milan Cathedral”. In that poem, Ruskin emphasizes the vertical thrust of the carthedral, comparing its spires to Monte Rosa rising on the cityʼs horizon, whereas he projected, but evidently failed to execute a poem or essay on the Corso, which presumably would have directed attention to the horizontal axes and breadth of the Enlightenment city. Nonetheless, the Ruskins did seek out monuments in Milan that attested to Napoleonʼs thwarted plans to impress the stamp of imperial government on the cityʼs architecture; see Neoclassical and Napoleonic‐Era Architecture in Milan.


“The certosa” (MS VIII)—The Certosa of Pavia, which the 1847 Hand‐book for Travellers in Northern Italy describes as “the most splendid monastery in the world”, founded by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the first duke of Milan, “built by him as an atonement for guilt, to relieve his conscience of the murder of his uncle and father‐in‐law, Barnabo Visconti, and his family. . . . The foundation was laid the 8th September, 1396. Twenty‐five Carthusian monks were appointed to take charge of this sanctuary, and executed, down to their expulsion in 1782 [by order of the Emperor Joseph II, to shut down the monasteries of the contemplative orders], the task imposed on them, of augmenting the glory of the Madonna, by adding to the beauty of the Certosa. . . . From 1782 to 1810, the Certosa was occupied by other orders, and in the latter year it was finally closed. . . . The monks were re‐established at Christmas, 1843, and the building is now well cared for” (Maule, Hand‐book for Travellers in Northern Italy, 203). In 1833, the Certosa being still closed to religious orders, Mary Richardson says that the family visited the cells of former monks and noted their wealth, the Certosa being the “heir . . . and son of a hundred fathers” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 52).


“The Appenines” (MS VIII)—As the family traveled south toward Genoa, Mary Richardson remarked: “The ascent over the Appenines is not difficult on the Novi side; at the top had our first view of Mediterranean which looked like glass, but wanted ships to give it life—the descent is more difficult” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 54). For Ruskinʼs remarks about this mountain crossing, see the closing lines of “Genoa”.


“The house of Byron” (MS VIII)—For the Ruskinsʼ visit to Byronʼs former residence in a suburb of Genoa on 24 June, see also the contextual notes for “Of various trees a vista green”. Mary Richardson considered the suburbs “very pretty” but “the house in which his lordship lived” to be “large but melancholy looking, and though highly situated” affording “very little view” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 57).
In October 1822, following the drowning of Percy Shelley in the Ligurean Sea off the coast of Leghorn in July of that year, Byron moved his household to Genoa, where Mary Shelley had already arrived. Joined by his lover, Teresa Guiccioli, and his companion, Edward John Trelawny, Byron leased Casa Saluzzo in the suburb, Albaro. A mile away, Mary Shelley occupied Casa Negroto along with Leigh Hunt and his family. Byron lived in Casa Saluzzo until he and Trelawny sailed for Greece in July 1823 (Hawkins, ed., “The Byron Chronology”, years 1822–23).
While the Ruskins were traveling the Continent, Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington (1789–1849), was continuing publication of her Journal of Conversations with Lord Byron (1832–33) as installments in the New Monthly Magazine. She based the Conversations on visits exchanged with Byron during her stay in Genoa, where she settled during travels with her husband and companions in April–June 1823. In the book, she describes Byronʼs residence thus: “Albaro, the village in which the Casa Saluzzo, where he lives, is situated, is about a mile and a half distant from Genoa; it is a fine old palazzo, commanding an extensive view, and with spacious apartments, the front looking into a court‐yard and the back into the garden” (Blessington, Conversations of Lord Byron with the Countess of Blessington, 4; and see Scheuerle, “Gardiner [née Power; other married name, Farmer], Marguerite [Margaret], countess of Blessington [1789–1849]”).
For treatments of Byronʼs residences in illustrated travel publications contemporary with the “Account”, see J. M. W. Turnerʼs frontispiece, Genoa, for volume 15 of the Works of Lord Byron ([1833], and see also Piggott, Turnerʼs Vignettes, 48); and Samuel Proutʼs plate, Mocenige Palace, Venice (1830), accompanying Thomas Roscoeʼs essay, Lord Byronʼs Palace, in Roscoe, The Tourist in Italy (Jenningsʼs Landscape Annual for 1830), 84 opp., 77–84. Mary Richardsonʼs remarks about Casa Saluzzo share some rhetorical features with Thomas Roscoeʼs account of Byronʼs residence in Palazzo Mocenigo.


