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ON THE MOUNTAINS OF SWITZERLAND.
HE annual increase in the number of English Travellers with their families at this season of the year, through Switzerland, has induced me to offer to public attention some observations which, I trust, may be found not altogether uninteresting, at least to the inquiring members of such parties; they are chiefly adopted from a philosophical work of Mr. Picot. Excursions from home will always be attended with cheerfulness and profitable pleasure, when they are accompanied with a spirit of inquiry into customs of Foreign nations, and productions of different countries. An increased love to mankind is then contracted towards those whom we did not know, and an enlarged and grateful sense of duty to the beneficence of creation is drawn forth from the heart, where it would otherwise have remained either for ever dormant, or at least operated only in the limited knowledge of domestic associations.
THERE are two principal chains of Mountains in Switzerland; that of Jura, which extends from West to the North, and forms those boundaries of the country; and that of the Alps, which surround it at the South and East, and which penetrate to its centre; these two chains approach each other in many of their points, and are separated by an immense valley, or rather by plains interspersed with hills which cover the whole Canton of Geneva, and a part of those of Vaud, Friburg, &c. The chain of Jura, nearest to the Alps, presents its most elevated points and blunted summits, which are 1 or 2,000 feet higher than the rest of the chain; on the declivities of this same side there are innumerable fragments or blocks of greis or granite, wholly foreign to the rocks
of this chain, which are all calcareous. They have been evidently detached from the Alps, although many are found to be not less distant than fifty leagues from them, and are incontestible monuments of a great physical revolution which at some antient period seems to have overturned the globe. The calcareous stone of Jura is compact, in general of a yellowish brown colour ; its beds are interchanged with banks of marne or argille, containing beautiful quarries of marble, asphaltus, gypsum, salt, and sulphureous waters, a great number of petrifactions, and many sorts of fossils.
Iron mines are abundant; and in the valleys are frequently discovered banks of bouille ligneuse, which owe their origin to whole forests or woods, which appear to have experienced an enormous pressure, and to have been buried at the termination of some grand catastrophe.
Jura is crossed by a small number of strait passes, which it is easy to defend, as those of Geneva, l'Ecluse, d'Esclées, &c. It encircles a great number of natural grottoes, where the snow is retained during the whole year; it is covered with pasture less verdant and less prolific than those of the Alps, but still very profitable to their proprietors, and capable of feeding numerous flocks, and carpeted with an infinity of all pine plants. The brown bear who formerly inhabited these parts has become very rare, and now never shews himself but in the most uncultivated and less inhabited valleys.
The Alps extend in length from 200 to 250 leagues, and in breadth from 50 to 80, from the Mediterranean and Provence to the frontiers of Hungary; crossing Switzerland, wherein and in the neighbouring countries
On the Mountains of Switzerland.
they attain their greatest elevation,
The Alps form one of the principal chains of mountains of the globe, and the most lofty of any in Europe; for, passing the less considerable chains, Mount Perdu, which is the highest summit of the Pyrenees, does not exceed 10,578 feet above the Mediterranean Sea; Velino, in the Appenines, does not rise beyond 7,668 feet; Etna 10,000; the Peak of Lomintz, the most eminent of the Carpacs, 8, 100: whilst the Finster Aarhorn, in the Helvetic Alps, attains 13,234 feet; Mount Rose, in the Pennine Alps, 14,580; and Mount Blanc 14,700 feet; these latter mountains are within 5,000 feet of the Cimboraco, in Peru, above the city of Quito, which is considered as one of the greatest giants of all the earth.
The Alps of Switzerland are covered with perpetual snow, especially those whose summits exceed 8,000 or 8,200 feet of elevation; for it is generally remarked of the whole surface of the globe, that heat diminishes in proportion as we rise above the level of the seas, and that we finally attain a height where constant winter reigns. This height varies, and follows the latitude of different countries; it is 14,760 feet over the Equator, and gradually abates towards the poles to 80° of latitude, a point at which it is confounded with the surface of the earth, at the sea side.
The moment of the day, which is found to be the coldest upon the Alps, is commonly, as in the plain, that of sun rise; so the moment of the greatest heat is that at two hours after noon; but the difference of the temperature between these two points of time is much less considerable at the greatest elevations than at the borders of the sea.
De Saussure has observed, that at the Col du Giant, at 10,578 feet above the sea, it was scarcely one-third of that at Geneva; whence it may be concluded, that if we can be raised to 6 or 7,000 toises above the sea, we
may find the temperature of the air to be almost the same both day and night, in summer and winter.
