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Title: Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland
Author: Browne, G. F. (George Forrest), 1833-1930
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The existence of natural ice-caves at depths varying from 50 to 200 feet
below the surface of the earth, unconnected with glaciers or snow
mountains, and in latitudes and at altitudes where ice could not under
ordinary circumstances be supposed to exist, has attracted some
attention on the Continent; but little or nothing seems to be
practically known in England on the subject. These caves are so
singular, and many of them so well repay inspection, that a description
of the twelve which I have visited can scarcely, as it seems to me, be
considered an uncalled-for addition to the numerous books of travel
which are constantly appearing. In order to prevent my narrative from
being a mere dry record of natural phenomena, I have interspersed it
with such incidents of travel as may be interesting in themselves or
useful to those who are inclined to follow my steps. I have also given,
from various sources, accounts of similar caves in different parts of
the world.

A pamphlet on _Glacières Naturelles_ by M. Thury, of Geneva, of the
existence of which I was not aware when I commenced my explorations, has
been of great service to me. M. Thury had only visited three glacières
when he published his pamphlet in 1861, but the observations he records
are very valuable. He had attempted to visit a fourth, when,
unfortunately, the want of a ladder of sufficient length stopped him.

I was allowed to read Papers before the British Association at Bath
(1864), in the Chemical Section, on the prismatic formation of the ice
in these caves, and in the Geological Section, on their general
character and the possible causes of their existence.

It is necessary to say, with regard to the sections given in this book,
that, while the proportions of the masses of ice are in accordance with
measurements taken on the spot, the interior height of many of the
caves, and the curves of the roof and sides, are put in with a free
hand, some of them from memory. And of the measurements, too, it is only
fair to say that they were taken for the most part under very
unfavourable circumstances, in dark caves lighted by one, or sometimes
by two candles, with a temperature varying from slightly above to
slightly below the freezing-point, and with no surer foot-hold than that
afforded by slippery slopes of ice and chaotic blocks of stone. In all
cases, errors are due to want of skill, not of honesty; and I hope that
they do not generally lie on the side of exaggeration.

CAMBRIDGE: _June_ 1865.





  THE GLACIÈRE OF S. GEORGES, IN THE JURA ................19


  THE JURA ...............................................32




  IN THE VOSGIAN JURA ....................................60


  BESANÇON AND DÔLE ......................................85






  THUN ...................................................131






  OF REPOSOIR ............................................202






    THE CAVE OF SCELICZE, IN HUNGARY .....................237
    THE CAVE OF YEERMALIK, IN KOONDOOZ ...................240
    THE SURTSHELLIR, IN ICELAND ..........................244


  BRIEF NOTICES OF VARIOUS ICE-CAVES .....................256


  SUBTERRANEAN ICE .......................................282




  SOME OF THE GLACIÈRES OCCUR ............................308

  APPENDIX ...............................................313





  LOWER GLACIÈRE OF THE PRÉ DE S. LIVRES .................39

  PRÉ DE S. LIVRES .......................................41

  S. LIVRES ..............................................50

  DE S. LIVRES ...........................................52

  BESANÇON ...............................................77

  BATH IN THE DOUBS, AT BESANÇON .........................91

  VAL DE TRAVERS .........................................108


  ANNECY .................................................173

  ICE-CAVE IN THE SURTSHELLIR ............................248

       *       *       *       *       *



In the summer of 1861, I found myself, with some members of my family,
in a small rustic _pension_ in the village of Arzier, one of the highest
villages of the pleasant slope by which the Jura passes down to the Lake
of Geneva. The son of the house was an intelligent man, with a good
knowledge of the natural curiosities which abound in that remarkable
range of hills, and under his guidance we saw many strange things. More
than once, he spoke of the existence of a _glacière_ at no great
distance, and talked of taking us to see it; but we were sceptical on
the subject, imagining that _glacière_ was his patois for _glacier_, and
knowing that anything of the glacier kind was out of the question. At
last, however, on a hot day in August, we set off with him, armed, at
his request, with candles; and, after two or three hours of pine
forests, and grass glades, and imaginary paths up rocky ranges of hill
towards the summits of the Jura, we came to a deep natural pit, down the
side of which we scrambled. At the bottom, after penetrating a few yards
into a chasm in the rock, we discovered a small low cave, perfectly
dark, with a flooring of ice, and a pillar of the same material in the
form of a headless woman, one of whose shoulders we eventually carried
off, to regale our parched friends at Arzier. We lighted up the cave
with candles, and sat crouched on the ice drinking our wine, finding
water, which served the double purpose of icing and diluting the wine,
in small basins in the floor of ice, formed apparently by drops falling
from the roof of the cave.

A few days after, our guide and companion took us to an ice-cavern on a
larger scale, which, we were told, supplies Geneva with ice when the
ordinary stores of that town fail; and the next year my sisters went to
yet another, where, however, they did not reach the ice, as the ladder
necessary for the final drop was not forthcoming.

In the course of the last year or two, I have mentioned these glacières
now and then in England, and no one has seemed to know anything about
them; so I determined, in the spring of 1864, to spend a part of the
summer in examining the three we had already seen or heard of, and
discovering, if possible, the existence of similar caves.

The first that came under my notice was the Glacière of La Genollière;
and, though it is smaller and less interesting than most of those which
I afterwards visited, many of its general features are merely reproduced
on a larger scale in them. I shall therefore commence with this cave,
and proceed with the account of my explorations in their natural order.
It is probable that some of the earlier details may seem to be somewhat
tedious, but they are necessary for a proper understanding of the

La Genollière is the _montagne_, or mountain pasturage and wood,
belonging to the village of Genollier, an ancient priory of the monks of
S. Claude.[1] The cave itself lies at no great distance from Arzier--a
village which may be seen in profile from the Grand Quai of Geneva,
ambitiously climbing towards the summit of the last slope of the Jura.
To reach the cave from Geneva, it would be necessary to take train or
steamer to Nyon, whence an early omnibus runs to S. Cergues, if crawling
up the serpentine road can be called running; and from S. Cergues a
guide must be taken across the Fruitière de Nyon, if anyone can be found
who knows the way. From Arzier, however, which is nine miles up from
Nyon, it was not necessary to take the S. Cergues route; and we went
straight through the woods, past the site of an old convent and its
drained fish-pond, and up the various rocky ridges of hill, with no
guide beyond the recollection of the previous visits two and three years
before, and a sort of idea that we must go north-west. As it was not yet
July, the cows had not made their summer move to the higher châlets, and
we found the mountains uninhabited and still.

The point to be made for is the upper Châlet of La Genollière, called by
some of the people _La Baronne_, [2] though the district map puts La
Baronne at some distance from the site of the glacière. We had some
difficulty in finding the châlet, and were obliged to spread out now and
then, that each might hunt a specified portion of the wood or glade for
signs to guide our further advance, enjoying meanwhile the lilies of the
mountain and lilies of the valley, and fixing upon curious trees and
plants as landmarks for our return. In crossing the last grass, we found
the earliest vanilla orchis (_Orchis nigra_) of the year, and came upon
beds of moonwort (_Botrychium Lunaria_) of so unusual a size that our
progress ceased till such time as the finest specimens were secured.

Some time before reaching this point, we caught a glimpse of a dark
speck on the highest summit in sight, which recalled pleasantly a night
we had spent there three years before for the purpose of seeing the sun
rise.[3] My sisters had revisited the Châlet des Chèvres, which this
dark speck represented, in 1862, and found that the small chamber in
which we had slept on planks and logs had become a more total ruin than
before, in the course of the winter, so that it is now utterly

From Arzier to the Châlet of La Genollière, would be about two hours,
for a man walking and mounting quickly, and never losing the way; and
the glacière lies a few minutes farther to the north-west, at an
elevation of about 2,800 feet above the lake, or 4,000 feet above the
sea.[4] A rough mountain road, leading over an undulating expanse of
grass, passes narrowly between two small clumps of trees, each
surrounded by a low circular wall, the longer diameter of the
enclosure on the south side of the road being 60 feet. In this
enclosure is a natural pit, of which the north side is a sheer rock,
of the ordinary limestone of the Jura, with a chasm almost from the
top; while the south side is less steep, and affords the means of
scrambling down to the bottom, where a cave is found at the foot of
the chasm, passing under the road. The floor of this small but
comparatively lofty cave is 52 feet below the surface of the earth,
and slopes away rapidly to the west, where, by the help of candles,
the rock which forms the wall is seen to stop short of the floor,
leaving an entrance 2 or 3 feet high to an inner cave--the glacière.
The roof of this inner cave rises slightly, and its floor falls, so
that there is a height of about 6 feet inside, excepting where a large
open fissure in the roof passes high up towards the world above. At
one end, neither the roof nor the floor slopes much, and in this part
of the cave the height is less than 3 feet.

It would be very imprudent to go straight into an ice-cave after a long
walk on a hot summer's day, so we prepared to dine under the shade of
the trees at the edge of the pit, and I went down into the cave for a
few moments to get a piece of ice for our wine. My first impression was
that the glacière was entirely destroyed, for the outer cave was a mere
chaos of rock and stones; but, on further investigation, it turned out
that the ruin had not reached the inner cave. In our previous visit we
had noticed a natural basin of some size and depth among the trees on
the north side of the road, and we now found that the chaos was the
result of a recent falling-in of this basin; so that from the bottom of
the first cave, standing as it were under the road, we could see
daylight through the newly-formed hole.

The total length of the floor of the inner cave, which lies north-east
and south-west, is 51 feet; and of this floor a length of about 37 feet
was more or less covered with ice, the greatest breadth of the ice being
within an inch or two of 11 feet. Excepting in the part of the cave
already mentioned as being less than 3 feet high, we found the floor not
nearly so dry, nor so completely covered with ice, as when we first saw
the glacière, three years before, in the middle of an exceptionally hot
August. Under the low roof all was very dry, though even there the ice
had not an average thickness of more than 8 inches. It may be as well to
say, once for all, that the ice in these caves is never found in a sheet
on a pool of water; it is always solid, forming the floor of the cave,
filling up the interstices of the loose stones, and rising above them,
in this case with a surface perfectly level.


We found four principal columns of ice, three of which, in the loftiest
part of the cave, are represented in the accompanying engraving: I call
them three, and not two, because the two which unite in a common base
proceeded from different fissures. The line of light at the foot of the
rock-wall is the only entrance to the glacière. The lowest column was
11-2/3 feet high and 1-2/3 feet broad, not more than 6 inches thick in
the middle, half-way up, and flattened symmetrically so as to be
comparatively sharp at the edges, like a huge double-edged sword. It
stood clear of the rock through its whole height, but scarcely left room
between itself and the wall of the cave for a candle to be passed up and
down. The other two columns shown in the engraving poured out of
fissures in the rock, streaming down as cascades, the one being 13-1/2
and the other 15 feet high; and when we tied a candle to the end of an
alpenstock, and passed it into the fissures, we found that the bend of
the fissures prevented our seeing the termination of the ice. An
intermittent disturbance of the air in these fissures made the flame
flicker at intervals, though generally the candle burned steadily in
them, and we could detect no current in the cave. The fourth column was
in the low part of the cave, and we were obliged to grovel on the ice to
get its dimensions: it was 3-1/4 feet broad and 4-1/3 feet high, the
roof of the cave being only 2-3/4 feet high; and it poured out of the
vertical fissure like a smooth round fall of water, adhering lightly to
the rock at its upper end like a fungus, and growing out suddenly in its
full size. This column was dry, whereas on the others there were
abundant symptoms of moisture, as if small quantities of water were
trickling down them from their fissures, though the fissures themselves
appeared to be perfectly dry.

In one of the fissures there was a patch of what is known as
sweating-stone, [5] with globules of water oozing out, and standing
roundly upon it: the globules were not frozen. This stone was
exceedingly hard, and defied all our efforts to break off a specimen,
but at last we got two small pieces, hard and heavy, and wrapped them
in paper; ten weeks after, we found them of course quite dry, and
broke them easily, small as they were, with our fingers. The fissure
from which the shortest of the four columns came was full of gnats, as
were also several crevices in the walls of the cave, especially in the
lowest part; and we found a number of large red-brown flies, [6]
nearly an inch long, running rapidly on the ice and stones, after the
fashion of the flies with which trout love best to be taken. The
central parts of the cave, where the roof is high, were in a state
provincially known as 'sloppy,' and drops of water fell now and then
from above, either splashing on wet stones, or hollowing out basins in
the remaining ice, or, sometimes, shrewdly detecting the most
sensitive spot in the back of the human neck. We placed one of
Casella's thermometers on a piece of wood on one of the wet stones,
clear of the ice, and it soon fell to 34°. Probably the temperature
had been somewhat raised by the continued presence of three human
beings and two lighted candles in the small cavern; and, at any rate,
the cold of two degrees above freezing was something very real on a
hot summer's day, and told considerably upon my sisters, so that we
were compelled to beat a retreat,--not quite in time, for one of our
party could not effect a thaw, even by stamping about violently in the
full afternoon sun.

While we were in the cave, we noticed that the surfaces of the columns
were covered by very irregular lines, marked somewhat deeply in the
ice, and dividing the surface into areas of all shapes, a sort of
network, with meshes of many different shapes and sizes. These areas
were smaller towards the edges of the columns; the lines containing
them were not, as a rule, straight lines, and almost baffled our
efforts to count them, but, to the best of my belief, there were
meshes with three, four, and up to eight sides. The column which
stood clear of the rock was composed of very limpid ice, without
admixture of air; but the cascades were interpenetrated by veins of
looser white ice, and, where the white ice came, the surface lines
seemed to disappear. As we sat on the grass outside, arranging our
properties for departure, my attention was arrested by the columnar
appearance of the fractured edge of the block of ice which we had used
at luncheon. It was about 5 inches thick, and had formed part of a
stalagmite whose horizontal section, like that of the free column,
would be an ellipse of considerable eccentricity; and, on examination,
it turned out that the surface areas, which varied in size from a
large thumb-nail to something very small, were the ends of prisms
reaching through to the other side of the piece of ice, at any rate in
the thinner parts, and presenting there similar faces. Not only so,
but the prisms could be detached with great ease, by using no
instrument more violent than the fingers; while the point of a thin
knife entered freely at any of the surface lines, and split the ice
neatly down the sides of the prisms. When one or two of the sides of a
prism were exposed, at the edge of the piece of ice, the prism could
be pushed out entire, like a knot from the edge of a piece of wood. In
some cases there seemed to be capillary fissures coincident with the
lines where several sides of prisms met. Considering the shape of the
whole column, it is clear that the two ends of each prism could not be
parallel; neither was one of the ends perfectly symmetrical with the
other, and I do not think that the prisms were of the nature of
truncated pyramids. On descending again, I found that the columns
were without exception formed of this prismatic ice, either in whole,
as in the clear column, or in part, as where limpid prisms existed
among the white ice which ran in veins down the cascades. In the free
vertical column the prisms seemed to be deposited horizontally, and in
the thicker parts they did not pass clear through. We carried a large
piece of ice down to Arzier in a botanical tin, and on our arrival
there we found that all traces of external lines had disappeared.

This visit to the glacière was on Saturday, and on the following Monday
I determined to go up alone, to take a registering thermometer, and
leave it in the cave for the night; which, of course, would entail a
third visit on the next day. Monday brought a steady penetrating rain,
of that peculiar character which six Scotch springs had taught me to
describe as 'just a bit must;' while in the higher regions the fog was
so hopeless, that a sudden lift of the mist revealed the unpleasant fact
that considerable progress had been made in a westerly direction, the
true line being north-west. Instead of the rocks of La Genollière, the
foreground presented was the base of the Dôle, and the chasm which
affords a passage from the well-known fortress of Les Rousses into Vaud.
There was nothing for it but to turn in the right direction, or attempt
to do so, and force a way through the wet woods till something should
turn up. This something took the form of a châlet; but no amount of
hammering and shouting produced any response, and it was only after a
forcible entrance, and a prolonged course of interior shouting, that a
man was at length drawn. He said that he had been asleep--and why he
put it in a past tense is still a mystery--and could give no idea of
the direction of the châlet on La Genollière, beyond a vague suggestion
that it was somewhere in the mist; a suggestion by no means improbable,
seeing that the mist was ubiquitous. One piece of information he was
able to give, and it was consoling: I was now, it seemed, on the
Fruitière de Nyon, and therefore the desired châlet could not be far
off, if only a guide could be found. On the whole, he thought that a
guide could not be found; but there were men in the châlet, and I might
go up the ladder with him and see what could be done. He led to a
chamber with a window of one small pane, dating apparently from the
first invention of glass, and never cleaned since. An invisible corner
of the room was appealed to; but the voice which resided there, and
seemed like everything else to be asleep, pleaded dreamily a total
ignorance of the whereabouts of the châlet in question. Just as, by dint
of steady staring through the darkness, an indistinct form of a
mattress, with a human being reclining thereon, began to be visible,
another dark corner announced that this new speaker had heard of a
_p'tit sentier_ leading to the châlet, but knew neither direction nor
distance. Here the space between the two corners put in a word; and, as
the darkness was now becoming natural, seven or eight mattresses
appeared, ranged round the room, some holding one, some two men, most of
whom were sitting up on end with old caps on, displaying every variety
of squalor. The voice which had spoken last declared that the distance
was three-quarters of an hour, and that if the day were clear there
would be no difficulty in reaching the châlet; as it was, the man would
be very glad to try.

A change of cap was the only dressing necessary for the volunteer, and
we faced the fog and rain, which elicited from him such a disgraceful
amount of swearing, that it was on all accounts well when the rain
ceased for a few minutes, the mists rolled off, and the clouds lifted
sufficiently to betray the surface of the Lake of Geneva, luxuriating in
the clear warmth of an early summer's day, and making us shiver by the
painful contrast which our own altitude presented. The deep blue of the
lake brought to mind the story of the shepherd of Gessenay (Saanen), of
whom it is told that when he was passing the hills with some friends for
a first visit to Vevey, and came in sight of the lake, which he had
never seen before, he turned and hurried home incontinent, declaring
that he would not enter a country where the good God had made the blue
sky to fall and fill the valleys.

In this bright interval we came upon a magnificent fox, and the
peasant's impulse was, 'Oh, for a good gun!' an exclamation which would
have sounded horrible to English ears, if I had not been previously
broken in to it by an invitation from a Scotch gamekeeper to a fox-hunt,
when he promised an excellent gun, and a _stance_ which the foxes were
sure to pass.

The rain now came on again, and the guide thought he had had plenty of
it, and must return for the afternoon milking; and just then, as good
luck would have it, we stumbled upon an immense clump of nettles which
had been one of our landmarks two days before, so that he was no longer
necessary, and we said affectionate adieux.

The glacière was in a state of ruin. Only the right-hand column, not
speaking heraldically, was standing, the others lying in blocks frozen
hard together on the ground. The column which still stood was much
shrunken, and seemed too small for its fissure, the sides of which it
scarcely touched. The wind blew down the entrance slope so
determinedly, that a candle found it difficult to live at the bottom
of the first cave; and a portion of the current blew into the
glacière, and in its sweep exactly struck the fallen columns, the
edges of which were already rounded by thaw. Much of this must be
attributed to the recent opening of the second shaft (p. 5), which
admits a thorough draught through the first cave, and so exposes the
glacière to currents of warmer air; and I should expect to find that
in future the ice will disappear from that part of the cave every
summer, [7] whereas in 1861 we found it thick and dry (excepting a few
small basins containing water) and evidently permanent, in the middle
of a very hot August. The low part of the cave was so completely
protected from the current, that the candle burned there quite
steadily for an hour and a half: still, like the others, the column at
that end of the glacière was broken down, and it therefore became
necessary to attribute its fall to some other agency than the current
of external air. There had been a very large amount of rain, and the
surface of the rock in the fissures was evidently wet; so I have no
doubt that the filtering through of the warm rain-water had thawed the
upper supports of the ice-cascades, and then, owing to their slightly
inclined position, the pedestal had not provided sufficient support,
and so they had fallen. One of them, perhaps, had brought down in its
fall the free column, which had stood two days before on its own base,
without any support from the rock. Very probably, too--indeed, almost
certainly,--the fall of the large mass of rock, which once formed the
bottom of the basin on the north side of the road, has affected the
old-established fissures, by which rain-water has been accustomed to
penetrate in small quantities to the glacière, so that now a much
larger amount is admitted. On this account, there will probably be a
great diminution of the ice in the course of future summers, though
the amount formed each winter may be greater than it has hitherto
been. Constant examination of other columns and fissures has convinced
me, that, before the end of autumn, the majority of the glacières will
have lost all the columns which depend upon the roof for a part of
their support, or spring from fissures in the wall; whereas those
which are true stalagmites, and are self-supporting, will have a much
better chance of remaining through the warm season, and lasting till
the winter, and so increasing in size from year to year. Free
stalagmites, however, which are formed under fissures capable of
pouring down a large amount of water on the occasion of a great flood
of rain, must succumb in time, though not so soon as the supported

A curious appearance was presented by a small free stalagmite in the
retired part of the cave. The surface of the stalagmite was wet, from
the drops proceeding from a fissure above, and was lightly covered in
many parts with a calcareous deposit, brought down from the fissures in
the roof by the water filtering through. The stalagmite was of the
double-edged-sword shape, and the limestone deposit collected chiefly at
one of its edges, the edge nearer to that part of the cave where thaw
prevailed; so that the real edge was a ridge of deposit beyond the edge
of the ice.[8] Patches of limestone paste lay on many parts of the

In the loftier part of the cave, water dropped from the roof to so
large an extent, that ninety-six drops of water in a minute splashed
on to a small stone immediately under the main fissure. This stone was
in the centre of a considerable area of the floor which was clear of
ice; and it struck me that if the columns were formed by the freezing
of water dropping from the roof, there ought to have been at some time
a large column under this, the most plentiful source of water in the
cave. Accordingly, I found that the edge of the ice round this clear
area was much thicker than the rest of the ice of the floor, and was
evidently the remains of the swelling pedestal of a column which had
been about 12 feet in circumference. This departed column may account
for a fact which I discovered in another glacière, and found to be of
very common occurrence, viz., that in large stalagmites there is a
considerable internal cavity, extending some feet up from the ground,
and affording room even for a man to walk about inside the column.
When the melted snows of spring send down to the cave, through the
fissures of the rock, an abundance of water at a very low
temperature, and the cave itself is stored with the winter's cold,
these thicker rings of ice catch first the descending water, and so a
circular wall, naturally conical, is formed round the area of stones;
the remaining water either running off through the interstices, or
forming a floor of ice of less thickness, which yields to the next
summer's drops. In the course of time, this conical wall rises,
narrowing always, till a dome-like roof is at length formed, and
thenceforth the column is solid. Of course, the interior cannot be
wholly free from ice; and it will be seen from the account of one of
these cavities, which I explored in the Schafloch, that they are
decked with ice precisely as might be expected.[9] Another possible
explanation of this curious and beautiful phenomenon will be given

The temperature was half a degree lower than when there were three of us
in the cave two days before. I deposited one of Casella's registering
thermometers, on wood, on a stone in that part of the floor which was
free from ice, though there was ice all round it at some little
distance. The thermometer was well above the surface of the ice, and
was protected from chance drops of water from the roof.

The next morning I started early from Arzier, having an afternoon
journey in prospect to the neighbourhood of another glacière, and was
accompanied by Captain Douglas Smith, of the 4th Regiment. On our way to
La Genollière, we came across the man who had served as guide the day
before, and a short conversation respecting the glacière ensued. He had
only seen it once, many years before, and he held stoutly to the usual
belief of the peasantry, that the ice is formed in summer, and melts in
winter; a belief which everything I had then seen contradicted. His last
words as we parted were, '_Plus il fait chaud, plus ça gèle_;' and,
paradoxical as it may appear, I believe that some truth was concealed in
what he said, though not as he meant it. Considering that his ideas were
confined to his cattle and their requirements, and that water is often
very difficult to find in that part of the Jura, a _hot_ summer would
probably mean with him a _dry_ summer, that is, a summer which does not
send down much water to thaw the columns in the cave. Extra heat in the
air outside, at any season, does not, as experience of these caves
proves abundantly, produce very considerable disturbance of their low
temperature, and so summer water is a much worse enemy than extra summer
heat; and if the caves could be protected from water in the hot season,
the columns in them would know how to resist the possible--but very
small--increase of temperature due to the excess of heat of one summer
above another. And since the eye is most struck by the appearance of the
stalagmites and ice-cascades, it may well be that the peasants have seen
these standing at the end of an unusually hot and dry summer, and have
thence concluded that hot summers are the best time for the formation of
ice. Of course, at the beginning of the winter after a hot summer, there
will be on these terms a larger nucleus of ice; and so it will become
true that the hotter the year, the more ice there will be, both during
the summer itself and after the following winter.

The further process of the formation of ice will be this:--the colds of
early winter will freeze all the water that may be in the glacières from
the summer's thaw, in such caves as do not possess a drainage, and then
the frost will have nothing to occupy itself upon but the ice already
formed, for no water can descend from the frost-bound surface of the
earth.[11] As soon as the snow begins to melt to so great a degree that
the fissures are opened up once more, the extremely cold water resulting
therefrom will descend through the limestone into a cave perfectly dry,
and filled with an atmosphere many degrees below the freezing point,
whose frost-power eagerly lays hold of every drop of water which does
not make its escape in time by the drainage of the cave. Thus the spring
months will be the great time of the formation of ice, and also of the
raising of the temperature from some degrees below freezing to the more
temperate register at which I have generally found it, viz., rather
above than below 32°. Professor Tyndall very properly likens the
external atmosphere to a ratchet-wheel, from its property of allowing
the passage of hot rays down to the surface of the earth, and resisting
their return: it may equally be so described on other grounds, inasmuch
as the cold and heavy atmosphere will sink in the winter into the pits
which lead to glacières, and will refuse to be altogether displaced in
summer by anything short of solar radiation.

We found the one column of the previous day still standing, though
evidently in an unhappy state of decay. The sharpness of its edges was
wholly gone, and it was withered and contorted; there were two cracks
completely through it, dividing it into three pieces 4 or 5 feet long,
which were clearly on the point of coming down. Externally, the day was
fine and warm, and so we found the cave comparatively dry, only one drop
falling in a minute on to the stone where ninety-six had fallen in the
same time the day before. The thermometer registered 32° as the greatest
cold of the night, and still stood at that point when we took it up.

We spent some little time in exploring the neighbourhood of the pits, in
order to find, if possible, the outlet for the drainage, but the ground
did not fall away sufficiently for any source from so low an origin to
show itself. The search was suggested by what I remembered of the
Glacière of S. Georges three years before, where the people believe that
a small streamlet which issues from the bottom of a steep rock, some
distance off, owes its existence to the glacière.


[Footnote 1: In this neighbourhood, the _montagne_ of any _commune_ is
represented by the feminine form of the name of the village: thus,
_L'Arzière_ is the _montagne_ of Arzier, and _La Bassine_ of Bassin.
This has a curious effect in the case of some villages--such, for
instance, as S. Georges--one of the landmarks of the district between
the lakes of Joux and Geneva being the _Châlet de la S. Georges_, a
grammatical anomaly which puzzles a stranger descending the southernmost
slope of the Jura from the Asile de Marchairuz. This law of formation is
not universal; for the _montagnes_ of Rolle and S. Livres are called the
_Prè de Rolle_ and the _Prè de S. Livres_, while the _Fruitière de Nyon_
is the rich upland possession of the town of that name.]

[Footnote 2: Probably a relic of the time when the earlier Barons of
Coppet possessed this district. The families of Grandson, Lesdiguières,
and Dohna successively held the barony; and in later times the title _de
Coppet_ hid a name more widely known, for on the Châlet of _Les
Biolles_, some distance to the east of La Baronne, the name of _Auguste
de Staël de Holstein de Coppet_ is carved, after the fashion of Swiss
châlets. This was Madame de Staël's son, who built Biolles in 1817; it
was afterwards sold to the commune of Nyon, and finally purchased by
Arzier two or three years ago.]

[Footnote 3: 'Cornhill Magazine,' June 1863, 'How we slept at the Châlet
des Chèvres.']

[Footnote 4: This is only a guess, made from a comparison with the
ascertained heights of neighbouring points.]

[Footnote 5: The patois of Vaud has a prettier name for this kind of
stone--_le sex_ (or _scex) qui plliau_, the weeping-stone.]

[Footnote 6: I brought one of these to England, and am told that it is
the _Stenophylax hieroglyphicus_ of Stephens, or something very like
that fly.]

[Footnote 7: Since writing this, I have been told that some English
officers who visited the cave in the August of 1864 found no ice in any

[Footnote 8: See also p. 231.]

[Footnote 9: P. 145.]

[Footnote 10: P. 301.]

[Footnote 11: It is possible that the freezing of the surface may play a
curious part in the phenomena of the spring season in such caves.
Supposing the surface to be completely frost-bound, all atmospheric
pressure will be removed from the upper surface of the water in the long
fissures, and thus water may be held in suspension, in the centre of
large masses of fissured rock, during the winter months. The first
thorough thaw will have the same effect as the removal of the thumb from
the upper orifice in the case of the hand-shower-bath; and the water
thus rained down into the cave will have a temperature sufficiently high
to destroy some portion of the cold stored up by the descent of the
heavy atmosphere of winter, or at least to melt out the ice which may
have blocked up the lower ends of the fissures.]

       *       *       *       *       *



The best way of reaching this glacière from Geneva would be to take the
steamer to Rolle, or the train to one of the neighbouring stations,
between Geneva and Lausanne, and thence pass up the slope of the Jura by
the road which leads through Gimel. For the train, the Allaman station
would be the most convenient, as an omnibus runs from Allaman to
Aubonne, where the poste for Gimel may be caught. But from Arzier there
is a short cut of less than two hours along the side of the hills,
leaving that village by a deep gorge not unfitly named _L'Enfer_, and a
dark wood which retains an odour of more savage bygone times in its name
of the 'Bear's Wood,' as containing a cavern where an old bear was
detected in the act of attempting to winter.[12]

The village of S. Georges has very respectable accommodation for a
single traveller, _au Cavalier_. The common day-room will be found
untenable by most Englishmen, however largely they may delight in
rough quarters; but there is a double-bedded room at the end of a
bricked passage up-stairs, which serves well for bedroom and
sitting-room in one. The chief drawback in this arrangement is, that
the landlady inexorably removes all washing apparatus during the day,
holding that a pitcher and basin are unseemly ornaments for a
sitting-room. The deal table, of course, serves both for dressing and
for feeding purposes, but it is fortunately so long that an end can be
devoted to each; and on the whole it is possible to become
considerably attached to the room, with its three airy windows, and
the cool unceasing hum of a babbling fountain in the village-street
below. The Auberge is a large building, with a clock-tower of
considerable height, containing the clock of the commune: as soon as
the candle is put out at night, it becomes painfully evident that a
rectangular projection in one corner of the room is in connection with
this tower, and in fact forms a part of the abode of the pendulum,
which plods on with audible vigour, growing more and more audible as
the hours pass on, and making a stealthy pervading noise, as if a
couple of lazy ghosts were threshing phantom wheat. The clocks of
Vaud, too, are in the habit of striking the hour twice, with a short
interval; so that if anyone is not sure what the clock meant the first
time, he has a second chance of counting the strokes. This is no doubt
an admirable plan under ordinary circumstances, but it does certainly
try the patience of a sleepless dyspeptic after a surfeit of
café-au-lait and honey; and when he has counted carefully the first
time, and is bristling with the consciousness that it is only
midnight, it is aggravating in the extreme to have the long slow story
told a second time within a few feet of his head.

The Cavalier had retained a guide overnight, Henri Renaud by name, and
he appeared punctually at eight o'clock in the morning, got up in the
short-tail coat of the country, and a large green umbrella with mighty
ribs of whalebone. The weather was extremely unpleasant, a cold pitiless
rain rendering all attempts at protection unavailing; but, fortunately,
the glacière is only an hour and a quarter from the village. The path is
tolerably steep, leading across the _petit Pré de Rolle_, and through
woods of beech and fir, till the summit of one of the minor ridges of
the Jura is reached, whence a short descent leads to the mouth of the
glacière, something more than 4,000 feet above the sea. The ground here
slopes down towards the north; and on the slope, among fir-trees, an
irregular circular basin is seen, some seven or eight yards across,[13]
and perhaps two yards deep, at the bottom of which are two holes. One of
these holes is open, and as the guide and I--for my sisters remained at
Arzier--stood on the neck of ground between the holes, we could see the
snow lying at the bottom of the cave; the other is covered with trunks
of trees, laid over the mouth to prevent the rays of the sun from
striking down on to the ice. This protection has become necessary in
consequence of an incautious felling of wood in the immediate
neighbourhood of the mouth, which has exposed the ice to the assaults of
the weather. The commune has let the glacière for a term of nine years,
receiving six or seven hundred francs in all; and the _fermier_ extracts
the ice, and sells it in Geneva and Lausanne. In hot summers, the
supplies of the artificial ice-houses fail; and then the hotel-keepers
have recourse to the stores laid up for them by nature in the Glacières
of S. Georges and S. Livres. Hence the importance of protecting the
ice; the necessity for so doing arising in this case from the fact that
the entrance to the cave is by a hole in the roof, which exposes the ice
to direct radiation, unlike all other glacières, excepting perhaps the
_Cueva del Hielo_ on the Peak of Teneriffe.[14]

Autumn appears to be the usual time for cutting the ice, when it is
carried from the cave on men's backs as far as the commencement of the
rough mountain-road, and is there packed on chars, and so conveyed to
the nearest railway station. Renaud had worked in the cave for two
years, and asserted that they did not choose the night for carrying
the ice down to the station, and did not even care to choose a cool
day. He believed that, in the autumn of 1863, they loaded two chars a
day for fifteen days, and each char took from 40 to 50 quintaux; the
quintal containing 50 kilos, or 100 livres.[15] In Professor Pictet's
time (1822) this glacière supplied the Hospital of Geneva, whose
income depended in part on its privilege of _revente_ of all ice sold
in the town, with 25 quintaux every other day during the summer. In my
anxiety to learn the exact amount of ice now supplied by the glacière,
I determined to find out the _fermier_; but Renaud could tell nothing
of him beyond the fact that he lived in Geneva, which some promiscuous
person supplemented by the information that his name was Boucqueville,
and that he had something to do with comestibles. On entering upon a
hunt for M. Boucqueville a fortnight later, it turned out that no one
had heard of such a person, and the Directory professed equal
ignorance; but, under the head of 'Comestibles,' there appeared a
Gignoux-Bocquet, No. 34, Marché. Thirty-four, Marché, said, yes--M.
Bocquet--it was quite true: nevertheless, it was clear that monsieur
meant Sebastian aîné, on the Molard. The Molard knew only a younger
Sebastian, but suggested that the right man was probably M.
Gignoux-Chavaz, over the way; and when it was objected that
Gignoux-Bocquet, and not Gignoux-Chavaz, was the name, the Molard
replied that it made no matter,--Chavaz or Bocquet, it was all the
same. When M. Gignoux-Chavaz was found, he said that he certainly was
a man who had something to do with a glacière, but, instead of farming
the Glacière of S. Georges, he had only bought a considerable quantity
of ice two years ago from the Glacière of S. Livres, and he did not
believe that the _fermier_ of S. Georges lived in Geneva. Part of the
confusion was due to the custom of placing a wife's maiden name after
her husband's name: thus Gignoux-Chavaz implies that a male Gignoux
has married a female Chavaz; and when a Swiss marries an English lady
with a very English name, the result in the Continental mouth is
sufficiently curious.

On arriving at the entrance to the glacière, the end of a suggestive
ladder is seen under the protecting trunks; and after one or two steps
have been taken down the ladder, the effect of the cave below is
extremely remarkable, the main features being a long wall covered
thickly with white ice in sheets, a solid floor of darker-coloured ice,
and a high pyramid of snow reaching up towards the uncovered hole
already spoken of. The atmosphere of the cave is damp, and this causes
the ladders to fall speedily to decay, so that they are by no means to
be trusted: indeed, an early round gave way under one of my sisters,
when they visited the cave with me in 1861, and suggested a clear fall
of 60 feet on to a cascade of ice.[16] There are three ladders, one
below the other, and a hasty measurement gave their lengths as 20, 16,
and 28 feet. The rock-roof is only a few feet thick in the neighbourhood
of the hole of entrance.


The total length of the cave is 110 feet, lying NE. and SW., in the line
of the main chain of the Jura. The lowest part of the floor is a sea of
ice of unknown depth, 45 feet long by 15 broad; and Renaud tried my
powers of belief by asserting that in 1834 the level of this floor was
higher by half the height of the cave than now; a statement, however,
which is fully borne out by Professor Pictet's measurements in 1822,
when the depth of the glacière was less than 30 feet. Indeed, the floor
had sunk considerably since my previous visit, when it was all at the
same level down to the further end of the cave; whereas now, as will be
seen in the section, there was a platform of stones resting on ice at
that end. There are two large fissures passing into the rock, one only
of which can be represented in the section, and these were full of white
ice, not owing its whiteness apparently to the admixture of air in
bubbles, but firm and compact, and very hard, almost like porcelain.
Small stalactites hung from round fissures in the roof, formed of the
same sort of ice, and broken off short, much as the end of a leaden pipe
is sometimes seen to project from a wall. With this exception, there was
no ice hanging from the roof, though there were abundant signs of very
fine columns which had already yielded to the advancing warmth: one of
these still remained, in the form of broken blocks of ice, in the
neighbourhood of the open hole in the roof, immediately below which hole
the stones of the floor were completely bare, and the thermometer stood
at 50°. At the far end of the cave, the thermometer gave something less
than 32°; a difference so remarkable, at the same horizontal level, that
I am inclined to doubt the accuracy of the figures, though they were
registered on the spot with due care. The uncovered hole, it must be
remembered, is so large, and so completely open, that the rain falls
freely on to the stones on the floor below.

By far the most striking part of this glacière is the north-west
wall, which is covered with a sheet of ice 70 feet long, and 22 feet
high at the highest part: in the neighbourhood of the ladders, this
turns the corner of the cave, and passes up for about 9 feet under the
second ladder. The general thickness of the sheet is from a foot to a
foot and a half; and this is the chief source from which the _fermier_
draws the ice, as it is much more easily quarried than the solid
floor. Some of my friends went to the cave a few weeks after my visit,
and found that the whole sheet had been pared off and carried away. On
some parts of the wall the sheet was not completely continuous, being
formed of broad and distinct cascades, connected by cross channels of
ice, and uniting at their upper and lower ends, thus presenting many
curious and ornamental groupings. On cutting through this ice, it was
found not to lie closely on the rock, a small intermediate space being
generally left, almost filled with minute limestone particles in a
very wet state; and the whole cavern showed signs of more or less


It was natural to examine the structure of the ice in this glacière,
after what we had observed on La Genollière. The same prismatic
structure was universal in the sheet on the wall, and in the blocks
which lay here and there on the floor and formed the sole remains of
former columns. It was to be observed also in many parts of the
ice-floor itself. The base of one large column still remained standing
in its original position, and its upper end presented a tolerably
accurate horizontal section of the column. The centre was composed of
turbid ice, round which limpid prisms were horizontally arranged,
diverging like the feathers of a fan; then came a ring of turbid ice,
and then a second concentric ring of limpid prisms, diverging in the
same manner as those which formed the inner ring. There were in all
three or four of these concentric rings, the details showing a
considerable amount of confusion and interference: the general law,
however, was most evident, and has held in all the similar columns which
I have since examined in other glacières. The rings were not accurately
circular, but presented rather the appearance of having been formed
round a roughly-fluted pillar on an elliptical base.

The examination of the ice on the wall gave some curious results. The
horizontal arrangement of the prisms, which we had found to prevail in
vertical columns, was here modified to suit the altered conditions of
the case, and the axes of the prisms changed their inclination so as to
be always perpendicular to the surface on which the ice lay, as far as
could be determined by the eye. Thus, in following the many changes of
inclination of the wall, the axes of the prisms stood at many different
angles with the vertical, from a horizontal position where the wall
chanced to be vertical, to a vertical position on the horizontal ledges
of the rock. The extreme edges, too, of the ice, presented a very
peculiar appearance. The general thickness, as has been said, varied
from a foot to a foot and a half; and this diminished gradually along
horizontal lines, till, at the edges of the sheet, where the ice ceased,
it became of course nothing. The extreme edge was formed of globular or
hemispherical beads of ice, like the freezing of a sweating-stone, lying
so loosely on the rock that I could sweep them off in detail with one
hand, and catch them with the other as they fell. Passing farther on
towards the thicker parts of the ice, these beads stood up higher and
higher, losing their roundness, and becoming compressed into prisms of
all shapes, in very irregular imitation of the cellular tissue in
plants, the axes of the prisms following the generally-observed law.
There seems to be nothing in this phenomenon which cannot be accounted
for by the supposition of gradual thaw of small amount being applied to
a sheet of prismatic ice.

One fact was remarkable from its universal appearance. Wherever an
incision was made in this sheet of ice, the prisms snapped off at the
depth of an inch, and could be mowed down like corn by means of a stout
knife. Although they broke naturally at this constant depth, and left a
surface of limpid ice without any signs of external or internal
division, still the laminae obtained by chiselling this lower surface
carefully, broke up regularly into the shapes to be expected in sections
of prisms cut at right angles to the axis. The roughness of my
instruments made it impossible to discover how far this extended, and
whether it ceased to be the case at any given depth in the ice.

The sea of ice on the floor was in a very wet state at the surface,
being at a lower level than the stones on to which the rain from the
open hole fell; and here the prismatic structure was not apparent to the
eye, nor do I know whether it existed at all. In the Glacière of La
Genollière I carried a large block of perfectly prismatic ice into the
outer cave, where it was exposed to the free currents of air passing
from the pit of entrance to the hole newly opened by the falling in of
the ground; and, two days after, the external lines were scarcely
perceptible, while on the occasion of our third visit I found that they
had entirely disappeared, and the whole block was rapidly following
their example. This disappearance of the surface-lines under the action
of atmospheric thaw is probably the same thing as their absence when the
flooring of ice is thinly covered with water. Wherever the flooring rose
slightly towards the edges of the sea of ice, the usual structure
appeared again.

There were no currents of air in the cave, the candles burning steadily
through the whole time of our visit. Excepting for the purpose of
detecting disturbance in the air, there is no need of candles, as the
two holes in the roof supply sufficient light. Some account of the
careful observations made here by M. Thury, at different seasons of the
year, will be found in other parts of this book. We passed, on our
return, by the source of water which springs from the foot of a rock at
some distance from the glacière, and is supposed to form the outlet for
the drainage of the cave; but it is difficult to understand how this can
be the case, considering the form and character of the intervening

The two ice-caves so far described are the least interesting of all that
I have visited; but a peasant informed me, a day or two after, that if
we had penetrated to the back of the pyramid of snow which lay half
under the open hole, being the remains of the large collection which is
formed there in the winter, we might have found a deep pit which is
sometimes exposed by the melting of the snow. He had some idea that its
depth was 30 feet a few years ago, and that its sides were solid ice. I
shall have occasion to mention such pits in another glacière; if one
does exist here, it has probably been quarried in the ice by the drops
from the hole in the roof, and there might be some interest attached to
an attempt to investigate it.[17]

We reached S. Georges again in a wretched state of wet and cold, and
Renaud went off to bed, and imbibed abundant and super-abundant
kirsch,--at least, when drawn thence the next morning, his manner left
no doubt about either the fact or the abundance of the potations
overnight. Warned by many experiences, I had gone no nearer to a
specification of the bill of fare than a vague suggestion that
_quelque chose_ must be forthcoming, with an additional stipulation
that this must be something more than mere onions and fat. The
landlady's rendering of _quelque chose_ was very agreeable, but, for
the benefit of future diners _au Cavalier_, it is as well to say that
those who do not like anisette had better make a private arrangement
with their hostess, otherwise they will swallow with their soup an
amount sufficient for many generations of the drag: they may also
safely order savoury rice, with browned veal and wine-sauce, which is
evidently a strong point with the Cavalier. All meals there are
picturesque; for the omelette lay on the Castle of Grandson and a part
of the Lake of Neufchâtel, while the butter reposed on the ruined
Cathedral of Sion, and the honey distilled pleasantly from the comb on
to the walls of Wufflens. No one should put any trust in the spoons,
which are constructed apparently of pewter shavings in a chronic state
of semi-fusion. On the evening of the second day, the landlady allowed
a second knife at tea, as the knife-of-all-work had begun to knock up
under the heavy strain upon its powers; but this supplementary
instrument was of the ornamental kind, and, like other ornamental
things, broke down at a crisis, which took the form of a piece of

Lest this account should raise anyone's expectations too high, it is as
well to add that they have no snuffers in S. Georges, beyond such as
Nature provided when she gave men fingers; and they burn attenuated
tallow candles with full-bodied wicks. Also, the tea is flavoured with
vanille, unless that precious flavouring is omitted by private contract.


[Footnote 12: On our previous visit, in 1861, we passed from Arzier
through Longirod and Marchissy, stopping to measure and admire the huge
lime-tree in the churchyard of the latter village. Our Swiss companion
on that occasion was anxious that we should carry home some ice from the
cave; and as the communal law forbade the removal of the ice by
strangers, he hunted up a cousin in Marchissy, and sent him with a
_hotte_ across country, while we went innocently by the ordinary route
through S. Georges. The cousin, however, contrived to lose himself in
the woods, and we never heard of him again.]

[Footnote 13: The size of this basin is exaggerated in the engraving on
page 24, owing to the roughness of the original sketch.]

[Footnote 14: See p. 253.]

[Footnote 15: For further details on this point see pages 54 and 83.]

