Page images

An eye

beauty and sublimity, and so you hands; but I discovered that after need not hamper yourself by selec- the long voyage one would find tions.

himself on a desert of ashes some The variety is infinite. First, eighty miles from any fragment of the broken bank, rising right up scenery, with such difficulties in over your head, looks as if it had the way of locomotion that the tracome from Patterdale or the Tro- veller often occupies himself during sachs. Towering right over it is a the stoppage of the steamer in lookhigher top, as if Ben-Nevis — the ing about him in the not extensive long banks which stretch him to or varied town of Reikeiavik, and so broad a base being cut away- in keeping himself warm. bad been mounted on wheels, and to the more expressive features of pushed in behind. Then, over all, geology is of use in the choice of a are the majestic masses, bearing touring district. There are some heaps of eternal snow. These broad formations that never diverge from snowy bosoms, with the gentle tinge the heavy respectability of their of green on their glaciered edges, condition into shattered rocks. The how pure and sweet and innocent Loch Katrine district, for instance, they look when far away, and owes its variety and beauty to the steeped in sunshine! Who could prevalence of schist, which devel. think they were infested with ops itself in horny, twisted, eccenstorms and wild torrents, terrible tric forms. When we pass northicebergs that break and crush you ward, we come to a formation kinto pieces, deep chasms, roaring dred in supposed origin, but utterly torrents, avalanches, and the ele- different in picturesque effect—the ments of death in numberless fear- gneiss. Its propensity is to unduful forms ! So near they seem, late in broad, low elevations and so smooth, so accessible, that I shallow hollows, and so the wanhave known a Cockney talk of derer who gets into it may find that taking a walk over the snowy there is no end of desolate, unexmountain as he would over Rich- pressive moorland before him. mond Hill, and feeling very much There is a mistake in always aimastonished and aggrieved indeed ing at the highest ground in a mounwhen, after hours of toilsome walk- tain family. It is often little better ing, he found himself seemingly no than table-land, and frequently it is nearer to it. He was astonished in the outposts that deep clefts and enough when taken to the spot in abrupt precipices have been formed a legitimate way, and especially at out of shakings of the great mass. what first surprises every one on When there are so many thousand first beholding the glacier—its sin- feet to come and go upon as the gular dirtiņess on the surface, in- Alps supply, you will get as much somuch that it may be compared sublimity as eye can take in to London streets where the snow from the eccentricities of the minor has been trodden down by millions mountains. At Chamounix, though of blackened shoes after a thaw you are under the huge shoulders of has come.

Mont Blanc, you have a good deal To one who has a devotion for of climbing to get at the aiguilles mountain scenery, and has limited and precipices; and then, though leisure at his command to make their tops may be a great many his worship in, it is a great point thousand feet above the level of to get at a place where the scenery the sea, they are not so very far is accessible as well as grand. I above where you stand. remember once entertaining some

In the district where I now am, thoughts of Iceland as the scene of on the other hand, precipices and a holiday trip. There are abun- spikes as lofty to the eye as dant riches, no doubt, there to re- anything you can see anywhere ward the explorer, with time on his come close round you—they start



up everywhere, from the brinks But when it comes to giving us an of rivers and lakes, and from the account, with philosophical plainside of the highroad. They go ness and simplicity, of the manner sheer up, in many instances, with. in which this mass of Alpine scenout throwing out the spurs of lower ery was brought into existence, altitude, which so often weary the I think, in humble ignorance, that searcher after the picturesque, and geology would require to get at a spoil the influence of mountains, fact or two more than it possesses, however high. The sages in geolo- and must drive a few more experigical science lead us to attribute mental shafts through the earth's these specialties to the prevalence crust, before it dogmatises. To show of the dolomite or crystalline lime- how widely the authorities who deal stone, with a deep perpendicular with questions so large are driven cleavage which separates it into into differing with each other, I take long straight spikes or plates, won- the following short summary from derful in their thinness. There 'The Dolomite Mountains,' a book they stand, running straight up into of which the reader must not judge the sky, without a tuft of moss or entirely from a passage taken out a blade of grass visible on their of its scientific department, since it marble sides, but deep rooted below contains a great amount of amusing in solemn pine-forests, or in a mixed and well-written narrative of travel frondage of the liveliest and bright- attendant on its instruction in geoest green. The rock itself is very logical investigations and theories purely crystalline, merging from a —and yet these are more animated bright white to a rich pink or carna

than stratified literature generally tion, on which the varying moods is :of the sunshine throw wonderful effects.

