« السابقةمتابعة »
COL DE BALME.
life, in ascending the Alps to the "Garden of Flowers," and returning to the vale of Chamouni. A refreshing supper, a warm bath, and bathing also the face and feet with cream and brandy, prepared us for a good night's rest.
SATURDAY, 30.-The morning dawns clear, and betokens a fair day for the mountains. We mount our mules at an early hour for Chamouni, a ride of eight hours across a difficult pass. As we pass through the valley we meet peasant girls riding "stride their mules,” at full trot, with morning provisions for the village. We choose the most difficult pass of the Col de Balme for the benefit of, by far, the finest views, in a clear day. We mount up the mountain side four hours, passing many cascades, mountain torrents and courses of the winter avalanche by the way; also villages where the peasants live in some sunny spot on the mountain side. Here they cultivate their little patches of grain and potatoes, and grass for themselves and cows, in store for winter, while they drive their cattle far up in summer to pasture. The scene of the herds on the hill-side, and the tinkling of a hundred bells as we pass along, is most delightful. At length we reach the top, where is a comfortable house of refreshment for the traveller. Here the finest view of Mont Blanc and the vale of Chamouni is obtained, and we realize, as never before, the
majesty of this monarch of mountains, and still more of Him who made this mount glorious as the sun, clothed him with rainbows, and spread garlands at his feet of loveliest hue. We invert our faces as we have done before, and it changes all into a fancy Alpine scene; we recommend the experiment to all. Here, also, the corleau alone wings his flight above the clouds. But the air blows cold and chilly from Mont Blanc and the snow around, and I dismount my mule, and descend on foot. The scenery is grand and beautiful-of Alpine summits pinnacled in clouds above and below me, and the mule path I am to follow, winding far through the valley. I am above the limit of trees or vegetation, save two months in summer. I pass a little châlet where the shepherds keep their cattle, and make abundance of cheese and butter in the summer months and pass a pleasant word with them. The Swiss peasantry are most sociable and polite to strangers, always bidding you good morning, and giving civil answers to your questions.
I gather flowers as I descend; the number, and variety, and beauty of these Alpine flowers, growing wild upon the mountain side, is almost beyond conception. I find two little kids sleeping in my path; I approach them gently, and caress them, and they return the attention as kindly as if I were their guardian friend. How magnificent
the view in this clear full sunlight, amid these crags, and peaks, and flowers, and waterfalls, as I descend alone, in advance of my party, the zigzag path down the mountain. I had experienced such emotions of sublimity, and power, and grandeur, as I have never felt before.
In two hours I reach the base, and rest at a sweet little cottage in the valley, for my friends to overtake me. The family soon gather around me-father, mother, daughters, children and all. I tell them I am from America, and invite them to sing a Swiss song. To this one readily consents, and the music is most beautiful in the open air, and in the magnificence and beauty of nature around me. A little girl brings me flowers, and they set out fresh strawberries, cream, and wine, for my refreshment; and under these circumstances I appreciate and enjoy the view of the valley, cascades, clouds, sky, and mountain grandeur, as I had not done before. How much the presence of human nature, however humble, adds to the beauty of nature herself, however grand.
My friends soon came upon their mules, and I join the party, bidding farewell to the pretty little Swiss demoiselle with twinkling eyes, with whom I had formed a surprisingly romantic glancing acquaintance in so short a time. We ascend two hours, and descend two hours more, amid the most
sublime of scenery; viewing the valley of the Rhone, the road of the Simplon, and the vale of Martigny, lying below us; and at six in the evening reach our hotel, quite satisfied with the romance of mule riding, for the present. But this is a low alluvial valley, filled with stagnant water, and infested with malaria and damp; and all the women as well as many of the men, have the goître-a large conical or circular swelling in the throat, six or eight inches in circumference; numbers also have the fever and ague. It is the hotbed of disease; we cannot think of spending the Sabbath here. We take a little refreshment of strawberries and cream, and engage a voiture for the baths of Larey, two hours and a half distant. Little girls meet us at every turn, with flowers, cherries and strawberries for sale; the women and peasants are bringing home upon their heads large bundles of hay and grain from the mountains; they are too poor to keep mules or donkeys, and they carry everything, wood and all, upon their heads, most enormous loads. The air blows damp and pestilential through the valley, yet we must open our carriage windows to see this beautiful cascade, falling hundreds of feet from the solid rock. How splendid is the white dashing spray in the evening light! We ride on, and in one hour reach the baths of Larey; here a worthy host and good hotel receive us for the Sabbath. The evening
scenery is beautiful; of a rocky amphitheatre around and a quiet valley below, while the turbid Rhone roars swiftly through. Many ladies appear in front to greet our arrival. It is a French watering-place, and a party of Americans are quite a novelty here. We, however, take a mineral bath and bestow ourselves to bed, much fatigued by the mule and foot mountain travel of the day.
SUNDAY, 31.—The morning breaks again, clear and balmy; it is the Sabbath and our hearts in unison with nature around, join in praise to God for this sweet secluded Sabbath in a vale of Switzerland. The whole scenery around seems in harmony with the day; the sky is more pure, and the clouds float more gently on the Sabbath, and I read my Bible with more spirit and unction than since I left the shores of America. Service is held in French, in the saloon of the hotel. It is evangelical and devotional, and much we enjoy it. The singing is touching to the Christian heart.
After service we sang several of our American hymns. After dinner I walk out alone, and enjoy the beauty of the scene and hold communion with God. It is a most lovely Sabbath to me; the clouds resting far down the mountain sides, and clinging round the summits, or floating high above all, are beautiful indeed.
In the evening we have service in the private