« AnteriorContinuar »
all unloaded but one, with a few light articles; some of the peons took their stations at different distances down the mountain of snow, with lassoes in their hands, fully expecting what was to follow: while the others drove them on, when, by dint of shouting, hallooing, and beating, they got them to move. The poor animals began stumbling, falling, and slipping, but not loosing their balance, slipping on their haunches at times thirty or forty feet down the mountain; all this time the peons were shouting, roaring, and whirling their lassoes; at last one mule lost its balance, and over he went, rolling and bounding head over heels, two hundred feet down the mountain, into the torrent beneath, where he was whirled and dashed against the rocks by the velocity of the current, and much to my astonishment reached the opposite side of the river, apparently not much injured by its fall, but its services lost to us; presently the one with half our provisions lost its hold, over and over he went, all the lassoes flew at him, when, after bounding all down the mountain, they brought him up just as he reached the torrent, thus saving the poor animal and our provisions, but we lost all our wine, some bread and beef, and a pot for boiling. This day's work was not yet over: as we advanced, the snow increased, and we arrived at the fifth pass, Juan de Pobre; which, if possible, was worse than all, for it was divided into two separate ones by the mass of snow which covered it, and which, in many places, was hard and slippery: to have taken our eyes off our footing when once on it would have been certain destruction. The same ceremony of unloading was again performed, and every man took his station. I beg to observe, that the peons first went over with their sticks, breaking the snow, thus making the footing more secure for ourselves and mules. Every man took his station, and we crawled over as usual, on our hands and knees: the mules then followed, and the most distressing work began; they got frightened, stumbled, and slipped, and cut themselves with the hard snow, to that degree, in their efforts to plunge through it, that the whole track was covered with blood, Several lost their balance, and went flying down the precipice, till they were brought up with astonishing dexterity by the lassoes. One poor animal came rolling down, head over heels; neither his struggles nor the lassoes could save him; he bounded, like a ball, into the torrent, where he rolled round and round, in vain struggling to stem its velocity, being dashed against rocks and stones, till he was swept round a point, and I lost all sight of him. Another soon followed, but was more fortunate than its companion, for he succeeded in gaining the opposite shore, where, very much to my astonishment, instead of seeing him laying with every bone in its body broken, he got up upon its legs, and began browsing among the rocks thus we lost the services of three. My companion, who had crossed the Cordillera three times before, once in winter, had never seen a mule lose its footing, so as to roll down the mountains.'-pp. 106-109.
The poor mules were soon knocked up altogether, and the luggage and provisions were transferred to the backs of the peons, who performed their task with a great deal of good humour. They had in some places to cut flights of steps in the snow in a zig-zag direction up the mountain, and even before reaching the Cumbre, the labour which they underwent seems almost incredible. The only resting places which the traveller meets with in
the higher part of the Andes, consist of casuchas, or small huts, which afford a most deplorable sort of accommodation.
These hovels, miserable and wretched as they truly are, prove to the storm-driven traveller, in the dreadful dreary regions of the Andes, a most welcome resting-place. There are eight of them in the highest parts of the Cordillera; they are built of brick, at an elevation of about ten feet from the ground, and average fourteen feet by twelve inside; once they had doors, but necessity, that stern mother of invention, instigated some pe rishing travellers to burn them, in order to supply the want of that necessary article fuel, which is not even to be seen during winter in the Cordillera. The very cross-beams were burnt, so that it was impossible to keep out the perishing cold air. Added to this, there were nine holes to admit the light, which various travellers had taken the greatest pains (now the want of a door admitted it), to stuff up with any old rags, bricks, or stones, they could find; and proving that even these were not easily procured, they had pulled the bricks from out of the wall, and off the outside of what, at one time, was a flight of brick steps to ascend by, but which are now so dilapidated as to render it a task to clamber up into the interior, so that in a few years, if no means are taken to repair them, even these miserable abodes for the shelter of man will tumble to pieces.
To view the storm from these dreary abodes as it passes by, is dismal and awful in the extreme. I have witnessed a hurricane in a desertshipwreck-fire and storms at sea--but nothing can equal the terrific, awful appearance, of a snow-storm in the Andes.