[Footnote 16: These ladders have at best but little stability, as they
consist of two uprights, careless about the coincidence of the holes,
with bars poked loosely through and left to fall out or stay in as they
choose, the former being the prevailing choice. One of the ladders
happened to be firmer than the generality of its kind; but,
unfortunately, its legs were of unequal lengths, and so it turned round
with one of my sisters, leaving her clinging like a cat to the under
side. When the bars are sufficiently loose, a difference of a few inches
in the lengths of the legs is not of so much importance.]

[Footnote 17: M. Thury found this hole, and fathomed it to a depth of
6-1/2 mètres.]

       *       *       *       *       *



I had intended to walk on from S. Georges to Bière, after returning from
the glacière last described, and thence, the next morning, to the Pré de
S. Livres, the mountain pasturage of the commune of S. Livres,[18] a
village near Aubonne. But Renaud advised a change of plan, and the
result showed that his advice was good. He said that the _fermier_ of
the Glacière of S. Livres generally lived in S. Georges, and, if he were
at home, would be the best guide to the glacière; while the distance
from S. Georges was, if anything, rather less than the distance from
Bière; so that by remaining at the Cavalier for another night the walk
to Bière would be saved, and the possibility of finding no competent
guide there would be evaded. Jules Mignot, the farmer in question, was
at home, and promised to go to the glacière in the morning, pledging his
word and all that he was worth for the existence and soundness of the
ladders; a matter of considerable importance, for M. Thury had been
unable to reach the ice, as also my sisters, by reason of a failure in
this respect.

In the course of the evening Mignot came in, and confidentially took the
other chair. He wished to state that he had three _associés_ in working
the glacière, and that one of them knew of a similar cave, half an hour
from the one more generally known; the _associé_ had found it two years
before, and had not seen it since, and he believed that no one else knew
where it was to be found. If I cared to visit it, the _associé_ would
accompany us, but there was some particular reason--here he relapsed
into patois--why this other man could not by himself serve as guide to
both glacières. As this meant that I must have two guides, and suggested
that perhaps the right rendering of _associé_ was 'accomplice,' the
negotiation nearly came to a violent end; but the farmer was so
extremely explanatory and convincing, that I gave him another chance,
asking him how much the two meant to have, and telling him that,
although I could not see the necessity for two guides, I only wished to
do what was right. He expressed his conviction of the truth of this
statement with such fervour, that I could only hope his moderation might
be as great as his faith. He took the usual five minutes to make up his
mind what to say, going through abstruse calculations with a brow
demonstratively bent, and, to all appearance, reckoning up exactly what
was the least it could be done for, consistently with his duty to
himself and his family. Then he asked, with an air of resignation, as if
he were throwing himself and his _associé_ away, 'Fifteen francs, then,
would monsieur consider too much?' 'Certainly, far too much; twelve
francs would be enormous. But, for the pleasure of his company and that
of his friend, I should be happy to give that sum for the two, and they
must feed themselves.' He jumped at the offer, with an alacrity which
showed that I had much under-estimated his margin in putting it at three
francs; and with many expressions of anticipatory gratitude, and
promises of axes and ropes in case of emergency, he bowed himself out.
The event proved that both the men were really valuable, and they got
something over the six francs a-piece.

The rain had been steadily increasing in intensity for the last
twenty-four hours, from the insidious steeping of a Scotch mist to the
violence of a chronic thunderstorm, and had about reached this crisis
when we started in the morning for the Pré de S. Livres. I had already
tested its effects before breakfast, in a search for the Renaud of the
day before, who had made statements regarding the ice at S. Georges, and
the time of cutting it, which a night's reflection showed to be false.
To search for Henri Renaud in the village of S. Georges, was something
like making an enquiry of a certain porter for the rooms of Mr. John
Jones. The landlady of the Cavalier was responsible for the first stage
of the journey, asserting that he lived two doors beyond the next
auberge, evidently with a feeling that it was wrong so far to patronise
the rival house as to live near it. That, however, was not the same
Henri Renaud; and a house a few yards off was recommended as a likely
place, where, instead of Henri, a Louis Renaud turned up, shivering
under the eaves in company with the _fermier_, who introduced Louis in
due form as the accomplice. They received conjointly and submissively a
lecture on the absurdity of calling it a rainy morning, and the
impossibility of staying at home, even if it came on much worse, and
then pointed the way to the true Henri Renaud, half-way down the
village. When I arrived at the place indicated, and consulted a
promiscuous Swiss as to the abode of the object of my search, he
exclaimed, 'Henri Renaud? I am he.' 'But,' it was objected, 'it is the
_marchand de bois_ who is wanted.' 'Precisely, Henri Renaud, marchand de
bois; it is I.' 'But, it is the cutter of ice in the glacière.' 'Ah, a
different Henri. That Henri is in bed in the house yonder,' and so at
last he was found. When finally unearthed, Henri confessed that when he
had said _spring_ the day before, he ought to have said _autumn_, and
that by autumn he meant November and December. Enquiries elsewhere
showed that the end of summer was what he really meant, if he meant to
tell the truth.

Our route for the glacière followed the high road which leads by the
Asile de Marchairuz to La Vallée, as far as the well-known Châlet de la
S. Georges; and then the character of the way changed rapidly for the
worse, and we took to the wet woods. After a time, the wood ceased for a
while, and a large expanse of smooth rock showed itself, rising slightly
from the horizontal, and so slippery in its present wet condition that
we could not pass up it. Then woods again, and then the montagnes of
_Sous la Roche_, and _La Foireuse_, till at last, in two hours, the Pré
de S. Livres was achieved. The fog was so dense that nothing could be
seen of the general lie of the country; but the _thalweg_ was a
sufficient guide, and after due perseverance we came upon the glacière,
not many yards from that line, on the north slope of the open valley,
about 4,500 feet above the sea.

To prevent cattle from falling into the pit, a wall has been built round
the trees in which it lies. The circumference of this wall is 435 feet,
but there are so many trees at the upper end of the enclosure that this
gives an exaggerated idea of the size of the pit. The men fed while the
preliminary measurements were being made; and when this was
accomplished, they pressed their bottle of wine upon me so hospitably
that I was obliged to antedate the result which its appearance promised,
and plead _mal d'estomac_. Of all things, it is most unwise to give a
reason for a negative, and so it proved in this instance; for they
promptly felicitated themselves and me on the good luck by which it
happened that they had brought a wine famous on all the côte as a remedy
for that somewhat vague complaint--a homoeopathic remedy in allopathic

The glacière is entered by a natural pit in the gentle slope of grass,
not much unlike the pit of La Genollière, but wider, and covered at
the bottom with snow.[19] The first ladder leads down to a ledge of
rock on which bushes and trees grow, and this ledge it is possible to
reach without a ladder; the next ladder leads on to the deep snow, and
descent by any ordinary manner of climbing is in this case quite
impossible.[20] The snow slopes down towards a lofty arch in the rock
which forms the north-west side of the pit, and this arch is the
entrance to the glacière; it is 28-3/4 feet wide, and as soon as we
passed under it we found that the snow became ice, and it was
necessary to cut steps; for the surface of underground ice is so
slippery, unlike the surface of ordinary glaciers, that the slightest
defect from the horizontal makes the use of the axe advisable. The
stream of ice falls gradually, spreading out laterally like a fan, so
as to accommodate itself to the shape of the cave, which it fills up
to the side walls; it increases in breadth from 28-3/4 feet at the top
to 72 feet at the bottom of the slope, and the distance from the top
of the first ladder to this point is 177 feet. Here we were arrested
by a strange wall of ice 22 feet high, down which there seemed at
first no means of passing; but finding an old ladder frozen into a
part of the wall, we chopped out holes between the upper steps, and so
descended, landing on a flooring composed of broken blocks and columns
of ice, with a certain amount of what seemed to be drifted snow. This
wall of ice, which was 72 feet long and 22 feet high, was not
vertical, but sloped the wrong way, caving in under the stream of ice;
and from the projecting top of the wall a long fringe of vast icicles
hung down, along the whole breadth of the fan. The effect of this was,
that we could walk between the ice-wall and the icicles as in a
cloister, with solid ice on the one hand and Gothic arcades of ice on
the other, the floor being likewise of ice, and the roof formed by the
junction of the wall with the top of the icicle-arcade. The floor of
this cloister was not 22 feet below the top of the wall, for it formed
the upper part of a gentle descending slope of ice, rounded off like a
fall of water, which seemed to flow from the lower part of the wall;
and the height of 22 feet is reckoned from the foot of this slope,
which terminated at a few feet of horizontal distance from the foot of
the wall. The wall of ice was plainly marked with horizontal bands,
corresponding, no doubt, to a number of years of successive deposits;
sometimes a few leaves, but more generally a strip of minuter débris,
signified the divisions between the annual layers. There had been many
columns of ice from fissures in the rock, but all had fallen except
one large ice-cascade, which flowed from a hole in the side of the
cave on to the main stream, about two-thirds of the distance down from
the snow. One particularly grand column had stood on the very edge of
the ice-wall, and its remains now lay below.

The flooring of mingled ice and snow, on which we stood, sloped through
about five vertical feet from the foot of the wall, and came to an end
on broken rocks, from which the terminal wall of the cave sprang up. The
effect of the view from this point, as we looked up the long slope of
ice to where the ladders and a small piece of sky were visible, was most
striking. The accompanying engraving is from a sketch which attempts to
represent it; the reality is much less prim, and much more full of
beautiful detail, but still the engraving gives a fair idea of the
general appearance of the cave.

While I was occupied in making sketches and measurements, Mignot was
engaged in chopping discontentedly at the floor, in two or three
different places. At length he seemed to find a place to his mind, and
chopped perseveringly till his axe went through, and then he suggested
that we should follow. The hole was not tempting. It opened into the
blackest possible darkness, and Mignot thrust his legs through,
feeling for a foothold, which, by lowering himself almost to his
armpits, he soon discovered: the foothold, however, proved to be a
loose stone, which gave way under him and bounded down, apparently
over an incline of like stones, to a distance which sounded very
alarming. But he would not give in, and at length, descending still
further by means of the snow in which the hole was made, he was
rewarded by finding a solid block which bore his weight, and he
speedily disappeared altogether, summoning me to follow. I proposed to
light a candle first, not caring to go through such a hole, in such a
floor, into no one knew what; but he was so very peremptory, evidently
thinking that if he had gone through without a pioneering candle his
monsieur might do the same, that there was nothing for it but to obey.
The hole was very near the junction of the floor with the slope of
stones where the floor terminated, and the space between the hole and
the slope seemed to be filled up with a confused mass of snow and ice,
in which the snow largely predominated; so that there was good hold
for hands and feet in passing down to the stones, which might be about
7 feet below the upper surface of the floor. Here we crouched in the
darkness, with our faces turned away from the presumed slope of
stones, till a light was struck. The accomplice did not find it in the
bond that he should go down, and he preferred to reserve his energies
for his own peculiar glacière.


As soon as the candle had mastered a portion of the darkness, we found
that we were squatting on a steeply sloping descent of large blocks of
stone, while in face of us was a magnificent wall of ice, evidently the
continuation of the wall above, marked most plainly with horizontal
lines. This wall passed down vertically to join the slope on which we
were, at a depth below our feet which the light of the candle had not
yet fathomed. The horizontal bands were so clear, that, if we had
possessed climbing apparatus, we could have counted the number of layers
with accuracy. Of course we scrambled down the stones, and found after a
time that the angle formed by the ice-wall and the slope of stones was
choked up at the bottom by large pieces of rock, one piled on another
just as they had fallen from the higher parts. These blocks were so
large, that we were able to get down among the interstices, in a spiral
manner, for some little distance; and when we were finally stopped,
still the ice-wall passed on below our feet, and there was no possible
chance of determining to what depth it went. The atmosphere at this
point was a sort of frozen vapour, most unpleasant in all respects, and
the candles burned very dimly. The thermometer stood at 32°, half-way
down the slope of stones.

We were able to stretch a string in a straight line from the lowest
point we reached, through the interstices of the blocks of stone, and
up to the entrance-hole, and this measurement gave 50 feet.
Considering the inclination of the upper ice-floor, and the sharpness
of the angle between the wall of ice and the line of our descent to
this lowest point, I believe that 50 feet will fairly represent the
height of the ice-wall from this point to the foot of the slope from
the upper wall; so that 72 feet will be the whole depth of ice, from
the top of the third ladder to the point where our further progress
downwards was arrested. The correctness of this calculation depends
upon the honesty of Mignot, who had charge of the farther end of the
string, and was proud of the wonders of his cave. A dishonest man
might easily, under the circumstances, have pulled up a few feet more
of string than was necessary, but 50 feet seemed in no way an
improbable result of the measurement.


The ice was as solid and firm as can well be conceived. The horizontal
bands would seem to prove conclusively that it was no coating of greater
or less thickness on the face of a vertical wall of rock, an idea which
might suggest itself to anyone who had not seen it, and I think it
probable that the amount of ice represented in the section of the cave
is not an exaggeration. We were unable to measure the whole length of
the wall in the lower cave, from the large number of blocks of stone
which had fallen at one end, and lay against its face. Probably, from
the nature of the case, it was not so long as the 72 feet of wall above;
but we measured 50 feet, and could see it still passing on to the right
hand as we faced it. In trying to penetrate farther along the face, I
found a wing of the brown fly we had seen in considerable abundance on
the ice in La Genollière, frozen into the remains of a column.

There was so very much to be observed on all sides, and the measurements
took up so much time, owing to the peculiar difficulties which attended
them, that I did not examine with sufficient care the curious floor of
ice through which we cut our way to the lower cavern. Neither did I
notice the roof of the cavern thus reached, which may be very different
from the shape of the upper surface of the floor composing it. If the
ice-wall goes straight up, and the roof is formed of the ice-floor
alone, then it is a very remarkable feature indeed. But, more probably,
the lower wall leans over more and more towards the top, and so forms as
it were a part of the roof. It is possible that, as the wall has grown,
each successive annual layer has projected farther and farther, till at
last some year very favourable to the increase of ice has carried the
projection for that year nearly to the opposite stones, and then an
unfavourable year or two would form the foot of the upper wall. This
seems more probable, from the loose constitution of the floor at the
point where it joins the stones, as if it were there only made up of
drift and débris, while the part of the floor nearer the foot of the
wall is solid ice. It has been suggested to me that possibly water
accumulates in the time of greatest thaw to a very large extent in the
lower parts of the cave, and the ice-floor is formed where the frost
first takes hold of this water. But the slope of the ice-floor is
against this theory, to a certain extent; and the amount of water
necessary to fill the cavity would be so enormous, that it is contrary
to all experience to imagine such a collection, especially as the cave
showed no signs of present thaw. The appearance of the rocks, too, in
the lower cave, and the surface of the ice-wall there, gave no
indications of the action of water; and there was no trace of ice among
the stones, as there certainly would have been if water had filled the
cave, and gradually retired before the attacks of frost, or in
consequence of the opening up of drainage. There were pieces of the
trunks of trees, also, and large bones, lying about at different levels
on the rocks. I never searched for bones in these caves, owing to the
absence of the stalagmitic covering which preserves cavern-bones from
decay; nor did I take any notice of such as presented themselves without
search, for the _bergers_ are in the habit of throwing the carcases of
deceased cows into any deep hole in the neighbourhood of the place where
the carcases may be found, in consequence of the general belief that
living cows go mad if they find the grave of a companion; so that I
should probably have made a laborious collection of the bones of the
_bos domesticus_. This belief of the bergers respecting the cows is
supported by several circumstantial and apparently trustworthy accounts
of fearful fights among herds of cattle over the grave of some of the
herd. The sight of a companion's blood is said to have a similar effect
upon them. Thus a small pasturage between Anzeindaz and the Col de
Cheville, on the border of the cantons Vaud and Valais, is still called
_Boulaire_ from legendary times, when the herdsmen of Vaud (then Berne)
won back from certain Valaisan thieves the cattle the latter were
carrying off from La Varraz. Some of the cows were wounded in the
battle, and the sight of their blood drove the others mad, so that they
fought till almost all the herd was destroyed; whence the name
Boulaire, from _ébouëler_, to disembowel,--a word formed from _bouë_,
the patois for _boyau_.

When we left the lower darkness and ascended to the floor of ice once
more, Mignot expressed a desire to see my attempt at a sketch of the
glacière from that point, as he had been much struck during his
negotiatory visit of the night before by the sketch of the entrance to
the Glacière of S. Georges, chiefly because he had guessed what it was
meant for. He was evidently disappointed with the representation of his
own cave, for he could see nothing but a network of lines, with
unintelligible words written here and there, and after some hesitation
he confessed that it was not the least like it. A little explanation
soon set that right, and then he began to plead vigorously for the wall
which surrounded the trees at the mouth of the pit. Why was it not put
in? He was told, because it could not be seen from below; but
nevertheless he strongly urged its introduction, on the ground that he
had built it himself, and it was such a well-built wall; facts which far
more than balanced any little impossibility that might otherwise have
prevented its appearance. After we had reached the grass of the outer
world again, he made me sketch the entrance to the pit, pointing to the
containing wall with parental pride, and standing over the sketch-book
and the sketcher with an umbrella which speedily turned inside out
under the combined pressure of wind, and rain, and years; a feat which
it had already performed _des fois_, he said, in the course of his
acquaintance with it.

Before finally leaving the glacière, I examined the structure of the
great stream of ice, at different points near the top of the limiting
wall. From its outward appearance it might have been expected to be
rough, but it was not so; it was knotty to the eye, but perfectly smooth
to the foot, and, when cut, showed itself perfectly clear and limpid. It
did not separate under the axe into misshapen pieces, with faces of
every possible variation from regularity, that is, with what is called
vitreous fracture, but rather separated into a number of nuts of limpid
ice, each being of a prismatic form, and of much regularity in shape and
size. It was smooth, dark-grey, and clear; free from air, and free from
surface lines; very hard, and suggesting the idea of coarse internal
granulation. In the large ice-streams of some darker glacières, this ice
assumed a rather lighter colour by candle-light, but always presented
the same granular appearance, and cut up into the same prismatic nuts,
and was evidently free from constitutional opacity.


[Footnote 18: _Sancti Liberii locus_, the Swiss Dryasdust explains.
There is nothing to connect any known S. Liberius with this
neighbourhood, unless it be the Armenian prince who secretly left his
father's court for Jerusalem, and was sought for throughout Burgundy and
other countries. It seems that Saint Oliver is merely a corruption of S.
Liberius, the Italian form of the latter, Santo Liverio, having become
Sant-Oliverio, as S. Otho became in another country Sant Odo, and thence
San Todo, thus creating a new Saint, S. Todus.--Act SS. May 27.]

[Footnote 19: My sisters made a two-days' excursion from Arzier to this
glacière in the autumn of 1862, and found no snow in the bottom of the
pit. They took the route by Gimel to Bière, intending to defer the visit
to the glacière to the morning of the second day; but being warned by
the appearance known locally as _le sappeur qui fume_, a vaporous cloud
at the mouth of a cavern near the Dent d'Oche, on the other side of the
Lake of Geneva, they caught the communal forester at once, and put
themselves under his guidance. The distance from Bière is two hours'
good walking, and an hour and a half for the return. There was no ladder
for the final descent, and the neighbouring châlet could provide nothing
longer than 15 feet, the drop being 30 feet. Two Frenchmen had attempted
to make their way to the cave a week before; but the old 30-foot ladder
of the previous year broke under the foremost of them, and he fell into
the pit, whence he was drawn up by means of a cord composed of
rack-ropes from the châlet, tied together. However useful a string of
cow-ties may be for rescuing a man from such a situation, A. and M. did
not care to make use of that apparatus for a voluntary descent, so they
were perforce contented with a distant view of the ice from the lower
edge of the pit.]

[Footnote 20: See the section of this cave and pit on page 41.]

       *       *       *       *       *



We now put ourselves under the guidance of the accomplice, Louis, who
began to express doubts of his ability to find the upper glacière,
administering consolation by reminding us that if he could not find it
no one else could.

As we walked on through the mist and rain, it became necessary to
circumvent a fierce-looking bull, and Mignot and the accomplice told
rival tales of the dangers to which pedestrians are exposed from the
violence of the cattle on some montagnes, where the bulls are allowed
to grow to full size and fierceness. Mignot was quite motherly in his
advice and his cautions, recommending as the surest safeguard a
pocket-pistol, loaded with powder only, to be flashed in the bull's
face as he makes his charge. When informed that in England an umbrella
or a parasol is found to answer this purpose, he shook his head
negatively, evidently having no confidence in his own umbrella, and
doubting its obeying his wishes at the critical moment; indeed, it
would require a considerable time, and much care and labour, to unfurl
a lumbering instrument of that description. He had the best of the
tale-contest with Renaud in the end, for he had himself been grazed by
a bull which came up with him at the moment when he sprang into a

Before very long we reached a little kennel-like hut of boughs, which no
decent dog would have lived in, and no large dog could have entered, and
from this we drew a charcoal-burner. No, he said, he did not know the
glacière; he had heard that one had been discovered near there, and he
had spent hours in searching for it without success. A herdsman on his
way from one pasturage to another could give no better help, and we
began to despair, till at length Louis desired us to halt in a place
sheltered from the rain, while he prosecuted the search alone. We had
abundant time for observing that, like other leafy places sheltered from
the rain, our resting-place was commanded by huge and frequent drops of
water; but at last a joyful _Jodel_ announced the success of the
accomplice, and we ran off to join him.

At first sight there was very little to see. Louis had lately been
enunciating an opinion that the cave was not worth visiting, and I now
felt inclined to agree with him. The general plan appeared to be much
the same as in the one we had just left, but the scale was
considerably smaller. The pit was not nearly so deep or so large, and,
owing to the falling-in of rock and earth at one side, the snow was
approached by a winding path with a gradual fall. As soon as the snow
was reached, the slope became very steep, and led promptly to an arch
in the rock, where the stream of ice began. The cave being shallow,
the stream soon came to an end, and, unlike that in the lower
glacière, it filled the cave down to the terminal wall, and did not
fill it up to the left wall. Here the ground of the cave was visible,
strewn with the remains of columns, and showing the thickness of the
bottom of the stream to be about 6 feet only. The arch of entrance had
evidently been almost closed by a succession of large columns, but
these had succumbed to the rain and heat to which they had been
exposed by their position.

The left side of the cave, in descending, that is the west side, was
comparatively light, being in the line from the arch; but the other side
was quite dark, and after a time we found that the ice-stream, instead
of terminating as we had supposed with the wall of rock at the end of
the cavern, turned off to the right, and was lost in the darkness. Of
course candles were brought out, though Louis assured us that he had
explored this part of the cave on his previous visit, and had found that
the right wall of the cave very soon stopped the stream: we, on the
contrary, by tying a candle to a long stick, and thrusting it down the
slope of ice, found that the stream passed down extremely steeply, and
poured under a narrow and low arch in the wall of the cave, beyond
which nothing could be seen. We despatched pieces of ice along the
slope, and could hear them whizzing on after they had passed the arch,
and landing apparently on stones far below; so I called for the cords,
and told Louis that we must cut our way down. But, alas! the cords had
been left at the other glacière! One long bag, with a hole in the middle
like an old-fashioned purse, had carried the luncheon at one end and the
ropes at the other; and when the luncheon was finished, the bag had been
stowed away under safe trees till our return. This was of course
immensely annoying, and I rang the changes on the few words of abuse
which invention or knowledge supplied, as we sat damp and shivering on
the verge of the slope, idly sending down pieces of broken columns which
brought forth tantalising sounds from the subterranean regions. At
length Renaud was moved to shame, and declared that he would cut his way
down, rope or no rope; but this seemed so horribly hazardous a
proceeding under all the circumstances, that I forbad his attempting it.
Seeing, however, that he was determined to do something, we arranged
ourselves into an apparatus something like a sliding telescope. Louis
cut a first step down the slope, and there took his stand till such time
as Mignot got a firm grasp of the tail of his blouse with both hands, I
meanwhile holding Mignot's tail with one hand, and the long stick with
the candle attached to it with the other; thus professedly supporting
the whole apparatus, and giving the necessary light for the work. Even
so, we tried again to persuade Renaud to give it up, but he was warmed
to his work, and really the arrangement answered remarkably well: when
he wished to descend to a new step, Mignot let out a little blouse, and,
being himself similarly relieved, descended likewise a step, and then
the remaining link of the chain followed. The leader slipped once, but
fortunately grasped a projecting piece of rock, for the stream was here
confined within narrow walls, and so the strength of the apparatus was
not tested; it could scarcely have stood any serious call upon its

After a considerable period of very slow progress, Renaud asked for the
candlestick, never more literally a stick than now, and thrust it under
the arch, stooping down so as to see what the farther darkness might
contain. We above could see nothing, but, after an anxious pause, he
cried _On peut aller!_ with a lively satisfaction so completely shared
by Mignot, that that worthy person was on the point of letting Renaud's
blouse go, in order to indulge in gestures of delight. The step-cutting
went on merrily after this announcement, and one by one we came to the
arch and passed through, finding it rather a trough than an arch; the
breadth was about 4 feet, and the height from 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 feet, and,
as we pushed through, our breasts were pressed on to the ice, while our
backs scraped against the rock which formed the roof.


As soon as this trough was passed, the ice spread out like a fan, and
finally landed us in a subterranean cavern, 72 feet long by 36 feet broad,
to which this was the only entrance. The breadth of the fan at the
bottom was 27 feet; and near the archway a very striking column poured
from a vertical fissure in the wall, and joined the main stream. The
fissure was partially open to the cave, and showed the solid round
column within the rock: this column measured 18-1/2 feet in
circumference, a little below the point where it became free of the
fissure, and it had a stream of ice 22 feet long pouring from its base.
The colour of the column was unusual, being a dull yellowish green, and
the peculiar structure of the ice gave the whole mass the appearance of
coursing down very rapidly, as if the water had been frozen while thus
moving, and had not therefore ceased so to move. At the bottom of the
fan, the flooring of the cave consisted of broken stones for a small
space, and then came a black lake of ice, which occupied all the centre
of the cave, and afforded us no opportunity of even guessing at its
depth. From the manner, however, in which it blended with the stones at
its edge, I am not inclined to believe that this depth was anything very

Renaud, in his impetuosity, had ceased to cut steps towards the bottom
of the slope, and had slipped down the last few feet, of course cutting
the remaining steps before attempting to reascend. We found him
strutting about the floor of the cave, tossing his wet cap in the air,
and crying _No one! No one! I the first!_, declining to take any part in
measurements until the full of his delight and pride had been poured
out. He shouted so loud that I was obliged to stop him, lest by some
chance the unwonted disturbance of the air should bring down an unstable
block from the roof of the arch, and seal us up for ever. There was no
sign of incipient thaw in the cave, and the air was very dry, so much so
as at once to call attention to the fact. At the farthest end, a lofty
dome opened up in the roof; and possibly at some time or other the rock
may here fall through, and afford another means of entrance. Beneath
this dome a very lovely cluster of columns had grouped itself, formed of
the clear porcelain-like ice, and fretted and festooned with the utmost
delicacy, as if Andersen's Ice Maiden had been there in one of her
amiable moods, and had built herself a palace. This dome in the roof was
similar to many which I afterwards observed in other glacières, being a
vertical fissure with flutings from top to bottom--not a spherical dome,
but of that more elegant shape which the female dress of modern times
assumes on a tall person.

LIVRES. [21]]

Between the base of the circular column and the wall, we found a rare
instance of clear jelly-like ice, without any lines external or
internal, such as is formed in the open air under very favourable
circumstances. The ordinary number of undergraduate May Terms had
afforded various opportunities for studying the comparative clearness of
different pieces of ice, but certainly no one ever saw a lemon pippin
through an inch and a half of that material so clearly as we now saw the
white rock through 1-1/2 feet. Mignot, indeed, said 2 feet; but it was
his way to make a large estimate of dimensions, and he constantly
interrupted my record of measurements by the assertion that I had made
them _moins que plus_. We were all disappointed by the actual size of
the ice-fall which it had cost us so much time and trouble to descend,
the distance from the first step to the last being only 26 feet: as
this, however, was given by a string stretched from the one point to the
other, and not following the concave surface of the ice, the real
distance was something more than this.

It was now getting rather late, considering the journey one of us had
yet to perform, and we walked quickly away from the glacière, agreeing
that it was not improbable that in that part of the Jura there might be
many hidden caves containing more or less ice, with no entrance from the
world outside, except the fissures which afford a way for the water. The
entrance to this cave was so small, that the same physical effect might
well be produced by one or two cracks in the rock, such as every one is
well acquainted with who has walked on the fissured limestone summits
of the lower mountains; and, indeed, Renaud positively affirmed that at
the time of his former visit there was not even this entrance to the
lower cave, for the ice-stream reached then a higher point of the wall,
and completely filled and hid the arch we had discovered. It is very
difficult to see how ice can exist in a cave which has no atmospheric
communication with the colds of winter, as would apparently be the case
with this cave if the one entrance were closed; but where the cracks and
small fissures in the rock do provide such communication, there is no
reason why we should not imagine all manner of glacial beauties
decorating unknown cavities, beyond the general physical law to which
all the glacières would seem to be exceptions.

Mignot now became communicative as to the amount of ice supplied by his
glacière, the lower of the two we had seen; and his statistics were so
utterly confused, that I gave him ten centimes and an address, and
charged him to write it all down from his account-book, and send it by
post. The letter was accordingly written on July 24, and after trying
many unsuccessful addresses in various parts of Switzerland, it finally
reached England in the middle of September. It tells its own tale
sufficiently well, and is therefore given here with all the mistakes of
the original.

'Mon cher Monsieur Browne,--J'ai beaucoup tardé a vous écrire les
détails promis, sans doute je ne voulait pas vous oublier; nous sommes
affligés dans nôtre maison ma femme et gravement malade ce qui me donne
beaucoup de tourment jour et nuit, enfin ce n'est pas ce qui doit faire
nôtre entretient.

En 1863. Nous avons exploité comme suit. (Dépenses.)

  Aoust    27    10 journées pour confectionner les Echelles et les poser.
    "      29     3 journées pour couper la glasse.
    "      31    11 journées pour sortir la glasse avec les hôtes.
    "      31     4 chars a deux chevaux pour ammener
  Menés          la charge a deux: dès St. Georges a
  Septembre 1    Gland plusieurs autres journées pour accompagner
                 les chars. 70 pots de vin bu
                 en faisant ces chargements, pour trois
                 cordes pour se tenir.
  Septembre 2    Trois journées pour couper.
         le 3    12 journées pour sortir.

'Cher Monsieur.--Je ne vous ait pas mis le prix de chaque articles; ni
tout-a fait tous les traveaux mais pour vous donner une idée, je veux
vous donner connaissance du coût général des dépences pour deux
chargements s'élève a 535 francs. Je vous donne aussi connaissance de la
quantité de glasse rendue 235 quinteaux a 3 francs, qui produit 705
francs reste net sur ces deux chargements 175 francs: par conséquent mon
cher Monsieur je n'ai pas besoin de vous donner des détails des
chargements suivants c'est a peu près les mêmes frais, et la quantité de
glasse aussi.

'Nous en avons refait trois chargements:--

  Un le 15 Septembre.
   2 le 13 Octobre.
   3 le 14 Novembre.

'Cela comprend toute l'exploitation de 1863.

'Vous m'excuserez beaucoup de mon retard.

'Je termine en vous présentant mes respectueuses salutations. Vous
noublierez pas ce que vous mavez promis'[22]St. Georges, le 24 Juillet,
1864. _Dimanche_.


Instead of three francs the quintal, Mignot had previously told me that
he got four francs, delivered at Gland, and five at Geneva. His ordinary
staff during the time of the exploitation was ten men to carry and load,
and two to cut the ice in the cave.

It was a matter of considerable importance to catch the Poste at
Gimel, and the two Swiss groaned loudly on the consequent pace,
unnecessary, as far as they were concerned, for the Poste was nothing
to them. As a general rule, the Swiss of this district cannot walk so
fast as their Burgundian or French neighbours, unless it is very much
to their interest to do so, and then they can go fast enough. A legend
is still preserved in the valleys of Joux and Les Rousses, to the
following effect. While the Franche Comté was still Spanish, in 1648,
commissioners were appointed to fix the boundaries between Berne and
Burgundy, on the other side of the range of hill we were now
descending, and they decided that one of the boundary stones must be
placed at the distance of a common league from the Lake of Les
Rousses. Unfortunately, no one could say what a common league was,
beyond the vague definition of 'an hour's walk;' so two men were
started from the shore of the lake, the one a Burgundian and the other
a Swiss, with directions to walk for an hour down the Orbe towards
Chenit, the stone to be placed half-way between the points they should
respectively reach at the end of the hour. It was for the interest of
the Franche Comté that the stone should be as near the lake as
possible, and accordingly the Swiss champion made such walking as had
never been seen before, and gained for Berne a considerable amount of
territory. There was no such tragic result in this case as that which
induced the Carthaginians to pay divine honours to the brothers whose
speed, on a like occasion, had added an appreciable amount to the
possessions of the republic.

At length we reached the point where the roads for Gimel and S.
Georges separate, and there, under a glorious sapin, we said our
adieux, and wished our _au revoirs_, and settled those little matters
which the best friends must settle, when one is of the nature of a
monsieur, and the others are guides. They burdened their souls with
many politenesses, and so we parted. The inclemency of the weather was
such, that the people in the lower country asked, as they passed,
whether snow had fallen in the mountains, and the cold rain continued
unceasingly down to the large plain on which the Federal Camp of
Bière[23] is placed. Here for a few moments the sun showed itself,
lighting up the white tents, and displaying to great advantage the
masses of scented orchises, and the feathery _reine-des-prés_, which
hemmed the road in on either side. All through the earlier part of the
day, flowers had forced themselves upon our notice as mere vehicles
for collected rain, when we came in contact with them; but now, for a
short time, they resumed their proper place,--only for a short time,
for the rain soon returned, and did not cease till midnight. Not all
the garden scenery about Aubonne and Allaman (_ad Lemannum_), nor all
the vineyards which yield the choice white wine of the Côte, could
counterbalance the united discomfort of the rain, and the cold which
had got into the system in the two glacières; and matters were not
mended by the discovery that _Bradshaw_ was treacherous, and that a
junction with dry baggage at Neufchâtel could not be effected before
eleven at night.

There are some curious natural phenomena in this neighbourhood, due to
the subterranean courses which the fissured limestone of the Jura
affords to the meteoric waters. Not far from Bière, the river Aubonne
springs out at the bottom of an amphitheatre of rock, receiving
additions soon after from a group of twenty natural pits, which the
peasants call unfathomable--an epithet freely applied to the strange
holes found in the Jura. It is remarkable that the way seems to stand
at different levels in the various pits.[24] The plain of Champagne,
in which they occur, is unlike the surrounding soil in being formed of
calcareous detritus, evidently brought down by some means or other
from the Jura, and is dry and parched up to the very edges of the
pits. The Toleure, a tributary of the Aubonne, frequently large enough
to be called a confluent, flows out from the foot of a wall of rock
composed of regular parallelopipeds, and in the spring, when the snows
are melting freely, its sources burst out at various levels of the
rock. Farther to the west, the Versoie, famous for its trout, pours
forth a full-sized stream near the Château of Divonne, which is said
to take its name (_Divorum unda_) from this phenomenon. Passing to the
northern slope of this range of the Jura, the Orbe is a remarkable
example of the same sort of thing, flowing out peacefully in very
considerable bulk from an arch at the bottom of a perpendicular rock
of great height. This river no doubt owes its origin to the
superfluous waters of the Lake of Brenets, which have no visible
outlet, and sink into fissures and _entonnoirs_ in the rock at the
edge of the lake. Notwithstanding that the lake is three-quarters of a
league distant, horizontally, and nearly 700 feet higher, the belief
had always been that it was the source of the stream, and in 1776 this
was proved to be the fact. For some years before that date, the waters
of the Lake of Joux had been inconveniently high, and the people
determined to clean out the _entonnoirs_ and fissures of the Lake of
Brenets, which is only separated from the Lake of Joux by a narrow
tongue of land, in the expectation that the water would then pass away
more freely. In order to reach the fissures, they dammed up the outlet
of the upper into the lower lake; but the pressure on the embankment
became too great, and the waters burst through with much violence,
creating an immense disturbance in the lake; and the Orbe, which had
always been perfectly clear, was troubled and muddy for some little
time. The source of the Loue, near Pontarlier, is more striking than
even that of the Orbe.[25]


[Footnote 21: A point common to the two sections, which are made by
planes nearly at right angles to each other.]

[Footnote 22: The dimensions of the two caves, and of the various masses
of ice.]

[Footnote 23: The Cartulary of Lausanne states that the wealthy village
of Bière received its name from the following historical fact:--In 522,
the Bishop of Lausanne, S. Prothais, was superintending the cutting of
wood in the Jura for his cathedral, when he died suddenly, and was
carried down on a litter to a place where a proper _bier_ could he
procured, whence the place was named Bière.]

[Footnote 24: The most curious pit of this kind is the _frais-puits_ of
Vesoul, in the Vosgian Jura, which pours forth immense quantities of
water after rain has fallen in the neighbourhood. The water rushes out
in the shape of a fountain, and on one occasion, in November 1557, saved
the town of Vesoul from pillage by a passing army. This pit is carefully
described by M. Hassenfratz, in the _Journal de Physique_, t. xx. p. 259
(an. 1782), where he says that Cæsar was driven away from the town of
Vesoul, which he had intended to besiege, by the floods of water poured
forth from the _frais-puits_. I know of no such incident in Cæsar's
life, though M. Hassenfratz quotes Cæsar's own words: the town of
Vesoul, too, had no historical existence before the 9th or 10th century
of our era. There is also a pit near Vesoul which contains icicles in
summer, and may be the same as the _frais-puits_, for the old historian
of Franche Comté, Gollut, in describing the latter, mentions that it is
so cold that no one cares to explore it (pp. 91. 92).]

[Footnote 25: See p. 122.]

       *       *       *       *       *



The grand and lovely scenery of the Val de Travers has at length been
opened up for the ordinary tourist world, by the railway which connects
Pontarlier with Neufchâtel. The beauties of the valley are an
unfortunate preparation for the dull expanse of ugly France which greets
the traveller passing north from the former town; but the country soon
assumes a pleasanter aspect, and nothing can be more charming than the
soft green slopes, dotted with the richest pines, which form the
approach to the station of Boujeailles. It is impossible for the most
careless traveller to avoid observing the ill effects produced upon the
trees on the south side of the forest of Chaux, by the crowded and
neglected state in which they have been left, and the wet state of the
soil. The branches become covered with moss, which first kills them, and
then breaks them off, so that many tall and tapering sapins point their
heads to the sky with trunks wholly guiltless of branches; while in
other cases, where decay has not yet gone so far, the branches wear the
appearance of gigantic stags' horns, with the velvet; and when a number
of these interlace, the mosses unite in large dark patches, giving a
cedar-like air to the scene of ruin.

Up to this point, an elderly Frenchman in the carriage had been
extremely offensive, from the evil odour of his Macintosh coat; but in
answer to a remark upon the improvement which the railway would effect,
by providing ventilation for the forest, he gave so much information on
that subject, and gave it so pleasantly, and had evidently so good a
knowledge of the topography of Franche Comté, that his coat speedily
lost its smell, and we became excellent friends.

It is a tantalising thing to be whirled on a hot and dusty day through
districts famous for their wines, the dust and heat standing out in
more painful colours by contrast with the recollection of cooling
draughts which other occasions have owed to such vineyards; though,
after all, the true method of facing heat with success is to drink no
wine. At any rate, the vineyards of Arbois must always be interesting,
and if the stories of the Templars' orgies be true, we may be sure
that the chapelry which they possessed in that town would be a
favourable place of residence with the order; possibly Rule XVI. might
there be somewhat relaxed. 'The good wine of Arbois,' _la meilleure
cave de Bourgougne_, a judicious old writer says, had free entry into
all the towns of the Comté; and when Burgundy was becoming imperial,
Maximilian extended this privilege through all the towns of the
empire. A hundred years later, it had so high a character, that the
troops of Henri IV. turned away from the town, announcing that they
did not wish to attack _ceulx estoient du naturel de leur vin, qui
frappe partout_;[26] and the king was forced to come himself, with his
constable and marshals, to beat down the walls, in the course of which
undertaking his men felt the vigour of the inhabitants to a greater
extent than he liked. It is said that when he had taken the town, the
municipality received him in state, and supplied him with wine of the
country. He praised the wine very highly, on which one of the body had
the ill taste to assure him that they had a better wine than that.
'You keep it, perhaps,' was the royal rebuke, 'for a better occasion.'
Henry had a great opinion of this wine; and the Duc de Sully states,
in his Memoirs, that when the Duc de Mayenne retired from the league
against the king, and came to Monceaux to tender his allegiance, Henry
punished him for past offences by walking so fast about the grounds of
the château, that the poor duke, what with his sciatica, and what with
his fat, at last told him with an expressive gesture that a minute
more of it would kill him. The king thereupon let him go, and promised
him some _vin d'Arbois_ to set him right again.[27]

The present appearance of the town, as seen from the high level followed
by the railway, scarcely recalls the time when Arbois was known as _le
jardin de noblesse_, and Barbarossa dated thence his charters, or Jean
Sans-peur held there the States of Burgundy. Gollut[28] tells a story of
a dowager of Arbois, mother-in-law to Philip V. and Charles IV. of
France, which outdoes legend of Bishop Hatto. Mahaut d'Artois was an
elderly lady remarkable for her charities, and was by consequence always
surrounded by large crowds of poor folk during her residence at the
Châtelaine, the ruins of which lie a mile or two from Arbois. On the
occasion of a severe famine in Burgundy, she collected a band of her
mendicant friends in a stable, and burned them all, saying that '_par
pitié elle hauoit faict cela, considerant les peines que ces pauvres
debuoient endurer en temps de si grande et tant estrange famine_.'

There is a Val d'Amour near Arbois, but the more beautiful valley of
that name lies between Dôle and Besançon, and, as we passed its
neighbourhood, my friend with the Macintosh informed me that as it was
clear from my questions that I was drawing up a history of the Franche
Comté, he must beg me to insert a legend respecting the origin of this
name, Val d'Amour, which, he believed, had never appeared in print. I
disclaimed the history, but accepted the legend, and here it is:--The
Seigneur of Chissey was to marry the heiress of a neighbouring
seigneurie, and, it is needless to add, she was very lovely, and he was
handsome and brave. A lake separated the two châteaux, and the young man
not unfrequently returned by water rather late in the evening; and so it
fell out that one night he was drowned. The lady naturally grieved
sorely for her loss, and put in train all possible means for recovering
her lover's body. Time, however, passed on, and no success attended her
efforts, till at length she caused the hills which dammed up the waters
to be pierced, and then De Chissey was found. A village sprang up near
the outlet thus made, and took thence its name Percée, or, as men now
spell it, Parcey; and the rich vegetation which speedily covered the
valley, where once the lake had been, gave it such an air of happiness
and beauty, that the people remembered its origin, and called it the
Valley of Love. It is a fact that Parcy was not always so spelled, for
Noble Constantin Thiehault, Sieur de Perrecey, was a witness to the
treaty for the transference of a miraculous host from Faverney to Dôle
in 1608, and old maps and books give it as Perrecey and Parrecey
indifferently. The De Chisseys, whose names may be found among the
female prebends of Château-Chalon, with its necessary sixteen quarters,
filled a considerable place in the history of the Comté from the
Crusades downwards, and known as _les Fols de Chissey_, the brave[29]
and dashing, and witty De Chisseys--qualities which no doubt were
possessed by the poor young man for whom the fair Chatelaine drained the
Val d'Amour.

As we drew nearer to Besançon, each turn of the small streams, and each
low rounded hill, might have served as an illustration to Cæsar's
'Commentaries.' Now at length it was seen how, whatever the result of a
battle, there was always a _proximus collis_ for the conquered party to
retire to; and it would have been easy to find many suitable scenes for
the critical engagement, where the woods sloped down to a strip of
grass-land between their foot and the stream.

The Frenchman knew his Cæsar, but he put that general in the fourth
century B.C. He made mistakes, too, in quoting him, which were easily
detected by a memory bristling with the details of his phraseology, the
indelible result of extracting the principal parts of his verbs, and the
nominatives of his irregular nouns, from half a dozen generations of
small boys. He promised me a rich Julian feast in Besançon, and was
greatly affected when he found that the Englishman could give him
Cæsar's description of his native town. He wholly denied the
amphitheatre with which one of our handbooks has gifted it; and this
denial was afterwards echoed by every one in Besançon, some even
thinking it necessary to explain the difference between an amphitheatre
and an arch of triumph, the latter still existing in the town. The
Jesuit Dunod relates that the amphitheatre was to be seen at the
beginning of the seventeenth century, in the ruined state in which the
Alans and Vandals had left it after their successful siege in 406. It
seems to have stood near the present site of the Madeleine.

It was a great satisfaction to find that the Frenchman had himself
visited the glacière which was the object of my search, and was able to
give some idea as to the manner of reaching it, for my information on
the subject was confined to a vague notice that there was an ice-cave
five leagues from Besançon. As so often happened in other cases, he
advised me not to go to it, but rather, if I must see a cave, to go to
the Grotto of Ocelles,[30] a collection of thirty or more caverns and
galleries near the Doubs, below Besançon. Seeing, however, that I was
bent on visiting the glacière, he advised me not to go on Sunday, for
the Cardinal Archbishop had ordered the Trappists at the Chartreuse near
not to receive guests on that day; while Saturday, he thought, was
almost as bad, for nothing better than an omelette could be obtained on
days of abstinence. Saturday, then, was clearly the day to be chosen.

