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operations of the WARWICKSHIRE NATURALISTS' Field CLUB, and since then we have received a report of its proceedings.
These contain a very eloquent address by the president, C. W. Hoskyns, . Esq., which our limited space will unfortunately not allow us to transfer to these pages, or we should have transcribed it verbatim, for we are not esaguerating when we say that Mr. Hoskyns' remarks should be read by all who are interested in the successful working of these societies. He referred to the advantages of the study of Nature in her own domains over the perusal of books only; denied the existence of a line of demarcation between the “ intellectual" and the “moral ;” “terms of our manufacture,” as he calls them, and showed how closely they are interlinked with each other. He demonstrated the practical value of scientific research, and instructed the members of the society, over which he presides, how they might best carry ont the important objects for which they meet together.
After the president's address, a carefully prepared lecture, on the “Geology of South Northamptonshire," was delivered by the Rev. P. B. Brodie, V.P. Others followed, on various subjects of interest.
On the 27th June, the Warwickshire club visited Malvern, and, fraternizing with the club there, inspected the objects of interest in the neighbourhood; such as the railway tunnels, which present many features of geological interest, the Malvern hills, &c.
In concluding these remarks upon our Field Clubs, we have to recommend more frequent meetings between neighbouring societies, from which much good cannot fail to be derived. A comparison of their respective experiences will be mutually beneficial, and will no doubt frequently lead to the dissemination of scientific truths, the knowledge of which would otherwise have been confined to a few members of one club; and such meetings, too, are conducive to the social and moral welfare of society, inasmuch as they bring into closer relations the most intelligent members of various communities, and remove prejudices and asperities. To those amongst our readers who have been in the habit of regarding science as a dry and laborious pursuit, fit only for bookworms and visionaries, we say, “Join a Naturalists' Field Club, and attend its excursions."
PEAKS, PASSES, AND GLACIERS.* TT may seem rather late now to ask what was the original object of the 1 “Alpine Club," beyond that of meeting in friendly symposium to compare notes and experiences of pleasant long-vacation trips over a dinner-table, and decide what new worlds among the Alps yet remained to conquer. Two series of narratives, nearly fifty in number, written by thirty-nine adventurers in the lofty mountains, have been put before the public, and, as far as the publishers are concerned, it may be presumed not without success. Still the exact object and the result are not clear. How many peaks, before thought inaccessible, have been climbed, and the history of the trip recorded in imperishable type? How many difficult passes have been discovered and crossed ? and, perhaps, most of all, how many glaciers, or how many hundreds of miles of glacier, have been traversed that would otherwise have long remained undisturbed except by the rolling of avalanches ? All these are points that may be calculated ; but, certainly, the literary or scientific fruit is small and unripe. At any rate, the fashion of doing mountains is on the increase, and the Alpine Club must have contributed to the growing taste. It is in the hope that the explorations of future adventurers may take a more scientific turn that we give these a place here. Meanwhile they must be dealt with as we find them.
Except an account of a tour in Iceland—a country very little visited by the tourist and not offering much inducement for a visit to any but determined travellers—there is little in the volumes before us that has much of absolute novelty to recommend it.
An interesting notice of a Pyrenean ascent from the Bagnères de Luchon proves that adventure is not entirely confined to the Swiss, French, and Italian Alps, among the European mountains; but as so very large a proportion of the members of the Club seem to decide on attacking that chain again and again, rather than attempt any new field of operations, it must be assumed that there yet remains much to be done there; and, perhaps, we may look forward in time to a considerable library of illustrated stories of Alpine travel.
It is evident that the writers of narratives which in themselves are so much alike that the description tends to become monotonous feel that they must adopt varieties of style to cover a want of variety of matter. Thus,
* Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers. Being Excursions by Members of the Alpine Club. 2nd Series. Edited by EDWARD SHIRLEY KENNEDY, M.A., F.R.G.S., President of the Club. 2 vols., 8vo. London, 1862.
