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“There's the young piping Faun—hark, he's going to warble,
Colour'd gowns without sleeves are the promenade dress,
The bonnets in fashion are sable as ink, But there's nothing, to me, so becoming as pink ; And iny visage would look, in black lining and borders, Less feminine, Jenny, than Mr. Recorder's. So I vow'd I would do my face justice, in spite Of fashion and France, and not look like a fright. The French I have learnt is what Chaucer, you know, Says was taught to the scholars at Stratford-by-Bow, But at Paris unknown—so I got a Precisian To teach me the phrases and accent Parisian ; And in stating my wants I was cautious to close With—“ Il faut qu'il soit doublé en couleur de rose." I wish you had seen their indignant surprise, The abhorrence they threw in their shoulders and eyes, And the solemn abjurings each minx took upon her, As if I had offer'd offence to her honour. “ Nous en avons en noir-mais ( Ciel! O Dieu ! En rose!! Ah, vous n'aurez pas ça dans la rue. Ce n'est pas distinguémc'est très mal-honnête, C'est passé c'est chassé”-Six weeks out of date! Then ihey tried on their own, and exclaimed How becoming! “C'est charmant-distingué :”—I knew they were humming, For I look'd just as sable and solemn, or worse Than the plume-bearing figure preceding a hearse.Would they put in a lining of pink, if I waited ? This point was in corners and whispers debated; But granted, on pledge not to tell : for they said, it Might implicate deeply their à-la-mode credit. And the price? “Soixante francs, quand c'est monté comme cela ; C'est toujours prix-fixé-nous ne marchandons pas.” I blush'd as I offer'd them forty; but they Took the cash without blushing or once saying nay.
I think you'll allow me one merit, dear Jane,
The scene where my purchase first made its début
* 2nd P.S.
LETTERS ON A TOUR IN SWITZERLAND.
Ev'n here where Alpine solitudes extend,
I sit me down a pensive lour to spend. GOLDSMITH. We left Chamounix by way of the sublime Alpine pass of the Téte Noire. We should have preferred passing over the mountain of the Col de Balme, but the weather was thick and cloudy, and all the attractions of the Col de Balme consist in its commanding prospect of the Alps around Mont Blanc, for the enjoyment of which a clear sky is indispensable. We had no reason to repent our choice ; for the scene of wild magnificence presented by the Tête Noire, is certainly one of the most remarkable and the most interesting which Alpine scenery can afford. Nature appears here to luxuriate in savage grandeur : she has here achieved her masterpiece in the style of sombre magnificence; and the traveller may be said to sup full of all the horrors of the picturesque. Chamounix itself, with all its impending snows and glaciers, presents a picture of smiling beauty and graceful loveliness, in comparison with this dark glen of rocks, and precipices, and cataracts, funereal firs, inaccessible crags, and bottomless abysses
“ Umbrarum hic locus est, somni, noctisque soporæ.” and one has abundant reason to invoke with the poet “ umbræ silentes," and all other deities of night and gloom, before attempting to describe these vales, on which the sun never shines, and where the rocks eter
nally echo the roar of the cataract. The valley, of which one side is bounded by the gigantic range of gloomy precipice, called the Tête Noire, is named Valorsine. In general, it is not half a mile in width. A few green pastures, studded with châlets and goatherds' cottages, lie deep sunk in the abyss, overhung on both sides by cliffs and wild precipices, rising rank above rank in gloomy grandeur, clothed with ranks of black firs, sometimes relieved by the lighter green foliage of the beech and larch. Here and there a bright cascade is seen, pouring its silvery and foaming stream down the rocks and amidst the foliage, till it finds its way into the furious torrent called the Eau Noire, which foams along the bottom of the glen. The village (as it is called) of Valorsine is situated in the middle of this valley, consisting of a few wooden châlets and huts inhabited by cowherds, and surrounded by pastures inclosed with rude stone walls. The people of Valorsine are said to be a remarkably fine race. I cannot say we saw any