“Marengo” (MS VIII)—The Ruskins rode by the site of the Battle of Marengo on 26 June 1833, on their way from Alexandria to Turin. Mary Richardson remarked on the “fine extensive plain, now highly cultivated with Indian wheat, barley, and other grains, mulberry trees and vines” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 58). See also Ruskinʼs image of “Marengos sea” overlooked from the “heaven girt boundary” of the Alps “unto the Appenine” (“Of various trees a vista green” and “Genoa”).


“Turin” (MS VIII)—The Ruskins arrived in Turin on 26 June 1833 and departed on 1 July. In the eighteenth century, Turin was the first major stop for British travelers on the Grand Tour, entering Italy via the Mont Cenis Pass. The cityʼs attractions included its elegant court (Black, Italy and the Grand Tour, 33–34). In 1833, the Savoyard royalty still held a fascination for the Ruskins. On Saturday, June 29, the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, they attended services in Turin Cathedral, where they had a good view of the King of Sardinia, Charles Albert (1798–1849), and the Queen, Maria Theresa (1801–55), who were seated in the circular, black‐marble chapel on the far side of the cathedral altar—that is, the Sindone Chapel, although Mary Richardson does not identify it as such, which was designed by Guarino Guarini (1624–83) to house the sacred relic of the shroud. They also attended the opera, hearing Gioachino Rossiniʼs (1792–1868) The Barber of Seville, a work they enjoyed more than once during the tour. (By comparison, in Genoa, they considered Gaetano Donizettiʼs [1797–1848] recently premiered Anna Bolena “fine but melancholy”, despite its English story, and left before the end.) Yet Mary Richardson was not impressed by the city, finding the cathedral and other churches “nothing particular”, and her diary gives no indication that they viewed the Royal Gallery of Pictures, which, less than one year earlier, had been established in the Palazzo Madama Reale, and which years later would prove important to Ruskin for its paintings by Paolo Veronese (1528–88) (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 59–60, 57).
The visit improved on their last day in Turin, when Mary, John James, and John ascended to the “Villa Regina” (i.e., the Vigna della Regina) for “a most splendid view, more Italian than anything we had yet seen”—a sight more likely than the urban experiences in Turin to have inspired Johnʼs projected poem. Mary describes the scene expansively:
The late rain had given a freshness to the country, the air was delightfully mild and balmy, the sky clear, the sun was behind the town, and threw the towers and steeples into deep shade, giving all the buildings a grand but solemn air, a few gold coloured bright clouds were near the sun and some of them cast a light shadow on the mountains near us, which were cultivated high up, while those in extreme distance to the left, were covered with snow. We returned to the hotel as it began to get dark, with a higher opinion of the sunny land of Italy.
The seventeenth‐century villa, the Vigna della Regina, is described in the 1847 Hand‐book for Travellers in Northern Italy as “overlook[ing] Turin” from “the side of the Collina, immediately above the Po”—that is, from the “beautiful range of hills” beyond the Po River “called the Collina . . . di Torino, rising to the height of about 1200 or 1500 feet . . . sparkling with villas; and, in their forms, possess[ing] alpine boldness without alpine severity”. The guidebook advises that the “views of the city from hence are very beautiful” (Maule, Hand‐book for Travellers in Northern Italy, 32, 14, 32). Twenty‐five years later, Ruskin returned to this view, characterizing it in strikingly similar terms to Maryʼs: “a view which, perhaps, of all those that can be obtained north of the Appenines, gives the most comprehensive idea of the nature of Italy, considered as one great country”. At this time, in 1858, Ruskin was studying Veronese in the Royal Gallery, and he incorporated that episode along with observations about the art patronage of the villaʼs first owner, the Cardinal Maurizio di Savola (Maurice of Savoy [1593–1657]) in the “Inaugural Address” delivered at the Cambridge School of Art (Ruskin, Works, 16:171–201, especially 193–97).


