Зображення сторінки

from each other, but all adapted to excite emotions of circumstance, that in the course of a year the snow which pleasure or admiration.

falls is just melted, and no more. Now, a snow-clad mounBut our object is to show the use, permanence, and tain is not a glacier. The common form of a glacier is importance of beauty, as a medicine both for mind and a river of ice, filling a valley, and pouring down its body; and to suggest that, in cultivating the taste, we

mass into the valleys yet lower. It is not a frozen

ocean, but a frozen torrent; wherefore the appellation advance the moral improvement of the people. In this of the Mer de Glace is calculated to convey an erroneous point of view there is philosophical truth, as well as notion of the great glacier stream to which it is applied. poetical elegance, in the line of Keats, which serves as a Its origin or fountain is to be sought for in the ramititle to these desultory remarks

fications of the higher valleys and gorges, which de

scend among the mountains perpetually snow-clad. 'A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.'

But what gives to a glacier its most peculiar and cha

racteristic feature is, that it does not belong exclusively THE GARDEN OF THE GLACIERS.

or necessarily to the snowy region already mentioned.

The snow disappears from its surface in summer as BEING at Chamouny, and the weather beautifully fine, regularly as from that of the rocks which sustain its I determined to lose no time, but to visit the Jardin mass. It is the prolongation or outlet of the winter immediately; for I had heard, from authority I could world above. Its gelid mass is protruded into the not doubt, what a gratifying excursion it was. Accord- midst of warm pine-clad slopes and greensward, and ingly, on Monday, July 22, 1844, we left Chamouny, at The very huts of the peasantry are sometimes invaded

sometimes reaches even to the borders of cultivation. an early hour in the morning, for the Montanvert, by this moving ice; and many persons now living have which we reached in such good time, that, after a mo

seen the full ears of corn touching the glacier, or have derate halt, we were able to set forth again at a quarter gathered ripe cherries from the tree with one foot standpast eight o'clock. We were only two in party, but we ing on the ice. were attended each by our guide; I by Ferdinand Tissay,

The lower end of a glacier is usually very steep and who accompanied me to the Buet; and my companion inaccessible. The mean or middle portion is a gentlyby the celebrated Joseph Coutet. After half an hour's sloping icy torrent, from half a mile to two miles wide, rough walking, we had to pass some precipitous faces more or less undulating on its surface, and this surface

more or less broken up by crevasses, of a width of from of slaty rock, called Les Ponts, where the footing is

a few inches to many feet, and of a length which somevery narrow, though firm, and where a fall would be times extends from side to side of the glacier. This, attended with certain destruction. These once past, it its middle portion, too, is covered with blocks of stone, became our object to launch ourselves on the ice of the which move along with it, or rather are borne down Mer de Glace, a matter not always easy of accomplish- upon its surface. The motion of the glacier is inferred ment-for the glacier, far from presenting a smooth from the subsistence of the ice in valleys where the unbroken surface, running up to a regular and gently- tains its position ; but its progress is also well-marked

daily waste is immense, and where yet the glacier mainsloping shore, is rather to be likened to a tempes- by the displacement of great blocks of stone upon its tuous sea, with gulfs and chasms fixed between it and surface, which, from their size or figure, cannot be misits inhospitable iron-bound coast; and our search for taken, and which may be watched from year to year a smooth point of ingress was precisely analogous to descending the icy stream, whose deliberate movement the waiting of seamen for a lull, before launching a they mark, as a floating leaf indicates the speed of a boat through the breakers. At last we found a smooth current of water! These rocks are detached from the bridge of the unmelted winter's snow, reaching from cliffs, and may be seen to fall almost every summer's day, the side of the rocky glacier-bed to the ice, by means in consequence of the loosening of the icy bands which of which we set foot on the Mer de Glace itself, and the irresistible expansion of freezing water. The stony

hold together fragments previously wrenched asunder by forthwith commenced the usual and inevitable march- borders now described are called moraines; which furings and countermarchings, to which the countless im- | ther have the epithets lateral or medial applied to them, pediments of the glacier give rise. But before we pro- according as they are formed by blocks detached at the ceed with the narrative of our day's excursion, it would sides of the glacier, or by blocks detached from the properhaps be better to give some general account, how-montory or common point of meeting of the sides of two ever brief and slight, for the benefit of those who never glacier streams that unite in one; a point manifestly in have seen or set foot upon one, of what a glacier actu

or about the middle of the new glacier stream resulting

from the union. ally is. It may make the detail of our narrative more

Persons who have never seen a glacier, may naturally intelligible.

