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like rash pillars of salt during the process of transformation, except where our breath melted out little blue and black patches on our veils. We stepped and stumbled on bravely; every now and then a cry would pierce the silence, and two or three men were needed to extricate some unlucky pedestrian who had come upon a “soft bit,” and was half-stified and unable to stir.
Mrs. C. presented a gallant appearance, and with the large hood of her caoutchouc heavy with snow, and a doleful dripping from the brim of her hat and noso and chin, the black draperies of her waterproof only relieved by voluminous drab gaiters, she looked like an image of Father Christmas thawing, but cheery and brave even under difficulties.
On we went, undeterred by the now certain knowledge that there was nothing to be seen from the Spitze. We had our provisions, and a luncheon party having been planned for the summit of the Piz Languard, there we would go, and eat our luncheon, and return with peaceful consciences to Pontresina.
The latter part of the ascent was not really so difficult as we had found it two years before, when the mass of loose stones had added greatly to our fatigue; these were now well carpeted, and the guides have built a sort of rude staircase for the last ten minutes of the way, which has the advantage of not rolling away beneath one's feet. At one place we had had to cross a great plateau of snow, so soft that progression was simply impossible to us. F. shouted, “ Gentlemen to the front,” and with hands and knees and axes they literally pounded the snow hard. It was strange to see how lightly guides and mountaineers walked over the yielding surface, which seemed much less affected by their greater weight than where ladies attempted to try the same path ; by long practice they have acquired a perfect balance, which is, I imagine, the real secret of walking on snow successfully.
We reached the final plateau, which is about half-a-dozen yards across, in a heavy snow-storm, and being by this time, spite of all precautions, thoroughly wet through, we dared not linger very long. To an outsidersay the Spirit of the Storm, we must have presented a ludicrously forlorn appearance, but that would only have been because the Spirit being German, or at least German-Swiss, would be naturally phlegmatic, and unable to understand that sterling quality of the British character which delights in being jolly under difficulties, and enjoying life under an aspect
totally differing from insular civilization. The champagne bottles were opened, and we drank to the mountain and our own success, and ate chickens and potted meats and compôte, a ravenous hunger serving as
sauce piquante ; and then the guides joined in chorus, and the mountain echoes rang again to the wild wonderful jödels so full of unutterable joy and music to every Führer's and Bergsteiger's heart. We were dripping at our elbows and sitting in pools of water, while the great snow-flakes soaked our bread and settled in the salt, and came down so thoroughly in earnest that our hats and umbrellas were heavy with them, and we dared not linger lest we should suddenly stiffen. The descent looked a little formidable, a snow slope ending in blackness and mist, and with many inward tremblings a question was whispered as to how we were to get down.
That soon settled itself. Franz Andermatten, one of the merriest, sturdiest of Valais guides, seized Lady L. N., and before she could utter one shriek of protestation they were flying down far below us. Her husband quickly glissaded after her, and we all followed according to our different fashions. Walther seated himself on the snow, and bade E. sit behind him, and then with a vigorous push-swish! they spun down, throwing up snow-balls and a white spray about their faces, till, safely landed at the first pile of stones, they could watch others descending. F. had placed his plaid on the ground, and D. sitting on it, wound one end firmly round her, while he held the other, intending to draw her luxuriously down the slope ; but the inclined plane being
slightly uneven, D. swerved aside, and came down in the end headforemost, rather like a bundle of hay in a blanket, while Mrs. C.'s dignified and successful glissade was in perfect keeping with her character. Major L. and his wife were old mountaineers and in capital training, and her walking powers cast the other ladies entirely into the shade, though, judging by their own accounts at a later date, the performances of each had been unrivalled. And thus with much laughter and enjoyment the ground was rapidly got over, and we found ourselves at about twelve o'clock once more standing on the short scrubby grass, which later in the year would turn this bare hill-side into pasture-land. Here the gaiters were unfastened, snow shaken off, and a few drops of wine taken before we started for the final trudge home.
