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civilized than its British rival. A member of a School Board might rejoice to see the energy with which the children are making up arrears of eciucation interrupted by the summer labours. Olive branches are plentiful in these parts, and they seem to thrive amazingly in the winter. The game of sliding in miniature sleighs seems to be inexpressibly attractíve for children of all ages, and may possibly produce occasional truancy. But the sleighs also carry the children to school from the higher clusters of houses, and they are to be seen making daily pilgrimages long enough to imply a considerable tax upon their pedestrian powers. A little picture comes back to me as I write of a string of red-nosed urchins plodding vigorously up the deep tracks which lead from the lower valley to a remote hamlet in a subsidiary glen. The day was gloomy, the light was fading, and the grey hill-ranges melted indistinguishably into the grey sky. The form of the narrow glen, of the level bottom in which a few cottages clustered near the smothered stream, of the sweeps of pineforests rising steeply to the steeper slopes of alp, and of the ranges of precipitous rock above was just indicated by a few broad sweeps of dim shadow distinct enough to suggest, whilst scarcely defining, the main features of the valley and its walls. Lights and shadows intermingled so faint and delicate that each seemed other; the ground was a form of twilight; and certainly it looked as though the children had no very cheerful prospect before them. But, luckily, the mental colouring bestowed by the childish mind upon familiar objects does not come from without nor depend upon the associations which are indissoluble for the older observer.

There is no want, indeed, of natural symbols of melancholy feeling, of impressive bits of embodied sadness, recalling in sentiment some of Bewick's little vignettes of storm-beaten crag and desolate churchyard. Any place out of season has a certain charm for my mind in its suggestions of dreamful indolence. But the Alpine melancholy deepens at times to pathos and even to passionato regret. The deserted aspect of these familiar regions is often delicious in its way, especially to jaded faculties. But it is needless to explain at length why some familiar spots should now be haunted, why silence should sometimes echo with a bitter pang the voices of the past, or the snow seem to be resting on the grave of dead happiness. The less said on such things the bettor ; though the sentinent makes itself felt too emphatically to be quite ignored. The sadder strains blend more audibly with the music of the scenery as one passes upwards through grim gorges towards the central chain and the last throbs of animation begin to die away. In the calmest summer day the higher Aar valley is stern and savage enough. Of all congenial scenes for the brutalities of a battle-field, none could be more appropriate than the dark basin of the Grimsel, with nothing above but the bleakest of rock, and the most desolate of snow-fields, and the sullen lake below, equally ready to receive French or Austrian corpses. The winter aspect of the valley seems to vary between two poles. It can look ghastly as death when the middle air is thick with falling snow, just revealing at intervals the black bosses of smoothed cliff that glare fantastically downwards from apparently impassable heights, whilst below the great gash of the torrent-bed looks all the more savage from the cakes of thick ice on the boulders at the bottom. It presents an aspect which by comparison may be called gentle when the winter moonlight shows every swell in the continuous snowfields that have gagged the torrent and smoothed the ruggedness of the rocks. But the gorge is scarcely cheerful at the best of times, nor can one say that the hospice to which it leads is a lively place of residence for the winter. Buried almost to the eaves in snow, it looks like an eccentric grey rock with green shutters. A couple of servants spend their time in the kitchen with a dog or two for company, and have the consolations of literature in the shape of a well-thumbed almanac. Doubtless its assurance that time does not actually stand still must often be welcome. The little dribble of commerce, which never quite ceases, is represented by a few peasants, who may occasionally be weatherbound long enough to make serious inroads on the dry bread and frozen ham. Pigs, for some unknown reason, seem to be the chief article of exchange, and they squeal emphatic disapproval of their enforced journey. At such a point one is hanging on to the extremest verge of civilization. It is the last outpost held by man in the dreary regions of frost. One must generally reach it by floundering knee-deep, with an occasional plunge into deeper drifts through hours of severe labour. Here one has got almost to the last term. The dream is almost a nightmare. One's soul is sinking into that sleep