“Novara” (MS VIII)—The Ruskins stayed only the night of July 1 in Novara, and Mary Richardsonʼs diary records little observation of the town, except for John James and John “look[ing] into” Novara Cathedral before departure the next day and being “pleased with” it. The Romanesque structure that they witnessed, “an early and noble Lombard building” as described in the 1847 Hand‐book for Travellers in Northern Italy, differed considerably, however, from the neoclassical design with which large portions of the building were replaced starting in the 1850s. The main focus of Maryʼs diary is on the surrounding countryside: “every thing seems to flourish in this part of the country”, she comments, remarking on the numerous crops and busy gleaners. The guidebook agrees, noting that this part of Lombardy was “cultivated like a rich garden” and presented an advantageous viewpoint for Monte Rosa (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 61–62; Maule, Hand‐book for Travellers in Northern Italy, 38).
Before naming this proposed section after Novara, Ruskin initially entitled it after, not Monte Rosa, but Mont Cenis, which is farther southwest, rising above Turin. Throughout the eighteenth century, the Mont Cenis Pass was the preferred route for British travelers on the Grand Tour—preferred over not only other Alpine passes but also over the lengthy and dangerous routes by sea (Black, Italy and the Grand Tour, 27). The pass had been accessible since the seventeenth century by a carriage road, which was replaced by a new road undertaken by command of Napoleon in 1803 and completed in 1817. At the end of the 1820s, William Brockedon wrote appreciatively of the scenery accompanying the crossing, not only on the Italian side descending to Turin, but also on the French side ascending from Lyons—“some of the most beautiful scenery in France . . . the vast plains watered by the Rhone and the Ain . . . seen extending to the Jura, and to the snowy ranges of the Savoy mountatins; and, in clear weather, even beyond and above these, Mont Blanc can be seen, appearing to be rather an object of the sky than of the earth, hovering like a mighty spirit” (Illustrations of the Passes of the Alps, “The Pass of the Mont Cenis”, 3, 5, 1).


“The Madonna del monte” (MS VIII)—On 3 July, Mary Richardson recorded that the family, after visiting Arona on Lake Maggiore (see “It was an eve of summer mild” [“Lago Maggiore”]), crossed to Varese and ascended the Madonna del Monte—the Sacro Monte di Varese, one of the nine Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy. She mentions the chapels situated along the ascent, the Via Sacra. Each chapel (which she numbered incorrectly at twelve) exhibited “a passage in our Saviourʼs life”, depicted using life‐sized figures. At the top, she and John enjoyed the view from a steeple that they ascended accompanied by Salvador (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 63–64).
According to the 1847 guidebook edited by G. B. Maule, “The chief object of attraction at Varese is the celebrated Santuario of the Virgin, called La Madonna del Monte, which is situated on a lofty hill about five miles to the north‐west of the city [Varese]. It is said to have been founded in 397 by St. Ambrose, to commemorate a great victory,—not in argument, but in arms,—gained by him on this spot over the Arians. The slaughter is said to have been so great that the heterodox party were exterminated. It was dedicated to the Virgin, and her statue, which was consecrated by St. Ambrose, is still preserved. At the end of the 16th century Agaggiari [sic, G. Battista Aguggiari], a Capuchin monk, built, out of funds raised by his exertions, the fourteen chapels which stand by the side of the road which leads to the church on the summit. . . . The fourteen chapels represent the fourteen mysteries of the Rosary. . . . They contain coloured statues in stucco, . . . and frescoes . . . of the painters of the Milanese school of the 16th century. Over the fountain, near the last chapel, is a fine colossal statue of Moses, by Gaetano [Matteo] Monti [1776–1847]. . . . Connected with the chureh is a convent of Augustinian nuns. . . . Those who are not tempted by the religions objects may be perhaps induced to visit the Santuario by being told that the ascent affords the most magnificent views of the rich plain of Lombardy as far as the Apennines, of the higher and lower chains of the Alps, and the lakes of Varese, Comabbio, Biandrone, Monate, Maggiore, and Como” (Maule, Hand‐book for Travellers in Northern Italy, 201–2).


