A Tramp Abroad/XXX

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A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain
Chapter XXX

CHAPTER XXX.

AN hour's sail brought us to Lucerne again. I judged it best to go to bed and rest several days, for I knew that the man who undertakes to make the tour of Europe on foot must take care of himself.

Thinking over my plans, as mapped out, I perceived that they did not take in the Furka Pass, the Rhone Glacier, the Finsteraarhorn, the Wetterhorn, etc. I immediately examined the guide-book to see if these were important, and found they were; in fact, a pedestrian tour of Europe could not be complete without them. Of course that decided me at once to see them, for I never allow myself to do things by halves, or in a slurring, slip-shod way.

I called in my agent and instructed him to go without delay and make a careful examination of these noted places, on foot, and bring me back a written report of the result, for insertion in my book. I instructed him to go to Hospenthal as quickly as possible, and make his grand start from there; to extend his foot expedition as far as the Giesbach fall, and return to me from thence by diligence or mule. I told him to take the courier with him.

He objected to the courier, and with some show of reason, since he was about to venture upon new and untried ground; but I thought he might as well learn how to take care of the courier now as later, therefore I enforced my point. I said that the trouble, delay and inconvenience of traveling with a courier were balanced by the deep respect which a courier's presence commands, and I must insist that as much style be thrown into my journeys as possible.

So the two assumed complete mountaineering costumes and departed. A week later they returned, pretty well used up, and my agent handed me the following

Official Report
Of a Visit to the Furka Region. By H. Harris, Agent.

About 7 o'clock in the morning, with perfectly fine weather, we started from Hospenthal, and arrived at the maison on the Furka in a little under quatre hours. The want of variety in the scenery from Hospenthal made the kahkahponeeka wearisome; but let none be discouraged: no one can fail to be completely recompensēe for his fatigue, when he sees, for the first time, the monarch of the Oberland, the tremendous Finsteraarhorn. A moment before all was dulness, but a pas further has placed us on the summit of the Furka; and exactly in front of us, at a hopow of only fifteen miles, this magnificent mountain lifts its snow-wreathed precipices into the deep blue sky. The inferior mountains on each side of the pass form a sort of frame for the picture of their dread lord, and close in the view so completely that no other prominent feature in the Oberland is visible from this bong-a-bong; nothing withdraws the attention from the solitary grandeur of the Finsteraarhorn and the dependent spurs which form the abutments of the central peak.

With the addition of some others, who were also bound for the Grimsel, we formed a large xhvloj as we descended the steg which winds round, the shoulder of a mountain toward the Rhone glacier. We soon left the path and took to the ice; and after wandering amongst the crevasses un peu, to admire the wonders of these deep blue caverns, and hear the rushing of waters through their subglacial channels, we struck out a course towards l'autre coté and crossed the glacier successfully, a little above the cave from which the infant Rhone takes its first bound from under the grand

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SOURCE OF THE RHONE.

precipice of ice. Half a mile below this we began to climb the flowery side of the Meienwand. One of our party started before the rest, but the Hitze was so great, that we found ihm quite exhausted, and lying at full length in the shade of a large Gestein. We sat down with him for a time, for all felt the heat exceedingly in the climb up this very steep bolwoggoly, and then we set out again together, and arrived at last near the Dead Man's Lake, at the foot of the Sidelhorn. This lonely spot, once used for an extempore burying place, after a sanguinary battue between the French and Austrians, is the perfection of desolation: there is nothing in sight to mark the hand of man, except the line of weatherbeaten whitened posts, set up to indicate the direction of the pass in the owdawakk of winter. Near this point the footpath joins the wider track, which connects the Grimsel with the head of the Rhone schnawp: this has been carefully constructed, and leads with a tortuous course among and over les pierres down to the bank of the gloomy little swosh-swosh, which almost washes against the walls of the Grimsel Hospice. We arrived a little before 4 o'clock at the end of our day's journey, hot enough to justify the step, taken by most of the partie, of plunging into the crystal water of the snow-fed lake.

The next afternoon we started for a walk up the Unteraar glacier, with the intention of, at all events, getting as far as the Hütte which is used as a sleeping place by most of those who cross the Strahleck Pass to Grindelwald. We got over the tedious collection of stones and dèbris which covers the pied of the Gletcher, and had walked nearly three hours from the Grimsel, when, just as we were thinking of crossing over to the right, to climb the cliffs at the foot of the hut, the clouds, which had for some time assumed a threatening appearance, suddenly dropped, and a huge mass of them, driving towards us from the Finsteraarhorn, poured down a

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A GLACIER TABLE.

deluge of haboolong and hail. Fortunately, we were not far from a very large glacier table; it was a huge rock balanced on a pedestal of ice high enough to admit of our all creeping under it for gowkarak. A stream of puckittypupck had furrowed a course for itself in the ice at its base, and we were obliged to stand with one Fuss on each side of this, and endeavour to keep ourselves chaud by cutting steps in the steep bank of the pedestal, so as to get a higher place for standing on, as the wasser rose rapidly in its trench. A very cold bzzzzzzzzeeeee accompanied the storm, and made our position far from pleasant; and presently came a flash of Blitzen, apparently in the middle of our little party, with an instantaneous clap of yokky, sounding like a large gun fired close to our ears: the effect was startling; but in a few seconds our attention was fixed by the roaring echoes of the thunder against the tremendous mountains which completely surrounded us. This was followed by many more bursts, none of welche, however, was so dangerously near; and after waiting a long demi-hour in our icy prison, we sallied out to walk through a haboolong which, though not so heavy as before, was quite enough to give us a thorough soaking before our arrival at the Hospice.

