« السابقةمتابعة »
us down a steep precipice and dash us to pieces ; and the path is steep, jagged, and winding zigzag down, yet we are so excited with the scene and situation, that we do not fear the danger before us.
How beautiful the green valley of grass, and grain, and trees, stretches below, as the sunlight falls upon it; how the last rays of the setting sun play upon yonder summits, till at last they have gone from all save Mont Blanc—still they bathe the monarch's brow with purple and gold, and finally are gone from view. The whole view seems now more picturesque than ever. The water courses of the avalanches above, now clothed with green, the meadow, the silver cascades, the mountain peaks, the mer de glace—all in the mellow light of sunset, are surpassingly beautiful.
At length we safely reached our hotel at Chamouni, after fourteen hours of climbing up and down on foot and on mules-feeling that we had never enjoyed such a day before, and full of gratitude to our God that he has brought us thus happily to its close.
Though the sun has been intensely hot, and the reflection from the ice and snow very great, yet our green vails have protected us almost entirely from sunburn and blister, so frequent and so distressing in such cases—let me recommend it to all. Thus passed a most memorable day of my
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. Weinvert 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 coileau 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