« 이전계속 »
furnished the works, and turned them out ready for the European market.
Cluses may be styled the keystone of the Alps of Savoy, for until the tourist reaches it he cannot be said to be among them. Aturn to the right after we had traversed the town, testified this. It was the entrance to a new region, a region of snow valley deep on both sides from perpendicular mountains, whose rocky heights, dotted here and there with stunted pines and hardy shrubs, seemed quite impregnable. The mighty Arvethat torrent which the poet so truly depicts in
Not from the sands or cloven rocks,
Thou rapid Arve, thy waters flow;
Thy dark, unfathomed wells below.
Begins to move and murmur first
Or rain-storms on the glacier burst ;
the mighty Arve, plunging through the centre of the valley with increased fury, and awakening in its roar the elsewise stern silence of the scene. Along the banks immense piles of granite, detached from the mountain sides during some of the convulsions of nature. Willows with their supple arms spanning the stream, and shattered trunks of oak submerged in the middle. Occasionally a large patch of ground formed by the overflowing of the Arve into a swamp, and where the land is on a level with its bed, a small lake. The river has no smooth channel to flow through, which circumstance adds increased impetuosity to the current of its waters. Here an immense block of granite towers in the centre of its bed, showing a complete barrier to its further progress in that direction, and causing it to seek another course. There, the accumulated force and quantity of the waters break through every impediment, and plunge over the rock with an awful crash. The Arve is of a deep clay colour. It has neither stone nor wooden bridge of any kind in this spot; none of the finny tribe to bait a hook for in its dull depths; no rich, sloping meadows to invite the weary, by a moment's repose on a soft and fragrant carpet; no mossy bank under the shade of elms, to call the pensive loiterer to halt awhile-but all is barren and untamed, as on the day when our two enterprising countrymen, Pocock and Windham, passed, armed and followed by their attendants, on their way to explore the “ montagnes maudites.” On the right bank only of the stream is there a road, which we now followed. It is consider
ably elevated above the edge of the Arve, narrow, in tolerable condition, full of interest. Innumerable cascades leap down from the rocks which command, in many places completely overhang, the road, and pierce a channel for themselves deep beneath, where they rush onward to mingle with the black waters of the Arve.
Having entered the carriage at Cluses, we did not quit it till we came in sight of La Balme, when we did so altogether. Before assuming our knapsacks, however, the younger of my companions complaining of thirst, added to which the
in. ducements held out by the landlady of the roadside inn, we determined to taste her vintage. She led us into a small garden, where under the trees stood some rude tables, and having accommodated us with seats, by means of a plank on two empty barrels, she left us. When she re-appeared, it was with a pon. derous volume under one arm, and a bottle of vin du pays under the other. The Etonian instantly relieved her of the latter; the book she placed and opened up on the table. It was the registrar of travellers who had stepped aside to partake of her cheer and rest their weary limbs, during the last four years. The hostess requested us to pay her the same compliment by inscribing ours.
“Humbug !" cried the youngest of our party, "we are not going to ink our fingers to do that, on such greasy paper
The hostess was offended, which the Etonian at once remedied by extolling the excellence of her wine and inviting us all to taste it. The woman's ire disappeared before this piece of flattery—for flattery it was, as my lips can but too well remember-and she was about to remove the register altogether, when the Indian gentleman said :
“No! no! Caspar-be not so hasty. We shall have the wine all in good time. I shall write our names down in the book, that is to say, if this lady will so far forgive us as to allow me to do so.”
All the clouds which had previously gathered on the woman's brow immediately dispersed; she bowed, and retiring to the house, left the mysterious tome in our possession.
“Again, Caspar, I like, not only for the woman's pleasure, but for my own, to inspect such volumes as this. One of the most refined acquaintances I ever formed was through inspecting one of these books."
« From the fame of those whose names you saw therein ?" I presumed.
“By no means. It was actual flesh and blood, corporeal matter-ay, and spirit, too,and I will tell you how. A friend
with whom I was spending some few weeks in the county of Sussex took me one day to see Arundel and its old castle. Having visited the keep, stared at the owls, and heard the warder repeat his historical lesson with an accuracy only to be attained by hourly practice, we descended half way the broad steps into the square room, where a visitor's book, such as this,
The rain came on while I was inscribing my name, and caused another visitor to fly for shelter to the same spot. As the rain continued for some little time, I amused myself by running my eye through the list of names, when a most illustrious one in the world of letters, struck my eye. I called my companion's attention to it, and remarked that I had the greatest desire to behold the man whose name so interested me. The words had no sooner escaped me, than the stranger who had sought shelter beside us stepped up, and with a smile gave me to understand that he was the very man I so much desired to see. Since that day we have ever been on the most intimate terms with each other, as you, Caspar, can bear witness, when I mention the name of L ; and I have never omitted to con the visitor's book wherever I went, and to make my remarks upon it."
