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Jardin des Alpes.
in which our guides first hammered out a little bit as a step for the foot. My head ached to distraction; the feet of one of our party were so cut and sore that he groaned with pain, and declared that he would rather lay down on the bleak rocks than attempt to walk further. There was another, and to me, a sad aggravation-I knew we must remain at Montanvert that night :-no bed to hope for :the greatest of all comforts after fatigue, or in sickness-a wooden bench on a stone-floor was the utmost we could expect.-But pains, like pleasures, have their termination :-about half past nine a glimmering of light at length appeared :-we redoubled our efforts, and reached our resting place : -Our host had been alarmed for our safety, and welcomed us sincerely-a cup of tea and some brandy were all he could supply. He and our guides shared one mattress up stairs; we had a wooden bench a-piece, a little hay, and a blazing fire at our feet, and with the additional comfort of our great coats, we thus laid down to rest.
'It is very far from my wish to magnify the dangers of this expedition :-many others have undertaken the same, though few in comparison with those who visit Switzerland. That it is perilous no one will dispute, but our peculiar danger arose from being overtaken by the darkness; no one had ever returned so late as ourselves-half past nine o'clock, in the latter end of September, whilst my particular
Source of the Arveron.
suffering arose from the feebleness of a sudden sickness :-but for this accident my feelings would have been very different. It appears that we had clambered that day, including the ascent from Chamouni to the Mer de Glace, and thence to the Jardin des Alpes between 7 and 8000 feet; and had walked above twenty-eight English miles. We have all had enough, for the present, of exploring Glaciers; for the future, we shall be content to admire them at a respectful distance.
Spite of extreme fatigue I could not sleep on hard boards; yet at five in the morning I was up, and perfectly well. I skipped nimbly down the rocks, with the help of my spear, to the Valley of Chamouni, though that occupied two hours, and stopped to examine the source of the Arveron.
This river is formed by the streams that melt, and flow, from the Glaciers above. At the foot of the valley appear immense cliffs of ice; the waters perpetually rushing from the accumulated snows on the precipices above, here force a passage through, and rush along the vale, carrying the huge stones with them. Nevertheless, in winter all is bound with adamantine barriers of ice, but in summer they again relent, and allow one to see the cleft from which the torrents issue, and the vaulted arch they have formed of above fifty feet in height, and twice the breadth. I stood a long time alternately gazing on the crystal stream, joyfully bounding
out, now at length released from its frozen barriers, and foaming along the vale, its brawling waves seeming to proclaim aloud their freedom; and then again admiring the vaulted arches of ice, tinted with the hues of gems, and resembling the open portal leading to the Palace of Frost.
I conclude this account of Mont Blanc with a detail of a recent memorable event. On the 18th of August, 1820, four gentlemen, an Englishman, Russian, Frenchman, and Genevese, set out on an expedition to ascend Mont Blanc, taking twelve guides. On the first night, they slept on the Grand Mulet, the usual place in the rock; bad weather prevented their progress on the second day; the morning of the third promised fair, and they proceeded. About twelve o'clock, the snows of the preceding night formed an avalanche; unhappily they found themselves on a plain of ice not sufficiently frozen to sustain their weight, having only the consistency of a few hours' frost. In an instant, the ground on which they trod gave way, sliding from under their feet, while the accumulating avalanche swept them headlong down the precipice. The first five guides were ingulfed by the yawning chasms in their fatal course; the remaining seven of the party had just sufficient presence of mind to stop themselves by striking their spiked sticks into the ice with all their force. Three of the guides, overwhelmed by the snows,
were never seen again; two fell most miraculously upon a projecting ice in the chasm, and were rescued.
The brother of our guide, Balmat, was one who perished; and our other, Deverassoud, was one of the rescued.
There are various kinds of Avalanches, and we saw, or heard, them almost perpetually; I mean the more harmless sort. At a distance, the noise they make by bringing in their course the stones, &c. &c. they meet, resembles the murmuring of the sea; when near it is loud as the thunder; but the fatal avalanche is that immense accumulation of snows during winter, which overhangs the rock, and which, as summer suns advance, will suddenly give way, and gathering additional velocity in its fall, forces its fatal progress to the plains below, overwhelming trees, cattle, houses, all, in one common ruin.
I had almost forgotten to insert three of the effusions I transcribed from the Album at the Montanvert, in which most visitors insert their names, or any notice they please, of their journey to the Mer de Glace. I have chosen a ludicrous essay - rather than a serious.
Arrived on the back of a mule,
La Tête Noire.
Do you think they would ever abide
The next has more fun than wit.
C'est bien dommage que toute cette glace ne soit pas rem◄ placée par du sucre. S. M. pourroit prendre le café à bon marché.
The third was inscribed by one of our party.
Ye Alpine heights! eternal snow!
Ye caverns, pyramids of ice !—
Yet colder the heart that does not glow
As nature's wonders to his view arise.
Mont Blanc, sublime! thy cloud-hid towers to me
The mighty footstep doom'd to be
Of God from Heaven to Earth!
The same morning that we returned from the Mer de Glace, we rode our mules to the summit of La Flechiere, which at an height of 2000 feet commands a grand view of Mont Blanc, and neigh bouring mountains.
Tuesday-Safe again after an expedition almost as perilous as the one I have just recorded.
One friend and self, with Balmat as our guide, reached Martigny on Saturday evening, taking the road through the forest called La Tête Noire.
First I would, if I could, describe the scenery of this passage, the sublimities of which arresting all my faculties, I sat on my mule, heedless of its