LYING as it does among the secluded valleys of the Alps, and so almost shut away from the great busy countries around it, Switzerland has not a very eventful history; and it is only in these later days that the country has come to be of much interest to the people of other nations. Now, however, scarcely any one thinks of visiting Europe without devoting a generous share of time to wandering over this romantic and picturesque region. 

Switzerland is a small country, its whole population being a little less than that of the city of London alone; and then about one fourth of it is useless to the inhabitants because of the cold and ice which continually reign on the' mountain heights. Nowhere do such extremes of climate meet as in Switzerland, where eternal Alpine snows are fringed with green pastures, and enormous icebergs rise above valleys blest with a delightful summer. Switzerland has some rich and prosperous cities, which are interesting, as all cities are; but we like the beauties of the wild country scenes better, so we will not stop in the busy towns. In the valleys and on the lower slopes of the mountains are many fine vineyards, planted on terraces rising one above another, sometimes to the number of thirty or forty. A pleasanter scene, or one more full of life, can hardly be imagined than the peasants in the vineyards, cheerily singing as they work. The grape harvest is the most exciting time of the season. 

The riches of the inhabitants are not wholly in their vineyards; for above them are the mountain pastures, where, in the summer season, great numbers of cows and goats are tended by their faithful shepherds. We often read of the Swiss chalets, but they are not usually such charming little dwellings as we may have imagined. The common ones are built of trunks of pines, notched at the ends so as to fit into each other at the angles where the logs cross; and then they are covered with low flat roofs of shingle, held down with stones to prevent their being carried away by heavy winds. 'These buildings are scattered over the mountains here and there; and in them the herdsmen stay, as they move with their flocks from the lower to the higher Alps and back again, as the season changes. These men have to work pretty hard; for they often have eighty or ninety cows to tend and milk, the cheese to make, and all the pails, pans, and other dishes to keep clean. 

Sometimes their families go with them up the mountains, which must make it very much pleasanter. But if these people have hardships, they have their simple pleasures as well; and doubtless the life is to them a happy one. Sound travels far in these solitudes; and as the twilight comes on, the women of neighboring chalets go out and call aloud to each other, "May God be with you!" or some such pious salutation; and their cries, mingling with the evening songs of the herdsmen on their homeward way, echo and reecho from peak to peak till the very mountains seem to have tongues. 

The houses of the Swiss people are mostly comfortable, hospitable-looking wooden dwellings, not particularly remarkable for anything except their many windows. They are coming to build more of brick, however, as the heavy forests of pine with which the Alps were once covered, have been largely cleared away. Here and there, on some eminence, 

may be seen an ancient castle, perhaps half in ruins, but ever a reminder of the "brave days of old." 

Switzerland has many beautiful lakes, — Geneva, the largest, and many others as beautiful though less renowned. Almost everywhere in the land there is the sound of water,—the beating of the waves on the lake shore, the onward flowing of the noble river, the rush of the mountain torrent, the splash of the waterfall, or the rippling and bubbling of some little rill. 

The native Switzer is a brave and truthful man, with a proud step and a bold, free look. His mountain home has ever been the refuge of the oppressed of all faiths and nations; and in these rocky fastnesses many a little company of believers have hidden from the wrath of their persecutors,— 

"And prayer, the full deep flow of prayer, 

Hallowed the pastoral sod; 

And souls grew strong for battle there, 

Nerved with the peace of God. 

"Before the Alps and stars they knelt,—

That calm, devoted band,— 

And rose, and made their spirits felt 

Through all the mountain land." 

A reverence for the Holy Scriptures has been a characteristic of the Swiss people since the time of the Reformation, which took strong root in Switzerland. Bibles have not been so easily procured there as in our own country, but for that very reason they have been more valued than they sometimes are among us, and copies are often handed down from one generation to another with great reverence. In some parts of the country the pastor will not unite a couple in marriage until they have shown their possession of a Bible. 

Switzerland has been the birthplace of some good men and earnest reformers, and perhaps at another time we may learn something of their life and work. 

E. B. G.