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aiguilles which make the great charm of the Oberland glaciers, and very little colour. Here and there in a deep crevasse, one sces a tinge of soft sea-green, and the moulins, formed by little hidden streams forcing their way through the fissures, make an amusing variety in one's path ; but as a whole, it is decidedly dull. At least, I can only write of it as we found it, and we may be told that “ as a whole
we did not see it, for truth obliges me to confess that wonderful descriptions of the beauty and grandeur of the ice-fall, “ combining the solemnity of cathedral architecture and the fantastic decorations of a Chinese pagoda, Druidical beards and dripping . caves gleaming with diamonds in the sunlight,” have reached us from those who penetrated further than an inexorable fate allowed us to proceed. In our experience, the cracks in the ice were only a few inches apart, so there was nothing to jump over, and during our expedition it afforded such good foothold that there was no excuse for slipping. The amphitheatre of hills enclosing this great frozen sea has few rivals in grandeur, when, as we saw it, a great white mantle of snow sweeping from each summit, falls as in soft, noiseless folds, to meet the rugged mass of ice below. The little woods skirting the end of the glacier are full of beauty, and near by there is a waterfall that in any other place would alone be an object of pilgrimage. The water-mcadows were like a brilliant flower-bed, gay with patches of gentians and forget-me-nots, masses of purplo primulas, yellow pansies, and delicate little soldinella; and clustering round the stones and rocks were sweet-scented daphnes and white crocuses, which sprout up on the barest-looking ground a few hours after the snow has melted from its surface.
These meadows, and the woods which skirt them, had a wonderful charm for us. A broad river flowed through the midst, often spreading itself over the valley when the warm sun melted the snows, and when the waters drew back again into their stony channel, grass, and moss, and flowers sprang up on the instant into vivid life; the trees cast their twisted roots about the soil to hold it fast, binding it with gray lichens and little fir twigs, and a soft carpet of dead leaves from last year's store; and before the bay was grown and there could be the sweet summer scent of mown grass drying in the wind, there was everywhere a garden of flowers, golden and violet, with soft pink blooms, and the blue gentians with their bright little eyes; the stones were encrusted with orange and scarlet lichens, and gray fringes hung in festoons from the old trees; the ice in great billows and ridges came down into the grass, turning it back in long furrows in its steady advance year by year, and down the rocks rivulets of cold snow-water trickled from among the stones, bubbled
up under the moss, and turned into a sudden cloud of spray as they sprang from any jutting crag into the river at their feet; and far above, as solemn sentinels, the great snow mountains closed around the valley. Days among the Alps, though full of commonplace adventure and merriment, and the prose of ordinary life a little caricatured, are rich in
deeper thoughts and feeling. There is a stronger spell than the mere love of exercising their muscles or the desire to conquer a new peak that takes men to the mountains, and he must have a poverty-stricken soul who does not return humbler indeed, but calmed and strengthened by a fresh revelation of the Divine power in which his life can rest.
The contrast of these mighty forces of nature,-ice and snow, torrent and avalanche, mist and cloud, and desolating power, and the tender beauty of the grass and flowers, and gentler life, held as in the hollow of a strong hand,—was very wonderful to see. This Morteratsch valley was a place that the old myths would have made beautiful and palpitating with life. Fair-faced Persephone might have wandered through those meadows dimly conscious of a great dread where the cold darkness from the icecaves fell across her path, as the mountain torrent spreading round her feet swept her away into the shadows. One dreams of a time when grand old Pan was strong and lusty, and could sing
In my great vcins--a music as of boughs
Feel for the eyelids of the Earth in spring ; and Dryads made their home in the depths of the wood, where gnarled and twisted branches, gray-bearded and old, look like evil beings expiating their sins and cramped with rheumatism.
