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some village of the canton, the art of shooting at a mark, which, independent of the amusement, is a duty imposed on every citizen, who, under the inspection of a magistrate, is obliged in the course of the year to fire a certain number of rounds, that he may keep his arms in order, and not forget the means of defending his country in case of invasion. We could yet see no traces of snow, except in the numerous torrents which rolled down the enormous mountains, the streams of which were considerably increased from a cause that in less mountainous countries would have produced an opposite effect, the excessive heat and dryness of the weather, which melted the snows of the glaciers.
• The views around Wassen are astonishing for their variety as well as beauty. You perceive, however, after passing the village, that you are advancing into a country where man is obliged to be continually at war with nature. On one side the mountain was stripped of its piny clothing to some extent, discovering, instead of dark green foliage, a bare rocky and gravelly waste, interspersed with wrecks of trees. This, we were told, was the ravage of an avalanche. When whole forests of majestic height are swept away with irresistible fury, wbat means of defence can human force oppose to such mighty destruction ? Men, however, live tranquilly amidst the danger, and build their houses in such positions, and after such a construction, that the enemy, even if he chances to take the direction of their habitations, may pass over them unhurt.
“It was now the most luxuriant part of summer; we had left the glowing harvests beneath ripe for the sickle, and the fruits at two or three leagues distance hung in lavish clusters upon the bough; but in this region it not only was winter, but a winter that seemed here to have fixed its eternal abode; for not only were there no traces of renovation to inspire hope, but the impossibility of change was every where obdurately marked. Immense piles of naked rock, not less lofty than the mountains along which we passed, rose sometimes perpendicularly above our head, and sometimes falling back, left between the road and their horrid tops immense masses that seemed shivered from their sides, forming vast fields of rock.
* This passage, which in summer is sufficiently terrific, becomes dangerous in winter by the frequent avalanches that rusb from those tremendous heights, and so delicately are these messengers of destruction hung on the summits, that the guides and mule-drivers tye up the bells of their cattle to prevent their jingling, and forbid a word to be spoken by the passengers, that the avalanche, which waits on the mountain to overwhelm them, may not hear them approach. Little crosses placed by the road side where travellers have perished, are melancholy momentos of such mortal accidents, against which, however, precautions are taken, by firing muskets to shake the air and precipitate the impending avalanche. Huge fragments of rocks sometimes present themselves as if they threatened to obstruct the way; and we remarked one enormous piece of beautiful granite that skirted the road, and is called the devil's stone, which, on account of some misunderstanding with the people of the country, he brought down from the mountain to destroy some of the works he had himself formerly constructed.
Nothing can be imagined more bold and daring than the road that leads through the valley of Schellenen to the mountain of St. Gothard ; the difficulties appear almost insurmountable; sometimes the road seems so narrow between frightful precipices on each side, that great blocks of granite are placed on the edges as safeguards to the passengers; and where the mountain forbids all possibility of passage, offering an impenetrable rampart by its vertical abruptness, the path juts out from the side supported by arches and pillars, which are built up from some salient points of the mass beneath, and seems “a ridge of pendant rock over the vexed abyss.”
* This road, the breadth of which differs according to the facility of construction, is in some places from twelve to fifteen feet wide, and in others only ten, leaving in general space enough for loaded mules to pass each other; it is paved the greatest part of the way with granite, and is compared, by Mr. Raymond, to a ribband thrown negligently over the mountains.
“After winding for some time among these awful scenes, of which no painting can give an adequate description, and of
which an imagination the most pregnant to sublime horrors could form but a very imperfect idea, we came within the sound of these cataracts of the Reuss which announced our approach towards another operation of Satanic power, called the Devil's Bridge. We were more struck with the august drapery of this supernatural work, than with the work itself. It seemed less marvellous than expectation had pictured it, and we were perhaps the more disappointed, as we remembered that “the wonderous art pontifical,” was a part of architecture with which his infernal majesty was perfectly well acquainted ; and the rocks of the valley of Schellenen were certainly as solid foundations for bridge building as “the aggregated soil solid, or slimy,” which was collected amidst the waste of chaos, and crowded drove “ from each side shoaling towards the mouth of hell.”
