The Thirteen Cantons
WHO can contemplate, without enthusiasm, the exertions of men, when they have been prompted to rely on their own force to act up to that sublime character they hold in the scale of creation, and to write with their own blood the charter of their liberty? We have just come from meditating on nations, who, beneath the enervating skies of India, destitute of the feelings of liberty, have sunk to a degree even beneath their associates who graze the field, and drink of the brook! Let us now turn our eyes to the bleak heaven, and the snowy mountains, of Switzerland, where the hardy native roams free and unconstrained, and “knows himself a MAN.”
The pride, the insolence, and the tyranny, of those governors who were given to the Helvetians, in the name of the empire, by the Dukes of Austria, awakened at once the minds of this people, who regarded freedom as their birth-right, yet whom the governors attempted to oppress as slaves. Three peasants resolved to preserve their liberties; and each of them collected his friends in his own burgh. In the year 1305, Switz, Uri, and Underwal, declared themselves independent; and, as the party of Switz was the earliest in promoting this alIiance, they had the honour of giving to this confederate nation the name of Swiss, and to the country that of Switzerland. The other Cantons joined them at different periods. Appenzel, the last of the Thirteen Cantons, closed this honourable confederacy in 1513.