“It was a wide stretchy sweep of lovely blue champaign, . . . toward the south” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—See the closing lines of “Oh the morn looked bright on hill and dale” [“The Black Forest”], which immediately precede this prose passage in MS VIII: “Emerged we on a lofty moor, / Open, and shelterless, and bare, / And gently undulating far / With here and there a patch of pine / Breaking the smoothness of its line, / Toward the south horizon!” This moor is probably the same landscape described here in prose as a “wide stretchy sweep” of “champaign” opening to the south and bounded by mountains. As the contextual notes to the poem explain, this landscape likely refers to the eastern side of the Black Forest, on the road to Schaffhausen, passing through Villingen and Donaueschingen, where Ruskinʼs cousin, Mary Richardson wrote that they crossed the Danube—that is, its headwaters.


“I had read, that the snowy summit of the Mont Titlis, was visible from Strasburg, the consequence of which marvellous information was, that . . . strained my eyes with looking for that which was out of sight” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—Mont Titlus is a peak in the Uri Alps, far south of Strasbourg and Schaffhausen. Ruskinʼs source was probably the guidebook by J. G. Ebel, which states: “It is said that, when the atmosphere is serene, from the top of the Nollen”—the Nollen is an older name for Titlis—”a little before sun‐rise you can descry the cathedral of Strasbourg, if you be provided with a good glass. The prospect from the Titlis may in fact extend so far, since, in winter time, the weather being fine, you can see the Titlis and the adjacent peaks from the neighbourhood of Strasbourg, and even two leagues farther towards the N. W. Yet, I must question the possibility of seeing, at a distance of fifty leagues in a straight line, an obelisk that is not above 445 feet in height” (i.e., referring to sighting the cathedral tower from the mountain) (Ebel, Travellerʼs Guide through Switzerland, 481).
See “There is a charmed peace, that aye” [“The Alps from Schaffhausen”], in which the narrator claims to see “the far hills and Rigis crest” from Schaffhausen. Mont Rigi is a peak in the Schwyz Alps, north of Titlus and the Uri Alps. Both mountains, along with Mont Pilatus, rise in the vicinity of Lake Lucerne.
As Ruskin admits here, it is doubtful what mountains the Ruskins were able to see from Strasbourg or even Schaffhausen during this journey. For speculation about these views, see the glosses associated with “There is a charmed peace, that aye” [“The Alps from Schaffhausen”]. In his 1838 guidebook to Switzerland, John Murray III flags with skepticism the notion that the “principal peak” of Titlis, “the Nollen, composed of limestone, is said to be visible (?) from Strasburg” (Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 91).


“Tivolian villas of—Highgate and Hampstead” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—In the early nineteenth century, Highgate and Hampstead were villages, separate from London, situated in the hills north of the city and overlooking it. Just so, the Roman town of Tibur, or modern Tivoli, lay among the hills east of Rome, overlooking the Campagna; and here the wealthy citizens of ancient Rome built villas—hence, Ruskinʼs jest about the “Tivolian villas” constructed by wealthy Londoners. For the popularity in Britain of “Swiss chalets” and associated material culture during the 1820s–30s, see Ruskinʼs essay III, “The Mountain Cottage—Switzerland””, in The Poetry of Architecture, including the unpublished portion of manuscript mocking this fashion for all things Swiss, in Ruskin, Works, 1:31–32 and n. 2; and see Schmidt, “From the Picturesque to the Genuine Vernacular”, 142, 152–53 n. 39).


“the mock waterfalls and crocodile stools of the Coliseum” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—For the Coliseum, usually spelled Colosseum, see The Colosseum, Hornorʼs London Panorama, and the Diorama in Regentʼs Park. Ruskinʼs mockery of the farrago, from “crocodile stools” to a “Swiss Cottage”, would be revived in his introduction to The Poetry of Architecture: instead of “unity of feeling” in architecture, he writes, “[w]e have . . . quiet old English gentlemen reclining on crocodile stools, and peeping out of the windows of Swiss châlets” (Ruskin, Works, 1:8–9). Here, in the original context of the “Account”, Ruskinʼs object of mockery referred to the attractions exhibited at the Colosseum—not its main exhibit, Thomas Hornorʼs panorama of London, which encircled the interior of the buildingʼs dome, but the subordinate exhibits, which surrounded the building on its perimeter. By the time of the Colosseumʼs opening in 1829, Hornor had begun encircling the structure with pleasure gardens, which contained a bewildering variety of attractions, amongst which Ruskin singled out these seemingly random objects.
