« 上一頁繼續 »
flower-beds glittering with raindrops, that of winter in Lapland or Siberia succeeds. All around the summit of a pass over the high Alps, is either snow, glacier, or bare rock. The only plants that grow are dry lichens, which seem intended but 10 keep up the semblance of vegetation, and to perpetuate nature's cheerful hues of green. The rarefied air is icy cold, and exercise and quick motion are necessary to keep up the circulation of the blood. The agreeable murmur of falling water, which has accompanied the traveller hitherto incessantly, here ceases, -all is solitude and silence, interrupted only by the shrill whistle of the marmot, or the hoarse cawing of an ill-omened raven. The ptarmigan starts up from among heaps of unmelted snow at the traveller's approach, and the lammergeyer (the condor of the Alps), disturbed in his repast on the carcass of a sheep or cow, is seen soaring upwards in a succession of corkscrew sweeps till he gains the ridge of the Alps, and then disappears.
Such are the remarkable gradations which the stranger encounters in the course of a few hours, on a single Pass of the Alps; but the most striking change of all is that from the region of snow and ice on the top of the mountain, to the sunny clime and rich vegetation of Italy which awaits the traveller at the S. foot of the Alps.
The works of nature, however, will not entirely occupy the attention and wonder of the wanderer in such a pass; at least a share will be demanded for admiration of the works of man. The great highways, passable for carriages, over the high Alps, are, indeed, most surprising monuments of human skill and enterprise in surmounting, what would appear, at first sight, to be intended by nature as insurmountable. These proud constructions of art thread the valleys, cross the debris of rivers on long causeways, skirt the edge of the precipice, with walls of rock tottering over them, and torrents thundering below. Where the steep and hard surface of the cliff has left not an inch of space for a goat to climb along, they are conducted upon high terraces of solid masonry, or through a notch blasted by gunpowder in the wall of rock. In many instances a projecting buttress of the mountain has blocked up all passage for ages, saying " thus far and no farther:"the skill of the modern engineer has pierced through this a tunnel or gallery; and the difficulty is vanquished, without the least change in the level of the road.
Sometimes an impediment of this nature is eluded by throwing bridges over the dizzy gorge, and shifting the road from side to side, frequently 2 or 3 times within the space of half a mile. Often the road reaches a spot down which the winter avalanches take their habitual course every year, sweeping every thing before them, and which, even in summer, appears reeking and dripping with the lingering fragments of snow which it has left behind. Will not so irresistible an antagonist arrest the course of this frail undertaking of man? Not even the avalanche; -in such a situation the road either buries itself in subterranean galleries, driven through the mountain, or is sheltered by massive arcades of masonry, sometimes half a mile or threequarters of a mile long. Over these the avalanche glides harmlessly and is turned into the depths below.
Every opportunity is seized of gaining, by easy ascents, a higher level for the road; at length comes the main ascent, the central ridge, to be surmounted only by hard climbing. This is overcome by. a succession of zigzag terraces, called tourniquets, or
giravolte, connected together by wide curves, 10 allow carriages to turn easily and rapidly. So skilful is their construction, with such easy bends and so gradual a slope, that in many alpine roads the postilions, with horses accustomed to the road, trot down at a rapid pace. Sometimes as many as 50 of these zigzags succeed one another without interruption, and the traveller, as he passes backwards and forwards, hovering over the valley, is, as though suspended to a pendulum, and swinging to and fro. The road itself has a most singular appearance, twisted about like an uncoiled rope or a ribbon unwound.
“O'er tbe Simplon, o'er the Splügen winds.
ROGERS. The travelling - carriage descends sometimes rapidly and without interruption for an hour. A drag of tempered iron is quickly worn down, in that time, as thin as the blade of a knife, so great is the friction. It is advisable to substitute for the iron drag a wooden sabot, formed of the section of a fir-tree, with a groove cut in the centre to admit the wheel.
The winter's snow. usually falls upon the Alpine passes more than 5000 ft. high, about the second week in October (sometimes earlier), and continues
till the first or second week in June. Yet even after this, the passage across the neck or Col, as it is called, is not stopped, except for a few days, until the snow can be cleared away. In some of the minor passes, indeed, traversed by a mere rough foot-path, or bridle-path, the traffic is much increased after the fall of the snow, which. by filling up depressions and smoothing the way, permits the transport of heavy merchandize on sledges, which move easily over the surface as soon as it has hardened.
Along the lines of the great carriage-roads strong houses are erected at intervals, called Maisons de Refuge, Case di Ricovero, occupied by persons called Cantonniers, who are employed in mending the road and keeping it free from snow in winter, and are also paid to assist travellers in danger during snow-storms.
As near as possible to the summit of the pass a Hospice is generally erected, usually occupied by a band of charitable monks, as in the case of ihe Great St. Bernard, the Simplon, Cenis, St. Golthard, etc. The direction of the road across the summit of the ridge is marked by a line of ial! poles, which project above the snow, and, from being painted black, are easily recognised. Patrols are sent out from the hospice in tempestuous weather, when the tourmente is raging, and the mist and falling snow hide the land-marks, to guide the travellers on their way and rescue those in danger. Bells are also rung at such times that the sound may aid when the sight fails.
The morning after a fall of snow labourers and peasants are assembled from all sides to shovel it off from the road. Where it is not very deep it is cleared away by a snow-plough drawn by 6 or 8 oxen. As the winter advances and fresh fals occur, the snow accumulates, and the road near the summit of a pass presents the singular aspect of a path or lane, cut between walls of snow, sometimes 10 or 20 ft. high. Carriages are taken off their wheels and fastened upon sledges; ropes are attached to the roof, which are held by 6 or 8 sturdy guides running along on each side, to prevent the vehicle upsetting and rolling over the slippery ice down a precipice. In this manner very high passes are crossed in the depth of winter with very little risk. The spring is a season during which far greater danger is to be apprehended from the avalanches which then fall.
S 16. CHALETS AND PASTORAGES.
From the mountainous nature of Switzerland and its high elevation, the greater part of the surface, more than 1800 feet above the sea, which is not bare rock, is pasture-land. The wealth of the people, like that of the patriarchs of old, in a great measure, lies in cattle and their produce, on which account the pastoral life of the Swiss deserves some attention. The bright verdure of the meadows which clothe the valleys of Switzerland is one of the distinguishing features of the country; and the music of the cow-bells, borne along by the evening breeze, is one of the sweetest sounds that greels the traveller's ear.
The Alps, or mountain-pasturages, for that is the meaning of the word Alp in Switzerland and Tyrol, are either the property of individuals or of the commune; to a certain extent common-land, in which the inhabitants of the neighbouring town or village have the right of pasturing a certain number of head of cattle. .
.“ In the spring, as soon as the snow has disap