Billeder på siden

his point, and glide into chasms from which he might never again ascend. As they proceeded, the materials of a thunder-storm gathered in the sky, and a thick sleet began to fall. Some time after passing the Grand Mulet, perplexed by the storm, they lost their way, and soon found themselves wandering amidst numberless crevices, where progress was not less difficult than dangerous. “The storm recommenced with greater violence than before : the hailstones, large and sharp, driven with force by the wind, inflicted great pain on the face; we were exposed to it, standing on a narrow ledge overhanging an abyss. Here we awaited for a short time the return of two guides, sent to explore the crevices and banks around us, in an endeavor to discover the route of our ascent, but with very little hope of success; indeed, it was greatly feared that we should have to remain where we were for that night. The storm, increasing every instant, compelled us to seek some place in the glacier in which we could obtain shelter; following the footmarks of the guides who had gone forward, we succeeded in finding a recess, formed by the projection of a part of the glacier over a narrow ledge in the side of the crevice. We could form no idea of the depth of the chasm, but its width appeared to be about twenty feet, and its opposite side rose considerably above us. Along this ledge we moved with great care, and had just space to stand in a bending posture, and in a row. Wet through, and suffering excruciating torture from the cold, our position was both painful and dangerous. The tempest raged with the most awful fury; the gusts of wind sweeping through the chasm with tremendous violence, the pelting showers of hail, accompanied by the most vivid lightning, and peals of thunder, alternating with a perfect calm, were enough to appall the bravest of the party. “We waited for some time in this situation, when, in one of those moments of calm, we heard the loud halloo of one of the exploring guides, who was returning to us, and called to us to advance, for they had found the angle which we had so much difficulty in climbing up the day before. We soon joined him and his companion who had conducted us to it. Nearly deprived of the use of my limbs, from the excessive cold and wet state of my apparel, I could scareely walk; my fingers were nearly frozen, and my hands so stiffened and senseless, that I could not hold my baton or keep myself from falling.” It was in this state that Mr. Auldjo was brought to a wall of ice, which he had to descend for a certain way in order to get upon a point on the opposite side of the chasm. “Being incapable of making any exertion, I was lowered down to the guides, who were already on the ledge, beneath the wall. At the very moment I was rocking in the air, a flash of lightning penetrated into the abyss, and showed all the horrors of my situation; while the crash of the thunder seemed to tear the glacier down upon me. I was drawn on the neck of ice, and sat down till the other guides had descended. The hearts of two or three failed, and they declared that we must all perish; the others, though conscious of our awfully-dangerous position, endeavored to raise the courage and keep up the spirits of the depressed. All suffered dreadfully from the cold, but, with a solicitude for which I shall ever feel deeply grateful, they still attended to me in the kindest manner. They desired me to stand up, and forming a circle, in the center of which I stood, closed round me. In a few minutes, the warmth of their bodies extended itself to mine, and I felt much relieved; they then took off their coats, covering me with them, and each in turn put my hands into his bosom, while another lay on my feet. In ten minutes I was in a state to proceed.” At no late hour in the evening, Mr. Auldjo returned to Chamounix, from which he had been only thirty-seven hours absent. He was met and congratulated by a great number of strangers and natives, who had felt an interest in his undertaking, and to all of whom he declared, that the magnificence of what he had seen much more than compensated for the pain of what he had felt. In 1851, some English were successful in ascending to the top of Mont Blanc, but with risks as great as those. above related, and apparently for no other purpose than the satisfying of that spirit of adventure and curiosity which is so remarkable in our countrymen.

[ocr errors]

AR distant from the many other islands with which the Southern Pacific Ocean is studded, one stands alone, rich in natural beauty, and with a climate almost unrivaled. Constantly fanned by cool breezes from the sea, its green hills and deep ravines abound in graceful pines and shady fern-trees. The wild jasmin and convolvuli climb the stems, and reach from tree to tree, forming bowers and walls of exquisite beauty. The rich soil maintains a perpetually-luxuriant vegetation, and birds of brightest plumage rejoice in groves of the abundant guava, or amid the delicate blossoms of the golden lemon. This lovely island was visited by Captain Cook in 1774, and named by him Norfolk Island; it was then uninhabited, and the party who landed were probably the first human beings who had ever set foot on it. Neither the vegetable nor the animal world had been

disturbed. For about two hundred yards from

« ForrigeFortsæt »