25 MAY 1850, Page 14


MR. WELD'S SUMMER RAMBLE.* IN the summer of 1849, the Assistant Secretary of the Hord Society was puzzled how to pass his holydays—lucky fellow! the puzzle with most of us being how to get the holydays to pass. In pleasure or piscatorial excursions Mr. Weld had exhausted the beauties of the 'United Kingdom, and he had travelled the usual Continental routes of vacation-wanderers. Yet upon foreign travel he was resolved, and at length he pitched upon the volcanic district of Auvergne, so rich in hills, geology, and the picturesque, with the further hope of making out a real Alpine exploration. A fort- night before British senators invite themselves to grouse-shooting, the centre of philosophical communication started for Paris by the South-eastern Railway. After comparing the city of 1849 with that of 1848, and a few reminiscences of an older time, Mr. Weld departed for Orleans and Bourges, by railway ; got to Clermont as lie could—as people must who travel off the main routes in. France ; and reached Mont Dore, the head bathing-place of Au- vergne, in a diligence, which did its thirty-three miles with one team of horses, and " permitted " its passengers to walk about half the- way up the hills. At Mont Dore Mr. Weld enjoyed himself vastly.. The scenery was strange, striking, or beautiful, and scientific; accommodation was good, the table capital ; the French company assembled at the baths was frank, lively, and sociable, willing-to please and be pleased ; the -waters were unprohibited to the rod and line, as is the case throughout France ; the sport was fair, the feats of the sportsman excited attention, and he explored to lux heart's content; having crossed the Puy de Ferran) without a guide, and become a kind of lion in consequence. When the time came to depart, Mr. Weld and his friend went on to Grenoble ; made a pilgrimage to the Grand Chartreuse ; crossed the Alps- le: a diligence as far as it would go on the road to Susa ; and thence walked across Mont Cenis, on their way to Geneva; at which city

of Calvin the tour closes, with a seasonable hint to the reader.

" As it is possible that among my readers there may be some disposed follow the route along which these pages have carried them in imaginatian,, I consider they will be pleased to know that the tour, which I need hardly say is capable of yielding great enjoyment, will be found considerably less expensive than travelling in Switzerland or Germany. That is, provided the tourist does not indulge in ptarmigan and champagne dinners, and is con- tent to rough it now and then. And, as the lights of experience are valu- able guides, I may add, that in our case, always patronizing the first-class. hotels, (for I hold it to be bad policy to resort to others,) dining at tables. d'h6te, and not breaking through the excellent country custom of allowing the payment of servants to be included in the bill, our total expenses amounted to twenty-six shillings a day. A solitary traveller would spend somewhat more than half this sum daily; for, as 78 well known, there is al- ways a saving by having a companion during a tour."

A long and tedious experience has convinced us that books of travels depend as much upon the who as the where. It is only time that teaches the true reading of the Horatian maxim, " ecelum. non animum mutant." The writer who is dull or commonplace at home is very little better abroad. Mr. Weld is a man of a lively mind, of varied reading and acquirements, of companionable q_na- lities, and disposed to make the best of things. The spirit of these qualities he throws into his narrative. The reader has the broad. results of geology, not their technical minutim. Ilia criticism en art is sound, sensible, and pictarelike—the reader sees as well as judges. It is true that when Mr. Weld comes to a remarkable• place, he falls into the bnehnied practice of throwing some historical or antiquarian glances upon it : but he deals in the essence, not in the gross parts ; it is easy to see the resume comes from his knowledge, not from the guide-book. It is in the pin-- tures of nature and society, however, that the attraetion of the book consists. Carrying with him the buoyant spirits of the holy- dayinnlrer, Mr-Weld sees something enjoyable in most things he meets, whether scenery, incident, or companions I even the passing disagreeables of travel are laughed at when they are past, and he throws that feeling into his book. " I did not think Master Silence had been a man of this mettle ": no one could have thought the historian of the Royal Society would have come out so cheerily. Perhaps there is a shade too much of discussion—of that kind of writing about a topic which is called art:We-eons/soot- ton ; but it is short, and good of its kind.

The Lae de Query, where Mr. Weld first practiied fly-

on his tour, is situated hi. the centre of a plateau about 4,000 fee above the level of the sea. Several gentlemen accompanied our author to witness an operation that French intelligence could not comprehend from inspecting the apparatus; though the flies at;

traded much attention.

