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The Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth, Volume 2   By: (1767-1849)

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COPPET, Sept. 1, 1820 .

I am sure that you have heard of us, and of all we have done and seen from Edgeworthstown as far as Berne: from thence we went to Thun: there we took char à bancs , little low carriages, like half an Irish jaunting car, with four wheels, and a square tarpaulin awning over our heads. Jolting along on these vehicles, which would go over a house, I am sure, without being overturned or without being surprised, we went the Swiss postillion jolting along at the same round rate up and down, without ever looking back to see whether the carriages and passengers follow, yet now and then turning to point to mountains, glaciers, and cascades. The valley of Lauterbrunn is beautiful; a clear, rushing cascady stream rushes through it: fine chestnuts, walnuts, and sycamores scattered about, the verdure on the mountains between the woods fresh and bright. Pointed mountains covered with snow in the midst of every sign of flowery summer strike us with a sense of the sublime which never grows familiar. The height of the Staubach waterfall, which we saw early in the morning, astonished my mind, I think, more than my eyes, looking more like thin vapour than water more like strings of water; and I own I was disappointed, after all I had heard of it.

We went on to the valley of Grindelwald, where we saw, as we thought two fields off, a glacier to which we wished to go; and accordingly we left the char à bancs , and walked down the sloping field, expecting to reach it in a few minutes, but we found it a long walk about two miles. To this sort of deception about distances we are continually subject, from the clearness of the air, and from the unusual size of the objects, for which we have no points of comparison, and no previous habits of estimating. We were repaid for our walk, however, when we came to the source of the Lutzen, which springs under an arch of ice in the glacier. The river runs clear and sparkling through the valley, while over the arch rests a mountain of ice, and beside it a valley of ice; not smooth or uniform, but in pyramids, and arches, and blocks of immense size, and between them clefts and ravines. The sight and the sound of the waters rushing, and the solemn immovability of the ice, formed a sublime contrast.

On the grass at the very foot of this glacier were some of the most delicious wood strawberries I ever tasted.

At Interlaken we met Sneyd [Footnote: Her half brother, son of the third Mrs. Edgeworth, and his wife Henrica Broadhurst.] and Henrica in a very pleasant situation in that most beautiful country. We parted on the banks of the lake of Brienz. On this lake we had an hour's delightful sailing, and put into a little bay and climbed up a mountain to see the cascade of the Giesbach, by far the most beautiful I ever beheld, and beyond all of which painting or poetry had ever given me any idea. Indeed it is particularly difficult, if not absolutely impossible, to give a representation of cascades which depend for effect upon the height from which they fall, the rush of motion, the sparkling and foam of the water in motion, and the magnitude of the surrounding objects.

After passing the lake of Brienz, we came to the far famed valley of Meyringen, which had been much cried up to us; but, whether from the usual perverseness of human nature, or from being spoiled by the luxury of cascades, valleys, and Alps we had previously seen, we were disappointed in it, though, to do it justice, it has nine cascades.

We slept at a wooden inn, and rose at three; and, before four, mounted on our horses, set off for the Brunig; and after having gone up La Flegère at Chamouni, the crossing the Brunig was a small consideration. Brava! brava!

But something happened to me and my horse; the result being that I went up the Brunig and down the Brunig on my two legs instead of on the horse's four, and was not the least tired with my three hours' scramble up and scramble down... Continue reading book >>

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