suppose that its middle or lower part is fed or increased First, then, glaciers manifestly can exist only among by the snows which fall annually on its surface. This snow-clad mountains; but snow-clad mountains do not is an error; for the snow as regularly disappears and necessarily produce glaciers. Why they do not, is not melts from the surface of the glacier, as it does from now the question. However, high mountains in every the surface of the ground in its neighbourhood. Here part of the world are covered with snow; for the fact and there, in shady nooks, we see patches of the last is, that the atmosphere becomes colder as we ascend; approximation to the character of ice. In whatever

winter's snow, of a dull, dead white, and without an 80 that, at a certain height called the snow - line, way the middle and lower glacier may be maintained, above the earth's surface, snow is always lying. This it is most assuredly not by the assimilation into its height is greatest at the equator-namely, 16,000 feet; substance of the fallen snow of winter. The case, which, in the Swiss Alps, is diminished to 8700 feet however, differs in the higher ice world; and thither above the sea. In very high latitudes, the natural our excursion to the Jardin is about to lead us. Of covering of the earth is snow. But it must be borne these upper regions it is to be observed, that the snow in mind that snow always lying on any spot does not disappears more and more tardily as we ascend, until lead to the inference that snow never melts there. If we reach a point where it never disappears at all'; in a

word, until we reach the snow-line upon the glacier. the snow never melted, a perpetual progressive accu There are an immense number of additional most inmulation would be the result. The position of the per- teresting phenomena connected with glaciers. But the petual snow-line is nowhere the line of perpetual con- main points respecting them to be borne in mind are, gelation. The snow-line is determined solely by this that they are the outlets of the vast reservoirs of snow

of the higher Alps; that they are icy streams, or rather can scarcely have a fall of less than 2000 feet (a mere bonâ fide streams of ice, in constant flow, however slow guess, however), one is tempted to compare it to a their motion; and that the existing state of human frozen cataract. But this comparison soon fails to knowledge concerning them, as put forth by the highest hold good; and the idea that suggests itself is rather known authority on the subject,* amounts to this : that that of an enormous mass of crystals, gigantic out of a glacier is an imperfect fluid or viscous body, which is all measure, yet endowed with the regularity and urged down slopes of a certain inclination by the mu- beauty of a specimen in a cabinet of mineralogy. tual pressure of its parts.

