Page:Whymper - Scrambles amongst the Alps.djvu/28

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chap. i.
SCRAMBLES AMONGST THE ALPS.

a house in the Quartier Latin — to an artist friend, who was engaged, at the moment of my entry, in combat with a little Jew. He hurled him with great good-will, and with considerable force, into some of his crockery, and then recommended me to go up the towers of Notre Dame. Half-an-hour later I stood on the parapet of the great west front, by the side of the leering fiend which for centuries has looked down upon the great city. It looked over the Hotel Dieu to a small and commonplace building, around which there was always a moving crowd. To that building I descended. It was filled with chattering women and eager children, who were struggling to get a good sight of three corpses, which were exposed to view. It was the Morgue. I quitted the place disgusted, and overheard two women discussing the spectacle. One of them concluded with " But that it is droll;" the other answered approvingly, " But that it is droll," and the Devil of Notre Dame, looking down upon them,[1] seemed to say, " Yes, your climax—the cancan, your end — not uncommonly that building; it is droll, but that it is droll."

I passed on to Switzerland; saw the sunlight lingering on the giants of the Oberland; heard the echoes from the cow-horns in the Lanterbrunnen valley and the avalanches rattling off the Jungfrau; and then crossed the Gemmi into the Valais, resting for a time by the beautiful Oeschinen See, and getting a forcible illustration of glacier-motion in a neighbouring valley — the Gasteren Thal. The upper end of this valley is crowned by the Tschingel glacier, which, as it descends, passes over an abrupt cliff that is in the centre of its course. On each side the continuity of the glacier is maintained, but in the centre it is cleft in twain by the cliff. Lower down it is consolidated again. I scrambled on to this lower portion, advanced

  1. The position of the Morgue has been changed since 1860.