“Domo dʼOssola” (MS VIII)—From Varese, the Ruskins returned to Arona for the night, and then drove to Baveno, where they could take a boat to the Borromean Islands, the holdings of the Borromeo family in Lago Maggiore. The family devoted most of this tour to Isola Bella, featuring the palace and gardens. It is likely that an untitled drawing, Lakeside with Terraced Villa, included in the gallery of drawings inserted at the end of the MS IX fair copy of the “Account”, depicts these terraced gardens at Isola Bella, viewed from the side of the island opposite the palace. In the List of Proposed Additional Contents for the “Account”—Table 2 (Illustrations), Ruskin listed “Isola bella” as a planned illustration next to the entry for “Domo dʼOssola”.
The estate on Isola Bella was developed by members of the Borromeo family over several decades in the seventeenth century, and by the 1830s only this residence and the villas and gardens on the other islands were left to them, their formerly extensive holdings in northern Italy having been absorbed by the Cisalpine RepublicNapoleonʼs short‐lived political settlement, following his invasion of northern Italy in 1796, and reassserted with his second invasion over the Alps and the Battle of Marengo in 1800. Through the turmoil, the gardens on Isola Bella retained their appeal of improbable exoticism. As John Murray III marveled in the 1838 Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, the project on Isola Bella “converted this mass of bare and barren slate‐rock, which lifted itself a few feet above the surface of the lake, into a beautiful garden, teeming with the vegetation of the tropics . . . and this within a dayʼs journey of the Lapland climate of the Simplon, and within view of the Alpine snows” (p. 163). Mary Richardson remarked on the “great variety of plants, fine pines and cypresses, Egyptian willow, pomegranite, orange and lemon groves”, and, reportedly, “1200 different kinds of carnations”. The Ruskins examined a famous laurel tree, “said to be the largest in Europe”, on which Napoleon had carved “the word ‘Bataille’” (Murray says “battaglia”) shortly before engaging the Austrians at Marengo, Mary noting that “hardly any of the letters can now be traced”, while “the wood all round has been cut away in small bits by the visitors”. Below the terraces, the family enjoyed the cool grottoes, and they viewed some curiosities in the palace (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 66; Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 163–64).
Following these sights, and on the same day, the Ruskins set out for the Val dʼOssola on the road to the Simplon Pass, planning to spend the night at Domo dʼOssola—an explanation for why Ruskin planned his drawing of “Isola Bella for this uncompleted section of the “Account” entitled Domo dʼOssola. (He also planned to include a view of Domo dʼOssola itself, to be copied from Brockedon, Illustrations of the Passes of the Alps; see the List of Proposed Additional Contents for the “Account”—Illustrations [Table 2].) According to her diary, Mary Richardson considered the drive through the Val dʼOssola “equal to . . . foot of Splugen”; and in the morning, as they began the ascent to the Simplon, Mary looked back on the receding valley with admiration for its fertile cultivation and grandeur. She had nothing to say about the town itself, apart from comments on the hotel. John Murray III dismisses the town of Domo dʼOssola as “small and unimportant” and condescends to describe it as a picturesque Italian genre scene: “Houses with colonnades, streets with awnings, shops teeming with sausages, macaroni, and garlic, lazy‐looking lazzaroni, in red nightcaps, and bare mahogany‐coloured legs, intermixed with mules, burley priests, and females veiled with the mantilla, fill up the picture of an Italian town” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 67; Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 162).