"As we approached the sedgy shores of the lonely mere, we descried fish- ermen setting nets, a sight far from agreeable to an angrer with the artirmisl fly. We rode round the lake to the scene of their operations, and as we reached the spot they ran their skiff into a little sandy creek and 11m/ed. They were two sturdy Auvergnats—amphibious, fishv-looldng fellows, with wild streaming locks, and garments fringed with slimy weeds. "Though conversing. with each other in patois, one was sufficiently learned in purer French to maintain a conversation with me. To him .I expressed my intention of fishing with =artificial fly. I might as well, however; have said with an elephant, for he utterly ignored such a mode of angfmg. Both men manifested great curiosity whilst I was putting my rod together, and when they saw the flies nothing could exceed their astoniehment. To catch trout with such affairs appeared to them so utterly impossible, that they shook their heads incredulously at the very idea. One went in _quest of worms and grasshoppers to place on the hooks, while the other proffered .d corks to serve as floats, that I might know when the fish bit. "It was evident the trout were wholly unaccustomed to the. fascination of

• Auna—rvae, Piedmont,. and Savoy: a StunmerlIgunbta.. By CharlaaBishani Published by John W. Parker. an artificial fly, and it was doubtful whether they would rise at all to one. The water was rather dark, and, observing the Cryptis and Phryganea flies on the shores of the lake, I put up their imitations, which are known to anglers under the names of Orange and Cinnamon flies. This done, one of the fishermen undertook to row me in his skiff to that part of the lake which had not been disturbed by the nets. Two of my French friends accompanied me ; there was no room in the tiny boat for a more numerous cargo.

" We paddled out to the centre of the lake, and, allowing the boat to drift shorewards, I cast my flies on the water. beyouring Ephemera's!' said I, in the words of Christopher North, addressing the scaly inhabitants of the crystalline caves beneath, here be insects savoury exceedingly, carrying sauce piquante in their tails. Do try the taste of this bobber ; but either of the two you please.' There was a crisp curl on the lake, and the flies moved on the water with life-like resemblance. At the third cast—there is luck in odd numbers—I rose a fish ; all doubts were removed ; the trout were, like their British brethren, capable of being lured by English flies. The eyes of all in the boat were now on me. 'Do you see,' said I to my friends, 'that little islet of floating weeds ? Well, if I am not greatly mistaken, you will see a trout rise near it.' I swept the line round my head and brought my flies light as a feather on the lake. The waters were severed by a silverlike wedge, that came shooting upwards ; a movement of the wrist—indescribable, and only to be acquired by practice—riveted the fish to my line, and, in a couple of minutes, the trout—for it was one—was caged in my landing-net. C"est elonnant said one of the French gentlemen. Sarre nom de D— !' ex- claimed the fisherman; 'd'attraper une truite comae ca avec rien ! ' for the feathery dressings of the hook went for nothing with him. My capture, however, was not large ; certain English waters he would have been speedily 'restored to his element, for he hardly weighed one pound. Here he was deemed fully entitled to the honour of promotion to Madame Bertrand's table-d'hote ; where he and certain of his brethren duly appeared, to their greet renown, and the entire satisfaction of the guests.

"Not many minutes elapsed ere I caught a second trout, about the same size as the first ; and I was becoming keenly interested in my sport, when, looking up, I beheld a large cavalcade of ladies and gentlemen on the oppo- site shore, who had ridden from Mont Dom to witness my operations. They hailed the boat, and requested us to row to them. We did so, and landed among them. Highry'amusing it was to hear the descriptions given by my companions of the modus operandi of fly-fishing-. If laid down as laws, they would not a little amaze members of the famous angling-clubs in the vicinity

of London."

The ascent of the Pay de• Ferrand had only been made once be-

fore, (except by native shepherds, who count for nothing,) and that was by Mr. Weld's friend M. Lecocq, who has written an account of his feat. Our traveller did not start with the intention of un- dertaking the task, which was merely an impromptu idea when he reached the find object of his day's excursion, the Gorge de Chaude- four.

" For upwards of an hour did I worm my way through the dense woods, ascending, gradually. The heat was exceedingly oppressive.; and I willingly subscribed to lit, Lecocq's opinion, which originated under circumstances similar to those in whichi was situated, that the gorge derives its name of Chindefour from Four Echauffe. When at length I emerged from the woods„ I found, myself on the side of the mountain, which rose almost verti- cally fortunately, it was clothed with long grass, relieved by the pink cro- cus and dart' blue iris : clinging to these by my hands, I pushed upwards; but the steepness was so great that I was obliged to pause every ten minutes to regain my breath. Thus I toiled for an hour and a half, enjoying as I ascended superb views of the extraordinary convulsed regions around me. The rocky spires, which seen from below assumed the form of detached obelisks, now appeared like huge leaves, standing out at right angles from the mountain-side. Their height was prodigious; and some impended in so threatening a manner that it was difficult for philosophy to be heard in favour of the chaimes against their crashing downwards upon me. As I ap- proached the mountain-summit, the black precipices of basalt and breccia were a most formidable appearance. Stern indeed was the wilderness that suzrounded me- On each side rose two jagged peaks, between whieh. I thought the col or passage of the mountain must be situated. The doubts which assailed me on this point were my chief trouble ; for now that I had mastered so much, to abandon the undertaking would have been most vexa- tious. More than two hours had elapsed since I shifted, so that my horse was probably already journeying homewards; and to have followed him would have involved a walk of fourteen miles.