The crocodile stools are explained by an 1829 aquatint by the Ackermann firm, “South Side of the Grounds surrounding the Colosseum, Regentʼs Park. The scene in the print opens out to a large fountain from inside a “treillage pavilion” designed in the manner of Humphry Repton. This pavilion apparently was never built at the Colosseum, but the aquatint includes a garden seat fancifully speared by a reptile, its head protruding from one end, its tail curling outward from the other end, and its legs forming the stoolʼs frame. With unconscious irony, the printʼs caption highlights the heterogeneous mixing of styles and objects: the scene “represents the south side of the grounds which surround the building, embracing a picturesque trait of the beautiful union of Greek Architecture, thus judiciously combining with plants and flowering shrubs. The view is taken from the Corridor or covered way, leading from the interior of the structure [the trellised pavilion] to the first Fountain, whose refreshing showers are felt delightfully cooling after the ascent to the Gallery of the Panorama, and the circuit of the Pavilion enriched with so great a treasury of art. This enchanting spot leads through delightful alleys formed by extensive greenhouses, abounding in all the richest productions of Flora, from almost every region, to the Swiss Farm‐House, from the verandah of which will be viewed the Rocky Scene, with the stupendous Water‐falls, and other objects, characteristic of the romantic and picturesque region which it is intended to describe. This part of the great scheme, when completed, it is believed, will amount to an illusion, having been prepared with rare skill and at a vast expense”. Thus, the printʼs caption leads the viewer from the crocodile stools shown in the printʼs foreground to the other seemingly disassociated object mentioned in Ruskinʼs lines, the Swiss Cottage. (See Hyde, The Regentʼs Park Colosseum, plate 2, p. 29 opp. For Reptonʼs garden pavilions, see Repton, Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 103, 105‐6; and plates p. 102 opp. and p. 106 opp. For a floor plan of the Colosseum outlining its exhibition areas on the perimeter, as these were laid out in 1855, see Basire, Ground Plan of the Royal Colosseum; in this diagram, the subterranean passage leading to the Swiss Cottage is labeled “Stalactite Caverns”, which was a later installation inside the tunnel [see Altick, The Shows of London, 155].)
The Swiss Cottage exhibit was accessed via a subterranean passage, “lined with coral, shells, and geological specimens”, which led from a conservatory pictured in another 1829 Ackermann aquatint of the Colosseum, a garden scene formed round the “Fountain surrounding a marble Statue“. The statue depicted a reclining figure, called the “sleeping undine” (or ondine, a nymph), which lay at the center of a “veil of water” thrown upward and around the figure, and falling down onto shells, corals, and mosses, as a “dial of shells” revolved above—the whole enclosed inside a glass dome topped with a flowery finial (Hyde, The Regentʼs Park Colosseum, p. 40; plate 3, p. 37 opp.). The enclosed design of the fountain, along with its connection to a subterranean passage decorated with shells and fossil specimens, suggests a grotto—a classical feature in picturesque landscape design, which hearkened back to Greek mythology and to the Roman nymphaeum or fountain consecrated to water nymphs (see Miller, Heavenly Caves, 17, 85–87). Less arbitrarily miscellaneous than Ruskin believed, the experience of the undine fountain was completed, according to the caption of the Ackermann print, when “the spectator . . . [is] led [from there] to the various splendid apartments” of the Swiss Cottage. (A fashion plate from the 1830s shows a young boy leading his mama away from the bower of the undineʼs shell‐fountain, and into the passage leading “TO THE SWISS COTTAGE”.) The tunnel seems to have been planned more deliberately than as a utilitarian pathway from one “work . . . of matchless art” (the undine fountain) to another (the cottage “which, when completed, will be the wonder of the age”) (Hyde, The Regentʼs Park Colosseum, p. 40; plate 3, p. 37 opp.; p. 34). Rather, the excursion from the undineʼs watery chamber, through the encrusted cavelike passage, to the cottage suggests an excursion through a grotto much like that at Stourhead, which likewise featured a marble sleeping nymph, and which opened out to a rustic cottage and then to a “Pantheon” (designed by Henry Flitcroft [1697–1769]; see Ackerman, The Villa, 179–82).