Evening after evening we watched the clouds draw away from the mountain tops, till they stood clear against the sky; the sunshine died from the earth, the fir-trees grew black, and a chill dimness crept over the soft gray meadows, and then suddenly a little flush spread over the crests of the mountains, and deepened into a rosy delight; one or two stray cloudlets caught the glory, that like a great radiant smile touched them as it past, and then slowly the light faded; a special beatitude vouchsafed to the great mountains, emblems of purity and strength ; a host of Fra Angelico's gentle seraphs with their pink and violet wings might have sung there their Gloria in Excelsis, and sent their light upon the hills. And then came night, and a frosty stillness and clear heavens studded with stars, and a cold moonlight over silver snow.
In our wood walks up the Roseg Thal we often encountered droves of the long-eared sheep from the Italian valleys, driven to the Alpine pastures by their Bergamesque shepherds,-picturesque fellows, with dark, handsome southern faces under the shadow of their broad hats, roughly dressed in skins and leather leggings, tanned like their faces by exposure to wind and weather.
A few miles away by the road and an hour distant from Pontresina by a footpath through the wood, is the great Bad-haus of St. Moritz, a ghastly water-cure establishment, much frequented by true believers of all nations; where a heterogeneous multitude are stowed away in hundreds of little rooms, and live together in great cold salons, and feed together, each after his own fashion in the matter of forks or fingers, in an enormous salle-à-manger, and kill time by drinking the waters, walking up and down the passages, and watching for the diligence which has kindly consented to go so far out of its way as to come round in front of the great établissement, for the accommodation and amusement of the sufferers.
Beyond St. Moritz, there are little lakes, lying like gems set in a forest of pines, and more mountains, and wood, and waterfalls to be visited, all within easy reach of Herr Gredig's pleasant headquarters.
Our time at Pontresina was coming to an end, and we had been unable to accomplish the ascent of the Piz Languard,-- an old friend we were anxious to revisit; but the quantity of snow, and its soft state, had hitherto made such an expedition impossible. F. and his companion had joined us after a most successful ascent of the Piz Bernina by a new route, and entertained us with wonderful stories of their capture by the Austrians, as Italian spies; of a sudden attack made on them when peacefully reposing in a hay-loft ; of a night-march with fixed bayonets down a horribly bad path ; the completion of their broken slumbers in an Austrian fortress, the bayonets still on guard ; and of a triumphant and apologetic acquittal from the gallant commandant in the morning. In our state of excitement and suspenso as to news from the army, which generally came to us first through the English papers, though there were Swiss troops at the time in the village, any one fresh from the frontier was doubly welcome, and our travellers joined us with somewhat of a halo of romance; and as to the guides, they were very great men indeed, and were duly glorified over wine and tobacco in the stube. If the four were not patriots, they had been considered a sufficiently good imitation, and vividly before the imaginations of all hovered images of the horrors of an Austrian dungeon !
Christian Almer, one of the heroes, looked as though he had been kept on bread and water, and then dried and smoked. I never saw anything human so like an Egyptian mummy or a red-herring; but his miserable condition was really due to the amount of work that had been accomplished, and the great cold they had encountered. Three Passes and two new Spitze in twenty-four hours take something out of a man, even the strongest, when you have twenty-five degrees of frost at your lunching-place.
The weather had broken up and looked very doubtful, but with this accession to our numbers we were determined to make an attempt on the mountain. Walther and ten or twelve men went up on the Saturday to try to make a little path through tho snow by digging and stamping it hard; and this they succeeded in doing in a degree near the summit, where the snow lay less thickly on the stones,—but anything like a track was hopeless lower down. On Monday morning we were all called soon after two; the clouds looked threatening, but at that early hour it was difficult to judge how the day would turn out, and we hoped, at any rate, to make a good start. It is wonderful how the most glowing anticipations we may have indulged in over night pale in the uncertain glimmer of dawn. The only sensation E. admitted to being vividly conscious of, was a profound desire that some one would say it was raining hard, and there was nothing to be done but to go to sleep again. Of course this feeble expostulation of the flesh was crushed back instantly, and our spirits rising with the first plunge into cold water, we prepared to encounter hopefully the experiences of the coming day.