The influence of the heat upon the evaporation in the air of mountains is almost triple that which is exercised in the plain; it is to the great rarity of the air in the Alps, and to the energy with which it accelerates evaporation, that we should ascribe the exhaustion and uneasiness which many persons experience in ascending the highest mountains; their respiration is constrained, and they are obliged to stop frequently for rest.
Where the clouds are seen to drag along the mountains and to veil their summits, rain may be expected, and when that has continued a long time, snow will fall in the middle regions of the Alps, before the rain entirely ceases, and the weather becomes serene and settled.
The pastures of the Alps generally consist of two or three stations to which the cattle are led in succession, in the spring, summer, and autumn, and each of which has its particular season; in the meadows, below the hills, and in the plain. In almost every inclosure there is a barn, with stables for the reception of hay gathered in during the summer, and where, during the winter, cattle are housed from the neighbouring villages, or those at the distance of a league or more; the view of all these rustic buildings affords great animation to the rural scenery of the verdure of Switzerland.
In these Alps there are 400 Glaciers, which, according to Ebel, occupy a surface of more than 130 square leagues, each of which are from one to seven leagues in length, half a league, at least, in breadth, and from one to six hundred feet in depth.
Such are," says this writer, "the inexhaustible reservoirs from which the greatest and chief rivers of Europe are supplied."
The Glaciers are formed in the highest valleys of mountains, where the snows accumulate during nine months of the year, rolling in grand masses from the adjoining summits, and heap upon each other in numerous beds of many hundred feet of condension. These masses being too great to be dissolved during the summer, present, at the return of winter, the appearance of a mass of congealed snows; they thus increase every year
On the Mountains of Switzerland.
Sebastian Munster, in his description of Switzerland about 300 years since, speaking of the Glaciers, says, page 341, Solent Venatores, &c. "The
hunters have a custom of suspending during summer their game in the fissures of the Glaciers, that they may be frozen, and thus preserved until the time when they would use them. The inhabitants of the country employ the ice of the Glaciers in desperate maladies, especially in dysentery and as a remedy against ague, on the principle that contraries cure their contraries; they hold also, that the water of the Glaciers has many uses, and cures many diseases; in summer it is very cold, is thick, and of a cinder colour, and it issues through the valleys, reuniting in great rivers."
The inhabitants of the Alpine valleys suffer during the summer occasional ravages of the torrents, which form and increase prodigiously when there are any falls from the high mountains. The fearful noise which is heard from the heights, announce their arrival for a quarter or half an hour preceding, which affords time to take some means to avert this destructive visitation. Those who have been upon these mountains during the time of one of these storms, especially during a night of tempest, will retain the remembrance of one of the most imposing and terrific spectacles which has been given to man to consider; at one moment it is a wind of extraordinary violence; at the next, lightning the most vivid, illuminating for an instant the rudest scene in nature, and leaving it in the profoundest darkness, followed by thunders re-echoed from the neighbouring summits! The storm is often seen to rage below the spectator's feet, while he is enjoying the most serene and calm atmosphere; torrents pouring their whistling winds on one side, and trees and roots torn up on the other. The tempests of the plains in some respects produce similar phenomena, but these are by far the most terrible and sublime! A. H. (To be continued.)
Newlyn Vicarage, Truro, July 5. THILST your Reviewer accepts my best thanks for his flattering attention to my little book, (see Part I. page 540,) he will allow me to observe that, in his critique, there are some positions which seem to want support, and some remarks which, on due consideration, his candour, I think, will induce him to retract.
Polwhele's Essays on Marriage, &c.
With respect to Marriage, is it the opinion of the Reviewer, that "the connexion between the man and the woman should only subsist so long as the efforts of both are essential to the rearing of their children?" Surely not. But such might be inferred from "the fine argument of Lord Kaimes," as stated by the Critic. And Professor Millar's illustrations" are to me obscure. Dr. Beattie's admirable essay
"the Attachments of Kindred" would set all right. In the volume of "Dissertations" now before me, I had forgotten the essay "on Kindred ;" and very lately opened to it, by mere accident.
Of Roman Adulteries we have, doubtless, abundant proof. But I have drawn a line of evident distinction between ancient Rome, and Rome in the days of Horace, and of Juvenal, and Martial, and Seneca.