striking instances of beauty. They supplied us with some excellent milk, nat served up by the " fraiches et discretes laitieres” of Rousseau : at least, the former charm was wanting—the latter, probably for that reason, might exist in high perfection. Our Chamounix guides (the ever-to-berespected François Simon and Vincent Payaud,) who were most conscientious Ciceronis on all occasions, and never spared the legs of mules or men when a cascade or a point of view was within reach, insisted on our climbing about half a league up the sides of a mountain to admire a cascade, which they assured us, by way of recommendation, had so captivated Monsieur Canning, l'Ambassadeur Anglais, that he gave them five francs on condition that they should shew it to all his countrymen who passed that way. The cascade of Barberine we found to be a fine fall of turbulent foam, which any where else than in this land of cascades would have been well worth the soaking from the spray, which was the price our admiration cost us. From Valorsine we proceeded to Trient, by a path full of the most romantic beauties; at first, along the valley, following the sides of the torrent, which we crossed and recrossed several times by rude narrow wooden bridges, over which our mules stepped most dextrously. We then rapidly ascended a dangerous and wild path up the sides of the mountain of the Tête Noire, passing along the edge of continual precipices, and fir-covered rocks and heights beetling over our heads. In one of the wildest spots in this scene is an enormous mass of solid rock, half covered with brushwood, lichen, and moss, and which, to our surprise, was enclosed within neat new deal palisadoes. A long inscription announced that this rock was the fee-simple of Lord Guildford, who had purchased it of the Commune, and inclosed it, from a feeling of fondness for this romantic glen, through which he had passed on returning from Greece and Italy. We also heard it said, that his Lordship had endeavoured to purchase the little lake of Chede, in Savoy, whose crystal face perpetually reflects the snows of Mont Blanc-curious instances of the pleasure conferred by the feeling of property in any object that is interesting, even though the full enjoyment of that object is in no degree rendered more easy or complete by the possession of the title-deeds. Lord Guildford's cosmopolitan feelings and locomotive habits are not less remarkable than his knowledge and attainments.
We arrived at the little cluster of huts and chalets, called Trient,
somewhat glad to escape from dizzy precipices and rocky glens, in passing which it was difficult to participate the sang froid of our guides and mules. Trient is situated in one of the wildest and most desolate scenes that can be conceived ; and the châlets and their inhabitants almost equal, in uncouthness and wild simplicity, what one conceives of a tribe of Esquimaux or New Zealanders. Their provisions appeared not much of a superior description. Some sour wine, bad cheese, and potatoes, were all that the inn of the place afforded ; which however we dispatched in a sort of cabin where we could scarcely stand upright, with a wooden window, which served for the bed-room and dwelling-room of the family. We presently remounted our mules, and wound by a steep and difficult path, over rocks and amidst brushwood, to the summit of the range of mountains called the Forclaz, which here incloses the valley of the Rhone, and separates the lower country of the Vallais from Savoy. On reaching the summit, a new scene opened upon us—bold shelving mountains, covered with alternate pastures and forests, gradually slope down to the valley of the Rhone, through which, at three leagues distance, the river was gliding in silvery and meandering brightness ; while far beyond, the horizon was closed up by the rugged heights beyond Sion, sometimes frowning under a black burthen of clouds, and at others glittering forth in all their snowy splendour. Descending the mountain-path, we arrived in the Rhone valley, and presently found ourselves in the dirty and desolate town of Martigny-a place which concentrates a large portion of the filth, disease, and bigotry of the canton of Vallais, one of the most filthy, unwholesome, and bigoted countries of Europe.