The Grimsel is certainement a wonderful place; situated at the bottom of a sort of huge crater, the sides of which are utterly savage Gebirge, composed of barren rocks which cannot even support a single pine arbre, and afford only scanty food for a herd of gmwkwllolp, it looks as if it must be completely begraben in the winter snows. Enormous avalanches fall against it every spring, sometimes covering everything to the depth of thirty or forty feet; and, in spite of walls four feet thick, and furnished with outside iron shutters, the two men who stay here when the voyageurs are snugly quartered in their distant homes can tell you that the snow sometimes shakes the house to its foundations.

Next morning the hogglebumgullup still continued bad, but we made up our minds to go on, and make the best of it. Half an hour after we started, the Regen thickened unpleasantly, and we attempted to get shelter under a projecting rock, but being far too nass already to make standing at all agreéable we pushed on for the Handeck, consoling ourselves with the reflection that from the furious rushing of the river Aar at our side, we should at all events see the celebrated Wasserfall in grande perfection. Nor were we nappersocket in our expectation; the water was roaring down its leap of 250 feet in a most magnificent frenzy, while the trees which cling to its rocky sides swayed to and fro in the violence of the hurricane which it brought down with it: even the stream, which falls into the main cascade at right angles, and toutfois forms a beautiful feature in the scene, was now swollen into a raging torrent; and the violence of this "meeting of the waters," about fifty feet below the frail bridge where we stood, was fearfully grand. While we were looking at it, glücklicheweise a gleam of sunshine came out, and instantly a beautiful rainbow was formed by the spray, and hung in mid air suspended over the awful gorge.

On going into the châlet above the fall, we were informed that a Brüche had broken down near Guttanen, and that it would be impossible to proceed for some time: accordingly we were kept in our drenched condition for eine Stunde, when some voyageurs arrived from Meyringen, and told us that there had been a trifling accident, aben that we could now cross. On arriving at the spot, I was much inclined to suspect that the whole story was a ruse to make us slowwk and drink the more in the Handeck Inn, for only a few planks had been carried away, and though there might perhaps have been some difficulty with mules, the gap was certainly not larger than a mmbglx might cross with a very slight leap. Near Guttanen the haboolong happily ceased, and we had time to walk ourselves tolerably dry before arriving at Reichenbach, wo we enjoyed a good dinè at the Hotel des Alps.

Next morning we walked to Rosenlaui, the beau idèal of Swiss scenery, where we spent the middle of the day in an excursion to the glacier. This was more beautiful than words can describe, for in the constant progress of the ice it has changed the form of its extremity and formed a vast cavern, as blue as the sky above, and rippled like a frozen ocean. A few steps cut in the whoopjarnboreehoo enabled us to walk completely under this, and feast our eyes upon one of the creation.

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GLACIER OF GRINDELWALD.

The glacier was all around divided by numberless fissures of the same exquisite colour, and the finest wood-Erdbeeren were growing in abundance but a few yards from the ice. The inn stands in a charmant spot close to the cotĕ de la riviere, which, lower down, forms the Reichenbach fall, and embosomed in the richest of pinewoods, while the fine form of the Wellhorn looking down upon it completes the enchanting bopple. In the afternoon we walked over the Great Scheideck to Grindelwald, stopping to pay a visit to the Upper glacier by the way; but we were again overtaken by bad hogglebumgullup and arrived at the hotel in solche a state that the landlord's wardrobe was in great request.

The clouds by this time seemed to have done their worst, for a lovely day succeeded, which we determined to devote to an ascent of the Faulhorn. We left Grindelwald just as a thunderstorm was dying away, and we hoped to find guten Wetter up above; but the rain, which had nearly ceased, began again, and we were struck by the rapidly increasing froid as we ascended. Two thirds of the way up were completed when the rain was exchanged for gnillic, with which the Boden was thickly covered, and before we arrived at the top the gnillic and mist became so thick that we could not see one another at more than twenty poopoo distance, and it became difficult to pick our way over the rough and thickly covered ground. Shivering with cold we turned into bed with a double allowance of clothes, and slept comfortably while the wind howled autour de la maison: when I awoke, the wall and the window looked equally dark, but in another hour I found I could just see the form of the latter; so I jumped out of bed, and forced it open, though with difficulty from the frost and the quantities of gnillic heaped up against it.