This is in accordance with what I have not seldom To resume, then, our narrative. As soon as we fairly had occasion to remark; namely, that when an object set foot on the great glacier of the Mer de Glace, we of our contemplation vastly exceeds all our ordinary began our course in apparently interminable windings notions of grandeur, there exists a tendency in our amongst crevasses, blocks of stone, glacier tables, and minds to compare it with something incalculably less, moraines, of which latter impediments we had to force and even meaner; and that, strange to say, such coma passage over three distinct embankments which follow parisons are generally far from being inapt. I have the stream of the great glacier, the Mer de Glace, from heard the epithet chaotic applied to this and to other the lesser and higher Glacier de L'Echaud. Glacier glaciers, but it is surely as unfitting an epithet as can tables are very singular phenomena. When a large be applied to a natural process in regular action. With block of stone lies on the surface of the glacier, its area this, then, together with other glorious objects alterand thickness defends a portion of the surface of the nately in sight and alternately hidden, after a steep ice from rain and the heat of the sun's rays; in a ascent, we arrived at a plain of perpetual snow; and word, defends the ice immediately under it from causes after passing, with some difficulty as to footing, over of thaw, which act on the exposed ice all around; so the snow that fills the theatre of precipices whence the that, whilst the general neighbouring surface of the Glacier du Taléfre issues, we arrived exactly at seven glacier in the summer sinks down, the particular spots minutes after twelve at the Jardin, in three hours and underneath the greater blocks remain comparatively fifty-two minutes from the Montanvert. unchanged ; that is, stand up above the general sur The height of the lower part of the Jardin above the face, surmounted by the blocks of stone that were in sea Professor Forbes gives as being 9042 English feet, the first instance their protection; in fact, their um and that of the highest part as 9893 English feet. brellas. Hundreds of these tables are to be seen, stand The Jardin (or Courtil, as it is called in the patois of ing up like enormous mushrooms, all over the glacier. the inhabitants of Chamouny) possesses little beauty of That the glacier should be rent and torn in countless its own. It is a mass, or rather a not inconsiderable crevasses, is very conceivable, when we consider that extent of barren rocks, interspersed with scanty verdure, it is an imperfect fluid, pressing, slowly yet forcibly, and adorned with a few wild Alpine flowers. It does through a rocky mountain-channel of ever- varying not appear, when you first arrive at the spot, that it is width. The phenomena of moraines have been partially indeed insulated in the midst of the icy desert of the explained above. They are so far analogous to the glacier, although you may afterwards ascertain that it glacier tables, that they are not what they at first sight is so. The outlet in this vast encincture, from whence appear to be—an embankment solely consisting of im- the glacier issues, has been compared to a volcanic movable rocks--but are a bank or ridge of the smoothest crater with a side blown out. The view all around you ice, strewn with rocks, in a state of nice equilibrium ; | is the most rugged, savage, and solitary that can be conthe bank of ice having originated from the protection ceived; and the interior recesses of Mont Blanc, as you afforded it by the mass of rocks from the ordinary look over the great glacier of the Tacul (another glacier causes of thaw. Single small stones, on the other hand, stream tributary to the Mer de Glace), are beyond lying on the surface of the glacier, do not protect it description grand. With the exception of the scanty from causes of thaw; and besides, becoming heated by verdure growing around us, nothing was visible but the sun's rays, they melt their way into the ice, and rocks, ice, and snow. The weather, as I have before disappear in deep holes, like small wells, which they noticed, was exquisitely beautiful; and we remained at have themselves originated. All we here saw or did the Jardin an hour and a half, enjoying the brilliant in the course of our walk was highly interesting ; calm sunshine, which at times was almost too hot, notfor we had never before set foot in these regions of withstanding the fresh air from the glacier. Whilst we eternal ice. At half-past ten we arrived at the foot of were eating our luncheon in this wild place, two large the Couvercle, which it is necessary to ascend. The crows kept flying round and round, evidently watching weather was so fine, and the air so clear, that out of us; and as soon as we were on the move, they flew to pure indulgence we sat down here for twenty minutes the spot where we had been sitting, in order to pick up to look about us, and thoroughly enjoy the scene. We the fragments of our meal. had now a most sublime view of Mont Blanc, of the At the Jardin is a broken bottle full of cards and Great and Little Jorasses (little by comparison), of the papers, with the names of persons who have visited the Aiguille du Géant, of the Col du Géant, and of the spot written thereon. At about half past one we began countless towering Aiguilles of the entire chain of our descent. Soon after we left the Jardin, I managed Mont Blanc. Trees we had now left far below us, but inadvertently to dislodge a large stone, which, as the verdure not entirely. The scenery was made up of words of my journal run, surmounted a bank of ice peaks and precipices, eternal ice and snow, diversified covered with gravel-in other words, a large stone of a here and there with some scanty sheep, or rather, per- moraine; and in order to avoid grave mischance, I had haps, chamois pasture.

