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or ten years old came out to us to beg; another specie men this of the patriarchal happiness enjoyed by the inhabitants of these huts.
At the Hempel's baude' we took up our quarters for the night. In the stranger's room, an apartment pos. sibly of ten feet square, they covered the floor with a heap of fresh hay, over which they stretched a dirty sheet, upon which we all lay down together, to get such sleep as could be obtained, under the incessant volubility of a number of strangers, seated round a table in the family room, separated from us only by a latched door. They were, like ourselves, going to the top of the mountain in the morning. . .
The prospect from this hut is already very extensive, and this evening we had a view of a fire in the plains below, at the distance of about forty English miles. It was a beautiful sight, though the idea that it was probably a heavy calamity to some of our fellow creatures, would not allow us to enjoy it.
One of the principal amusements at the baude; is turning over the book kept here for the strangers to insert their names. It is called the koppen book, and has been regularly kept for more than a century. You may form an opinion of the numbers of people who perform this tour from the circumstance, that the volume now in use is at its last sheet, and was begun no longer ago than the year 1788. The volume, containing the names from 1696 to 1736 has been considered so great a curiosity, that it has been printed. It contains so much trash, that one of the German tourists congratulates his countrymen upon the ima provement of their language and their intellectual en,
dowments, apparent from the difference between that book and its successor at the present day: there appears to be still much room for future congratulation of the same kind. We found here and there a pretty drawing, with the pen or pencil, of the most remarkable objects in the neighbourhood; here and there obu. servations of the barometer or thermometer, as they stood at the time when the writers were here; and admeasurements of the heights and distances from this spot to the top of the koppe. These, with a very few pretty lines, more or less applicable to the place, were all we could meet to refresh us in the dry desert of a thousand pages.
August 4th, 1800.—The reason which induces tra• vellers, who purpose a visit to the Riensenkoppe, to pass the night before at the Hempel's baud is, that "they may ascend the mountain in the morning, early
enough to see the sun rise from its summit. Such - was our intention; we accordingly rose at two o'clock, and set out, accompanied only by our guide*. We had, at first, a steep and painful ascent for about twenty minutes, then a gentle sloping downwards, and a plain for a quarter of an hour, until we came to the immediate foot of the particular hill which bears the
* In making excursions upon the Giant Mountains, it is necessary to be accompanied by a guide; for an ac. quaintance with all the places to be visited, towards some of which not so much as a footpath conducts, is a kind of profession,
name of the Giant's Head. The darkness of the night had been gradually dispersing, and the borders of the horizon at the east gradually reddening, from the moment when we left the baude, so that I was apprehen, sive that the Queen of Day, as Zollner, on a similar occasion, calls the sun, would show his glowing face before we should reach the summit; and to avoid this disappointment, doubled the usual pace of ascent, and, in another quarter of an hour, stood at the door of the chapel on the top of the mountain. About ten minutes after, the great luminary rose in all his glory from the lower cloud which bordered the horizon; forgo although the weather was remarkably fine for this re: gion, the sky was not perfectly clear, and a murky: vapour hung upon the atmosphere, which intercepted a part of the immense extent of territory which would otherwise have been within the compass of our visions I had heard so much of the apparent; magnitude of the sun's disk, when seen rising from this spot, that when I came to view it I found it less striking than I imagined; it appears about the size of a large coach wheel, but the same effect may at any time be produced by looking at it through a telescope.. i
The prospect from this spot is, of course, more ex. tensive than from any other point upon these mountains, and its grandeur is augmented by the circumstance that the eye can range freely, bounded only by the horizon on every side. The spectator has but to turn on his heel, and all Silesia, all Saxony, and all Bohemia pass in an instant before his view; it is there fore truly sublime; but as it has the defect usually at., tendant upon sublimity, of being indistinct, and in
some sort chaotic, the lover of beautiful objects must content himself with a smaller elevation*.
The proper Giant's Head is of a conical form, and the surface of the summit is not more, I think, than a hundred yards in diameter; its perpendicular elevation is about six hundred feet, and the path by which it is ascended forms nearly a regular angle of about forty-five degrees. The ascent would indeed be too steep to be practicable, but that, when the chapel on the top was built, in the year 1668, a flight of stone steps was made to assist the traveller in mounting to it, of which a sufficient part remains to give no small assistance, The mountain itself appears to be a solid block of granite, upon which there is no appearance of vegeta-. tion, unless a kind of red moss, resembling rust upon iron, which grows on the loose stones that cover it on every side, may be so called. These loose stones, part of which are of granite and part of a species of white flint, are in such abundance, that they wholly conceal the side of the mountain itself. On one side of the path, as you approach the top, a precipice of about fifteen hundred feet opens, by the side of which you continue to mount; it ends at the bottom, in a narrow vale of perhaps a mile in extent, along the course of,
; * It has been a just observation of a German painter, that from the highest mountains there was nothing picturesque, no. thing that he could employ as a subject for any one of his paintings. When the eye embraces at once, as from the sum. mit of a high mountain, such an extent of objects, it perceives only great masses; whereas, all the pleasure that painting can afford, is by the accurate representation of details,
which are scattered a number of peasants' huts. Here too it looks as if the body of the mountain had been riven at a single stroke, and the rocks which stand on either side correspond in such a manner as to resemble the teeth of a saw. Opposite the summit, to the westward, is a mountain somewhat lower, called the Little Koppe, from the foot of which is a sloping grass-plat, that goes by the name of Rübenzahl's Pleasure Garden *; other remarkable spots within the view are called his meadows, his pulpit, his grounds, &c. the whole neighbourhood is full of his name. I asked our guide to tell me honestly, whether he had ever seen
• It was formerly a general belief among the mountaineers, that, on the highest summit of the Giant Mountains, there resided a giant genius, named Rübenzahl; a very capricious sort of spirit, who assumed at pleasure the shape of a wolf or a bird, a monk or a bear, a huntsman or a goat, a serpent or a wisp of straw; who would often offer himself as a guide to the traveller, and, according as he happened to take his fancy, guide him faithfully, and make him handsome presents at parting; or lead him into swamps or wildernesses, and then leap upon a tree, and burst out into a horse laugh at the per. plexity of his miserable dupe. That he had a wonderful facility at raising instantaneous snow-storms, according as his fit of caprice happened to be cold or hot; and that nothing gave him so much offence as to hear his name spoken. Hence the peasants, who frequented what they considered as his do. minions, used to call him Mr. John, or the Giant Lord, or the Great Mountain God, that they might not incur his dis. pleasure by pronouncing his name. But, since a chapel has been built upon the spot of his abode, poor Rübenzahl has been obliged to fly, and nobody knows what has become of him; at least, it is certain, that since that period, now nearly one hundred and forty years, he has not been seen.