" Dr. Johnson has said, that the traveller amidst such scenes as were now around me has not the tranquillity. but the horrors of solitude.' The ab- eam of sound has a particularly awing effect in high mountainous regions. Miglit,y monuments, wrecks of fair-formed nature, were heaped in chaotic confusion on all sides. The whirlwind should have roared amongst them; and yet all was silent as the grave. I strained my aching senses, expecting sounds to fill up the void. My panting breath seemed out of place amidst the breathless silence, and I more than once imagined that the terrible still- immmeepkmt the prelude of some great catastrophe.

Now stirs the feeling infinite, so felt , In solitude, when we are least alone ; rv,;' A truth which through our being then doth melt And purifies from self,'

'Sji;e4r.Ottt my glasses, and closely examined the precipices above and around ale. Their height struck no tear into me ; but I eagerly sought for some chasm which would permit me to climb them. There was no vestige of a path. An Indian would have been baffled to discover the trail of any being in these wilds. Marking some conspicuous objects in the long serrated ridges that crowned the mountain, I chmbed cautiously upwards in their direction. Hopes and fears rapidly succeeded each other as I surmounted the dizzy heights- I knew that I must be near the top ; and already I be- gan to congratulate myself on my success, when I was stopped by a basaltic wall about twenty feet in height, so vertical and smooth as to render any attempt to surmount it utterly out of the question. I followed its base, trusting to find a break. It was really fearful to look down the long ridges of inclined strata, which dipped into dark abysses many hundreds of feet below me. My footing was now reduced to a ledge about six inches wide. The aspect of my fortunes began seriously to alarm me • and, to heighten the'horrors of my position, the afternoon was rapidly fading into evening. At last I came to a spot where the wall retreated at a sharp angle, beyond which it presented a comparatively easy mode of ascent. I saw in a mo- ment, that if I could turn this corner I should be able to overcome apparently the sole remaining obstacle to my ascent of the Puy Ferrand. "I think that I must have spent fully ten minutes in devising and con- sidering how I could best plant my feet and hands to effect this passage. When my mind was made up how to act, I withdrew my eyes from the pre- cipice beneath, and, clingiag to the sharp projections of the rock with vice- like tenacity, which were to me the coignes of vantage,' I wormed my way round the angle, and in a few minutes had the inexpressible satisfaction of standing on broad safe ground. Had the ribandlike ledge given way, I should never have lived to write this adventure. I have traversed many ugly places in the Alps and Pyrenees, where the mountains have been robed

in ice and snow but I do not remember any mauvais pas so terrific as that which I have described. M. Lecocq, in the extract from his work which I have printed, alludes to some such formidable obstacle; but he appears to have derived considerable assistance from trees and shrubs, neither of which existed at that part of the precipice which I traversed.

" The remainder of the ascent was an easy affair in comparison to what I had accomplished. In two hours and three quarters from the time I left the verge of the forest, I stood on the summit of the Puy Ferrand, which is 6,094 feet high—an elevation but slightly under that of its neighbour the Pie de Sancy."

Travelling as Mr. Weld continually did through places out of the common routes, he fell in with .proportionably strange people. At. Clermont he saw a sight long since invisible in England, and not frequent in France—the genuine mountebank ; though the pro- fession seems to have so far declined even in France that the pro- fessor is reduced to become his own merry-andrew.

"In the afternoon I was greatly amused by the vagaries of a tribe of quack doctors, who had pitched their tents in the capacious Place Jaude, and had drawn the peasant population of the neighbourhood of Clermont round them. •

'By far the most amusing and drollest fellow of those who were candidates for the Auvergnats' patronage, was a quack dentist. He was moulted on a machine resembling a huge diligence, gaily painted, and lettered= Le a.- lebre Docteur et Dentists Milarozo de Paris—Pour touter les Departments.' On a table before him rose apyramid of teeth, flanked by specifics against. toothache, contained in rmiall phials- Two sets of steps led to his stage, be- neath which were four fellows, who pumped every available breath out of their convulsed lungs into two trombones, a French horn, and a trumpet. At the ringing of a bell the ear-torturers ceased, and the quack commenced- His oratory was most effective. Aa he depicted the horrid agonies of tooth- ache, he held up to view long rows of canon& teeth, with fangs of feline pro.- portions, which he had wrenched from quivering jaws, and then declared. that the purchase of one bottle—one only of his extraordinary liquid—would entirely prevent such aching tortures. Who could resist buying--and the price only one franc ? A brisk sale followed. When customers fell of; he offered to extract teeth gratuitously. There was a rush of peasants to Ma. stage ; old and young, men and women flocked up his steps. One after another occupied his operating chair. aick,ms lightning he whipped out a. tooth, whether sound or diseased appeared to be a matter of perfect indiffer- ence to him. At every tug, when the unfortunate patient writhed with pain, the crowds roared with laughter. Then succeeded music, and another lively sale of bottles, to the comfort of the peasants and the profit of Monsieur ILI- larozo ; who, with his ready wit and dexterous hands, reminded me strongly of the famous quicksilver doctor in Schiller's Robbers."