« 上一頁繼續 »
peared, and the young grass sprouts up, the catile are sent from the villages up to the first and lower pasiures. Should a certain portion of these be exhausted, they change their quarters to another part of the mountain. Here they stay till about the 10th or 12th of June, when the cattle are driven to the middle ranges of pastures. That portion of the herds intended for a summer campaign on the highest Alps, remain here till the beginning of July, and, on the 4th of that month, generally ascend to them; return to the middle range of pastures, about 7 or 8 weeks afterwards, spend There about 14 days, or 3 weeks, to eat the aftergrass; and finally return into the valleys about the 10th or 11th of October; where they remain in the vicinity of the villages, till driven by the snow and tempests of winter into the stables. :.“ That portion of the cattle, on the other hand, which is not destined to pass the summer on the higher Alps, and are necessary for the supply of the village with milk and butter, descend from the middle pastures on the 4th of July, into the valley, and consume the grass upon the pasturage belonging to the commune, till the winter drives them under shelter. The very highest Alpine pasturages are never occupied more than 3 or 4 weeks at the - furthest.”—Latrobe.
Sometimes the owners of the cattle repair in person to the Alps, and pass the summer among them, along with their families, superintending the herdsmen, and assisting in the manufacture of butter and cheese. The best cheeses are made upon pastures 3000 ft. above the sea level, in the vales of Simmen and Saanen (Gruyère) and in the Edimenthal. The best cows there yield, in summer, between 20 lbs, and 40 lbs. of milk daily, and each cow produces, by the end of the season of 4 months, on an average, 2 cwt. of cheese.
Tne life of the cow-herd (Vacheror Senner) is by no means such an existence of pleasure as romances in general, and that of Rousseau in particular, have represented it. His labours are arduous and constant; he has to collect 80 or 90 Cows twice a-day, to be milked, to look after stragglers, to make the cheese and keep all the uiensils employed in the process in the most perfect state of cleanliness.
The Chalet (Germ. Sennhutte) in which he resides, is literally a log-hut, formed of trunks of pines, notched at the extremities so as to fit into one another at the angles of the building, where they cross : it has a low flat roof, weighted with stones to keep fast the shingle-roof and prevent its being blown away by the wind. A building of this kind is rarely air-tight or water-tight. The interior is usually blackened with smoke and very dirty, boasting of scarcely any furniture, except, perhaps, a table and rude bench, and the apparatus of the dairy, including a huge kettle for heating the milk. A truss of straw, in the loft above, serves the inmates for a bed. The ground around the hut on the outside is usually poached by the feet of the cattle, and the heaps of mud and dung render it difficult to approach the door. This description applies to the commoner sort of châlets; those in which the owners themselves reside are generally better, but they are also less numerous. There is another kind of chalet, a mere shed or barn, in which the hay is housed until the winter, when it is conveyed over the snow in sledges down to the villages below. A pastoral Swiss valley is usually speckled over with huts of this kind, giving it the appearance, to a
stranger, of being much more populous than it is: in reality : in the Simmenthal alone there are, it is said, 10,000 chalets.
The herdsmen shift their habitations from the lower to the upper pasturages, as their cattle ascend and descend the Alps, at different seasons. and they sometimes have 2 or 3 places of temporary abode. The weary traveller in search of repose and refreshment, after a long day's journey, is often disappointed, on approaching what he conceives to be a human habitation, to find either that it is a mere hay-barn, or else a deserted chalet ; and thereby learns, with much mortification, that he has still some tedious miles to trudge before he can reach the first permanentlyoccupied dwelling. What an agreeable contrast to reach a well-appointed chalet of the better sort, where delicious milk, cooled in the mountain stream, fresh butter, bread, and cheese, are spread out on a clean napkin before the hungry and tired
stranger! · The cattle are frequently enticed home, at milking-time, by the offer of salt, which they relish, highly, and which is, besides, considered wholesome. The allowance for a cow, in some parts of Switzerland, is 4lbs, or 5lbs. of salt in a quarter of a year.
S 17. GLACIERS. The glaciers, one of the most sublime features of the Alps, and one of the most wonderful phenomena of nature, are composed of those vast accumulations of the snow which falls during nine months of the year on the higher summits and valleys, remaining for several months a dry and loose powder, until the heat of the summer sun begins to melt and consolidate it. Under the in
fluence of its warmth, the snow assumes first a granular form; and to pass over it in that state is like walking among rice or peas, in which the foot sinks up to the knees. Lower down, or as the heat increases, so as to melt a considerable portion, and cause the water to percolate it, it becomes a compact mass. The frosty temperature of the night hardens that which has been dissolved in the day, and thus, after repeated thawings and freezings, the whole undergoes a fresh cristallization, being converted into ice of a coarser grain and less compact substance than common ice. Thus there appears to be a regular transition or passage from the loose powdery snow, to the more dense ice of the glacier. The Swiss, indeed, have two distinct terms for these modifications of the snowy covering of the high Alps. The upper granular and scarcely consolidated part they call Firn, (which for want of any corresponding English word we may represent by Snow-field,) and apply the term glacier (gletscher) to the lower limbs of more solid ice, which stretch down into the valleys. Hugi, a naturalist of Soleure, who, after Saussure, has made the most laborious and curious researches into the nature and formation of the glaciers, maintains, that the point at which firn changes to glacier is unvariable among the Alps; and his investigations fix it at an elevation of about 7800 feet above the sea-level. *
* A very serious error is conveyed by the common expression - The line of perpetual snow," or where snow never melts." There is no spot on the Alps, nor on any other snow-clad inountains, where snow does not melt under the influence of a summer sun at mid-day. It melts even on the top of Mont Blanc, but there, and on the summits of the other high Alps, ibe accumulation of snow is so great, and the duration of the sun's heat so short, that in the end there is far more snow, thin the sun can dissolve. What is called " the snow line," does not depend on elevation alone, and can be taken only as a Very general lest of it Independently ofits Variation, according to the degree of latitude in which the mountain is situated, it varies on the two sides of the same mountain, being higher on the S. side than the N. The snow will likewise rest longer and extend Inwer down upon a mountain of granite, than upon one of limesione, in proportion as the lwo rocks are good or bad conductors of heat, and ihis is the case even in contignous viounlaius, members of the same chain.
Ebel has computed the number of glaciers among the Swiss Alps at 400, and the extent of surface occupied by them at 130 square leagues; this, however, must be but a vague estimate. They vary from a few square yards to acres and miles in extent, covering, in some instances, whole districts, filling up entirely the elevated hollows, and basins between the peaks and ridges of the Alps, and sending forth arms and branches into the inhabited valleys, below the region of forests, and as far down as the level at which corn will grow.
It is such offsets of the glacier as ihese that are presented to the view of the traveller from the vilJages of Chamouny and Grindelwald. These , however, are, as it were, but the skirts and fringes of that vast everlasting drapery of ice which clothes all the upper region of the Alps. These fields or tracts of uninterrupted glacier have been called “ Seas of ice” (Mers de glace, Eismeeren), and there are three such among the Swiss and Savoyard Alps which merit especial mention; that around Mont Blanc, that around the Cervin, and that of the Bernese Oberland, around the Finster-Aar-horn. The last sends out no less than thirteen branches, and its extent has been estimated at 125 square miles,
The greatest thickness of the glaciers has been commonly estimated at between 600 and 800 feet.