The mind of Pontresina, agricultural and commercial, is slow and conservative, and difficult to convince, and it was in vain we pleaded for the aid of the horses on our return march. The owners resisted with dogged persistency our most pathetic appeals; our ancestors, if ever they had ascended the Piz Languard, had walked down again, and so must we. There was no more to be said, and we were not long in descending through the little wood and the meadows above the village ; but we must have looked a very motley company to any fresh eyes that encountered us, judging by the amusement on C.'s face when she met us. One of our party who had fared the worst, her lighter dress not having been prepared for such rough work, was clothed in garments which by this time had assumed the colour and consistency of tea-leaves, while her boots were literally cut to pieces. We were warmly welcomed by Herr Gredig at the Krone, that worthy landlord killing a fatted calf in the gladness of his heart (at least this is our only way of accounting for the fact that veal formed the chief ingredient of all dishes served on that and subsequent occasions), and absolutely submitting even with cheerfulness to the choice on our part of the hour for dinner. To those by whom he is known, this fact will speak volumes. Herr Gredig has a great soul, but it moves in a narrow groove, and he is a man who believes implicitly in precedent. The law of the Gredigs of Pontresina, which altereth not, is carven on the door-post, and engraved on the ductile but abject minds of his followers. It afforded us exquisite gratification during our stay to infringe the regulations in every possible manner; and such was the ascendancy that we acquired, that we were recognized as despots, and were graciously permitted on all occasions to eat our abendessen when we were hungry, and not when the inmates of the Gasthaus zur Krone thought we ought to be.'
Our St. Moritz companions hurried off to seek dry clothes and shelter, while the rest of our party adjourned in the afternoon to Flury's studio, eliciting deep-drawn sighs from that conscientious artist by desiring to be photographed en masse (with a background of snow, and a grand moraine built up of loose stones), in perpetual remembrance of our very successful ascent of the Piz Languard.
Canning and the Anti-Jacobin.
It is difficult to account for the neglect into which the wit and wisdom of the Anti-Jacobin have fallen, unless by the reluctance with which men accord the palm of superiority in varied pursuits to one and the same competitor. In Canning's lifetime his reputation as a writer of political jeux-d'esprit long stood in the way of his claim to be recognized as a parliamentary orator of the first rank. His aftercareer as a statesman seems in its turn to have obscured his literary fame. To show how his reputation as a wit was thrown in his teeth, it may
be sufficient to quote the character given him by a contemporary political satirist-Sydney Smith. Having compared him to the blue-bottle fly, "the bluest, grandest, merriest, most important animal in existence," he thus sums up his character:
“I have listened to him long and often, with the greatest attention; I hare used every exertion in my power to take a fair measure of him, and it appears to me impossible to hear him upon any arduous topic without perceiving that he is eminently deficient in those solid and serious qualities upon which, and upon which alone, the confidence of a great country can properly repose. He sweats, and labours, and works for sense, and Mr. Ellis always seems to think it is coming, but it does not come: the machine can't draw up what is not to be found in the spring. Providence has made him a light-jesting, paragraph-writing man, and that he will remain to his dying day.
“When he is jocular, he is strong; when he is serious, he is like Samson in a wig; any ordinary person is a match for him. A song, an ironical letter, a burlesque ode, an attack in the newspaper upon Nicholl's eyes, a smart speech of twenty minutes, full of gross misrepresentations and clever turns, excellent language, a spirited manner, lucky quotation, success in provoking dull men, some half-information picked up in Pall Mall in the morning,—these are your friend's natural weapons ; all these things he can do; here I allow him to be truly great. Nay, I will be just, and go still farther—if he would confine himself to these things, and consider the facile and playful to be the basis of his character, he would, for that species of man, be universally allowed to be a person of a very good understanding : call him a legislator, a reasoner, and the conductor of the affairs of a great nation, and it seems to me as absurd as if a butterfly were to teach bees to make honey. That he is an extraordinary writer of small poetry, and a diner-out of the highest order, I do most readily admit. After George Selwyn, and perhaps Tickell, there has been no such man for this half-century.”.