“Farewell to Italy” (MS VIII)—Presumably, Ruskin would have modeled this poem on Samuel Rogersʼs “A Farewell”, the final poem in the 1830 version of Italy, which begins: “And now farewell to Italy—perhaps / For ever!”. Mary Richardson possibly quotes the poem in her diary, albeit without specifically mentioning Rogers, when departing from Baveno and Lago Maggiore and regretting “the scene which we were about to leave, perhaps for ever” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 66; Rogers, Italy [1830], 233).
In the List of Proposed Additional Contents for the “Account”—Illustrations (Table 2), Ruskin listed views of the terrifying Gondo Gorge, with its sublime features both natural (the narrow and steep defile, turbulent river, and waterfalls) and man‐made (the famous tunnel or “gallery” that carried the road through almost 600 feet of rock). Despite the enthusiasm for these features in the post‐Waterloo visual culture documenting the Simplon passage—James Pattison Cockburn devoted nine plates to Gondo, three of them to the gallery, in Cockburn, Views to Illustrate the Route of the Simplon; and William Brockedon chose the entrance to the Gondo gallery for his title‐page vignette in the Simplon chapter of Illustrations of the Passes of the AlpsMary Richardson seems nonplussed in her diary, merely noting that “there are 5 in all on the Simplon” road of these “galleries blown out of the rock”. She gives more space to the technology of the drag required for the carriage in the descent, and to the expansion of the Simplon hospice with acquisition of a barracks left unfinished by Napoleonʼs engineers.
Turnerʼs vignette for Rogersʼs “A Farewell”, entitled Lake of Como, could have appropriately served to illustrate Ruskinʼs farewell to Italy, which begins in Lago Maggiore. Rogersʼs “farewell”, however—according to a note appended to the poem—was written at Susa, indicating that the speaker departs from Italy via the Mont Cenis Pass. Thoughout the eighteenth century, prior to the French engineering of the carriage road over the Simplon, the Cenis had served as the most popular and accessible route both entering and departing Italy (Black, Italy and the Grand Tour, 27–30). Rogersʼs poem therefore looks backward to a more aristocratic period of the Grand Tour, as compared to the Ruskinsʼ post‐Waterloo travel. In truth, on his 1822–23 tour, Rogers entered Italy via the Simplon Pass, and he departed via the Brenner Pass into Austria; and although he placed the poem “Como” following the speakerʼs descent into Italy in the poem “The Alps”, Rogersʼs actual experience of the Italian lakes was confined to the shores of Lake Maggiore, from whence he traveled directly to Milan, and then went on to Verona, Padua, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Naples (Hale, ed., The Italian Journal of Samuel Rogers, 82–83, 161–63).


“The Glaciers” (MS VIII)—On July 5, Mary Richardson records that, on the road to the Simplon Pass, the Ruskins encountered their first glacier shortly after passing through the village of Simplon. Yet as they approached the pass, they were “astonished to see beautiful meadows rich with flowers, as well as grass, along the side of the road at highest part” of the crossing (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 67–68).
Ruskinʼs proposed illustrations for this section of the “Account” (Table 2) suggest that his title may refer both to glaciers near the Simplon Road and to the glaciers of the Bernese Alps as viewed from the summit of the pass. The road approached especially close to glaciers along the “Glacier Galleries” shortly beyond the summit on the Swiss side, which carried travelers safely across torrents issuing from the Kaltwasser Glacier on Monte Leone (the terminus and highest peak of the Leopontine Alps, which forms the east side of the pass). The galleries, “partly excavated, partly built of masonry strongly arched”, were constructed with “ingenious contrivance” to “serve in places as bridges and aqueducts at the same time, the torrents being conducted over and beneath them; and the traveller is surprised to find his carriage suddenly driven in perfect safety underneath a considerable waterfall”. Gazing ahead into the distance, meanwhile, “the travellerʼs attention” was “riveted by the glorious view” of the Aletsch Glacier between the peaks of the Bernese Alps, “which bound the Vallais and form the r[igh]t‐hand wall of the valley of the Rhone” (Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 159). That is, looking northwest from the summit, away from Monte Leone and the eastern flank of the Simplon, the traveler could view the peaks of the Bernese Alps, which rise from the east‐west valley of the Upper Rhône—the valley into which the traveler descends at the foot of the Simplon Road in Brig (Brieg).


“Brieg” (MS VIII)—Having departed from Domo dʼOssola early in the morning on July 5 to cross the Simplon, the Ruskins arrived in this corresponding village on the Swiss side at about 6:00 PM. Mary Richardson basked in the warm air and admired the cultivated Rhône valley surrounding the village, “yellow with rich corn” and busy with reapers and gleaners. Her description matches the emphasis in Ebelʼs guidebook on the wide, fertile river basin, which yielded surprising “productions of warm countries, such as fig‐trees and vines, grow[ing] at the foot of fir‐trees at some leagues from the ice”. Mary also appreciated the comfortable but “different style” of the inn, compared to Italian lodgings, but expressed distaste for the womenʼs bonnets—“stiff square . . . band‐boxes with a great quantity of ribbon” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 68–69; Ebel, Travellerʼs Guide through Switzerland, 350).