to make a run for it, on a soft slope of snow, on which Next we commenced the ascent of the Couvercle, walking was not altogether an easy matter. The reduring which we obtained admirable and astonishing sult, as might have been expected, was a fall; and be. bird's-eye views of the crevasses of the Mer de Glace sides that, I rolled some way down the wet and steep below us, and of the junction of the Glacier du Taléfre descent. This was a fair specimen of the way in which with the Mer de Glace, into which it falls in a style of the most serious accidents may occur ; but I saw the extraordinary magnificence. The glacier is here bril- danger of coming in contact with the stone, and was liantly white; and by the extreme steepness of its de prepared for anything rather than encountering the full scent, it is torn and disrupted into countless fantastic career of the Sisyphæan burden I had let loose. Coutet blocks, obelisks, and pyramids of ice, tossed about capri- and the rest good-humouredly rallied me on my extraciously, as if by the wild supernatural agency of the ordinary activity. At length we came to the foot of spirit of the mountain. From some points of view, the Couvercle, and once more set foot on the Mer de though this particular portion of the Glacier du Taléfre Glace; and made the best of our way to the little

auberge on the Montanvert, which we reached at five * Professor Forbes of Edinburgh.

minutes before four o'clock, having descended from the

Jardin in two hours and twenty-five minutes, and hav. weight of caoutchouc put into the still yields a weight ing been absent from the Montanvert seven hours and of the oil nearly equal to itself, there is not much loss in forty minutes. We then returned, all together, to the process. Chamouny.

The applications of unvulcanised caoutchouc have of

late years been very numerous. In solution, it has VULCANISED CAOUTCHOUC.

been applied for coating over cordage and cables, to pro

tect them from the destructive influence of salt water. SEVERAL years have elapsed since our last notice of the An early application of the same liquid was in the manuwonderful material, caoutchouc. * During this period facture of the invaluable impermeable cloth; of this a our consumption and the importance of the article new variety has made its appearance within the last few have expanded in an equal and surprising ratio; and months. Those valuable little articles known by the we should be at a loss at this moment to mention any foolish name of India-rubber corks, are also a production other substance as taking a more varied and peculiar of recent date. They are formed of small stoppers of ratio in utility to man. Its wonderful cohesive force, its cotton, coated externally with a thin caoutchouc memproperty of resisting compression, its impermeability, its brane. They are in some respects vastly superior as elasticity, and its facile accommodation to a host of the stoppers to cork, in others they are inferior to it. In wants of mankind, render caoutchouc a substance of the laboratory, sheet India-rubber is quite indispensgreat interest at all times. Latterly, however, a new able ; it supplies the place of a mass of expensive and method of treating the material, bestowing upon it a easily-deranged mechanism of brass-joints and unions : vast increase of its valuable peculiarities, besides endow- it is easily made into a flexible tube, by taking a narrow ing it with some new properties, has been discovered. ribbon of the membrane, slightly moistening the edges We therefore believe it will interest our readers to offer with turpentine, and laying them together over a glass some account of this new process, which has received tube ; they immediately adhere with surprising tenacity, the title of · Vulcanisation, or Conversion.'

