페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

crumble by its own weight, and spread over a wide surface. The bed of the mountain, from which the desolation came, is a plane inclined from north to south. Its appearance, as it is now laid bare, would lead one to suppose that the mass, when it first moved from its base, slid for some distance before it precipitated itself into the valley. The height of the Spitzberg-the name of the projection which fell-above the lake and valley of Lowertz, was little less than two thousand feet.

The composition of the chain of the Rigi, of which the Rossberg makes a part, has always been an obstacle in the way of those system-makers, who have built their hypotheses upon the structure of the Alps. It has nothing granitic in its whole mass, and though nearly six thousand feet above the sea, is green and even fertile to its summit. It is composed of nothing but earth and stone, combined in rude masses. It is also remarkable that the strata of which it is composed, are distinctly inclined from the north toward the south, a character which is common to all rocks of this kind through the whole range of Alps, as well as to the greater part of calcareous, schistous, and pyritic rocks, and also to the whole chain of the Jura.

It was about a week after the fall of the mountain, that our route through Switzerland led us to visit this scene of desolation; and never can I forget the succession of melancholy views, which presented themselves to our curiosity. In our way to it, we landed at Art, a town, situated at the southern extremity of the lake of Zug; and we skirted along the western boundary of the ruins, by the side of Mount Rigi, towards the lake of Lowertz. From various points on our passage, we had complete views of such a scene of destruction, as no words can adequately describe.

Picture to yourself a rude and mingled mass of earth and stones, bristled with the shattered parts of wooden cottages, and with thousands of heavy trees, torn up by the roots, and projecting in every direction. In one part you might see a range of peasants' huts, which the torrent of earth had reached with just force enough to overthrow and tear in pieces, but without bringing soil enough to cover them. In another were mills broken in pieces by huge rocks, transported from the top of the mountains, which fell, and were carried high up the opposite side of the Rigi. Large pools of water had formed themselves in different parts of the ruins, and many little streams, whose usual channels had

been filled up, were bursting out in various places. Birds of prey, attracted by the smell of dead bodies, were hovering all about the valley.

But the general impression made upon us by the sight of such an extent of desolation, connected, too, with the idea that hundreds of wretched creatures were at that moment alive, buried under a mass of earth, and inaccessible to the cries and labors of their friends, was too horrible to be described or understood. As we travelled along the borders of the chaos of ruined buildings, a poor peasant, wearing a countenance ghastly with wo, came up to us to beg a piece of money. He had three children buried in the ruins of a ccttage, which he was endeavoring to clear away.

A little further cn, we came to an elevated spot, which overlooked the whole scene. Here we found a painter seated on a rock, and busy in sketching its horrors. He had chosen a most favorable point. Before him, at the distance of more than a league, rose the Rossberg, from whose bare side had rushed the destroyer of all this life and beauty. On his right was the lake of Lowertz, partly filled with the earth of the mountain. On the banks of this lake was all that remained of the town of Lowertz. Its church was demolished; but the tower yet stood amid the ruins, shattered, but not thrown down.

The figures, which animated this part of the drawing, were a few miserable peasants, left to grope among the wrecks of one half their village. The foreground of the picture was wide desolate sweep of earth and stones, relieved by the shattered roof of a neighboring cottage. On the left hand spread the blue and tranquil surface of the lake of Zug, on the margin of which yet stands the pleasant village of Art, almost in contact with the ruins, and trembling even in its preservation.

We proceeded in our descent, along the side of the Rigi, toward the half-buried village of Lowertz. Here we saw the poor curate, who is said to have been a spectator of the fall of the mountain. He saw the torrent of earth rushing toward his village, overwhelming half his people, and stopping just before his door! What a situation! He appeared, as we passed, to be superintending the labors of some of the survivors, who were exploring the ruins of the place. A number of new-made graves, marked with a plain pine cross, showed where a few of the wretched victims of this catastrophe had just been interred.

Our course lay along the borders of the enchanting lake of Lowertz. The appearance of the slopes, on the eastern and southern sides, told us what the valley of Goldau was a few days since, smiling with varied vegetation, gay with villages and cottages, and bright with promises of autumnal plenty. The shores of this lake were covered with ruins of huts, with hay, with furniture and clothes, which the vast swell of its waters had lodged on the banks. As we were walking mournfully along towards Schweitz, we met with the dead body of a woman, which had been just found. It was stretched out on a board, and barely covered with a white cloth. Two men, preceded by a priest, were carrying it to a more decent burial.

