« AnteriorContinuar »
NOTES TO THEODRIC.
LINE 3. “ That gave the glacier tops their richest glow.” The sight of the glaciers of Switzerland, I am told, has often disappointed travellers who had perused the accounts of their splendour and sublimity given by Bourrit and other describers of Swiss scenery. Possibly Bourrit, who has spent his life in an enamoured familiarity with the beauties of Nature in Switzerland, may have leaned to the romantic side of description. One can pardon a man for a sort of idolatry of those imposing objects of Nature which heighten our ideas of the bounty of Nature or Providence, when we reflect that the glaciers—those seas of ice-are not only sublime, but useful: they are the inexhaustible reservoirs which supply the principal rivers of Europe ; and their annual melting is in proportion to the summer heat which dries up those rivers and makes them need that supply.
That the picturesque grandeur of the glaciers should sometimes disappoint the traveller, will not seem surprising to any one who has been much in a mountainous country, and recollects that the beauty of Nature in such countries is not only variable, but capriciously dependent on the weather and sunshine. There are about four hundred different glaciers *, according to the computation of M. Bourrit, between Mont Blanc and the frontiers of the Tyrol. The full effect of the most lofty and picturesque of them can,
only be produced by the richest and warmest light of the atmosphere; and the very heat which illuminates them must have a changing influence on many of their appearances. I imagine it is owing to this circumstance, namely, the casualty and changeableness of the appearance of some of the glaciers, that the impressions made by them on the minds of other and more transient travellers have been less enchanting than those described by M. Bourrit. On one occasion M. Bourrit seems even to speak of a past phenomenon, and certainly one which no other spectator attests in the same terms, when he says, that there once existed between the Kandel Steig and Lauterbrun, a passage amidst singular glaciers, some
* Occupying, if taken together, a surface of 130 square leagues.
times resembling magical towns of ice, with pilasters, pyramids, columns, and obelisks, reflecting to the sun the most brilliant hues of the finest gems.”—M. Bourrit's description of the Glacier of the Rhone is quite enchanting:
“To form an idea,” he says, “ of this superb spectacle, figure in your mind a scaffolding of transparent ice, filling a space of two miles, rising to the clouds, and darting flashes of light like the sun. Nor were the several parts less magnificent and surprising. One might see, as it were, the streets and buildings of a city, erected in the form of an amphitheatre, and embellished with pieces of water, cascades, and torrents. The effects were as prodigious as the immensity and the height ;-the most beautiful azure-the most splendid white—the regular appearance of a thousand pyramids of ice, are more easy to be imagined than described.”--Bourrit, iii. 163.
LINE 9. .“ From heights brouzed by the bounding bouquetin.”
Laborde, in his “ Tableau de la Suisse,” gives a curious account of this animal, the wild sharp cry and elastic movements of which must heighten the picturesque appearance of its haunts.--" Nature,” says Laborde, “has destined it to mountains covered with snow: if it is not ex
posed to keen cold it becomes blind. Its agility in leaping much surpasses that of the chamois, and would appear incredible to those who have not seen it. There is not a mountain so high or steep to which it will not trust itself, provided it has room'to place its feet; it can scramble along the highest wall, if its surface be rugged." ;
- LINE 15.
. “ Enamelld moss.” The moss of Switzerland, as well as that of the Tyrol, is remarkable for a bright smoothness approaching to the appearance of enamel.
LINE 136. “How dear seem'd ev’n the waste and wild Shreckhorn." The Schreck-horn means in German, the Peak of Terror.
LINE 141. Blindfold his native hills he could have known.". I have here availed myself of a striking expression of the Emperor Napoleon respecting his recollections of Corsica, which is recorded in Las Cases’s History of the Emperor's Abode at St. Helena.