The first sight of Besançon explains at once why Cæsar was so anxious
to forestall Ariovistus by occupying Vesontio, although the hill on
which the citadel stands is not so striking as the similar hill at
Salins, and the engines of modern warfare would promptly print their
telegrams on every stone and man in the place, from the neighbouring
heights. The French Government has wisely taken warning from the
bombardment by the Allies, and has covered the heights which command it
on either side with friendly fortifications, in which lie the keys of
the place. Historically, Besançon is a place of great interest. It
witnessed the catastrophe of Julius Vindex, who had made terms with
Rufus, the general sent against him by Nero, but was attacked by the
troops of Rufus before they learned the alliance concluded between the
two generals. Vindex was so much grieved by the slaughter of his troops,
and the blow thus struck, by an unhappy accident, at his designs against
the emperor, that he put himself to death at the gates of the town,
while the fight was still going on.[31] The Bisuntians claim to
themselves the glory acquired by the Sequani, whose chief city Vesontio
was, by the overthrow of Julius Sabinus, who asserted that he was the
grandson of a son of Julius Cæsar, and proclaimed himself emperor in
the time of Vespasian. The Sequani proceeded against him of their own
accord, and conquered him in the interest of the reigning emperor; and
he and his wife Peponilla lived hid in a tomb for nine years. Here two
sons were born to them; and when they were all discovered and carried to
Rome, Peponilla prettily told the emperor that she had brought up two
sons in the tomb, in order that there might be other voices to intercede
for her husband's life besides her own. They were, however, put to

To judge from the style of the hotels, Besançon is not visited by many
English travellers; and yet it well repays a visit, providing those who
care for such things with a full average of vaulted passages, and feudal
gateways, and arcaded court-yards, with much less than the average of
evil smell. There are gates of all shapes and times--Louis-Quatorze
towers, and fortifications specially constructed under Vauban's own eye;
while the approach to the town, from the land side, is by a tunnel, cut
through the live rock which forms a solid chord to the arc described by
the course of the river Doubs. This excavation, called appropriately the
_Porte Taillée_, is attributed by the various inhabitants to pretty
nearly all the famous emperors and kings who have lived from Julius
Cæsar to Louis XIV.: it owes its origin, no doubt, to the construction
of the aqueduct which formerly brought into the town the waters pouring
out of the rock at Arcier, two leagues from Besançon, and was the work
probably of M. Aurelius and L. Verus. Local antiquaries assign the
aqueduct to Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus, apparently for no
better reason than because he built a similar work in Rome. The arch of
triumph[33] at the entrance to the upper town has been an inexhaustible
subject of controversy for many generations of antiquaries, and up to
the time of Dunod was generally attributed to Aurelian: that historian,
however, believed that its sculptures represented the education of
Crispus, the son of Constantine, and that the name Chrysopolis, by which
Besançon was very generally known in early times, was only a corruption
of Crispopolis. Earlier writers are in favour of the natural derivation
of Chrysopolis, and assert that when the Senones lost their famous
chief, the Brennus of Roman history, before Delphos, they built a town
where Byzantium afterwards stood, and called it Bisantium and
Chrysopolis, in memory of their city of those names at home.

The Hôtel du Nord is a rambling old house, comfortable after French
ideas of comfort, and rejoicing in an excellent cuisine; though it is
true that on one occasion, at least, _haricots verts à l'Anglaise_ meant
a mass of fibrous greens, swimming in a most un-English sea of
artificial fat. It is a good place for studying the natural manners of
the untravelled Frenchman, who there sits patiently at the table, for
many minutes before dinner is served, with his napkin tucked in round
his neck, and his countenance composed into a look of much resignation.
The waiters are for the most part shock-headed boys, in angular-tail
coats well up in the back of the neck, who frankly confess, when any
order out of the common run of orders is given, that a German patois
from the left bank of the Rhine is their only extensive language. One of
these won my eternal gratitude by providing a clean fork at a crisis
between the last savouries and the _plat doux_; for the usual practice
with the waiters, when anyone neglected to secure his knife and fork for
the next course, was to slip the plate from under the unwonted charge,
and leave those instruments sprawling on the tablecloth in a vengeful
mess of gravy. Chickens' bones were there dealt with on all sides as
nature perhaps intended that they should be dealt with, namely, by
taking them between finger and thumb, and removing superfluities with
the teeth; and French officers with wasp-like waists, and red trousers
gathered in plaits to match, boldly despised the sophistication of
spoons, and ate their vanilla cream like men, by the help of bread and
fingers. The manners and broken French of the stranger formed an open
and agreeable subject of conversation, and the table was much quieter
than a Frenchman's _table d'hôte_ is sometimes known to be: on one
occasion, however, all decorum was scattered to the winds, and the
guests rushed out into the court-yard with disordered bibs and tuckers,
on the announcement by the head waiter of a '_chien à l'Anglaise_, not
so high as a mustard-pot,' which one of the company promptly bought for
twenty-four francs, commencing its education on the spot by a lesson in

It frequently happens in France that _café noir_ is a much more ready
and abundant tap than water, and so it was here; notwithstanding which,
the bedroom apparatus was most comfortable and complete. The chambermaid
was a boy, and under his auspices a sheet of postage-stamps and a lead
pencil vanished from the table. When it was suggested to him that
possibly they had been blown into some corner, and so swept away, he
brought a dustpan from a distant part of the house, and miraculously
discovered the stamps perched upon a small handful of dust therein,
deferring the discovery and his consequent surprise till he reached my
room. It was curious that the stamps, which had before been in an open
sheet, were now folded neatly together, and curled into the shape of a
waistcoat-pocket. He was inexorable about the pencil.

No certain information could be obtained in the hotel respecting the
glacière; so an owner of carriages was summoned, and consulted as to the
best means of getting there. He naturally recommended that one of his
own carriages should be taken as far as the Abbey of Grâce-Dieu, and
that we should start at five o'clock the next morning, with a driver who
knew the way to the glacière from the point at which the carriage must
be left.[34] Five o'clock seemed very early for a drive of fifteen
miles; but the man asserted that instead of five leagues it was a good
seven or eight, and so it turned out to be. This glacière may be called
a historical glacière, being the only one which has attracted general
attention; and the mistake about its distance from Besançon arose very
many years ago, and has been perpetuated by a long series of copyists.
The distance may not be more than five leagues when measured on the map
with a ruler; but until the tunnels and via-ducts necessary for a crow
line are constructed, the world must be content to call it seven and a
half at least. The man bargained for two days' pay for the carriage, on
the plea that the horse would be so tired the next day that he would not
be able to do any work, and as that day was Sunday, the great day for
excursions, it would be a dead loss. It so happened that the charge for
two days, fifteen francs, was exactly what I paid elsewhere for one day,
so there was no difficulty about the price.

We started, accordingly, at five o'clock. The day was delightfully
fine, and in spite of the driver's peculiarity of speech, caused by a
short tongue, and aggravated by a villanous little black pipe clutched
between his remaining teeth, we got through a large amount of question
and answer respecting the country through which we passed. Of course,
the reins were carried through rings low down on the kicking-strap,
ingeniously placed so that each whisk of the horse's tail caught one or
other rein; and then the process of extraction was a somewhat dangerous
one, for there was no splashboard, and the driver had to stow his legs
away out of reach, before commencing operations. The landlord of the inn
at Mühlinen, on the road from Kandersteg to Thun, has a worse
arrangement than even this, both reins passing through one small leather
loop at the top of the kicking-strap; so that when the horse on one
occasion ran away down a steep hill in consequence of the break refusing
to act, the man in his flurry could not tell which rein to pull, to
steer clear of the wall of rock on one side, and the unfenced slope on
the other, and finally flung himself out in despair, leaving his English
cargo behind.

There has evidently been at some time a vast lake near Besançon, and the
old bottom of the lake is now covered with heavy meadow-grass, while the
corn-fields and villages creep down from the higher grounds, on the
remains of promontories which stretch out into the plain. The people are
in constant fear of inundation, and the driver informed me that in
winter large parts of the plain are flooded, the superfluous waters
vanishing after a time into a great hole, whose powers of digestion he
could not explain. The villages which lie on the shores, as it were, of
the lake, rejoice in church-towers with bulbous domes, rising out of
rich clusters of trees, and the early bells rang out through the crisp
air with something of a Belgian sweetness. Farther on, the road passed
through glorious wheat, clean as on an English model farm, save where
some picturesque farmer had devoted a corner to the growth of poppies.
Here, as elsewhere, potatoes did not grow in ridges, but each root had a
little hillock to itself; an unnatural early training which may account
for the strange appearance of _pommes de terre au naturel_.

Anyone who has driven through the morning air for an hour or two before
breakfast, will understand the satisfaction with which, about seven
o'clock, we deciphered a complicated milestone into 14 kilomètres from
Besançon, which meant breakfast at the next village, Nancray. The
breakfast was simple enough, owing to the absence of butter and other
things, and consisted of coffee in its native pot, and dry bread: the
milk was set on the table in the pan in which it had been boiled, and a
soup-ladle and a French wash-hand basin took the place of cup and spoon.
A cat kept the door against sundry large and tailless dogs, whose
appetites had not gone with their tails; and an old woman kindly
delivered a lecture on the most approved method of making a ptisan from
the flowers of the lime-tree, and on the many medicinal properties of
that decoction, to which she attributed her good health at so advanced
an age. I silently supplemented her peroration by attributing her
garrulity to a more stimulating source.

When we started again, it was time to learn something about the scene of
our further proceedings, and the driver enunciated his views on monks in
general, _à propos_ to the Convent of Grâce-Dieu, the Chartreuse at
which we were to leave our carriage, and obtain food for man and horse.
The Brothers, he said, were possessed of many mills, and were in
consequence enormously rich. Among the products of their industry, a
liqueur known as _Chartreuse_ seemed to fill a high place in his esteem,
for he considered it to be better--and he said it as if that
comparative led into an eighth heaven--better even than absinthe. I had
an opportunity of tasting this liqueur some weeks after, a few minutes
below the summit of Mont Blanc, and certainly no one would suspect its
great strength, which is entirely disguised by an innocent and insidious
sweetness, as unlike absinthe as anything can possibly be: impressions,
however, respecting meat and drink, and all other matters, are not very
trustworthy when received near the top of the Calotte. It has lately
been found that the worthy Brothers of the Grande Chartreuse have been
systematically defrauding the revenue, by returning their profits on the
manufacture of this liqueur at something merely nominal as compared with
the real gains. I could not learn whether the ceremony of blessing each
batch of the liqueur, before sending it out to intoxicate the world, is
performed with so much solemnity at Grâce-Dieu as at Grenoble; and,
indeed, it rests only on the assertion of the short-tongued Bisuntian
that the manufacture is carried on at all at the former place.[35]

Having communicated such information as he possessed, the man seemed to
think he had a right to learn something in return, and administered
various questions respecting customs which he believed to prevail in
England. He evidently did not credit the denial of the truth of what he
had heard, nor yet the assertion, in answer to another question, that
English hothouse grapes are three or four times as large as the ordinary
grapes of France, and well-flavoured in at least a like proportion. The
roadside was planted with apple-trees, and these were overgrown with
mistletoe; so, by way of correcting his idea that the English are a sad
and gloomy people, I informed him of the use made of this parasite by
young people in the country at Christmas-time. Instead, however, of
being thereby impressed with our national liveliness, he looked with a
sort of supercilious contempt upon a people who could require the
intervention or sanction of anything external in such a matter, and
turned the conversation to some more worthy subject.

At length we passed into a pleasant valley, with thrushes singing, and
much chirping of those smaller birds, in the murder of which, sitting,
consists _le sport_ in the eyes of many gentlemen of France. Up to this
point, nothing could have been more unlike the scenery which I had so
far found to be associated with glacières; but now the country became
slightly more Jurane, and limestone precipices on a small scale rose up
on either hand, decked with the corbel towers which result from the
weathering of the rock. It was the Jura in softer as well as smaller
type, for all the desolate wildness which characterises the more rocky
part of that range was gone, and there were no signs of the grand
pine-scenery, or needle-foliage, as the Germans call it; the trees were
all oak and ash and beech, and the rocks were much more neat and
orderly, and of course less grand, than their contorted kindred farther
south. The valley speedily became very narrow, and a final bend brought
us face-to-face with the buildings of the Abbaye de Grâce-Dieu, striking
from their position--filling, as they do, the breadth of the
valley,--but in no way remarkable architecturally. The journey had been
so long that it was now ten o'clock; and as we were due in Besançon at
five in the evening, we put the horse up as quickly as possible, in a
shed provided by the Brothers, and set off on foot for the glacière,
half an hour distant. About a mile and a half from the convent, the
valley comes to an end, the rocks on the opposite sides approaching so
close to each other as only to leave room for a large flour-mill,
belonging to the Brothers, and for the escape-channel of the stream
which works the mill. This building is quite new, and might almost be
taken for a fortification against inroads by the head of the valley,
especially as the words _Posuerunt me custodem_ appear on the face,
applying, however, to an image of the Virgin, which presides over the
establishment. The monks have expended their superfluous time and
energies upon the erection of crosses of all sizes on every projecting
peak and point of rock, one cross more sombre than the rest marking the
scene of a recent death. As I had no means of determining the elevation
of this district above the sea,[36] I made enquiries as to the climate
in winter; and one of the Brothers told me, that it was an unusual thing
with them to have a fall of snow amounting to two joints of a remarkably
dirty finger.

At the mill, the path turns up the steep wooded hill on the right, and
leads through young plantations to a small cottage near the glacière,
where the plantations give place to a well-grown beech wood. Here my
conductor startled me by announcing that there was 20 centimes to pay
to the farmer of the cave for entrance; an announcement which seemed to
take all the pleasure out of the expedition, and invested it with the
disagreeable character of sightseeing. The poor driver thought, no
doubt, with some trepidation upon the small amount of _pour-boire_ he
could expect from a monsieur on whom a demand for two pence produced so
serious an effect, and it was difficult to make him understand that the
fact and not the amount of payment was the trouble. When I illustrated
this by saying that I would gladly give a franc to be allowed to enter
the glacière free, he seemed to think that if I would entrust him with
the franc, he might possibly arrange that little matter for me.

The immediate approach to the glacière is very impressive. The surface
of the ground slopes slightly upwards, and the entrance, from north to
south, is by a broad inclined plane, of gentle fall at first, which
rapidly becomes steep enough to require zigzags. The walls of rock on
either side are very sheer, and increase of course in height as the
plane of entrance falls. The whole length of the slope is about 420
feet, and down a considerable part of this some grasses and flowers are
to be found: the last 208 feet are covered more or less with ice;
though, at the time of my visit, the furious rains of the end of June,
1864, had washed down a considerable amount of mud, and so covered some
of the ice. There were no ready means of determining the thickness of
this layer of ice, for the descent of which ten or eleven zigzags had
been made by the farmer. In one place, within 24 feet of its upper
commencement, it was from 2-1/2 to 3 feet thick; but the prominence of
that part seemed to mark it out as of more than the average thickness.
Even where to all appearance there was nothing but mud and earth, an
unexpected fall or two showed that all was ice below. Whether the driver
had previously experienced the treacherousness of this slope of ice,
or whatever his motive might be, he left me to enter and explore alone.

The roof of the entrance is at first a mere shell, formed by the thin
crust of rock on which the surface-earth and trees rest high overhead;
but this rapidly becomes thicker, as shown in the section of the cave,
and thus a sort of outer cave is formed, the real portal of the glacière
being reached about 60 feet above the bottom of the slope. This outer
cave presents a curious appearance, from the distinctness with which the
several strata of the limestone are marked, the lower strata weathered
and rounded off like the seats of an amphitheatre of the giants, and
all, up to the shell-like roof, arranged in horizontal semicircles of
various graduated sizes, showing their concavity; while at the bottom of
the whole is seen a patch of darkness, with two masses of ice in its
centre, looming out like grey ghosts at midnight. This darkness is of
course the inner cave, the entrance to which, though it seems so small
from above, is 78 feet broad.

The glacière itself may be said to commence as soon as this entrance,
or perpendicular portal, is passed, and thus includes 60 feet of the
long slope of ice, from the foot of which to the farther end of the
cave is 145 feet, the greatest breadth of the cave being 148 feet.
Immediately below the portal I found a piece of the trunk of a large
column of ice, 7 feet long and 12 feet in girth, its fractured ends
giving the idea of the interior of a quickly-grown tree, in
consequence of the concentric arrangement of convergent prisms
described in the account of the Glacière of S. Georges. The wife of
the farmer told me afterwards that there had been two glorious
columns at this portal, which the recent rains had swept away.
Excepting a short space at the foot of the slope, and another towards
the farther end of the cave, the floor was covered with ice, in some
parts from 3 to 4 feet thick: of this a considerable area had been
removed to a depth of 2 1/2 or 3 feet, leaving a pond of water a foot
deep, with bottom and banks of ice. The rock which composes the true
floor rises at the farthest end of the cave, and the roof is so
arranged that a sort of private chapel is there formed; and from a
fissure in the dome a monster column of ice had been constructed on
the floor, which, at the time of my visit, had lost its upper parts,
and stood as a hollow truncated cone with sides a foot thick, and with
seas of ice streaming from it, and covering the rising pavement of the
chapel. Without an axe, and without help, I was unable to measure the
girth of this column, which had not been without companions on a
smaller scale in the immediate neighbourhood. At the west end of the
cave, the wall was thickly covered for a large space with small
limestone stalactites, producing the effect of many tiers of fringe on
a shawl; while from a dark fissure in the roof a large piece of fluted
drapery of the same material hung, calling to mind some of the vastly
grander details of the grottoes of Hans-sur-Lesse in Belgium: down
this wall there was also a long row of icicles, on the edges of a
narrow fissure. The north-west corner was very dark, and an opening in
the wall of rock high above the ground suggested a tantalising cave up
there: the ground in this corner was occupied by the shattered remains
of numerous columns of ice, which had originally covered a circular
area between 60 and 70 feet in circumference.


The three large masses of ice which rendered this glacière in some
respects more remarkable than any of those I have seen, lay in a line
from east to west, across the middle of the cave, on that part of the
floor where the ice was thickest. The central mass was extremely
solid, but somewhat unmeaning in shape, being a rough irregular
pyramid; its size alone, however, was sufficient to make it very
striking, the girth being 66-1/2 feet at some distance from the
ice-floor with which it blended. The mass which lay to the east of
this was very lovely, owing to the good taste of some one who had
found that much ice was wont to accumulate on that spot, and had
accordingly fixed the trunk of a small fir-tree, with the upper
branches complete, to receive the water from the corresponding fissure
in the roof. The consequence was, that, while the actual tree had
vanished from sight under its icy covering, excepting on one side
where a slight investigation betrayed its presence, the mass of ice
showed every possible fantasy of form which a mould so graceful could
suggest. At the base, it was solid, with a circumference of 37 feet.
The huge column, which had collected round the trunk of the fir-tree,
branched out at the top into all varieties of eccentricity and beauty,
each twig of the different boughs becoming, to all appearance, a solid
bar of frosted ice, with graceful curve, affording a point of
suspension for complicated groups of icicles, which streamed down side
by side with emulous loveliness. In some of the recesses of the
column, the ice assumed a pale blue colour; but as a rule it was white
and very hard, not so regularly prismatic as the ice described in
former glacières, but palpably crystalline, showing a structure not
unlike granite, with a bold grain, and with a large predominance of
the glittering element. But the westernmost mass was the grandest and
most beautiful of all. It consisted of two lofty heads, like weeping
willows in Carrara marble, with three or four others less lofty,
resembling a family group of lions' heads in a subdued attitude of
grief, richly decked with icy manes. Similar heads seemed to grow out
here and there from the solid sides of the huge mass. The girth was
76-1/2 feet, measured about 2 feet from the floor. When this column was
looked at from the side removed from the entrance to the cave, so
that it stood in the centre of the light which poured down the long
slope from the outer world, the transparency of the ice brought it to
pass that the whole seemed set in a narrow frame of impalpable liquid
blue, the effect of light penetrating through the mass at its extreme
edges. The only means of determining the height of this column was by
tying a stone to the end of a string, and lodging it on the highest
head; but this was not an easy process, as I was naturally anxious not
to injure the delicate beauty which made that head one of the
loveliest things conceivable; and each careful essay with the stone
seemed to involve as much responsibility as taking a shot at a hostile
wicket, in a crisis of the game, instead of returning the ball in the
conventional manner. When at last it was safely lodged, the height
proved to be 27 feet. I had hoped to find it much more than this, from
the grandeur of the effect of the whole mass, and I took the trouble
to measure the knotted string again with a tape, to make sure that
there was no mistake. The column formed upon the fir-tree was 3 or 4
feet lower.

I have since found many notices of this glacière in the Memoirs of the
French Academy and elsewhere, extracts from which will be found in a
later chapter. These accounts are spread over a period of 200 years,
extending from 1590 to 1790, and almost all make mention of the columns
or groups of columns I have described; but, without exception, the
heights given or suggested in the various accounts are much less than
those which I obtained as the result of careful measurement. The latest
description of a visit to the glacière states a fact which probably will
be held to explain, the present excess of height above that of earlier
times.[37] The citizen Girod-Chantrans, who wrote this description, had
procured the notes of a medical man living in the neighbourhood, from
which it seemed that Dr. Oudot made the experiment, in 1779, of fixing
stakes of wood in the heads of the columns, then from 4 to 5 feet high,
and found that these stakes were the cause of a very large increase in
the height of the columns, ice gathering round them in pillars a foot
thick. So that it is not improbable that the largest of the three masses
of the present day owes its height, and its peculiar form, to a series
of stakes fixed from time to time in the various heads formed under the
fissures in the roof, though nothing but the most solid ice can now be
seen. It would be very interesting to try this experiment in one of the
caves where, without any artificial help, such immense masses of ice are
formed; and by this means columns might, in the course of a year or two,
be raised to the very roof. Further details on this subject will be
given hereafter.

There was no perceptible draught of air in any part of the cave, and the
candles burned steadily through the whole time of my visit, which
occupied more than two hours. The centre was sufficiently lighted by the
day; but in the western corner, and behind the largest column,
artificial light was necessary. The ice itself did not generally show
signs of thawing, but the whole cave was in a state of wetness, which
made the process of measuring and investigating anything but pleasant.
I had placed two thermometers at different points on my first
entrance--one on a drawing-board on a large stone in the middle of the
pond of water which has been mentioned, and the other on a bundle of
pencils at the entrance of the end chapel, in a part of the cave where
the ice-floor ceased for a while, and left the stones and rock bare. The
former gave 33°, the latter, till I was on the point of leaving, 31
1/2°, when it fell suddenly to 31°. It was impossible, however, to stay
any longer for the sake of watching the thermometer fall lower and lower
below the freezing point; indeed, the results of sundry incautious
fathomings of the various pools of water, and incessant contact of hands
and feet with the ice, had already become so unpleasant, that I was
obliged to desert my trusty hundred feet of string, and leave it lying
on the ice, from want of finger-power to roll it up. The thermometers
were both Casella's, but that which registered 31° was the more lively
of the two, the other being mercurial, with a much thicker stem: the
difference in sensitiveness was so great, that when they were equally
exposed to the sun in driving home, the one ran up to 93° before the
other had reached 85°.

In leaving the glacière, I found a little pathway turning off along the
face of the rock on the left hand, a short way up the slope of entrance,
and looking as if it might lead to the opening in the dark wall on the
western side of the cave. After a time, however, it came to a corner
which it seemed an unnecessary risk to attempt to pass alone; and my
prudence was rewarded by the discovery that, after all, the supposed
cave could not be thus reached. It is said that this other cave was the
place to which the inhabitants fled for refuge when their district was
invaded, probably by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar with his 10,000 Swedes,
and that a ladder 40 feet long is necessary for getting at it.

The driver had long ago absconded when I returned to the upper regions;
but the wife of the farmer of the grotto was there, and communicated
all that she knew of the statistics of the ice annually removed. She
said that in 1863 two chars were loaded every day for two months, each
char taking about 600 kilos, the wholesale price in Besançon being 5
francs the hundred kilos. Since the quintal contains 50 kilos, it will
be seen that this account does not agree with the statement of Renaud as
to the amount of ice each char could take. No doubt, a char at S.
Georges may mean one thing, and a char in the village of Chaux another;
but the difference between 12 quintaux and 50 or 60 is too great to be
thus explained, and probably Madame Briot made some mistake. Her
husband, Louis Briot, works alone in the cave, and has twelve men and a
donkey to carry the ice he quarries to the village of Chaux, a mile from
the glacière, where it is loaded for conveyance to Besançon. He uses
gunpowder for the flooring of ice, and expects the eighth part of a
pound to blow out a cubic metre; and if, by ill luck, the ice thus
procured has stones on the lower side, he has to saw off the bottom
layer. Madame Briot said I was right in supposing March to be the great
time for the formation of ice, as she had heard her husband say that the
columns were higher then than at any other time of the year: she also
confirmed my views as to the disastrous effects of heavy rain. As with
every other glacière of which I could obtain any account, excepting the
Lower Glacière of the Pré de S. Livres, she complained that the ice had
not been so beautiful and so abundant this year as last, although the
winter had been exceptionally severe.


[Footnote 26: Jean Bontemps, Conseiller au bailliage d'Arbois.]

[Footnote 27: 'Allez vous en reposer, rafraischir et boire un coup au
chasteau, car vous en avez bon besoin; j'ay du vin d'Arbois en mes
offices, dont je vous envoyeray deux bouteilles, car je scay bien que
vous ne le hayés pas.'--_Petitot_. iii. 9.]

[Footnote 28: Mém. de la Comté de Bourgougne, Dôle, 1592, p. 486.]

[Footnote 29: One of the Seigneurs de Chissey, Michaud de Changey, who
died in high office in 1480, was known by preeminence as _le Brave_.]

[Footnote 30: Dr. Buckland visited these caves in 1826, to look for
bones, of which he found a great number. Gollut (in 1592) spelled the
name _Aucelle_, and derived it from _Auricella_, believing that the
Romans worked a gold mine there. It is certain that both the Doubs and
the Loue supplied very fine gold, and the Seigneurs of Longwy had a
chain made of the gold of those rivers, which weighed 160 crowns.]

[Footnote 31: Dion Cass. lib. lxiii.]

[Footnote 32: Ib. lib. lxvi.]

[Footnote 33: Known locally as the _Porte Noire_, like the great _Porta
Nigra_ at Treves, and other Roman gates in Gaul.]

[Footnote 34: I should be inclined, from what I saw of the country, to
go to the station of Baume-les-Dames on any future visit, and walk
thence to the glacière, perhaps three leagues from the station.]

[Footnote 35: He was in error. The Paris correspondent of the 'Times'
gave, some months since (see the impression of Jan. 20, 1865), an
account of an interesting trial respecting the manufacture of the
liqueur peculiar to the Abbey of Grâce-Dieu. From this account it
appears that the liqueur was formerly called the Liqueur of the
Grâce-Dieu, but is now known as Trappistine. It is limpid and oily;
possesses a fine aroma, a peculiar softness, a mild but brisk flavour,
and so on. It was invented by an ecclesiastic who was once the Brother
Marie-Joseph, and prior of the convent, but is now M. Stremler, having
been released by the Pope from his vows of obedience and poverty, in
order that he might teach Christianity to the infidels of the New World.
The Brothers took the question of the renunciation of poverty into their
own hands, by declining to give up the money which Brother Marie-Joseph
had originally brought into the society; so M. Stremler, being now
moneyless, commenced the secular manufacture of the seductive
Trappistine, in opposition to the regular manufacture within the walls
of the Abbey, abstaining, however, from the use of the religious label
which is the Brothers' trade-mark. The unfortunate inventor was fined
and condemned in costs for his piracy.]

[Footnote 36: See p. 310.]

[Footnote 37: _Journal des Mines_, Prairial, an iv., pp. 65, &c.]

       *       *       *       *       *



The afternoon was so far advanced when I returned to the convent, that
it was clearly impossible to reach Besançon at five o'clock, and
consequently there was time to inspect the Brothers and their buildings.
The field near the convent was gay with haymakers; and the brown monks,
with here and there a priest in _ci-devant_ white, moved among the hired
labourers, and stirred them up by exhortation and example,--with this
difference, that while it was evidently the business of the monks so to
do, the priests, on the other hand, had only taken fork in hand for the
sake of a little gentle exercise. One unhappy Jacques Bonhomme made hot
and toilsome hay in thick brown clothes, plainly manufactured from a
defunct Brother's gown; for, to judge from appearances, a cast-off gown
is a thing unknown. It was good to see a Brother, in horn spectacles of
mediæval cut, tenderly chopping a log for firewood, and peering at it
through his spectacles after each stroke, as a man examines some
delicate piece of natural machinery with a microscope; to see another
Brother, the sphere of whose duties lay in the flour-mill, standing in
the doorway with brown robe and shaven crown all powdered alike with
white, and a third covered from head to foot with sawdust; or, best of
all, to see an antique Brother, with scarecrow legs, and low shoes which
had presumably been in his possession or that of his predecessors for a
long series of years, wheeling a barrow of liquid manure, with his gown
looped up high by means of stout whipcord and an arrangement of large
brass rings. The Brother whose business it was to do such cooking as
might be required by visitors, grinned in the most friendly and
engaging manner from ear to ear when he was looked at; and, by fixing
him steadily with the eye, he could be kept for considerable spaces of
time standing in the middle of the kitchen, knife in hand, with the
corners of his mouth out of sight round his broad cheeks. His ample
front was decked with a blue apron, suspended from his shoulders, and
confined round the convexity of his waist by an old strap which no
respectable costermonger would have used as harness. The soup served was
by courtesy called _soupe maigre,_ but it was in fact _soupe maigre_
diluted by many homoeopathic myriads, and the Brother showed much
curiosity as to my opinion of its taste--a curiosity which I could not
satisfy without hurting his professional pride. When that course was
finished, the large-faced cook suggested an omelette, as the most
substantial thing allowed on eves, proceeding to draw the materials from
a closet which so fully shared in the general abstinence from water as a
means of cleansing, that I shut my eyes upon all further operations, and
ate the eventual omelette in faith. Its excellence called forth such
hearty commendations, that there seemed to be some danger of the mouth
not coming right again. Then salads, and bread and butter, and wine, and
various kinds of cheese were brought, which made in all a very fair
dinner for a fast-day.

The culinary monk knew nothing of the history of his convent, beyond the
bare year of its foundation, and displayed a monotonous dead level of
ignorance on all topographical and historical questions: to him the
_Pain d'Abbaye_[38] meant nothing further than the staff of life there
provided, and he neither knew himself nor could recommend any Brother
who knew anything about the glacière. He was a German, and we talked of
his native Baiern and the modern glories of his capital; and when his
questions elicited a declaration of my profession, he passed up to
Saxony, and pinned me with Luther. Finding that I objected to being so
pinned, and repudiated something of that which his charge involved, he
waived Luther, of whom he knew nothing beyond his name, and came down
upon me triumphantly with the word Protestant. I explained to him, of
course, that the worthy Elector, and his friends who protested, had not
much to do with the Anglican branch of the Church Catholic; and then the
old task had to be gone through of assuring the assembled Brothers that
we in England have Sacraments, have Orders, have a Trinitarian Creed.

At length, about half-past three, we started for Besançon, paying of
course _à volonté_ for food and entertainment, as we did not choose to
qualify as paupers. The driver told me on the way that there was another
glacière at Vaise, a village three or four kilomètres from Besançon, and
at no great distance from the road by which we should approach the town;
so, when we reached the crest above Morre, where the road passes the
final ridge by means of a tunnel, I paid the carriage off, and walked to
the village of Vaise. The public-house knew of the glacière--knew indeed
of two,--further still, kept the keys of both. This was good news,
though the idea of keys in connection with an ice-cave was rather
strange; and I proposed to organise an expedition at once to the
glacières. The male half of the auberge declared that he was forbidden
to open them to strangers, except by special order from a certain
monsieur in Besançon; but the female half, scenting centimes, stated her
belief that the monsieur in Besançon could never wish them to turn away
a stranger who had come so many kilomètres through the dust to see the
ice. She put the proposed disobedience in so persuasive and Christian a
form, that I was obliged to take the husband's side,--not that he was in
any need of support, for he had been longer married than Adam was, and
showed no signs of giving way. It turned out, after all, that though
there was no doubt about the existence of the glacières, there was
equally no doubt that they were _glacières artificielles_, being simply
ice-houses dug in the side of a hill, and the property of a _glacier_ in
Besançon; so that my friend the driver had sent me to a mare's-nest.

The pathway across the hills to Besançon was rather intricate, and by
good fortune an old Frenchman appeared, who was returning from his work
at a neighbouring church, and served as companion and guide. He had bid
farewell to sixty some years before, and, being a builder, had been
going up and down a ladder all day, with full and empty _hottes_, to an
extent which outdid the Shanars of missionary meetings; and yet he
walked faster than any foreigner of my experience. He talked in due
proportion, and told some interesting details of the bombardment of
Besançon, which he remembered well. When he learned that I was not
German, but English, he told me they did not say _Anglais_ there, but
_Gaudin_,--I was a _Gaudin_. This he repeated persistently many times,
with an air worthy of General Cyrus Choke, and half convinced me that
there was something in it, and that I might after all be a Gaudin. It
was not till some hours after, that I remembered the indelible
impression made by the piety of speech of recent generations of
Englishmen upon the French nation at large, and thus was enabled to
trace the origin of the name _Gaudin_. The old man evidently believed
that it was the proper thing to call an Englishman by that name; thus
reminding me of a story told of a French soldier in the Austrian service
during the long early wars with Switzerland. The Austrians called the
Swiss, in derision, Kühmelkers--a term more opprobrious than _bouviers_;
and it is said that, after the battle of Frastens--one of the battles of
the Suabian war,--a Frenchman threw himself at the feet of some Grisons
soldiers, and innocently prayed thus for quarter; '_Très-chers,
très-honorables, et très-dignes Kühmelkers! au nom de Dieu, ne me tuez

The town of Besançon seems to spend its Sunday in fishing, and is
apparently well contented with that very limited success which is wont
to attend a Frenchman's efforts in this branch of _le sport_. There is a
proverb in the patois of Vaud which says '_Kan on vau dau pesson, sé fo
molli_;'[39] and on this the Bisuntians act, standing patiently half-way
up the thigh in the river, as the Swiss on the Lake of Geneva and other
lakes may be seen to do. It is all very well to wade for a good salmon
cast, or to spend some hours in a swift-foot[40] Scotch stream for the
sake of a lively basket of trout; but to stand in a Sunday coat and hat,
and 2-1/2 feet of water, watching a large bung hopelessly unmoved on the
surface, is a thing reserved for a Frenchman indulging in a weekly
intoxication of Sabbatical sport, under the delirious form of the
_chasse aux goujons_.

Clean as the town within the circuit of the river is, the houses which
overhang the water on the other side are picturesque and dirty in the
extreme, story rising above story, and balcony above balcony. It does
not increase their beauty, and to a fastidious nose it must militate
against their eligibility as places of residence, that there is
apparently but one drain, an external one, which follows the course of
the pillars supporting the various balconies: nevertheless, from the
opposite side of the river, and when the wind sets the other way, they
are sufficiently attractive. In this quarter is found the finest church,
the Madeleine, with a very effective piece of sculpture at the east end.
The sculpture is arranged on the bottom and farther side of a sort of
cage, which is hung outside the church, but is visible from the inside
through a corresponding opening in the east wall. The subject of the
sculpture is 'The Sepulchre,' and the ends of the cage or box are
composed of rich yellow glass, through which the external light streams
into the cave of the Sepulchre; and when the church itself is becoming
dark, the effect produced by the light from the evening sky, passing
through the deep-toned glass, and softly illuminating the Sepulchre, is
indescribably solemn.


When Besançon was supplied by the aqueduct with the waters of Arcier,
there was a great abundance of baths, as the remains discovered in
digging new foundations show; but in the present state of the town such
things are not easily met with. The floating baths on the river are
appropriated to the other sex, and the only thing approaching to a male
bath was of a nature entirely new to me, being constructed as
follows:--There is a water-mill in the town, with a low weir stretching
across the river, down which the water rushes with no very great
violence. At the foot of this weir a row of sentry-boxes is placed,
approached by planks, and in these boxes the adventurer finds his
bath.[41] A stout piece of wood-work is fixed horizontally along the
face of the weir, and has the effect of throwing the downward water out
of its natural direction, and causing it to describe an arch, so that it
descends with much force on to the weir at a point below the wood-work.
Here two planks are placed, forming a seat and a support for the back,
and a little lower still another plank for the feet to rest upon,
without which the bather would have a good chance of being washed away.
The water boils noisily and violently on all sides and in all
directions, coming down upon the subject's shoulders with a heavy thud,
which calls to mind the tender years when something softer than a cane
was used, and sends him forth like a fresh-boiled lobster. All this,
with towels, is not dear at fourpence.

The citadel is the great sight of Besançon, and the polite
Colonel-commandant attends at his office at convenient hours to give
passes. What it might be to storm the position under the excitement of
the sport of war, I cannot say; but certainly it is a most trying affair
on a hot Sunday's afternoon, even when all is made smooth, and the gates
are opened, by a comprehensive pass. The wall mentioned by Cæsar as a
great feature of the place cut the site of the citadel off from the
town, and many signs of it were found when the cathedral of S. Stephen
was built, the unfortunate church which went down before the exigencies
of a siege under Louis XIV. The barrack-master proved to be a most
interesting man, knowing many details of Cæsar's life and campaigns
which I suspect were not known to that captain himself. He had served in
Algeria, and assented to the proposition that more soldiers died there
of absinthe than of Arabs, stating his conviction that three-fourths of
the whole deaths are caused by that pernicious extract of wormwood, and
that he ought himself to have died of it long ago. He pointed out the
difference between the massive masonry of the period of the Spanish
occupation and the less impressive work of more recent times, and showed
the dungeon from which Marshal Bourmont bought his escape, in the time
of the first Napoleon.

The floor of one of the little look-out towers is composed of a
tombstone, representing a priest in full ecclesiastical dress, and my
question as to how it came there elicited the following story:--When
Louis XIV. was besieging the citadel, he placed his head-quarters, and a
strong battery, on the summit of the Mont Chaudane,[42] which commands
the citadel on one side as the Brégille does on the other. Among the
besieged was a monk named Schmidt, probably one of the Low-country men
to whom the Franche Comté was then a sort of home, as forming part of
the dominions of Spain; and this monk was the most active supporter of
the defence, against the large party within the walls which was anxious
to render the town. He was also an admirable shot; and on one of the
last days of the siege, as he stood in the little tower where the
tombstone now lies, the King and his staff rode to the front of the
plateau on the Mont Chaudane to survey the citadel; whereupon some one
pointed out to Schmidt that now he had a fair chance of putting an end
at once to the siege and the invasion. Accordingly, he took a musket
from a soldier and aimed at the King; but before firing he changed his
aim, remarking, that he, a priest, ought not to destroy the life of a
man, and so he only killed the horse, giving the Majesty of France a
roll in the mud. When the town was taken, the King enquired for the man
who killed his horse, and asked the priest whether he could have killed
the rider instead, had he wished to do so. 'Certainly,' Schmidt replied,
and related the facts of the case. Louis informed him, that had he been
a soldier, he should have been decorated for his skill and his impulse
of mercy; but, being a priest, he should be hung. The sentence was
carried out, and the priest's body was buried in the floor of the tower
from which he had spared the King's life. If this be true, it was one of
the most unkingly deeds ever done.[43]

This siege took place in the second invasion or conquest of the Franche
Comté by Louis XIV., when Besançon held out for nine days against Vauban
and the King: on the first occasion it had surrendered to Condé after
one day's siege, making the single stipulation that the Holy Shroud
should not be removed from the town.[44] The _Saincte Suaire_ was the
richest ecclesiastical treasure of the Bisuntians, being one of the two
most genuine of the many Suaires, the other being that of Turin, which
was supported by Papal Infallibility. Both were brought from the
Crusades; and the one was presented to Besançon in 1206, the other to
Turin in 1353. Bede tells a story of the proving of a Shroud by fire in
the eighth century, by one of the caliphs; and as its dimensions were 8
feet by 4, like that of Besançon, while the Shroud of Turin measured 12
feet by 3, the people of Besançon claimed that theirs was the one spoken
of by Bede.

The Cathedral of Besançon is no longer S. Stephen, since the destruction
of that church by Louis XIV. The small Church of the Citadel is now
dedicated to that saint, an inscription on the wall stating that it
takes the place of the larger church, _ex urbis obsidio anno 1674
lapsae_, and offering an indulgence of 100 days for every visit paid to
it, with the sensible proviso _una duntaxat vice per diem._ Soldiers not
being generally made of the confessing sex, or of confessing material,
there is only one confessional provided for the 6,000 souls which the
citadel can accommodate.

The Cavalry Barracks are in the lower part of the town, and near them is
a large building with evident traces of ecclesiastical architecture on
the outside. It is, in fact, a very fine church converted into stables,
retaining its interior features in excellent preservation. Under the
corn-bin lies a lady who had two husbands and fifteen children,
_Antigone in parentes, Porcia in conjuges, Sempronia in liberos_; while
a few yards further east, less agreeably placed, is an ecclesiastic of
the Gorrevod family, who reckoned Prince and Bishop and Baron among his
titles. The nave of this Church of S. Michael accommodates thirty
horses, and the north aisle thirteen; the south is considered more
select, and is boarded off for the decani, in the shape of officers'
chargers. The north side of the chancel gives room for six horses, and
the south side for a row of saddle-blocks. It had been an oversight on
the part of the original architect of the church that no place was
prepared for the daily hay; a fault which the military restorers have
remedied by improvising a lady-chapel, where the hay for the day is
placed in the morning. With Spelman in my mind, I asked if the stables
were not unhealthy; but the soldiers said they were the healthiest in
the town.[45]

The Glacière of Vaise had proved, as has been seen, to be a
mare's-nest; and yet, after all, it produced a foal; for while I was
endeavouring to overcome the evening heat of Besançon in a
_spécialité_ for ice, I found that the owner of the establishment was
also the owner of the two glacières of Vaise; and in the course of the
conversation which followed, he told me of the existence of a natural
glacière near the village of Arc-sous-Cicon, twenty kilomètres from
Pontarlier, which he had himself seen. As I had arranged to meet my
sisters at Neufchâtel, in two days' time, for the purpose of visiting
a glacière in the Val de Travers, this piece of information came very
opportunely, and I determined to attempt both glacières with them.

Some of the trains from Besançon stop for an hour at Dôle in passing
towards Switzerland by way of Pontarlier, and anyone who is interested
in the Burgundian and Spanish wars of France should take this
opportunity of seeing what may be seen of the town of Dôle and its
massive church-tower. The sieges of Dôle made it very famous in the
later middle ages, more especially the long siege under Charles
d'Amboise, at the crisis of which that general recommended his soldiers
to leave a few of the people for seed,[46] and the old sobriquet _la
Joyeuse_ was punningly changed to _la Dolente_. It has had other claims
upon fame; for if Besançon possessed one of the two most authentic Holy
Shrouds, Dôle was the resting-place of one of the undoubted miraculous
Hosts, which had withstood the flames in the Abbey of Faverney. It was
for the reception of this Host that the advocates of the Brotherhood of
Monseigneur Saint Yves built the Sainte Chapelle at Dôle.[47]


[Footnote 38: One of the rights of the sovereigns of Burgundy was known
by this name. The sovereign had the power of sending one soldier
incapacitated by war to each abbey in the County, and the authorities of
the abbey were bound to make him a prebendary for life. In 1602, after
the siege of Ostend, the Archduke Albert exercised this right in favour
of his wounded soldiers, forcing lay-prebendaries upon almost all the
abbeys of the County of Burgundy. The Archduchess Isabella attempted to
quarter such a prebendary upon the Abbey of Migette, a house of nuns,
but the inmates successfully refused to receive the warrior among them
(Dunod, _Hist. de l'Église de Besançon_, i. 367). For the similar right
in the kingdom of France, see Pasquier, _Recherches de la France_, l.
xii. p. 37. Louis XIV. did not exercise this right after his conquest of
the Franche Comté, perhaps because the Hôtel des Invalides, to which the
Church was so large a contributor, met all his wants.]

[Footnote 39: '_Quand on veut du poisson, il se faut mouiller_;'
referring probably to the method of taking trout practised in the Ormont
valley, the habitat of the purest form of the patois. A man wades in the
Grand' Eau, with a torch in one hand to draw the fish to the top, and a
sword in the other to kill them when they arrive there; a second man
wading behind with a bag, to pick up the pieces.]

[Footnote 40: 'Swift-foot Almond, and land-louping Braan.']

[Footnote 41: The sentry-box is omitted in the accompanying

[Footnote 42: Believed to be derived from _Collis Dianæ_. Dunod found
that _Chaudonne_ was an early form of the name, and so preferred _Collis
Dominarum_, with reference to the house of nuns placed there.]

[Footnote 43: Schmidt was not without the support of example in the
indulgence of his warlike tastes. Thirty-eight years before, the
religious took so active a part in the defence of Dôle against Louis
XIII., that the Capuchin Father d'Iche had the direction of the
artillery; and when an officer of the enemy had seized the Brother
Claude by the cowl, the Father Barnabas made the officer loose his hold
by slaying him with a demi-pique. When Arbois was besieged by Henry IV.,
the Sieur Chanoine Pécauld is specially mentioned as proving himself a
_bon harquebouzier._]

[Footnote 44: There is a painting by Vander Meulen, representing this
siege, in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.]

[Footnote 45: The Church of S. Philibert, in Dijon, now a forage
magazine, has an inscription let into the wall almost ludicrously out of
keeping with the present desecrated state of the building,--_Dilexi
Domine Decorem Domus tuæ_, 1648.]

[Footnote 46: 'Qu'on les laisse pour grain!']

