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fore them, when they meet any particular difficulty they will pause for a second, consider it attentively, and then plant their foot accordingly; and as I always abandoned the bridle, and left them at full liberty, I could the better admire the wild and savage scenery around me. On our way, the Swiss peasant girls, and some of them very pretty, were awaiting the arrival of travellers, to offer them strawberries, and milk.
At the path called Le Chemin des Crystalliers, we dismounted, as thence to the Montanvert the road is inaccessible to any mule. Here our guides furnished each of us with a thick stick of about six feet long, having an iron spike at the end, by which contrivance alone. pedestrians can scale these precipices, thrusting it in the ground as a security and holdfast both in mounting and descending. Another hour's hard labour brought us to the Montanvert. Here is seen to greater advantage the stupendous Mont Blanc, the Giant Mountain of the Old World, rising to 15,000 feet above the level of the sea, capped with eternal snows, and surrounded by an attendant court, as it is poetically termed, of minor mountains. On the eminence where we then were, stands one poor hut, commonly called Le Pavillon, and as it commands an ample view of the Mer de Glace, it is the usual boundary of a traveller's pilgrimage.
But we had heard of a garden, Le Jardin des Alpes,
at a yet greater height, said to bloom in the midst of Alpine snows, and here we determined to go. We partook of some cold meat, and took the remains, with some brandy, and wine, in a wallet carried by one of the guides. Our aubergiste wished us “un bon voyage;" "and at half past eleven we set off.
We first walked by the side of the Mer de Glace, and then across it. This stupendous object has been compared to a raging ocean suddenly frozen, but I was not particularly struck with the justice of the simile. It is a frozen ocean, varying in depth from 100 to 500 feet, but not the slightest similarity to waves is perceptible. It is riven, and cleft, and split into mighty fissures, and the most irregular forms. Its grandeur is immeasurably heightened by its perpetual motion, though a frozen body. The enormous rocks, and masses, of granite with which it is loaded are, nevertheless, always slowly advancing: the currents beneath are ever impelling the rocks of ice above, and these again the mountains of stone that rest upon them. In summer as the sun melts, on a sudden the ice will yield, and these gigantic granites are immediately gulphed into the chasms beneath, or tumble, thundering down the icy ocean, which is entirely on a descent. The eye is distressed by gazing so long upon such dazzling snows, though it is beautiful to observe such profound fissures of purest ice tinted so delicately blue and green ;—to
hear the torrent terrificly roaring far beneath your feet when you look down the gulphs; to see the vaulted caves, and caverns, of virgin ice, and to watch the waters formed by the violence of opposite torrents rushing impetuously below, and forcing curves and arches in the ice through which they foam along their course. It may be observed that fissures in the ice are sometimes found more than 1200 feet deep.
After traversing the ocean, it became necessary to mount the precipices. Here are the pyramidical rocks called the Needles. They are of various heights. Les Aiguilles du Midi are 12,000 feet high, being clusters of rocks rising one above the other, and terminating in a point like a needle. In the centre, towering far above all, appeared Mont Blanc, girt, and crowned, with eternal snows. It was now about five o'clock in the evening, and I had for some time past felt myself seized with indisposition. I experienced no particular fatigue, or pain, from the labour of the ascent, but was attacked with a sickness and debility, which deprived me of all powers of exertion. I sat down for a short time to recover myself; for I was within half an hour of the summit, and was determined to proceed. Three successive times I essayed to go on, but absolutely sunk down owing to the feebleness arising from illness. My companions therefore left me, and attained the wishedfor height.
Jardin des Alpes.
The sun would now quickly set the garden was at an elevation of 5000 feet, and I had consequently to descend nearly as much. Slowly I got down a little way; and to my eager inquiries about the "garden" when rejoined by my friends, the result proved that they had clambered still higher rocks, and risked their lives ;-to see what? Little better than about a quarter of an acre of grass: only remarkable as growing amidst a wild of snows; and as the utmost limits here accessible.
For a long time, spite of sickness on my part, and fatigue on all sides, we went on bravely, running along the frozen ocean, leaping over its perpetual furrows, and hideous chasms, and descending the rocks by the aid of our spears. The icy sea had altered much since we first passed: already the chills of evening had frozen what the morning sun had melted; the path we had trodden was effaced; darkness began to draw around us, and we were still leagues from home, in the midst of trackless snows, and inaccessible precipices. At every step we now took, it was necessary first to sound the spot with our spears to ascertain whether it were solid ice, or only a surface of momentary frost. For myself, I cannot justly say that I feared the loss of life; moreover we all had the utmost confidence in our guides who, I am sure, knew the way well, though obliged by the darkness to take another route than that they came my pain was the
Jardin des Alpes.
feebleness arising from sickness, and the hard necessity of making the most desperate efforts. Slower and slower now was our pace; and almost every step threatened us with a cruel death. At times, we descended deep into the gulph below; then again, looking upward upon the fearful, and frowning, rocks above us, we scaled the slippery precipice. Not one of us could discover the least appearance of path, or imagine where he was next to be led :—had our guides been harsh, instead of kind, it would have been precisely as if we were being hurried by some remorseless banditti to their horrid den. Frequently, and whilst thus shrouded in the darkness of the night, only one at a time could walk along the brink of the giddy precipice: sometimes, too, it was necessary to leap from one slippery rock of ice to another, which would totter with the weight, and as the treacherous ground kept crumbling beneath our feet, a gulph on either side was yawning to receive us!
In all these perils, our guides were foremost, and fearlessly exposed themselves to help us:-wherewe could not mount, they held out their spear to hold by, thus pulling us up by main force; and, where we hesitated to go down, they jumped first, and opened their arms to catch us.--Thus we continued precipice upon precipice; gulf after gulf, clambering by the aid of granites where there was barely a hollow to gripe a finger; or by rocks of ice