As we sat shivering in the casucha, the mountains, from being so close to us, appeared a wall of snow, their tops joining as it were in one mass, with the clouds of snow flying around us. In vain did I look for a dark spot to rest my painful eyes upon, tracing the mountains all round, from the base to their summits; wandering again over heaven and earth, all-all appeared a world of snow, picturing desolation itself, the miserable casucha alone standing in the midst of it. The wild wind whistled through its many apertures, shaking its very foundation, and roared and cracked in the mountains above us, that were continually sending down large masses of snow that would fall with a dense awful noise, threatening destruction to every thing beneath that might come within its reach. Pent up here, while the storm is howling and roaring around, the traveller cannot move without, but must wait with humble submission to the will of "Him who alone can still its raging," and on whom alone he can safely rely for a happy release from such an awful and dreary situation.' -pp. 136-139.
The ascent of the Cumbre was of course the most laborious part of the journey. It is only from the lithographed illustration of it, which is prefixed to the volume, that the reader can form any idea of the steepness of the mountain, and of the difficulty with which the traveller is able to make his way to the top of it. author describes it as running up into the clouds, a height of at least two thousand feet, one pure mass of snow, without the slightest print of any thing upon it. All was as smooth as glass; and, as the sun reflected its rays full upon this mass of purest virgin
white, it gave it all the dazzling appearance of an enornious mountain of alabaster. It cost them four hours and a half of excessive toil to climb to the top of the ridge; the descent was a matter of comparative facility and pleasure, though by no means unattended with danger, particularly at the Cuesta de Concual. We must give the author's account of the mode in which he reached the bottom of this enormous precipice.
This was a dreadful descent, leading down to an awful depth below, with the river running at the bottom, but a very short distance to the right. It was really terrific to look down; and I am speaking within the opinion of many whom I have consulted on the subject, when I say, that it was at least eleven or twelve hundred feet, in a direct descent; in all parts so steep, that there was no possibility of standing; many parts were also hard and slippery, and how to get down this was now our task, which I should never have thought in the power of human beings to accomplish, had I not witnessed it and done it myself: so little are we aware what we are capable of performing till we are brought to the trial. I stood and gazed with wonder, scarcely believing it possible they would attempt it. However, the loads were cast off, and away they fiew, tumbling and sliding down like lightning. Our beds went into the river, and were soon swept out of sight. Then the peons prepared, and laying themselves flat on their backs, with their arms and legs extended, to my utter amazement, they flew down one after the other, with the swiftness of an arrow, guiding themselves clear of the river, although going down with such velocity; one turned, and rolled once or twice head over heels, then round and round like a ball, till he reached the bottom without the slightest injury. Now, I thought this would never do for me, so I waited to see how my companion would manage. He approached the brink, and working a hole first to rest his heel in, thrust his stick half way in the snow, so that it might support him to lower himself down a little, and then dig another hole. In this manner he went down the very steepest part, and then let go, and slid the rest in a sitting posture. Now came my turn: I commenced with the plan of my companion, but finding it so very steep, and not liking the hanging posture by one arm, I acted more securely, but was much longer about it; first working a hole with my stick, and putting my heel in it; then working another hole, and putting the other heel in, thus seeing my way clearly before me and having a footing of both feet at a time in a sitting posture, while I worked my self steps with my stick, till I passed the steepest part: then I let go, laying flat on my back, and went down with amazing velocity, a distance of five hundred feet. Coming down this place occupied me nearly two hours; but I would not have let go on the steepest part for all the gold and silver in the mines of Peru.'—pp. 155, 156.
At the bottom of this mountain, our traveller found peons who had been directed to meet him with horses and mules from Chili, and he lost no time in effecting his escape from the dismal Cordillera. The remainder of his journey to Valparaiso and Lima, offers nothing that particularly deserves our notice. He returned by the Andes to Buenos Ayres and Rio Janeiro, where he arrived
in the middle of February, in the present year. In the latter part of his journal he has collected several facts, and grounded upon his own experience some directions, which any traveller about to proceed to South America will find really very acceptable and useful. During the author's stay at Rio, he chanced to see the Emperor and his young family at the opera. The following description is not unseasonable at this moment, when the destinies of the young Queen of Portugal excite so much attention.