and in a few minutes the elastic tube is completed. Caoutchouc is imported into England in the form of Caoutchouc, in fact, may be said to have contributed in plates and tablets, as well as in the pyriform bottles no small degree to the perfection of the experimental more familiarly known. Some specimens of the liquid, chemistry of the day, its economy and utility being from which the material is prepared, have also been equally appreciated in labours which always involve å brought in hermetically- sealed flasks. In this con considerable outlay, and offer, in the generality, few dition it resembles a thick yellow cream; and when remunerative returns beyond the acquisition of truth. applied as a varnish, covers the substance over with In mechanical surgery caoutchouc is equally serviceable, an impermeable coating. Since the first introduction forming elastic bandages, impermeable plasters, flexible of this material to the present hour, it has been an in- tubes, and the recent elegant substitute for a poulticesoluble problem to chemists to restore solidified caout a kind of half-sponge, with an India-rubber back to it; chouc to its primitive condition: the ordinary solvents besides forming instruments of many kinds of great of the substance producing a liquid which has few pro- value but small cost. Among the most important perties in common with the natural fluid, besides that applications of caoutchouc, is its use in the formation the solution exhales an offensive and pungent odour for of the celebrated marine glue. The caoutchouc is dis. a considerable period after its application. Immediately solved in oil of tar, or naphtha, and to the solution is on exposure, the liquid product of the tree separates added a certain quantity of shell-lac; these are melted into two parts, and caoutchouc rises to the surface like together, and by their union, form the almost invincible the cream of milk. It would, therefore, appear pro adherent in question. The masts of ships have been bable that a chemical influence is exerted by the air united by it, and then forcibly fractured ; and on examiupon the fluid, since remains in a great degree un- nation, it has turned out that the fracture has taken altered if the access of air is prevented. To render place, not at the junction, but in the very fibres of the the imported caoutchouc applicable to the purposes wood itself. Our readers are probably familiar with the of commerce, it requires to undergo a certain amount other experiments made at Woolwich upon the strength of preparation. The eminent French chemist, M. and tenacity of this material, the most striking of which Dumas, thus describes this process :- The caoutchouc was, that a ball of wood, sawn in half, and united by the is taken in the pyriform or tablet condition, and is glue, was fired from a cannon, and was found with the first pressed between two cylinders, while a current of union absolutely unshaken in the least. It was even warm water is permitted to flow over it; in this man- projected that an entire vessel might be constructed ner the foreign ingredients and impurities are removed. by its assistance, without the use of nails and bolts, or It is then put into a hollow cylinder, and, by mecha- at anyrate their use might have been in a considerable nical aid, is subjected to a violent kneading process, degree dispensed with. It may be mentioned here as during which a large amount of latent heat is evolved; probable, that in some measure caoutchouc contributes by this means it eventually becomes quite soft, and may to the elaboration of silk, the mulberry leaves upon be moulded into whatever form is most desirable for the which the silk-worm feeds yielding caoutchouc in great purpose intended. It is then cut by machinery, with abundance. It is possible that it will not be long ere the assistance of a constant current of warm water, into we shall have caoutchouc formed artificially for the sheets; or these may be cut from the masses, as imported, purposes of commerce. Dr Ure mentions that linseedwithout the preparation described by M. Dumas; or oil, rendered very dry by being boiled with a metallic into a delicate elastic thread; or it is cut into shreds for oxide, and exposed to the air for six or seven months, the formation of the solution. At an early period of became very much like caoutchouc, was wonderfully its introduction into England, caoutchouc was sold to elastic, and possessed other properties resembling that artists at a guinea the ounce; it is now procurable, substance. retail, at from three to four shillings the pound. Caout To return, however, to the more immediate subject chouc is soluble in ether, rectified oil of turpentine, of our notice-vulcanised caoutchouc. Mr Brockedon, naphtha, or oil of coal-tar, and in the bisulphuret of whose name is well known as connected with the subcarbon. Of these, the latter, and the offensive liquid ject of which we are treating, describes the process by naphtha, are the solvents most frequently employed. which caoutchouc acquires its new properties to be the Messrs Beale and Enderby of London have discovered a following, the merit of which is due to Mr Hancock : new liguid for its solution, obtained by the destructive The caoutchouc is immersed in a bath of fused sulphur, distillation of caoutchouc itself; an oily fluid is the heated to a proper temperature, until, by absorbing a product, and has the property of readily dissolving the portion of the sulphur, it assuines a carbonised appearsubstance from which it is procured. As a certain ance, and eventually acquires the consistency of horn.

The same condition can, however, be produced by either * See No. 453 of our former, and No. 33 of our current, series. kneading the India-rubber with sulphur, and then ex

