« ZurückWeiter »
duced red farina in such abundance as to tinge the snow of the Alps red; especially when it is considered that a great deal of it must be lost before it can reach the spots where the red snow is found. But the action of light, perhaps, may first give it its red colour; and in regard to its specific gravity, that is not surprising, as by its long continuance on the snow it must, on account of the repeated slow meltings, receive such an accumulation of particles as to become dense and heavy.
M. de Saussure communicated his discovery to M. Bonnet, who advised him to examine the powder with a microscope, in order to see whether it exhibited the appearance of the farina of flowers. He did so with the greatest care and the best glasses, but he could not discover the least regularity in its form.
Though M. de Saussure found this powder in different places on the Alps, he bowever asks, whether it be very common, and whether it be found on the high mountains in different countries and different climates, such, for example, as the Cordilleras? These questions deserve certainly to be examined ; and though it be probable that this powder consists of the farina of flowers, it is not altogether impossible that it may be an earth separated by the snow itself, and possessing some inflammable properties called forth by the immediate action of the light and heat of the sun, which shines with so much liveliness in the pure air of these ele. vated regions.
[Voyages dans les Alpes. Tom. III.-Phil. Mag.
doalanches, or falling Masses of detached and incumbent
Snow-heaps from the Summits of lofty Mountains. These vast accumulations are frequently to be met with in the Alps; and their fall is often accompanied with ntter ruin to va. rious cottages that lie below, which are often buried and lost be. neath the overwhelming weight. It is not many years since an in. stance occurred in which a small family was imprisoned for more than a fortnight under an avalanche of this kind, several hundred feet in depth *. During the whole of this period they continued
• In 1710 a storm of snow fell with so much violence as to destroy 7000 Swedes in their march against Drontheim.
[Young's Nat. Phil.
in utter darkness, and supported themselves entirely by the nou. rishment afforded them by a milch ass, which was fortunately buried with them. The cottage was destroyed by the crush, and the family would have been destroyed also, but from the strength of a powerful beam that supported the roof in the very part of it to which they retreated.
These catastrophes, however, are not peculiar to the Alps : they are often experienced in Switzerland, several parts of Ger. many, and Italy; and still more frequently in Savoy, where they are also larger and more dreadful, Some avalanches by the tract they leave behind are found to be above an hundred yards in dia. meter. In the year 1695, one of them fell upon the village of Valmedia, and destroyed eleven houses, together with as many barns and stables, so entirely, that there scarcely remained one stone upon another. The noise they make resembles a long and loud clap of thunder, and is heard among the echoing rocks and mountains at several leagues distance; and yet so rapid is their motion, that passengers have seldom time to avoid them.
The following description from the elegant pen of Mrs. Charlotte Smith, has been often realised :
Where cliffs arise by Winter crown'd,
And through park groves of pine around,
Within some hollow, sheltered from the storms,
The peasant of the Alps his cottage forms,
But absent from this calm abode,
Dark thunder gathers round his road,
Returning quick the murmuring rocks among,
His faint heart trembling as he winds along;
of rified ice!-Oh, man of woe!
O'er his dear cot-a mass of snow,
Has fallen--and buried in its marble breast
All that for him-lost wretch-the world possest,
Aghast the heart-struck mourner stands,
O'era helming anguish checks his labouring breath;
Crush'd by despair's intolerable weight,
Frantic, he seeks the mountain's giddiest height,
One of the most minute and extraordinary accounts, however, of this fearful destruction, which have yet been published, occurs in the following article of the Philosophical Transactions, communicated by professor Bruni, of Turin, to Henry Baker, Esq. F.R.S. of the date of March 19, 1755; and is supported by the official testimony of the Intendant of the town and province of Cuneo.
In the nighbourhood of Demonte, as in the upper valley of Stura, on the left hand, about an hour and half distant from the road leading to the castle of Demonte, towards the middle of the mountain, there were some houses in a place called Bergemoletto, which on the 19th of March, in the morning, (there being then a great deal of soow) were entirely overwhelmed and ruined by two vast bodies of snow, that tumbled down from the upper mountain. All the inhabitants were then in their houses, except one Joseph Rochia, a man of about 50, who with his son a lad of fifteen, were on the roof of his house, endeavouring to clear away the snow, which had fallen without any intermission for three preceding days. Whence perceiving a mass of snow tumbling down to. wards them from the mountain above, they had but just time to get down and flee, when, looking back, they perceived the houses were all buried under the snow. Thus twenty-two persons were buried under this vast mass, which was 60 English feet in height, insomuch that many men, who were ordered to give them all possible assistance, despaired of being able to do them the least service.
After five days, Joseph Rochia having recovered of his fright, and being able to work, got upon the snow, with his son, and two brothers of his wife's, to try if they could find the exact place under which his house and stable were buried; but though many openings were made in the snow, they could not find the desired place. However the month of April proving very hot, the snow beginning to soften, and indeed a great deal of it melted, this un. fortunate man was again encouraged to use his best endeavours to recover the effects he had in the house, and to bury the remains of VOL. IV.