“Tourtman” (MS VIII)—The attraction of Turtmann (or Tourtemagne), which borders the Rhône midway between Brig and Sion, and which leads into the Turtmann Valley, is explained by John Murray III as holding “some repute among tourists” for its waterfall, which Ruskin indeed lists first among his proposed illustrations for the section (Table 2). According to Murray, a twenty‐minute walk behind the main inn brought the traveler to a cascade, of which the “volume of water is considerable”, though “on the whole inferior to the fall of the Sallenche near Martigny” (i.e., the Nant dʼArpenaz). Murray recommends “the scene . . . on account of its entire seclusion”, but warns against “marshes and stagnant pools”—hazards that Ruskinʼs cousin, Mary Richardson, notices near Sion as “not so pretty” (Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 173; Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 69).
Mary does not mention Turtmann in her travel diary, which skips from Brig to Sion in recording the familyʼs progress through the upper Rhône valley. The village is mentioned only cursorily in the guidebook by Ebel from which Mary commonly drew her information (Ebel, Travellerʼs Guide through Switzerland, 352). Even more curiously, Ruskin situates Turtmann where one would expect Sion in his List of Proposed Additional Contents for the “Account”. Sion was considered the principal town of canton Valais, and the Ruskins spent two nights and their entire Sunday (July 8) there.
Ruskin may have intended his section entitled Tourtman to incorporate Sion; however, nothing in his proposed illustrations suggests the city. Ruskinʼs apparent avoidance of mentioning the place may have resulted from the familyʼs perception of it as “dirty and desolate looking, and the people all miserable creatures, two out of three” suffering “very bad” from goiter, and “many of them . . . idiots” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 69). This brutal comment likely refers to the affliction of congenital hypothyroidism, which was called cretinism, and which was widespread among Alpine populations, as travelers frequently remarked; see Hypothyroidism in the Alps. The Ruskins spent their Sunday visiting a hermitage on the mountainside, which Ebel mentions as a curiosity to be found across the Rhône from Sion in Brämis. Led there by a local guide, Mary reports, the Ruskins found the few hermits “cheerful and happy, all about them . . . clean, and their little garden neat”. The hermits presented them with carnations, which the family endeavored to preserve (Ebel, Travellerʼs Guide through Switzerland, 358; Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 70–71; and for a story that may have schooled the Ruskinsʼ response to Valaisian hermits, see the tale of the skeptical young British traveler abashed by the sincerity of a hermit living in a mountain retreat above Sion, in Roscoe, The Tourist in Switzerland and Italy, 88–100).


Martigny” (MS VIII)—As John Murray III succinctly summarizes the crossroads location of Martigny, the village lay “on the high road of the Simplon [i.e., along the upper Rhône valley, which the Ruskins were traveling], at the termination of the char‐road from the St. Bernard [i.e., at the Swiss end of the Great St. Bernard Pass leading from the Val dʼAosta on the Italian side], and the mule‐path from Chamouni, render[ing] it the constant resort of travellers”. Here also the Dranse River joins the Rhône, which makes a right turn to flow north toward Lake Geneva (Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 155). When the Ruskins arrived on July 8, the day was wet and cold, so they stayed inside, venturing out only to view the nearby Pissevache waterfall (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 71).
Both Ebel and Murray caution about disease in Martigny. Ebel deplores the “loathsome objects”, the crètins, although claiming without explanation that, “since the year 1798”, their numbers had been “greatly diminished” by the war. Murray, too, warns that “the travellerʼs attention at every step” will be arrested by “decreptitude, deformity, and misery” owing to the inhabitantsʼ affliction with “goître, cretinism, and agues”. He attributes this “hot‐bed of disease” to a “flat swamp” surrounding the bend of the Rhône, “rendered desolate and unwholesome by the overflowings of the Rhine and its tributaries, which, not being carried off by a sufficient declivity in their beds, stagnate, and exhale a most injurious malaria under the rays of a burning sun” (Ebel, Travellerʼs Guide through Switzerland, 361; Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 156). Murrayʼs theory about the cause of hypothyroidism was incorrect but consistent with judgmental attitudes of the time: see Hypothyroidism in the Alps.