Where the dreamer seems to be

Weltering through eternity. There is but a fragile link between ourself and the outer world. Taking a plunge into deep water, the diver has sometimes an uncomfortable feeling, as though an insuperable distance intervened between himself and the surface. Here one is engulphed in abysses of wintry silence. One is overwhelmed and drenched with the sense of mountain solitude. And yet it is desirable to pass yet further, and to feel that this flicker of life, feeble as it may be, may yet be a place of refuge as the one remaining bond between yourself and society. One is but playing at danger ; but for the moment one can sympathise with the Arctic adventurer pushing towards the Pole, and feeling that the ship which he has left behind is the sole basis of his operations. Above the Grimsel rises the Gallenstock, which, though not one of the mightiest giants, is a grand enough peak, and stands almost at the central nucleus of the Alps. The head waters of the Rhone and the Rhine flow from its base, and it looks defiantly across a waste of glaciers to its great brethren of the Oberland. It recalls Milton's magnificent phrase, “ The great vision of the guarded Mount,” but looks over a nobler prospect than St. Michael's. Five hours' walk will reach it in summer, and it seemed that its winter panorama must be one of the most characteristic in the region. The accident which frustrated our


attempt gave a taste of that savage nature which seems ready to leap to life in the winter mountains. The ferocious element of the scenery culminated for a few minutes, which might easily have been terrible.

We had climbed high towards the giant backbone of the mountain, and a few minutes would have placed us on the top. We were in that dim upper stratum, pierced by the nobler peaks alone, and our next neighbour in one direction was the group of Monte Rosa, some sixty miles away, but softly and clearly defined in every detail as an Alpine distance alone can be. Suddenly, without a warning or an apparent cause, the weather changed. The thin white flakes which had been wandering high above our heads changed suddenly into a broad black veil of vapour, dimming square leagues of snow with its shadows. A few salmon-coloured wreaths that had been lingering near the furthest ranges had vanished between two glances at the distance, and in their place long trailers of cloud spread themselves like a network of black cobwebs from the bayonet-point of the Weisshorn to the great bastion of the Monte Rosa, and seemed to be shooting out mysterious fibres, as the spider projects its nets of gossamer. Though no formed mass of cloud had showed itself, the atmosphere bathing the Oberland peaks rapidly lost its transparency, and changed into a huge blur of indefinite gloom. A wind, cold and icy enough, had all day been sucked down the broad funnel of the Rhone glacier, from the limiting ridges; and the light powdery snow along the final parapet of the Gallensback had been blowing off in regular puffs, suggestive of the steady roll of rifle smoke from the file-firing of a battalion in line. Now the wind grew louder and shriller; miniature whirlwinds began to rollick down the steep gullies, and when one turned towards the wind, it seemed as if an ice-cold hand was administering a sharp blow to the cheek. In our solitude, beyond all possible communication with permanent habitation, distant by some hours of walk even from our base at the Grimsel, there was something almost terrible in this sudden and ominous awakening of the storm spirit. We had ventured into the monster's fastness and he was rousing himself. We depended upon the coming moon for our homeward route, and the moon would not have much power in the thick snowstorm that was apparently about to envelope us.

Retreat was evidently prudent, and when the dim light began to fade we were still climbing that broad-backed miscellaneous ridge or congeries of ridges which divides the Grimsel from the Rhone glacier. In summer it is a wilderness of rocky hummocks and boulders, affording shelter to the most ambitious stragglers of the Alpine rose, and visited by an occasional chamois a kind of neutral ground between the kingdom of perpetual snow and the highest pastures-one of those chaotic misshapen regions which suggest the world has not been quite finished. In winter, a few black rocks alone peep through the snowy blanket; the hollows become covered pitfalls; and some care is required in steering through its intricacies, and crossing gullies steep enough to suggest a possibility of avalanches. Night and storm might make the work severe,

though there was no danger for men of average capacity, and with firstrate guides. But, suddenly and perversely, the heaviest and strongest man of the party declared himself to be ill. His legs began to totter, and he expressed a decided approbation of sitting in the abstract. Then, I must confess, an uncomfortable vision flitted for a moment through my brain. I did not think of the spirited description of the shepherd, in Thomson, lost in the snow-drifts,

when, foul and fierce,

All winter drives along the darkened air. But I did recall a dozen uncomfortable legends-only too authentic-of

