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were here; perhaps, the greatest that he encountered from natural obstacles during his extraordinary expedition in 1800, across these Alps. Lately the spirited Valaisans have cut an excellent road along the precipices which overbang the deep course of the Drance, avoiding the steep rises and falls of the old road, and leading the traveller by a safe path, which their daring engineers have cut out of the rock, through a savage and appalling defile.
On leaving the forest, and rising to where the pines and Jarches are stunted from their elevation above the level of the sca, the traveller arrives at some pasturages, where there are many châlets. The enormous mass of the Mont Velan appears to forbid further progress, some of its fine glaciers, particularly that of Menou, stream down into the plain of Prou, where, amidst the 'shelter of surrounding mountains, numerous herds gather the rich herbage of this alpine pasturage.
On rising above this basin, the path enters another defile, and the scenes become more sterile and dreary as the summit is approached. At length, after passing some beds of snow, the solitary walls of the
Hospice appear, and the traveller reaches, on the very summit of the pass, this dwelling in the clouds, 8200 English feet above the level of the sea.
Here, in the practice of the most disinterested benevolence, lives this community of Religieux, who devote the best time of their lives, when man is most susceptible of his powers for its enjoyment, to the service of their fellow men; those whose pursuiis oblige them to traverse these dreary fields in seasons of danger, when, without such aid and protection, hundreds must perish.
The Hospice is a massive stone building, well adapted 10 its perilous situation, which is on the very highest point of the pass, where it is exposed to tremendous storms from the north-east and south-west. On the north-west it is sheltered by the Mont Chenelletaz, and in an opposite direction by the Mont Mort. There is no mountain which bears the name of the St. Bernard. Like that of the St. Gotthard, the name is only given to the pass. The chief building is capable of accommodating 70 or 80 travellers with beds : 300 may be sheltered; and between 500 and 600 have received assistance in one day. Besides this, there is a house near the hospice on the other side of the way; it was built as a place of refuge in case of fire-an event which has twice happened here since the foundation of the establishment. It bears the name of the Hôtel de St. Louis, which was given in compliment to the kings of France, whose protection was often extended to the hospice. It is chiefly used for offices, and by the domestics of the establishment.
Within a few years additional accommodation in bed rooms has been added. The ground floor consists of stabling, store-room for wood, fodder, etc. A flight of steps leads up to the principal entrance in the first floor of the building, where a long corridor connects the ollices, etc. with the chapel. Another corridor on the floor above leads to the dor. milories, the resectory, the gallery of the chapel, etc. The Drawing Room, appropriated to the reception of strangers, especially ladies, is entered from the stairs between the two corridors. Here, the few brethren who are privileged to enter, do the honours to their visitors.
The Clavandier, (or Burser), an office which was, until Jately, most courteously filled for many years by M. Barras, who resided nearly thirty years at this hospice, when he was removed, and placed at the head of his bretbren, in the recently established hospice, on the pass of the Simplon. The Clavandier the commissary of the establishment, is the brother who usually presides at the hours of 12 and 6, dinner and supper. Formerly gentlemen dined or supped with all the monks in their refectory, but this is now discontinued.
The room appropriated to visitors is large and convenient; it is hung with many drawings and prints, presents sent by travellers in acknowledgment of the kind attentions which they had received from the brethren. A piano was among the presents thus sent, by a lady. Attached to this room is a cabinet, in which a day, unfavourable for outdoor enjoyment, may be passed with interest and pleasure. It contains collections of the plants, insects, and minerals of the Alps, and many relics of the temple dedicated to Jupiter, which formerly stood on this pass, near to the site of the hospice. These antiquities consist of votive tablets, and figures, in bronze, and other metals and materials, arms, coins, etc., and are curiously illustrative of the early worship on this mountain, and the intercourse established over this pass. No trace whatever now remains of the temple, though these relics are found upon what is known 10 have been its site. Steps cutin the rock may yet be seen, which led up to the spot upon which the temple stood.
The chapel of the hospice is generally well attended on Sundays and Festas, when the weather is not unfavourable, by the peasants from the neighbouring valleys and Alp pastures. The tawdry ornaments of Catholic ceremony and worship in the chapel weakens the impressive character of the establishment and its devotees, for whom the most unfeigned respect must exist; but as their religious peculiarities are never obtruded upon strangers, and as their most valuable duties are performed in obedience to the dictates of
their religion, no man has a right to make them a ground of offence.
After the battle of Marengo, where Desaix sell, Napoleon ordered a monument to be erected in the chapel of the convent, but it bas within a few years been removed, and is now placed on the landing of the stairs, between the corridors.
In the chapel there is a box , where donations in aid of the funds of the establishment are put, and travellers who receive its hospitalities offer their acknowledgments in a sum not less than they would have paid for such accommodation at an inn. The money thus given by those who can afford it, ought to be in a more liberal degree, because that excess aids the monks to extend their assistance to poor and destitute travellers, a very numerous class of claimants upon them, from the great intercourse which exists by this pass between Switzerland and Italy.
