Imágenes de páginas

slight allusion, which a foreigner does not perceive; added to which the style is peculiarly concise, and unusual words are introduced."*

The opening or prologue of a Chinese drama, in which the principal personages come forward to declare the characters of the piece, and to let the audience into the argument or story on which the action is to turn, bears a strong resemblance to the prologues of the Greek drama, and particularly to those of Euripides.

In comedy the dialogue is carried on in the common colloquial language, but in the higher order of historical and tragical plays, the tone of voice is elevated considerably above its natural pitch, and continued throughout in a kind of whining monotony, having some resemblance to, but wanting the modulations and cadences of, the recitative in the Italian opera; as in this too, the sentiments of grief, joy, love, hatred, revenge, &c. are in the Chinese dramas, usually thrown into lyric poetry, and sung in soft or boisterous airs, according to

• Morrison's Chinese Grammar, p. 275.

the sentiment expressed, and the situation of the actor; they are also accompanied with loud music, the performers being placed on the back part of the stage.

Whatever may be the merits and the defects of the Chinese drama, it is unquestionably their own invention. The only nation from whence they could have borrowed any thing, is that of Hindostan, from whence they imported the religion of Budh; but as we know nothing of the Hindoo drama, except from the single specimen of Sacontala, translated by Sir William Jones, in a manner, it is said, sufficiently free; and as that

drama differs more from the Chi

nese than the latter from the Greek, Roman, English, or Italian, there is not the slightest grounds for supposing that the one was borrowed from the other. There is, indeed, a characteristic difference between them; the one adhering strictly to nature, and describing human manners and human feelings; the other soaring beyond nature, into the labyrinth of an intricate and inexplicable mythology.

[blocks in formation]


Narrative of a Journey from the village of Chamouni to the summit of Mount Blanc, undertaken on Aug. 8, 1787. By Colonel Beaufoy.

[From the Annals of Philosophy.]

HE desire of ascending to the

for that, five days before my arrival at the foot of the mountain, M. de Saussure, a professor in the university of Geneva, had gained the top of the ascent. But while I was informed of the success which had attended the efforts of M. de Saussure, I was told of the

T dangers that ac

elevated land is so natural to every man, and the hope of repeating various experiments in the upper regions of the air is so inviting to those who wish well to the interests of science, that, being lately in Switzerland, I could not resist the inclination I felt to reach the summit of Mount Blanc. One of the motives, however, which prompted the attempt was much weakened by the consideration that I did not possess, and in that country could not obtain, the instruments that were requisite for many of the experiments which I was anxious to make; and the ardour of common curiosity was diminished when I learned that Dr. Paccard and his guide, who in the year 1786 had reached the supposed inaccessible summit of the hill, were not the only persons who had succeeded in the attempt;

companied the undertaking; and was often assured, with much laborious dissuasion, that, to all the usual obstacles, the lateness of the season would add the perils of those stupendous masses of snow which are often dislodged from the steeps of the mountain, together with the hazard of those frightful chasms which present immeasurable gulfs to the steps of the traveller, and the width of which was hourly increasing. M. Bourrit, whose name has often been announced to the world by a variety of tracts, and by many excellent drawings, confirmed the account, and assured me that he himself had made the attempt on the next day to hat on which M. de Saussure descended, but was obliged, as on many former occasions, to abandon the enterprise. Having formed my resolution, I


sent to the different cottagers of the vale of Chamouni, from the skirts of which the mountain takes its rise, to inquire if any of them were willing to go with me as my assistants and my guides, and had soon the satisfaction to find that ten were ready to accept the proposal. I engaged them all. Having announced to them my intention of setting out the next morning, I divided among them provisions for three days, together with a kettle, a chaffing-dish, a quantity of charcoal, a pair of bellows, a couple of blankets, a long rope, a hatchet, and a ladder, which formed the stores that were requisite for the journey. After a night of much solicitude, lest the summit of Mount Blanc should be covered with clouds, in which case the guides would have refused the undertaking as impracticable, I rose at five in the morning, and saw, with great satisfaction, that the mountain was free from vapour, and that the sky was every where serene. My dress was a white flannel jacket without any shirt beneath, and white linen trowsers without drawers. The dress was white that the sunbeams might be thrown off; and it was loose, that the limbs might be unconfined. Besides a pole for walking, I carried with me cramp-irons for the heels of my shoes, by means of which the hold of the frozen snow is firm, and in steep ascents the poise of the body is preserved. My guides being at length assembled, each with his allotted burthen; and one of them, a fellow of great bodily strength, and great vigour of mind, Michael Cachet by name, who had accompanied M. de Saussure, having desired to

take the lead, we ranged ourselves in a line, and at seven o'clock, in the midst of the wives, and children, and friends, of my companions, and indeed of the whole village of Chamouni, we began our march. The end of the first hour brought us to the Glaciere des Boissons, at which place the rapid ascent of the mountain first begins, and from which, pursuing our course along the edge of the rocks that form the eastern side of this frozen lake, we arrived in four hours more at the second glaciere, called the Glaciere de la Coté. Here, by the side of a stream of water which the melting of the snow had formed, we sat down to a short repast. To this place the journey is neither remarkably laborious, nor exposed to danger, except that name should be given to the trifling hazard that arises from the stones and loose pieces of the broken rock which the goats, in leaping from one projection to another, occasionally throw down. Our dinner being finished, we fixed our cramp-irons to our shoes, and began to cross the glaciere; but we had not proceeded far when we discovered that the frozen snow which lay in the ridges between the waves of ice, often concealed, with a covering of uncertain strength, the fathomless chasms which traverse this solid sea; yet the danger was soon in a great degree removed by the expedient of tying ourselves together with our long rope, which being fastened at proper distances to our waists, secured from the principal hazard such as might fall within the opening of the gulf. Trusting to the same precaution, we also crossed upon