The Swiss Cottage exhibit was completed in 1832, so the Ruskins could have visited the model either when planning their Continental journey, thus anticipating their experience in the Alps, or when they had returned and could compare their memories of the actual scenes. According to an article in the Mirror of Literature, in 1832 the cottage exhibit was already popular enough to have featured in painted scenery for a Covent Garden Theatre musical entertainment set in Switzerland (“Swiss Cottage, at the Colosseum, in the Regentʼs Park”, 258). The exhibit was built in the pleasure gardens outside the Colosseum, adjacent to two of the buildingʼs angled polygonal sides. It featured an exterior façade (see the 1845 watercolor reproduced in Altick, The Shows of London, 159), but the main attraction seems to have been its four full‐scale room interiors. The grandest room, as described and illustrated in the Mirror of Literature, was “wainscotted with coloured (knotted) wood, and carved in imitation of the ornamented dwelling of a Swiss family”. An engraving features a carved fireplace projecting into the room, large enough to accommodate built‐in settles cozily near the fire—“the very beau ideal of cottage comfort”. With its “raised hearthstone, massive fire‐dogs and chimney‐back, and its cosy seats”, the fireplace was “calculated to contain a whole family seated at the sides of its ample hearth” and was considered “characteristic of the primitive enjoyments of the happy people from among whom this model was taken”. The rustic furnishings shown in the engraving, carved as if formed from forest‐tree branches, reinforced the idea of the primitive (“Swiss Cottage, at the Colosseum, in the Regentʼs Park”, 258, 257).
The Swiss Cottage was designed by an architect, Peter Frederick Robinson (1776–1858), whose eclectic collections of designs for domestic architecture included Swiss–inspired buildings, which he based on observations taken during a Continental tour of 1816. In his book, Rural Architecture (1822, rev. 1828), he provides floor plans and elevations, as well as full renderings in landscape settings, of a “Swiss Cottage” and a “Swiss Farm House” (designs VIII, XIV); and in another book, Designs for Ornamental Villas (1827, rev. 1836), he adapts the Swiss chalet style (as well as several other styles) to villa architecture. As James Ackerman comments, Robinsonʼs “major contribution was his expansion of the canon of acceptable historical styles” for villa and cottage designs. This eclecticism was an outgrowth of the shift in the aesthetics and sociology of the British villa—from emulation of Palladio by elites in the earlier eighteenth century, entailing the Platonic notion that architecture imitated nature conceptually, “exemplifying the principles of harmony in the universe”, to the revolution in taste for the picturesque, entailing a psychology of associationism and democratic individualism, allowing “the designer to give his work whatever character he believed to be suited to his client, the nature of the setting, or the function of the building” (Ackerman, The Villa, 223, 141, 217; see also Brindle, Robinson, Peter Frederick [1776–1858]”).
Robinsonʼs publications are mentioned in the Mirror of Literature article about the Swiss Cottage, which reads in part like a puff for his designs. Just so, the Swiss Cottage at the Colosseum with its surrounding “Rocky Scene” might be understood as a diorama version of his lithographs, with the miniature Alpine “Rocky Scene” standing in for the landscape shown surrounding the structures in the culminating plate for each set of designs. (Swiss scenes featured prominently in the illusions presented nearby the Colosseum, at the London Diorama; see The Colosseum, Hornorʼs London Panorama, and the Diorama in Regentʼs Park.) In Rural Architecture, the design for a Swiss cottage is pictured in an Alpine valley, rather than in an English suburb. Just so, as promised in the caption to the Ackermann aquatint, Hornor contrived an Alpine setting for the full‐scale Swiss Cottage, a scene visitors could view through its windows. According to the Mirror of Literature, across from the fireplace in the main room, a large recessed window bay commanded “a view of a mass of rock‐scenery, ornamented with waterfalls of singular contrivance and effect—the “mock waterfalls” mentioned by Ruskin. The frames [of the windows] are filled in with plate‐glass, so that the view of these artificial wonders is unobstructed”. The effect of the scenery, the writer enthused, conveyed “the character of the sublime in miniature” (“Swiss Cottage, at the Colosseum, in the Regentʼs Park”, 258).
Hornor, as an experienced landscape architect and surveyor, was able to complement his main attraction, the enormous panorama, with these miniature scenes—“illusions” seemingly on a sublime scale, yet contained within a mere four acres of grounds surrounding the building. As the topographer and antiquarian, John Britton (1771–1857), wrote in an 1829 pamphlet about the Colosseum, Hornorʼs “art had the necromantic or talismanic power of creating mountains, dells, cascades, and the most delicious scenes of Paradise from a small and limited piece of flat land”. The charm of the sublime in miniature still held in 1848, when Edward Mogg in his touristʼs guide to London remarked that the gardens around the Colosseum were “laid out so as to appear much more extensive than they really are, and comprise conservatories, waterfalls, fountains, a Swiss cottage, a marine cave and grotto, all of beautiful construction” (Hyde, The Regentʼs Park Colosseum, 40; Moggʼs New Picture of London, 194). (The “verandah” of the cottage from which the Rocky Scene could also be viewed, according to the Ackermann description, appears in an 1842 engraving for the Illustrated London News as a balustraded facade, from which ladies gaze at gentlemen skating on the newly installed ice rink, the “Glaciarium”, which was frozen year‐round, and which replaced at least a portion of Hornorʼs original “lake” filling the space between the cottage and the rocky scenery [Hyde, The Regentʼs Park Colosseum, 43, 49].)