There are usually 10 or 12 brethren here. They are all young men, who enter upon this devoted service at 18, and few survive the time of their vow, 15 years : the severities of the weather in the winter, at this height, impairs their health, and they are driven lo retire to a lower and more genial clime, but often with broken constitutions and ruined health. Even in the summer, it has happened that the ice never melted in the lake on the summit, and in some years not a week has passed without snow falling. It always freezes early in the morning, even in the height of summer, and the hospice is rarely four months clear of deep snow. Around the building, it averages 7 or 8 feet, and the drifts sometimes rest against it and accumulate to the height of 40 feet. In the summer of 1816, the ice of the lake, on the summit of the Great St. Bernard never melted, and not a week passed without snow falling. The severest cold recorded was 290 below zero, of Fabrenheit : it has often been observed at 18° and 200 below. The greatest heat has been 680, but even in the height of summer, it always freezes in the morning.
The perilous passage of this mountain is more frequently undertaken in the winter than is generally imagined; it is difficult to conceive the necessity or urgency of affairs which can lead persons at such a season through scenes of such peril. They are generally pedlars or smugglers who traverse these dreary and dangerous solitudes in defiance of the snows, tourmentes, and avalanches, which always threaten and often overwhelin them. During the severe cold, the snow at this elevation falls like dust; the particles are frozen so hard that they do not attach and forin flakes as in lower regions, por consolidate on the surface where it lies; a storm of wind, therefore, lists it, and the air is Glled with a mist of snow which the eye cannot penetrate; and the poor wretch expos
ed to it wanders from the land-marks, which in clear weather would guide bim, to some fatal spot where he is destroyed. These are the tourmentes so much dreaded. Aralancbes are less frequent, but they are often fatal; snow, in large masses, acrumulates on the steep slopes of the mountains, until its weight overcomes its support, or, submelting, loosens it; then it suddenly slides off, and soon acquires a degree of inconceivable violence, which sweeps away everything in its course : these avalanches often happen in the winter, and render the approach to the hospice, especially on the side of Switzerland, very dangerous.
To assist travellers, amidst the perils to which they are here exposed, is the duty to which the kind brethren of the hospice and their assistants devote themselves. Undismayed by ihe storm they seek amidst these dangers the exhausted or overwhelmed traveller; they are generally accompanied by their Dogs, animals of peculiar sagacity for this service. These often roam alone day and night through these desolate regions, trace out the victim buried in the snow, lie on him to impart warmth, bark and howl for assistance, or if the distance be too great, return to obtain it. There are usually five or six of these noble animals kept at the hospice, but their duties sometimes lead them into fatal danger. On the 17th of December, 1825, a party, of three Maroniers, domestics of the convent, one of them was Victor, a worthy man, welt remembered by alpine travellers, went out with two dogs, on the side of the Vacherie, to search at a dangerous time for travellers; they met one with whom they were returning to the convent, when an avalanche overwhelmed thein, and all perished except one of the dogs, whose prodigious strength and activity enabled it to escape. The bodies of poor Victor and his companjons were only found after the melting of the snow in ibe following summer.
The Morgue into which the bodies of the victims who had perished on these mountains used to be placed for recogpilion, has been altered within a few years; the bodies which had long been left in the morgue have been removed, together with the bones of hundreds, the accumulation of ages, which, until a short time since, had remained within a walled enclosure attached to the morgue. These relics of mortality might have continued there without offence; it was à mes mento mori of the deepest interest. Scarcely ten years ago Brockedon described it ihus : - " There is one scene of melancholy interest usually visited on the St. Bernard- the morgue, or receptacle for the dead. It is a low building, a few yards from the eastern extremity of the convent, where the bodies of the unfortunate victims to storins and avalanches in these mountains have been placed. They have-gene
rally been found frozen, and put into this horrid receptacle in ihe posture in which they perished. Here, many have " dried up and withered," and on some even the clothes have remained after eighteen years; others present a horrid aspect, some of the bones of the head being blanched and exposed, whilst black integuments still attach to parts of the face : among the latest victims were a inother and child. The air passed freely through the grated windows, without bearing to the nostrils of the observer the soul evidence of its transition through this dreadful place. From the rapid evaporation at this height, the bodies had dried without the usual decay. In a walled enclosure on one side of the morgue was a great accumulation of bones, white, broken, and apparently the gathering of centuries. Upon this rocky and frozen soil they could not bury the dead, and, probably, as they dry up without offence, they are placcd here for the chance of recogbition. "Passes of the Alps.
The system of purveyance for the hospital seems to be welt y regulated ; supplies coine from Aosta and the neighbouring * villages. Their winter store of hay for their cows is so valu
able, that the mules which ascend from either side with travellers, are required to bring their own hay. Wood for firing is one of the most important necessaries to them. Not a stick grows within two leagues, and all the wood supplied to the convent is brought from the forest which belongs to it, in the Val de Ferret, à distance of nearly four leagues. The consumption of wood at the convent, is considerable, for, at the great elevation of the hospice, water boils at about 190 degrees, which is so much less favourable for the concoction of meat than at 212 degrees, that it requires five hours to effect that, which, at the higher temperature, may be done in three hours. They have now adopted stoves for warming the convent with hot air.
Visitors universally acknowledge the kind and courteous attention which they receive from those excellent men, particularly at table. They are freely communicative about their establishment, and conversation has no restraint, but in the respect which their characters dernand. The language used by them is French, though there are Italians and Germans among them. They are well informed upon most subjects, and intelligent upon those in which their situation has been favourable to their acquiring information. The periodical works of some academic bodies and institutions are sent to them, and they have a small library, which is chiefly theological. During their short summers, their intercourse with well-informed travellers is extensive, which is shown in the paines and notices left by travellers in the albums preserved carefully by the brethren at the hospice; this intercourse