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my best to cheer and make beautiful the world.” Hands that are always busy should bear no heavier burden for a while than the trusty Alpenstock, to help up and down the Wengern Alp, wḥile the beauty of the Jungfrau with the white Silberhorn in its arms, should satisfy soul and sense.
But no artist can paint the sunlight,' no words can translate a glacier. Work must go on, and my wishes will not give the reality of Switzerland to any one who has not seen it. I should be perfectly content to subtract from the sum total of my four months in Europe everything but the memory of this wonderful land. The four weeks that I have spent it its valleys and on its summits, breathing its mountain air and sharing its simple food, have been four weeks of utter enjoyment, and I come back to railways and turn my face away from the Bernese Oberland, with the lingering, backward look that one gives only to his dearest friends.
Of all my enjoyment, what shall I select to tell you! The mountains have so many different moods ! I look at them now from my window, as I lift my eyes, and they rest peaceful and quiet against the sky, dreamy and lonely, with the snow slopes catching here and there the sunlight; Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn, Finster Aarhorn, Eiger, Moench, Jungfrau, Blumlisalp, I know them all, and they are like an exquisite picture. But I have another picture in my
mind of the terrible wastes of snow that cover the slopes of the lofty peaks, and stretch away and away, over ridge after ridge, while the fierce rays of the sun fall on them and flash up
into one's face, cruel and relentless. In front, a distant peak that seems to recede as we move on slowly, firmly bound together with rope, though the snow that yields at every step, making the ascent doubly difficult; behind us and to the left, lies seemingly a highway of snow, between rugged black peaks on either hand; below and to the right the glacier, with its sharp points winding like a huge snake down to meet one after another of its brethren from the rugged sides of Monte Rosa and the Lyskamm. The mountains are savage and terrible.
And again, ever recurring, the words sing themselves through one's mind, “ the strength of the hills.” Still and waiting they stand while the years roll away, and generations live and die under their shadow. Restful in spite of the evidence of fearful power that
. heaved them up from the level earth crust, because so still
, unlike the waves of the sea, that are never at rest.
it seems to me that no one who has not seen, can have any idea of a glacier. “Frozen cataracts” they are not. The Mer de Glace at Chamouni is the only one I have seen that bears any resemblance to a frozen, wave-tossed sea, and even there I hardly think I should have thought of it. From a distance, it is true, they may look like a river, too far removed to perceive the motion of its water, but as soon as one approaches, they are more like huge teeth of ice pushed together and so broken and contorted. Where one walks over them, they are great blocks piled up in all sorts of arrangements, and giving yawning chasms between walls of the clearest blue, sometimes edged with icicles, sometimes connected by treacherous snow-bridges, while far below, the water plunges and rushes on its way out to the sunlight. Or, as in the case of the Aar glacier, one
, walks only on an immense pile of stones and steps from one to another, unconscious of the ice below. Up above the true glacier is the snow which feeds it, stretching to the topmost summits, hard and frosty in the early morning, but softening in the middle of the day, so that all climbing excursions should be undertaken long before sunrise, that the ascent may be accomplished before noon. The old guides say that all the glaciers are diminishing — retreating, and one often meets with unmistakable evidences of the former presence of a glacier where now we only have rocks and grassy turf.
Our journey from Courmayeur to Chamouni will give you some idea of one phase of Alpine travel. We started at four in the morning, mounted on mules, and in not the most propitious of weather. Earlier the skies had been perfectly clear, but heavy clouds came up with the sun, and before we had gone far, we were treated to a shower, to which, however, we had become somewhat accustomed, and so pursued our way in alternate sunlight and storm along the side of the valley and the Allée Blanche. The path skirted the mountains about half the way up the height, and in some places the rains had washed away earth, so that it was unpleasantly narrow. But we had learned to trust to our mules for safety. Advancing through the valley, and ascending, the mountains grow higher
and sharper, and vast peaks covered with snow towered on our right, introducing us to our first sight of Mont Blanc. The wind blew piercingly cold down the valley; and soon as we ascended, we were obliged to dismount in spite of the streams which tore down the narrow path, because we must obtain some warmth by exercise. Colder and colder and fiercer and fiercer came the blast, while the clouds shut out the sunlight and settled over the tops of the Col de la Seigne where we must pass. Across the new snow and over the rocks the practised eye of our guide found our path, but no practised eye could find the view when we reached the summit; for, save the nearest mountains, all was covered from sight. So minus the view so highly eulogized by Ritter, and caring at the time very little for anything but shelter and a fire, we plunged down the opposite side where an inn gave us both. A walk through a valley for an hour or so after dinner brought us to the foot of the Col du Bon Homme, and another inn of very modest pretensions, and here our guides held a council as to whether it was advisable