posing it to a temperature of 190 degrees Fahrenheit, fail to increase the draught of the vehicle; besides, noise or by dissolving it in any of the common solvents, as itself is a safe nuisance, and could not very comfortably turpentine, holding sulphur in solution or suspension. to pedestrians be altogether dispensed with. Its most A similar process is that of 'conversion,' only in this important application is in its use in railways, and, as case the caoutchouc combines with sulphur under a dif- has been mentioned, in railway carriages. It is laid ferent agency. The bisulphuret of carbon, mixed with between the rail and the sleeper, and thus prevents the sulphur, is in this instance made to act upon the India- rails from indicating any traces of pressure. The userubber, and causes it to undergo a change on the sur- ful little articles · elastic bands' are made of this subface; but it cannot be penetrated to any great depth by stance. Besides all these applications, it is proposed to such means, and the process therefore becomes inappli- apply it as a coating to protect the wires of the subcable to masses of any density. The rationale of these marine telegraph from the influence of the sea water : operations appears to be, that the India-rubber forms it forms impervious bottles for ether, inkstands, trouseran actual chemical compound with the sulphur; be- straps, gloves, boots, surgical bandages, and a number comes, in short, a sulphuret of caoutchouc, the pro- of other articles, for which its nature almost seems to perties of which are thus enumerated :--The new com- have been expressly designed. pound remains elastic at all temperatures, while ordinary caoutchouc becomes inelastic and rigid at a

THE ARMENIAN LEPE R. few degrees above the freezing point of water; vulcanised caoutchouc is not the ordinary solvents, neither is Towards the close of one of those long bright sultry it affected by heat within a considerable range of tem- days which succeed each other with such unvarying perature. Finally, it acquires extraordinary powers of sameness during the summer of Asia Minor, a caravan resisting compression, with a great increase of strength consisting of a string of some thirty or forty camels and elasticity. Some interesting experiments have been defiled slowly through the beautiful vale of St Anne, made upon this new compound. Most of our readers This magnificent valley, at the entrance of which lies are familiar with the construction of the powerful spiral the city of Smyrna, in all the pride of her Oriental spring in use for the buffers' of railway carriages, beauty, is of vast extent, and remarkable for its luxu. to moderate the effects of concussion; their ordinary rious vegetation. It stretches many miles into the strength is such as to demand a pressure equivalent to interior of the country, closed in on all sides by lofty three tons and upwards, to compress the spiral close mountains. together. Mr Fuller has invented a form of spring, in The picturesque procession having wound through which vulcanised caoutchouc takes the place of the the last deep ravine, at the steady undeviating pace of steel, and the surprising result is, that the India-rubber the untiring camel, at last emerged into the open counsprings are more than three times the strength of the try, and came to a halt. It was here that the travellers, metallic; that is, they will resist, at the height of their who had availed themselves of the protection of the tension, a pressure equal to from five to ten tons. A caravan so long as their path was the same with its more forcible evidence of the strength of this material appointed course, were to separate from their compawas obtained by firing a cannon ball through a mass of nions, and choose each his track over the wide desolate vulcanised caoutchouc, and it was found literally broken plain that lay before them. These were chiefly Euroto pieces, while there was scarcely a perceptible rent peans; and amongst the number were two young Engin the caoutchouc itself.

lishmen, who, having heard that somewhere in this Gifted with these new powers, vulcanised caoutchouc direction the remains of a temple had been lately found, has already been called into extensive employment for had set out in quest of it, although with only an inthe most various and opposite purposes. It forms, in definite idea as to the locality of the ruins. hydraulic engines of all kinds, one of the most valuable The tinkling of the camel bells was scarcely lost in the materials for · washers,' applying itself so accurately to distance before the adventurers began to bethink them. the surfaces between which it is placed, as to prevent selves of the admonitions they had received from their the slightest leakage, other things being equal. In this companions. The night had fallen so suddenly, that capacity, and from its power of resisting heat, it has it seemed as though the darkness had been absolutely also been proposed for the use of steam-pipe joints. hurled down upon the earth from the depths of the It forms an admirable spring, more docile and more dark blue sky. No indications of the ruins they equal in power than those of steel: it has been for this sought presented themselves; and what was more, the purpose applied to locks and window-blinds. It may Smyrniotes had not left them in ignorance that no be here mentioned parenthetically, that by proportion human habitation existed within a distance of very ing the ingredients, the material may be rendered harder many miles. or softer at will; and that for some purposes it is used For a time they wandered recklessly on, thinking in the former, for others in the latter condition. It is they would find a couch quite soft enough among the manufactured also into the most elaborate ornaments, * low aromatic shrubs which clothed the desert where being superior to leather in the sharp outline and bold they were roaming; but soon the idea of quitting their relief of their detail. It is formed into a tubing of saddles at all was tacitly given up, notwithstanding the great strength and flexibility, well adapted, the con- fatigue of their jaded horses ; for on all sides, now far sideration of expense excepted, for fire-hose, and for any off, now so near that they started involuntarily, rose the apparatus required in conveying steam, water, or gas. ominous howling of the beasts of prey, whose numbers We have seen this tubing wrapped together, twisted, render the vicinity of Ephesus so dangerous. They and knotted into every conceivable shape, and instantly were now greatly at a loss how to proceed, or in what resume its contour as soon as it was liberated from its manner to pass the night till the returning day should restraint. This tube promises to become invaluable in enable them to shape their course in safety, when sudthe construction of life-boats, superseding those made denly they perceived a faintly-twinkling light gleaming of canvas, which were slowly destroyed by the influence on the plain at a short distance before them. of sea water. A curious use to which it has been put, Greatly surprised at a sight so unexpected in this is as a substitute for the iron tire or hoop of the car- dreary solitude, they gladly hurried towards it, and riage-wheel: the advantages it is said to atford are a soon distinguished in the dim starlight the dark outline much lighter draught, and an absence of noise. In dry of a heap of ruins, where broken arches and prostrate weather, the first postulate may be granted; but in columns lay mingling together. They had no doubt wet, and upon the greasy streets of the metropolis, the that this was the temple they were in search of; but wheels act like suckers on the pavement, and cannot the light which now appeared to burn steadily in the