'I visited the opera, for the purpose of getting sight of the Emperor, who happened to be there, accompanied by his two daughters, the Queen of Portugal and the Infanta. The former is about ten years of -age, and the latter an interesting little child of six or seven: they were very plainly dressed, and as they sat in their magnificent box in the centre of the theatre, were to be seen to great advantage. The interior of the house is very elegant, consisting of four tiers of boxes on each side of the Emperor's, which occupies the whole front of the theatre, excepting four small boxes just above it. The grand entrance to the pit is underneath it, and it was certainly most superbly fitted up, with chandeliers, pier glasses, tables, chairs, &c., having all the appearance of an elegant drawing-room; and being quite open in front, with the exception of a light gilt railing, they were quite exposed to the full view of the audience. Whenever the curtain dropt, the audience stood up, out of respect to the Emperor; those in the pit facing him, at which time he would always come forward with the little Queen and child. He wore a plain blue coat, without star or mark of distinction of any sort, with white trowsers and shoes, and but for the gentlemen in waiting never sitting down or coming forward, it was impossible to distinguish one from the other. The weather being very warm, he used a plain white fan during the whole of the opera, which, by the bye, is customary among the gentlemen in South America. The Queen is a very pretty little girl, with flaxen hair, and remarkably fair. She was dressed quite like a little old maid, very plain, wearing a prim close cottage bonnet. The pretty Infanta was the gayest of them all, being dressed just like an English child of the same age, with petticoat-trowsers and sash, her bright flaxen hair flowing in long ringlets over her shoulder. The Emperor is a handsome young man, about thirty years of age, with very dark hair, and large whiskers, He is not very particular with respect to etiquette, for he was talking promiscuously to the ladies and gentlemen in the boxes, on each side of him.'--pp. 302-304.
Although the illustrations which are found in this volume afford very accurate ideas of the scenes which they are intended to represent, yet we must add, that they are executed in a paltry style of art. This is the more surprising, as lithographic printing has now reached such a degree of perfection in this country, that one must expressly order bad drawings on stone in order to get them. In point of economy, moreover, the difference between excellent and inferior prints can hardly be worth consideration.
ART. XI.-The Subaltern's Log Book, including Anecdotes of Wellknown Military Characters. In 2 vols. London: James Ridgway.
SHOULD any subaltern in his Majesty's service be desirous of manufacturing a Log-book, we would recommend to him a diligent perusal of these volumes. Let him not be deterred by the apparent difficulties of the task; we assure him, and stake our reputation as critics on the result, that it (viz. manufacturing a Log-book, not reading the one before us; Heaven forefend that we should be guilty of such want of discrimination) is the easiest thing imaginable. As we have been compelled, in our judicial capacity, to wade through their contents, a feat of which we are not a little proud, and which we challenge one in a hundred of our readers to imitate, we will enlighten him with the fruits of our dear-bought experience.
Choose a title that shall, at first sight, lead the public to suppose that the work is a production of some favourite author (Mr. Gleig, for example); but as that would excite expectations which any other sub. might find it difficult to satisfy, contradict it by inserting underneath any thing in the shape of a puff, such as Anecdotes of well-known characters': this would effectually undeceive, and you might take credit for your candour and originality. Select some modest motto, mildly praising yourself, in which you contrive delicately to inform your readers (fictitious personages, a charming use of the figure anticipative, the destruction of which would annihilate no small portion of living authors) of your varied powers of observation. We introduce one by way of example
• Talk not of seventy years of age, in seven
I have seen more changes, down from monarchs to
Than might suffice a moderate century through.'
Never mind if you have never seen a monarch, that will make no difference; a slight touch of fiction will embellish the work, and give it a more poetic turn. As to the humblest individual' under heaven,' we cannot exactly undertake to say where he is to be found; but no one need think of applying to our subaltern for any information on the subject; modesty is an article quite out of his line. Get up a flaming dedication to a foreigner; and that it may have some resemblance to its object, be particularly careful that the language is not English; tack to this an unmeaning preface, and proceed ad libitum. Should you feel at a loss for matter, resuscitate some of Joe Miller's jokes; laud and lament the Duke of York positively, comparatively, or superlatively, according to your reception at the Horse Guards; tell anecdotes of persons who never existed, it will prove your invention, and you will escape the charge of personality; eulogize the high principle and gentlemanly