The hostess now returned, and inquired when we should like to visit the cavern, but when she heard from my lips that we had no intention of doing so at any time, much less at the present, when we were anxious to reach St. Martin that very evening, she expressed her astonishment. “Every one steps aside to see the cavern. It was only last week we had M. Töpfer's pension, and last year a most illustrious Italian, yes, gentlemen, a most illustrious Italian, no less than the very famous Silvio Pellico, expressed his satisfaction to me," and she tossed her head, “at the pleasure and instruction he had derived from a visit to the Caverne de Balme. If you doubt my words, gentlemen, you will see his name in the visitor's book 1
The Etonian did doubt her words ; so the volume was searched, when after a little trouble we found the signature of the author of “Le Mie Origione." However, all the woman's entreaties were without avail, for we still declined the honour even of following so far the footsteps of Pellico and Töpfer. To get rid of her importunities we had in the end to cry, sauve qui peut," and thus only did we escape to the high road.
De Saussure was, I believe, the first man of science that visited the Cavern de Balme, and since his day it has become one of the “lions” of the valley. It is said that the view one bas from the gallery before the entrance is exceedingly beautiful, and as I have seen sketches taken from the spot I can the more readily believe it. The guide books say that a café has been
erected inside the cavern, so that amid stalactites and petrifactions one can inhale the fragrant berry and sip its juice. What a change, then, half a century has wrought here as well as in other places. When De Saussure examined it for the first time in 1764, the peasants said and did every thing they could to dissuade him from so perilous an enterprise, because—but I will give the story in his own words, for it well deserves extracting, since it shows the sentiments entertained by the country people in those days, with regard to the natural wonders by which they were surrounded.
While De Saussure was searching about Cluses for a guide to the cavern, he says “they showed me a man, the sole survivor of twelve inhabitants of the town, who had formerly made an excursion to the cavern, which had been much talked of. I went to see this man; he was too old to serve as a guide, but he related the history of his expedition.
“ He said, that this grotto had long been known in the country, that its entrance, situated in the midst of a steep rock, was very difficult of access; but that when once reached, there was a large gallery, which was easily entered and which penetrated the mountain to an immense depth ; that this gallery was subdivided into smaller ones, all of which might be traversed without danger : only one must beware of a hole more than six hundred feet deep, whose mouth opened in the centre of the largest of these galleries. He added, that it was in this hole he had been the sixth to descend, to search after a treasure which should be hid there, according to an ancient tradition, confirmed by the noise made by the stones which were dropped down; for these stones, after striking right and left the tortuous sides of the pit, fell at last on something which had the sound of a heap of gold or silver money. That before them, several people had tried to pull it up with cords, but that immediately they reached a certain depth, a black goat leaped from the bottom of the pit, bit their legs, and forced them to ascend as quickly as possible: that to drive away this infernal guardian of the treasure, twelve citizens of Cluses had associated themselves, laid in a stock of holy tapers, placed a tree at the mouth of the pit, and that six of them, suspended by ropes, and let down by the six others, had descended with those holy arms, and without accident, to the bottom of the pit. But all they found there were a few broken pebbles which had caused the false sound, two copper bracelets and some chamois' bones. That, however, by dint of searching, they had discovered at the bottom of the pit a hole or narrow passage, whereby they had penetrated into a sort of spacious saloon, half of which was under water and the rest dry; but without discovering the
slightest appearance of treasure ; so that they had returned very much confused, and had had the mortification of being exposed to the hootings of the whole town, which had turned out to meet them.”
De Saussure afterwards explored the cavern, and expresses himself highly pleased with it.
Time, however, would not admit of our spending three or four hours to see the famous Caverne de Balme, so we, gentle reader, as with you, have to content ourselves with the peasant's story of its ancient marvels, when we should have had infinitely greater pleasure in exploring it, than in these days, when the ascent is made smooth by an easy foot path, a civilized guide, and I warrant me, a knowing one- a gargon, and cups of coffee.
An hour's smart walking brought us in sight of the principal cascade of the valley, the Nant d’Arpenas, which has been preferred by some to the Staubach. Indeed, were it asked me which I was the most struck with, I should answer at once, the Nant d’Arpenas; but it must be borne in mind that this was the first really grand one I had seen, and that when I visited the Staubach I had already—to use a mercantile phrase-become glutted with cascades. But before I speak further of the Nant d’Arpenas, I must mention a little scene which realized in full my remarks at the commencement of the chapter.
About a quarter of a mile from the cascade, we were suddenly startled by the report of cannon close at hand, which reverberated far and near, over hill and dale, alp and glacier-producing the most magnificent echo I had ever heard. We had scarcely recovered from the surprise and delight into which this unexpected salute had thrown us, and the tongue of the echo was yet murmuring, tho' faintly, among the rocks, when a. troop of ragged children of both sexes rushed out of a thicket hard by, stared at us for a moment, and then ran on before. We followed at our usual pace till we arrived opposite the Nant d’Arpenas, which is considerably retired from the road, the intermediate space being a large patch of meadow, with a gate by way of boundary, through which we passed to inspect the cascade more closely. The falls are unusually high and, as the stream is small, thin-in fact, long ere they reach the ground they are nothing but spray, and viewed from a short distance, they seem to have vanished into air. On returning to the high road, we had to pass the gate, where we found the beggar children holding it open for us. They bowed, and curtsied to us and gave us a look full of meaning, which I so far understood as to drop a small coin into one of the girl's hats.
“Merci, monsieur, and for the cannon ?”