« PreviousContinue »
grandeur, which, according to Brockedon, are nowhere exceeded among the Alps."
Below Ober-Gestelen (page 119) a bridge leads across the Rhone, and the path follows the 1. bank as far as the village Im Loch, where it turns to the 1, and begins to ascend the Eginenthal, crossing the stream of the Eginen above a pretty cascade 80 feet high, which it forms. A hard climb of about 2 hours, first through larchwood, then across a steril, stony tract, and finally over a little plain of green meadow, dotted with the chalets of Egina, brings the traveller to the foot of the final and most difficult ascent. Near this point a path, striking off on the 1., leads over the pass of the Nüfenen (Route 35) to Airolo. Here vegetation ceases, snow appears first in patches, and at last the glacier blocks up the termination of the valley. It takes about 20 minutes to cross it. The direction of the path over the ice is marked by poles stuck upright in the ice. Along the crest of the mountain runs the frontier-line separating Switzerland from Sardinia. The summit of the pass is 7900 feet above the sea.
"Bare and scathed rocks rose on either side in terrible grandeur out of the glaciers to an immense height. The silence of the place added greatly to its sublimity; and I saw, in this most appropriate spot, one of the large eagles of the Alps, the Lämmergeyer, which was whirling its flight round a mountain-peak, and increased the deep emotion excited by the solitude of the scene."-Brockedon.
In clear weather a magnificent view presents itself from this point of the chain of Bernese Alps. The descent on the Sardinian side of the pass (as usual among the Alps) is steeper than that on the N.; it is also more difficult. The upper part of the Piedmontese valley of Formazza, or Frutval, presents four distinct stages or platforms, separated by steep steps or dips from each other. The first is called Bettelmatt; the second, Morast (morass), on which the miserable group of chalets, called Kehrbächi (the highest winter habitations), are situated; the third, is Auf der Frytt, with another hamlet of chalets, and a small chapel. Before reaching it, the traveller falls in with the river Toccia, or Tosa, which rises in the upper extremity of the valley, and terminates in the Lago Maggiore. Beyond the hamlet the path crosses to the 1. bank of the stream, and, descending the fourth steep declivity, arrives at the Falls of the Tosa, the approach to which has for some time previously been proclaimed by the increasing roar of the water. It is one of the most remarkable cataracts among the Alps, less on account of its form than for its vast volume of water, in which it is surpassed only by that of the Schaffhausen. It does not descend in one leap, but in a succession of steps, forming an uninterrupted mass of white foam for a
length of perhaps 1000 feet, while the entire perpendicular descent is not much less than 500 Seen from below, it has a triangular appearance; above, not more than 80 feet wide, and expanding gradually towards the bottom.
2 miles below the Falls is the village of Frutval, situated on the 4th plateau, whose inn affords accommodation of the most wretched kind. Two miles farther is the village of Formazza, also called in the Italian Al Ponte, and in German Zumsteg and Pommat. The inhabitants of the upper part of the valley, as far as Foppiano, are of German descent, speaking that language; and, according to tradition (?), descendants of a colony from the Entlebuch. Owing to this intermixture of languages almost all the villages have a German as well as Italian name. Formazza is about 23 miles from Ober-Gestelen. The inn here is called the Cross (Kreutz).
The lower part of the vale of the Tosa abounds in exquisite scenery. The Gorge of Foppiano (Germ. Unter-Stalden), 5 miles below Formazza, is particularly grand. Lower down it expands, and displays all the softer beauties of high cultivation, luxuriant vegetation, and thick population. Below the village called Premia, a stream descending from the W. joins the Tosa, and the valley changes its name into Val Antigorio.
