The journal of Amélina Petit de Billier

Translation of a page
1833 Drawing in Berne, Switzerland

Friday 12 [July] It was very fine this morning: we walked on the terrace in front of the cathedral. Mrs Talbot and I drew a view which included the bell tower of this church, rising from a group of houses, the mountains beyond. Mrs T. coloured hers. I am not too disappointed with mine, as the first one from nature. We are getting ready to leave tomorrow to Thoun and have each bought an overnight valise which comprises all our luggage. We are leaving everything else here. The new courier is called Jean Antonio Bebiti [?], he is from the area of des Grisons, in the Campo Dolcino: At first we intended to go to Lucerne, but the plan was changed at least twenty times during the day. It is pouring with rain this evening, which may even cause us to change it again tomorrow.

Clock tower in Berne

The “Zeitglockenturm” in Bern,
known for the sixteenth-century ornamental clockwork figures.

Saturday 13. We have packed and decided to leave for [?] after long discussion. I am very much afraid I shall never see Lucerne. We have left Mrs Jones (the Ladies' maid) at the Hotel de la Couronne in Berne: she is of such little use, so obstinate and so tiresome that she would only have been a burden to us. She was furious and said she had been badly used. It rained all last night but the sky having cleared for some short intervals we agreed not to allow ourselves to be frightened by the bad weather. We loaded our valise into a light calèche, which was going back to Thoun, and arrived there this evening in torrents of rain, which did not allow us to see anything. We are staying in the hotel Freyenhof, an ancient convent, with its walls bathed by the Aar, as it leaves the lake of Thoun.

We have a charming view from our windows as far as the rain allows us to judge, it is falling in torrents at this moment. We are managing very very well without a Lady's maid, Mrs T. and I: we have taken a room with two beds for lack of anything else, and we have divided it into two with a screen, which means that both of us are private. Mr T. has a room quite near. The salon is one floor above. This hotel is large, noisy, with the smells which one generally finds all over Switzerland, where, however, there is so much air to freshen it, and water to wash it! The rooms and the beds are very clean. The countryside from Berne to here is very well cultivated, divided by medium-sized valleys, covered in woods and densely inhabited. The houses there have an air of prosperity and happiness, which one rarely meets with. One asks oneself, where are the poor? Usually one has a superb view there of high mountains and glaciers, but today everything was in the clouds. The town of Thoun is not very extensive, it has arcades like Berne, but its streets are narrower and the houses smaller and less well built.