to attempt the pass. The weather was not favorable, but there was no prospect of better the next day, and so they concluded to permit us to go on. The Col du Bon Homme is composed of slate rock in very thin layers, lying at such an angle as it crops out from the surface, that the whole mountain seems to be a very ancient graveyard. The path, a steep ascent, runs at first over grassy slopes. The mountains continually opened out before us, giving glimpses of others higher, towards whose summits we proceeded. Grass refused to grow at last as we mounted, the mule stepping slowly and cautiously over and between the ledges, where it almost seemed as if no foot could find a hold. Then the clouds shut down more and more, till between their threatening edges one could see only a strip of sunlight away down in the valley. Soon that too was lost, and then came the snow driving in a blinding whirl, beating against our faces in balls that felt as if they cut every time they struck, covering the tracks, whirling in little drifts around us. But still we went on, guided by the tall signal posts which assured us that we were right, and seemed like human hands pointing us the way. And at last the summit, and the steeply descending path brought us out of the snow cloud, and we walked to the inn at the foot on the other side, glad to be on our own feet once more. The two sides of this mountain seem to be of different formation. The rocks seemed different as soon as one has passed the summit. The next day brought us over another pass, that of the Col de Voza, on the top of which the rain came down pitilessly, and for three hours we were in it, at last through the valley of Chamouni, leaving Mont Blanc on our right, to the village of Chamouni. Here we waited for pleasant weather, which came finally to reward our patience, unveiling “the monarch mountains,” from base to summit, and giving us the glory of an Alpine sunset, where the whole range glowed as with internal fire, long after the valley was at rest.
A day, a perfect day through the most beautiful scenery, brought us over the Tête Noire to Martigny, and there we came upon the railroad and so to Freiburg, and its organ. That organ should be in Switzerland; no other country has a right to it, for it belongs to the Alps, and listening to it in the duskily lighted cathedral, where no other sense disturbed the pleasure of the sense of hearing, we relived all our Alpine life, now lying behind us, like a beautiful dream. Storm and sunshine and snow, the glacier and the lovely Alpine flora were all there; the musical bells of the grazing herds on the steep slopes rang through the tones at intervals, and the vox humana which startled us in its imitation, what was that but the human part of our journey, the kindly hearts and ready bands we had met, the gentleness, patience, constant care of our faithful guide who had shared our journey for four weeks, seeming more like a friend than a servant, whose strong rough hand we took this morning for the last time as he went from us back to his village home of Amstag and the music of the Reuss river, to find other strangers and to make friends of them all.
Franz Fedier has been guide for more than twenty years. All summer on the mountains, through difficulty and danger, always ready to take the responsibility, the toil, always ready to cheer the way with song or jest, all winter at work in the woods felling trees in the snow and cold, living all his life in one little village and yet making friends from all parts of the world. It is a strange life to lead. And he is only one of hundreds of stalwart men who follow the same line, a line marked out for them by the land in which they live. They never seem tired, or weary. They are simple, and I believe almost invariably honest and faithful. Nothing of our trip will be a pleasanter memory than they have left in our minds.
Here we have left the Alps behind, and have stopped for one day to have our last view of them in the distance. Our faces seem turned homeward, for Europe to us is Switzerland. And so we come back to home and work, that work which should be better and more finished for the beauty, for the utter enjoyment which lies as “a joy forever" in the memory.
A. C. B. St. Louis, Mo.
[The following interesting letter - which we owe to the kind. ness of a friend - from the Hon. A. D. Briggs, Mayor of Spring
field, describes a new step in the perfecting of our public school system which we cannot but think of the highest importance, and a movement towards the solution of a question which in our large cities is growing every day more pressing,— the question how best to dispose of the vagrant children from the streets. We trust that in the reformatory school manual labor will be introduced, and that the “ half-time system,” described in our January number may have a chance to be fairly tried.]
DEAR SIR: Your favor of the 12th inst., asking for "a little account” of our Truant-school System, is at hand, and I cheerfully comply with your request, though the system is not new, but is in force in some other cities of this Commonwealth. It is simply this:
The teachers in the ordinary schools search out an absent pupil, follow him up, find his parents, learn the cause of his absence, and seek to bring him into school again. This is called the “first step,” but it does not secure the desired result for the worst class of truants, nor does it reach at all those whose names are not found upon the School Register, who are simply “children on the street." For such second step” is taken. A truant school is established, and not only truants, but the turbulent, the disobedient, and the refractory from any of the schools are sent to it till they redeem their character. They are then permitted to return to their proper school, or the one most convenient for them to attend. The master