Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

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 ;
The Alps lie glowing in the sun,

And Nature springs to life again.
The torrents roar, the woods resound,

The pastures glitter in the morn;
While glaciers sparkle all around,

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
Where Dons surmounts his lofty walls

With crystal coronet of ice.
See! from the jewels of his crown,

In threads, by mountain spirits spun,
O’er neck and forehead trickling down,

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.

then away

The sportsman's spirit chafes. -"Too weak

The charge,” he mutters
O’er deep ravine and ice-bound peak

He recklessly pursues his prey;
The while, regardless of its wounds,

The dying chamois speeds its flight, O’er yawning chasms madly bounds,

And seems to mock the hunter's sight.

[blocks in formation]

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.
He scarce dare look for human aid :

To God he faithfully commends
That soul which God himself hath made

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 ;
One move upon

that parapet
Might plunge him in the dark abyss.

Its scorching beams the journeying sun

Darts down into the deep ravine,
Heaping a thousand tortures on,

But not a ray of hope divine.
The hunter shouts; the rocks resound

His voice in empty mockery ;
He sees the startled chamois bound,

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.
Still undismayed I'll stand, and dare

To hang on hope, whilst yet I may ;
Great Heaven, vouchsafe my strength to spare

Through the dark terrors of to-day !

“ For well I know, if, unsubdued

By frost and hunger, still I live,
My Hans will seek this solitude,

And give the aid the brave can give.
Yet, fool! why hop'st thou to remain

Till morn, returning, greet thy sight?
What strength, what courage shalt thou gain,

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.

[ocr errors][merged small]

* 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.

« ElőzőTovább »