« ПредишнаНапред »
65. Bacon the Sculptor.
BACON was remarkably neat in his dress, and, according to the costume of the old school, wore, in fine weather, a powdered wig, ruffles, silver, buckles, white silk stockings, &c. and walked with his gold-headed cane. Thus attired, he one, day called at St. Paul's, shortly after having erected the statue of the benevolent Howard, and before the boarding which enclosed the statue was removed.
One of his sons was employed at this time in finishing the statue.—After remaining here a short time, Bacon complained of feeling somewhat cold ;, on which his son proposed, as no one could overlook them, that he should put on, as a kind of temporary spencer, an old, torn, green shag waistcoat, with a red stuff back, which had been left there by one of the workmen. He said it was a good thought,' aud accordingly buttoned the waistcoat over his handsome new coat. Shortly afterwards he was missing, but returned in about an hour, stating that he had been calling on a gentleman in Doctors' Commons, and had sat chatting with his wife and daughters, whom he had never seen before; that he found them to be exceedingly pleasant women, thougb perhaps a little too much disposed to laugh and titter about he knew not what. Sir,' said his son, I am afraid I can explain their mysterious behaviour-surely you have not kept on that waistcoat all this time?' But as sure as I am a living man, I have,' said he, laughing heartily, and I can now account not only for the strange behaviour of the ladies, but for all the jokes that have been cracked about me as I walked along the street, some persons hooting, others crying • let him alone, he does it for a wager,' all which, from being quite unconscious of my appearance, I thought was levelled at some other quiz that might be following near me: and I now recollect that whenever I looked around to discover the object of their pleasantry, the people laughed, and the more so, as, by the mere force of sympathy, I laughed also, although I could not imagine what it all meant.--Public Journals.
66. The Alps. We cannot enter Italy by land without crossing over a prodigious chain of high mountains called the Alps, which separate this country from France and Germany, but even amongst the perpetual ice and snow, and the rocks and precipices of these desolate regions, there is something pleasing to a curious observer of the works of nature. These mountains give rise to the Rhine, the Rhone, and many other considerable rivers, some of which, before they get into the plains, fall down steep rocks with prodigious violence and noise. The roads which are cut along the sides of vast precipices, and in several places very narrow, with monstrous rocks impending over head, and the river roaring at the bottom, afford a scene that few travellers can behold without some degree
of terror. But though the prospect of this stupendous pile of rugged mountains, inaccessible rocks, and wide chasms by which they are intersected, seems to carry the face of ruin and confusion, yet there is something in the whole that is august and stately, that fills the mind with noble thoughts, and naturally leads us to reflect on the power and majesty of the great Creator.
Amongst the natural wonders of the Alps, the Glaciers, (as they are called) or Valleys of Ice, seem particularly to deserve our notice; and a description of one of them may suffice to give the reader an idea of the rest. But it is to be observed, that though we call them valleys, as being vast cavities or hollows, their situation is perhaps two or three thousand feet perpendicular above the level of the plains below, and yet having points of rocks and mountains shooting up to a prodigious height above them. The ascent to them is generally very steep, rugged, and slippery; and the air so extremely cold, that persons who visit them in July and August, the only months in the year that are fit for the journey, go clothed as in the depth of winter. One of the most remarkable of these frozen valleys is that which takes its name from Chamouni, a little village on the north side of the Arva, though the icy valley is on the south; from whence it stretches itself nearly eighteen miles in length, being divided, at about half that distance from the village, into two different horns or branches. The surface of this valley is very uneven, appearing like a sea or lake that has been agitated by violent winds and frozen all at once, whilst the waves were rolling and dashing one against another; and in several places there are great cracks in the ice, some narrow enough to step over, but others some yards wide, in which people are often lost who go in search of crystal, for it is very dangerous going over them, especially when covered with snow. These cracks are made by the heat of the sun at noon, and with such a terrible noise, occasioned by the echo from the rocks all round it, that it resembles the firing of great guns, or loud claps of thunder. The breadth of this valley is about two miles, and the thickness of the ice in summer is found to be six or eight feet, but some of the frozen waves (if we may so call them) are forty or fifty feet higher than the cavities between them. According to Mr. Martel, who visited this Glacier in 1742, it has a communication with the valley of Chamony by five openings, at one of which the river Arbairon has its source, issuing from under two arches of ice, composed of a vast number of vertical shoots unequally terminated, which look like the finest crystal in the world, and reflect an infinity of the brightest colours. The Arbairon is a large stream that falls into the Arva, carrying along with it a great many particles of gold; and the rivulet of Argentiere, which comes from a Glacier of the same name, carries with it also pieces of gold and silver.
The avalanches, or snow-balls, which sometimes gather and roll down the sides of these mountains, are very surprising and dangerous to travellers. They are occasioned by the dropping of a quantity of snow from some prominent rock, which increases as it falls down the steep declivities, till it becomes of a prodigious size, and sweeps away houses, trees, men, horses, or whatever it meets with in its passage. As they fall suddenly, and with great rapidity, it is very difficult for passengers to avoid them; and nothing is able to resist their force till they get to the bottom, where they generally break in pieces by the violence of the shock. Some of these mountain snow-balls have been found, by measuring their track, to be above a hundred yards in diameter; and one of them, in the year 1695, fell upon a village in the night-time, and destroyed eleven houses, besides barns and stables, burying men, women, and cattle in the ruins. These ter, rible accidents, we are told, are produced even by the leaping of a chamois, the firing of a pistol, a shout, the bells of mules and pack-horses, or any noise that shakes the air, whereby the snow is loosened from the rocks above : for which reason, in places of the greatest danger, people take care to travel early, and with all the silence possible. Some of these avalanches indeed are not so destructive, as they consist of new-fallen snow driven by the wind; for these being lighter, persons buried under them may live a long time without being suffocated, and are often timely relieved by men kept in pay to clear the roads, and give assistance to passengers on such occasions.
The manner of crossing the Alps is in some places extremely surprising: the inhabitants of mount Cennis, who run up steep acclivities, loaded with the most heavy burdens, without suffering the least inconvenience, carry a person directly up a mountain, whose height is a good hour's journey, without panting or resting. And then, on the plain above, proceed with amazing despatch. They then having refitted the chairs, which is done in a few minutes, carry the company over the worst part of the way, for two hours together, making only four pauses, and those very
short ones : such is the effect of custom, and of the simple diet, to which they owe their uncommon longevity, many of them attaining to above an huudred years of age. Milk is their usual food, and they seldom taste any wine. The better to secure their footing, their shoes are without heels, and the soles rubbed with wax and rozin. The machines in which they are carried, are a kind of straw chairs, with low backs, two arms, and instead of feet, a little board hanging