The people have all an appearance of misery and stupidity; and dirt and wretchedness pervade every habitation. We were surprised, however, to find a smaller number of Goitres and Cretins than we had expected. Some still exist; but so many of these helpless wretches had perished in the revolutionary wars, that their number is very insignificant in comparison with what it was twenty years ago. Both Mr. Cox and Dr. Moore speak of Martigny as the head-quarters of this wretched calamity. We saw only a few hanging about the inns and the church, and endeavouring to attract the commiseration of travellers by a display of their infirmities. Many of them are deaf, dumb, and complete idiots. Some have a sort of inarticulate power of speech, and a very slender portion of intellect; and others appear to be only visited with the personal deformity of a tumour on the neck, and features slightly distorted, without any affection in speech, hearing, or common sense. In short, you meet in the valleys every gradation of this singular malady, from the most hideous objects of disease and imbecility to the gentle protuberance and roundness of neck, which is observable in the finest women in the Vallais, and indeed in Switzerland generally. The causes of this affliction have hitherto puzzled the investigation of naturalists. Saussure ascribes it to the relaxing tendency of the warm and stagnant air in these close Alpine valleys, of which the Vallais, where the disease is most found, is certainly the closest and worst ventilated. This singular valley, formed by the course of the Rhone, is not less than one hundred miles in length from its frontier on the canton of Uri to its junction with the Pays de Vaud ; walled in on all sides by a magnificent chain of mountains,
whose peaks and summits vary from a thousand to fourteen thousand feet in height. The valley is in few places above a league or a league and a half
in width ; and being entirely defended from the winds of the north, and very slightly accessible to those from any other quarter, its heat in summer is excessive. In some spots the corn is ripened and cut in the month of May. Between Sion and Martigny Fahrenheit's thermometer commonly stands in the shade in the summer months at 79, 80, and rises exposed to the sun to 114, 120. Wild asparagus grows commonly, and figs and almonds are ripened with ease. strong wine is produced almost without trouble, which might be rendered excellent if the Valaisans were skilful and industrious in the cultivation of the grape. It is not surprising that a narrow valley of this temperature, and in which the Rhone occasions vapour and marshy ground, should be found unhealthy; and it seems not improbable that these circumstances may contribute to the flaccid and diseased habits of the population. Some persons ascribe the tumours on the neck to certain deleterious qualities in the water; and a sensible gentleman assured us, that when the tumour has been opened, it has generally been found to contain a sort of kernel, apparently formed by an accretion of calcareous particles. It is difficult to conceive that any peculiarity in the water can alone produce this effect, which is endemic, to a greater or less degree, in all the valleys of the Alps from Savoy to Carinthia; but that this cause may co-operate with others is very probable. The air of the valleys is considered so peculiarly productive of the disorder, that many individuals who can afiord the expense, send their wives to a village in the mountains before their lying in, and children are often sent to the mountains to be reared. The filthy habits of the Valaisans, joined to the frequent deformity in the people, must also materially assist the disease, producing a disgusting and painful contrast with the sublime beauties of the natural scenery. In the Vallais all but the features “ of man is divine.” Martigny suffered severely in the year 1818 from the dreadful inundation of the river Dranse, which here unites with the Rhone. Many houses were washed away, and a considerable number of persons perished; and heaps of ruins and rubbish, and accumulations of sand and rock, still attest the violence of this calamity. In ascending from Martigny to the Grand St. Bernard, we saw more of its devastating effects. The road winds for a distance of two leagues through a gorge, between abrupt mountains formed by the course of the rapid Dranse ; and every step presents traces of the overwhelming force of the inundation of 1818. The torrent now flows in its natural accustomed bed, about thirty feet in width, but the channel worked out by the swollen torrent of 1818 is six or seven times that width, indeed nearly of the width of the bottom of the valley—a vast ravine half choaked up with mud, sand, prostrate firs and oaks, debris of granite, and scattered remnants of timber and masonry
nunc lapides adesos, Stirpesque raptas, et pecus et domos Volventis unà, non sine montium
Clamore, vicinæque sylvæ. Some of the masses of rock, hurled down the channel from the mountains, are thirty or forty feet in height, and scarcely less in diameter.