“The Ascent” (MS VIII)—The Ruskins did not cross the Great St. Bernard Pass in 1833, despite the misleading itinerary given in the Library Edition (Ruskin, Works, 2:340). Having crossed via the Simplon Pass, however, they did ascend the St. Bernard from the Swiss side, in order to visit the Hospice of St. Bernard. Like Samuel Rogers who himself crossed into Italy via the Simplon to take advantage of the modern carriage road built by Napoleonʼs engineers, yet who sent his speaker in Italy across the St. Bernard to draw on the romance of this legendary passage, the Ruskins desired to experience this mountain ascent to the famous hospice for its own sake. For William Brockedon, “no passage of the Alps . . . affords to the traveller greater pleasure, either in the enjoyment or the recollection of his journey to Italy, for besides the wildness of this Alpine pass, and the beauty of the valley of Aosta [where the passage concludes], . . . the kind reception which . . . [the traveler] experiences from the religious community at the hospice, is remembered as long as he can be grateful for the devotion . . . [of] these excellent men” (Illustrations of the Passes of the Alps, “The Great Saint Bernard”, 1; and see Rogers, The Italian Journal of Samuel Rogers, 82, 159–62). As Mary Richardson summarized their experience, “difficult and dangerous as the ascent is, I would go up again to see these benevolent fathers who encounter any dangers to aid their fellow creatures” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 75).
In departing from Martigny for the Great St. Bernard, the Ruskins would have been mindful—alerted by the guidebooks of the period—that they followed Napoleonʼs path in 1800, when he led his army through the treacherous pass in order to make a surprise attack on the Second Coalition and regain Italy for the French Republic. Mary Richardsonʼs account of the ascent agrees with particulars in the guidebooks, although Murrayʼs 1838 account reflects improvements in the road that may have postdated the Ruskinsʼ journey.
From Martigny, the family along with Salvador and Ann traveled in two char‐à‐bancs through scenery that the guidebooks dismiss as dull, but then, on entering the Val dʼEntremont, as Mary says, the scenery became “very fine, high rocks, with pine forests and cottages and cultivated ground almost to the top”. The valley is drained by the Dranse dʼEntremont, a tributary of the Dranse, which the Ruskins skirted on their four‐and‐a‐half‐hour ride from Martigny. They paused in the village of Liddes, where they found other tourists preparing to continue the ascent. While the Ruskins dined, their mules were unhitched from the vehicles and allowed a rest, before being saddled to carry them the remaining four‐hour trek up the mountain to the hospice.
The Ruskins started out from Liddes on foot, the muleteer and animals catching up with them at Bourg Saint Pierre, the last village in the valley before the final ascent to the pass. Beyond the village, the path rose high above the river, the incline becoming “more rapid and the road narrower and more stony”, and the pines and larches giving way to “bare rocks”. Even here, the Ruskins observed “cultivation” of land and “great quantities of the beautiful Alpine rose”. But now in view the highest peak, Mont Vélan, and its glaciers, the Ruskins had entered on the most rugged stage of the climb through the forest of Saint Pierre and, crossing the snow line, onto a bleak slope that writers called the Plain of Prou or Sommet de Prou. At this height, as Brockedon along with other guidebook writers remarks, “the brethren of the convent” had established both a refuge and a charnel house, since “many of the victims to the storms of these regions” were discovered by the monks and their dogs.
In 1800, Brockedon adds, this final segment of the climb presented Napoleonʼs army with “the chief obstacles to the conveyance of the mounted artillery”; and the general himself had a narrow escape, when falling from his mule, and had to be rescued by a peasant—an inglorious reality, compared to the impression of this expedition conveyed by the equestrian portrait, Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1803), by Jacques‐Louis David. The Ruskins experienced a similar hazard, Mary relates, when the lead mule carrying Margaret tumbled into the snow, though both animal and rider landed softly. Following this accident, and now enshrouded by fog, the family party decided to walk the rest of the way, coming suddenly on the obscured hospice at 7:15 in the evening—a total of ten hours following their departure from Martigny, which is exactly the time predicted for the ascent by Murrayʼs guidebook (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 71–73; Brockedon, Illustrations of the Passes of the Alps, “The Great Saint Bernard”, 3–5; Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 256–57; Ebel, Travellerʼs Guide through Switzerland, 362–64).


