To-day we have been in the Wengern Alps—the scenes described in Manfred. Imagine us mounting, about ten o'clock, from the valley of Lauterbrunn, on horseback—our party of three—with two guides. We had first been to see the famous Staubbach, a beautiful, though not sublime, object. Up we began to go among those green undulations which form the lower part of the mountain.

[Illustration: of narrow, high alpine meadows with grazing livestock.]

It is haying time; a bright day; all is cheerful; the birds sing; men, women, and children are busy in the field. Up we go, zigzag; it grows steeper and steeper. Now right below me is a field, where men are literally working almost on a perpendicular wall, cutting hay; now we are so high that the houses in the valley look like chips. Here we stand in a place two thousand feet above the valley. There is no shield or screen. The horse stands on the very edge; the guide stops, lets go his bridle, and composedly commences an oration on the scene below. "0, for mercy's sake, why do you stop here?" I say. "Pray go on." He looks in my face, with innocent wonder, takes the bridle on his arm, and goes on.

Now we have come to the little village of Wengern, whence the Wengern Alps take their name. How beautiful! how like fairyland! Up here, midway in air, is a green nook, with undulating dells, and shadowy, breezy nests, where are the cottages of the haymakers. The Delectable Mountains had no scene more lovely. Each house has its roof heavily loaded with stones. "What is that for?" I ask. "The whirlwinds," says my guide, with a significant turn of his hands. "This is the school house," he adds, as we pass a building larger than the rest.

Now the path turns and slopes down a steep bank, covered with haycocks, to a little nook below, likewise covered with new hay. If my horse is going to throw me any where, I wish it may be here: it is not so bad a thing to roll down into that hay. But now we mount higher; the breezy dells, enamelled with flowers and grass, become fewer; the great black pines take their place. Right before us, in the purest white, as a bride adorned for her husband, rises the beautiful Jungfrau, wearing on her forehead the Silver Horn, and the Snow Horn. The Silver Horn is a peak, dazzlingly bright, of snow; and its crest is now seen in relief against a sky of the deepest blue. See, also, how those dark pines of the foreground contrast with it, like the stern, mournful realities of life seen against the dazzling hopes of heaven.

There is something celestial in these mountains. You might think such a vision as that to be a bright footstool of Heaven, from which the next step would be into an unknown world. The pines here begin to show that long white beard of moss which I admire so much in Maine. Now, we go right up over their heads. There, the tall pines are under our feet. A little more—and now above us rise the stern, naked rocks, where only the chamois and the wild goat live. But still, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, looks forth the Jungfrau.

We turn to look down. That Staubbach, which in the valley seemed to fall from an immense precipice, higher than we could gaze, is now a silver thread, far below our feet; and the valley of Lauterbrunn seems as nothing. Only bleak, purplish crags, rising all around us, and silent, silver mountains looking over them.

"That one directly before you is the Monk," says C., calling to me from behind, and pointing to a great snow peak.

Our guide, with animation, introduced us by name to every one of these snow-white genii—the Falhorn, the Schreckhorn, the Wetterhorn, the great Eiger, and I cannot remember what besides. The guides seem to consider them all as old friends.

Certainly nothing could be so singular, so peculiar as this ascension. We have now passed the limit of all but grass and Alpine flowers, which still, with their infinite variety, embroider the way; and now the auberge is gained. Good night, now, and farewell.

That is to say, there we stopped—on the summit, in fair view of the Jungfrau, a wall of rock crowned with fields of eternal snow, whose dazzling brightness almost put my eyes out. My head ached, too, with the thin air of these mountains. I thought I should like to stay one night just to hear avalanches fall; but I cannot breathe well here, and there is a secret sense of horror about these sterile rocks and eternal snows. So, after dinner, I gladly consent to go down to Grindelwald.

Off we start—I walking—for, to tell the truth, I have no fondness for riding down a path as steep in some places as a wall; I leave that to C., who never fears any thing. So I walked all the way to Grindelwald, nine miles of a very rough road. There was a lady with her husband walking the same pass, who had come on foot the whole way from Lauterbrunn, and did not seem in the least fatigued. My guide exhausted all his eloquence to persuade me that it was better to ride; at last I settled him by saying, "Why, here is a lady who has walked the whole route." So he confined himself after that to helping me find flowers, and carrying the handkerchief in which I stowed them. Alas! what herbarium of hapless flowers, laid out stark, stiff, and motionless, like beauty on its bier, and with horrible long names written under them, can ever give an idea of the infinite variety and beauty of the floral crown of these mountains!

The herbarium resembles the bright, living reality no more than the morgue at St. Bernard's is a specimen of mountain travellers. Yet one thing an herbarium is good for: in looking at it you can recall how they looked, and glowed, and waved in life, with all their silver-crowned mountains around them.