Mr. Ormsby, in giving an idea of his ascent of the Grivola, a somewhat dangerous and difficult mountain, entirely disclaims the smallest object, whether scientific or other, beyond the mere gratification of a whim. In his narrative, also, he exhibits great indifference to the ordinary forms of language; and equal love of, and a familiarity with, slang, both in words and style. As a background or relief to a flat picture this may be a sad necessity; but it is to be hoped that in future volumes the pictures may not require this mode of heightening their effect.
Among the more interesting of the groups of travels in the two volumes before us are those which introduce the mountains of Dauphiné to the reader. But these mountains have all been visited, and the most important facts concerning them have been stated by Professor J. Forbes. Elie de Beaumont, also, has done important work in the district. No doubt there is still much left for the explorer to do, and the district seems well fitted as a scene of trial for the tyro in Alpine work. Another interesting group of mountains recently explored is the group of the Graian Alps and the Mont Iseran, which latter is declared to be a mule-track, and not a mountain.
It is impossible, in the course of a few pages, to give any readable notice of the large number of separate narratives collected in these two volumes. Many of them are uninteresting, and most of them are wanting in telling description. We started at daybreak-we traversed snow and ice, rock and water-we climbed here-we slid down there—we had our luncheon and enjoyed our champagne-our guide did know his way-we ran great risk, but at last we reached the point to which we were bound, and, then-why, then, we got back again, had a good supper, and slept the sleep that the just are reported to enjoy, but that men thoroughly exhausted, whether just or unjust, are almost sure to fall into. Such, with a few details of heights and distances, an occasional correction of what the last describer did and said, a little self-glorification, and much praise of faithful guides, is, in a few words, the sum and substance of all these narratives.
And yet, no doubt, any one such narrative, if read by itself and if written naturally, without a manifest intention to astonish and delight the reader, would be very pleasant and very suggestive, especially to those who have themselves travelled, and have visited more or less of the scenes described. Such an account is that of Mr. Forster, who crossed from the Grütli to the Grimsel, by that most charming of all Swiss valleys, the Valley of Engelberg. We will endeavour to give our readers who have not crossed from the head of the Lake Lucerne to the Uri Alps some idea of what awaits them, if they will undertake the labour and risk incident to this piece of mountain travel. It is a work not beyond the powers of any hardy, healthy man, and will amply repay the exertion.
To Lucerne by rail, and to the “Grütli” or “ Meadow" by steamer, is an affair of hours easily measured and easily performed. The Grütli is, in fact, that meadow, dear to the imagination of all Swiss patriots, where the three great founders of Swiss liberty met to swear that they would rescue their native land from foreign thraldrom. It has recently been purchased by subscription and laid out under the auspices of Government. It is
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certainly one of the most romantic spots in the wildest and finest part of the lake of the four cantons. Landing, and running up to the Sonnenberg, where is a delightful “pension," Mr. Forster,' who started on his journey in bad health, found means, in a few days, so far to recruit that he determined to set out on an expedition, which we will now briefly abstract. The Sonnenberg, by the way, is strongly recommended as an easy and extremely accessible retreat from the great herd of travellers, and, situated as it is on the promontory of high land forming the last of the great recesses of the Lake of Lucerne, the situation is in every respect admirable.
From Sonnenberg to Isenthal is a pleasant walk, and Isenthal is also a pleasant place-small, clean, and not over-civilized or over-frequented. At Isenthal the work begins, and Mr. Forster selected the more difficult of the two routes to the Uri-Rothstock, a very grand peak, which forms a prominent object in most of the views of the Lake of Lucerne. It took six hours from Isenthal, and was rewarded, not only by a grand view of the country, but by the sight of a flock of fourteen chamois, which passed close to the party--a very rare sight, nowadays, under any circumstances, in Switzerland, and one that did not last long. In fact, when the leader of the four-footed party discovered his natural enemy, our author calculates that they went off at the rate of more than twenty miles an hour, The near view from the Uri-Rothstock is preferred by Mr. Forster to that of Titlis,' the glacier and névé extending to the next peak, the Engelberger Rothstock (red stick-the cones are of pinkish limestone). There are, however, no extraordinary difficulties, and Mr. Forster proceeded alone from this point to the valley of Engelberg. The field of snow traversed requires two hours to cross.