"The savage grandeur of the Val Formazza, down which the river takes its passage, and the delicious region through which it rolls in the Val Antigorio, cannot be painted in too glowing colours. In these high valleys, fully exposed to the power of the summer sun, there is truly a blending of all beauties.' The vine, the fig, and the broad-leafed chestnut, and other proofs of the luxuriance of the soil of Italy, present themselves everywhere to the eye, intermixed with the grey blocks resting on the flanks and at the feet of the high granite ridge, out of whose recesses you have not as yet escaped. Instead of the weather-stained and simple habitation of the hardy Vallaisan, sheltered by the bleak belt of forest, upon which alone I had glanced yesterday, I now saw, on the southern declivity of the same range, the substantial Italian structure, with its regular outline and simple yet beautiful proportion, and the villa, the handsome church, or the stone cottage, surrounded by its girdle of vines-the vine, not in its stiff and unpicturesque Swiss or Rhenish dress, but the true vine of Italy and of poetry, flinging its pliant and luxuriant branches over the rustic veranda or twining its long garland from tree to tree."-Latrobe.
This charming valley is the chosen retreat of numerous retired citizens, such as bankers, jewellers, etc., who have built themselves villas in it. The mica-slate rocks occurring
near Premia and San Michele, are stuck as full of red garnets as a pudding is with plums.
At Credo there is a Sardinian Custom-house. The road then crosses the river twice, before it reaches San Marco, and about two miles farther enters the Simplon road, at the lofty and beautiful bridge of Crevola, near the junction of the Vedro with the Tosa (Route 59).
3 miles farther on lies Domo d'Ossola.
PASS OF THE FURCA, FROM THE GRIMSEL, TO HOSPITAL ON THE ST. GOTTHARD, BY THE GLACIER OF THE RHONE.
About 7 stunden: 23 Eng. miles.
A bridle-path, by no means dangerous, and not very difficult, excepting the part between the summit of the Grimsel and the glacier of the Rhone, which it is better to cross on foot than on horseback. The distance from the Hospice of the Grimsel to the glacier of the Rhone is about 5 miles. On reaching the summit of the pass (p. 119), the path leaves on the rt. hand the gloomy little Lake of the Dead, and, skirting along the brink of a precipitous slope, called the Meyenwand, descends very rapidly. This portion of the road is the worst of the whole, being very steep, slippery, and muddy, in consequence of the melting snow, which generally lies near the summit. However, it soon brings the traveller in sight of the glacier, though at a considerable depth below him. On attaining the bottom of the valley he will find a very rustic cabaret, affording refreshment of some kind, and a bed upon an emergency. N.B. Its character as a house of entertainment is said to have improved of late. About half a mile above it the Rhone issues out to day at the foot of the Rhone Glacier, one of the grandest in Switzerland, fit cradle for so mighty a stream. It fills the head of the valley from side to side, and appears piled up against the shoulder of the Gallenstock, whose tall peak overhangs it. The source of the Rhone, in a cavern of ice, is about 5400 ft. above the sea. The path leading to the Furca ascends along the E. side of the valley, having the glacier on the 1. for a considerable distance. From this point the best view is obtained of this magnificent sea of ice, and a correct idea may be formed of its extent and thickness as the traveller passes within stone's-throw of its yawning crevices. The path then turns off to the rt., mounting upwards through a valley of green pastures to the summit of the pass, or Fork, between two mountain peaks, from which it receives its name. From this point, 8300 feet above the sea, near the Cross which marks the boundary of the cantons of
the Vallais and of Uri, there is a beautiful view of the Bernese Chain, the Finster-Aar-Horn being pre-eminent among its peaks. The top of the Furca is never altogether free from snow there is no plain or level surface on it. The descent commences, as soon as the crest is crossed, into the valley of the Sidli Alp, which is covered with pastures, but monotonous and uninteresting in its scenery and destitute of trees. The traveller must pick his way as he best may among a multitude of deep ruts, cut by the feet of mules and cattle. Except a few scattered chalets, no human habitation occurs between the Chalet of the Rhone Glacier and the small hamlet of Realp, where refreshments may be obtained from the Capuchin monks, who have a small chapel and convent of ease here, in which they receive strangers. It is about 4 miles from hence to Hospenthal, on the St. Gotthard (Route 34).