“On this spot we loitered for some time to contemplate the stupendous and terrific scenery. The mountainous rocks lifted their heads abrupt, and appeared to fix the limits of our progress at this point, unless we could climb the mighty torrent which was struggling impetuously for passage under our feet, after precipitating its afflicted waters with tremendous roar in successive cascades over the disjointed rocks, and filling the atmosphere with its foam.
Separating ourselves with reluctance from these objects of overwhelming greatness, we turned an angle of the mountain at the end of the bridge, and proceeded along a way of difficult ascent, which led to a rock that seemed inflexibly to bar our passage. A bridge fastened to this rock by iron work, and suspended over the torrent, was formerly the only means of passing, but numerous accidents led the government to seek another outlet. The rock being too high to climb, and too weighty to remove, the engineer took the middle way, and bored a hole in the solid mass two hundred feet long, and about ten or twelve feet broad and high, through which he carried the road. The entrance into this subterraneous passage is almost dark, and the little light that penetrates through a crevice in the rock, serves only to make its obscurity more visible. Filled with powerful images of the terrible and
sublime, from the enormous objects which I had been contemplating for some hours past, objects, the forms of which were new to my imagination, it was not without a feeling of reluctance that I plunged into this scene of night, whose thick gloom heightened every sensation of terror.
• After passing through this cavern, the view which suddenly unfolded itself appeared rather a gay illusion of the fancy than real nature. No magical wand was ever fabled to shift more instantaneously the scene, or call up forms of more striking contrast to those on which we had gazed. On the other side of he cavern we seemed amidst the chaos or the overthrow of nature; on this we beheld her drest in all the loveliness of infancy or renovation, with every charm of soft and tranquil beauty. The rugged and stony interstices between the mountain and the road were here changed into smooth and verdant paths; the abrupt precipice and shagged rock were metamorphosed into gently sloping declivities; the barren and monotonous desert was transformed into a fertile and smiling plain. The long resounding cataract, struggling through the huge masses of granite, here became a calm and limpid current, gliding over fine beds of sand with gentle murmurs, as if reluctant to leave that enchanting abode.
‘One of my fellow-travellers observed, that this valley, which is three miles in length, and two in breadth, had, according to every appearance, been originally a lake; for which he adduced many mineralogical reasons; and that the drying up of the lake was occasioned by some violent fraction at the bottom of this valley, which drained the water off from the land, leaving it in its present form. Every part of the valley bore marks of high cultivation, if that term can be applied to the culture of meadow lands, where we saw herds of cattle grazing. One production indeed, essentially necessary for a country so elevated, was wanting ; although the day had been uncommonly beautiful and serene, and the sun shed its softest rays where we entered this valley, yet the snows on the higher mountains, and our feelings, when at the close of the evening we reached the village of the Hospital, at the opposite side of the valley, reminded us that the most acceptable offering our
host could make us was, one of those bundles of wood which the villagers are obliged to bring up with great labour and expence from the mountains beneath.
• According to popular tradition, this valley was not always so unprovided with this article of first necessity: the mountaineers are persuaded that their hills were once covered with forests, but that some magician who dwelt higher up the mountain, or in some other place, less a paradise than their own, not only burnt their woods, but so bound their soil with potent spells, that it has ever since been incapable of producing trees.
• We passed the night at the village of Hospital, and the next morning pursued our journey, beginning from hence to ascend what is properly the mountain of St. Gothard. The scene no longer exhibited the savage horrors of the chaos we had traversed the preceding day; the road was neither extremely rapid or dangerous; every where we beheld vegetation, and the mountain myrtle, the white hellebore, and other shrubs, indigenous to high regions, were in their bloom. The Reuss had now sunk into a rivulet, being no longer fed, as below, by the numerous streams that assemble their waters from the hills on each side Urseren; sometimes it presented a succession of fanciful cascades, across which one might leap without apprehension, even if the foot should slip in the enterprize. We had been much affected during the night with cold, and concluded that we had more to suffer before we reached the summit; but exercise and the enlivening sun-beams banished a sensation so new, after having the preceding day felt the heats of July in the valley of Altorf.
• We hitherto found that we had indulged a vain expectation of enjoying, from those lofty heights, vast and picturesque views of the countries beneath; since we had nearly attained what is called the top of St. Gothard, and had yet seen no object that was more remote than the distance of two leagues. If we looked forward, there appeared nothing but the mountain which we had to climb, and which, having ascended was succeeded by another. When we looked back, the mountain we had left was the only object which presented itself, and on