After we arrived at Grindelwald, tired as I was, I made sketches of nine varieties, which I intend to color as soon as we rest long enough. So much I did for love of the dear little souls.

One noticeable feature is the predominance of yellow flowers. These, of various kinds, so abound as to make a distinct item of coloring in a distant view. One of the most common is this—of a vivid chrome yellow, sometimes brilliantly striped with orange.

[Illustration: of a flowered bract.]

One thing more as to botanical names. What does possess botanists to afflict the most fragile and delicate of earth's children with such mountainous and unpronounceable names? Now there was a dear little flower that I first met at St. Bernard—a little purple bell, with a fringe; it is more particularly beautiful from its growing just on the verge of avalanches, coming up and blossoming through the snow. I send you one in this letter, which I dug out of a snow bank this morning. And this fair creation—this hope upon a death bed—this image of love unchilled and immortal—how I wanted to know it by name!

[Illustration: of a tiny plant with a single flowering stem and two simple circular leaves.]

Today, at the summit house of the mountain, I opened an herbarium, and there were three inches of name as hopeless and unpronounceable as the German of our guides, piled up on my little flower. I shut the herbarium.

This morning we started early from Grindelwald—that is, by eight o'clock. An unclouded, clear, breezy morning, the air full of the sounds of cascades, and of the little bells of the herds. As we began to wind upward into that delectable region which forms the first stage of ascent, I said to C., "The more of beautiful scenery I see, the more I appreciate the wonderful poetry of the Pilgrim's Progress." The meadows by the River of Life, the Delectable Mountains, the land of Beulah, how often have I thought of them! From this we went off upon painting, and then upon music, the freshness of the mountain air inspiring our way. At last, while we were riding in the very lap of a rolling field full of grass and flowers, the sharp blue and white crystals of the glacier rose at once before us.

"O, I want to get down," said I, "and go near them."

Down I did get, and taking what seemed to be the straightest course, began running down the hill side towards them.

"No, no! Back, back!" shouted the guide, in unimaginable French and
German. "Ici, ici!"

I came back; and taking my hand, he led me along a path where travellers generally go. I went closer, and sat down on a rock under them, and looked up. The clear sun was shining through them; clear and blue looked the rifts and arches, all dripping and beautiful. We went down upon them by steps which a man had cut in the ice. There was one rift of ice we looked into, which was about fifty feet high, going up into a sharp arch. The inside of this arch was clear blue ice, of the color of crystal of blue vitriol.

Here, immediately under, I took a rude sketch just to show you how a glacier looks close at hand.

[Illustration: of the broken and chiseled surface of a glacier.]

C. wanted, as usual, to do all sorts of improper things. He wanted to stone down blocks of ice, and to go inside the cave, and to go down into holes, and insisted on standing particularly long on a spot which the guide told him was all undermined, in order that he might pelt a cliff of ice that seemed inclined to fall, and hear it smash.

The poor guide was as distressed as a hen when her ducks take to the water; he ran, and called, and shouted, in German, French, and English, and it was not till C. had contrived to throw the head of the little boy's hatchet down into a crevasse, that he gave up. There were two francs to pay for this experiment; but never mind! Our guide book says that a clergyman of Yevay, on this glacier, fell into a crevasse several hundred feet deep, and was killed; so I was glad enough when C. came off safe.

He ought to have a bell on his neck, as the cows do here; and apropos to this, we leave the glacier, and ride up into a land of pastures. Here we see a hundred cows grazing in the field—the field all yellow with buttercups. They are a very small breed, prettily formed, and each had on her neck a bell. How many notes there are in these bells! quite a diapason—some very deep toned, and so on up to the highest! how prettily they sound, all going together! The bells are made of the best of metal, for the tone is of an admirable quality.

0, do look off there, on that patch of snow under the Wetterhorn! It is all covered with cows; they look no bigger than insects. "What makes them go there?" said we to our guides.

"To be cool" was the answer.

Hark! what's that? a sudden sound like the rush of a cascade.

"Avalanche! avalanche!" exclaimed the guide. And now, pouring down the sides of the Wetterhorn, came a milk-white cascade, looking just like any other cascade, melting gracefully over the rocks, and spreading, like a stream of milk, on the soiled snow below.

This is a summer avalanche—a mere bijou—a fancy article, got up, or rather got down, to entertain travellers. The winter avalanches are quite other things. Witness a little further in our track, where our guide stops us, and points to a place where all the pines have been broken short off by one of them. Along here some old ghostly pines, dead ages ago, their white, ghastly skeletons bleached by a hundred storms, stand, stretching out their long, bony arms, like phantom giants. These skeleton pines are a striking image; I wonder I have not seen them introduced into pictures.