interior was not so easily accounted for. Advancing to * We are indebted to the report in the Atheneum of Mr Brocke

the spot, they dismounted; and having fastened their don's paper for many of these particulars.

horses to a pillar, proceeded to explore the ruins, which

were of considerable extent, on foot. Guided by the the unfailing certainty of its communication by conmysterious ray, which brightened as they approached, tagion, though the touch by which it is conveyed they at length reached a large rudely-constructed aper- were only from the garment of the afflicted person. ture, through which they could perceive a small lamp They now, therefore, understood and appreciated the placed in a niche of the wall, which strongly illuminated generous precautions of their unhappy host, and coma very singular chamber. The broken pillars, with large plied with his request to sit down and partake of the stones brought from some other part of the building, repast he had provided, whilst he himself sat on the had been so disposed as to form a circular wall, whilst ground at the door, in order to supply any wants which the roof had originally been a part of that of the temple might occur to them. itself: a window and a door facing each other had been Whilst availing themselves gladly of the refreshment fashioned with considerable skill; and a couch, composed they so much required, the travellers continued to look of the long leaves of the Indian corn, carefully dried, with deep interest on the sufferer, seemingly so patient showed that it was the habitation of a human being. under such a grievous trial; and but for the dread of Directly facing them, the occupant of this strange apart- reawakening his sorrows, they would have inquired ment himself was seated, intently engaged on some into the details of a history that could not fail to be absorbing employment, whilst a large book lay open at most striking. He was himself, however, the first to his side. He was a man seemingly of some fifty years open the subject. of age, with a mild and pleasing countenance, which was • You now understand,' he said, 'why it is that I stamped with a peculiarly calm and peaceful expression. live among these solitary ruins, an outcast and an exile, His dress was that worn by the Armenians of the lower not from my country only, but from all mankind. My orders; and his long beard and flowing hair rendered his disease is the incurable leprosy, for which there is no appearance strikingly picturesque.

hope till its power over my mortal body shall be reThe intruders gazed at him for a few minutes, and placed by the corruption of the grave itself. Living, then advancing, were about to enter the apartment to I shall never more know the friendly pressure of a crave his hospitality for the night. At the sound of fellow-creature's hand; and dying, my fainting head their footsteps, the solitary man suddenly started from must not even make its last resting-place on the bosom the ground, and as soon as his eye fell on the strangers, of a stranger!' careless of the customary forms of eastern politeness, • What a fate!' exclaimed the Englishmen with the he held out his hands as though to ward them off, and accent of pity. exclaimed, 'Stand back! At your peril come no farther!' • What a blessed-what a noble fate!' exclaimed the He spoke in Italian; and the Englishmen, half-smiling leper enthusiastically, if I thereby fulfil the purpose at the idea that he probably took them for robbers, of my creation, as ordained by the All-Wise, whose answered in the same language, 'You need not fear; we prerogative alone it is to draw out good from evil ! will not injure you.' A smile, in which there was in- Inglesi, you look surprised to hear the poor forlorn tense melancholy, passed over the lips of the solitary. leper speaking thus ; but you are young, and your eyes