[Footnote 47: In the year 1648, it was suspected that some decay was
going on in the material of this Host, and the following translation
from the Latin describes the investigation entered into by the Dean and
a large body of clergy and laity, in order to quiet the public
mind:--'Après que tous les susnommés (viz. the Dean, Canons, President
of the Parliament, &c.) étant présents eurent adorés le S. Sacrement, la
custode fut ouverte avec tout le respect possible; et alors le dit Doyen
aperçut un vermisseau roulé en spirale, qu'il saisit avec la pointe
d'une épingle et plaça sur un corporal où chacun l'examina; puis on le
brûla avec un charbon pris dans l'encensoir, et ses cendres furent
jetées dans la piscine. On put alors constater tout le dommage que ce
misérable petit animal avait causé aux espèces sacrées dont les débris
ici tombaient en poussière, là se trouvaient rongés et lacérés, de telle
sorte que l'Hostie n'avait presque plus rien de sa forme circulaire, et
présentait de profondes découpures partout où le vermisseau s'était
livré à ses sinueus es évolutions.']

       *       *       *       *       *



I rejoined my sisters at Neufchâtel on the 5th of July, and proceeded
thence with them by the line which passes through the Val de Travers.
One of them had been at Fleurier, in 1860, on the day of the opening of
this line, and she added an interest to the various tunnels, by telling
us that a Swiss gentleman of her acquaintance, who had taken a place in
one of the open carriages of the first train, found, on reaching the
daylight after one of the tunnels, that his neighbour had been killed by
a small stone which had fallen on to his head. Where the stone came
from, no one could say, nor yet when it fell, for the unfortunate man
had made no sign or movement of any kind.

Every one must be delighted with the wonders of the line of rail, and
the beauties through which the engineer has cut his way. In valleys on a
less magnificent scale, cuttings and embankments on the face of the hill
are sad eyesores, as in railway-ruined Killiecrankie; but here Nature's
works are so very grand, that the works of man are not offensively
prominent, being overawed by the very facts over which they have
triumphed. When we reached the more even part of the valley, where the
Reuse no longer roars and rushes far below, but winds quietly through
the soft grass on a level with the rail, the whole grouping was so
exceedingly charming, and the river itself so suggestive of lusty trout,
and the village of Noiraigue[48] looked so tempting as it nestled in a
sheltered nook among the headlong precipices, that I registered in a
safe mental pigeon-hole a week at the auberge there with a fishing-rod,
and excursions to the commanding summit in which the _Creux de Vent_ is
found. The engine-driver knew that he was in a region of beauties, and,
when he whistled to warn his passengers that the train was about to move
on, he remained stationary until the long-resounding echoes died out,
floating lingeringly up the valley to neighbouring France.

We had no definite idea as to the _locale_ of the glacière we were now
bent upon attacking. M. Thury's list gave the following
information:--'_Glacière de Motiers, Canton de Neufchâtel, entre les
vallées de Travers et de la Brévine, près du sentier de la Brévine_;'
and this I had rendered somewhat more precise by a cross-examination of
the guard of the train on my way to Besançon. He had not heard of the
glacière, but from what I told him he was inclined to think that Couvet
would be the best station for our purpose, especially as the 'Ecu' at
that place was, in his eyes, a commendable hostelry. Some one in Geneva,
also, had believed that Couvet was as likely as anything else in the
valley; so at Couvet we descended.[49]

This is a very clean and cheerful village, devoted to the lucrative
manufacture of _absinthe_, and producing inhabitants who look like
gentlemen and ladies, and promenade the ways in bonnets and hats,
after a most un-Swiss-like fashion. They carefully restrict
themselves to the making of the poisonous product of their village,
and have nothing to do with the consumption thereof:[50] hence nature
has a fair chance with them, and they are a healthy and energetic
race. The beauties of the surrounding mountains, with their fitful
alternations of pasture and wood, and grey face of rock, are not
marred by the outward appearance, at least, of that which Bishop Heber
lamented in a country where 'every prospect pleases.' An old lady is
commemorated in the annals of Couvet as an example of the healthiness
of the situation, who saw seven generations of her family, having
known her great-grandfather in her early years, and living to nurse
great-grandchildren in her old age. The landlord of the inn informed
us, with much pride, that Couvet was the birthplace of the man who
invented a clock for telling the time at sea; by which, no doubt, he
meant the chronometer, invented by M. Berthoud. At Motiers, the next
village, Rousseau wrote his _Lettres de la Montagne_, and thence it
was that he fled from popular violence to the island on the Lake of

The 'Ecu' promised us dinner in half an hour, and we strolled about in
the garden of that unsophisticated hotel for an hour and a half,
reconciled to the delay by the beauty of the neighbouring hills, the
winding of the valley giving all the effect of a mountain-locked plain,
with barriers decked with firs. It will readily be conceived, however,
that three practical English people could not be satisfied to feed on
beauty alone for any very great length of time, and we caught the
landlady and became peremptory. She explained that dinner was quite
ready, but she had intended to give us the pleasure of an agreeable
society, consisting of sundry Swiss who were due in another half-hour or
so: she yielded, nevertheless, to our representations, and promised to
serve the meal at once. We were speedily summoned to the
_salle-à-manger,_ and entered a low smoke-stained wooden chamber, with
no floor to speak of, and with huge beams supporting the roof, dangerous
for tall heads. The date on the door was 1690, and the chamber fully
looked its age. There was a long table of the prevailing hue, with a
similar bench; and on the table three large basins, presumably
containing soup, were ranged, each covered with its plate, and
accompanied by a ricketty spoon of yellow metal and a hunch of black
bread. A., who was hungry enough and experienced enough to have known
better, began promptly a most pathetic 'Why surely!' but the landlady
stopped her by opening a side door, and displaying a comfortable room in
which a well-appointed table awaited us:--she had taken us through the
kitchen rather than through the _salon_, in which were peasants smoking.
We were somewhat disconcerted when we heard that the unwashed-looking
place was the kitchen; but the landlady had made up for it by scrubbing
her husband, who waited upon us, to a high pitch of presentability, and
further experience showed that the 'Ecu' is to be highly commended for
the excellence and abundance and cheapness of its foods.

There are many natural curiosities in and near the Val de Travers, which
well repay the labour that must be expended upon them. The _Temple des
Fées_, on the western side of the Valley of Verrières, used to be called
the most beautiful grotto in Switzerland; and the great Cavern of La
Baume, near Motiers, is said to be exceedingly wonderful. We were shown
the entrance to a line of caverns in the hills above Couvet, and were
informed that it was possible to pierce completely through the range,
and pass out at the other side within sight of Yverdun. One of the
caverns in this valley had been explored by some of A. and M.'s Swiss
friends, and the account of what they had gone through was by no means
inviting, seeing that the prevailing material was damp clay of a solid
character, arranged in steep slopes, up which progression must be made
by inserting the fingers and toes as far as might be into the clay; and,
of course, when the handful of unpleasant mud came away, the result was
the reverse of progression. To anyone who has only known the rope up the
pure white side of some snow mountain, the idea of being roped for the
purpose of grappling with underground banks of adhesive mud and clay
must be horrible in the extreme. Another interesting natural phenomenon
is presented by the source of the Reuse, that river gushing out from the
rock in considerable volume, probably formed by the drainage of the Lake
of Etallières, in the distant valley of La Brévine; while the
Longe-aigue, on the contrary, is lost in a gulf of such horror that the
people call the mill which stands on its edge the _Moulin d'enfer_.

As usual, we were assured that many of these remarkable sights were far
better worth a visit than the glacière, of which no one seemed to know
anything. A guide was at length secured for the next morning, who had
made his way to the cave once in the winter-time and had been unable to
enter it, and we settled down quietly to an evening of perfect rest. The
windows of the bedrooms being guiltless of blinds and curtains, the
effect of waking, in the early morning, to find them blocked up, as it
were, by the green slopes of pasture and the dark bands of fir-woods
which clothed the limiting hills, seemed almost magical, the foreground
being occupied solely by the graceful curve of the dome of the
church-tower, glittering with intercepted rays, and forming a bright
omen for the day thus ushered in.

In due time the promised guide appeared, a sickly boy of unprepossessing
appearance, and of _patois_ to correspond. I was at first tempted to
propose that we should attack him stereoscopically, A. administering
French and I simultaneous German, in the hope that the combination
might convey some meaning to him; but, after a time, we succeeded with
French alone. Perhaps Latin would have made a more likely _mélange_ than
German, and to give it him in three dimensions would not have been a bad
plan. The route for the glacière runs straight up the face of the hill
along which the railway has been constructed; and as we passed through
woods of beech and fir, with fresh green glades rolling down below our
feet, or emerged from the woods to cross large undulating expanses of
meadow-land, we were almost inclined to believe that we had never done
so lovely a walk. The scenery through which we passed was thoroughly
that of the lower districts of the Alps, with nothing Jurane in its
character, and the elevation finally achieved was not very great:
indeed, at a short distance from the glacière, we passed a collection of
very neat châlets, with gardens and garden-flowers, one of the châlets
rejoicing in countless beehives, with three or four 'ekes' apiece. Up to
the time of reaching this little village, which seemed to be called
Sagnette, our path had been that which leads to _La Brévine_, the
highest valley in the canton; but now we turned off abruptly up the
steeper face on the left hand, and in a very few minutes came upon a dry
wilderness of rock and grass, which we at once recognised as 'glacière
country;' and when I told our guide that we must be near the place, he
replied by pointing to the trees round the mouth of the pit.

Shortly after we first left Couvet, a gaunt elderly female, with a
one-bullock char, had joined our party, and tried to bully us into
giving up the cave and going instead to a neighbouring summit, whence
she promised us a view of unrivalled extent and beauty. She told us that
there was nothing to be seen in the glacière, and that it was a place
where people lost their lives. The guide said that was nonsense; but
she reduced him to silence by quoting a case in point. She said, too,
that if a man slipped and fell, there was nothing to prevent him from
going helplessly down a run of ice into a subterranean watercourse,
which would carry him for two or three leagues underground; and on this
head our boy had no counter-statement to make. She asserted that without
ladders it was utterly impossible to make the descent to the
commencement of the glacière; and she vowed there was no ladder now, nor
had been for some time. Here the boy came in, stating that the cave
belonged to a mademoiselle of Neufchâtel, who had a summer cottage at no
great distance, and loved to be supplied with ice during her residence
in the country, for which purpose she kept a sound ladder on the spot,
and had it removed in the winter that it might not be destroyed. There
was a circumstantial air about this statement which for the moment got
the better of the old woman; but she speedily recovered herself, and
repeated positively that there was no ladder of any description, adding,
somewhat inconsequently, that it was such a bad one, no Christian could
use it with safety. The boy retorted, that it was all very well for her
to run the glacière down, as she lived near it, but for the world from a
distance it was a most wonderful sight; and, as for the ladder, he
happened to know that it was at this time in excellent preservation. The
event proved that in saying this he drew entirely upon his imagination.
It is, perhaps, only fair to suppose that they don't mean anything by
it, and it may be mere ignorance on their part; but the simple fact is,
that some of those Swiss rustics tell the most barefaced lies
conceivable,--_unblushing_ is an epithet that cannot be safely applied
without previous soap and water,--and tell them in a plodding systematic
manner which takes in all but the experienced and wary traveller. I have
myself learned to suspend my judgment regarding the most simple thing in
nature, until I have other grounds for forming an opinion than the
solemn asseverations of the most stolid and respectable Swiss, if it so
be that money depends upon his report.[51]

As in the case of two of the glacières already described, the entrance
is by a deep pit, which has the appearance of having been at one time
two pits, one less deep than the other; and the barrier between the two
having been removed by some natural process, a passage is found down the
steep side of the shallower pit, which lands the adventurer on a small
sloping shelf, 21 feet sheer above the surface of the snow in the deeper
pit, the sides of the latter rising up perpendicularly all round. It is
for this last 21 feet that some sort of ladder is absolutely necessary.
Our guide flung himself down in the sun at the outer edge of the pit,
and informed us that as it was cold and dangerous down below, he
intended to go no farther: he had engaged, he said, to guide us to the
glacière, and he felt in no way bound to go into it. He was not good for
much, so I was not sorry to hear of his determination; and when my
sisters saw the sort of place they had to try to scramble down, they
appeared to be very glad that only I was to be with them.

Leaving them to make such arrangements with regard to dress as might
seem necessary to them, I proceeded to pioneer the way down the first
part of the descent. This was extremely unpleasant, for the rocks were
steep and very moist, with treacherous little collections of
disintegrated material on every small ledge where the foot might
otherwise have found a hold. These had to be cleared away before it
could be safe for them to descend, and in other places the broken rock
had to be picked out to form foot-holes; while, lower down, where the
final shelf was reached, the abrupt slope of mud which ended in the
sheer fall required considerable reduction, being far too beguiling in
its original form. Here there was also a buttress of damp earth to be
got round, and it was necessary to cut out deep holes for the hands
and feet before even a man could venture upon the attempt with any
comfort. The buttress was not, however, without its advantage, for on
it, overhanging the snow of the lower pit, was a beautiful clump of
cowslips (_Primula elatior_, Fr. _Primevère inodore_), which was at
once secured as a trophy. The length of the irregular descent to this
point was between 70 and 80 feet. On rounding the buttress, the upper
end of the ladder presented itself, and now the question, between the
boy and the old woman was to be decided. I worked down to the edge of
the shelf, and looked over into the pit, and, alas! the state of the
remaining parts of the ladder was hopeless, owing partly to the decay
of the sidepieces, and partly to the general absence of steps--a
somewhat embarrassing feature under the circumstances. A further
investigation showed that for the 21 feet of ladder there were only
seven steps, and these seven were not arranged as conveniently as they
might have been, for two occurred at the very top, and the other five
in a group at the bottom. A branchless fir-tree had at some time
fallen into the pit, and now lay in partial contact with the ruined
ladder; and there were on the trunk various little knobs, which might
possibly be of some use as a supplement to the rare steps of the
ladder. The snow at the bottom of the pit was surrounded on all sides
by perpendicular rock, and on the side opposite to the ladder I saw an
arch at the foot of the rock, apparently 2 or 3 feet high, leading
from the snow into darkness; and that, of course, was the entrance to
the glacière. I succeeded in getting down the ladder, by help of the
supplement, and looked down into the dark hole to see that it was
practicable, and then returned to report progress in the upper
regions. We had brought no alpenstocks to Couvet, so we sent the guide
off into the woods, where we had heard the sound of an axe, to get
three stout sticks from the woodmen; but he returned with such
wretched, crooked little things, that A. went off herself to forage,
and, having found an impromptu cattle-fence, came back with weapons
resembling bulbous hedge-stakes, which she skinned and generally
modified with a powerful clasp-knife, her constant companion. She then
cut up the crooked sticks into _bâtons_ for a contemplated repair of
the ladder, while M. and I investigated the country near the pit. We
found two other pits, which afterwards proved to communicate with the
glacière. We could approach sufficiently near to one of these to see
down to the bottom, where there was a considerable collection of snow:
this pit was completely sheltered from the sun by trees, and was 66
feet deep and 4 or 5 feet in diameter. The other was of larger size,
but its edge was so treacherous that we did not venture so near as to
see what it contained: its depth was about 70 feet, and the stone and
a foot or two of the string came up wet. The sides of the main pit, by
which we were to enter the glacière, were, as has been said, very
sheer, and on one side we could approach sufficiently near the edge to
drop a plummet down to the snow: the height of this face of rock was
59 feet, measuring down to the snow, and the level of the ice was
eventually found to be about 4 feet lower. Although it was now not
very far from noon, the sun had not yet reached the snow, owing partly
to the depth of the pit as compared with its diameter, and partly to
the trees which grew on several sides close to the edge. One or two
trees of considerable size grew out of the face of rock.

We were now cool enough to attempt the glacière, and I commenced the
descent with A. The precautions already taken made the way tolerably
possible down to the buttress of earth and the shelving ledge, and so
far the warm sun had accompanied us; but beyond the ledge there was
nothing but the broken ladder, and deep shade, and a cold damp
atmosphere, which made the idea, and still more the feel, of snow very
much the reverse of pleasant. A. was not a coward on such occasions,
and she had sufficient confidence in her guide; but it is rather
trying for a lady to make the first step off a slippery slope of mud,
on to an apology for a ladder which only stands up a few inches above
the lower edge of the slope, and so affords no support for the hand:
nor, after all, can bravery and trust quite make up for the want of
steps. We were a very long time in accomplishing the descent, for her
feet were always out of her sight, owing to the shape which female
dress assumes when its wearer goes down a ladder with her face to the
front, especially when the ladder has suffered from ubiquitous
compound fracture, and the ragged edges catch the unaccustomed
petticoats. It was quite as well the feet were out of sight, for some
of the supports to which they were guided were not such as would have
commended themselves to her, had she been able to see them. At length,
owing in great measure to the opportune assistance of two of the
batons we had brought down with us for repairs, thanks also to the
trunk of the fir-tree, we reached the snow; and poor A. was planted
there, breaking through the top crust as a commencement of her
acquaintance with it, till such time as I could bring M. down to join
her. The experience acquired in the course of A.'s descent led us to
call to M. that she must get rid of that portion of her attire which
gives a shape to modern dress; for the obstinacy and power of
_mal-à-propos_ obstructiveness of this garment had wonderfully
complicated our difficulties. She objected that the guide was there;
but we assured her that he was asleep, or if he wasn't it made no
matter; so when I reached the top, she emerged shapeless from a
temporary hiding-place, clutching her long hedge-stake, and feeling,
she said--and certainly looking--a good deal like a gorilla. The most
baffling part of the trouble having been thus got over, we soon joined
A., blue already, and shivering on the snow. The sun now reached very
nearly to the bottom of the pit, and I went up once more for
thermometers and other things, leaving a measure with my sisters, and
begging them to amuse themselves by taking the dimensions of the snow:
on my return, however, to the top of the ladder, I found them
combining over a little bottle, and they informed me plaintively that
they had been taking medicinal brandy and snow instead of
measurements,--a very necessary precaution, for anyone to whom brandy
is not a greater nuisance than utter cold. We found the dimensions of
the bottom of the pit, i.e. of the field of snow on which we stood, to
be 31-1/2 feet by 21; but we were unable to form any idea of the depth
of the snow, beyond the fact that 'up to the ancle' was its prevailing
condition. The boy told us, when we rejoined him, that when he and
others had attempted to get ice for the landlord, when it was ordered
for him in a serious illness the winter before, they had found the pit
filled to the top with snow.


As we stood at the mouth of the low entrance, making final
preparations for a plunge into the darkness, I perceived a strong cold
current blowing out from the cave--sufficiently strong and cold to
render knickerbocker stockings a very unavailing protection. While
engaged in the discovery that this style of dress is not without its
drawbacks, I found, to my surprise, that the direction of the current
suddenly changed, and the cold blast which had before blown out of the
cave, now blew almost as strongly in. The arch of entrance was so low,
that the top was about on a level with my waist; so that our faces and
the upper parts of our bodies were not exposed to the current, and the
strangeness of the effect was thus considerably increased. As a
matter of curiosity, we lighted a _bougie_, and placed it on the edge
of the snow, at the top of the slope of 3 or 4 feet which led down the
surface of the ice, and then stood to watch the effect of the current
on the flame. The experiment proved that the currents alternated, and,
as I fancied, regularly; and in order to determine, if possible, the
law of this alternation, I observed with my watch the exact duration
of each current. For twenty-two seconds the flame of the _bougie_ was
blown away from the entrance, so strongly as to assume a horizontal
position, and almost to leave the wick: then the current ceased, and
the flame rose with a stately air to a vertical position, moving down
again steadily till it became once more horizontal, but now pointing
in towards the cave. This change occupied in all four seconds; and the
current inwards lasted--like the outward current--twenty-two seconds,
and then the whole phenomenon was repeated. The currents kept such
good time, that when I stood beyond their reach, and turned my back, I
was enabled to announce each change with perfect precision. On one
occasion, the flame performed its semicircle in a horizontal instead
of a vertical plane, moving round the wick in the shape of a
pea-flower. The day was very still, so that no external winds could
have anything to do with this singular alternation; and, indeed, the
pit was so completely sheltered by its shape, that a storm might have
raged outside without producing any perceptible effect below. It would
be difficult to explain the regularity of these opposite currents, but
it is not so difficult to see that some such oscillation might be
expected. It will be better, however, to defer any suggestions on this
point till the glacière has been more fully described.

candle stood at this point.]

We passed down at length through the low archway, and stood on the floor
of ice. As our eyes became accustomed to the darkness, we saw that an
indistinct light streamed into the cave from some low point at a
considerable distance, apparently on a level with the floor; and this we
afterwards found to be the bottom of the larger of the two pits we had
already fathomed, the pit A of the diagram; and we eventually discovered
a similar but much smaller communication with the bottom of the pit B.
In each of these pits there was a considerable pyramid of snow, whose
base was on a level with the floor of the glacière: the connecting
archway in the case of the pit A was 3 or 4 feet high, allowing us to
pass into the pit and round the pyramid with perfect ease, while that
leading to the pit B was less than a foot high, so that no passage could
be forced.

As we stood on the ice at the entrance and peered into the comparative
darkness, we saw by degrees that the glacière consisted of a continuous
sea of smooth ice, sloping down very gently towards the right hand. The
rock which forms the roof of the cave seemed to be almost as even as the
floor, and was from 4 to 5 feet high in the neighbourhood in which we
now found ourselves, gradually approaching the floor towards the bottom
of the pit B, where it became about a foot high, and rising slightly in
that part of the cave where the floor fell, so as to give 9 or 10 feet
as the height there. The ice had all the appearance of great depth; but
there were no means of forming a trustworthy opinion on this point,
beyond the fact that I succeeded in lowering a stone to a considerable
depth, in the small crevice which existed between the wall and the block
of ice which formed the floor. The greatest length of the cave we found
to be 112 ft. 7 in., and its breadth 94 ft., the general shape of the
field of ice, which filled it to its utmost edges, being elliptical. The
surface was unpleasantly wet, chiefly in the line of the currents, which
were now seen to pass backwards and forwards between the pits A and C.
In the neighbourhood of the pit B the water stood in a very thin sheet
on the ice, which there was level, and rendered the style of locomotion
necessitated by the near approach of the roof extremely disagreeable, as
I was obliged to lie on my face, and push myself along the wet and
slippery ice, to explore that corner of the cave, being at length
stopped by want of sufficient height for even that method of

The circle marked D represents a column from the roof, at the foot of
which we found a small grotto in the ice, which I entered to a depth of
6 feet, the surface of the field of ice showing a very gracefully
rounded fall at the edges of the grotto. At the point E there was a
beautiful collection of fretted columns, white and hard as porcelain,
arranged in a semicircle, with the diameter facing the cave, measuring
22 ft. 9 in. along this face. On the farther side of these columns there
were signs of a considerable fall in the ice; and by making use of the
roots of small stalagmitic columns of that material, which grew on the
slope of ice, I got down into a little wilderness of spires and
flutings, and found a small cave penetrating a short way under the solid
ice-floor. G marks the place of a free stalagmite of ice, formed under a
fissure in the roof; and each F represents a column from the roof, or
from a lateral fissure in the wall.

The most striking features of this cave were the three domes, marked H
in the ground-plan, in which they ought strictly not to appear, as being
confined to the roof: one of them is shown also in the vertical section
of the cave. They occur where the roof is from 3 to 4 feet above the
floor. It will be understood, that the bent attitude in which we were
obliged to investigate these parts of the cave was exceedingly
fatiguing, and we hailed with delight a sudden circular opening in the
roof which enabled us to stand upright. This delight was immensely
increased when our candles showed us that the walls of this vertical
opening were profusely decorated with the most lovely forms of ice. The
first that we came under passed up out of sight; and in this, two solid
cascades of ice hung down, high overhead, apparently broken off short,
or at any rate ending very abruptly: the others did not pass so far
into the roof, and formed domes of very regular shape. In all three, the
details of the ice-decoration were most lovely, and the effect produced
by the whole situation was very curious; for we stood with our legs
exposed to the alternating cold currents, the remaining part of our
bodies being imbedded as it were in the roof; while the candles in our
hands brought out the crystal ornaments of the sides, flashing fitfully
all round us and overhead, when one or other of us moved a light, as if
we had been surrounded by diamonds of every possible size and setting.
One of the domes was so small, that we were obliged to stand up by turn
to examine its beauties; but in the others we all stood together. On
every side were branching clusters of ice in the form of club-mosses,
with here and there varicose veins of clear ice, and pinnacles of the
prismatic structure, with limpid crockets and finials. The pipes of ice
which formed a network on the walls were in some cases so exquisitely
clear, that we could not be sure of their existence without touching
them; and in other cases a sheet 4 or 6 inches thick was found to be no
obstruction to our view of the rock on which it was formed. In one of
the domes we had only one candle, and the bearer of this after a time
contrived to let it fall, leaving us standing with our heads in perfect
darkness; while the indistinct light which strayed about our feet showed
faintly a circle of icicles, hanging from the lower part of the dome,
the fringe, as it were, of our rocky petticoats.

In one of the lower parts of the cave, where darkness prevailed, and
locomotion was only possible on the lowest reptile principles, M.
announced that she could see clear through the ice-floor, as if there
were nothing between her and the rock below. I ventured to doubt this,
for there was an air of immense thickness about the whole ice; and as
soon as A. and I had succeeded in grovelling across the intervening
space, and converged upon her, we found that the appearance she had
observed was due to a most perfect reflection of the roof, as shown by
the candles we carried, which may give some idea of the character of the
ice. We did not care to study this effect for any very prolonged time,
inasmuch as we were obliged meanwhile to stow away the length of our
legs on a part of the ice which was thinly covered with water,--one
result of its proximity to the arch communicating with the smallest pit.

It has been said that the whole ice-floor sloped slightly towards one
side of the cave, the slope becoming rather more steep near the edge.[52]
Clearly, ever so slight a slope would be sufficiently embarrassing, when
the surface was so perfectly smooth and slippery; and this added much to
the difficulty of walking in a bent attitude. On coming out of one of
the domes, I tried progression on all-fours--threes, rather, for the
candle occupied one hand,--and I cannot recommend that method, owing to
the impossibility of putting on the break. The pace ultimately acquired
is greater than is pleasant, and the roof is too near the floor to allow
of any successful attempt to bring things to an end by the reassumption
of a biped character.

We placed a thermometer in the line of greatest current, and another in
a still part of the cave. The memorandum is lost of their register--if,
indeed, we ever made one, for we were more concerned with the beauties
than the temperature was surprisingly high in the line of current, as
compared with the ordinary temperature of ice-caves.

When we came to compare backs, after leaving the cave, we mutually found
that they were in a very disreputable condition. The damp and ragged
roof with which they had been so frequently in contact had produced a
marked effect upon them, and I eventually paid a tailor in Geneva three
francs for restoring my coat to decency. M. took great credit to herself
for having been more careful of her back than the others, and declined
to be laughed at for forgetting that she was only about half as high as
they, to begin with. A. still remembers the green-grey stains, as the
most obstinate she ever had to deal with, especially as her three-days'
knapsack contained no change for that outer part of her dress.

The 'Ecu' gave us a charming dinner on our return; then a moderate bill,
and an affectionate farewell; and we succeeded in catching the early
evening train for Pontarlier.[53]


[Footnote 48: _Aigue_, or _egue_, in the patois of this district, is
equivalent to _eau_, the Latin _aqua_.]

[Footnote 49: Ebel, in his _Swiss Manual_ (French translation of 1818,
t. iii.), mentions this glacière under the head _Motiers_, and observes
that it and the grotto of S. Georges are the only places in the Jura
where ice remains through the summer. This statement, in common with a
great part of Ebel, has been transferred to the letterpress of
_Switzerland Illustrated_.]

[Footnote 50: Switzerland sent 7,500,000 gallons of absinthe to France
in 1864.]

[Footnote 51: _Point d'argent, point de Suisse_, is a proverbial
expression which the Swiss twist into a historical compliment, asserting
that it arose in early mercenary times, from the fact that they were too
virtuous to accept the suggestion of the general who hired them, and
wished them to take their pay in kind from the defenceless people of the
country they had served.]

[Footnote 52: It is probable that the ice is on the increase in this
glacière, and that an archway, now filled up by the growing ice, has at
one time existed in the wall on this side of the care, through which the
ice and water used to pour into the subterranean depths of which the old
woman had told us. At the time of our visit, we could find no outlet.]

[Footnote 53: The following remarks may give some explanation of the
phenomenon of alternating currents in this cave, I should suppose that
during the night there is atmospheric equilibrium in the cave itself,
and in the three pits A, B, C. When the heat of the sun comes into
operation, the three pits are very differently affected by it, C being
comparatively open to the sun's rays, while A is much less so, and B is
entirely sheltered from radiation. This leads naturally to atmospheric
disturbance. The air in the pit C is made warmer and less heavy than
that in A and B, and the consequence is, that the column of air in C can
no longer balance the columns in A and B, which therefore begin to
descend, and so a current of air is driven from the cave into the pit C.
Owing to the elasticity of the atmosphere, even at a low temperature,
this descent, and the consequent rush of air into C, will be overdone,
and a recoil must take place, which accounts for the return current into
the cave from the pit C. The sun can reach A more easily than B, and
thus the air is lighter and more moveable in the former pit, so that the
recoil will make itself more felt in A than in B: accordingly, we found
that the main currents alternated between A and C, with very slight
disturbance in the neighbourhood of B. B will, however, play its part,
and the weighty column of air contained in it will oscillate, though
with smaller oscillations than in the case of A. Probably, when the sun
has left A, while acting still upon C, the return current from C will be
much slighter, and there will be a general settling of the atmosphere in
the pits A and B, until C also is freed from the sun's action, when the
whole system will gradually pass into a state of equilibrium.

With respect to the action of the more protected pits, the principle of
the hydraulic ram not unnaturally suggests itself.

In considering the minor details of the currents, such elements as the
refrigeration of the air in its passage across the face of the ice must
be taken into account. It may be observed that the candle did not occupy
an _intermediate_ position with respect to two opposing currents, for it
was practically on the floor of the cave, owing to the continuity of the
slope of snow on which it stood, as shown in the vertical section on p.

       *       *       *       *       *



The beauties of the Val de Travers end only with the valley itself, at
the head of which a long tunnel ushers the traveller into a tamer
country,--a preparation, as it were, for France. After the border is
passed, the scenery begins to improve again, and the effect of the two
castles of Joux, the new and the old, crowning the heights on either
side of the narrow gorge through which the railway runs, is very fine.
The guide-books inform us that the Château of Joux was the place of
imprisonment of the unfortunate Toussaint L'Ouverture, and that there he
died of neglect and cold; and it was in the same strong fortress that
Mirabeau was confined by his father's desire. The old castle, however,
is more interesting from its connection with the history of Charles the
Bold, who retired to La Rivière after the battle of Morat, and spent
here those sad solitary weeks of which Philip de Comines tells with so
many moral reflections; weeks of bodily and mental distress, which left
him a mere wreck, and led to his wild want of generalship and his
miserable death at Nancy. He had melted down the church-bells in this
part of Burgundy and Vaud, to make cannon for the final effort which
failed so fatally at Morat; and the old chroniclers relate--without any
allusion to the sacrilege--that the artillery was wretchedly served on
that cruel[54] day. It is some comfort to Englishmen to know that their
ancestors under the Duke of Somerset displayed a marvellous courage on
the occasion.

We reached Pontarlier in time for a stroll through the quiet town; but
we searched in vain for the tempting convents and gates, which were
marked on my copy of an old plan of the place, dedicated to the Prince
d'Arenberg, in the well-known times when he governed the Franche
Comté. The convents had become for the most part breweries, and the
gates had been improved away. Our enquiries respecting the place of
our destination were fortunately more successful. The idea of a
glacière was new to the world of Pontarlier; but the landlord of the
Hôtel National had heard of Arc-sous-Cicon, and had no doubt that we
could find a carriage of some sort to take us there. His own horses
were all engaged in haymaking, but his neighbours' horses might be
less busy, and accordingly he took us first to call upon M. Paget, a
friend who added to his income by keeping a horse and voiture for
hire. The Pagets in general had gone to bed, and the door was
fastened; but our guide seemed to know the ways of the house, and we
found Madame in the stables, and arranged with her for a carriage at
seven o'clock the next morning.

At the time appointed, M. Paget did not come, and I was obliged to go
and look him up. He proved to me that it was all right, somehow, and
evidently understood that his convenience, not ours, was the thing to be
consulted. The hotel is in a narrow street, and, apparently on that
account, a stray passer-by was caught, and pressed into M. Paget's
service to help to turn the carriage,--a feat accomplished by a bodily
lifting of the hinder part, with its wheels. After-experience showed
that the narrowness of the street had nothing to with it, and we
discovered that the necessity for the manoeuvre was due to a chronic
affection of some portion of the voiture; so that whenever in the course
of the day it became necessary for us to turn round, M. Paget was
constrained to call in foreign help.

The country through which we passed was uninteresting in the extreme,
although we had been told by the landlord that our drive would introduce
us to a succession of natural beauties such as few countries in the
world could show. The line of hills, at the foot of which we expected
our route to lie, looked exceedingly tempting as seen from Pontarlier;
but, to our disappointment, we left the hills and struck across the
plain. About ten or eleven kilomètres from Pontarlier, however, the
character of the country changed suddenly, and we found the landlord's
promise in some part fulfilled. Rich meadow-slopes were broken by
solitary trees arranged in Nature's happiest style, and grey precipices
of Jurane grimness and perpendicularity encroached upon the woods and
grass. We were coming near the source of the Loue, M. Paget said, which
it would be necessary for us to visit. He told us that we must leave the
carriage at an _auberge_ on the roadside, and walk to the neighbouring
village of Ouhans, which was inaccessible for voitures, and thence we
should easily find our way to the source. The distance, he declared, was
twenty minutes. The woman at the _auberge_ strongly recommended the
source, but did her best to dissuade us from the glacières, of which she
said there were two. She had visited them herself, and told her husband,
who had guided her, that there was nothing to see. That, we thought,
proved nothing against the glacières, and her dulness of appreciation we
were willing to accept without further proof than her personal
appearance. Besides, to go to the source, and not to Arc, would mean
dining with her; so that she was not an impartial adviser.

M. Paget was a short square man, of very few words, and his one object
in life seemed to be to save his black horse as much as possible; a
very creditable object in itself, so long as he did not go too far in
his endeavours to accomplish it. On the present occasion he certainly
did go too far. The road was quite as good as that which we had left,
and there was no reason in the world why the carriage should not have
taken us to the village. Worse still, we discovered eventually that
the 'twenty minutes' meant twenty minutes from the village to the
source, and represented really something like half the time necessary
for that part of the march, while there was a hot and dusty walk of
half an hour before we reached the village. As he accompanied us in
person, we had the satisfaction of frequently telling him our mind
with insular frankness. He pretended to be much distressed, but
assured us each time we returned to the charge--about every quarter of
an hour--that we were close to the desired spot. From the village to
the source, the way led us through such pleasant scenery and such
acceptable strawberries, that we only kept up our periodical
remonstrances on principle, and, after we had wound rapidly down
through a grand defile, and turned a sudden angle of the rock, the
first sight of that which we had come to see amply repaid us all the
trouble we had gone through. The source of the Orbe is sufficiently
striking, but the Loue is by far more grand at the moment of its
birth. The former is a bright fairy-like stream, gushing out of a
small cavern at the foot of a lofty precipice clothed with clinging
trees; but the Loue flows out from the bottom of an amphitheatrical
rock much more lofty and unbroken. The stream itself is broader and
deeper, and glides with an infinitely more majestic calmness from a
vast archway in the rock, into the recesses of which the eye can
penetrate to the point where the roof closes in upon the water, and so
cuts off all further view. The calmness of the flow may be in part
attributed to a weir, which has been built across the stream at the
mouth of the cave, for the purpose of driving a portion of the water
into a channel which conveys it to various mill-wheels; for, at a very
short distance below the weir, the natural stream makes a fall of 17
feet, so that, if left to itself, it might probably rush out more
impetuously from its mysterious cavern. The weir is a single timber,
below the surface, fixed obliquely across the stream on a shelving
bank of masonry, and the farther end meets the wall of rock inside the
cave. Near it we saw some glorious hart's-tongue ferns, which excited
our desires, and I took off boots and stockings, and endeavoured to
make my way along the weir; but the face of the masonry was so very
slippery, and the nails in the timber so unpleasant for bare feet, and
the stream was so unexpectedly strong, that I called to mind the
proverbial definition of the better part of valour, and came back
without having achieved the ferns. The biting coldness of the water,
and the boiling of the fall close below the weir, did not add to my
confidence in making the attempt, but I should think that in a more
favourable state of the water the cave might be very well explored by
two men going alone. The day penetrated so completely into the
farthest corners, that when I got half-way along the weir, I could
detect the oily look on the surface where it first saw the light,
which showed where the water was quietly streaming up from its unknown
sources. The people in the neighbourhood were unable to suggest any
lake or lakes of which this river might be the subterranean drainage.
It is liable to sudden and violent overflows, which seldom last more
than twenty-four hours; and from the destruction of property caused by
these outbursts, the name of _La Loue_, sc. _La Louve_, has been given
to it. The rocky valley through which the river runs, after leaving
its underground channel, is exceedingly fine, and we wandered along
the precipices on one side, enjoying the varying scenes so much that
we could scarcely bring ourselves to turn; each bend of the fretting
river showing a narrow gorge in the rock, with a black rapid, and a
foaming fall. It is said that although the mills on the Doubs are
sometimes stopped from want of water, those which derive their motive
power from this strange and impressive cavern have never known the
supply to fail.

Before we started for our ramble among the woods and precipices which
overhang the farther course of the Loue, we had sent off M. Paget to the
_auberge_, with strict orders that he should at once get out the black
horse, and bring the carriage to meet us at Ouhans, as one of us was not
in so good order for walking as usual, and the day was fast slipping
away. Of course we saw nothing of him when we reached Ouhans; and as it
was not prudent to wait for his arrival there, which might never take
place, we walked through the broiling sun in the direction of the
_auberge_, and at last saw him coming, pretending to whip his horse as
if he were in earnest about the pace. We somewhat sullenly assisted him
to turn the old carriage round, and then bade him drive as hard as he
could to Arc-sous-Cicon, still a long way off. This he said he would do
if he knew which was the way; but since he was last there, as a much
younger man, there had been a general change in the matter of roads, and
how the new ones lay he did not know. This was not cheerful
intelligence, especially as we had set our hearts upon getting back to
Pontarlier in time for the evening train, which would give us a night at
the charming _Bellevue_ at Neufchâtel, instead of the poisonous coffee
and the trying odours of the _National_: the old man's instinct,
however, led him right, and we reached Arc at half-past twelve. One
obstacle to our journey on the new road promised at first to be
insurmountable, being an immense _sapin_, the largest I have seen
felled, which lay on a combination of wood-chairs straight across the
road. It had been brought down a narrow side-road through a wheat-field,
and one end occupied this road, while the other was jammed against the
wall on the opposite side of the main road; and half-a-dozen men, with
as many draught oxen, were mainly endeavouring to turn it in the right
direction. M. Paget knew how much was required to turn his own carriage,
and he calculated that the road would not be free for two or three
hours, which involved a rest for his black horse, a pipe for himself,
and, possibly, a short sleep. The oxen were lazy, and their hides
impervious; the whips were cracked in vain, and in vain were brought
more directly to bear upon the senses of the recusants; the men howled,
and rattled the chains, and re-arranged the clumsy head-gear, but all to
no purpose. The man who did most of the howling was a black Burgundian
dwarf, in a long blouse and moustaches; and he did it in so frightful a
patois, that the oxen were right in their refusal to understand. We
represented to M. Paget that it would be possible to make our way
through the wheat; but he declared himself perfectly happy where he was,
and declined to take any steps in the matter; whereupon I assumed the
command of the expedition, and led the horse through the corn, thus
turning the flank of the _sapin_ and its attendants. Our driver
submitted to this act of violence much as a member of the Society of
Friends allows a chamberlain to remove his hat from behind when he is
favoured with an audience of the sovereign; and when we regained the
high road, he meekly took up the reins and drove us at a good pace to

The village lies in a curiously open plain, with a girdle of hills, in
one of which the glacières were supposed to lie. The first _auberge_
refused us admittance, on the ground that the dinner was all
pre-engaged, and the result was that we found a pleasanter place higher
up the village, near a vast new _maison de ville_ with every window
shattered by recent hail. The people groaned over the unnecessary
expense of this huge building, which might well, from its size, have
been a home for the whole village; and they told us that the communal
forests had been terribly over-cut to provide the money for it. Our
first demand was for food; our next, for a guide to the glacières. Food
we could have; but why _should_ we wish to go to the glacières, when
there was so much else worth seeing at a little distance?--a guide might
without doubt be found, but there was nothing to be seen when we got
there. We ordered prompt dinner, anything that happened to be ready, and
desired the landlord to look out for a man to show us the way up the
hills. When the dinner came, it was cold; and the main dish consisted
apparently of something which had made stock for many generations of
soup, and had then been kept in a half-warm state, ready to be heated
for any passer-by who called for hot meat, till the cook had despaired
of its ever being used, and had allowed it to become cold: at least, no
other supposition seemed to account for its utter want of flavour, and
the wonderful development of its fibres. As a matter of politeness, I
asked the man what it was; when he took the dish from the table, smelled
at it, and pronounced it veal.

There were also several specimens of the original old turnip-radish,
with large shrubs of heads, and mature feelers many inches long. As all
this was not very inviting, we ordered an omelette and some cheese; and
when the omelette came, we found that the cook had combined our ideas
and understood our order to mean a cheese-omelette, which was not so bad
after all.

By this time, the landlord's visit to his drinking-room had procured a
man willing to act as our guide. He was, unfortunately, more willing
than able; for his sojourn in the drinking-room had told upon his
powers of equilibrium. He asserted, as every one seemed in all cases
to assert, that neither rope nor axe was in any way necessary. When I
pressed the rope, he said that if monsieur was afraid he had better
not go; so we told the landlord privately that the man was rather too
drunk for a guide, and we must have another. The landlord thereupon
offered himself, at the suggestion of his wife, who seemed to be the
chief partner in the firm, and we were glad to accept his offer; while
the incapacitated man whom we had rejected acquiesced in the new
arrangement with a bow so little withering, and with such genuine
politeness, that, in spite of his over-much wine, he won my heart. The
landlord himself did not profess to know the glacières; but he knew
the man who lived nearest to them, and proposed to lead us to his
friend's châlet, whence we should doubtless be able to find a guide.

We stole a few moments for an inspection of the Church of Arc, and
found, to our surprise, some very pleasing paintings in good repair, and
open sittings which looked unusually clean and neat. Then we crossed the
plain towards the north, and proceeded to grapple with a stiff path
through the woods which climb the first hills. It turned out that there
was no one available for our purpose in the châlet to which the landlord
led us; but a small child was despatched in search of the master or the
domestic, and returned before long with the latter individual, who
received the mistress's instruction respecting the route, and received
also an axe which I had begged in case of need. The accounts we had
heard of the glacière or glacières--every one declined to call them
caves--were so various, and the total denials of their existence so
many, that we quietly made up our minds to disappointment, and agreed
that what we had seen at the source of the Loue was quite sufficient to
repay us for the trouble we had taken; while the idea of a rapid raid
into France had something attractive in it, which more than
counterbalanced the old charms of Soleure. Besides, we found that we
were now in a good district for flowers, and the abundant _Gnaphalium
sylvaticum_ brought back to our minds many a delightful scramble in
glacier regions, where its lovely velvet kinsman the _pied-de-lion_
grows. On the broad top of the range of hills, covered with rich grass,
we came upon large patches of a plant, with scented leaves and pungent
seeds, which we had not known before, _Meum athamanticum_, and, to
please our guide, we went through the form of pretending that we rather
liked its taste. My sisters were in ecstasies of triumph over a wild
everlasting-pea, which grew here to a considerable height--_Lathyrus
sylvestris_, they said, Fr. _Gesse sauvage_, distinct from _G.
hétéropyhlle,_ which is still larger, and is almost confined to a
favourite place of sojourn with us, the little Swiss valley of Les
Plans. It is said that on the top of these hills springs of water rise
to the surface, though there is no higher ground in the neighbourhood; a
phenomenon which has been accounted for by the supposition of a
difference of specific gravity between these springs and the waters
which drive them up.

The character of the ground on the plateau changed suddenly, and we
passed at one step, apparently, from a meadow of flowers to a wilderness
of fissured rock, lying white and skeleton-like in the afternoon sun. We
only skirted this rock in the first instance, and made for a clump of
trees some little way off, in which we found a deep pit, with a path of
sufficient steepness leading to the bottom. Here we came to a collection
of snow, much sheltered by overhanging rocks and trees; and this, our
guide told us, was the _neigière_, a word evidently formed on the same
principle as _glacière_. The snow was half-covered with leaves, and was
unpleasantly wet to our feet, so that we did not spend much time on it,
or rather in it. A huge fragment of rock had at some time or other
fallen from overhead, and now occupied a large part of the sloping
bottom of the pit: by squeezing myself through a narrow crevice between
this and the live rock, which looked as if it ought to lead to
something, I found a veritable ice-cave, unhappily free from ornament,
and of very small size, like a round soldier's tent in shape, with walls
of rock and floor of ice. We afterwards found an easier entrance to the
cave; but the floor was so wet, and the constant drops of water from the
roof so little agreeable, that we got out again as soon as possible,
especially as this was not the glacière we had come to see.