“What, then, is the origin of this

strictly “family group' of mountain These effects for the landscape

masses ? It has formed the subject of painter and the lover of the pic- discussion among French and German turesque have, of course had their geologists for more than a generation sources in certain specialties con- past, and much ink has been shed during cerning the structure of this part the process, without a satisfactory soluof the crust of the earth-special- is one of the latest contributors to its

tion having been arrived at. Richthofen ties as to which the geologists take literature, and he propounds a theory upon themselves the responsibility. that requires a separation of the question It is a very pretty, and also satis- into two parts. We have to ask- First, factory thing in its way to follow What is the origin of these mountains, your paleozoontological mentor as as such ? and then, What is the origin he explains to you the succession of of the Dolomite rock of which they the fossiliferous strata through the

mainly consist ?

“Leopold Von Buch-in 1822—was special characteristics of the animal

one of the first who attracted scientific and vegetable remains left in each attention towards the peculiar appearof them. At the place, too, where ance of the South Tyrol Dolomites. The all the horizontal layers get a twist, frequent neighbourhood of augite porare turned over each other's backs phyry; the numerous veins of that rock as it were, and become at last un

to be seen penetrating the Dolomite

Massives; the aspect some of them posdistinguishable, and fused together

sess of having been suddenly elevated into one flinty mass, it is not easy from below to their present position ; even for the most sceptical to resist their chemical character, entire absence the explanation that the great black of bedding, and crystalline, often cel. rock found protruding upwards and lular, structure, were the points that overtopping the whole confusion is led him to the theory that these moun

tains had been upheaved by volcanic a fresh upheaval from the molten

force and converted from carbonate of centre of the earth of boiling mat- lime into dolomite by the vapour of ter which has broken through those magnesia, evolved from the molten quiet layers of sedimentary strata. volcanic rocks below, and penetrating

the limestone above. The publication found, not only on the summit of the of Von Buch's letters was the signal for Schlern, and of the lower line of preci. the commencement of a long series of pices of the Sella and Guerdenazza pladiscussions, and led to many scientific teaus, but also in two patches upon the visits to the district. The chemist, Tuff at the foot of these Massives, thouhowever, gave the death-blow to this sands of feet below. These great differtheory, in the proof, besides other diffi- ences of elevation in an undisturbed culties, of the all but impossibility of the bed at very short distances would, production of magnesia in a state of Richthofen argues, be difficult to explain vapour. Richthofen goe so far as to without the supposition of reef-building add, that Von Buch would never have corals. enunciated his theory if he had but al- “ Richthofen institutes a comparison lowed himself to examine with care a between the growth and conditions of single Dolomite mountain !

existence of the reef-building corals in It is impossible to enter into the the tropical seas of the present day, as details of this long discussion : we must observed by Darwin, Dana, and Jukes, confine ourselves to a statement of the and those of the assumed Trias coral. hypothesis Richthofen proposes for the reefs of South Tyrol. The coral animals explanation of the orographic peculiari. find an especially favourable ground, ties of those mountains, at least, which without, however, being limited to it, are formed of ‘Schlern Dolomite.' He in districts of former sub-aqueous vol. says, The Schlern is a CORAL REEF, canic activity, when a period of slow deand the entire formation of Schlern pression often takes the place of the Dolomitehas in like manner originated previous period of elevation. South through animal activity.'