a travellers lost, far nearer to hospitable refuges, in Alpine storms; of that disgusting museum of corpses, which the monks are not ashamed to keep for the edification of travellers across the St. Bernard ; of the English tourists frozen almost within reach of safety on the Col du Bonhomme; of that poor unknown wanderer, who was found a year or two ago in one of the highest chalets of the Val de Bagne, having just been able to struggle thither, in the winter, with strength enough to write a few words on a bit of paper, for the instruction of those who would find his body when the spring brought back the nomadic inhabitants. Some shadowy anticipation suggested itself of a possible newspaper paragraph, describing the zeal with which we had argued against our friend's drowsiness, of our brandy giving out, and pinches, blows, and kicks gradually succee ling to verbal remonstrance. Have not such sad little dramas been described in numberlegs books of travel ? But the foreboding was thrown away. Our friend's distress yielded to the simplest of all conceivable remedies. A few hinches of bread and cheese restored him to a vigour quite excluding even the most remote consideration of the propriety of applying physical force. He was, I believe, the freshest of the party when we came once more, as the moonlight made its last rally against the gathering storm, in sight of the slumbering hospice. It certainly was as grim as

. ever-solitary and gloomy as the hut of an Esquimaux, representing an almost presumptuous attempt of man to struggle against the intentions of nature, which would have bound the whole region in the rigidity of tenfold torpor. To us, fresh from still sterner regions, where our dreams had begun to be haunted by fierce phantoms resentful of our intrusion, it seemed an embodiment of comfort. It is only fair to add that the temporary hermit of the place welcomed us as heartily as might be to his ascetic fare, and did not even regard us as appropriate victims of speculation.

After this vision of the savageness of winter, I would willingly venture one more description ; but I have been already too daring, and beyond certain limits I admit the folly of describing the indescribable. There are sights and scenes, in presence of which the describer, who must feel himself to be, at hest, a very poor creature, begins to be sensible that he is not only impertinent but profane. I could, of course, give a rough catalogue of the beauties of the Wengern Alp in winter ; a statement of the TOL. XXXV.-NO. 207.


number of hours wading in snow across its slopes; a rhapsody about the loveliness of peaks seen between the loaded pine-branches, or the marvellous variety of sublimity and tender beauty enjoyed in perfect calm of bright weather on the dividing ridge. But I refrain. To me the Wengern Alp is a sacred place—the holy of holies in the mountain sanctuary, and the emotions produced when no desecrating influence is present and old memories rise up, softened by the sweet sadness of the scenery, belong to that innermost region of feeling which I would not, if I could, lay bare. Byron's exploitation of the scenery becomes a mere impertinence; Scott's simplicity would not have been exalted enough; Wordsworth would have seen this much of his own image; and Shelley, though he could have caught some of the finer sentiments, would have half spoilt it by some metaphysical rant. The best modern describers cannot shake off their moralizing or their scientific speculations or their desire to be humorous sufficiently to do justice to such beauties. A follower in their steps will do well to pass by with a simple confession of wonder and awe.

The last glorious vision showed itself as we descended from Lauterbrunnen, in the evening, regretting the neglect of nature to provide men with eyes in their backs. The moonlight reflected from the all-enveloping shroud of snow, slept on the lower ridges before us, and gave a mysterious beauty to the deep gorge of the white Lübschine; but behind us it turned the magnificent pyramid of the Jungfrau from base to summit into one glowing mass of magical light. It was not a single mass—a flat continuous surface, as it often appears in the more emphatic lights and shades of day-time; but a whole wilderness of peak, cliff and glacier, rising in terrace above terrace and pyramid above pyramid, divided by mysterious valleys and shadowy recesses, the forms growing more delicato as they rose, till they culminated in the grand contrast of the balanced cone of the Silberhorn and the flowing sweep of the loftiest crest. A chaos of grand forms, it yet suggests some pervading design, too subtle to bo understood by mortal vision, and scorning all comparison with earthly architecture. And the whole was formed, not of vulgar ice and earth, but of incarnate light. The darkest shadow was bright against the faint cliffs of the shadowy gorge, and the highest light faint enough to be woven out of reflected moonshine.

So exquisitely modulated, and at once so audacious and so delicate in its sumptuous splendours of design, it belonged to the dream region, in which we appear to be inspired with supernatural influences. But I am verging upon the poetical. Within a few hours, we were

. again struggling for coffee in the buffets of railway stations and forgetting all duties, pleasures, and human interests amongst the tumbling waves of the “silver streak.” The winter Alps no longer exist. They are but a vision-a faint memory intruding itself at intervals, when the roar of commonplace has an interval of stillness. Only, if dreams were not at times the best and most solid of realities, the world would be intolerable.

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