When we reached the surface once more, the landlord and the domestic
both assured us that the _neigière_ was the great sight, the glacière
being nothing at all, but, such as it was, they would lead us to it.
They took us to the fissured rock mentioned above; and when we looked
down into the fissures, we saw that some of them were filled at the
bottom with ice. They were not the ordinary fissures, like the crevasses
of a glacier, but rather disconnected slits in the surface, opening into
larger chambers in the heart of the rock, where the ice lay. In one part
of this curious district the surface sank considerably, and showed
nothing but a tumbled collection of large stones and rocks, piled in a
most disorderly manner. By examining the neighbourhood of the larger of
these rocks, we found a burrow, down which one of the men and I made our
way, and thus, after some windings in the interior, reached a point from
which we could descend to the ice. The impression conveyed to my mind
by the whole appearance of the rock and ice was not unlike that of the
domes in the Glacière of Monthézy; only that now the lower part of the
dome was filled with ice, and we stood in the upper part. There were two
or three of these domes, communicating one with another, and in all I
found abundant signs of the prismatic structure, though no columns or
wall-decoration remained. My sisters were accomplished in the art of
burrowing, but they did not care to come down, and we soon rejoined
them, spending a little time in letting down lighted _bougies_ into the
various domes and fissures, in order to study the movements of the air,
but our experiments did not lead to much.

The landlord had evidently not believed in the existence of ice in
summer, and his first thought was to take some home to his wife, to
prove that we had reached the glacière and had found ice: such at least
were the reasons he gave, but evidently his soul was imbued with a deep
obedience to that better half, and the offering of a block of ice was
suggested by a complication of feelings. When we reached the _auberge_
again, we found the rejected guide still there, and more unstable than
before. The general impression on his mind seemed to be that he had been
wronged, and had forgiven us. In our absence he had been meditating upon
the glacière, and his imagination had brought him to a very exalted idea
of its wonders. Whereas, in the former part of the day, he had stoutly
asserted that no cord could possibly be necessary, he now vehemently
affirmed that if I had but taken him as guide, he would have let me down
into holes 40 mètres deep, where I should have seen such things as man
had never seen before. Had monsieur seen the source of the Loue? Yes,
monsieur had. Very fine, was it not? Yes, very fine. Which did monsieur
then prefer--the glacière, or the source? The source, infinitely. _Then_
it was clear monsieur had not seen the glacière:--he was sure before
that monsieur had not, _now_ it was quite clear, for in all the world
there was nothing like that glacière. The Loue!--one might rather see
the glacière once, than live by the source of the Loue all the days of
one's life.

It was now five o'clock, and the train left Pontarlier at half-past
seven. We represented to M. Paget that he really ought to do the twenty
kilomètres in two hours and a quarter, which would leave us a quarter of
an hour to arrange our knapsacks and pay the _National_. He promised to
do his best, and certainly the black horse proved himself a most willing
beast. There was one long hill which damped our spirits, and made us
give up the idea of catching the train; and here our driver came to the
rescue with what sounded at first like a promising story--the only one
we extracted from him all through the day--_à propos_ of a
memorial-stone on the road-side, where a man had lately been killed by
two bears; but, when we came to examine into it, the romance vanished,
for the man was a brewer's waggoner with a dray of beer, and the bears
were tame bears, led in a string, which frightened the brewer's horses,
and so the man was killed. Contrary to our expectations and fears, we
did catch the train, and arrived in a thankful frame of mind at
comfortable quarters in Neufchâtel.


[Footnote 54: _Cruel comme à Morat_ was long a popular saying.]

       *       *       *       *       *



The next morning, my sisters went one way and I another; they to a
valley in the south-west of Vaud, where our head-quarters were to be
established for some weeks, and I to Soleure, where a Swiss _savant_ had
vaguely told us he believed there was a glacière to be seen. That town,
however, denied the existence of any approach to such a thing, with a
unanimity which in itself was suspicious, and with a want of imagination
which I had not expected to find. One man I really thought might be
persuaded to know of some cave where there was or might be ice, but
after a quarter of an hour's discussion he finally became immovable on
the negative side. A Frenchman would certainly have been polite enough
to accommodate facts to my desires. It was all the more annoying,
because the Weissenstein stood overhead so engagingly, and I should have
been only too glad to spend the night in the hotel there, if anyone had
given me the slightest encouragement. I specially pointed at the
neighbourhood of this hotel to my doubtful friend, as being likely for
caves; but he was not in the pay of the landlord, and so failed to take
the hint. There is a curious hole in which ice is found near
Weissenstein in Carniola,[55] and it is not impossible that this may
have originated the idea of a glacière near Soleure.

The Schweizerhof at Berne is a very comfortable resting-place; but, in
spite of its various excellences, if a tired traveller is told that No.
53 is to be his room, he will do well to seek a bed elsewhere. No. 53 is
a sort of closet to some other number, with a single window opening low
on to the passage, and is adjudged to the unfortunate individual who
arrives at that omnipresent crisis which raises the charge for
bed-rooms, and silences all objections to their want of comfort--namely,
when there is only one bed left in the house. In itself, No. 53 would be
well enough; but the throne of the chambermaid is in the passage, by the
side of the window, and the male attendant on that particular stage
naturally gravitates to the same point, when the bells of the stage do
not summon him elsewhere, and often enough when they do. This
combination leads of course to local disturbances of a somewhat noisy
character, and however entirely a sleepy man may in principle sympathise
with the causes of the noise, it becomes rather hard to bear after
midnight. The precise actors on the present occasion have, no doubt,
quarrelled or set up a _café_ before now, or perhaps have achieved both
results by taking the latter first; but there is reason to believe that
so long as the window of No. 53 is the seat of the chambermaid for the
time being, so long will that room be--as the landlord neatly expressed
it when a protest was made--_etwas unruhig_.

All Switzerland has been playing at soldiers for some time, and as we
left Berne the next morning, we saw three or four hundred Federal men of
war marching down the road which runs parallel with the rails. The three
officers at the head of the column were elderly and stout; moreover,
they were mounted, and that fact was evidently due rather to the
meekness of their chargers than to the grip of their own legs. When they
saw the train coming, they took prompt measures. They halted the troops,
and rode off down a side lane to be out of harm's way; and when we had
well passed, they rejoined the column, and the march was resumed.

The early train from Berne catches the first boat on the Lake of Thun,
and I landed at the second station on the lake, the village of Gonten or
Gunten. M. Thury's list states that the glacière known as the Schafloch
is on the Rothhorn, in the Canton of Berne, 4,500 mètres of horizontal
distance from Merligen, a village on the shore of the lake; and from
these data I was to find the cave. Gonten was apparently the nearest
station to Merligen, and as soon as the small boat which meets the
steamer had deposited me on the shore, I asked my way, first to the
_auberge_, and then to Merligen. The _auberge_ was soon found, and
coffee and bread were at once ordered for breakfast; but when the people
learned my eventual destination, they would not let me go to Merligen. A
man, to whom--for no particular reason--I had given two-pence, called a
council of the village upon me, and they proceeded to determine whether
I must have a guide from Gonten, or only from a nameless châlet higher
up. The discussion was noisy, and was conducted without words: they do
not speak, those men of Gonten--they merely grunt, and each interprets
the grunts as he wills. My two-penny friend told me what it all meant,
in an obliging manner, but in words less intelligible than the grunts;
and one member of the council drew out so elaborate a route--the very
characters being wild patois--splitting the morning into quarter-stundes
and half-quarter-stundes, with a sharp turn to the right or left at the
end of each, that, as I drank my coffee, I determined to take a guide
from the village, whatever the decision of the council might be.
Fortunately, things took a right turn, and when breakfast was finished,
a deputation went out and found a guide, suspiciously like one of their
number who did not return, and I was informed that Christian Opliger
would conduct me to the Schafloch for five francs, and a _Trinkgeld_ if
I were satisfied with him. In order to prove to me that he had really
been at the cave, six days before, with two Bernese gentlemen, he seized
my favourite low-crowned white hat, and endeavoured to knead it into the
shape of the cave.

Our affairs took a long time to arrange, for grunts and pantomime are
not rapid means of communication, when it comes to detail. The great
question in Christian's mind seemed to be, what should we take with us
to eat and drink? and when he propounded this to me with steady
pertinacity, I, with equal pertinacity, had only one answer--a cord and
a hatchet. At last he provided these, vowing that they were ridiculously
unnecessary, but comprehending that they must be forthcoming, as a
preliminary to anything more digestible; and then I told him, some dry
bread and no wine. This drove him from grunts to words. No wine! it
would be so frightfully hot on the mountains!--I told him I never drank
wine when I was hot. But it would be so terribly cold in the cave!--I
never drank wine when I was cold. But the climbing was _sehr stark_--we
should need to give ourselves strength!--I never needed to give myself
strength. There was no good water to be found the whole way!--I never
drank water. Then, at last, after a brief grunt with the landlord, he
struck:--he simply would not go without wine! I never wished him to do
so, I explained; he might take as much as he chose, and I would pay for
it, but he need not count me for anything in calculating how much was
necessary. This made him perfectly happy; and when I answered his
question touching cheese in a similar manner, only limiting him to a
pound and a half, he rushed off for a large wicker _hotte_, spacious
enough for the stowage of many layers of babies; and in it he packed all
our properties, and all his provisions. The landlord had made his own
calculations, and put it at 3lbs. of bread and 2lbs. of cheese; but I
cut down the bread on account of its bulk, before I saw the size of the
_hotte_, and Christian seemed to think he had quite enough to carry.

It was about half-past nine when we started from the _auberge_; and
after a short mount in the full sun, we were not sorry to reach the
pleasant shade of walnut trees which accompanied us for a considerable
distance. The blue lake lay at our feet on the right, and beyond it the
Niesen stood, with wonted grandeur, guarding its subject valleys; more
in front, as we ascended transversely, the well-known snow-peaks of the
Bernese Oberland glittered high above the nearer foreground, and, sheer
above us, on the left, rose the ragged precipices whose flank we were to
turn. The Rothhorn of the Canton Berne lies inland from the Lake of
Thun, and sends down towards the lake a ridge sufficiently lofty,
terminating in the Ralligstöcke, or Ralligflue, the needle-like point,
so prettily ridged with firs, which advances its precipitous sides to
the water. These precipices were formed in historic times, and the sheer
face from which half a mountain has been torn stands now as clear and
fresh as ever, while a chaos of vast blocks at its foot gives a point to
the local legends of devastation and ruin caused by the various
berg-falls. Two such falls are clearly marked by the _débris_: one of
these, a hundred and fifty years ago, reduced the town of Ralligen to a
solitary Schloss; and the other, in 1856, overwhelmed the village of
Merligen, and converted its rich pastures into a desert cropped with
stones. A traveller in Switzerland, at the beginning of this century,
found that the inhabitants of Merligen were considered in the
neighbourhood to be _d'une stupidité et d'une bêtise extrêmes_, and I
am inclined to believe that after the last avalanche a general migration
to Gonten must have taken place.

Christian's patois was of so hopeless a description, that I was tempted
to give it up in despair, and walk on in silence. Still, as we were
together for a whole long day, for better or for worse, it seemed worth
while to make every effort to understand each other, else I could learn
no local tales and legends, and Christian would earn but little
_Trinkgeld_; so we struggled manfully against our difficulties. A
confident American lady, meditating Europe, and knowing little French
and no German, is said to have remarked jauntily that if the worst came
to the worst she could always talk on her fingers to the peasants; but I
did not attempt to avail myself of the results of early practice in that
universal language. Christian's answers--the more intelligible parts of
them--were a stratified succession of _yes_ and _no_, and as he was a
man naturally polite and acquiescent, the assentient strata were of more
frequent occurrence; but of course, beyond showing his good-will, such
answers were of no practical value. At length, after long perseverance,
we were rewarded by the appearance of a curiosity which eventually gave
each the key to the other's cipher. This was a strong stream of water,
flowing out of the trunk of a growing tree, at a height of six feet or
so from the ground; and I was so evidently interested in the phenomenon,
that Christian exerted himself to the utmost, at last with success, to
explain the construction of the fountain. A healthy poplar, seven or
eight years old, is taken from its native soil, and a cold iron borer is
run up the heart of the trunk from the roots, for six feet or more, by
which means the pith is removed, and the trunk is made to assume the
character of a pipe. A hole is then bored through from the outside of
the trunk, to communicate with the highest point reached by the former
operation, and in this second hole a spout is fixed. The same is done
at a very short distance above the root, in the part of the trunk which
will be buried in the earth when the tree is replanted, and the poplar
is then fixed in damp ground, with the pipe at its root in connection
with one of the little runs of water which abound in meadows at the foot
of hills. A well-known property of fluids produces then the strange
effect of an unceasing flow of water from an iron spout in the trunk of
a living tree; and, as poplars love water, the fountain-tree thrives,
and is more vigorous than its neighbours. This sort of fountain may be
common in some parts of Switzerland, but I have not seen them myself
except in this immediate neighbourhood. There is said to be one near

In the endeavour to explain all this to me, Christian succeeded so
perfectly, that for the rest of the day we understood each other very
well. When I told him that he spoke much better German than the rest of
the people in Gonten, he informed me that he had worked among
foreigners, in proof whereof he held out his fingers; but all that I
could gather from the invited inspection was, that, whatever his
employment might have been, he could not be said to have come out of it
with clean hands. He had been employed, he explained, in German
dye-works, and there had learned something better than the native
patois. About this time, too, I was able to make him understand that, as
he carried more than I, he must call a halt whenever he felt so
inclined; upon which he patted me affectionately on the back, and, if I
could remember the word he used, I believe that I should now know the
Swiss-German for a brick.

Our object was to pass along the side of the lake, at a considerable
elevation, till we reached the east side of the Rothhorn range, when we
were to turn up the Jüstisthal, and mount towards the highest point of
the ridge, the glacière lying about an hour below the summit, in the
face of the steep rock. The cliffs became very grand on either side, as
soon as we entered this valley, the Jüstisthal, especially the
precipices of the Beatenberg on the right; and our path lay through
woods which have sprung up on the site of an early _Berg-lauine._ The
guide-books call attention to a cavern with a curious intermittent
spring in this neighbourhood. English tourists should feel some interest
in the Cave of S. Beatus, inasmuch as its canonised occupant went from
our shores to preach the Gospel to the wild men of the district, and
died in this cave at a very advanced age. His relics remaining there,
his fête-day attracted such crowds of pilgrims, that reforming Berne
sent two deputies in 1528 to carry off the saint's skull, and bury it
between the lakes; but still the pilgrimages continued, and at length
the Protestant zeal of Berne went to the expense of a wall, and they
built the pilgrims out in 1566. S. Beatus is said to have been converted
by S. Barnabas in Britain, and to have gone to Rome, whence S. Peter
sent him out to preach. His relics were conveyed to Lucerne in 1554,
because heresy prevailed in the country where his cave lies, and an arm
is among the proud possessions of pilgrim-pressed Einsiedeln. The saint
was originally a British noble, by name Suetonius; and Dempster drops a
letter from his name, and with much ingenuity makes him collateral
ancestor of a Scottish family--'The Setons, tall and proud.'[56]

When we arrived at the last châlet, Christian turned to mount the grass
slope on our left hand, which led to the part of the rocks in which the
entrance to the Schafloch was to be sought. I never climbed up grass so
steep, and before we had gone very far we were hailed by a succession of
grunts, which my companion interpreted into assurances from some
invisible person that we were going wrong. The man soon appeared, in the
shape of a charcoal-burner, and told us that we were making the ascent
much more difficult than it need be made, and also, that we should come
to some awkward rock-climbing by the route we had chosen. It was too
late, however, to turn back; so we persevered.

Before long, I heard a _Meinherr_! from Christian, in a tone which I
knew meant rest and some food. He explained that he would rather take
two small refreshments, one here and one at the Schafloch, than one
large refreshment at the cave; so we propped ourselves on the grass, and
tapped the _hotte_. The cheese proved to be delightful--six years old,
the landlady told us afterwards, and apparently as hard as a bone, but
when once mastered its flavour was admirable. Christian persuaded me to
taste the wine, of which he had a high opinion, and he was electrified
by the universal shudder the one taste caused. The grapes from which it
was brewed had been grown in a gooseberry garden, and all the saccharine
matter carefully extracted; the wine had been left without a cork since
the first dawn of its existence, and the heat and jolting of its travels
on Christian's back had reduced it to the condition of warm flat
vinegar. He drank it with the utmost relish, and was evidently
reconciled to my verdict by the consideration that there would be all
the more for him.

From the appearance of the bread and cheese when the meal had come to an
end, I concluded that my companion had changed his mind in the course of
feeding, and had resolved to compress the whole eating of the day into
one large refreshment here. The consumptive powers of the Swiss-German
peasant, when his meal is franked, has not unfrequently reminded me of
the miraculous eating performed by a yellow domino of that nation, at
the fête by which Louis XIV. celebrated the second marriage of the
Dauphin. This domino was of large size, and ate and drank voraciously
throughout the entertainment, which lasted many hours, retiring every
five minutes or so, and returning speedily with unabated appetite. The
thing became at length so portentous, that enquiries were instituted,
and it was found that the trusty _Cent-Suisses_ had joined at a domino,
and were drawing lots all through the evening for the next turn at
eating; so that each man's time was necessarily limited, and he
accordingly made the most of it.

We soon took to the rocks, and found them, as the charcoal-burner had
promised, sufficiently stiff work. Colonel (now General) Dufour visited
the Schafloch with a party of officers in 1822, and he describes[57] the
path as a dangerous one, so much so that several of the gallant members
of his party could not reach the cave: he uses rather large words about
the precipices, and it is a matter of observation that military service
on the Continent tends to induce a habit of body which is not the most
suitable for doubtful climbing. The mountain seemed to be composed, in
this part, of horizontal layers of crumbling shale, with a layer now and
then of stone, about the thickness of an ordinary house-tile. The stone
layers project from the looser masonry, and afford an excellent
foot-hold; but a slip might be unpleasant. Every one who has done even a
small amount of climbing has met with an abundance of places where 'a
slip would be certain death,' as people are so fond of saying; but
equally he has discovered that a slip is the last thing he thinks of
making in such situations. Christian had told me that if I had the
slightest tendency to _Schwindelkopf_, I must not go by the improvised
route; but it proved that there were really no precipices at all, much
less any of sufficient magnitude to turn an ordinary head dizzy. He
chose these rocks as the text for a long sermon on the necessity for
great caution when we should arrive at the cave, telling of an
Englishman who had tried to visit it two years before, and had cut his
knee so badly with his guide's axe that he had to be carried down the
mountain to Gonten, and thence to the steamer for Thun, in which town he
lay for many weeks in the hands of the German doctor; this last
assertion being by no means incredible. Also, of a native who attempted
the cave alone, and, making one false step near the top of a fall of
ice, slipped down and down almost for ever, and finally landed with
broken limbs on a floor of ice, where he was found, two days after,
frozen stiff, but still alive.

It was not necessary to mount much, for we were almost as high as the
mouth of the cave, according to Christian's belief, and our work
consisted chiefly in passing along the face of the rock, round
projecting buttresses and re-entering angles, till we reached that part
of the mountain where we might expect to find our glacière. While we
were thus engaged, two hoarse and ominous ravens took us under their
charge, and accompanied us with unpleasant screams, which argued the
proximity of food or nest. We soon found that we had disturbed their
meal, for we came to marks of blood, and saw that some animal had
slipped on the rocks above, and landed on the ledge on which we were
walking, bounding off again on to a shelf below, where the ravens had
already torn the body to pieces. I must confess to a very considerable
shudder when we discovered the reason of their screams, and neither of
us seemed to enjoy the circling and croaking of the unclean birds.

Very soon after this, Christian announced that we had reached the cave,
and a steep little climb of six feet or so brought us to the entrance.
Here we were haunted still by the presence of pieces of the fallen goat,
which lay about here and there on the ground; and the flutter of wings
overhead explained to us that the old ravens had built their nest in the
mouth of the cave, and had brought morsels of raw flesh to their young
ones, which were scarcely able to fly. I am ashamed to say that we were
so angry with the old birds for shrieking so suggestively in our ears,
and parading before us the results of a slip on the rocks, that we
charged ourselves with stones, and put an end to the most noisy member
of the foul brood; Christian making some of the worst shots it is
possible to conceive, and raining blocks of stone and lumps of wood in
all directions, with such reckless impartiality, that the only safe
place seemed to be between him and the bird. One of us, at least,
regretted the useless cruelty as soon as it was perpetrated, and it came
back upon me very reproachfully at an awkward part of our return

The Schafloch does not take its name from the bones contained in it, as
is the case with the Kühloch in Franconia,[58] but from the fact that
when a sudden storm comes on, the sheep and goats make their way to the
cave for shelter, never, I was told, going so far as the commencement of
the ice. The entrance faces ESE., and is of large size, with a low wall
built partly across it to increase the shelter for the sheep: Dufour
calls the entrance 50 feet wide and 25 feet high, but I found the width
at the narrowest part, a few yards within the entrance, to be 33
feet.[59] For a short distance the cave passes horizontally into the
rock, in a westerly direction, and is quite light; it then turns sharp
to the south, the floor beginning to fall, and candles becoming
necessary. Here the height increases considerably, and the way lies over
a wild confusion of loose masses of rock, which have apparently fallen
from the roof, and make progression very difficult. We soon reached a
point where ice began to appear among the stones; and as we advanced it
became more and more prominent, till at length we lost sight of the
rock, and stood on solid ice.

On either side of the cave was a grand column of ice forming the
portal, as it were, through which we must pass to further beauties.
The ice-floor rose to meet these columns in a graceful swelling curve,
perfectly continuous, so that the general effect was that of two
columns whose roots expanded and met in the middle of the cave; and,
indeed, that may have been really the order of formation. The
right-hand column was larger than its fellow, but, owing to the more
gradual expansion of the lower part of its height, and the steepness
of the consequent slope, we were unable to measure its girth at any
point where it could be fairly called a column. Christian had been in
the cave a few days before, and he assured me that the swelling base
of this column had increased very considerably since his last visit,
pointing out a solid surface of ice, at one part of our track, where
he had before walked on bare rock. The cave was by no means extremely
cold, that is to say, it was rather above than below the freezing
point, and the splashing of drops of water was audible on all sides;
so that, if Christian spoke the truth,--it was sad to be so often
reminded of Legree's plaintive soliloquy in the opening pages of
'Uncle Tom's Cabin,'--the explanation, I suppose, might be that the
drops of water, falling on the top of the column or stalagmite, run
down the sides, and carry with them some melted portion from the upper
part of the column, and after a course of a few yards become so far
refrigerated as to form ice.[60] The pillar on the left was more
approachable, but we were unable to determine its dimensions; for on
the outer side, where it stood a few feet or yards clear of the side
of the cave, the rounded ice at its foot fell off at once into a dark
chasm, a sort of smooth enticing _Bergschrund_, which we did not care
to face. Christian declared that this column was not so high as it was
a day or two before, which may go to support the theory expressed
above, or at least that part of it which depends upon the supposition
of water dropping on to the head of the column, and melting certain
portions of it.

If we were unable to take the external dimensions of this column, I
had no doubt that we should find internal investigations interesting;
so, to Christian's surprise, I began to chop a hole in it, about two
feet from the ground, and, having made an entrance sufficiently large,
proceeded to get into the cavity which presented itself. The flooring
of the dome-shaped grotto in which I found myself, was loose rock, at
a level about two feet below the surface of the ice-floor on which
Christian still stood. The dome itself was not high enough to allow me
to stand upright, and from the roof, principally from the central
part, a complex mass of delicate icicles passed down to the floor,
leaving a narrow burrowing passage round, which was itself invaded by
icicles from the lower part of the sloping roof, and by stubborn
stalagmites of ice rising from the floor.[61] The details of this
central cluster of icicles, and in fact of every portion of the
interior of the strange grotto, were exceedingly lovely, and I crushed
with much regret, on hands and knees, through fair crystal forests and
frozen dreams of beauty. In making the tour of this grotto, contorting
my body like a snake to get in and out among the ice-pillars, and do
as little damage as might be, but yet, with all my care, accompanied
by the incessant shiver and clatter of breaking and falling ice, I
came to a hole in the ground, too dark and deep for one candle to show
its depth; so I called to Christian to come in, thinking that two
candles might show it better. He asked if I really meant it, and
assured me he could be of no use; but I told him that he must come,
and informed him that he, being the smaller man, would find the
passage quite easy. It was very fortunate that I had not waited a
minute longer before summoning him, for just as he had dropped into
the hollow, and was beginning his journey to the side where I now was,
a drop of water and a simultaneous icicle came upon my candle, and
left me in darkness, curled up like a dormouse in a nest of ice, at
the edge of the newly discovered shaft; while my troubles were brought
to a climax by an incursion of icy drops, which had me at their mercy.
If all this had happened while Christian was still outside, he would
probably have staid there wringing his hands till it was time to go
home, and I should certainly not have liked to move without a light.
As it was, I did not inform him of the catastrophe, but let him come
toiling on, wondering audibly what madness could drive Herrschaft into
such places; and when he arrived, we cut off the wet wick, and lighted
the candle again. We could make nothing of the hole, so he returned by
the way he had come, and I completed the tour of the grotto, finding
the same difficult passage, and the same ice beauties, all the way

Having squeezed ourselves out again through the narrow hole, we now
passed between the two gigantic columns, and found that the sea of ice
became still broader and bolder. I much regret that I neglected to take
any measurements in this part of the cave; but farther down, where it
was certainly not so broad, I found the width of the ice to be 75 feet.
It was throughout of the crystalline character which prevails in all the
large masses in the glacières I have visited. For some distance beyond
the columns, we found neither stalactites nor stalagmites--indeed, I
forgot to look at the roof--until we came to the edge of a glorious
ice-fall, down which Christian said it was impossible to go--no one had
ever been farther than where we now stood. I have seen no subterranean
ice-fall so grand as this, round and smooth, and perfectly unbroken,
passing down, like the rapids of some river too deep for its surface to
be disturbed, into darkness against which two candles prevailed nothing.
The fall in the Upper Glacière of the Pré de S. Livres was strange
enough, but it was very small, and led to a confined corner of the
cavern; whereas this of the Schafloch rolls down majestically, cold and
grey, into a dark gulf of which we could see neither the roof nor the
end, while the pieces of ice which we despatched down the steep slope
could be heard going on and on, as M. Soret says, _à une très-grande
distance_. The shape, also, of the fall was very striking. Beginning at
the left wall of the cave, the edge ran out obliquely towards the
middle, when it suddenly turned and struck straight across to the
right-hand wall, so that we were able to stand on a tongue, as it were,
in the middle of the top of the fall. To add to the effect, precisely
from this tongue or angle a fine column of ice sprang out of the very
crest of the fall, rising to or towards the roof, and to this we clung
to peer down into the darkness.

The rope we had brought was not long, and the idea was hopeless of
cutting steps down this great fall, leading we knew not where, with an
incline which it frightened Christian even to look at. I began to
consider, however, whether it was not possible to make our way down the
left branch of the ice, which fell rather towards the side wall than
into the dark gulf below. On examining more closely, I found that a
large stone, or piece of rock, projected from the face of this branch of
the fall, about 12 feet from the top, and to this I determined to
descend, as a preliminary to further attempts, the candles not showing
us what there was beyond. Accordingly, I tied on the rope, and planted
Christian where he had a safe footing, telling him to hold tight if I
slipped, for he seemed to have little idea what the rope was meant for.
The ice was very hard, and cutting steps downwards with a short axe is
not easy work; so when I came within 3 or 4 feet of the rock, I forgot
the rope, and set off for a short glissade. Christian, of course,
thought something was wrong, and very properly put a prompt strain upon
the rope, which reduced his Herr to a spread-eagle sort of condition, in
which it was difficult to explain matters, so as to procure a release.
When that was accomplished, I saw it would be easy to reach the point
where the ice met the wall, so I called to Christian to come down, which
he did in an unpremeditated, avalanche fashion; and then, by cutting
steps here and there, and making use of odd points of rock, we skirted
down the edge of the great fall, and reached at last the lower regions.

When I came to read Dufour's account of his visit in 1822, I found that
the ice must have increased very much since his time. He uses
sufficiently large words, speaking of the _vaste, horrible et pourtant
magnifique_--of the _horreur du séjour_, and the _grandeur des demeures
souterraines_; but he only calls the glorious ice-fall a _plan incliné_,
and says that the whole was less remarkable for the amount of ice, than
for the characteristics indicated by the words I have quoted. He says
that it required _une assez forte dose de courage_ to slip down to the
stone of which I have spoken; the fact being that at the time of my
visit it would have been impossible to do so with any chance of stopping
oneself, for the flat surface of the stone was all but even with the
ice. M. Soret, who saw the cave in 1860, determined that cords were then
absolutely necessary for the descent, which he did not attempt; and the
only Englishman I have met who has seen this cave, tells me that he and
his party went no farther than the edge of the fall.[62] Probably each
year's accumulation on the upper floor of ice has added to the height
and rapidity of the fall; but at any rate, when Dufour was there, _des
militaires_--as he dashingly tells--were not to be stopped, and he and
his party--such of them as had not been already stopped by the
precipices outside--let themselves slip down to the stone, and thence
descended as we did.

We soon found that the larger ice-fall looked extremely grand when seen
from below, and that in a modified form it reached far down into the
lower cave, and terminated in a level sea of ice; but, before making any
further investigations into its size, we pressed on to look for the end
of the cave. This soon appeared, and as a commentary on Christian's
assertion that no one had ever been beyond the head of the fall, I
called his attention to some initials smoked on the wall by means of a
torch. There was an abrupt piece of rock-floor between this end and the
termination of the ice. The western wall was ornamented with a long
arcade of lofty columns of very white ice, looking strangely ghostlike
by the light of two candles, crystallised, and with the porcelain
appearance I have described before. We could not measure the height of
these columns, but we found that they extended continuously, so as to be
in fact one sheet of columns, connected by shapes of ice now graceful
and now grotesque, for 27 yards. The ice from their feet flowed down to
join the terminal lake, which formed a weird sea 28 yards by 14. My
notes, written on the spot, tell me that between this lake, which I have
called terminal, and the end of the cave, there is a sheet of ice 48
yards long, but it has entirely vanished from my recollection.

I now sent Christian back with a ball of string, up the steps we had cut
for the descent, with directions to get as near as he could to the top
of the main fall, and then send down a stone tied to the string, as I
wished to determine the length of the fall. While he was making his way
up, I amused myself by chopping and carving at the ice at various
points to examine its structure, until at length a _Jodel_ from above
announced that Christian had reached his post; and a vast amount of
hammering ensued, of which I could not understand the meaning. Presently
he called out that 'it' was coming, and assuredly it did come. There was
a loud crash on the upper part of the fall, and a shower of fragments of
ice came whizzing past, and almost dislodged me; while the sound of
pieces of ice bounding and gliding down the slope seemed as if it never
would cease. It turned out to mean that my friend had not been able to
find a stone; so he had smashed a block of ice from the column which
presided over the fall, and having attached the string to this, had
hurled the whole apparatus in my direction, fortunately not doing as
much damage as he might have done. My end of the string was not to be
seen, so he repeated the experiment, with a piece of wood in place of
the block of ice, and this time it succeeded. We found that from top to
bottom of the fall was 45 yards. There was all the appearance of immense
thickness, especially towards the upper part.

Christian had placed his candle in a niche in the column, while he
arranged the string for measuring the fall, and the effect of the spark
of light at the top of the long steep slope was extremely strange from
below. The whole scene was so remarkable, that it required some effort
to realise the fact that I was not in a dream. Christian stood at the
top invisible, jodeling in a most unearthly manner, and developing an
astonishing falsetto power, only interrupting his performance to assure
me that he was not coming down again; so I was obliged to measure the
breadth of the fall by myself. I chose a part where the ice was not very
steep, and where occasional points of rock would save some of the labour
of cutting steps; but even so it was a sufficiently tedious business.
The string was always catching at something, and mere progression,
without any string to manage, would have been difficult enough under the
circumstances. It was completely dark, so a candle occupied one hand,
and, as every step must be cut, save where an opportune rock or stone
appeared, an axe occupied the other; then there was the string to be
attended to, and both hands must be ready to clutch at some projecting
point when a slip came, and now and then a ruder rock required
circumvention. Add to all this, that hands and feet had not been
rendered more serviceable by an hour and a half of contact with ice, and
it will easily be understood that I was glad when the measurement was
over. At this point the breadth was 25 yards, and, a few feet above the
line in which I crossed, all traces of rock or stone disappeared, and
there was nothing but unbroken ice. I had of course abundant
opportunities for examining the structure of the ice, and I found in all
parts of the fall the same large-grained material, breaking up, when
cut, into the usual prismatic nuts.

I now rejoined Christian, and we worked our way upwards to the mouth of
the cave, penitently desisting from stoning a remaining raven. We
observed at the very mouth, by watching the flame of the candles, a
slight current outwards, extremely feeble, and on our first arrival I
had fancied there was a current, equally slight, inwards, but neither
was perceptible beyond the entrance of the cave. M. Soret was fortunate
enough to witness a curious phenomenon, at the time of his visit to the
Schafloch, in September 1860, which throws some light upon the
atmospheric state of the cave. The day was externally very foggy, and
the fog had penetrated into the cavern; but as soon as M. Soret began to
descend to the glacière itself, properly so called, he passed down out
of the fog, and found the air for the rest of the way perfectly

M. Soret states that he has not absolute confidence in his
thermometrical observations, but as he had more time than I to devote to
such details, inasmuch as he did not pass down into the lowest part of
the cave, I give his results rather than my own, which were carelessly
made on this occasion:--On a stone near the first column of ice,
0°·37 C.; on a stick propped against the column on the edge of the great
ice-fall, 2°·37 C.; in a hole in the ice, filled with water by drops
from the roof, 0° C. approximately.[64] The second result is
sufficiently remarkable. My own observations would give nearer 33° F.
than 32° as the general temperature of the cave.

Christian was so cold when we had finished our investigations, that he
determined to take his second refreshment _en route_, and, moreover,
time was getting rather short. We had started from Gonten at half-past
nine in the morning, and reached the glacière about half-past twelve.
It was now three o'clock, and the boat from Gonten must reach the
steamer at half-past six precisely, so there was not too much time for
us; especially as we were to return by a more mountainous route, which
involved further climbing towards the summit of the Rothhorn, and was
to include a visit to the top of the Ralligflue. On emerging from the
cave, we were much struck by the beauty of the view, the upper half of
the Jungfrau, with its glittering attendants and rivals, soaring above
a rich and varied foreground not unworthy of so glorious a
termination. There was not time, however, to admire it as it deserved,
and we set off almost at once up the rocks, soon reaching a more
elevated table-land by dint of steep climbing. The ground of this
table-land was solid rock, smoothed and rounded by long weathering,
and fissured in every direction by broad and narrow crevasses 2 or 3
feet deep, at the bottom of which was luxuriant botany, in the shape
of ferns, and mallows, and monkshood, and all manner of herbs. The
learned in such matters call these rock-fallows _Karrenfelden_. When
we had crossed this plateau, and came to grass, we found a gorgeous
carpet of the huge couched blue gentian (_G. acaulis_, Fr. _Gentiane
sans tige_), with smaller patterns put in by the dazzling blue of the
delicate little flower of the same species (_G. verna_ ); while the
white blossoms of the grass of Parnassus, and the frailer white of the
_dryade à huit petales_, and the modest waxen flowers of the _Azalea
procumbens_ and the _airelle ponctuée_ (_Vaccineum vitis idaea_),
tempered and set off the prevailing blue. There were groves, too,
rather lower down, of Alpine roses (the first I had come across that
year), not the fringed or the green-backed species which botanists
love best, but the honest old rust-backed rhododendron, which every
Swiss traveller has been pestered with in places where the children
are one short step above mere mendicity, but, equally, which every
Swiss traveller hails with Medean delight when he comes upon it on the
mountain-side. We were now, too, in the neighbourhood of the first
created Alpen rose. The story is, that a young peasant, who had
climbed the precipices behind Oberhausen for rock-flowrets, as the
price of some maiden's love, fell at the moment when he had secured
the flowers, and was killed. From his blood the true Alpen rose
sprang, and took its colour.

We were now passing along the summit of one of the lower spurs of the
Rothhorn range, and making for the peak of the Ralligflue, which lay
considerably below us. In descending near the line of crest, we found a
large number of very deep fissures, narrow and black, some of them
extending to a great distance across the face of the hill; sometimes
they appeared as mere holes, down which we despatched stones, sometimes
as unpleasant crevasses almost hidden by flowers and the shrubs of
rhododendron. In many of these we dimly discovered accumulated snow at
the bottom, and we observed that the Alpine roses which overhung the
snow-holes were by far the deepest coloured and most beautiful we could

To reach the Ralligflue, we had to cross a smooth green lawn completely
covered with the sweet vanilla orchis (_O. nigra_), which perfumed the
air almost too powerfully. No one can ever fully appreciate the grandeur
of the lion-like Niesen till he has seen it from this verdant little
paradise, on the slope near the Bergli Châlet, with a diminutive limpid
lake in the meadow at his feet, and the blue lake of Thun below. The
Kanderthal and the Simmenthal lie exposed from their entrance at the
foot of the Niesen; and when the winding Kanderthal is lost, the
Adelbodenthal takes up the telescope, and guides the eye to the parent
glaciers. This view I was fortunately able to enjoy rather longer than
that from the mouth of the Schafloch; for we had made such rapid way,
that Christian found there was time for a meal of milk in the châlet,
and meanwhile left me lying in perfect luxury on the sweet grass.

From the Ralligflue a long and remarkably steep zigzag leads to the
lower ground, and down this Christian ran at full speed, jodeling in a
most trying manner; indeed, at one of the sudden turns of the path he
went off triumphantly into a falsetto so unearthly, that he lost his
legs, and landed in a promiscuous sort of way on a lower part of the
zigzag, after which he was slower and less vocal.

We eventually reached Gonten so soon, that there was time to cool and
have a bath in the lake; and when that was nearly finished, Christian
brought a plate of cherries and a detachment of the village, and I
ate the cherries and held a levée in the boat--very literally a levée,
as the dressing was by no means accomplished when the deputation
arrived. My late guide, now, as he said, a friend for life, made a
speech to the people, setting forth that he had done that day what he
had never thought to do; for, often as he had been to the entrance of
the Schafloch--five or six times at the least--he had never before
reached the end of the cave. And to whom, he asked, did he owe it? All
previous Herrschaft under his charge had cried _Immer zurück!_ but
this present Herr had known but one cry, _Immer vorwärts!_ Luckily the
steamer now approached, so the speech came to an end, and he shook
hands affectionately, with a vigour that would certainly have
transmitted some of the dye, if that material had not become a part of
the skin which it coloured. Then the village also shook hands, having
evidently understood what Christian said, notwithstanding the fact
that it was intelligible German, and I returned to Thun and Berne.

No. 53 was still the only bed disengaged, for it was very late when I
reached Berne; but on my vehement protestations against that unquiet
chamber, the landlord most obligingly converted a sofa in his own
sitting-room into a temporary bed, and made it over to me. This room was
separated by a door of ground-glass from another sitting-room
brilliantly lighted, in which a number of German young gentlemen were
fêting the return of a comrade after the national manner. The landlord
said he thought it must soon be over, for he doubted whether they could
last much longer; but their powers of endurance were greater than he had
supposed. It will readily be imagined that German songs with a good
chorus, the solo parts being very short, and received with the utmost
impatience by the chorus, were even less soporific in their effect than
the flirtations--though boisterous beyond all conventional propriety--of
German housemaids and waiters.[65]


[Footnote 55: See p. 258.]

[Footnote 56: Acta SS. Bolland. May 9.--If possessed of the
characteristics of his race--'tall and proud'--his activity belies the
first line of the old saying,

  'Lang and lazy,
  Little and loud;
  Red and foolish,
  Black and proud:'

though possibly the personal habits which a modern spirit loves to point
out, as the great essential of hermit-life, united with the family
characteristic of the early Seton to verify the last line of the

[Footnote 57: _Bibl. Univ. de Genève_, First Series, xxi. 113. See also
_Edinburgh Philosophical Journal_, viii. 290.]

[Footnote 58: _Philosophical Magazine_, Aug. 1829.]

[Footnote 59: Colonel Dufour guessed the elevation of the cave, in 1822,
at two-thirds the height of the Niesen, and forty years after, as
General Dufour, he published the result of the scientific survey of
Switzerland, which makes it 1,780 mètres; so that his early guess was
not a bad one.]

[Footnote 60: There is a hint of something of this kind in an editorial
note in the _Journal des Mines_ (now _Annales des Mines_) of Prairial,
an. iv. pp. 71, 72, in connection with the glacière near Besançon.]

[Footnote 61: M. Soret, who visited the Schafloch in September 1860, and
communicated his notes to M. Thury, speaks of many columns in this part
of the glacière, where we found only two. 'L'un d'entre eux,' he says,
'présentait dans sa partie inférieure une petite grotte ou cavité, assez
grande pour qu'un homme pût y entrer en se courbant.']

[Footnote 62: See also the note at the end of this chapter.]

[Footnote 63: 'Toute la couche supérieure au plan de niveau passant par
le seuil était chargée de brouillard; toute la couche inférieure à ce
niveau était parfaitement limpide.' (_Thury_, p. 37.)]

[Footnote 64: Respectively, 32°·666, 36°·266, and 32°, Fahrenheit.]

[Footnote 65: Since I wrote this chapter, my attention has been called
to a tourist's account of the Schafloch in _Once a Week_ (Nov. 26,
1864), in an article called _An Ice-cavern in the Justis-Thal._ The
writer says--'We proceeded to the farther end of the cavern, or at least
as far as we thought it prudent, to ascertain where the flooring of ice
rounded off into the abyss of unfathomable water we heard trickling
below.' One of the party 'having taken some large stones with him, he
began hurling them into the profound mystery. Presently a heavy
double-bass gurgle issued forth with ominous depth of voice, indicating
the danger of farther progress. Having thus ascertained that if either
of us ventured farther he would most probably not return by the way he
went, the signal of retreat was given, and in about forty minutes, after
encountering the same amusing difficulties which had enlivened our
descent, Æneas-like we gained the upper air.' It will be seen from my
account of what we found in the 'abyss of unfathomable water,' that a
little farther exploration might have effected a change in the writer's

       *       *       *       *       *



M. Thury's list contained a bare mention of two glacières on the M.
Parmelan, near Annecy, without any further information respecting them,
beyond the fact that they supplied ice for Lyons. Their existence had
been apparently reported to him by M. Alphonse Favre, but he had
obtained no account of a visit to the caves. Under these circumstances,
the only plan was to go to Annecy, and trust to chance for finding some
one there who could assist me in my search.

After spending a day or two in the library at Geneva, looking up M.
Thury's references, with respect to various ice-caves, and trying to
discover something more than he had found in the books there, I started
for Annecy at seven in the morning in the banquette of the diligence. On
a fresher day, no doubt the great richness of the orchards and
corn-fields would have been very striking; but on this particular
morning the fields were already trembling with heat, and the trees and
the fruit covered with dust; and there was nothing in the grouping of
the country through which the road lay to refresh the baked and
half-choked traveller. The voyage was to last four and a half hours, and
it soon became a serious question how far it would be possible to face
the heat of noon, when the earlier morning was so utterly unbearable.

Before very long, a counter-irritant appeared in the shape of a
fellow-traveller, whose luggage consisted of a stick and an old pair of
boots. The man was not pleasant to be near in any way, and he was
evidently not at all satisfied with the amount of room I allowed him. He
kept discontentedly and doggedly pushing his spare pair of boots farther
and farther into my two-thirds of the seat, and once or twice was on the
point of a protest, in which case I was prepared to tell him that as he
filled the whole banquette with his smell, he ought in reason to be
satisfied with less room for himself; but instead of speaking, he
brought out a tobacconist's parcel and began to open it. Tobacco-smoke
is all very well under suitable circumstances, but it is possible to be
too hot and dusty and bilious to be able to stand it, and I watched his
proceedings with more of annoyance than of resignation. The parcel
turned out, however, to be delightful snuff, tastefully perfumed and
very refreshing; and the politeness with which the owner gave a pinch to
the foreign monsieur, after apportioning a handful to the driver and
conductor, won him a good three inches more of seat. The inevitable
cigar soon came; but it was a very good one, and no one could complain:
all the same, I could not help feeling a malicious satisfaction when the
_douaniers_ on the French frontier investigated the spare
boots--guiltless, one might have thought, of anything except the
extremity of age and dirt--and drew from them a bundle or two of
smuggled cigars, the owner trying in vain to look as if he rather liked

The Hôtel de Genève is probably the least objectionable of the hotels
of Annecy; but the Poste-bureau is at the Hôtel d'Angleterre, and it
was much too hot for me to fight with the waiters there, and carry off
my knapsack to another house. It is generally a mistake--a great
mistake--to sleep at a house which is the starting-place and the goal
of many diligences. All the night through, whips are cracking, bells
jingling, and men are shouting hoarsely or blowing hoarser horns.
Moreover, the Hôtel d'Angleterre had apparently needed a fresh coat of
paint and universal papering for many years, and the latter need had
at this crisis been so far grappled with that the old paper had been
torn down from the walls and now lay on the various floors, while
large pies of malodorous sizing had been planted at the angles of the
stairs. The natural _salle-à-manger_ was evidently an excellent room,
with oleander balconies, but it was at present in the hands of
joiners, and a card pointed the way to the 'provisionary
_salle-à-manger'_--not a bad name for it--in the neighbourhood of the

There was one redeeming feature. The people of the house were
nice-looking and well-dressed. But experience has taught me to view such
a phenomenon in French towns of humbler rank with somewhat mixed
feelings. When the house is superintended with a keen and watchful eye
by a young lady of fashionable appearance, who takes a personal interest
in a solitary traveller, and suggests an evening's _course_ on the lake,
or a morning's drive to some good view, and makes herself most winning
and agreeable; who takes the words, moreover, out of the mouth of a man
meditating an ordinary dinner, and assures him that she knows exactly
what he wants, and he shall be well satisfied, with a sisterly air that
makes the idea of francs and sous not sordid only, but impossible; I
have slowly learned to expect that this fashion and condescension will
appear in the bill. Prettiness is a very expensive item in such a case;
and as these three were all combined to a somewhat remarkable degree at
the Hôtel d'Angleterre, the eventual bill made me angry, and I should
certainly try the Hôtel de Genève on any future visit to Annecy.