Tyrol was, during the latter portion of “The following are some of the facts to the Trias period, in a similar condition, which Richthofen calls attention in sup- and the sea was filled with the products port of his hypothesis, taking the Schlern

of the decomposition of volcanic material. as the subject for illustration. First, They are limited in their growth to a its form as a mass, falling away steeply depth of about 120 feet under the sea on all sides ; its isolation from similar

surface ; and yet, favoured by the conmasses in the neighbourhood ; the im- tinual slow depression of the ocean bed, probability of such a fornı being the reefs of enormous depth are formed. result of denudation, as involving-sup; From soundings made, it is evident that posing, for instance, the Schlern and there are reefs in the Pacific Ocean, of a Lang Kofel had ever been a continuous depth equal to the height of the South deposit-too great a destruction in one Tyrol Dolomite Massives. If the Pacific direction, and too complete a protection were laid bare, or the reefs in it, with from denudation in another. Then, the their base, were now elevated above the undisturbed beds upon which the Schlern sea-level, would not their aspect, seated rests, and the equally undisturbed Raibl

upon mountain - ridges, and many of beds upon its summit, imply that the them in the immediate neighbourhood intermediate Dolomite has suffered, since

of extinct volcanoes, present a similarits deposit, no considerable mechanical ity to the existing Orography of South disturbance. The unequal thickness of Tyrol ?" the different masses, too, points strongly in the same direction. The Dolomite of

Ah yes! If we could but drain the Schlern and of the Sella plateau the Pacific even so far down as to could never have been higher than at get at the tops of the reefs, then we present, covered, as it is in both, with would see what we would see : and Raibl beds ; while the upper portions of this is the standing grief of the the Dolomite of the more lofty Rosen- geologist, that his own experimengarten, Lang Kofel, and Marmolata, have been left exposed to denuding in comparison with what it accom

tal genius can do little for him action.

“ The original local character of the plishes for other classes of inquirers. “Sehlern Dolomite’ formation is implied The electrician can create thunder in another circumstance connected with and lightning to the extent of his the mode of deposit of the Raibl beds. Evidence derived from other deposits make a single stratum, though he

means; but the geologist cannot shows that, during this period, the district was undergoing a gradual slow

had all the wealth at his command depression, and that no violent catastro- that ever was in the world. Never phe occurred. Now the Raibl beds- mind. He has material enough becontaining fauna of a shallow sea-are fore him to exhaust the most pa



tient perseverance and the most its dirtiness. Clear, sparkling waardent zeal; and before he has com- ters are a delight to the eye as pletely settled, so as to leave no well as to the appetite. The cheroom for scepticism, the question of mists tell you that there is no how this great mountain - group absolutely pure water capable of came into existence, and assumed standing analysis in rivers all its special forms, he will have springs, and to get the nearest gone through a good deal of work. practicable liquid to the pure ele

The pedestrian has not yet be- ment you must use the stilī. They come, in relation to the elements of admit at the same time that the his favourite scenery, so fastidious as presence of some slight mineral sothe epicure. Perhaps he is improv- lution is necessary to give its zest ing-perfectionating, as the French to spring-water. So, perhaps, also say, his vocation, as all other things a slight amount of colour is not unare brought onwards by degrees. I welcome in fitting water for scenery am not sure that I would desire to —although to look down through see his pursuit converted into an the depths of clear water and see absolute science, or deprived of the through it nearly as easily as you charms which its lawlessness of can through the atmosphere, is a practice and its waywardness in great delight. For colouring matter matters of taste confer on it. There there are varieties in intensity and are, however, some characteristics in character. For both, that comof the physical geography of a dis- pound which colours the Thames is trict so important to the wayfarer's the most odious to all the senses. enjoyment that he should attend to The red clay which some English them. Among these the existence rivers carry with them too abunor non-existence of water, and, if it dantly is not beautiful. I confess exist, its character, are vital con- to a partiality for the port-winish siderations. The curious mountain- colour which our Scotch streams region called the Saxon Switzerland carry from the peat, when it is abounds in scenes eminently pictur- light; but this mixture is very open esque ; but then its picturesqueness to abuse and over-dosing when comes of its being a cake of dry floods come. Glacier streams are sandstone broken into splinters, all filthy, like the ice they come and into its dusty pathways gush from, until they get settled down, no bright springs. The absence of and then they have their curious this source of enjoyment to the way- and special beauties. The Rhone, farer, mere animal enjoyment as it for instance, with the intense depth is, will enter into the reminiscences of its blueness, as it comes out of of his sojourn in the land ; and the Lake of Geneva, has no doubt even the abundance of taverns, received a deal of flattering attenwhich bravely endeavour to make tion; but its colour is, to my noup in wine and beer for the nig- tion, too deep and powerful : it gardly hospitality of nature, will reminds one of the vat of an innot put the district in the same digo-dyer. Among the streams of genial chamber of the memory with Salzburg and the Tyrol, the glacier that in which the clear unstained sediment exists high up, but when fountains spout multitudinously it is purified away the tinge it from the crystalline rocks.

