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MEMOIRS

OF

CELEBRATED CHARACTERS.

WILLIAM TELL,

THE RESTORER OF THE LIBERTY OF HELVETIA.

A.D. 1300.

We are about to relate what the Swiss have handed down as the poetic origin of their freedom; but let us first refer to history and geography for such information as they afford respecting Switzerland (or Helvetia) and its inhabitants.

The Alps, resembling a strong and prominent knot of the muscles of the earth’s granite, constitute a chain of mountains which extends over a space of three hundred leagues, from the mouth of the Rhone toward Marseilles, to the plains of Hungary. The links of this chain become depressed toward each extremity, and gradually lose themselves in the level country. In the centre they rise to an enormous elevation, inaccessible to the steps, and scarcely perceptible to the eyes, of men. Their summits, crenulated as the battlements of a natural fortress, stand out in bold relief from the deep azure of the heavensbrilliant in dazzling whiteness under the first light of morning, warmly colored like the rose at mid-day, and softening down into the hue of the violet as evening declines : these varying tints are produced by the reflection (more or less powerful) of the sun on the sheets of eternal snow, with which the ridges of the mountains are clothed. When we first look

a

MEMOIRS

OF

CELEBRATED CHARACTERS.

BY

ALPHONSE DE LAMARTINE

HISTORY OF THE GIRONDISTS," ETC., ETC.

AUTHOR OF

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