The first thing to be done was to determine the position of the Mont
Parmelan. I was prepared to find the people of the town denying the
existence of such a mountain; but, as it was visible from the door of
the hotel, they could not go quite so far as that. The small crowd at
the door repudiated the glacières with one voice, and pointed out how
unlikely it was that Lyons should be supplied with ice from Annecy;
nevertheless, I continued to ask my way in spite of protestation, till
at length a lame man passed by, who said monsieur was quite right--he
himself knew two glacières on the Mont Parmelan very well. He had never
seen either of them, but he knew them as well as if he had. It was
useless to go to them now, he added, for the owners extracted all the
ice early in the year, and stored it in holes in the lower part of the
mountain. He had no idea by what route they were to be approached from
Annecy, or on which side of the Mont Parmelan they lay.

I now looked on the local map, and determined that the best plan would
be to take the Bonneville diligence as far as Charvonnaz, the point on
the road which seemed to lie nearest to the roots of the Mont Parmelan,
and then be guided by what I might learn among the peasants. Everyone
said there was no chance of getting to anything by that means; but as
the hotel people saw that it was of no use to deny the glacières any
longer, they proposed to take me to a man who knew the M. Parmelan well,
and could tell me all about it. This man proved to be a keeper of
voitures,--an ominous profession under the circumstances,--and he
assured me that I could make a most lovely _course_ the next day,
through scenery of unrivalled beauty; and he eloquently told on his
fingers the villages and sights I should come to. I suggested--without
in the least knowing that it was so--that the drive might be all very
well in itself, but it would not bring me to the glacières; on which he
assured me that he knew every inch of the mountain, and there was not
such a thing as a glacière in the whole district. At this moment, a
gentlemanlike man was brought up by the waiter, and introduced to me as
a monsieur who knew a monsieur who knew the proprietor of one of the
glacières, and would he happy to conduct me to this second monsieur: so,
without any very ceremonious farewell to the owner of the proffered
voiture, we marched off together down the street, and eventually turned
into a _café_, whose master was the monsieur for whom we were in search.
Know the glacière?--yes, indeed! he had ice from it one year every
morning. His wife and he had made a _course_ to the campagne of M. the
Maire of Aviernoz, and he--the cafétier--had descended for miles, as it
were, down and down, till he came to an underground world of ice,
wonderful, totally wonderful: there he perceived so immense a cold, that
he drank a bottle of rhoom--a whole bottle--and drank it from the neck,
_à l'Anglaise_. And when they had gone so far that great dread came upon
them, they rolled a stone down the ice, and it went into the
darkness--boom, boom, boom,--and he put on a power of ventriloquism
which admirably represented the strange suggestive sound. Hold a moment!
had monsieur a crayon? Yes, monsieur had; so the things were impetuously
swept off a round marble table, and the excited little man drew a fancy
portrait of the glacière. The way to reach it? Go by diligence to
Charvonnaz--exactly what I had determined upon--and walk up to Aviernoz,
where his good friend the maire would make me see his beautiful
glacière, through the means of a letter which he went to write. It was
absurd to see this hot little man sign himself 'Dugravel, _glacier_,'
that being the style of his profession, naturally recalling the
contradictory conduct of the Latin noun _lucus_.

The bones of S. Francis of Sales lie in the church of S. François in
Annecy, and I made a pilgrimage in search of them through very
unpleasant streets. After a time, the Italian west front of the church
appeared; but the main door led into a demonstrative bakery, and the
door of the north aisle was obscured by oleanders and a striped awning,
and over it appeared the legend, '_Entrée de l'Hôtel_.' As a man
politely explained, they had built S. Francis another church, and
utilised the old one. The town itself seemed to be of the squalid style
of antiquity--old, no doubt, but very dirty. It is pervaded by streams,
which crop up among the houses, and flow through dark alleys and vaulted
passages, rarely coming into daylight, and suggesting all manner of dark
crimes. The red-legged French kettledrums are, if possible, more
insolent here than in other places, and it is evident that the dogs are
not yet reconciled to the annexation, for the guard swept through the
streets amid a perfect tornado of howls from the negligent scavengers of
the place. For my own part, I was not pleased with the change of rule,
when I found that since Annecy has become French, the _vin d'Asti_ has
become dear, as being now a foreign wine.

The diligence for Bonneville was to leave Annecy at half-past four in
the morning; so I told them to call me at four, intending to breakfast
somewhere on the way. But of course, when four o'clock came, I had to
call myself, and in a quarter of an hour a knock at the door announced
half-past four. I pounced upon the man, and remonstrated with him, but
he assured me it did not matter; and when I reminded him that the
diligence was to leave at half-past four, he observed philosophically
that it was quite true, and I had better make haste, for the poste was
very punctual. At the door of the bureau a loaded diligence stood,
marked _Annecy--Aix_, and I asked had the Bonneville diligence gone? It
did not go till six, the clerk told me; but I reminded him he had said
half-past four when I asked him last night. Half-past four?--true, here
was the carriage standing at the door. But that was for Aix, not
Bonneville, I pointed out to him. Pardon--it was marked Aix, but was in
fact meant for Bonneville.

The diligence reached the end of the by-road leading to Villaz in about
half an hour, and all the fever of Geneva and Annecy seemed to fly away
before the freshness of this green little lane, with clematis in full
flower pervading the hedges, and huge clusters of young nuts peeping
out, and promising later delights to fortunate passers-by. But, alas!
the little lane soon came to an end, and as I faced the fields of corn
up the mountain-side, the hot thunderous air came rolling down in
palpable billows, and oppressive clouds took possession of the
surrounding hills. Three-quarters of an hour brought me to Villaz, a
close collection of houses on the hill-side, with arched stone gateways
leading into the farmyards,--a fortified style of agricultural building
which seems to prevail in that district. After an amount of experience
in out-of-the-way places which makes me very cautious in saying that one
in particular is dirtier than a dozen others, I venture to say that the
_auberge_ of Villaz is the most squalid I have come across; and I would
not feed there again, except in very robust health, even for a new
glacière. Still, it was absolutely necessary to eat something, and the
landlady promised coffee and bread. She showed me first into the
kitchen; but as it was also the place where the domestics slept, with
many quadrupeds, I declined to sit there. Upon this she led me to the
_salon_, where the window resisted all our efforts for some little time,
and then opened upon such a choice assortment of abominations, that I
fled without my baggage. The next attempt she made was the one remaining
room of the house, the family bedroom; but that was so much worse than
all, that I took final refuge on the balcony, a sort of ante-room to the
hen-house. The cocks at the _auberge_ of Villaz are the loudest, the
hens the most talkative, and the cats the most shaggy and presuming, I
have ever met with. Even here, however, all was not unmitigated
darkness; for they ground the coffee while the water was boiling, and
the consequent decoction was admirable. Moreover, the bread had a skin
of such thickness and impervious toughness, that the inside was
presumably clean.

Aviernoz lay about an hour farther. Almost as soon as I left Villaz,
the thunderstorm came on in earnest, with sheets of rain, a regular
_Wolkenbruch_.[66] The rain was most refreshing; but lightning is not
a pleasant companion in presence of a bright ice-axe, and I was glad
when the houses of Aviernoz came in sight. The village had the
appearance of being lost; and the houses were scattered about so
irregularly, that it was difficult to know which was the best point to
make for. The road studiously avoided the scattered houses, and the
_Mairie_ seemed especially difficult to find. When at length it was
found, the maire, like the queen in the poets, was in the kitchen; and
he sat affably on the end of a bench and read the letter of
introduction aloud, asking me, at the conclusion, how was our friend
Dugravel, a man amazing in many ways. When I confessed that I had only
made the acquaintance of the amazing man the night before, and
therefore did not feel competent to give any reliable account of the
state of his health, beyond the fact that he seemed to be in
excellent spirits, the maire looked upon me evidently with great
respect, as having won so far upon a great character like Dugravel in
so short a time, and determined to accompany me himself. Meantime, we
must drink some kirsch. The maire was a young man, spare and vehement.
He talked with a headlong impetuosity which caused him to be always
hot, and his hair limp and errant; and at the end of each sentence
there were so many laggard halves of words to come out together, with
so little breath to bring them out, that he eventuated in a stuttering
scream. His clothes were of such a description, that the most
speculative Israelite would not have gone beyond copper for his
wardrobe, all standing. There were two women in the house, to whom he
was exceedingly imperious: one of them received his orders and his
vehemence with a certain amount of defiance, but the other was subdued
and obedient, and I believe her to have been the mayoress. He poured
himself and his household at my feet, knocked a child one way and his
wife another, and, from the air with which he dragged off the
tablecloth they had laid, and ordered a better, and swept away the
glasses because they were not clean enough--which in itself was
sufficiently true,--and screamed for poached eggs for monsieur, and
then impetuously ate them himself--I fancy that he might have been
taught to play Petrucio with success.

When we had sat for a quarter of an hour or so, a heavy-looking young
man, in fustian clothes and last year's linen, came into the room, and
was introduced as the communal schoolmaster. We shook hands with much
impressment on the strength of the similarity of our professions, and
the maire explained that the new arrival acted also as his secretary,
for there was really so much writing to be done that it was beyond his
own powers; and as the schoolmaster lived _en pension_ at the _Mairie_,
it was very convenient. M. Rosset, the schoolmaster, stated that he had
heard us, as he sat in his room, talking of the proposed visit to the
glacière, and he should much wish to accompany us. We both expressed the
warmest satisfaction; but the maire suggested--how about the boys? That,
M. Rosset said, was simple enough. The world would go to the school at
nine o'clock, and, finding no schoolmaster, would go home again, or
otherwise employ itself; and he could have school on the weekly holiday,
to make up for the lost day. This weekly holiday is universally on
Thursday, he said, because that day divides the week so well; and I
failed to persuade him that there was a commemoration intended in the
choice of that day, as in the observance of Friday and Sunday. The maire
utterly refused to take a cord, on the ground that there was no
possibility of such a thing being of the least use. Fortunately, I had
now my own axe, which in more able hands had mounted more than once Mont
Blanc and Monte Rosa, so I had not the usual fight to procure that

Half an hour from the _Mairie_, when we had well commenced the steep
ascent of the mountain-side, the maire turned suddenly round and
exclaimed, 'But the inspector!' Rosset was a sallow man, but he
contrived to turn white, while M. Métral (the maire) explained to me
that the inspector of schools was to visit Aviernoz that day. The
schoolmaster recovered before long, and said he should inform the
inspector that a famous _savant_ had come from England, and required
that the maire and the _instituteur_ should accompany him to the
glacière, to aid him in making scientific observations. In order that he
might have documentary proof to advance, he asked for my card, and made
me write on it my college and university in full.

As I have already said, the maire's style of talking required a good
deal of breath, and so it was not unnatural that the ascent should
reduce him to silence. The schoolmaster talked freely about scholastic
affairs, and gave me an account of the ordinary tariff in village
schools, though each commune may alter the prices of its school if it
please. Under seven years of age, children pay 4 francs a year, or, for
shorter periods than a year, at the rate of 75 centimes a month; between
seven and thirteen, 6 francs a year, or 1 franc a month; from thirteen
to eighteen, 8 francs a year, or 1 f. 50 c. a month. There is the same
difficulty in France, of course, as with us, in keeping children at
school after they are old enough to earn a few centimes by
cattle-keeping; and the Ministry of Education had shortly before
addressed questions to every schoolmaster in the country, asking what
remedy each could suggest. My present friend had replied, that if the
Government would give the education gratis, something might be done; but
he had expressed his opinion that nothing short of an actual subsidy to
parents of children beyond eight or nine years of age would ensure a
general improvement.

Having given me this information, he observed that it was every man's
business to learn, though he and I might be teachers also, and therefore
he was sure monsieur would pardon him if he asked what those black
patches on monsieur's hands might mean,--pointing to certain large areas
of Epsom plaster which covered the tokens of many glacières. When his
mind was set at rest as to this phenomenon, the maire called a halt, and
took his turn of talking. He began to tell me about himself and his
wealth, Rosset backing him up and putting in the most telling parts. He
had very extensive property, and the more level parts of it were
certainly valuable, consisting of 200 _journaux_ of good arable land:
the forests through which we walked were his, and he possessed three
_montagnes_ and châlets higher up on the mountain. The glacière was his
own property; and two years ago he had discovered another in the
neighbourhood, which he had not since visited. He was assisted in his
capacity of maire by twelve councillors--in a larger commune it would
have been fifteen--and the council met four times in the year. If it was
desirable that they should meet on any other occasion, he must write to
the prefect of the arrondissement for permission, specifying the
business which they wished to conduct, and to this specified business
they must confine themselves entirely. Then he wished to know, had we
maires such as he in England? Hereupon I drew a fancy picture of the
Lord Mayor of London, receiving the Queen and the Royal Family in
general in a friendly way, and giving them a dinner,--which, he
observed, must cost a good deal, a great deal. However, he looked round
upon his fields and houses and mountains, and seemed to think that he
could himself stand a considerable drain upon his purse for the
reception of royalty; and possibly he is now anxious that the Emperor
should pass that way, during the five years to which the tenure of the
mayoralty is restricted. Both of my companions were strong in their
French sympathies--the one because under the new rule all communal
affairs were so much better organised, the other because a wonderful
change for the better had taken place in the government superintendence
of schools. Theirs was formerly an odd corner of a kingdom that did not
care much about them, and was not homogeneous; it was now an integral
part of a well-ordered empire. They confessed that the present state of
things cost them much more in taxes, &c., excepting in the upper
mountains, where Rosset had a cousin who paid even less than under
Sardinian rule.

Of course, we talked a little on Church questions; and they were
astonished to hear that I was not only an ecclesiastic, but an ordained
priest,--a sort of thing which they had fancied did not exist in the
English Church. Rosset said the _curés_ of small communes had about £40
a year, but I must have more than that, or I could not afford to travel
so far from home. Had I already said the mass that morning? Had I my
robes in the _sac_ I had left at the _Mairie_? Was the red book they had
seen in my hands (Bädeker's _Schweiz_) a Breviary? They branched off to
matters of doctrine, and discussed them warmly; but some things they so
accommodatingly understated, and others they stated so fairly, that I
was able to tell them they were excellent Anglicans.

Higher up in the forest, we were nearly overwhelmed by a party of
charcoal-porters, who came down with their _traîneaux_ like a black
avalanche. A _traîneau_ is nothing more than a wooden sledge, on two
runners, which are turned up in front, to the height of a yard, to keep
the cargo in its place. In the more level parts the porter is obliged to
drag this, but on the steep zigzags its own weight is sufficient to send
it down; and here the porter places himself in front, with his back
leaning against the sacks of charcoal and the turned-up runners, and the
whole mass descends headlong, the man's legs going at a wild pace, and
now one foot, now the other, steering a judicious course at the turns of
the zigzags. The charcoal is made by Italians, who live on polenta and
cheese high up in the mountains, and bring their manufacture down to a
certain distance, after which the porters take it in charge. The men we
saw told us that by hard work they could make four journeys in the day,
earning a franc by each; out of which, as they said, they must support
stomach and boots, one journey making them ready for a meal, and eight
journeys finishing a pair of soles.

It cost us an hour and a half to reach the maire's first châlet, where
we were to lunch on such food as the old woman who managed it might have
on hand; that is to say, possibly bread, and, beyond that, milk only, in
some shape or other. The forms under which milk can be taught to appear
are manifold. A young Swiss student, who in the madness of his passion
for beetle-hunting had spent fifteen days in a small châlet at
Anzeindaz, sleeping each night on the hay,[67] gave me, some time
since, a list of the various foods on which he lived and grew fat. The
following is the _carte_, as he arranged it:--

Viandes.                        Vins.

Du séret.                       Du lait de vache.[68]

Du caillé.                      Du lait froid.

Du beurre.                      Du lait de chèvre.

Du fromage gras.                Petit lait.

Du fromage mi-gras.             De la crême.

Du fromage maigre.              Du lait de beurre.[69]

Tome de vache.                  Petit lait de chèvre.

Tome de chèvre.

_Pour les Cochons_.

Du lait gâté.


Some of the solids and fluids in the earlier part of this _carte_ we
felt tolerably sure of finding at the maire's châlet, and accordingly
any amount of cream and _séret_ proved to be forthcoming. The maire
asserted that _cérac_ was the true name of this recommendable article
of food, _céré_ being the patois for the original word. Others had
told us that the real word was _serré_, meaning _compressed_ curds;
but the French writers who treat learnedly of cheese-making in the
_Annales de Chimie_ adopt the form _sérets_; and in the _Annales
Scientifiques de l'Auvergne_ I find both _seret_ and _serai_, from the
Latin _serum_. There was also bread, which arrived when we were
sitting down to our meal: it had been baked in a huge ring, for
convenience of carriage, and was brought up from the low-lands on a
stick across a boy's shoulder. When the old woman thought it safe to
expose a greater dainty to our attacks, at a later period of the meal,
she brought out a pot of _caillé_, a delightful luxury which prevails
in the form of nuggets of various size floating in sour whey. Owing to
a general want of table apparatus, we placed the pot of caillé on a
broken wall, and speared the nuggets with our pocket-knives.

After the meal, the two Frenchmen found themselves wet and exceedingly
cold; for Frenchmen have not yet learned the blessing of flannel shirts
under a broiling sun. They set to work to dry themselves after an
original fashion. The fire was little more than a collection of
smouldering embers, confined within three stone walls about a foot high;
so they took each a one-legged stool--_chaises des vaches_, or _chaise
des montagnes_--and attached themselves to the stools by the usual
leathern bands round the hips; then they cautiously planted the prods of
the stools in the middle of the embers, maintaining an unstable
equilibrium by resting their own legs on the top of the walls. Here they
sat, smoking and being smoked, till they were dry and warm. Of course,
in case of a slip or an inadvertent movement, they would have gone
sprawling into the fire. A well-known Swiss botanist, who has seen many
strange sleeping-places in the course of sixty years of flower-hunting
in the mountains of Vaud and Valais, has told me that on one occasion he
had reached with great difficulty the only châlet in the neighbourhood
of his day's researches, at a late hour of the night, the whole mountain
being soaked with rain. It was a little upland châlet, which the people
had deserted for the autumn and winter; and meantime a mud avalanche had
taken possession, and covered the floor to a depth of several inches. No
plank was to be found for lying on; but he discovered a broken
one-legged stool, and on this he sat and slept, propped as well as might
be in a corner. It is difficult to say which would be worse--a fall from
the stool by daylight into the embers of a wood fire, or the shuddering
slimy waking about midnight, after a nod more vigorous than the rest, to
find oneself plunged in eight cold inches of soft mud.

About half an hour beyond the châlet, we found the mouth of the
glacière, on a large plateau almost bare of vegetation, and showing the
live rock at the surface. They told me that in a strong winter there
would be an average of 12 feet of snow on the ground here.[70] The
glacière itself is approached by descending one side of a deep pit,
whose circumference is larger than that of any other of the
pit-glacières I have seen. A few yards off there is a smaller shaft in
the rock, which we afterwards found to communicate with the glacière.
The NW. side of the larger pit, being the side at the bottom of which is
the arch of entrance, is vertical, and we spent the time necessary for
growing cool in measuring the height of this face of rock from above.
The plummet ran out 115 feet of string, and struck the slope of snow,
down which the descent to the cave must be made, about 6 feet above the
junction of the snow with the floor of the glacière, which was visible
from the S. side of the edge of the pit; so that the total depth from
the surface of the rock to the ice-floor was 121 feet.


When we were sufficiently cool, we scrambled down the side of the pit
opposite to that in which the archway lies, finding the rock extremely
steep, and then came to a slope of 72 feet of snow, completely exposed
to the weather, which landed us at the mouth of the glacière. The arch
is so large, that we could detect the change of light in the cave,
caused by the passage of clouds across the sun, and candles were not
necessary, excepting in the pits shortly to be described. We saw at once
that rapid thaw was going on somewhere or other; and when we stepped off
the snow, we found ourselves in a couple of inches of soft green
vegetable mud, like a _compote_ of dark-coloured duckweed--or, to use a
more familiar simile, like a mass of overboiled and ill-strained
spinach. To the grief of one of us, there was ice under this, of most
persuasive slipperiness. The maire said that he had never seen these
signs of thaw in his visits in previous years; and as we went farther
and farther into the cave, he was more and more surprised at each step
to find such a large quantity of running water, and so much less ice
than he had expected. The shape of the glacière is a rough circle, 60
feet in diameter; and the floor, which is solid ice, slopes gradually
down to the farther end. The immediate entrance is half-closed by a
steep and very regular cone of snow, lying vertically under the small
shaft we had seen in the rock above. The snow which forms the cone
descends in winter by this shaft; and the formation must have been going
on for a considerable time, since the lower part of the cone has become
solid ice, under the combined influences of pressure and of _dégel_ and
_regel_. I climbed up the side of this, by cutting steps in the lower
part, and digging feet and hands deep into the snow higher up; and I
found the length of the side to be 30 feet. I had no means of
determining the height of the cave, and a guess might not be of much

At first sight, the farther end of the cave was the most striking. The
water which comes from the melting snow down which we had passed in
reaching the glacière, had cut itself deep channels in the floor, and
through these it coursed rapidly till it precipitated itself into a
large pit or _moulin_ in the ice, at the lowest point. This pit, a will
be seen by the section of the cave given on p. 174,[71] terminates the
glacière; and the rock-wall at the farther edge falls away into a sort
of open fissure, down which magnificent cascades of ice stream
emulously, clothing that side of the pit, which would otherwise be solid
rock. We cut a few steps about the upper edge of this _moulin_, to make
all safe, and proceeded to let down a lighted candle, which descended
safely for 36 feet, showing nothing but ice on all sides; it then came
in contact with one of the falls of water, and the light was of course
extinguished. We next tied a stone to the string, and found that after
40 feet it struck on ice and turned inwards, under our feet, stopping
finally at the end of 51 feet; but whether it was really the bottom of
the pit that stopped it, or only some ledge or accidental impediment, we
could not determine. The diameter of this pit might be 3 yards, but we
took no measure of it.

At the extreme right of the cave we found another pit, a yard and a
half across, two-thirds of the circumference of which was formed by
the plateau of ice on which we stood, and the remaining third by a
fluting in the wall of rock. The maire said that, two years ago, this
hole was not visible, being concealed by a large ice-column which had
since fallen in. Here again I let down a lighted candle, with more
hopes of getting it to the bottom, as no part of the cave drained into
the pit. The candle descended steadily, the flame showing no signs of
atmospheric disturbance, and revealing the fact that the opposite side
of the pit, viz. the rock, which alone was visible from our position,
became more and more thickly covered with ice, of exquisite clearness,
and varied and most graceful forms. As foot after foot, and yard after
yard, ran out, and our heads craned farther and farther over the edge
of the pit to follow the descending light, (we lay flat on the ice,
for more safety,) the cries of the schoolmaster became mere howls, and
the maire lapsed into oaths heavy enough to break in the ice. It is
always sufficiently disagreeable to hear men swear; but in situations
which have anything impressive, either of danger or of grandeur, it
becomes more than ever unbearable. I remember on one occasion
over-taking a large party in the descent from the Plateau to the
Grands Mulets, in a place where the snow was extremely soft, and any
moment might land one of us in a crevasse; and I shall never forget
the oaths which caught my ear, from a floundering fellow-countryman
enveloped from the waist downwards.

When 60 feet had run out, the candle stopped, and on stretching over I
saw that it had reached a slope of ice which inclined very steeply
northwards, and passed away under the rock, apparently into a fresh
cavern. By raising the candle slightly and then letting it drop, we made
it glide down this slope for 8 feet; and then it finally rested on a
shelf of ice, showing us the shadowy beginnings of what should be a most
glorious ice-cave. The little light which the candle gave was made the
most of by the reflecting material which surrounded it; and we were able
to see that the archway in the rock was rounded off with grey ice, and
rested, as it were, on icy pillars. As far as we could judge, there
would have been abundant room to pass down the slope under the archway,
if only the preliminary 60 feet could by any means have been
accomplished; and I shall dream for long of what there must be down

As I was anxious to know whether the side of the pit was vertical ice
under our feet, I contrived to get about a third of the way round the
edge, so as almost to reach the fluting in the rock which formed the
farther side of the pit, and then desired the schoolmaster to raise the
candle slowly from the ledge on which it still rested. As he pulled it
gradually up, I was startled to find that the ice fell away sharply
immediately below the spot where we had been collected, and then formed
a solid wall; so that we had been standing on the mere edge of a shelf,
with nothing but black emptiness below. How far the solid wall receded
at the bottom I was unable to determine, for the light of one candle was
of very little use at so great a distance, and in darkness so profound.
I persuaded the maire to make an effort to reach a point from which he
could see the insecurity of the ice which had seemed to form so solid a
floor; and he was so much impressed by what he saw, that he fled with
precipitation from the cave, and we eventually found him asleep under a
bush on the rocks above. In reaching the farther side of the pit, we
crossed unwittingly an ice-bridge formed by a transverse pit or tunnel
in the ice, which opened into the pit we were examining. The maire
afterwards promised to rail off all that end of the glacière, and forbid
his workmen to venture upon it. Considering that the hole itself was
only opened two years before by the fall of a column, and has already
undergone such changes, I shall be surprised if the ice-bridge, and all
that part on which we lay to fathom the pit, does not fall in before
very long; and then, by means of steps and ropes and ladders, it may be
possible to reach the entrance to the lower cave, 190 feet below the
surface of the earth. May I be there to see![72]

The left side of the glacière, near the entrance, was occupied by a
columnar cascade, behind which I forced a passage by chopping away some
lovely ornaments of ice. Here also the solid ground-ice falls away a
little under the surface, leaving a cavern 8 or 9 feet deep, on the rock
side of which every possible glacial fantasy was to be found. The
stalactites here presented the peculiar prismatic structure so often
noticed; but on the more exposed side of the column they were tipped
with limpid ice, free from all apparent external or internal lines. This
reminded me of what we had observed in the Glacière of La Genollière,
namely, that the surface-lines tended to disappear under thaw; so I cut
a piece of prismatic ice and put it in my mouth. In a short time it
became perfectly limpid, and on breaking it up I could discover no signs
of prism. On some parts of the floor of the glacière, the ice was
apparently unprismatic, generally in connection with running water or
other marks of thaw; but, to my surprise, I found that it split into
prisms very readily.

The maire could not understand how it was that, after a winter
especially severe, as that of 1863-4 had been, there should be even less
ice than in the preceding summer, and we could see the marks of last
year's cutting, down to the edge of the _moulin_. He said that they had
never before cut down in that direction; but in the summer of 1863 they
had been so much struck by the clearness of the ice which formed the
floor, that they had cut it freely, and removed a large quantity. This,
I believe, was the cause of the absence of any great amount of fresh
ice. The slope of the whole ice-floor is considerable, and the workmen
increased the slope by cutting away the ice in the neighbourhood of the
edge of the _moulin_: they had also, as we could see quite plainly,
excavated the clearer parts of the ice between the entrance to the cave
and the _moulin_, so that a sort of trough ran down from near the foot
of the snow to the pit at the lower end of the glacière. When we were
there, the water rushed down this trough, and was lost in the pit; and
very probably the same may have been the case in the earlier parts of
the year, when, according to the view I have already expressed, the ice
would under ordinary circumstances have been formed. If this be so, the
caverns below must have received immense additions to their stores of
ice or water. We observed, by the way, that the slope of ice to which
the candle descended in the deeper pit, and the shelf on which it
rested, were quite dry, or at any rate free from all apparent signs of
the abundant water we should have seen, had that been the outlet for the
streams which poured into the _moulin_. The maire said that the columns
and cascades of ice in the cave had been much more beautiful in the
previous summer.

The whole cavern would thus appear to be something of the shape of an
egg, with the longer axis vertical, and the entrance about half-way up
the side. The lower end of this egg-shaped cavity in the rock is filled
with ice, which in some parts shrinks from the rock below the surface,
though, as far as outward appearance goes, it fills the cavern to its
farthest corners. The depth of this ice at one side is 60 feet, and how
much more it may be in the middle it is impossible to say. As we have
seen, there is a second ice-cave opening out of the principal one, at a
depth of 190 feet below the surface; and with respect to this second
cave imagination may run riot. Rosset told me that he had noticed, the
year before, a strong source of water springing out of the side of a
rock, at some little distance from the glacière; but he could not reach
it then, and could not find it now. This may possibly be the drainage of
the glacière in its summer state.

The thermometer stood at 34° in the middle of the cave; and though the
others felt the cold very much, I was myself surprised to find so low a
register, for the atmosphere seemed to be comparatively warm, judging
from what I had experienced in other glacières. The only current of air
we could detect was exceedingly slight, and came from the deeper of the
two pits in the ice. It was so slight, that the flame of the candle
burned apparently quite steadily when we were engaged in determining the
depth and shape of the pit.

The sun had by this time produced such an effect upon the slope of snow
outside the glacière, that we found the ascent sufficiently difficult,
especially as our hands were full of various instruments. The
schoolmaster was not content to choose the straight line up, and in
attempting to perform a zigzag, he came to a part of the slope where the
snow lay about 2 inches thick on solid ice, and the result was an
unscholastic descent in inverted order of precedence. He got on better
over the rolling stones after the snow was accomplished, but the clumsy
style of his climbing dislodged an unpleasant amount and weight of
missiles; and though he was amiable enough to cry '_Garde_!' with every
step he took, it will be found by experiment that it is not much use to
the lower man to have '_Garde_!' shouted in his ears, when his footing
is insecure to begin with, and a large stone comes full at his head, at
the precise moment when two others are taking him in the pit of the

We found the maire, as was said, asleep under a bush near the mouth of
the pit; and he pronounced himself completely recovered from the effects
of the cold, and ready to guide us to a second glacière. He told us that
the amount of ice he sold averaged 4,000 _quintaux métriques_ a week,
for the three months of July, August, and September; but the last winter
had been so severe, that the lake had provided ice for the artificial
glacières of Annecy, and no one had as yet applied to him this year. As
only a fortnight of his usual season had passed, he may have since had
plenty of applications, later in the year. The railways have opened up
more convenient sources of ice for Lyons, and for some time he has sent
none to that town.


[Footnote 66: A Yorkshire farmer unconsciously adapts the German
_Wolkenbruch_, declaring on occasion that the rain is so heavy, it is
'ommust as if a clood had brussen someweers.']

[Footnote 67: I tried the hay in this châlet one night, with such
results that the next time I slept there, two years after, I preferred a
combination of planks.]

[Footnote 68: _i.e._ New milk, warm.]

[Footnote 69: Otherwise graphically called _battu_.]

[Footnote 70: I had no means of determining the elevation of the ground.
The fact of 12 feet of snow is of no value as a guide to the height.
Last winter (1864-5) there was 26 feet of snow on the Jura, at a height
of less than 4,000 feet, and the position of some of the larger châlets
was only marked by a slight boss on the plane surface.]

[Footnote 71: In the section of the cave, I have brought out the deeper
pit from the side into the middle, so as to show both in one section: I
have also slightly shaded the pits, instead of leaving them blank like
shafts in the rock.]

[Footnote 72: I have made arrangements for completing the exploration of
this cave, and the one which is next described, in the course of the
present summer.]

       *       *       *       *       *



We started southwards from the Glacière of _Grand Anu_, for such they
said was the proper name for the cave last described, and passed over
some of the wildest walking I have seen. All the most striking features
of a glacier were here reproduced in stone: now narrow deep crevasses
which only required a slight spring; now much more formidable rents,
which we were obliged to circumvent by a détour; now dark mysterious
holes with vertical shell-like partitions at various depths; and now a
perfect _moulin_, with fluted sides and every detail appertaining to
those remarkable pits, the hollow plunge of falling water alone
excepted. In other parts, the smooth slab-like appearance of the surface
reminded me of a curious district on one of the summits of the Jura,
where the French frontier takes the line of crest, and the old stones
marked with the _fleur-de-lys_ and the Helvetic cross are still to be
found. In those border regions the old historic distinctions are still
remembered, and the frontier Vaudois call the neighbouring French
_Bourguignons_--or, in their patois, _Borgognons_. They keep up the
tradition of old hatreds; and the strange bleak summit, with its smooth
slabs of Jura-chalk lying level with the surface, is so much like a vast
cemetery, that the wish in old times has been father to the thought, and
they call it still the Cemetery of the Burgundians, _Cimetiros ai

After a time, we reached a tumbled chaos of rock, much resembling the
ice-fall of a glacier, and, on descending, and rounding a low spur of
the mountain so as to take a north-westerly course, we found ourselves
in a perfect paradise of flowers. One orchis I shall always regret.
There seemed to be only a single head, closely packed with flowerets,
and strongly scented; it was a pure white, not the green and
straw-coloured white of other scented orchises. There were large patches
of the delicate _faux-lis (Paradisia liliastrum)_; and though there
might not be anything very rare, and the lovely glacier-flowers were of
course wanting, the whole was a rich feast for anyone who cares more for
delicacy and colour than for botany.

The maire told us that he had found the glacière, for which we were now
in search, two years before, when he accompanied the government surveyor
to show him the forests and mountains which formed his property. As he
had on that occasion approached the spot from the other side, we walked
a long way to place him exactly where the surveyor and he had crossed
the ridge of the mountain, and then started him down from the Col in the
direction they had taken. He was certain of two things: first, that
they had passed by the Col between the Mont Parmelan and the Montagne de
l'Eau; and, secondly, that the glacière was within five minutes of the
highest point of the Col. For three-quarters of an hour we all broke our
shins, and the officials the Third Commandment. They invoked more saints
than I had ever heard of, and, in default, did not scruple to appeal
with shocking volubility to darker aid. It was all of no use,--and well
it might be; for when we had given it up in despair, after long patience
and a considerable period of the contrary, and had descended for half an
hour in the direction of a third glacière, I chanced to look back, and
saw that the Col in the neighbourhood of which we had been searching lay
between two points of the Montagne de l'Eau; while the true Col between
that mountain and the Mont Parmelan lay considerably to the west. When
it appears that a guide has probably made a mistake, the only plan is to
assume quietly that it is so, as if it were a matter of no consequence,
and then he may sometimes be decoyed into allowing the fact: I therefore
pointed out to the maire the true Col, and told him that was the one by
which he had passed southwards, when he found the glacière; to which,
with unnecessary strength of language, he at once assented. But all my
efforts to take him back were unavailing. Nothing in the world should
carry him up the mountain again, now that he had happily got so far
down. I worked his best and his worst feelings with equal want of
success; even national jealousy failed, and he was content to know that
a French maire had not pluck to face three-quarters of an hour of
climbing, when an English priest was ready to lead the way. The
schoolmaster declined to go alone with me, on the ground that neither of
us knew the mountain, and threatening clouds were gathering all around.
When, at last, I proposed to go by myself, they became menacingly
obstructive, and declared that I should certainly not be allowed to
face the intricacy of the mountain in a fog. Besides, as the maire put
it, he was sure of the way to the third glacière; and if I were to go up
alone to look for the second, I should lose a certainty for a chance, as
there was not time to visit both. So with an ill grace I continued the
descent with them, being restored to good humour before long by the
beauty of the Lake of Annecy, as seen from our elevated position.

It is so impossible to accept in full the accounts one picks up of
natural curiosities, that I give the maire's description of the stray
glacière only for what it is worth. It was not extracted without much
laborious cross-examination--_sais paw vous le dire_ being the average
answer to my questions. The entrance to the cave is about twice as high
as a man, and is in a small shallow basin of rock and grass. The floor
is level with the entrance, and the roof rises inside to a good height.
In shape it is like a Continental bread-oven; and at the time of the
maire's visit, the floor was a confused mass of ice and stones, the
former commencing at the very entrance. There was no ice except on the
floor, the area of which might be as large as that of the surface of the
ice in the Glacière of Grand Anu. No pit was to be seen, and not a drop
of water. Snow could have drifted in easily, but they saw no signs of
any remaining. If this account be true, especially with respect to the
position of the entrance and the horizontal direction of the floor, I
have seen no glacière like it.

We descended for a time through fir-woods, and then again down steep and
barren rocks, till we reached the sharp slope of grass which so
frequently connects the base of a mountain with the more civilised
forests and the pasturages below. The maire led us for some distance
along the top of this grass slope, towards the west, skirting the rocks
till they became precipitous and lofty, when he said we must be near
our point. Still we went on and on without seeing any signs of it, and
our guide seemed in despair; and I, for one, entirely gave up the third
cave to the same fate as the second, and became very sulky and
remonstrative. The entrance to the glacière, the maire told us, was a
hole in the face of the highest rocks, 3 or 4 yards only above the
grass; and as we had now reached a part of the mountain where the rock
springs up smooth and high, and we could command the whole face, and yet
saw nothing, the schoolmaster came over to my side, and told the maire
he was a humbug. However, we were then within a few yards of the desired
spot, and half-a-dozen steps showed us a small _cheminée_, down
which a strong and icy current of wind blew. The maire shouted a shout
of triumph, and climbed the _cheminée_; and when we also had done the
necessary gymnastics, we found a hole facing almost due north, all
within being dark. The current blew so determinedly, that matches were
of no use, and I was obliged to seek a sheltered corner before I could
light a candle; and, when lighted, the candle was with difficulty kept
from being blown out. No ice was visible, nor any signs of such a
thing,--nothing but a very irregular narrow cave, with darkness at the
farther end. As we advanced, we found that the floor of the cave came to
a sudden end, and the darkness developed into a strange narrow fissure,
which reached out of sight upwards, and out of sight below; and down
this the maire rolled stones, saying that _there_ was the glacière, if
only one could get at it without a _tourneau_. Considering the
persistency with which he had throughout declared that there was no
possible need for a rope, I gave him some of my mind here, in that
softened style which his official dignity demanded; but he excused
himself by saying that the gentleman who owned the glacière, and
extracted the ice for private use only, was now living at his summer
châlet, a mile or two off, and he, the maire, had felt confident that
the _tourneau_ would have been fitted up for the season.

On letting a candle down from the termination of the floor, we found
that the perpendicular drop was not more than 12 feet, and from the
shelf thus reached it seemed very possible to descend to the farther
depths of the fissure; but I had become so sceptical, that I persisted
in asserting that there was no ice below. The maire's manner, also, was
strange, and I suspected that the cold current of air had caused the
place to be called a glacière, with any other qualification on the part
of the cave. One thing was evident,--no snow could reach the fissure. M.
Métrai was determined that I must not attempt the descent, pointing out,
what was quite true, that though the fall was not great, there seemed no
possibility of getting back up the smooth rock. His arguments increased
my suspicions; so, leaving all apparatus behind, I dropped down to join
the candle, rather hoping to have the satisfaction of sending them off
for a rope, in case I could not achieve the last few feet in returning,
and knowing that there was no danger of the fate which once threatened
the chamois-hunting Kaiser Max.[74]

The drop turned out to be a mere nothing, and, taking the candle, I
scrambled on, down the sloping floor of the fissure, towards the heart
of the mountain, expecting every moment that my further passage would be
stopped by solid rock. But, after reaching a part so narrow that I was
obliged to mount by both sides at once in order to get past it, I found
a commodious gallery, opening out into a long and narrow and very lofty
cavern, still only a fissure, the floor of which continued the regular
and rapid slope down which I had so far come. A short way farther down,
an opening appeared to the left; and I turned off the main passage into
a horizontal gallery or chamber, with a floor of ice resting on rock and
stones. This chamber seemed to be 3 or 4 yards wide at the entrance,
narrowing regularly to 4 1/2 feet. It was 40 feet long, and at the
farther end, which would not have been visible from the entrance, on
account of a slight bend in the ice-gallery, even if there had been any
light, it was closed by an ice-cascade 7 yards high and 4 1/2 feet broad
at the bottom. The ice of much of this cascade was so clear, that I saw
the rock upon which it rested, or in some parts did not rest, quite
plainly, and the large air-cavities in the structure were beautifully
shown by the richly-coloured rock behind. None of the current which we
had observed above, and which had nearly baffled my protecting care of
the candle during the descent, came from this gallery; but I find it
written in my notes that the gallery was _very_ cold. Thaw was going on,
rather rapidly; and the water stole out by the entrance, and ran down
the main descent, over ice and among rocks, into the farther darkness.

When I came out again from this gallery, I mounted the slope towards my
companions, and tried to tempt them down. The maire felt himself to be
too valuable to his country to be lightly risked, and declined to come;
but Rosset took a bold heart, and dropped, after requiring from me a
solemn promise that I would give him a back for his return up the rock.
We visited the gallery I had already explored, and, as we stood admiring
the cascade of ice, a skilful drop of water came from somewhere, and
extinguished our only candle. My matches were with the maire; and I was
equally sure that he would not bring them down to us, and that we could
not go up to fetch them without a light. Rosset, however, very
fortunately, had a box in his pocket for smoking purposes; and we cut
off the wet wick, and cut down the composition to form another, and so
contrived to light the candle again. While we were thus engaged, I
chanced to look up for a moment, and saw far above our heads a small
opening in the roof, through which a few rays of light entered from the
outer world. It was so very far above us, that the uncertain rays were
lost long before they got down to our level, being absorbed in the
universal darkness, and being in fact rather suggested than visible even
at their strongest. Those who have been at Lauterbrunnen in a very dry
season, will understand how these rays presented the appearance of a
ghostly Staubbach of unreal light. We must have been at an immense depth
below the surface in which the opening lay; and if there had been a long
day before us, it would have been curious to search for the fissure
above. Sir Thomas Browne says, in the _Religio Medici,_ 'Conceive light
invisible, and that is a spirit.' We very nearly saw a spirit here.

The descent from the mouth of this chamber to the deeper recesses of the
main fissure was very rough, but was speedily accomplished, and we
reached a point where solid rock stopped us in face; while, to the
right, a chamber with a threshold of ice was visible, and, to the left,
a dark opening, down which the descent appeared to continue. From this
opening all the strong cold current came. We took the ice-chamber first.

The entrance had evidently been closed till very lately by a large
column of ice, and we passed over the débris, between rock portals and
on a floor of solid grey ice, into a triangular cave of any height the
imagination might choose to fix. The entire floor of the cave was of
ice, giving the impression of infinite thickness and firmness. A little
water stood on it, near the threshold, so limpid that we could not see
where it commenced. The base of this triangular floor we found to be 17
feet, and its altitude 30 feet; and though these dimensions may seem
comparatively small, the whole effect of the thick mass of ice on which
we stood, with the cascades of ice in the corners, and the ice-figures
on the walls, and the three sides of the cave passing up into sheer
darkness, was exceedingly striking, situated, as it all was, so deep
down in the bowels of the earth. The original entrance to the fissure,
at the top of the _cheminée_, was, as has been said, at the base of
lofty rocks, and we had descended very considerably from the entrance;
so that, even without the strange light thrown upon the matter by the
small hole overhead, through which we had seen the day struggling to
force its way into the cavern, we should have been sure that we were now
at an immense distance below the surface. One corner of the cave was
occupied by a broad and solid-looking cascade, while another corner
showed the opening of a very narrow fissure, curved like one of the
shell-shaped crevasses of a glacier. Into this fissure the ice-floor
streamed; and Rosset held my coat-tails while I made a few steps down
the stream, when the fall became too rapid for further voluntary
progress. I let down a stone for 18 feet, when it stuck fast, and would
move neither one way nor the other. The upper wall of this fissure was
clothed with moss-like ice, and ice of the prismatic structure,--with
here and there large scythe-blades, as it were, attached by the sharp
edge to the rock, and lying vertically with the heel outwards. One of
these was 11 inches deep, from the heel to the rock, and only one-eighth
of an inch thick at the thickest part.

The angle occupied by the cascade or column was the most striking. The
base of the column was large, and apparently solid, like a smooth
unbroken waterfall suddenly frozen. It fitted into the angle of the
cave, and completely filled up the space between the contiguous walls. I
commenced to chop with my axe, and before long found that this ice was
hollow, though very thick; and when a sufficient hole was made for me to
get through, I saw that what had looked like a column was in truth only
a curtain of ice hung across the angle of the cave. Within the curtain
the ice-floor still went on, streaming down at last into a fissure
something like that in the other corner. The curtain was so low, that I
was obliged to sit on the ice inside to explore; and after a foot or two
of progress, the slope towards the fissure became sufficiently great
to require steps to be cut. The stream of ice turned round a bend in the
fissure, very near the curtain, and was lost to view; but Rosset stood
by the hole through which I had passed--on the safer side of it--and
despatched blocks of ice, which glided past me round the corner, and
went whizzing on for a long time, eventually landing upon stones, and
sometimes, we fancied, in water. It is very awkward work, sitting on a
gentle slope of the smoothest possible ice, with a candle in one hand,
and an axe in the other, cutting each step in front; especially when
there is nothing whatever to hold by, and the slope is sufficient to
make it morally certain that in case of a slip all must go together. Of
course, a rope would have made all safe. When I groaned over the maire's
obstinacy, Rosset asked what could possibly be the use of a rope, if I
were to slip; and, to my surprise, I found that he had no idea what I
wanted a rope for. When he learned that, had there been one, he would
have played a large part in the adventure, and that he might have had me
dangling over an ice-fall out of sight round the corner, he added his
groans to mine, and would evidently have enjoyed it all very much. At
the same time, he was prudent, and, as each block of ice made its final
plunge, he told me that was what would happen to me if I went any
farther: and, really, the pictures he drew of deep lakes of icy water
and jagged points of rock, between which I must make my choice down
there, were so unpleasant, that at last I desisted, and pushed myself up
backwards, still in a sitting posture, calling Rosset and the maire the
worst names I could feel justified in using. On the way, I found one of
the large brown flies which we had seen in the Glacière of La
Genollière, and in the Lower Glacière of the Pré de S. Livres.