PASS OF THE SURENEN, FROM STANZSTADT, AND BUOCHS, TO ALTDORF, BY THE CONVENT OF ENGELBERG AND THE BASE OF THE TITLIS.
45 Eng. miles.
13 3/4 stunden There is a good char-road as far as Engelberg; thence to Altdorf, across the pass, a very difficult foot-path.
Stanzstadt, the landing-place for those coming from Lucerne, is a small village on the margin of the lake immediately opposite Winkel (p. 79), under the Rotzberg, whose ruined castle is an historical monument (see p. 79). Stanzstadt is distinguished by its tall watch-towers, 5 centuries old. In 1315 a little before the battle of Morgarten, a vessel laden with Austrian partisans was crushed and swamped by a millstone hurled from the top of this tower. An avenue of walnutreess leads, in 2 miles, to Stanz.
Travellers coming from Brunnen, or from the E. end of the lake of Lucerne, land at Buochs, a village at the foot of the Buochser-Horn. It has no good inn, but can furnish chars or horses. Like Stanzstadt, it was destroyed by the French in 1798. It is 3 miles from
Stanz. Inns: Krone (Crown); Engel (Angel). Capital of the lower division (Nidwalden) of Canton Unterwalden, contains 1200 inhabitants. It was in the Rathhaus of Stanz that the venerable Swiss worthy Nicolas Von der Flue appeased the burning dissensions of the confederates in 1481, by his wise and soothing councils. In the existing building there is a picture ( ? daub) representing him taking leave of his family. In the market-place is a statue of Arnold of Winkelried, a native of Stanz (see page 18), with the
"sheaf of spears" in his arms. His house is also shown here, but it seems modern, or at least is modernized. The field on which it stands is called in old records "the meadow of Winkelried's children." Ont he outer walls of the bone-house, attached to the handsome Parish-Church, is a tablet to the memory of the unfortunate people of Nidwalden (386 in number, including 102 women and 25 children) who were massacred in defending their homes by the French in September, 1798. In that year this division of the canton was the only part of Switzerland which refused the new constitution, tyrannically imposed on it by the French republic. The ancient spirit of Swiss independence, fanned and excited by the exhortations of the priests (which in this instance must be termed fanatic, - as all resistance was hopeless and useless), stirred up this ill-fated community to engage an army ten times greater than any force they could oppose to it, and consisting of veteran troops. At a time when the larger and more powerful cantons had yielded, almost without a struggle, the brave but misguided men of Unterwalden and Schwytz afforded the solitary proof that Swiss bravery and love of freedom was not extinct in the land of Tell. Their desperate resistance, however, served only to inflame the fury of their foes.
After a vain attempt made by the French to starve the Unterwaldeners into submission, on the 3rd of September, 1798, General Schauenberg, the French commander, directed a general attack to be made, by means of boats, from Lucerne, as well as by the Oberland. Repulsed with great spirit by the inhabitants, only 2000 strong, the attack was renewed every day from the 3rd to the 9th of September. On this last day, towards two in the afternoon, new reinforcements having penetrated by the land-side, with field-pieces, the invaders forced their way into the very heart of the country. In their despair the people rushed on them with very inferior arms. Whole families perished together; no quarter was given on either side. Eighteen young women were found among the dead, side by side, with their fathers and brothers, near the chapel of Winkelried. Sixty-three persons, who had taken shelter in the church of Stanz, were slaughtered there, with the priest at the altar. Every house in the open country, in all 600, was burnt down; Stanz itself excepted, which was saved by the humanity of a chef de brigade. The inhabitants who survived this day, wandering in the mountains without the means of subsistence, would have died during the ensuing winter, if they had not received timely assistance from the other cantons, from Germany and England, and from the French army itself, after its first fury was abated." Simond.