leaves in the water is very beauIt may sound like blasphemy tiful—a just perceptible blue, aptly against Byron in the ears of the compared to that of the beryl or devotees of • Childe Harold,' to aquamarine. say that I dislike the Rhine dis- TI vers in their full bulk are trict as a country to walk in, on very grand-grander in their rapidaccount of its dry, thirsty, vine ity and depth than waters of much yard scenery, and I dislike sail- greater width. Of the channel of ing on the river on account of each, the section-or“ elevation,” as



architects term it, whether they are the river-god or the colossal hand going up or down—is a semicircle, holding a tube whence nothing and this is filled with a rushing tor- flows into the classically-shaped rent. If you want to know its force, vase below. Even where founjump in as you would into the Tay tains exist still from old times or the Tweed, and strike out-you or have been lately made, they

a powerful swimmer if you are mere squirts, giving you an don't, after a short trial, make for unpleasant feeling of mechanical shore again as fast as you can. We contrivance for making the water have nothing in the British Islands do as much as it can. But here, to compare as impetuous rivers the great point seems to be to keep with the Salz, the Inn, the Iser, and the water down. It bursts out some others that go to make the everywhere, and the curious memighty Danube—to make, not to chanical contrivances connected with feed it, for this is a derogatory ex- it seem rather as if they were for pression to use towards streams the purpose of restraining it and which carry a far heavier weight of keeping it out of mischief, by affordwater than the Danube bears in his ing it innocent amusement, than of upper reaches.

His course there exciting it to feats of dexterity like is steady, straight, and quiet-he our ordinary fountain works. passes agricultural plains and re- Delicious as are these bright spectable towns and makes himself waters in appeasing the thirst, they useful to them—and so, like a dili- make a very Tantalus of you in gent and respectable parliamentary some other respects. The difference leader orchief magistrate, he gathers between British and German noto himself the general repute of tions of the cubicular supply of possessing all the impetuous talent the element is well known, and in that goes along with him.

hot dry days one would fain take For minor waters—burns, rills, advantage of its abundance outside ; brooks, springs, and all the rest of besides, some men have a dash of them, I never happened to be in a the amphibious in their nature, and region so affluently supplied. It cannot be comfortable in hot weawould seem sometimes as if that ther unless a large proportion of heavy mass of stone, which the the day is spent in the water. Near authors of The Dolomite Moun- the great roads, however, it is imtains' so well account for, had possible to bathe, for they are concaught up a portion of the flood tinually frequented — sometimes which was ever getting out here crowded—and they run close to the and there despite their efforts to margins of the streams and lakes. keep it down. In some places art There is immersion enough to be also has laid her weights on the got on the wild Alp, where one bubbling waters, with the effect, not does not so much care for it; but unintentional, of making them more in the flat valleys, even while surrebellious and reactionary than ever. rounded by the most magnificent of At Hellbrun, a few miles from Salz- nature's triumphs, the wanderer is burg, there is an old princely plea- to some extent subjected to the sure-house with a history of its own, social slavery of the crowd. which may probably be found in These valleys are not a place the guide-books. The building is suited for following the example now a dirty gast-house ; but the of some young fellows whom I rechief feature in its pleasure-grounds member suffering grievously from is fresh as ever, and will remain the baking sun in a hot valley in so. It was created at the time when the Grampians, far remote from the great delight of pleasure-grounds man. As they were every now and was the fountains. Where you see then stripping and plunging into them in old pictures, you may now

the nice little claret-coloured pools find nothing but the dry basin with under the pretty waterfalls, the

« PreviousContinue »