صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

and flows through for the refreshment of the weary traveller, and the sun shines here with warmest ray. We find a lady has reached here before us, and is beautifully basking in the sunshine (where will not enthusiastic woman go!) We pay our compliments to the fair lady, then bestow ourselves on the grass for rest, refreshment, and enjoyment of the scene. How excellently we relish our cold food-ham and wine; but the panoramic scene spread out around must not be lost; we must pluck some flowers, as souvenirs of the place and day, and we cannot remain here but a half hour, yet we have been walking five hours in succession, over snow and ice; clambering rocks and climbing the mountain peaks, and we throw ourselves down upon the rock, and enjoy a few moments of refreshing sleep. Now we begin our return-three hours again over the same dangerous path, to Montanvert. The day is clear and almost cloudless, and we enjoy the most perfect view of the sublime scenery, all the way in clear sunlight. Frequent rocks and avalanches are falling and roaring around us, to give effect to all; and we return unharmed, through the guidance and protection of our God, to the mountain where our mules are waiting to take us again to Chamouni. We refresh ourselves again with a cup of milk, and begin the descent. This seems more dangerous than all (though our mules are most trusty), for a single step would plunge 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

[blocks in formation]

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 veils 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 clear day. We mount up the mountain side four hours, passing many cascades, mountain

[blocks in formation]

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 realise, 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 mulepath 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.

[ocr errors]

I gather flowers as I descend: the number, and variety, and beauty of these Alpine flowers, growing wild upon the

[blocks in formation]

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

[blocks in formation]

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 goîtrea 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


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

« السابقةمتابعة »