The cottage remained standing in 1855, when its “roof, walls, and projecting fireplace” could still draw the admiration of the journalist, John Timbs, for their “fancifully carved” ornament (Timbs, Curiosities of London, 224). The Rocky Scene, however, reflected the ups and downs of the Colosseumʼs fortunes over the years. After Hornorʼs bankruptcy and flight to America (see The Colosseum, Hornorʼs London Panorama, and Regentʼs Park), the Colosseum was taken over in 1835 by a famous singer and entrepreneur, John Braham (1777–1856), who had great ambitions to develop the attractions. These plans failed to prosper, however, and the Swiss Cottage gained only a miserable eagle, the survivor of a shuttered menagerie. While the bird perched haplessly on the miniature scenery outside the windows, refreshments were sold on the inside by a Cockney in Swiss costume. Later, in 1845, another entrepreneur oversaw a more successful re‐opening, for which the Swiss scenery was refreshed by a theater‐scenery painter named George Danson (Hyde, The Regentʼs Park Colosseum, 42, 49, 52, 44). The waterworks for the scenery apparently originated with Hornor—the “singular contrivance and effect” of a mountain cascade, as reported by the Mirror of Literature, having consisted in “real water” being “interspersed” among the “mountain‐scenery”, which according to Timbs was “executed by Mr. Hornor” in his excess of “enthusiasm”. Danson apparently now enhanced the moving‐water effects by by erecting “the snow‐clad peak of Mont Blanc” in the center of the scene, flanked on one side by a model of the Mer de Glace, and on the other side by a “Mountain Torrent”, which went “leaping over the nearest rocks, [and came] . . . roaring down the precipices; and after forming a small lake in front of the cottage windows [in spite of the year‐round “Glaciarium”?] overflow[ed] its stony basin, and, with a second fall, disappear[ed] in the gulf below”. According to the London Illustrated News, the scene offered “unquestionably, the finest specimen of Model Scenery executed in this country” (Timbs, Curiosities of London, 224, and see 221–24; “Re‐opening of the Colosseum, Regentʼs Park”, 264; see also “The Colosseum”, in Jackson, The Victorian Dictionary).


Hannibal, vinegar” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—The editors of the Library Edition annotate vinegar as referring “to the story told by Livy . . . about Hannibalʼs use of vinegar for blasting operations in his passage of the Alps” (Ruskin, Works, 2:360 n. 1). In Ab urbe condita libri, book 21, chapters 35–37, Livy relates that Hannibalʼs army reached the summit of an Alpine pass having suffered great losses in the climb upward. Hannibal encouraged the men by leading them to an eminence from which they could survey the plains of Italy below. Yet the descent threatened to become even more treacherous than the ascent, since wintry weather had rendered the barren ground slippery with snow and ice, which the pack animals made worse by trampling into a slurry. At this crisis, the army advanced by using a technology that, while crude, would have evoked a modern parallel for post‐Napoleonic readers, as the editors of the Library Edition seem to suggest by their choice of the term, “blasting operations”. Like their ancient Carthaginian counterparts, the modern French invading armies made their way into Italy by blasting and engineering operations to improve the navigability of the Alpine pass. The relevant passage in Livyʼs history emphasizes the armyʼs relief at finding the means to the inhabitable places below the pass:
At length, after the men and beasts of burden had been fatigued to no purpose, the camp was pitched on the summit, the ground being cleared for that purpose with great difficulty, so much snow was there to be dug out and carried away. The soldiers being then set to make a way down the cliff, by which alone a passage could be effected, and it being necessary that they should cut through the rocks, having felled and lopped a number of large trees which grew around, they make a huge pile of timber; and as soon as a strong wind fit for exciting the flames arose, they set fire to it, and, pouring vinegar on the heated stones, they render them soft and crumbling. They then open a way with iron instruments through the rock thus heated by the fire, and soften its declivities by gentle windings, so that not only the beasts of burden, but also the elephants could be led down it. Four days were spent about this rock, the beasts nearly perishing through hunger: for the summits of the mountains are for the most part bare, and if there is any pasture the snows bury it. The lower parts contain valleys, and some sunny hills, and rivulets flowing beside woods, and scenes more worthy of the abode of man. There the beasts of burden were sent out to pasture, and rest given for three days to the men, fatigued with forming the passage: they then descended into the plains, the country and the dispositions of the inhabitants being now less rugged.