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“ So pleas'd at first, the tow'ring Alps we try,
It was reserved for this age of enterprise to disclose the secret wonders of the Superior Alps. The enormous ridges clothed with a depth of perpetual snow, often crowned with sharp obelisks of granite, styled by the Swiss horns, or needles; the dreadful chasms of some thousand feet in perpendicular height, over which the dauntless traveller sometimes stands on a shelf of frozen snow; the glaciers, or seas of ice, sometimes exceeding thirty or forty miles in length; the sacred silence of the scenes before unvisited, except by the chamois and goat of the rocks; the clouds, and sometimes the thunder-storm, passing at a great distance below; the extensive prospects which reduce kingdoms as it were to a map; the pure elasticity of the air, exciting a kind of incorporeal sensation, are all novelties in the history of human adventure....
.... To enumerate the natural curiosities of Swisserland would be to describe the country. The Alps, the glaciers, the vast precipices, the descending torrents, the sources of the rivers, the beautiful lakes and cataracts, are all natural curiosities of the greatest singularity and most sublime description. Of late the
Glaciers have attracted particular attention; but those seas of ice, intersected with numerous deep fissures, owing to sudden cracks which resound like thunder, must yield in sublimity to the stupendous summits clothed with ice and snow, the latter often descending in what are called avalanches, or prodigious balls, which, gathering as they roll, sometimes overwhelmi travellers, and even villages. Nay, the mountains themselves will sometimes burst, and overwhelm whole towns; as happened in the memorable instance of Pleurs, near Chiavana, in which thousands perished, and not a vestige of a building was left; nor are recent instances, though less tremendous, wholly unknown. The vast reservoirs of ice and snow give birth to many important rivers, whose sources deeply interest curiosity. As an example, the account which Bourrit* gives of that of the Rhone may be selected.—“At length we perceived through the trees a mountain of ice as splendid as the sun, and flashing a similar light on the environs. This first aspect of the Glacier of the Rhone inspired us with great expectation : a moment afterwards this enormous mass of ice having disappeared behind thick pines, it soon after met our sight between two vast blocks of rock, which formed a kind
* A citizen of the unfortunate republic of Geneva, now groaning under the yoke of imperial France: he has given an animated and lively description of the Glaciers of Savoy, which he has explored as a poet, while the sagacious M. Desaussure, another citizen of the same republic, explored them as a naturalist,
of portico. Surprised at the magrácence of this spectacle, and at its admirable contrasts, we hebeld it with 12 tare. At length we reacbed this beautiful Portico, beroad which we were to discover all the Eladier. We arrived: at this sigit one would suppose oni's set in apotber world, 50 mach is the imagination im; ressed with the nature and immensity of the objects. To form an idea of this superb spectacle, figure in your mind a scafflding of transparent ice, Elling a space of two miles, rising to the clouds, and darting flashes of light like tbe sun: Dos were the several parts less magnificent and surprising. One might see, as it were, tbe streets and buildings of a city, erecied in the form of an amphitheatre, and embeilished with pieces of water, cascades, and torrents. The tõects were as prodigions as the immensity and the height; the most beautinil azure, tbe most splendid white, the regular appearance of a thousand pyramids of ice, are more easy to be imagined than described. Such is the aspect of the Glacier of the Rhose, reared by nature on a plan which she alone can execute: we admire the majstic course of a river without suspecting that that which gives it birth and maintains its waters may be sull incre majestic and magnificent."....
" Immediately a place
I've often thought, in humble life,
Souls truly good are prov'd
Or thirst of glory mov'd.
Old Thomas but a peasant was,
A man of poor degree;
Yet proud of heart was he.
In bold and independent tone,
He told and told again,
From richer, greater men.
When yet a boy, where Thomas toild
My sport I oft confin'd;
To chat with me inclin'd.'
Thoughtful, I ask'd him once, when he
Would be content to die: “When with old age my strength is fled, And charity must give me bread,"
The old man did reply.
May God preserve from such a' fate,
Thought I, thy noble heart; Yet thought I not of half the grief, When his grey head should need relief,
Dependence could impart.
As late I pass'd the lowly roof
Where this good peasant dwelt,
No hand of his had felt.
“ And, is old Thomas dead?" I ask'd
A villager that pass'd;
Though struggling to his last.