We hoped that this sight would have concluded the horrors of this day's scenery, and that we should soon escape from every painful vestige of the calamity of Schweitz. But we continued to find relics of ruined buildings for a league along the whole extent of the lake; and a little beyond the two islands, mentioned above, we saw, lying on the shore, the stiff body of a peasant, which had been washed up by the waves, and which two men were examining, to ascertain where he belonged. Our guide instantly knew it to be one of the inhabitants of Goldau. But I will mention no more particulars. Some perhaps that have been related to me are not credible, and others which are credible are too painful.

The immediate cause of this calamitous event is not yet sufficiently ascertained and probably never will be. The fall of parts of hills is not uncommon; and in Switzerland especially, there are several instances recorded of the descent of large masses of earth and stones. But so sudden and extensive a ruin, as this, was, perhaps, never produced by the fall of a mountain. It can be compared only to the destruction made by the tremendous eruptions of Etna and Vesuvius.

Many persons suppose that the long and copious rains, which they have lately had in this part of Switzerland, may have swelled the mountains, in the Rossberg, sufficiently to push this part of the mountain off its inclined base. But we saw no marks of streams issuing from any part of the bed which is laid bare. Perhaps the consistency of the earth in the interior of the mountain was so much altered by the moisture which penetrated into it, that the projection of the Spitzberg was no longer held by a sufficiently strong cohesion, and its own weight carried it over. Perhaps, as the

earth is calcareous, a kind of fermentation took place sufficient to loosen its foundations. But there is no end to conjectures. The mountain has fallen, and the villages are no

more.

LESSON CLVII.

Lament of a Swiss Minstrel over the Ruins of Goldau.-NEAL

O SWITZERLAND! my country! 'tis to thee
I strike my harp in agony
My country! nurse of Liberty,
Home of the gallant, great, and free,
My sullen harp I strike to thee.
O! I have lost you all!
Parents, and home, and friends:

-:

Ye sleep beneath a mountain pall;
A mountain's plumage o'er you bends.
The cliff-yew of fune'real gloom,
Is now the only mourning plume
That nods above a people's tomb.

Of the echoes that swim o'er thy bright blue lake,
And, deep in its caverns, their merry bells shake;
And repeat the young huntsman's cry ;-
That clatter and laugh when the goatherds take
Their browzing flocks, at the morning's break,
Far over the hills,-not one is awake
In the swell of thy peaceable sky.
They sit on that wave with a motionless wing,
And their cymbals are mute; and the desert birds sing
Their unanswered notes to the wave and the sky,
As they stoop their broad wing and go sluggishly by:
For deep, in that blue-bosomed water, is laid
As innocent, true, and as lovely a maid

As ever in cheerfulness carolled her song,

In the blithe mountain air, as she bounded along.
The heavens are all blue, and the billow's bright verge
Is frothily laved by a whispering surge,

That heaves, incessant, a tranquil dirge,

To lull the pale forms that sleep below :-
Forms that rock as the waters flow.

That oright lake is still as a liquid sky:
And when o'er its bosom the swift clouds fly,
They pass like thoughts o'er a clear, blue eye.
The fringe of thin foam that their sepulchre binds
Is as light as the clouds that are borne by the winds.
Soft over its bosom the dim vapors hover

In morning's first light: and the snowy winged plover,
That skims o'er the deep
Where my loved ones sleep,

No note of joy on this solitude flings;

Nor shakes the mist from his drooping wings.

*

*

*

*

No chariots of fire on the clouds careered;
No warrior's arm on the hills was reared;
No death-angel's trump o'er the ocean was blown ;
No mantle of wrath over heaven was thrown;
No armies of light with their banners of flame,
On neighing steeds, through the sunset came,
Or leaping from space appeared:

No earthquake reeled: no Thunderer stormed:
No fetterless dead o'er the bright sky swarmed:
No voices in heaven were heard.

But, the hour when the sun in his pride went down,
While his parting hung rich o'er the world,
While abroad o'er the sky his flush mantle was blown,
And his streamers of gold were unfurled ;

An everlasting hill was torn
From its primeval base, and borne,
In gold and crimson vapors drest,
To where a people are at rest.
Slowly it came in its mountain wrath;
And the foresis vanished before its path;
And the rude cliffs bowed; and the waters fled;
And the living were buried, while over their head
They heard the full march of their foe as he sped ;-
And the valley of life was the tomb of the dead-
The mountain-sepulchre of all I loved!

The village sank, and the giant trees
Leaned back from the enco
countering breeze,

As this tremendous păgeant moved.
The mountain forsook his perpetual throne,
And came down in his pomp; and his path is shown
In barrenness and ruin :-there
His ancient mysteries lie bare;

*Pron. war yur's.

« 이전계속 »