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The vale of Brieg will long be remembered for its variety of rural beauty. It receives us as we run down the mountains. A magnificent vale it is, extending down the Simplon side of the mountains across the Rhone, whose whitish green waters rush over a bed enamelled with clean boulders, as far as the eye can see, and midway up the Bernese Alps. The drive down its valley was one of our finest. The way was a duplicate of sublimity Vallais frowning upon one side with her angry mountain brows, glistening with Rosa and Moro; while Berne looked out gloomily from the Gemmi gorge at Leuk, so famous for its baths, and the immense perpendicularity of its mountain scenery. Sion we reached before sunset. Its feudal towers rising be
fore the city, revived the stories of barons bold and ladies fair; while in the city we found the warlike people crowding around a case of assault and battery, with two soldiers holding a man with a bloody nose, whom two loud-talking Sionians were pummelling under the soldiers' eyes. The shadow of the rural mountains kissed midway in the valley at sundown, and unitedly followed us into Martigny.
The fields along this part of the valley are mostly worked by women, coarse, robust, and gawky. Nearly every peasant woman has the swelling at the throat, known as the gôitre, so often referred to by travellers. It is the same disgusting execrescence which Juvenal refers to in the line
"Quis tumidum guttur miratur in Alpibus."
The swelling is of the thyroid gland or the parts adjoining, which grows with the growth of the person, until, as in some cases, which we saw, it becomes a huge bag, covering the breast, and rendering the person unable to walk under the burden. Various discussions as to its cause, have not as yet resulted in a remedy for the effect. The best sense of the medical profession has settled down upon the idea, that it is caused by a sort of malaria, owing to the confined air of the valleys, in the marshy places. Bad as it is, the women seem to care little
for it. It is not nearly so disgusting as cretinism, which, from similar causes, prostrates the mind and deforms the body. How sad, that in such sublime and wonderful scenery, where physical Nature displays her utmost magnificence, poor human nature should be degraded and ruined by such a mysterious dispensation. Thank God for our own Ohio plains and undulations! where, if the ague does sometimes abound, it does not deform the body and shatter the mind!-But one can hardly wonder either at the dispensation, when it is considered to what a height these barriers rise above the low valleys. Disease will creep in, where the pure air of heaven cannot enter. Why! in one of the cantons near the Lauterbrunnen, which we passed, there lived, unknown by all their neighbors, a tribe of the most primitive heathens, until the twelfth century, when they were discovered by some daring cragsman, and converted to Christianity by the good Bishop of Constance! Could there be found a stronger illustration of the depths of these valleys, into and out of which even human curiosity failed to find its way?
Through the Tete Loir to Mont Blaur.
"Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains,
They crowned him long ago,
On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds,
UNDAY morning we awoke in Martigny. The chimes near our windows were playing-I verily believe-a waltz. It sounded so spirited and jocund. We are in the Catholic canton of Vallais, and of course every body goes to church. The women in tidy little hats surrounded with a broad silvered ribbon, and with prayer-book modestly folded in white handkerchief; with their high waists-but I am encroaching upon forbidden ground! It is enough, that their "bon jour, monsieur"-every where given smilingly and sweetly, to say nothing of their Sunday best attire won our admiration. The smallest urchin made his obeisance to the stranger, and the oldest inhabitant removed his hat and bent his silvered head in respectful salutation. How pleasant to meet these kind-hearted Republicans. God bless these descendants of Tell! The English, especially Murray, in his guide-book, have maligned the Swiss, most infamously. There is more true manhood and breeding in these simple-hearted people, than could be expressed out of all England, if she lay under the Alps for a century. Go to! Roast beef, go to! Hurrah for your Queen and spend your gold; but let unostentatious simplicity live unlibelled in its happy valley.
A novel mode of travel awaited us at Martigny. Blanc must be seen from Chamouni, and the Tête Noir must be
passed. Twenty miles inaccessible to the carriage, and traversible only by the mule, or upon foot, must be overcome. Our ladies are ready upon the sure-footed animals, and one mule is reserved for three of the other sex, wherewith to ride and tie. A Sabbath day's journey to the greatest temple in the universe, with Coleridge's hymn for our melody, and the roaring torrents for our diapason'; who so Puritanic as to object to such an excursion? Well, we have a goodly calvacade up the mountain. Thirteen mules besides our own join us, and on we go, only stopping at the cool fountain or to fill our basket with strawberries. The way up was among pleasant apple orchards, and harvest fields. We had no dangers to encounter, or gorges to tremble at; until we turned abruptly into the Tête Noir, or Black Head! Our mules then began to measure their steps cautiously, though they were evidently so familiar with the path' as not to "snort suspicion."
The passes in the Alps have their grades of sublimity, terror, and beauty. The Simplon combines, in the greatest degree, all these qualities. The Splügen and the Gemmi have more of terror. The Tête Noir is deservedly celebrated, as well for its wildness, as for being the path to Mont Blanc. Within its savage gorges, the torrent thunders as if from lowest depths opening to devour. Dr. Cheever considered it a concentration, though somewhat in miniature, of the grand features of the Simplon, but at the same time rich and beautiful beyond description. I could not do better than to compress its scenery into the picture which he furnishes. "Abrupt precipices frowning at each other across the way like black thunder clouds, about to meet; enormous crags overhanging you so far, that you tremble to pass under them; savage cliffs looking down upon you, and watching you on the other side, as if waiting to see the mountain fall upon you; a torrent thundering beneath you, masses of the richest verdure flung in wild drapery over the gorge; galleries hewn in the rock, by which you pass the angular perpendicular cliffs, as in rocky hammocks swung in air; villages suspended
above you, and looking sometimes as if floating in the clouds; snowy mountain ridges far above these; clusters of châlets almost as far below you, with the tinkling of bells, the hum of voices, and the war of the torrent, fitfully sweeping up to you on the wind; these are the combinations presented you in the Tête Noir." The picture is not exaggerated, nor unfaithful, save that we found but one gallery in the pass.
After passing a rude cross erected upon a fearful part of the road, to commemorate a young German who lost his life there in a storm by the falling of a pine, you perceive the "head," black and bushy with pines, rising out of the brown, twisted, craggy rocks. Turning toward Chamouni, and looking across the vale, not far from the Auberge, there appears a mount, less perpendicular, but higher than the "Tête," and a valley deeper! I counted seven silver cascades playing from its top, separating and uniting, bursting into spray, and floating in the air, then joining in a torrent. I could liken the scene to none other than a parliament or a congress of cascades, whose speeches were all to one point-the glory of the pass. One like an oily-tongued persuader, glides smoothly down the rock without splash or spray, and gains his end just as surely as the showy declaimer who raves and stamps, and tears a passion to tatters. Another spreads out his oratory in fine threads, every interruption fretting him into new points of grace and beauty, but uniting at the base in a torrent full and free, while his cogent neighbor, with continuity and unbrokenness of column, falls with all his force in one master apothegm upon the thread of his theme; and so they speak from their lofty tribune, illustrating their eloquence with flowers of sweetness, and rocks of truth. A villa of an hundred châlets listens demurely to their debate, and the torrent below unanimously carries the question down the vale with a glad shout of triumph. Well, metaphor will run mad in such a scene; so do not criticise my consistency. I wrote it on the spot, and give it as I wrote; interrupted now and then by the rapture of a lady-companion, who was filling her basket with