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who had his leg cut off, sent his surgeon, two years afterwards, out of gratitude, half of a chamois which he had killed, remarking at the same time that the chase did not get on so well with a wooden leg, but he hoped to kill many a chamois yet. This man was seventy-one years old when he lost his leg.
Many similar instances might be narrated. Saussure's * guide said to him, “ A short time since I made a very happy marriage. My father and grandfather both met their end in chamois hunting, and I feel convinced I shall perish in the same manner : but if you would make my fortune on condition I should never hunt, I could not accept it.” Two years afterwards, he fell down a precipice, and was dashed in pieces.
It has been often remarked that this occupation exercises a decided influence on the character of the hunter. Undoubtedly, the constant warfare with peril, hunger, thirst, and cold which it entails, and the patience, resolution, and dexterity which it calls into such constant practice, must, after ten or twenty years of life, mark the tone of thought and feeling in no slight degree. Accordingly, we find the chamois hunter generally silent, prompt, and decided in word and action, and at the same time temperate, frugal, contented, and easily reconciled to unavoidable evils.
LXVIII. - THE CHAMOIS HUNTERS.
DAY's joyous journey is begun;
Unloosed is sleep's inthralling chain ;
And Nature springs to life again.
The pastures glitter in the morn;
And flocks obey the Alpine horn.
* Saussure (pronounced (so'sure) was a distinguished man of science, a native of Geneva in Switzerland, who died in 1799.
See, in the depth of yonder vale,
Two stalwart * hunters briskly move, To track the active chamois' trail,
That frolic in the heights above. Bound by their ancient Switzer's pledge,
They've clambered many a day on high, Along the precipice's edge,
'Mid mountain peaks that touch the sky,
Each takes his chosen path alone
In silence, bent upon his aim, Where crags on crags are wildly thrown,
The dreary haunts of Alpine game; Hans thither, where a silvery dome
The snowy Hausstock rears his head, From out whose dark and dismal home
Burrows the Sernf its rocky bed.
While Rudolph from St. Martin's halls,
Undaunted scales that precipice
With crystal coronet of ice.
In threads, by mountain spirits spun,
Streams, leaping to the valley, run.t
The hunter halts and gazes long;
At length upon the mountain height,
* Stalwart, strong.
+ The places mentioned in these two stanzas will not be found on the common maps of Switzerland. The Hausstock (pronounced house-stock) is a mountain in the southern part of the canton of Glarus. The Sernf is a small stream flowing into the Linth. St. Martin's is a chapel, a few miles east of the Hausstock, and Dons a neighboring mountain.
To the rich pasture sailing on,
A noble chamois moves in sight. Quick throbs his heart; while on the ground,
Beneath a rock's o'erbeetling walls, He aims — the echoes ring around,
The chamois shrieks, springs high, and falls.
With joyous shout and footing sure,
With sportsman's thrilling zeal he flies, His comely booty to secure,
Ere, rallying from the blow, it rise. Too late! too late! the noble beast
Hath roused him from his bloody lair; O hunter, 'tis in vain your haste;
Your flying prey is swifter far.
The sportsman's spirit chafes. -"Too weak
The charge,” he mutters
He recklessly pursues his prey;
The dying chamois speeds its flight, O’er yawning chasms madly bounds,
And seems to mock the hunter's sight.
Hold! hold! thou madman; seest thou not
That trackless barrier of rock ?
0, leap not on that fatal spot !
Death will thy rash presumption mock. He springs — ah, hapless man! too late
Thy blinded eyes are made to see (Forced open by relentless fate)
The agonies awaiting thee.
Above, high towering in the skies,
Those giant walls their summit heave; Below, in pitchy darkness, lies
A lone death bed, a gaping grave.
To God he faithfully commends
And formed for his eternal ends.
Hope never wearies, never fails :
With death-like grasp the hunter clings ; He prays, his cruel lot bewails,
And east and west wild glances flings. His agile foot is firmly set ;
Corpse-like he stands and motionless ;
Its scorching beams the journeying sun
Darts down into the deep ravine,
But not a ray of hope divine.
His voice in empty mockery ;
He hears the avalanche reply:
“ Thou tyrant, Death, who long hast sought
And tracked me on my daily path,
And thinkest Fate at length has brought
A victim to thine envious wrath.
To hang on hope, whilst yet I may ;
Through the dark terrors of to-day !
“ For well I know, if, unsubdued
By frost and hunger, still I live,
And give the aid the brave can give.
Till morn, returning, greet thy sight?
To nerve thee through the livelong night?”
LXIX. — THE SAME SUBJECT, CONCLUDED.
The sun through rising mists the while
Gray Freiberg's * slaty summits fires, On Tödi throws one golden smile,
Then, sinking to the vale, expires. Now gloomy darkness moves abroad;
Black lowering clouds are gathering in ; Bravely they bear their thunder-load,
Fringed by the pale moon's glimmering.
* Freiberg is a mountainous range in the canton of Glarus. Todi, or Dodi, is a lofty peak in the same canton. They are about fourteen miles apart.