A row of huge icicles hung down from the edge of the roof, and anything more wintry than the whole Anblick could not well be imagined; but the sudden appearance of the great mountains in front was so startling that I felt no inclination to move towards bed again. The snow which had collected upon la fenètre had increased the Finsterniss oder der Dunkelheit, so that when I looked out I was surprised to find that the daylight was considerable, and that the balragoomah would evidently rise before long. Only the brightest of les etoiles were still shining; the sky was cloudless overhead, though small curling mists lay thousands of feet below us in the valleys, wreathed around the feet of the mountains, and adding to the splendor of their lofty summits. We were soon dressed and out of the house, watching the gradual approach of dawn, thoroughly absorbed in the first near view of the Oberland giants, which broke upon us unexpectedly after the intense obscurity of the evening before. ' Kabaugwakko songwashee Kum Wetterhorn snawpo!" cried some one, as that grand summit gleamed with the first rose of dawn: and in a few moments the double crest of the Schreckhorn followed its example; peak after peak seemed warmed with life, the Jungfrau blushed even more beautifully than her

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DAWN ON THE MOUNTAINS.

neighbors, and soon, from the Wetterhorn in the East to the Wildstrubel in the West, a long row of fires glowed upon mighty altars, truly worthy of the gods. The wlgw was very severe; our sleeping place could hardly be distingueè from the snow around it, which had fallen to the depth of a flirk during the past evening, and we heartily enjoyed a rough scramble en bas to the Giesbach falls, where we soon found a warm climate. At noon the day before at Grindelwald the thermometer could not have stood at less than 100° Fahr. in the sun; and in the evening, judging from the icicles formed, and the state of the windows, there must have been at least twelve dingblatter of frost, thus giving a change of 80° during a few hours.

I said,—

"You have done well, Harris; this report is concise, compact, well expressed; the language is crisp, the descriptions are vivid and not needlessly elaborated; your report goes straight to the point, attends strictly to business, and doesn't fool around. It is in many ways an excellent document. But it has a fault,—it is too learned, it is much too learned. "What is 'dingblatter?'"

"Dingblatter is a Fiji word meaning 'degrees.'"

"You knew the English of it, then?"

"O, yes,"

"What is 'gnillic?'"

"That is the Esquimaux term for 'snow.'"

"So you knew the English for that, too?"

"Why certainly."

"What does 'mmbglx' stand for?"

"That is Zulu for pedestrian."

"'While the form of the Wellhorn looking down upon it completes the enchanting 'bopple' What is 'bopple?'"

"Picture. It's Choctaw."

"What is 'schnawp?'"

"Valley. That is Choctaw, also."

"What is bolwoggoly?"

"That is Chinese for 'hill.'"

"Kahkaaponeeka?"

"Ascent. Choctaw."

"But we were again overtaken by bad hogglebumgullup.' What does hogglebumgullup mean?"

"That is Chinese for 'weather.'"

"Is hogglebumgullup better than the English word? Is it any more descriptive?"

"No, it means just the same."

"And dingblatter and gnillic,—and bopple, and schnawp,—are they better than the English words?"

"No, they mean just what the English ones do?"

"Then why do you use them? Why have you used all this Chinese and Choctaw and Zulu rubbish?"

"Because I didn't know any French but two or three words, and I didn't know any Latin or Greek at all."

"That is nothing. Why should you want to use foreign words, anyhow?"

"To adorn my page. They all do it."

"Who is 'all?'"

"Everybody. Everybody that writes elegantly. Anybody has a right to that wants to."

"I think you are mistaken." I then proceeded in the following scathing manner. "When really learned men write books for other learned men to read, they are justified in using as many learned words as they please—their audience will understand them; but a man who writes a book for the general public to read is not justified in disfiguring his pages with untranslated foreign expressions. It is an insolence toward the majority of the purchasers, for it is a very frank and impudent way of saying, 'Get the translations made yourself if you want them, this book is not written for the ignorant classes.' There are men who know a foreign language so well and have used it so long in their daily life that they seem to discharge whole volleys of it into their English writings unconsciously, and so they omit to translate, as much as half the time. That is a great cruelty to nine out of ten of the man's readers. What is the excuse for this? The writer would say he only uses the foreign language where the delicacy of his point cannot be conveyed in English. Very well, then he writes his best things for the tenth man, and he ought to warn the other nine not to buy his book. However, the excuse he offers is at least an excuse; but there is another set of men who are like you: they know a word here and there, of a foreign language, or a few beggarly little three-word phrases, filched from the back of the Dictionary, and these they are continually peppering into their literature, with a pretense of knowing that language,—what excuse can they offer? The foreign words and phrases which they use have their exact equivalents in a nobler language,—English; yet they think they "adorn their page" when they say Strasse for street, and Bahnhof for railway station, and so on,—flaunting these fluttering rags of poverty in the reader's face and imagining he will be ass enough to take them for the sign of untold riches held in reserve. I will let your 'learning' remain in your report; you have as much right, I suppose, to 'adorn your page' with Zulu and Chinese and Choctaw rubbish, as others of your sort have to adorn theirs with insolent odds and ends smouched from half a dozen learned tongues whose a-b abs they don't even know."

When the musing spider steps upon the red-hot shovel, he first exhibits a wild surprise, then he shrivels up. Similar was the effect of these blistering words upon the tranquil and unsuspecting Agent. I can be dreadfully rough on a person when the mood takes me.


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