“The Grand st. Bernard” (MS VIII)—The


“St Maurice” (MS VIII)—After descending from the Great St. Bernard and returning to Martigny, the Ruskins resumed their journey on July 11 toward Lake Geneva. Following the Rhône, they came with sight of the lake at Bex, situated in Vaud past the narrow defile at Saint‐Maurice, which divides the canton from Valais.
In Italy, Samuel Rogers describes the pass in the poem, “St. Maurice”. The speaker is traveling in the opposite direction from the Ruskins, from Lake Geneva toward Italy:
ʼTwas dusk; and, journeying upward by the Rhone,
That there came down, a torrent from the Alps,
I entered where a key unlocks a kingdom;
The mountains closing, and the road, the river
Filling the narrow pass. . . .
In the 1830 illustrated Italy, Turnerʼs vignette for the poem features the well‐known bridge across the Rhône, along with attendant structures, a scene that was explained and updated by John Murray III in his 1836 guidebook. Quoting the lines above from Rogers, Murray explains: “Such is the scene presented to the traveller at the Bridge of St. Maurice, which spans the rapid river with one bold arch, 70 ft. wide, leaning for support (appuyé) on the rt. side upon the Dent de Morcles [i.e., the western end of the Bernese Alps] and on the l. upon the Dent de Midi [i.e., Dents du Midi], whose bases are pushed so far forward as barely to leave room for the river. The bridge, erroneously attributed to the Romans, is not older than the 15th century, but may possibly rest on Roman foundations. It unites the canton Vaud [to the west, above Lake Geneva] with the canton Vallais [to the east]; and a gate at one end, now removed, formerly served to close the passage up and down: a circumstance alluded to in the lines of Rogers. A small fort was erected by the Swiss in 1832, above the road, to defend the pass” (Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 152). Similar information by Thomas Roscoe accompanied an engraved view of the bridge drawn by Samuel Prout for the 1830 Jennings Landscape Annual (The Tourist in Switzerland and Italy, 52–55).
In Rogersʼs poem, the passage through Saint‐Maurice is attended by the promise of Italy, suggested by the speaker awakening to music—preparations for the nuptials of the innkeeperʼs daughter:
. . . there I slept,
And in my dreams wandered once more, well‐pleased.
But now a charm was on the rocks, and woods,
And waters; for, methought, I was with those
I had at morn and even wished for there.

(Rogers, Italy [1830], 10)
British travelers often applied a more invidious meaning to the passage at Saint‐Maurice, regarding it as the divide between the Catholic and Protestant Swiss cantons. Proceeding west toward Protestant Geneva, Murray lectures the traveler: “No one can cross the bridge at St. Maurice without being struck with the change in the condition of the inhabitants of the two cantons. The neatness and industry of the Vaudois are exchanged within the space of a few hundred yards for filth and beggary, equally apparent in the persons and habitations of the Vallaisans. Their physical condition is lamentable; no part of Switzerland is afflicted to a greater extent with the maladies of goître and cretinism . . . , and the victims of them shock the travellerʼs sight at every step” (Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 152; and for a similar viewpoint in a guidebook used by the Ruskins, see Ebel, Travellerʼs Guide through Switzerland, 491–92).
Mary Richardson dutifully noted the “entirely different” character of the two cantons, remarking how “pretty” the scenery became “especially after crossing a bridge just after leaving St. Maurice”: “Valais is a republic, and is not counted as one of the cantons of Switzerland; the people in it are unhealthy, dirty and poor looking in comparison with those of the Vaud, and the whole face of the country looks ragged and neglected compared with Vaud, which is beautifully cultivated and in fine order; its cottages neat and clean, and its inhabitants clean, healthy, intelligent‐looking people”. Unknown to Mary, the real defense against goiter and cretinism lay not in the Protestant confession, but in the salt mine the family visited while in Bex (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 76–77; and see Hypothyroidism in the Alps). Unknown Mary was wrong about the political status of Valais. Formerly ruled by the prince‐bishops of Sion, the republic of Valais was occupied by French Revolutionary forces in 1798 and declared part of Napoleonʼs Helvetic Republic, but Valais was accepted into the Swiss confederacy as a canton as part of the post‐war 1815 settlement, although tensions continued throughout the 1820s and 1830s between liberal cantons and conservative, Catholic cantons like Valais (Church and Head, Concise History of Switzerland, 145, 154).


“Aart” (MS VIII)—I.e., Arth.


Back to top