"You will not injure me, I well believe,' he answered are yet dazzled with the false glitter of this world's in a low sad voice; but I should harm you.'

perishable joys. If you please, I will tell you the story How!' exclaimed the strangers, instinctively grasp of my life, and so accomplish a part of the end for ing their pistols.

which I suffer, if it teach you hereafter, when adversity Not willingly, continued he. “There is no danger shall stand upon your threshold, to open wide the door, for you, if you do not touch me; and if you require and welcome to your hearth and home that destroyer food and shelter, as I imagine you do, most gladly will of all selfish peace and blind security!' The strangers I now afford you both. It has been my privilege to signified their satisfaction at the proposal ; and the prepare a resting place for travellers benighted like leper, drawing as near to them as he could consistently yourselves upon the plain, and it is my greatest joy with their safety, began at once to relate his history. when they avail themselves of it.'

• I am an Armenian by birth, as my dress sufficiently The Englishmen looked at one another; for the indicates; but you would not guess, from my appearance manners and language of the solitary were by no now, that I was the only child of the richest diamond means in accordance with the meanness of his dress merchant of Broussa, a fair Asiatic town, whose name, and appearance.

But he gave them no time for re- it may be, you have scarcely ever heard. I was sole flection : taking the lamp from the wall, he gathered heir to all his wealth, and from my earliest infancy I his garments closely round him, and passing them at dwelt in his splendid habitation, surrounded by every as great a distance as he could, said, . Follow me; for luxury which a pampered fancy could desire. He at your peril you must not enter here!' They obeyed; died when I was quite a boy, and I remained under and leading them to the door of a room somewhat the care of an uncle, who, being in fact dependent on similar to that he had quitted, he stood aside, and me for support, was abundantly careful to gratify my signed to them to enter. It was furnished with several every wish. This injudicious treatment might have couches of dried leaves, covered with panther skins; been my ruin, had not my own inclination fortunately and in the centre stood a small table, roughly con- led me in a course that saved me from falling into idlestructed of uneven wood. When the travellers hadness and dissipation. You are aware that we are Chriscompleted their survey, they found that their singular tians; the foundations of the Armenian church having host had retired, leaving the lamp on the threshold ; been laid in the earliest days of an organised Chrisbut in a few minutes he reappeared, carrying several tianity, and continuing with the same forms and cerevases of fresh water, and a large basket filled with monies to the present day. From the first dawn of my grapes and other fruits, just gathered—a circumstance reasoning powers it was my ambition to become a which seemed also somewhat unaccountable in the priest ; not so much, however, from any particular midst of a desert plain. These he placed at the door, vocation, as from the certainty that by this means alone and requested them to lift the provisions themselves I could have an opportunity of gratifying my studious on the table. As he stooped, the light of the lamp propensities and passionate love of reading. Those only shone full in his face, and the strangers suddenly started of the young Armenian men who are destined for the with an involuntary feeling of loathing, as they became church receive any kind of education; and such was aware of the strange and deadly whiteness which cha- my intense desire for knowledge, that when, as a canracterised it. The solitary perceived and understood didate for the priesthood, our libraries (which are ex, the movement; he crossed his arms on his breast (an tremely ancient) were opened to me, I went far beyond attitude indicative in the East of entire submission), the regular routine of study incumbent on me as such, and said calmly, 'Even so; I am a leper.' The tra- and devoted my whole time to the pursuit of science vellers had been long enough in the East to be aware and learning. Having acquired all the more important of the virulent nature of this dreadful disease, and of languages of the East - the Sanscrit, Hebrew, and

« НазадПродовжити »