Rosset now told me he was so cold he could stand it no longer; but,
after a little pressure, and a declaration on my part that he should not
have a candle for going up again, he consented to remain with me while I
explored the remaining chamber, the lowest of all. This chamber may be
called a continuation of the main passage. It is of about the same width
as the highest of the three chambers, and the floor descends rapidly,
the cold current of air becoming very strong and biting as we penetrated
into the darkness. As the Genevese _savans_ seemed to believe in 'cold
currents' as the cause of underground ice, I was naturally anxious to
see as much as possible of the state of this gallery, from which every
particle of the current seemed to come. We very soon reached a narrow
dark lake, and, exclaiming that here was ice again, I stepped, not on
to, but into it, and found that it was water. When our solitary candle
was brought to bear upon it, we saw that it was so clear as not in any
way to impede our view, producing rather the effect of slightly-clouded
spectacles upon the stones at the bottom. This lake filled up the whole
breadth of the gallery, here perhaps 4 or 5 feet, and rapidly passed to
the depth of a yard; but for a little distance there were unstable
stones at one edge, and steps in the rock-wall, by which I could pass
on still into the darkness, supported by an alpenstock planted in the
water. The current of cold air blew along the surface of the water from
the farther extremity of the gallery, wherever that might be. As far as
our eyes could reach, we saw nothing but the black channel of water,
with its precipitous sides passing up beyond our sight. It might have
been possible to progress in a spread-eagle fashion, with one hand and
one foot on each side; but a fall would have been so bitterly
unpleasant, that I made a show of condescension in acceding to Rosset's
request that I would not attempt such a thing. In the course of my
return to the rocks where he stood, I involuntarily fathomed the
depth of the lake, luckily in a shallower part, and was so much struck
by the coldness of the water, that I left Rosset with the candle, and
struggled up without a light to the place where we had left the maire,
or rather to the bottom of the drop from the entrance-cave, to get the
thermometer. The maire was sunning himself on the rock, out of reach of
the cold current; but he came in, and let down the case, and I quickly
rejoined the schoolmaster. At first, it would have been impossible to
move about without a light; but our eyes had now become to some extent
accustomed to the darkness, and I had learned the difficulties of the

When the thermometers were suspended in the water, Rosset asked how long
they must stay there. I rashly answered, a quarter of an hour; on which
he demanded indignantly whether I supposed he meant to stay in that cold
for a quarter of an hour. He had now the candle in his own possession,
and I was propped on a stone and an alpenstock in the lake, so he turned
to go, vowing that he would leave me alone in the dark if I did not come
out at once. There was no help for it, as the thermometer would have
been of no use without a candle, and a step in the dark is not pleasant
when all around is water, so I slowly drew up the thermometer and read
33° F. In making final arrangements for departure, I let it lie in the
water for a few seconds longer, and it fell to 32½°; but Rosset would
not stay a moment longer, and I was obliged to be content with that
result. He made himself very easy about the matter, and said we must
call it zero; and in the evening I heard him telling the maire that the
greatest of the wonders he had missed, by his patriotic care for his
neck, was a lake of water which did not freeze, though its temperature
was zero (centigrade).

Among the stones at the bottom of this water, I saw here and there
patches of a furry sort of ice. I have often watched the freezing of a
rapid Scotch stream, where, in the swifter parts, the ice forms first at
the bottom and gradually creeps up the larger stones till it appears on
the surface, and becomes a nucleus, round which pieces of floating ice
collect; and the substance in the glacière-lake had exactly the same
appearance as the Scotch ground-ice. But it could not be the same thing
in reality, for, as far as I understand the phenomenon of ground-ice,
some disturbed motion of the water is necessary, to drive down below the
surface the cold particles of water, which become ice the moment they
strike upon any solid substance shaped like fractured stone;[75] the
specific gravity of freezing water being so much less than that of water
at a somewhat higher temperature, that without some disturbing cause it
would not sink to the bottom.[76] So that it seems probable that the ice
at the bottom of the lake was the remains of a solid mass, of which the
greater part had been converted into water by some warm influence or
other. We noticed that a little water trickled down among the stones
which formed the slope of descent into the lowest gallery, so that
perhaps the lake was a collection of water from all parts of the various
ramifications of the fissure. Whence came the icy wind, it is impossible
to say, without further exploration. It was satisfactory to me to find
that the 'cold current' of the Genevese _savans_ was thus associated
with water, and not with ice, in the only cave in which I had detected
its presence to any appreciable extent, the currents of the Glacière of
Monthézy being of a totally different description.

When we reached the final rock, in ascending, I offered Rosset the
promised back, but he got up well enough without it. Before leaving the
entrance-cave, we inspected the thermometer which we had left to test
the temperature of the current of air, and, to my surprise, found it
standing at 48°. We saw, however, that it had been carelessly propped on
a piece of rock which sheltered it from the influence of the current, so
I exposed it during the time occupied in arranging the bag of tapes,
&c., and it fell to 36°: whether it would have fallen lower, the
impatience of Rosset has left me unable to say. If I can ever make an
opportunity for visiting the Mont Parmelan again, I shall hope to take a
cord, in order to investigate the mysterious corner of the triangular
chamber; and I shall certainly make myself independent of shivering
Frenchmen while I measure the temperature of the lake and the current of
air. We met a man outside who said that he was employed by the owner, M.
de Chosal of Annecy, to cut the ice; he had been down three times to the
lowest gallery in different years, in the end of July, and had always
found the same collection of water there. The glacière, he told us, was
discovered about thirty years ago.

The maire had basked in the sun all the time we were down below, and
he expressed himself as much pleased that we had found so much to
interest us, in spite of the miscarriage of our efforts to reach the
second glacière. We set off down the steep grass at a scrambling
sliding run, against which I was speedily obliged to protest,
explaining that a certain ugly inflammation above the left knee was
becoming worse every other step, and as the leg must last three days
longer, it would be as well to humour it. They saw the force of this
reasoning, and we descended with much gravity till we came in sight of
the _Mairie_, still half an hour off, when Rosset cried out that he
smelled supper, and rushed off at an infectious pace down the
remainder of the mountain-side.

We reached the _Mairie_ at six o'clock, and sat down at once 'to eat
something.' The first course was bread and kirsch; and when that was
finished, six boiled eggs appeared, and a quart _carafe_ of white wine.
These having vanished, their place was taken by a dish of sodden
cabbage, and another quart of wine; but, to save the credit of the maire
and the schoolmaster, I will not say how often the former functionary
descended to the cellar with a quart pitcher, with increasing
impetuosity. Next came a dish of onions, with a pretence of
_mange-tout,_ broiled brown after boiling, and served in a compound fat;
and then haricots with a like condiment, and with a flavour reminiscent
of the previous course. There was some talk of a _poulet_; but the bird
still lived, and the talk came to nothing. The dinner ended with the
haricots, and we then relapsed into dessert, namely, bread and kirsch.
The mayoress came in with the dessert, and sat on the end of the bench,
below the hats and the bread-tin, eating the remaining onions off the
dish with the spoon of nature.

During one of the maire's frequent visits to the cellar, I propounded
a question to the schoolmaster which had puzzled me for some time: Was
I to pay the maire? M. Rosset said that it was certainly not
_necessary_, but I had better propose it, and I should then see how M.
Métral took it. This I accordingly did, when the adieux in the house
had been said, and my host was showing me the way to Thorens, where I
was to sleep, he, also, declared that it was not necessary--the
pleasure he had experienced in accompanying me had already fully
recompensed him: still, if I wished to reimburse him for that which I
had actually cost, he was a man reasonable, and in all cases content.
I calculated that the dinner and wine which had fallen to my share
would be dear at a franc, and the day's wage of a substitute to do the
maire's neglected work could not come to much, so I boldly and
unblushingly gave that great man four francs, and he said regretfully
that it was more than enough. To his son and heir--the identical boy
who had brought the ring of bread up the mountain to the châlet where
we lunched. I gave something under two-pence, for guiding me across
two doubtful fields into a beaten track, and he expressed himself as
even more content than the maire. They both told me that it was
impossible to miss the way; but I imagine that I achieved that
impossibility, as I had to walk through two streams in the deepening
twilight, and the prevailing fear of water in that region is very

The _auberge_ at Thorens to which the maire had recommended me, as being
the best, and kept by a personal friend of his, bore the sign _à la
Parfaite Union_. The entry was by the kitchen, and through the steam and
odour of onions, illuminated by one doubtful oil-lamp, I saw the
guest-room filled with people in Sunday dress, while two fiddles played
each its own tune in its own time. Nothing but the potent name of M. the
Maire of Aviernoz gained me even a hearing; and, for a bed, I was
obliged to stretch my intimacy with that exalted personage to the very
furthest bounds of truth. Chappaz Nicolai, whose name the maire had
written in my note-book, that there might be no mistake, appeared to be
of that peculiar mental calibre which warrants Yorkshire peasants in
describing a man as 'half-rocked,' or 'not plumb.' His wife, on the
other hand, was one of those neat, gentle, sensible women, of whom one
wonders how they ever came to marry such thick-lipped and blear-eyed
men. Between them they informed me that if I did not object to share a
room, I could be taken in; otherwise--maire or no maire--not. I asked
whether they meant half a bed; but they said no, that would not be
necessary at present; and I accepted the offered moiety of accommodation,
as it was now seventeen hours since I had started in the morning, and I
was not inclined to turn out in the dark to look for a whole room

The stairs were a sort of cross between a ladder and nothing, and when
we reached the proposed room a large mastiff was in possession, who
would not let us enter till the master was summoned to expel him. The
furniture consisted of a table and five chairs, with no bed or beds. On
the chairs were various articles of clothing, blouses and garments more
profound, belonging probably to members of the party below; and on the
table, a bottle of water and a soup-plate, the pitcher and basin of the
house. It was a mere slip of a room, with two diamond-shaped holes in
one wall, whose purpose I discovered when my guide opened a papered
door, in which were the holes, and displayed two beds foot to foot in an
alcove. One of these, she was sure, would be too short for me, but she
feared I must be satisfied with it, as the other was much broader and
would therefore hold the two messieurs. How the _two_? I asked, and was
told that two _pensionnaires_ lived in this room; but they were old
friends, and for one night would sleep in the same bed to oblige
monsieur. The ideas of length and breadth in connection with the beds
were entirely driven from my head by the fact of their dirtiness; and I
determined that if the two _pensionnaires_ occupied the one, the other
should be unoccupied.

After arranging things a little, I struggled down the steps again, and
ordered coffee and bread in a little room, which commanded the assembly
with the fiddles in the larger _salle_. The head waitress, busy as she
was, found time to come now and then to an open window near where I sat,
and talked to a male friend sitting outside in the dark: indeed, she
did more than talk, and people had to rattle their glasses very hard
before they could make her hear. From her I learned that this was a
marriage party which had arrived; and when I asked why they did not
dance, as the fiddles were engaged at that moment with unwonted
unanimity upon dance-music, she gave me to understand that these were
not people of Thorens, but only a party from another village, making the
evening promenade after the wedding: from which it would seem that it is
not the etiquette for people to dance under such circumstances, except
in the home village. They sat round a table, men and women alternately,
with their hats on, and with glasses before them. The bride and
bridegroom were accommodated with a bench to themselves at the head of
the table, he likewise with his hat on, and with a pipe in his mouth,
which, seeing that he was a demonstrative bridegroom, one might have
supposed to be an inconvenience. He managed very well, however, and
every one seemed contented: indeed, the pipe must, I think, be held to
be no difficulty; for the men all smoked, and yet, to judge from
appearances, there was a prospect of as many marriages as there were
couples in the room. The unruffled gravity, however, and the apparent
want of zest, both in giving and receiving, which characterised the
proceedings specially referred to, led me to suppose that it might be
only a part of the etiquette, and so meant nothing serious.

Between ten and eleven the fiddles and the party vanished, and I went
up-stairs more determined than ever not to touch a bed, after my
experience of the room below. Three chairs were speedily arranged
between the table and wall, and on these I lay and tried to sleep. But
the very chairs were populous, as I had found below, and sleep was
impossible. Moreover, soon after eleven, a soldier came into the room,
to arrange about his breakfast with one of the maidens in the
house. He had heard me order fresh butter for six o'clock, and he was
anxious to know, whether, by breakfasting at five o'clock, he could
get my butter. The chairs which formed my bed were under the lee of
the table, so that the figure recumbent on them was invisible, and the
gallant soldier, under the impression that there was no one in the
room, enforced his arguments by other than conventional means. But
military lips, when applied personally, proved to be a rhetoric as
unsuccessful as military words. The maid was platonic, and something
more than platonic; and the hero got so much the worst of it, that he
gave up the battle, and changed the subject to a conscript in his
charge, who had locked himself in his bed-room and would not answer.
How was he to know whether he had the conscript safe? All this lasted
some time; and when they were gone, one of the _pensionnaires_ came
in. With him I had to fight the battle of the window, which I had
opened to its farthest extent. After he had got over the first
surprise and shock of finding me on the chairs instead of in the bed,
for whose comfort he vouched enthusiastically, he became confident
that it was merely out of complaisance to him and his comrade that I
had opened the window, and assured me that they really did not care
for fresh air, even if they could feel the difference in the alcove,
which he declared they could not. As soon as that was arranged to my
satisfaction, the other _pensionnaire_ came in, and with him the
battle was fought with only half success, for he peremptorily closed
one side of the window. He was a particularly noisy _pensionnaire_,
and shied his boots into every corner of the room before they were
posed to his satisfaction. As far as I could tell, the removal of the
boots was the only washing and undressing either of them did; and then
they arranged their candles in the alcove, lighted cigars, and got
into bed. There the wretches sat up on end, smoking and talking
vehemently, till sheer exhaustion came to my aid, and I fell asleep;
but the edges of the rush-bottomed chairs speedily became so sharp
that a recumbent posture ceased to be possible, and I sat dozing on
one chair. A little before four o'clock, the noisier man got up to
look for his boots; and as the friends continued their discussion, I
also turned out and made for the nearest stream, where I bathed in a
rapid at half-past four, to wash away, if possible, the horrors of the


[Footnote 73: The true _Cimetière des Bourguignons_ is the enclosure
where René, the victor of Nancy, buried the Burgundians who fell on the
sad Sunday when Charles the Bold went down before the deaf châtelain
Claude de Bagemont.]

[Footnote 74: Neither of my companions, I fear, would have acted as
Sejanus did, when another emperor was in danger of his life in the cave
on the Gulf of Amyclæ. (Tacit. Ann. iv. 59.)]

[Footnote 75: Water reduced to a temperature below 32° without
freezing, begins to freeze as soon as a crystal is dropped into it, the
ice forming first on the faces of the crystal.]

[Footnote 76: Water attains its maximum of specific gravity at 40°.
Below 40° it becomes lighter.]

       *       *       *       *       *



The bill _à la Parfaite Union_ was as small as the accommodation at that
_auberge_, and it was an immense relief to get away from the scene of my
sufferings. The path to Bonneville lies for the earlier part of the way
through pleasant scenery; and when the highest ground is reached, there
is a lovely view of the Lake of Geneva, which may be enjoyed under the
cool shade of a high hedge of trees, in the intervals of browsing upon
wild strawberries. But after passing the curious old town of La Roche,
two hours' walk from Thorens, the heat and dust of the dreary high road
became insupportable; and no pedestrian who undertakes that march with
a heavy knapsack, under a blazing noonday sun, will arrive at Bonneville
without infinite thankfulness that he has got through it. The road is of
the same character as that between Bonneville and Geneva, and that will
sufficiently express its unpleasantness in baking times of drought.

The Glacière of the Brezon lies at no great distance from
Bonneville--perhaps not more than four or five miles to the SE.--but its
elevation is more than 4,000 feet, and the approach is steep. The
Glacière of the Valley of Reposoir, a valley which falls into the main
road between Bonneville and Chamouni at the village of Scionzier, is
considerably higher, and a good deal of climbing is necessary in
visiting it. When I arrived at Bonneville, the whole mass of mountains
in which these caves lie was enveloped in thick dark clouds, and the
faint roar of thunder reached our ears now and then, so that it seemed
useless to attempt to penetrate into the high valleys. Moreover, I was
due for an attempt upon Mont Blanc in the beginning of the next week,
and an incipient bilious fever, with a painful lameness of one leg,
warned me that my powers were coming to an end, and that another day
such as the last had been would put a total stop upon the proposed
ascent; and so I determined to take the fever and the leg to Geneva, and
submit them to medical skill. This determination was strengthened by the
exhortations of a Belgian, who called himself a _grand amateurdes
montagnes_, on the strength of an ascent of the Môle and the Voiron, and
in this character administered Alpine advice of that delightful
description which one meets with in the coffee-rooms at Chamouni. This
Belgian was the only other guest of the Hôtel des Balances; and his
amiability was proof even against the inroads of some nameless species
of _vin mousseux_, recommended to me by the waiter, which supplied
_mal-à-propos_ wine-sauce to the various dishes from which the Belgian
was making his dinner, and did not leave his face and waistcoat free
from stain. He had but one remark to make, however wild might be the
assertions advanced from the English side of the table, '_Vous avez
raison, monsieur, vous avez parfait-e-ment raison_!' It is not quite
satisfactory to hold the same sentiments, in every small particular,
with a man who clips his hair down to a quarter of an inch, and eats
haricots with his fingers; but it was impossible to find any subject on
which he could be roused to dissentience. This phenomenon was explained
afterwards, when he informed me that he was a flannel-merchant
travelling with samples, and pointed out what was only too true, namely,
that the English monsieur's coat was no longer fit to be called a coat.

Professor Pictet read a paper on these glacières before the _Société
Helvétique des Sciences Naturelles_ at Berne, in 1822, which is to be
found in the _Bibl. Universelle de Genève._[77] M. Pictet left Geneva in
the middle of July to visit the caves, but found himself so much knocked
up by the first day's work, that he sent on his grandson to the Glacière
of the Brezon, and gave up the attempt himself. The young man found it
to be of small dimensions, 30 feet by 25, with a height of 10 or 12
feet. The ice on the floor was believed by the guide to be formed in
summer only, and was placed too irregularly to admit of measurement.
Calcareous blocks almost choked the entrance, and an orifice in the
shape of a funnel admitted the snow freely from above, and was partly
filled with snow in July. Cold currents of air proceeded from the rocks
in the neighbourhood of the glacière, giving in one instance a
temperature of 38°·75, the temperature in the shade being 51°. Within
the cave, the temperature was 41°.

M. Morin visited this glacière in August 1828. He describes it as a
sheltered hole, in which the snow collects and is preserved.

M. Thury examined it in August 1859, and gives the same account. He,
too, found the current of air which the younger Pictet discovered, but
in the cave itself the air was perfectly still.

It was clearly, then, no great loss to miss the Glacière of the Brezon;
but that on the Mont Vergy, in the Valley of Reposoir, appears to be
much more interesting. Professor Pictet found himself sufficiently
strong after a day's rest to pass on to Scionzier, and up the Valley of
Reposoir, accompanied by the well-known guide Timothée, whose botanical
knowledge of the district is said to be perfect. He had conducted MM.
Necker and Colladon to the glacière in 1807, and believed that no
_savant_ had since seen it. The rocks are all calcareous, with large
blocks of erratic granite. The glacière lies about 40 minutes from the
Châlet of Montarquis, whence its local name of _La grand' Cave de
Montarquis_. Before reaching it, a spacious grotto presents itself, once
the abode of coiners: this grotto is cold, but affords no ice, and near
it M. Morin found a narrow fissure, leading into a circular vaulted
chamber 15 feet in diameter, in which stood a solitary stalagmite of ice
15 feet high.

The entrance to the glacière itself is elliptical in shape, 43 feet
broad at the base, and the cave increases in size as it extends farther
into the rock, the floor descending gently till a horizontal esplanade
of ice is reached. This esplanade was 66 feet by 30 at the time of
Pictet's visit, deeper in the middle than at the sides, and mounting the
rock at the farther side of the cave; there was a small stalagmite at
one side, but that would seem to have been the only ornamentation
displayed. The temperature was 34°·7, a foot above the ice, and 58° in
the external air. Timothée had been in the glacière in the previous
April, and had found no ice,--nothing but a pool of water of
considerable depth. M. Thury, in August 1859, found two sheets of ice
in the lowest part of the cave: one, nearly 50 feet long, was partially
covered with water; the other, presenting an area of about 14 square
yards, showed more water still. There were no stalactites and columns
such as M. Morin had found in August 1828, nor even the low stalagmite
which Pictet saw in 1822. The summers of 1828 and 1859 were
exceptionally hot, and this fact has been held to account for the
smaller quantity of ice seen in those years. M. Thury found the cold due
to evaporation to be considerably less than 1° F.,[78] and he and M.
Morin both fixed the general temperature of the cave at 36°.5; they
also found a current of air entering by a fissure in the lowest part of
the cave, but it did not disturb the whole of the interior, for in one
part the air was in perfect equilibrium. M. Gampert,[79] in the summer
of 1823, found a strong and very cold current of air descending by this
fissure, along with water which ran from it over the ice; he believed
that this was refrigerated by evaporation, in passing through the
thickness of the moist rock.

Two peasants visited this cave three times in the winter season, viz. on
October 22, November 26, and on Christmas Day; and one of them, by name
Chavan, drew up an account of their experiences, which was read by M.
Colladon before the _Société de Physique et d'Histoire Nat. de Genève_
in 1824.[80] The peasants found very little ice in columns at the time
of the October visit, and there were signs of commencing thaw. The thaw
was much more pronounced in November, when the ice had nearly
disappeared even from the lowest parts of the cave, and they found the
air within quite warm. On Christmas Day they had great difficulty in
reaching the glacière, and narrowly escaped destruction by an avalanche,
which for a time deterred them from prosecuting the adventure: they
persisted, however, and were rewarded by finding only water where in
summer all was ice, and a temperate warmth in the cave. They observed
that the roof had fissures like chimneys.

This account was so circumstantial, that the only thing left was to
attempt an explanation of the phenomena reported, and such explanations
have not been wanting. But M. Thury was not quite satisfied, and he
determined to visit the cave in the winter of 1860-1. Accordingly,
accompanied by M. André Gindroz, who had already joined him in his
unsuccessful attempt to reach the Glacière of the Pré de S. Livres, he
left Geneva on the 10th of January, and slept at the Chartreuse in the
Valley of Reposoir. As the party passed through the village of Pralong
du Reposoir, the peasants told them with one accord that they would find
nothing but warmth and water in the cave; but when M. Thury asked had
any of them seen it themselves, they were equally unanimous in saying
no, explaining that it was not worth anyone's while to go in the winter,
as there was no ice to be seen then,--a circular line of argument which
did not commend itself to the strangers.

At the very entrance of the grotto, they found beautiful stalactites of
clear ice; and here they paused, till such time as they should be cool
enough to enter, for the thermometer stood at 70° in the sun, and their
climb had made them hot. On penetrating to the farther recesses of the
cave, where the true glacière lies, they found an abundance of
stalactites, stalagmites, and columns of ice, with flooring and slopes
of the same material: not a drop of water anywhere. The stalagmites were
very numerous, but none of them more than three feet high; some of the
stalactites, fifteen or so in number, were six or seven feet long, and
there were many others of a smaller size. M. Thury was particularly
struck by the milky appearance of much of the ice, one column in
particular resembling porcelain more than any other substance. This is a
not unusual character of the most beautiful part of the decorations of
the more sheltered ice-caves, as for instance the lowest cave in the
Upper Glacière of the Pré de S. Livres; the white appearance is not due
to the presence of air, for the ice is transparent and homogeneous, and
the naked eye is unable to detect bubbles or internal fissures.

The temperatures at 1.25 P.M. and 2.12 P.M. respectively were as
follows:--In the sun, between 3 and 4 feet above the snow, 72°.1 and
70°·5; in the shade, outside the cave, 36°·7 and 35°·8; at the
Observatory of Geneva, in the shade, 27°·3 and 28°·2, having risen from
24°·5 since noon. In the cave, 1 foot above the surface of the
ice-floor, the thermometer stood at 24°.8; and in a hole in the ice,
some few inches below the surface, 24°·1. In the large fissure, which has
been already mentioned as the source of the summer currents of air, the
temperature at various points was from 29°·3 to 27°·5. The circumstances
of these currents of air were now of course changed. Instead of a steady
current passing from the fissure into the cave, and so out by the main
entrance into the open air, strong enough to incline the flame of a
candle 45°, M. Thury found a gentle current passing from the cave into
the fissure, sufficient only to incline the flame 10°, and near the
entrance 8°, while in the entrance itself no current was perceptible at
4 P.M.

M. Thury remarks that less current was to be expected in winter than in
summer, because the upper ends of the fissures would be probably choked
with snow, and their lower ends with ice. It is evident that the current
which passes up into the fissure in winter, is favourable to the
introduction of the colder air from without; while the opposite current
in summer keeps up a supply of cold air in the cave, and so increases
its powers of resisting the attempts of the heated external air to make
a partial entrance. Both these currents, then, favour the glacial
conditions of the cave, and to some extent counterbalance the
disadvantages of its situation: viz., its aspect, towards the
south-east; the large size of its opening to the air, and the absence of
all shelter near the mouth, such as is so often provided by trees or
rocks. The small depth of the cave, scarcely amounting to 18 feet below
the level of the entrance, is also a great disadvantage.

The people of Pralong asked, on the return of the party, what had been
found in the _grand' cave_, and the answer reduced them to silence for a
few moments. Their prejudices, however, were invincible, and they
persisted in their belief that a true glacière ought to have no ice in
it in the winter. M. Thury did not enquire from what source they drew
their ideas of a true glacière.

There is a book, in three volumes, on the 'Glacières of the Alps,' by M.
Bourrit, dedicated to Buffon, in which is a description of the Valley of
Reposoir; but no mention whatever is made of the _grand' cave_. Indeed,
M. Bourrit merely meant by _glacière_, a glacial district, something
more extensive than a _glacier_, and he had evidently no knowledge of
the existence of caves containing ice.


[Footnote 77: Première Série, t. xx. pp. 261, &c.]

[Footnote 78: Less than 1/2° C., he says.]

[Footnote 79: _Bibl. Univ. de Genève_, Première Série, t. xxv. pp. 224,

[Footnote: 80: _Bibl. Univ_. l.c.]

       *       *       *       *       *



The Chanoine Carrel, of Aosta, whose name is so well and so favourably
known to Alpine men, sent a brief account of an ice-cave in his
neighbourhood to the _Bibliothèque Universelle_ of Geneva[81] in the
year 1841, and, as far as I know, there is no other account of it. My
plan had been to pass from Chamouni by the Col du Géant to Courmayeur,
and thence to Aosta for a visit to the canon and his glacière; but,
unfortunately, the symptoms which had put an end to the expedition to
the Brezon and the Valley of Reposoir came on with renewed vigour, as a
consequence of Mont Blanc, and the projected fortnight with Peter Pernn
collapsed into a hasty flight to Geneva. It was fortunate that medical
assistance was not necessary in Chamouni itself; for one of the members
of our large party there was mulcted in the sum of £16, with a hint that
something beyond that would be acceptable, for an extremely moderate
amount of attendance by the local French doctor.

The glacière was thus of necessity given up. It is known among the
people as _La Borna de la Glace_, and lies about 5,300 feet above the
sea, on the northern slope of the hills which command the hamlet of
Chabaudey, commune of La Salle, in the duchy of Aosta, to the north-east
of Larsey-de-là, in a place covered with firs and larches, and called
Plan-agex. The entrance has an east exposure, and is very small, being a
triangle with a base of 2 feet and an altitude of 2-1/2 feet. After
descending a yard or two, this becomes larger, and divides into two main
branches, with three other fissures penetrating into the heart of the
mountain, too narrow to admit of a passage. The roof is very irregular,
and the stones on the floor are interspersed with ice, which appears
also in the form of icicles upon the walls; and, in the eastern branch
of the cave, there is a cylindrical pillar more than 3 feet long, with
a diameter of rather more than a foot. The temperature at 4 P.M. on
July 15, 1841, was as follows:--The external air, 59°; the cave, at the
entrance, 37·2º; near the large cylinder, 35°·7; and in different parts
of the western branch, from 33°·6 to 32°·9.

M. Carrel was evidently not aware of the existence of similar caves
elsewhere. He recommends, in his communication to the _Bibliothèque
Universelle_, that some scientific man should investigate the phenomena,
and explain the great cold, and the fact of the formation of ice, which
common report ascribed to the time of the Dog-days. He doubts whether
rapid evaporation can be the only cause, and suggests that possibly
there may be something in the interior of the mountain to account for
this departure from the laws generally recognised in geology.


[Footnote 81: Nouvelle Série, t. xxxiv. p. 196.]

       *       *       *       *       *



There cannot be any better place for recruiting strength than the lovely
primitive valley of _Les Plans_, two hours up the course of the Avençon
from hot and dusty Bex. Here I rejoined my sisters, intending to spend a
month with them before returning to England; and the neighbouring
glaciers afforded good opportunities for quietly investigating the
structure of the ice which composes them, with a view to discovering, if
possible, some trace of the prismatic formation so universal in the
glacières. On one occasion, after carefully cutting steps and examining
the faces of cleavage for an hour and a half, I detected a small patch
of ice, under the overhanging rim of a crevasse, marked distinctly with
the familiar network of lines on the surface; but I was unable to
discover anything betokening a prismatic condition of the interior.
This was the only case in which I saw the slightest approach to the
phenomena presented in ice-caves.

There remained one glacière on M. Thury's list, which I had so far not
thought of visiting. It was described as lying three leagues to the
north of Die in Dauphiné, department of the Drôme, at an altitude of
more than 5,000 feet above the sea. M. Héricart de Thury discovered
this cavern in 1805, and published an account of it in the _Annales
des Mines_[82] to which M. Thury's list gave a reference. I have since
found that this account has been translated into various scientific
periodicals, among others the Philosophical Journal of Edinburgh.[83]
It occurred to me that, by leaving Les Plans a few days earlier than I
had intended, I could take advantage of the new line connecting
Chambéry and Grenoble and Valence, and so visit this glacière without
making the journey too long; and accordingly I bade farewell to Madame
Chérix's comfortable room, leaving my sisters in their quarters in a
neighbouring châlet, and started for Geneva.

The line was advertised to open on the 15th of August; but on the 16th
the officials declared that it was not within a month and a half of
completion, so that I was compelled to go round by Lyons. I was easily
reconciled to this by the opportunity thus afforded of a visit to the
ancient city of Vienne, which well repays inspection. Its history is a
perfect quarry of renowned names, Roman, Burgundian, and ecclesiastical.
Tiberius Gracchus left his mark upon the city, by bridling the
Rhône--_impatiens pontis_--with the earliest bridge in Gaul: and here
tradition has it that the great Pompey loved magnificently one of his
many loves; while the site of the Prætorium in which Pontius Pilate is
said to have given judgment can still be pointed out. The true Mount
Pilate lies between Vienne and Lyons, being one of the loftiest
northern summits of the Cevennes, on the borders of the Lyonnaise.[84]
The Romans recognised the fitness of the neighbourhood of Vienne for the
cultivation of the grape, and the first vine in Gaul was planted on the
Mont d'Or in the second century of the Christian era. In Burgundian
times the city held a very prominent place, and became infamous from the
frequent shedding of royal blood; so that early historians describe it
as '_tousiours fatale à ceux qui vueillent la corone des
Bourgougnons,'[85]_ and as '_fatale et de malencõtre aux tyrãs et
mauvais princes.'[86]_ Ecclesiastically, its interest dates of course
from a very early period, from the times of the martyrs of Gaul and the
first Rogations. The Festival of _Les Merveilles_ long commemorated the
restoration of the bodily forms of the Lyonnese martyrs, as their
scattered dust floated past the home of Blandina and Ponticus; and the
dedication of the cathedral to S. Maurice keeps alive the tradition that
Paschasius, bishop of Vienne, was warned by an angel to watch on the
banks of the Rhône, and so rescued the head and trunk of the
soldier-martyr, which had been cast into the river at Agaunum (S.
Maurice in Valais), and had floated down--probably on sounder
hydrostatical principles than the 'Floating Martyr'--through the Lake of
Geneva, and so to Vienne. There are still many very interesting Roman
remains in the city, as the Temple of Augusta and Livia, the Arcade of
the Forum, and the monument seen from the railway to the south of the
town. The temple is being carefully restored, and the large collection
of Roman curiosities which it contained is to be removed to the church
of S. Peter, now in course of restoration, which will in itself be worth
a visit to Vienne when the restoration is completed.[87] All the
buildings connected with the Great Council in 1311 have disappeared; and
the only relic of the council seems to be the Chalice, _or_, surmounted
by the Sacred Host, _argent_, in the city arms, in remembrance of the
institution of the Fête of the _S. Corps_. If the Emperor would but
have the town and its inhabitants deodorised, few places would be better
worth visiting than Vienne.

The poste leaves Valence--the home of the White Hermitage--for Die at
2.30 P.M., and professes to reach its destination in six hours; but sad
experience showed that it could be unfaithful to the extent of an hour
and a half. So long as the daylight lasted, there was no dearth of
objects of interest; but when darkness came on, the monotonous roll of
the heavy diligence became aggravating in the extreme. The village of
Beaumont, once the residence of an important branch of the great
Beaumont family,[88] retains still its square tower and old gateway; and
the remains of a château near Montmeyran, the end of the first stage,
mark the scene of the victory of Marius over the Ambrons and Teutons,
local antiquaries believing that the name of Montmeyran is from _Mons
Jovis Mariani_.[89] The road lies through the bright cool green of wide
plantations of the silkworm mulberry,[90] with its trim stem and rounded
head; and, in the more open parts of the valley, walnut trees of size
and shape fit for an ornamental park in England relieve the monotony.
The nearer hills are covered to the top with vines, and the higher and
more distant ranges have a naked and thoroughly burned appearance,
which suggests the idea of volcanoes to a traveller ignorant of volcanic
facts. The villages which lie at the foot of these rocky hills are built
of stones taken from the beds of the streams, and are so completely of
one colour with the background of rock, that in many instances it is
difficult to determine whether a distant mass of grey is a village or
not. Ruined castles and towers abound; and these, and still more the
walls which surround many of the villages, point unmistakeably to times
of great disturbance. The valley of the Drôme, up which the road after a
time turns, was an important locality in the religious wars; and the
town and fort of Crest especially, as its name might suggest, was a
famous stronghold, and resisted all the efforts of the Reformed party.
In yet earlier times, Simon de Montfort had frequently tried to take it,
without success; and four years after S. Bartholomew, Lesdiguières met
with a like repulse.[91] The same story of sieges and battles might be
told of almost every village and defile of the valley. Thus, Saillans,
the third stage, was taken by the Protestant leader Mirabel, and the
Catholic Gordes, in 1574, and its fortifications were razed by the Duc
de Mayenne in 1581. Pontaix, again, a remarkable place, with a vaulted
street and fortified houses overhanging the river, which here fills up
the whole valley and leaves room only for the road and the narrow
village-town, was the scene of an obstinate and murderous fight between
the Marquis de Gordes on one side, and Lesdiguières and Dupuy-Montbrun
on the other, when the latter was captured, and shortly after beheaded
at Grenoble.

The town of Die, _Dea Vocontiorum_, lies in a broad part of the valley.
It claims to be not _Dea Vocontiorum_ only, but also _Augusta
Vocontiorum_, thereby apparently defrauding the village of Aouste, near
Crest, of the earliest form of its name. Die is possessed of old walls,
and has four gates with towers. The great goddess from whose worship it
derives its name was Cybele, notwithstanding the vehement assertions of
the official in the Poste-bureau in favour of Ceres; and three different
Tauroboles have been discovered here, one of which is in excellent
repair, and shows a Roman inscription surmounted by three bulls' heads.
The ceremony of the Taurobolium was new to me, and appears to have been
conducted as follows:--A small cave was hollowed out, with a thin roof
formed by the outer surface of the earth; and immediately above this a
bull was sacrificed, so that the blood ran through the earth and dropped
on to a priest who was placed in full robes in the cave. The priest and
the blood-stained garments were thenceforth specially sacred, the
garments retaining their sanctity for twenty years. The inscription on
the Tauroboles which have been found in and near Die record the names
of the priest, the dendrophore, the person who provided the victim, and
the emperor for whose safety the sacrifice was offered.

The people of Die have been quarrelsome from the earliest times. A
century before the estates of the Dauphins of the Viennois were known as
Dauphiné,[92] the chronic contests between the Bishops and the Counts of
Die had come to such a crisis, that the Dauphin Guiges André intervened,
and produced a certain amount of peace; but, twenty years after, the
people killed Bishop Humbert before the gate which thence received its
name of _Porte Rouge_. When the Counts of Valentinois had succeeded to
the fiefs of the Counts of Die, Gregory X. became so weary of the
constant wars, that he suppressed the bishopric, and united it to
Valence in 1275; but the canons, who were not suppressed, raised a
mercenary army and carried on the struggle. Eventually, the canons and
the people made common cause, and joined the Pope during the Seventy
Years; but when he left Avignon they came to terms with Charles VI. of
France, and so the Diois was united to Dauphiné in 1404. Louis XIV.
restored the separate bishopric, but ruined the town by the revocation
of the Edict of Nantes.

The large number of mosaics and inscriptions found in Die prove
conclusively that in Roman times it was a favourite place of residence;
and, so far as situation goes, it is not difficult to understand how
this should have been the case. But in the condition in which the town
found itself in the pitiless heat of August 1864, the only question for
an English visitor was whether he could live through the time it was
absolutely necessary to spend there. The poste arrived, as has been
said, an hour and a half after its time; and the sole occupant of the
coupé, who had lived on fruit and gooseberry syrup, and three penny
worth of sweet cake at Crest, since a seven-o'clock breakfast, had wiled
away the last hour by inventing choice bills of fare for the meditated
supper. When the lumbering vehicle stopped in the main street of Die,
which is here something under seven yards wide, an elderly woman stepped
out from the dim crowd, with an uncovered tallow candle in her hand, and
asked if there was anyone for the hotel. The unwonted 'yes' seemed to
create some surprise; but she led the way promptly to her hotel,
diplomatically meeting the rapid volley of questions respecting supper
with an unpromising silence, and the first sight of the house itself
dispelled for ever all hope. An entrance was effected by the kitchen;
and not only was there no fire, but there was no light of any
description; and the one dip we brought on to the scene betrayed such
squalor on all sides, that the suggestion of a _salle-à-manger_ in
connection with such a kitchen became at once an impudent mockery. When
this farther room was reached, it proved to be even worse than the
kitchen. It was shut up for the night--had been shut up apparently for a
week--and was in the possession of the cats of the town, and the flies
of Egypt. Two monstrous hounds entered with us; and the cats fled
hastily by a window which was slightly open at the top, spitting and
howling with fear when they missed the first spring, and came within the
cognisance of their mortal foes.

The first thing to be done was to wash off some of the accumulated dust;
but when I asked for a bedroom for that purpose, I was conducted to a
copper in the kitchen, the water in which had been a permanency for some
time past, and was told to wash there. As for supper, there was some
cold mutton; but the landlady unfortunately opened the door of the
cupboard as she said so, and displayed a state of things which decided
the point against the mutton. There was nothing else in the house, and
there was no fire for cooking anything; but when they discovered that I
really would not wait till the next morning, they proposed to light a
fire and warm some soup, which I declined to see in its present state.
In the way of wine, I had been recommended to make a great point of the
_clairette de Die_, an excellent species of _vin mousseux_; but the
chief of the women rather recommended the ordinary wine of the country,
as the monsieur might not like to give a strong price. 'Was it, then, so
strong?' 'Yes, the price was undoubtedly strong.' 'How much, then?' 'A
franc a bottle.' With an eye to the future bill, the monsieur pretended
to ponder awhile, as if in doubt whether his resources could stand such
a strain, and then, with a reckless air, decided upon the extravagance.
The clairette proved to be quite worthy of the praise which had been
bestowed upon it, being a very pleasant and harmless sparkling white

The neighbours kept dropping into the kitchen, to see how the landlady
got on with the stranger of uncouth speech; and four of the female part
of her company brought in at various times to the _salle-à-manger_ some
piece of table-furniture, in order to indulge in a closer view than the
open door of the room afforded. One of them told me she had seen an
Englishman once before, a few months back; but he only had one eye, and
she seemed to think I was out of order in possessing two. At length the
soup came, and the first attempt upon it proved it to be utterly
impossible. The landlady was called in, and this fact was announced to
her. 'What to do, then?--it was a good soup, a soup which the people of
Die loved,--it was a soup the household eat morning and night.' All the
same, it was not a soup the present Englishman could eat, and some other
sort of food must be provided, for she declined to furnish soup without
garlic and fat. She suggested an omelette; but a natural generalisation
from all I had so far seen drew an untempting picture of the probable
state of the frying-pan, and I declined to face the idea until I was
convinced there was nothing else to be had. But, alas! notwithstanding
the righteous indignation with which the landlady met my request that
the omelette might not be all fat, the manipulation of the eggs
eventuated in a dish even more impracticable than the soup, flooded with
unmentionable grease, and so at last the cold mutton became a necessity.
To show how hunger may work upon the feelings, I may say that, in spite
of the marks of the feet of mice in the cold gravy which remained on the
dish, I forced myself to cut off a wedge, and, after removing a
thick layer of meat on the exposed sides, essayed to eat the heart of
the wedge. The sheep and its progenitors had been fed on garlic from all
time, and the mutton had been boiled in a decoction of that noxious
herb; and this dish was in its turn rejected like the others. There was
nothing for it but salad, and bread, and wine; but when the salad
appeared, after a long time had been spent in the kitchen in saturating
the withered greens with oil and vitriolic vinegar, there, perched on
the top like one of those animals which sometimes spoil one's enjoyment
of a strawberry-bed, was a huge onion, with numerous satellites peeping
out from under the leaves. About this time, a short diversion was caused
by the reappearance of one of the large hounds, whose mind was not at
ease as to the completeness of the previous elimination of the cats from
the _salle-à-manger;_ and the diabolical noise and scuffle which ensued
upon his investigation of a dark corner, showed that his doubts had
been well grounded. Then I discovered that there was no butter to be
had, and no milk; and when coffee was mentioned, a pan was brought out
for making that beverage, which a bullet-maker with any regard for
appearances would have declined to use for melting his lead in. Finally,
under the pressure of dire hunger, I returned to the mutton, and
contrived to swallow a small piece, the taste of which did not leave me
for four or five days.

The interior of the house, where the bedrooms were, gave forth an odour
which must be familiar to all who have burrowed in out-of-the-way places
in France, approaching more nearly, perhaps, to the smell of damp cocks
and hens than anything else; and the bedroom door was guarded by a huge
mis-shapen dog, which evidently intended to pass the night there, if it
could not get into the room itself. The street on to which the window
looked was still populous with the inhabitants of Die; and a man with
whom I had already had a conversation respecting the glacière, who
appeared to perform some of the functions of landlord of the hotel, was
audibly engaged in hiring a man to accompany me on the following day.
The man whom he was attempting to persuade was evidently of an
independent turn of mind, and said that as it would be an affair of
fifteen or sixteen hours at least, he would not go through so much
unless his proposed comrade were a true _bonhomme_; a difficulty which
the landlord set at rest by asseverations so ready and so
circumstantial, that I determined to take everything he might tell me,
on any subject, with many grains of allowance.

It was only natural to expect a night of horrors; but in this I was most
agreeably disappointed, and the few hours passed quietly enough till it
was time to get up. By morning light, the _salle-à-manger_ did so
bristle with squalor that the kitchen was made the breakfast-room;
though as that meal only lasted two minutes, and meant nothing beyond an
attempt to eat some of the bread I had been unable to eat the night
before, one place was much the same as another. It is generally believed
that coffee is to be obtained in perfection in France; but that belief
is not founded on experience of the provinces, and had long ceased to be
a part of my creed: nevertheless, with the idea that there is always
some redeeming-point in the darkest situation, I had hopes of the coffee
of Die, in spite of the appearance of the pan; and if these hopes had
been realised, the place might still have been tolerable. But they were
not realised. When the landlady was asked for the promised coffee, she
brought out a small earthenware pitcher containing a black liquid, and
proceeded to bury its lower extremity in the hot embers of the wood
fire, by which means the liquid was speedily warmed up, and also
thickened with unnecessary ashes. When served--in the same dusty
pitcher--it had a green and mouldy taste, combined with a sour
bitterness which made it utterly impossible as an article of food, and
so the breakfast was confined to the rejected fragments of the loaf of
the preceding night.

