« AnteriorContinuar »
through the earth, till it gets to this great reservoir. The large trout are sent to Turin, and bought up for the King's table, and for those of foreign ministers, for great entertainments. During the time that the Lake is frozen over, loaded mules, and herds of cattle cross it; without danger, as the ice is frequently from seven to eight feet thick.
Having reached the Priest's house, we stopped, and asked adınittance. He, good old man, received us with the utmost hospitality; he has quite the appearance and countenance one should attach to the idea of the Patriarchs of old. He gave us excellent cheese of the mountain* with as good wine and bread as the Porters had promised us. His house was clean ; and he shewed us one room, which he boasted of, as having been occupied three summer months by a noble guest, Lord A-g-n; who had recired here from Florence, during the heats of summer, and with some sporting-dogs, and English horses, amused himself upon these mountains. His apartment was fitted up in the most humble man. ner ; his pious host, by way of enlivening it, had graced the walls with prints representing the fathers of the desart. The poor old man mentioned him with parental tenderness, spoke highly in his praise, and regretted his departure with the utmost sensibility. · I wonder how so young a man could find sufficient resources in himself to be able to exist volun
* This cheese is made of three milks, viz. Cow, goat, and jiheep. .
tarily in so dreary a solitude as that of Mont Cennis. The hospital, which joins to the Priest's house, is for the reception of pilgrims travelling over the mountain: Pere Nicolas is chaplain to it. In case of sickness, they are lodged and taken care of till recovered ; if they happen to be benighted, they are taken in for one night only. Each pilgrim that calls at the hospital receives a pound of bread and some soup. This inftitution was certainly well intended; but at present those who receive these charitable donations are nothing better than a mass of idle vagabonds, who, rather than work, wander about with scollop Thells in their hats, and under pretence of pilgrimaging, indulge a lazy disposition of rambling, and frequently of pilfering upon their road. .
Having taken leave of our kind hoft, promising to revisit him at our return, if we should come back the same way, we proceeded to La Grande Croix, an inn, situated at the extremity of the plain, the descent commencing immediately after. Opposite to the inn is a small chapel, where those who happen to perish on the mountain by cold, lightning, or any other accident, are buried. Here our Porters rested for above an hour, while we tasted the famous trout of the Lake, which they fried for us; and although they were not large, as I think I mentioned before, they were uncom. monly well-flavoured. They brought us butter, which was the best I think I ever tasted, perhaps owing to the many aromatic herbs the cows find on
the plain. They afferted, that for nine months. of the year they keep their cows in their kit. chens, in order to make fresh butter for the English travellers. The wine is very pleasant, produced by the sides of the mountains, and is preferyed in goat-skins. Had I seen this vessel before I had tasted of its contents, I doubt if I could have prevailed on myself to have touched it, for these skins have a dirty and disgusting appearance: the hair is off, but the skin looks black and greasy; where the feet and the head grew it is fewed up: the whole looks like some strange swollen monster. The Ganymede, cup-bearer, or Savoyard who acts as butler, tucks up this dismembered appearance, like a pair of Scotch bag. pipes, under his arm, presents its pofteriors to the guests, and plucks out a peg; the wine flies out from a tap Nature never intended for this purpose when she created goats.
The descent from la Grande Croix is extremely rapid for about three hundred yards. I don't know any thing this road resembles more than a broken stone stair-cafe, which occasions the Porters to turn fo suddenly with its windings, that the person in the chair paffes clear over the sharp angles, cutting them, as it were, across Notwithstanding the novelty of this manner of
travelling, the steepness of the road, and the velo| city with which I descended, my Porters running
almost the whole way, I never once felt myself fufficiently frightened to lay hold of the arms of
the the chair, my attention was so much engaged with the fingularity and variety of the prospect below; for the sun having now got up far enough over these stupendous mountains to disperse the fogs and vapours on this side of the world, discovered to us, through fragments of broken clouds, fertile valljes, woods, villages, and rivers, seen as a bird fies. When, by the crooked turning of the road, we lost this prospect, the eye was supplied with prodigious cascades, the spray of which fell down upon us in rain, and mixing with the clouds, produced the most beautiful rainbows, whose vivid colours dazzled the fight. Whatever you may think of clouds when you behold them, and their foft and warm appearance in a fine day, they are nevertheless exceedingly damp and cold to pass through. I certainly need not inform you, that I have been much higher than the clouds. At some moments during the defcent, I could not help fancying myself a witch upon a broomstick. The beautiful cascade, particularly noticed by both Richard and Lalande *, is much better described by the former. The rock is plainly incrusted with ore of lead and copper, and the sand about it evidently impregnated with metallic substances. This cascade falls from a prodigious height. Hav. ing arrived at what is called the Plain of St. Nicholas, we had thence a clear and distinct view of ir. There are still some small remains of ruined walls
and rails; the latter indeed is carried away every year by the fall of snow, but constantly replaced in the spring by the peasants.
From this plain, which is rough and rugged, we came to a village called La Ferriere, standing exactly midway between La Grande Croix and Novalese; here our Porters rested just time enough to drink a draught of wine and water. This village is more than wretched; and already you perceive yourself in Piedmont; the dawnings of the little, low, cheating Piedmontese cunning begin to shew themselves in the countenances of the peasants of La Ferriere.
Within about half a league out of the road from La Novalese to La Ferriere, upon your left, is the hill called the Alietta, the famous scene of a victory gained over the French army, in the year by the troops of his Sardinian majesty and his allies. M-- acquiesces in my inclosing you the following account of that action, which he wrote down almost from the mouth of an officer of the guards of Piedmont, who had a share in it; he does not himself, in any respect, question its authenticity; and you know he is fond of, and well-informed upon military subjects,—at least Į think so.-It may amuse you to compare this recital, with those given by Voltaire and other historians, of this battle, so very important in its confequences, as well as, he thinks, so very much misrepresented by them.