We had invited some English acquaintances to join our party—Major and Mrs. L., who were staying with us at the hotel, and Mr. N. and Lady L. N., from St. Moritz; and as we mustered our forces in the salon over an early breakfast, we rejoiced over the prospect of a successful ascent. It was very cold, and we were glad of warm dresses and plenty of wraps. C. was to remain behind; but a party of nine, exclusive of servants, started on horseback and on foot at three o'clock, with porters laden with provisions, three first-rate guides, and a following of boys or men belonging to the beasts. We rode for the first two hours in single file, with shouting comments on our steeds, on the weather, and on the comforts and discomforts of our saddles. These were wonderful constructions, on which you were mo:inted high above the horse's shoulder and very far forward ; padded seats, on which it is difficult to keep your balance without pommel or stirrup, a flat board being substituted for the latter, which it is hopeless to try to grasp with your foot. Mrs. C. exhausted herself by her efforts to sustain nobly her equestrian reputation. One or two of the party were first-rate horsewomen; but the Engadine “mounts” tried their mettle more than a five-barred gate or a stone-wall country with the hounds at home; and at every stumble of the animals during the slippery ascent a rider would fall forwards on the neck of the horse, or be jolted almost over its tail, with many outcries and much laughter. Poor Lady L. N. had provided herself with an English saddle, and set off in happy security, but her pony and the saddle would not fit; the pony was fat and the saddle was angular; and the mathematical problem how to make a round body fit into a square hole was proved to be insoluble, and the hopelessness of the attempt was illustrated by a sudden descent of the hapless rider, first on one side, then on the other, as the poor beast struggled up the winding path.
The track, such as it was, came to an end with the first snow, and here we dismissed our horses, and prepared for work. And now we discovered a flaw in the perfection of our mountaineering costume, which we had considered very perfect. Our riding-habits were looped well up over linsey petticoats, and the feminine mind exulted in the strong hobnailed boots, which looked as if they meant work; but unfortunately Mrs. L-alone had supplied herself with the leather leggings, which all travellers ought to know are essential to the comfort of any one intending to encounter a tramp through snow, and we thus found ourselves dependent on the charity of our companions. With great care and much expenditure of packthread, some leather or cloth gaiters, generously subscribed on the instant, were VOL. XV.NO. 85.
fastened over our boots; but as the fit was by no means perfect, they soon became clogged with snow, and proved a very doubtful blessing. By this time clouds had gathered above us and round the higher mountains, and were rapidly rising below us, covering the valley and the little green lakes, and leaving stretched before us an uncomfortable mass of snow, with here and there a little oasis of stones, the only landmarks in its dreary uniformity. It was very cold, a drizzling rain began to fall, and our spirits sank rapidly. Light and sunshine would have made us go on our way rejoicing, but in the grey cold bleak dimness it was a dreary prospect to go up and up through deep snow into a cloud of snow-flakes, knowing
all the time that we must come down again. However, all being ready, we made our final plunge. F. put an ice-axe
his shoulder, and E. held firmly by the iron, keeping her alpen-, stock in the other hand ; and in single file we began the march. A few steps, and we were in a snow-drift, up to our knees, then to our waists, so firmly wedged into the soft mass that each step was weary labour, and every muscle was strained and stretched before another yard could be gained.
For the first moment we felt thoroughly miserable and frightened, fancying the next we might go in over our hats, or that we might start an avalanche on
own account; but looking back at the slow procession of figures showing dark against the white background, in every attitude possible to struggling humanity, a sense of the ludicrousness of the whole thing came to our help, and amid peals of laughter we all agreed to consider our difficulties infinitely amusing, and from that moment there was no one so meanspirited as even to ask under their breath the reason of our encountering so much exertion, and what we expected to see at the summit when we got there! The clouds rose up beneath us like the black roof of a tent under which villagers and tourists might be tranquilly sleeping, the mist closed in damp and impenetrable, wrapping us in a veil disagreeable and unexhilarating in the highest degree. Ten minutes more of climbing and everything was snow, and we were white all over, looking