our ladder without apprehension such of the chasms as were exposed to view; and, sometimes stopping in the middle of the ladder, looked down in safety upon an abyss which baffled the reach of vision, and from which the sound of the masses of ice that we repeatedly let fall in no instance ascended to the ear. In some places we were obliged to cut footsteps with our hatchet; yet, on the whole, the difficulties were far from great; for in two hours and a half we had passed the glaciere. We now, with more ease, and much more expedition, pursued our way, having only snow to cross, and in two hours arrived at a hut which had been erected in the year 1786 by the order, and at the expense, of M. de Saussure. The hut was situated on the eastern side of a rock which had all the appearance of being rotten with age, and which in fact was in a state of such complete decay, that, on my return the next evening, I saw scattered on the snow many tons of its fragments, which had fallen in my absence; but the ruin was not on the side on which the hut was built. Immediately on our arrival, which was at five in the afternoon, the guides began to empty the hut of its snow; and at seven we sat down to eat; but our stomachs had little relish for food, and felt a particular distaste for wine and spirits. Water, which we obtained by melting snow in a kettle, was the only palatable drink. Some of the guides complained of a heavy disheartening sickness; and my Swiss servant, who had accompanied me at his own request, was seized with excessive vomiting, and the

pains of the severest headach. But from these complaints, which apparently arose from the extreme lightness of the air in those clevated regions, I myself and some of the guides were free, except, as before observed, that we had little appetite for food, and a strong aversion to the taste of spirituous liquors. We now prepared for rest; on which two of the guides, preferring the open air, threw themselves down at the entrance of the hut, and slept upon the rock. I too was desirous of sleep; but my thoughts were troubled with the apprehension that, although I had now completed one half of the road, the vapours might collect on the summit of the mountain, and frustrate all my hopes. Or if at any time the rest I wished for came, my repose was soon disturbed by the noise of the masses of snow which were loosened by the wind from the heights around me, and which, accumulating in bulk as they rolled, tumbled at length from the precipices into the vales below, and produced upon the ear the effect of redoubled bursts of thunder. At two o'clock I threw aside my blankets, and went out of the hut to observe the appearance of the heavens. The stars shone with a lustre that far exceeded the brightness which they exhibit when seen from the usual level; and had so little tremor in their light, as to leave no doubt on my mind that, if viewed from the summit of the mountain, they would have appeared as fixed points. How improved in those altitudes would be the aids which the telescope gives to vision; indeed, the clearness of the air was


such as led me to think that Jupiter's satellites might be distinguished by the naked eye; and had he not been in the neighbour hood of the moon, I might possibly have succeeded. He continued distinctly visible for several hours after the sun was risen, and did not wholly disappear till almost eight. At the time I rose, my thermometer, which was on Fahrenheit's scale, and which I had hung on the side of the rock without the hut, was 8° below the freezing point. Impatient to proceed, and having ordered a large quantity of snow to be melted, I filled a small cask with water for my own use, and at three o'clock we left the hut. Our route was across the snow; but the chasms which the ice beneath had formed, though less numerous than those that we had passed on the pre: ceding day, embarrassed our ascent. One in particular had opened so much in the few days that intervened between M. de Saussure's expedition and our own, as for the time to bar the hope of any further progress; but at length, after having wandered with much anxiety along its bank, I found a place which I hoped the ladder was sufficiently long to cross. The ladder was accordingly laid down, and was seen to rest upon the opposite edge, but its bearing did not exceed an inch on either side. We now considered that, should we pass the chasm, and should its opening, which had enlarged so much in the course of a few preceding days, increase in the least degree before the time of our descent, no chance of return remained. We also considered that, if the clouds which so often enve

lope the hill should rise, the hope
of finding, amidst the thick fog,
our way back to this only place in
which the gulf, even in its pre-
sent state, was passable, was little
less than desperate. Yet, after
a moment's pause, the guides con-
sented to go with me, and we
crossed the chasm. We had not
proceeded far when the thirst,
which, since our arrival in the
upper regions of the air, had been
always troublesome, became al-
most intolerable. No sooner had
I drank than the thirst returned,
and in a few minutes my throat
became perfectly dry. Again I
had recourse to the water, and
again my throat was parched.
The air itself was thirsty; its ex-
treme of dryness had robbed my
body of its moisture. Though
continually drinking, the quantity
of my urine was almost nothing;
and of the little there was, the
colour was extremely deep.
guides were equally affected. Wine
they would not taste; but the mo-
ment my back was turned, their
mouths were eagerly applied to
Yet we con-
my cask of water.
tinued to proceed till seven o'clock;
when, having passed the place
where M. de Saussure, who was
provided with a tent, had slept the
second night, we sat down to
breakfast. All this time the ther-
mometer was 4° below the freez-
ing point. We were now at the
foot of Mount Blanc itself; for,
though it is usual to apply that
term to the whole assemblage of
several successive mountains, yet
the name properly belongs only to a
small mountain of pyramidal form
that rises from a narrow plain
which at all times is covered with
snow. Here the thinness of the


« AnteriorContinuar »