There are few more delightful spots in Switzerland than the valley of Engelberg ; and at the establishment there, the Hôtel de l’Ange, every reasonable comfort is obtained at most reasonable prices. It is large and well provided, and there is a good road to it from the lower part of the Lake of Lucerne opposite Pilatus. From it, also, numerous excursions may be made, and some of the grandest scenery is very approachable.
Titlis raises his head immediately adjacent. The Surenen pass is close at hand, by which, if preferred, either Altdorf or Sonnenberg may be reached. The Joch conducts across to Meyringen; and, for those who are more adventurous, there is a pass on the other side of Titlis across a vast field of ice into the Gadmen Thal. Thence the member of the Alpine Club, disdaining accustomed routes, finds a way across a large, very remarkable, and interesting field of ice—the Trift-pass to the Grimsel.
While on the Surenen Egg, accompanying some friends who were on their way to Altdorf, our adventurer experienced one of those grand, though not very rare, meteorological phenomena-a thunderstorm. The storm passed beneath his feet-rushing up, borne upon the fierce southwest wind at a fearful pace, to meet a mass of rain-cloud coming down from the Weiss-stock. Alone on the mountain ridge, exposed to the pitiless beating of hailstones coming down like rifle-bullets, our traveller wisely waited, under shelter of some stones fallen from the rock above, till the violence of the storm had passed.
From Engelberg across the Joch pass is as beautiful and pleasing a specimen of Alpine work as can be imagined. Too common, and offering too little difficulty to demand a chapter in the volume of Alpine travel, it is better worth the trouble it costs than many greater works. There are the most charming Alpine plants growing out of the snow in the exquisite little Trüb See; there are the steep paths and awkward zigzags of the ascent, and the chalets with milk and cheese--the reward of Alpine labour. But these are but the portals to the path of honour to him who would traverse the Trift. The Stein glacier, at the head of the Gadmen Thal, is the beginning of this pass. From this to the Thierberg, a virgin peak, not much more than 11,000 feet high, but not overlooked, was an easy excursion for Mr. Forster. Afterwards, descending to the valley, the crossing the Trift was another hard day's work, to reach the well-known glacier of the Rhone-one of the noblest and grandest of all those to be seen in Switzerland. Fifteen hours' hard walking across the ice and rock, but chiefly the former, was required to complete the trip ; and Mr. Forster relates, with laudable satisfaction, that he was honoured that night above other guests when it was known that he had accomplished the feat of the Trift, and that, to crown all, he had the satisfaction of being pointed out to some curious lady-travellers, in a mysterious whisper, as the hero of the day—“ Das ist der Forster ! ”
We have endeavoured rather to give the reader an idea of the style of the better kind of Alpine narratives than to quote mere detail of places and names. We think it somewhat to be regretted that all the devotion of the traveller should be paid to one chain of mountains, though that is no doubt the loftiest European chain ; and we should welcome as a novelty an account of a visit to those glorious valleys and mountains of the Carpathians, that have been little examined hitherto ; and a notice of an exploration of the Caucasus, of the mountains of Arabia, or of the greater Atlas. All these are “ fresh fields and pastures new."
OUR NEW IRONSIDES.* W A R, in its materials, its instruments, and its results, is absorbing a
y large share of attention, even from those least interested in its political bearings. It has enlisted in its service our engineers, and men of science, hitherto occupied in more peaceful achievements, and has required of them the solution of some of its most difficult problems. And whilst we wait in the expectation of a time when the need of warfare shall no longer exist, when appeal to arms shall be suppressed in public, as it has already been in private disputes, --whilst we hope that, in the end, each man will “find his own in all men's good," and the mailed fleets and armed towers be broken,-it is yet wisest to learn sadly, from the events of our time, that the ancient scourge of national weakness may not be laid aside ; that the last resort in national differences is still the arbitre
* On the Properties of Iron, and its Resistance to Projectiles at High Velocities. By WILLIAM FAIRBAIRN, Esq., D.C.L., F.R.S.