For the metaphysics of the Essay on Taste, it does not appear to me that the Reviewer and myself essentially disagree. Taste (as he most happily expresses it) is in landscape, "a knowledge of fine scenes, and assimilation to them. But this assimilation cannot exist without feeling and fancy.
My little volume is truly a "farrago libelli," where next rises into notice"the Deserted Village-school." The first edition of this poem was published at Edinburgh, under the direction of Sir Walter Scott, who considered it as a counterpart to Shenstone's "Schoolmistress," not as, in any respect, a copy. The stanzas, in both poems, are Spenserian. But the subject of the Deserted School" is perfectly new, from the first stanza to the last. The Stanzas most resembling Shenstone (though from the sentiment very distant from imitation) shall, by your leave, be submitted to your readers.
I must first, however, revert to the critique, where in my "Traditions and Recollections," the Reviewer thinks I have treated too leniently the character of Dr. Wolcot: but it was the character of Dr. W. in earlier life. Dreadful is it to consider, that as he grew older, he became more and more licentious. So that the term " flagiti ousness" is by no means inapplicable; and he was indeed (as I have represented him in the last chapter of my "Recollections") a hoary sinner. Yet I cannot conceive that, for this reason, I ought to withhold from Wolcot
the praise which is due to talent; or to stifle all my youthful recollections whilst I remember his unwearied attentions to my father in illness-attentions which, under Providence, prolonged a life so dear to me! Nor do I fear contamination, whilst I turn over those unpublished Poems of Wolcot, which I happen to possess; especially that pathetic epistle from Queen Matilda to her brother George III. and that fine Christmas Hymn or Carol, which we should be willing to derive from Christian feeling.
Let me now, Mr. Urban, beg your pardon for thus detaining you. And let me intreat your Reviewer to take in good part what I have ventured to intimate or suggest to him; again assuring him, that I sincerely thank him for his good opinion of me, and that I am gratified by those expressions of approbation which far outweigh the exceptions he may have made to some passages in my writings.
In allusion to "the Schoolmistress," is asked:
"Ah! whither in a store of knowledge rich,
Ah, whither exiled that far-dreaded Dame, Whose learning stamp'd the credit of a witch
(Such is its fate too oft) on honest fame? Where now that rod which, with unerring
Would idler strait in distant corner smite... Those ruthless twigs announcing sin and
Polwhele's Deserted Village School.
Be told, a parish-workhouse is her home, Nor, haste with lenient balms to mitigate her doom?" P. 198.
The old Schoolmaster is now introduced. And I regret, that through the rest of the Poem, we almost lose sight of Shenstone. I wish I could have caught his manner, and preserved it through the whole.
"There lived our good old Master, to the Muse
So dear-his virtues of no vulgar price! I own, contracted were his cottage-views: Yet only shall fastidiousness too nice Scoff at his sees and saws as prejudice. If he had any fault 'twas stubborn pride; Which, spurning innovation as a vice, Stuck to the system by his fathers tried :It was a fault, methinks, to merit much allied.
Grave was his port; and, as his cane he grasp'd,
At his approach the villagers would flee; Girls in their teens, and those by Hymen clasp'd
And (thrill'd, as if from thraldom scarcely free) [Three'! All fancied in his face the Rule of For deep the furrows of his beetling brow Arithmetic with age had trac'd, perdie : And, sure, of science he had full enow For anvil, awl, or axe, or clod-compelling plough." P. 200.
"And see where now, like locusts o'er the land, [trian route! Spreads far and near, the fierce LancasAt first, it was a sly and sneaking bandBut hark! as if all Bedlam were let out,'
Of' unreiterated sounds' a shout!
My task was tedious, and my mistress stern! I rather fear'd the birch, than loved the bays:
Nor did I, skill'd my interest to discern,
From intuition rare that irksome lesson learn.
Yet reason fructifies each forward wight,
Soon ripening into men the new-born race, Nor chastisement uncomely scares the sight, Nor passion mars reflection's sober grace, But in the illumined link-boy's liberal mind, Nor tears, that plead for pity, foul the face: While each ingenuous feeling holds its place,
Ne birch, ne ferula, was e'er design'd
His brogues let down (for modest eye too
Nor grovel in the dust in search of pelf;-
FLY LEAVES.-No. XIII.
HE Charles I. and was, according
flourished in the reign of
Hark! in the winds new acclamations swell!
Mingle with lawny lords, and prattle Dr.
Biceps, 1656, and Wit Restor'd, 1658. The following pieces were taken from an old manuscript volume † to engraft in Ellis's Specimens, vol. III. p. 173.