There, now, a little ahead, is a small hut, which marks the summit of the grand Scheidich. Our horses come up to it, and we dismount. Some of the party go in to sleep—I go out to climb a neighboring peak. At the foot of this peak lay a wreath of snow, soiled and dirty, as half-melted snow always is; but lying amid the green grass and luxuriant flowers, it had a strange air. It seemed a little spot of death in the green lap of rejoicing life—like that death-spot which often lies in the human heart—among all seeming flowers, cold and cheerless, unwarmed by the sunbeam, and unmelted by the ray that unfolds thousands of blooms around.

Now, I thought, I have read of Alpine flowers leaning their cheeks on the snows. I wonder if any flowers grow near enough to that snow to touch it. I mean to go and see. So I went; there, sure enough, my little fringed purple bell, to which I have given the name of "suspirium," was growing, not only close to the snow, but in it.

Thus God's grace shining steadily on the waste places of the human heart, brings up heavenward sighings and aspirations which pierce through the cold snows of affliction, and tell that there is yet life beneath.

I climbed up the grassy sides of the peak, flowers to the very top. There I sat down and looked. This is Alpine solitude. All around me were these deep, green dells, from which comes up the tinkle of bells, like the dropping of rain every where It seems to me the air is more elastic and musical here than below, and gives grace to the commonest sound. Now I look back along the way we have been travelling. I look at the strange old cloudy mountains, the Eiger, the Wetterhorn, the Schreckhorn. A kind of hazy ether floats around them—an indescribable aerial halo—which no painter ever represents. Who can paint the air—that vivid blue in which these sharp peaks cut their glittering images? Of all peaks, the Eiger is the most impressive to me.

[Illustration: of the sharp pointed Eiger, with mountain goats on a pinnacle in the foreground.]

It is a gigantic ploughshare of rock, set up against the sky, its thin, keen, purple blade edged with glittering frost; for so sharp is its point, that only a dazzling line marks the eternal snow on its head.

I walked out as far as I could on a narrow summit, and took a last look. Glaciers! snows! mountains! sunny dells and flowers! all good by. I am a pilgrim and a stranger.

Already, looking down to the shanty, I see the guide like a hen that has lost a chicken, shaking her wings, and clucking, and making a great ado. I could stay here all day. I would like to stay two or three—to see how it would look at sunrise, at sunset—to lie down in one of these sunny hollows, and look up into the sky—to shut my eyes lazily, and open them again, and so let the whole impression soak in, as Mrs. H. used to say.

But no; the sleepers have waked up, the guide has the horses ready, and I must come down. So here I descend my hill Difficulty into the valley of Humiliation. We stumble along, for the roads here are no turnpikes, and we come to a place called the Black Forest; not the Black Forest, but truly a black one. I always love pines, to all generations. I welcome this solemn old brotherhood, which stand gray-bearded, like monks, old, dark, solemn, sighing a certain mournful sound—like a benedicite through the leaves.

About noon we came to Rosenlaui. As we drew near the hotel the guide struck off upon a path leading up the mountain, saying, by way of explanation, "The glacier!"

Now, I confess that it was rather too near dinner time, and I was too tired at once to appreciate this movement.

I regret to say, that two glaciers, however beautiful, on an empty stomach, appear rather of doubtful utility. So I remonstrated; but the guide, as all guides do, went dead ahead, as if I had not said a word. C., however, rode composedly towards the hotel, saying that dinner was a finer sight than a glacier; and I, though only of the same mind, thought I would follow my guide, just to see.

W. went with me. After a little we had to leave our horses, and scramble about a mile up the mountain. "C. was right, and we are wrong," said my companion, sententiously. I was just dubious enough to be silent. Pretty soon we came to a tremendous ravine, as if an earthquake had rent a mountain asunder. A hundred feet down in this black gorge, a stream was roaring in a succession of mad leaps, and a bridge crossed it, where we stood to gaze down into its dark, awful depths. Then on we went till we came to the glacier. What a mass of clear, blue ice! so very blue, so clear! This awful chasm runs directly under it, and the mountain torrent, formed by the melting of the glacier, falls in a roaring cascade into it. You can go down into a cavern in this rift. Above your head a roof of clear, blue ice; below your feet this black chasm, with the white, flashing foam of the cascade, as it leaps away into the darkness. On one side of the glacier was a little sort of cell, or arched nook, up which an old man had cut steps, and he helped me up into it. I stood in a little Gothic shrine of blue, glittering ice, and looked out of an arched window at the cascade and mountains. I thought of Coleridge's line—

"A pleasure bower with domes of ice."

[Illustration: of a glacier's terminus, with animals and small buildings in the foreground.]

On the whole, the glacier of Rosenlaui paid for looking—even at dinner time—which is saying a good deal.

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