The guide, or comrade as he preferred to call himself, appeared in good
time, and we started about half-past six, under a sun already
oppressively hot, and through heavy flaky dust, which made us feel very
thankful when our route branched off from the high road. Liotir was
strong in mulberry trees and vines, for he was a keeper of silkworms,
and a wine-merchant. Silkworms had not been profitable for a year or
two, and he was almost in low spirits when he talked of them.[94] An
epidemic had visited the district, and the worms ate voraciously and
refused to spin--a disease which he believed to be beyond the power of
medicine.[95] As is so often the case with the Frenchman, as compared
with the Englishman of corresponding social status, he had his
information cut and dried, and poured it out without hesitation.
Silkworms' eggs cost 15, 20, or 25 francs an ounce, according to
quality; and an ounce of good seed should produce from two to three
hundred francs' worth of cocoons. A man who 'makes' an ounce of seed
requires six tables, 8 feet by 4, for his cages; and as some men make
thirty-five ounces, chambers of great size are necessary for the
accommodation of their worms; but breeders to so large an extent as this
are the princes of the trade. As we passed a farmhouse surrounded by
mulberry trees and vineyards, my companion informed me that the farmer
was his partner in worms and wine both, and that the wine promised to be
the better speculation this year, for the fruit was in immense
abundance. I saw afterwards that, at the time of vintage, grapes sold
for pressing at from 6 to 10 francs the hundred kilos, while 12 and 13
francs was the price in 1863, and that in some districts of the Drôme
the owners of the presses had not barrels enough for even the first

The great want of wood on the hills in whose neighbourhood we now found
ourselves, attracted attention in the time of Louis XIV., and that
sovereign passed severe laws for the protection of the forests that
still remained. As usual, the mere severity of the laws made them fail
of their object. Banishment and the galleys were the punishment for
unauthorised cutting of forest trees, and death if fire were used. There
is a paper in the _Journal de Physique_ of 1789,[96] on the
disappearance of the forests of Dauphiné, pointing out that when the
woods are removed from the sides of mountains, the soil soon follows,
and the district becomes utterly valueless. The writer traced the
mischief to the emancipation of serfs, and the consequent formation of
_communes_, where each man could do that which was right in his own

At any rate, whatever the reason, nothing can be conceived more bare
than the dun-coloured rounded hills between the town of Die and the Col
de Vassieux, towards which we were making our way. The whole face of the
country had the same parched look, and the soil seemed to be composed
entirely of small stones, without any signs of moisture even in the
watercourses. The Col de Vassieux is not much more than 4,000 feet high,
and forms a saddle between the Pic de S. Genix (5,450 feet) and the But
de l'Aiglette (5,200 feet). A new foot-road has been made to the Col,
with many windings; and great care has been taken to plant the sides of
the hill with oak and hazel; so that already there is some appearance of
coppice, and in the course of time there will be shade by the way--a
luxury for which we longed in vain. The lower ground was covered with
little scrubs of box, and with lavender, dwarfed and dry; but near the
summit of the Col the lavender became vigorous and luxuriant, and
carpeted the hillside with a rich abundance of blue, tempting us more
than once to lie down and roll on the fragrant bed; though some of the
older roots were not sufficiently yielding to make that performance as
satisfactory as it might have been. This lavender is highly prized by
the silkworm-keepers of Die, its bushy heads being almost exclusively
used for the worms to spin their cocoons in.

When we reached the top of the Col, Liotir confessed that he did not
know which way to turn, and we agreed to follow the path till we should
find some one to direct us. There was a farmhouse at no great distance,
and thither we bent our steps; but the sole inhabitant could give no
assistance, and, in default of information, Liotir generously proposed
to treat me to a bottle of wine, over which we might discuss our further
proceedings. The state of fever, however, to which the garlic and the
dirt of Die had brought me, made it seem impossible to eat or drink
anything; so I suggested instead that I should treat him, and that
seemed to be rather what he had meant by his proposal. Nothing much came
of our discussion, and we marched on hot and faint for an hour more,
when a casual man told us that our straight line to the _Foire de
Fondeurle_ lay across the plain on our left hand, and up a most
objectionable-looking hill beyond, thickly covered with brushwood and
showing no signs of a path.

As we crossed the plain, there was still the same total absence of
water, and we reached the bottom of the hill in a state of mind and body
which rebelled against the exertion of struggling with the sand and
shingle and brushwood. Liotir thought it was useless to attempt it with
no hope of water, and I held much the same view, only it was impossible
really to think of giving it up. When at last we had surmounted all the
difficulties which beset us, and stood on the highest point which had so
far been in sight, we found ourselves on the edge of a vast plain of
parched grass, with nothing to guide us in one direction rather than
another. There was no human being in sight, no sign of water, nor any
particle of shade; nothing but grass, brown and monotonous, with white
cliffs miles away at the extremity of the plain. This was evidently the
_Foire de Fondeurle_, and in it somewhere lay the glacière, if only we
could make out in which direction to begin to traverse the plain. In
the earlier part of this century, a very famous fair was held on this
wild and out-of-the-way table-land, to which many thousands of horses
and mules and cattle of various kinds were brought from all quarters;
but the fair has fallen off so much, that the man who had turned us up
the last hill said there were only fourteen head of cattle in 1863, and
very few of those were sold. M. Héricart de Thury describes this plain
as lying in the calcareous sub-Alpine range of the south-east of France.
The woods here terminate at a height of 5,147 feet above the sea, and
the _Foire de Fondeurle_ lies immediately above this point.

At last we made a bold dash across the plain, and after a time came upon
some sheep, standing in a thick row, with their heads thrust under a low
bank which afforded a little shade; and at no great distance from them
sat the shepherd. He was a cripple, and his clothes were something worse
than rags. He offered us a portion of the water he had in a
detestable-looking skin; but he assured us it was quite warm, and had
not been good to begin with, so we did not try it, though we were
thirsty enough to have hailed a muddy pool with delight. Our new
acquaintance knew nothing of the glacière, but he belonged himself to
the Chalêt of Fondeurle, and as that was the only house on the whole
plain, he told us to make for it. The surface of the plain seemed to
have fallen through in many places, forming larger and smaller pits with
steep sides of limestone. These were often of the size of a large field,
and, as the deeper of them required circumvention, the shepherd told us
that we must follow the line of little cairns which we should find here
and there on our way, the only guide across the plain. He could not be
sure himself in what direction the châlet lay; but if we kept to a
certain tortuous line, we should come to it in time.

The way proved to be so very long, that we doubted whether such a
consummation of our wishes would ever arrive: but at length, in a small
dip at the farthest extremity of the plain, we saw the châlet, and, what
was much more to us, saw a little run of water, carried from the rising
ground by wooden pipes. It will be well for any future visitor to the
châlet to go very warily, and to intrench himself in a strong position
when he sees half-a-dozen huge dogs like black and white bears come out
to attack him. Liotir had a stout stick, and I had a formidable ice-axe;
and, moreover, we fortunately secured a wall in our rear: but with all
this the dogs were nearly too much for us, and Liotir was pressing me
earnestly to chop at the ringleader's head, when a man came and called
off 'Dragon,' and the others then dispersed. The new-comer wished to
know our business, but, without satisfying his curiosity, we rushed to
the water-trough, and drank and used in washing an amount of water which
he evidently grudged us. Then we were able to tell him that our business
was something to eat for Liotir, and a guide to the glacière; though I
trembled when I suggested the latter, for, after all our labours, I had
a sort of fear that the cave would prove a myth. On this point the man
cleared away all doubts at once,--we could certainly have a guide, as
the _patron_ would be sure to let one of them go with us. As to food,
there was more doubt, for the master was not yet at home, and his wife
would not be able to give us an answer without consulting him. The wife
confirmed this statement: they saw very few strangers, and did not
profess to supply food to people crossing the plain. I assured her that
we intended to pay well for anything she could let us have, but she
merely rejoined that they did not keep an auberge; however, her husband
would be home some time in the course of the afternoon--it was now about
half-past twelve--and she could ask his opinion on the subject. But
Liotir objected that he was meanwhile dying of hunger, and the monsieur
of thirst which only milk or cream could assuage; he suggested that some
one should be sent to look for the husband, and obtain his permission
for us to be fed. To this she assented, very dubiously, and with a
constrained air, as if there were some mysterious reason why the
presence of strangers was peculiarly unacceptable on that particular
afternoon. At any rate, she said when pressed, she thought there could
be no harm in our entering the châlet and sitting down on a bench, where
we should be sheltered from the sun.

Here accordingly we sat, more or less patiently, till the master himself
appeared. He had no welcome for us; but he was willing that we should
eat some of his black bread, and try his wine. Liotir begged for cheese,
and the wife was told she might supply cheese of two kinds, and also
cream, for the monsieur evidently was _malade_ and could not swallow
wine. The cream and the black bread were delicious; but still the
horrors of Die hung about me, and I could only dispose of such a small
amount, that Liotir waxed funny, and told me it would never do for me to
die there, as there was not earth enough to scrape a grave in on the
whole plain. Then, being a practical man, he declared he should like to
contract for my keep, and thought he could afford to do it at very small
cost to me, and still leave a fair margin for himself. He thought it
right to make up for my want of appetite; and so, in addition to his own
share, he took in an exemplary manner the share of wine which I should
have taken, had I been a man like himself. The master of the châlet sat
on the family bed, smoking silently and sullenly; and as soon as Liotir
had come to an end of his second bottle, he proposed to accompany us
himself to the cave, as he doubted whether any of his men knew the way,
and he was sure they were all busy. When I came to pay his wife for what
we had consumed, I administered thanks as well as money; to which she
sternly rejoined, 'Who pays need not give thanks;' and to that surly
view she held, in spite of my attempts to soften her down. There was,
after all, much force in what she said, under the circumstances. They
had given us no welcome, nothing but mere food, and all they expected in
return was a due amount of money; thanks were a mockery in their eyes.

The cavern was reached in a few minutes, when once we got away from the
châlet. Two large pits, formed apparently by the subsidence of the
surface, lay in a line about east and west, and there proved to be an
underground communication between them. From this tunnel, as it were, a
long low archway led to a broad slope of chaotic blocks of stone, down
which we scrambled by the aid of such light as our candles afforded. The
roof of this inner cave was horizontal for some distance, and then
suddenly descended in a grand wall; and in consequence of a series of
such inverted steps, the cave never assumed any great height. The whole
length of the slope was 190 feet, and its greatest breadth about 140
feet; but the breadth varied very much. Half-way down the slope the ice
commenced, fitfully at first, and afterwards in a tolerably continuous
sheet. The most careless explorer could not have failed to notice the
polygonal figures stamped upon its surface. They were larger and bolder
than any I had seen before; and the prismatic nuts into which the ice
broke, when cut with the axe, were of course in proportion larger than
in the previous caves. The signs of thaw, too, were unmistakeable.
Though the upper surface of the earth had seemed to be utterly devoid of
moisture of any kind, large drops fell freely from the roof of the
cave,[97] and the ice itself was wet. The _patron_ said there was no ice
whatever in the winter months, and that from June to September was the
time at which alone it could be found. He declined to explain how it was
that we found it so evidently in a state of general thaw in the very
height of its season. To give us some idea of the climate of the plain
in winter, he informed us that the snow lay for long up to the top of
the door of his châlet.

There were in all four columns of ice in the cave, only two of which
were of any considerable size. One of these was peculiarly striking from
the very large grain which its structure displayed; it measured 19 feet
across the base, being flat towards the extremity of the cave, and round
towards the entrance. Three thermometers in various parts of the
glacière gave all the same temperature, namely, a fraction under 33° F.:
a rough French thermometer gave 1/2° C. The extreme wall of the cavern
was completely covered by a layer of stalagmitic material, and some of
the forms the substance assumed were sufficiently striking. In contact
with the wall, though standing clear of it in parts where the wall fell
inwards, stood a thick round column of the same material, shaped like
the ordinary ice-columns of the glacières, with a cavity near the base,
and in all ways following the usual laws of such columns. Considering
that I had observed a layer of limestone-paste collecting on one of the
ice-columns of the Glacière of La Genollière, I could not help imagining
that this stalagmitic column had been originally moulded on a norm of
that description. It had a girth of 12 feet in the part where we were
able to pass the tape round it. Its surface was smooth; but when we
drove a hole through this, with much damage to the _pic_ of my axe, we
found that the interior was in a crystalline form.

There was, on the whole, very little to be seen in the glacière. Had it
been my first experience of an ice-cave, it would doubtless have seemed
very remarkable, as it did to Liotir, who, by the way, had steadily
disbelieved the possibility of natural ice in summer except in the
glaciers; but as I had now seen so many, several of them much more
wonderful than this, I did not care to stay longer than was absolutely
necessary for measurements and investigation. Besides, the food of
Dauphiné rather takes the energy and love of adventure out of an
unaccustomed visitor.

Without long delay, then, we bade farewell to the _patron_, not
returning to the inhospitable châlet, and started on our way for Die,
each carrying a large block of ice slung in a network of string.
Liotir's purpose was to convince some mysterious female friend that he
really had seen ice in summer, within five or six hours of Die; and
mine, to apply the ice to the butter which I had specially ordered the
landlady to have ready for me, that so I might be able to get through
the night, and leave Die by the diligence the first thing next morning.
It was remarkable how well the ice bore the great heat. For long the
bulk of the masses we carried seemed scarcely to diminish; and if it had
not been for a course of heavy falls as we descended through the
brushwood, we should have succeeded in getting a large proportion of it
safely to Die. The precision of the prismatic structure also showed
itself in a very marked manner; and when we came to a crisis of thirst,
which happened at shorter and shorter intervals as the afternoon wore
on, we separated the prisms with our fingers from the edges of the ice
without any difficulty, and made ourselves more hot and thirsty by
eating them.

When we arrived at the farmhouse at the Col de Vassieux, we reaped full
benefit from our ice. The wine, which had been hot and heavy and
unpalatable in the morning, when we had tried it unmixed, became
delightfully refreshing when disguised with an abundance of water and
sugar and ice; and Liotir found that contracting for my keep at a low
rate would not, after all, secure him the comfortable income he had
before calculated. After this refreshment, he became communicative, and
told me he had served seven years in the French army, three of which
were spent in working on railways. He had fought the Italian campaign,
and was full of details of the battle of Solferino, on which occasion
his _bataillon_ was led on by the Emperor in person. According to his
account, four _bataillons_ were drawn up for the assault of a tower, and
when the first advanced it was swept away to a man. The second met with
a like fate, and Liotir was in the third. His officers had all been
killed, and a corporal was in command. The Emperor rode up and called to
them to advance as far as he advanced. This was about a hundred yards;
and then, after halting them for a moment, the Emperor cried, '_Allez,
mes enfants! nous ne sommes pas tous perdus!'_ sending the fourth
_bataillon_ close upon their heels. In answer to my question, Liotir
said, slowly and solemnly, that he did not think the Emperor was under
fire; a few dropping shots reached them while he was yet addressing
them, but he believed the Emperor Napoleon was not in the fire at
Solferino. I took the opportunity of asking whether he was green on that
occasion, as Mr. Kinglake believes that he is in times of personal
danger; but my companion utterly scouted the idea, and declared that he
saw no man through all that day so cool and capable as the Emperor. Pale
he undoubtedly was, but that was his habit. Like all other French
soldiers with whom I have had much conversation, Liotir complained of
the army arrangements in the matter of food; on all other points he was
most amiable, but when he spoke of the extortions of the _cantinière_ he
completely lost his temper. At a _café_, the soldiers could get their
cup for 15 centimes, or 20 with liqueur; whereas the _cantinière_
charged a franc, and gave them very bad coffee. Wine, too, which would
cost them 60 centimes the kilo in the town, was valued at 2 francs by
their grasping enemy. He had an idea that English soldiers are allowed
to take their whole pay in money, and spend it as they will; whereas the
French foot-soldier, according to his account, gets 25 centimes a day in
money, and has everything found except coffee. A young trooper at
Besançon was very eloquent on this subject. He represented himself as a
man of small appetite and a gay spirit; he could well live on very
little solid food, and yet he had as much deducted from his pay on that
account as anyone in the army--as much, for instance, he groaned, as a
certain stout old warrior who was then reposing on a corn-bin. If he
could have drawn all his pay in money, and lived on almost nothing for
food, he would have had abundance of sous for cards and tobacco; and
what a career would that be!

The blocks of ice were by this time becoming rather small; and as we had
now once more reached the region of lavender, we cut a large quantity
and wrapped the ice in it, and thus protected it from further thaw. For
some time before arriving at the farm where my companion's partner
lived, he indulged in praises of the wine which their vineyard produced,
and assurances of the safety with which it would perform a journey to
England. He urged its excellent _bouquet_, and gave me a card of prices
which certainly seemed marvellously reasonable. Finally, he proposed to
join me at a bottle of white _muscat_, from the farmer's _cave_, in
order that I might have an opportunity of seeing how true was his
account of the wine. We seated ourselves accordingly in the farmyard,
and drank a bottle of delightful wine at 65 centimes the bottle, clear
and sparkling, and with a strong muscat flavour. Liotir combined with it
intoxication of a different kind, and showed unmistakeable signs of his
determination to take another member of the farmer's household into
partnership,--the mysterious friend, in fact, for whose astonishment the
ice was intended. The white muscat, they told me, would not keep over
the year; but they had a wine at the same price which they highly
recommended, and warranted to keep for a considerable number of years.
Liotir was very anxious that we should have a bottle of this, for he was
confident that I should give them an order if I once tasted it; but we
had been in at the death of so many bottles that day, that I declined to
try the _muscat rosat_. I have since had a hundred _litres_ sent over by
Liotir, and find it very satisfactory. It has a rich, clear, port-wine
colour, sparkling, and with the true _frontignac_ flavour.

The effect of the wine on Liotir was peculiar. In the earlier part of
the walk, he had never seen Algeria; but after half a bottle of muscat,
he had spent six months in that country, and he enlivened the remainder
of the way with many details of his experiences there. We reached Die
about half-past seven, and the arrival of real ice was hailed as a
marvel. Although I had been sent off so unhesitatingly by the landlord
in the morning, it seemed that they none of them knew what a glacière
meant. They had determined that we should never reach the _Foire de
Fondeurle_, and that if we did, we should find nothing there to repay
our toil. As I sat at an open window afterwards, Liotir's voice was to
be heard holding forth in a neighbouring café upon the wonders of the
day; and among the crowd which is a normal condition of the evening
streets of Die, the words _Fondeurle_, _Vassieux_, _Anglais_, _glace_,
&c., showed what the general subject of conversation was.

The landlady had obeyed orders, and was provided with butter and bread.
The tea was served in an open earthenware pitcher, with the spout at
right angles with the handle. There was no cup; but the woman remarked
that if monsieur was particular about that, he could turn out the sugar
and use the basin, which he did. The milk had a basin to itself; but it
had offered so large and tempting a surface to the flies of the town,
that it remained untouched. The knife and spoon were imbued with
ineradicable garlic, and my own trusty clasp-knife was the only weapon I
could use for all table purposes. If it had not been for the ice and the
lavender, I think I should never have got away from Die. The former made
it possible to eat some bread-and-butter; and of the latter I made a
sort of respirator for nose and mouth, which modified the odour of cocks
and hens prevailing in the house.

Next morning the diligence was to start early, and, in preparation for
the six hours' drive, I ordered two eggs to be boiled for breakfast. As
the first proved to have been boiled in tepid water, I requested the
landlady to boil the second afresh, which she did in a manner that may
partly account for the observed fact that the very eggs of some towns
taste of garlic. There was household soup simmering on the fire, reeking
with onion and garlic, and many other abominations; and, as if it was
quite the right and usual thing to do, she slipped the unfortunate egg
into this, and left it there to be cooked. After all, garlic must be
cheap as an article of food, for the whole bill amounted only to 7-1/2

This was the last glacière on my list. It was quite as well that such
was the case; for the trials of Dauphiné had been too great, and I
should scarcely have been inclined to face further adventures of a like


[Footnote 82: T. xxx. p. 157.]

[Footnote 83: Vol. ii. p. 80.]

[Footnote 84: Jean de Choul, _De variâ Quercûs Historia_, 1555.]

[Footnote 85: Gollut, Mém. des Bourg. de la Franche Comté, p. 227.]

[Footnote 86: Paradin de Cuyseaulx, Annales de Bourgougne, 1566, p. 14.]

[Footnote 87: Several churches in Vienne are used as foundries and
workshops. S. Peter's church was an iron-foundry four or five years ago,
and is in future to be a museum--a considerable improvement upon its
former use. The grand old church of S. John in Dijon has been rescued
from the hands which made it a depôt of flour, and is being restored to
its original purposes: but such instances are very rare.]

[Footnote 88: This family took its rise in Dauphiné, before the district
had that name: the chief place of the family was the château of
Beaumont, near Grenoble.]

[Footnote 89: The final victory was near Aquæ Sextiæ (Aix).]

[Footnote 90: The cultivation of the silkworm mulberry will probably die
out before very long. The silk crop has lately failed in Dauphiné, and a
commission for enquiring into the relative merits of different worms has
determined that the Senegal worm produces 633 millegrammes of silk,
while the worm, fed on the mulberry produces only 290. The first
mulberry trees in France were planted in that part of Provence which is
enclosed by Dauphiné.

The Bishop of Nismes has lately issued a pastoral letter, commanding
prayers to be offered up for the cessation of the malady affecting the
silkworms in his own and the surrounding dioceses.]

[Footnote 91: The feudal buildings were razed by order of Richelieu, but
the tower remains a landmark for the valley. Three hundred _détenus_
were confined here after the _coup d'état_ of December 2, 1851.]

[Footnote 92: The origin of the name Dauphin seems to be lost in
obscurity, though of comparatively recent date. The Counts d'Albon took
the title first in 1140, and their estates were not called the Terra
Dalphini, or Dalphinatus, till 1291. The first Dauphins bore a castle,
not a dolphin.]

[Footnote 93: The old historian Gollut speaks of the _clairets_ and
_clerets_ as red wines.]

[Footnote 94: The 'Times' of Oct. 4, 1864, stated that almost no raw
silk was offered at the last markets at Valence and Romans, and but for
foreign supplies the mills must have been closed. The small amount that
was offered sold at from 68 to 72 francs the kilogramme, while foreign
cocoons from Calamata fetched only 22 francs at Marseilles.]

[Footnote 95: Pausanias says that silkworms are apt to die of
indigestion, the cocoons lying heavy on the stomach.]

[Footnote 96: T. xxxv. pp. 244, &c.]

[Footnote 97: M. de Thury calculated that the thickness of the roof at
the lower part of the cave was about 60 feet of rock. He also noticed
the peculiar structure of the ice, which afforded great surprise to his
party. It was discovered by means of the coloured rays which were thrown
into the different parts of the cave, when some one had casually placed
a torch in a cavity in one of the columns.]

       *       *       *       *       *



_The Cave of Szelicze, or Szilitze, in Hungary_.[98]

Matthew Bell, the historian of Hungary, sent an account of this cavern
to England, in the middle of the last century, which was printed in the
original Latin in the 'Philosophical Transactions' of 1739-40 (pp. 41,

This account states that the cave is in the county of Thorn,[99] among
the lowest spurs of the Carpathians. The entrance, which faces the
north, and is exposed to the cold winds from the snowy part of the
Carpathian range, is 18 fathoms high and 9 broad; and the cave spreads
out laterally, and descends to a point 50 fathoms below the entrance,
where it is 26 fathoms in breadth, and of irregular height. Beyond this
no one had at that time penetrated, on account of the unsafe footing,
although many distant echoes were returned by the farther recesses of
the cave; indeed, to get even so far as this, much step-cutting was

When the external frost of winter comes on, the account proceeds, the
effect in the cave is the same as if fires had been lighted there: the
ice melts, and swarms of flies and bats and hares take refuge in the
interior from the severity of the winter. As soon as spring arrives, the
warmth of winter disappears from the interior, water exudes from the
roof and is converted into ice, while the more abundant supplies which
pour down on to the sandy floor are speedily frozen there. In the
Dog-days, the frost is so intense that a small icicle becomes in one day
a huge mass of ice; but a cool day promptly brings a thaw, and the cave
is looked upon as a barometer, not merely feeling, but also presaging,
the changes of weather. The people of the neighbourhood, when employed
in field-work, arrange their labour so that the mid-day meal may be
taken near the cave, when they either ice the water they have brought
with them, or drink the melted ice, which they consider very good for
the stomach. It had been calculated that 600 weekly carts would not be
sufficient to keep the cavern free from ice. The ground above the cave
is peculiarly rich in grass.

In explanation of these phenomena, Bell threw out the following
suggestions, which need no comment. The earth being of itself cold and
damp, the external heat of the atmosphere, by partially penetrating into
the ground, drives in this native cold to the inner parts of the earth,
and makes the cold there more dense. On the other hand, when the
external air is cold, it draws forth towards the surface the heat there
may be in the inner part of the earth, and thus makes caverns warm. In
support and illustration of this view, he states that in the hotter
parts of Hungary, when the people wish to cool their wine, they dig a
hole 2 feet deep, and place in it the flagon of wine, and, after filling
up the hole again, light a blazing fire upon the surface, which cools
the wine as if the flagon had been laid in ice. He also suggests that
possibly the cold winds from the Carpathians bring with them
imperceptible particles of snow, which reach the water of the cave, and
convert it into ice. Further, the rocks of the Carpathians abound in
salts, nitre, alum, &c., which may, perhaps, mingle with such snowy
particles, and produce the ordinary effect of the snow and salt in the
artificial production of ice.

Townson[100] visited this cave half a century later, and concluded that
Bell was in error with regard to the supposed winter thaw and summer
frost, although he himself received information at Kaschau which
corroborated the earlier account. He describes the approach to the
village of Szilitze as leading by a by-road through a pleasant country
of woods and hills, with much pasture-land, the cave lying a mile beyond
the village, and displaying an entrance 100 feet broad, and 20 or 30
feet high, turned towards the north. The descent of the floor of the
cave is rapid, and was covered with thin ice, at the time of his visit,
for the last third of the way: from the roof at the farther end, where
the cave is not so high as at the entrance, a congeries of icicles was
seen to hang; and in a corner on the right, completely sheltered from
the rays of the sun, there was a large mass of the same material. It was
a fine forenoon in July, and all was in a state of thaw, the icicles
dropping water, and the floor of ice covered with a thin layer of water;
while the thermometer in all parts of the cave stood at zero of
Réaumur's scale. The rock is compact unstratified limestone, in which so
many of the famous caverns of the world are found.

_The Cave of Yeermalik, in Koondooz_[101]

In the year 1840, Captain Burslem, of the 13th Light Infantry, made an
expedition from Cabul to the North-west, accompanied by Lieutenant Sturt
of the Bengal Engineers, who was afterwards killed in the terrible pass
where Lady Sale, whose daughter he had married, was shot through the

After crossing the high and wild pass of Karakotul (10,500 feet), these
travellers reached the romantic glen of the Doaub, which lies at the
foot of the pass, and is surrounded on all sides by lofty mountains.
Here they were hospitably entertained by Shah Pursund Khan, the chief of
the small territory, and their curiosity was roused by the account
given by an old moollah of a cavern seven miles off, which the Shah
strongly advised them not to attempt to visit, for the Sheitan (the
devil), whose ordinary place of abode it was, never allowed a stranger
to return from its recesses. The moollah, however, scouted this idea, on
the ground that it was much too cold for such an inhabitant; and the
Shah eventually agreed to accompany them to the cave with a band of his

As they rode through long and rich grass, following the course of a
gentle stream, and tormented by swarms of forest flies, or
blood-suckers, the Shah informed them that he had once endeavoured to
explore the cave, and had already penetrated to a considerable
distance, when he came upon the fresh prints of a naked foot, with an
extraordinary impression by their side, which he suspected to be the
foot of Sheitan himself, and so he beat a precipitate retreat. The
moollah told them that there was a large number of skeletons in the
cave, the remains of 700 men who took refuge there during the invasion
of Genghis Khan, with their wives and families, and defended
themselves so stoutly, that, after trying in vain the means by which
the M'Leods were destroyed in barbarous times, and the opponents of
French progress in Algeria in times less remote, the invader built
them in with huge natural blocks of stone, and left them to die of

The entrance is half-way up a hill, and is 50 feet high, with about the
same breadth. Not far from the entrance they found a passage between two
jagged rocks, possibly the remains of Genghis Khan's fatal wall, so
narrow that they had some difficulty in squeezing through; and then,
before long, came to a drop of 16 feet, down which they were lowered by
ropes made from the cotton turbans of the Shah and his attendants. Here
they left two men to haul them up on their return, and bade farewell to
the light of day. The narrow path led by the edge of a black abyss,
sometimes over a flooring of smooth ice for a few feet, and widened
gradually till they reached a damp and dripping hall, of dimensions so
vast that the light of their torches did not enable them to form a
conception of its size. In this hall they found hundreds of skeletons in
a perfectly undisturbed state, one, for instance, still holding the
skeletons of two infants in its bony arms, while some of the bodies had
been preserved, and lay shrivelled like those at the Great St. Bernard.
They were very much startled here by the discovery of the prints of a
naked human foot, and by its side the distinct mark of the pointed heel
of an Affghan boot,[102] precisely what had so thoroughly frightened the
Shah twelve years before. The prints retained all the sharpness of
outline which marks a recent impression, and led towards the farther
recesses of the cave; but the Englishmen were called away from their
investigation by the announcement that if they did not make haste, there
would not be oil enough for lighting them to the ice-caves.

Proceeding through several low arches and smaller caves, they reached at
length a vast hall, in the centre of which was[103] an enormous mass of
clear ice, smooth and polished as a mirror, and in the form of a
gigantic beehive, with its dome-shaped top just touching the long
icicles which depended from the jagged surface of the rock. A small
aperture led to the interior of this wonderful congelation, the walls of
which were nearly 2 feet thick; the floor, sides, and roof were smooth
and slippery, and their figures were reflected from floor to ceiling
and from side to side in endless repetition. The inside of this chilly
abode was divided into several compartments of every fantastic shape: in
some the glittering icicles hung like curtains from the roof; in others,
the vault was smooth as glass. Beautifully brilliant were the prismatic
colours reflected from the varied surface of the ice, when the torches
flashed suddenly upon them as they passed from cave to cave. Around,
above, beneath, everything was of solid ice, and being unable to stand
on account of its slippery nature, they slid, or rather glided,
mysteriously along the glassy surface of this hall of spells. In one of
the largest compartments the icicles had reached the floor, and gave the
idea of pillars supporting the roof.

The cavern in which this marvellous mass of ice stood, branched off into
numerous galleries, one of which led the party to a sloping platform of
rapidly increasing steepness, where they were startled by the
reappearance of the naked foot-prints, passing down the slope. The toes
were spread out in a manner which showed that they belonged to some one
who had been in the habit of going barefoot, and Captain Burslem took a
torch and determined to trace the steps: a large stone, however, gave
way under his weight; and this, sliding down at first, and then rolling
and bounding on for ever, raised such a tumult of noise and echoes that
the natives with one accord cried 'Sheitan! Sheitan!' and fled
precipitately, extinguishing all the lights in their fear; so that but
for Sturt's torch the whole party must have been lost in the darkness.
Shah Pursund Khan at once called a retreat, vowing that it was of no use
to attempt to follow the footsteps, as it was well known that the cave
extended to Cabul! The guides had now lost their small allowance of
pluck, and wandered about despairingly for a long time before they could
find their way back to the ice-cave, and thence to the foot of the rock
where the two men and the turban-ladders had been left. As soon as they
came in sight of this, their comrades above cried out to them that they
must make all haste, for Sheitan himself had appeared an hour before,
running along the ledge where they now were, and finally vanishing into
the gloom beyond; an announcement which of course produced a stampede in
the terrified party of natives. Five or six rushed to the spot where the
turbans hung, and only an opportune fall of stones from above prevented
their destroying the apparatus in their blind hurry to escape. The chief
claimed the privilege of being drawn up first, and he and all his
followers declared that nothing should ever tempt them to visit again
the Cave of Yeermalik.[104]

_The Surtshellir, in Iceland_.

The first account of this lava-cavern is given by Olafsen,[105] who
visited it in 1750 and 1753. Ebenezer Henderson[106] explored it in
1815, and Captain Forbes gives some account of it in his recent book on
Iceland.[107] It is mentioned in some of the Sagas,[108] and appears to
have been a refuge for robbers in the tenth century, and Sturla
Sigvatson, with a large band of followers, spent some time here. The
Landnama Saga derives the name Surtshellir from a huge giant called
Surtur, who made his abode in the cave; but Olafsen believed that the
name merely meant _black hole_, from _surtur_ or _svartur_, and was due
to the darkness of the cave and the colour of the lava: in accordance
with this view, it is called _Hellerin Sortur_, or _black hole_, in some
of the earlier writings. The common people are convinced that it is
inhabited by ghosts; and Olafsen and his party were assured that they
would be turned back by horrible noises, or else killed outright by the
spirits of the cave: at any rate, their informants declared they would
no more reach the inner parts of the cavern than they had reached the
traditional green valley of Aradal, isolated in the midst of glaciers,
with its wild population of descendants of the giants, which they had
endeavoured to find some time before.[109]

The cave is in the form of a tunnel a mile or more in length, with
innumerable ramifications, in the lava which has flowed from the Bald
Yökul. It lies on the edge of the uninhabited waste called the
Arnavatns-heidi, in a district described by Captain Forbes as distorted
and devilish, a cast-iron sea of lava. The approach is through an open
chasm, 20 to 40 feet in depth, and 50 feet broad, leading to the
entrance of the cave, where the height is between 30 and 40 feet, and
the breadth rather more than 50. Henderson found a large quantity of
congealed snow at this entrance, and along pool of water resting on a
floor of ice, which turned his party back and forced them to seek
another entrance, where again they found snow piled up to a
considerable height. Olafsen also mentions collections of snow under the
various openings in the lava which forms the roof of the cave. The
latter explorer discovered interesting signs of the early inhabitants of
the Surtshellir, as, for instance, the common bedstead, built of stones,
2-1/2 feet high, 36 feet long, and 14 feet broad, with a pathway down
the middle, forming the only passage to the inner parts of the cave. The
spaces enclosed by these stones were strewn with black sand, on which
rough wool was probably laid by way of mattress. This could scarcely
have been a bedstead in the time of the giants, for a total breadth of
14 feet, deducting for the pathway down the middle, will not give more
than 6 feet for the layer of men on either side, unless indeed they lay
parallel to the passage, and required a length of 36 feet. He also found
an old wall, built with blocks of lava across one part of the cave, as
if for defence, and a large circular heap of the bones of sheep and
oxen, presumably the remains of many years of feasting. Captain Forbes
scoffs at these bones, and suggests errant wild ponies as the depositors

Olafsen had found in his earlier visit that the way was stopped, far
in the recesses of the cave, by a lake of water, which filled the
tunnel to a depth of 3 feet or more, lying on ice; but in 1753 there
was not more than a foot of water, through which they waded without
much difficulty. The air soon became exceedingly cold and thick, and
for some hundreds of paces they saw no light of day, till at length
they reached a welcome opening in the roof. Beyond this, the air grew
colder and more thick, and the walls were found to be sheeted with ice
from roof to floor, or covered with broad and connected icicles. The
ground also was a mass of ice, but an inch or two of fine brown earth
lay upon it, which enabled them to keep their footing. This earth
appeared to have been brought down by the water which filtered through
the roof. 'The most wonderful thing,' Olafsen remarks, 'that we
noticed here, was, that the stalactites of ice were set with regular
figures of five and seven sides, joined together, and resembling those
seen on the second stomach of ruminating animals. The condensed cold
of the air must have imparted these figures to the ice; they were not
external (merely?), but in the ice itself, which otherwise was clear
and transparent.'

Henderson and his party appear to have had much more wading to do than
Olafsen, walking in one instance through a long tract of water up to the
knees. In the deeper recesses of the cave, apparently in the part where
the earlier explorers had found the reticulated ice, they found the
whole floor of the passage covered with thick ice, with so steep a dip
that they sat down and slid forward by their own weight--a most
undignified proceeding for a grave gentleman on a mission from the Bible
Society. On holding their torches close to the floor, they saw down to a
depth of 7 or 8 feet, the ice being as clear as crystal. 'The roof and
sides of the cave were decorated with most superb icicles, crystallised
in every possible form, many of which rivalled in minuteness the finest
zeolites; while from the icy floor rose pillars of the same substance,
assuming all the curious and phantastic shapes imaginable, mocking the
proudest specimens of art, and counterfeiting many well-known objects of
animated nature. Many of them were upwards of 4 feet high, generally
sharpened at the extremity, and about 2 feet in thickness. A more
brilliant scene perhaps never presented itself to the human eye, nor was
it easy for us to divest ourselves of the idea that we actually beheld
one of the fairy scenes depicted in Eastern fable. The light of the
torches rendered it peculiarly enchanting.'

Captain Forbes found much ice on the floor, but he did not enjoy the
cold and wet, and seems to have ascended by the last opening in the
roof, mentioned by Olafsen, before reaching the cavern where the more
beautiful parts of the ice-decoration were found by his predecessors.
The two engravings of the interior of the cave given in his book are
copied from the magnificent lithographs of Paul Gaimard,[110] but much
of the effect has been lost in the process of copying.

Mr. Baring Gould mentions this cavern in his book on Iceland, and
believes that its interest has been much overrated. He seems to have
visited the cave, but makes no allusion to the existence of ice.[111]

Mr. E.T. Holland visited the Surtshellir in the course of his tour in
Iceland, in 1861, and an account of his visit is given in the first
volume of 'Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers.'[112] After following in
Olafsen's steps for some time, the party reached a cave whose floor was
composed of very clear ice, apparently of great thickness, for they
could not see the lava beneath it. The walking on this smooth ice-floor
Mr. Holland describes as being delightful, the whole sloping
considerably downwards. 'In five minutes,' he continues, 'we reached the
most beautiful fairy grotto imaginable. From the crystal floor of ice
rose up group after group of transparent icy pillars, while from the
glittering roof most brilliant icy pendants hung down to meet them.
Columns and arches of ice were ranged along the crystalline walls ... I
never saw a more brilliant scene; and indeed it would be difficult to
imagine anything more fairy-like. The pillars were many of them of great
size, tapering to a point as they rose. The largest were at least 8 feet
high, and 6 feet in circumference at their base. The stalactites were on
an equally grand scale. Through this lovely ice-grotto we walked for
nearly ten minutes.'


The temperature of the caves, Mr. Holland states in a note, was from 8°
to 10° C. (46·4° to 50° F.), that of the air outside being 53·6° F.

_The Gypsum Cave of Illetzkaya-Zastchita, in the Steppes of the
Kirghis, South of Orenburg_.

The district in which this cavern occurs is a small green oasis on the
undulating steppe, lying on a vast bed of rock-salt, which extends over
an area of two versts in length, and a mile in breadth, with a thickness
of more than 100 feet. When the thin cover of red sand and marl is
removed, the white salt is exposed, and is found to be so free from all
stain, or admixture of other material, excepting sometimes minute
filaments of gypsum, that it is pounded at once for use, without any
cleansing or recrystallising process.

In the immediate neighbourhood of Illetzkaya-Zastchita there are two or
three gypseous hillocks, and a cavern in one of these is used by the
inhabitants as a cellar, having been artificially enlarged for that
purpose. Sir Roderick Murchison and his colleagues visited this cavern
on a hot day in August, with the thermometer at 90° in the shade, in the
course of their travels under the patronage of the late Emperor of
Russia.[113] They found the hillock to be an irregular cone 150 feet in
height; the entrance was by a frail door, on a level with the village
street, and fully exposed to the rays of the sun; and yet, when the door
was opened, so piercing a current of cold air poured forth, that they
were glad to beat a retreat for a while; and on eventually exploring
farther, they found the quass and provisions, stored in the cave,
half-frozen within three or four paces of the door. The chasm soon
opened out into a natural vault from 12 to 15 feet high, 10 or 12 paces
long, and 7 or 8 in width, which seemed to have numerous small
ramifications into the impending mound of gypsum and marl. The roof of
this inner cavern was hung with undripping solid icicles, and the floor
was a conglomerate of ice and frozen earth. They were assured that the
cold is always greatest within when the external air is hottest and
driest, and that the ice gradually disappears as winter approaches, and
vanishes when the snow comes. The peasants were unanimous in these
statements, and asserted that they could sleep in the cave without
sheepskins in the depth of winter.

Sir Roderick Murchison and his friends were at first inclined to explain
these phenomena by supposing that the chief fissure communicated with
some surface of rock-salt, 'the saliferous vapours of which might be so
rapidly evaporated or changed in escaping to an intensely hot and dry
atmosphere as to produce ice and snow.' But Sir John Herschel, to whom
they applied for assistance, rejected the evaporation theory, and
suggested that the external summer wave of heat might possibly only
reach the cave at Christmas, being delayed six months in its passage
through the rock; the cold of winter, in the same manner, arriving at
midsummer. To this the explorers objected, that the mound contained many
caves, but' only in this particular fissure was any ice found. Dr.
Robinson, astronomer at Armagh, endeavoured to explain the matter by
referring to De Saussure's explanation of the phenomena of _cold
caves_ in Italy and elsewhere; but this, too, was considered
unsatisfactory. At length, Professor Wheatstone referred them to the
memoir by Professor Pictet, in the _Bibliothèque Universelle_ of Geneva,
where that _savant_ improves upon De Saussure's theory, and applies it
in its new form to the case of caves containing permanent ice, in tracts
whose mean cold is above the freezing point. This they seem to have
accepted, adding that the climatological circumstances of Orenburg--a
wet spring, caused by the melting of the abundant snows, followed by a
summer of intense and dry Asiatic heat--must be particularly favourable
for the working out of the theory, and must also act powerfully in
producing the refrigerating effects of evaporation.[114]

The traveller Pallas visited Illetzkaya in July 1769, and describes
this gypseous hillock.[115] In his time the entrance by the side of
the hill was unknown, as also was the existence of ice in the cavern.
He saw at the top of the Kraoul-naï-Gora, or Watch-mountain, as it was
called, a fissure which had once formed a large cavern, into which the
Kirghis were in the habit of throwing furs and other materials as
religious offerings. Although the cave had since fallen in, they still
kept up a part of the ceremony, marching solemnly round the base of
the hill once a year, and bathing in the neighbouring water. In
earlier times, a man had descended through the fissure by means of
cords, and found the cold within insupportable, having very probably
reached the present ice-cave.

Pallas describes many caves in various parts of Russia, but never
seems to hint at the existence of ice in them, though he specially
mentions their extreme cold. Some of these occurred in gypsum, and
some in limestone; and the gypseous caves showed universally a very
low temperature, though still far above the freezing-point.[116] Thus
in the dark cavern of Barnoukova,[117] on the Piana, in a rock of
gypsum, while the thermometer in the shade stood at 75°.2, the
temperatures at various points in the cave were,--at the entrance
59°.36, 25 feet from the entrance 46°.4, and in the coldest part
42°.8. This cold he describes as insupportable. The temperature of the
water which had accumulated in the coldest parts of the cave was
48°.8, considerably higher than the surrounding atmosphere; from which
Pallas concluded that the cold of gypsum-caves is due to the acid
vapours which are generally observed in grottoes of this description.
In May 1770, he found snow on the sloping entrance to the cavern of
Loeklé, in the neighbourhood of the Oufa; but the air of the interior
was not colder than was to be expected in a deep cave.

Sir R. Murchison wrote to Russia for further information with respect to
this cave in January 1865, and again in the beginning of April,
addressing his second enquiry to the Secretary of the Imperial Academy.
In reply, the Secretary says that he is not aware that any thermometric
observations have been made in the cavern. He encloses a short statement
by M. Helmersen, one of the members of the Academy, to the following
effect:--About 50 versts SE. of Miask, in the chain of the Ural, is a
copper mine, called Kirobinskoy, which was abandoned more than fifty
years ago. On the 7th July, 1826, M. Helmersen found a thick wainscoting
of ice on the sides and roof and floor of the horizontal gallery, within
10 feet of the entrance. He was assured that this ice never melts, and
that its thickness is greater in summer than in winter. M. Helmersen
adds, that to the best of his belief no one has investigated the cavern
of Illetzkaya Zastchita since Sir R. Murchison's visit.

_The Ice-Cavern of the Peak of Teneriffe_.[118]

This cave is at a height of 11,040 feet above the sea, and is therefore
not far below the snow-line of the latitudes of the Canary Isles. The
entrance is by a hole 3 or 4 feet square, in the roof of the cave, which
may be about 20 feet from the floor. The peasants who convey snow and
ice from the cave to the lower regions, enter by means of knotted ropes;
but Professor Smyth had caused his ship's carpenter to prepare a stout
ladder, by which photographic instruments and a lady were taken down.

On alighting on a heap of stones at the bottom, the party found
themselves surrounded by a sloping wall of snow, 3 feet high, and 7 or 8
feet broad, the basin in which they stood being formed in the snow by
the vertical rays of the sun, and by the dropping of water from the
edges of the hole[119]. Beyond this ring-fence, large surfaces of water
stretched away into the farther recesses of the cave, resting on a layer
of ice, which appeared to be generally about 2 feet thick. At one of the
deeper ends of the cave, water dropped continually from the crevices of
the roof; a fact which Professor Smyth attributed to the slow advance of
the summer wave of heat through the superincumbent rock, which was only
now reaching the inner recesses of the loose lava, and liquefying the
results of the past winter. There would seem to be immense infiltration
of meteoric water on the Peak; for, notwithstanding the great depth of
rain which falls annually in a liquid or congealed form, the sides of
the mountain are not scored with the lines of water-torrents.

Though occurring in lava, this cavern is quite different from
lava-tunnels, such as the Surtshellir, which are recognised formations,
produced by the cooling of the terminal surface-crust of the stream of
lava, and the subsequent bursting forth of the molten stream within.
This, on the contrary, proved to be a smooth dome-shaped cave, running
off into three contracting lobes or tunnels which might be respectively
70, 50, and 40 feet long, and were all filled to a certain depth with
water: in the smoothness of the interior surfaces, Professor Smyth
believed that he detected the action of highly elastic gases on a
plastic material.

The astronomer takes exception to the term 'underground glacier'[120]
which had been applied to this cavern. He represents that the mountain
is abundantly covered each winter with snow, in the neighbourhood of the
ice-cave, which is nearly within the snow-line, and the stores of snow
thus accumulated in the cave have no great difficulty in resisting the
effects of summer heat, since all radiation is cut off by the roof of
rocks. The importance of this protection may be understood from the fact
that in the middle of July the thermometer at this altitude gave 130° in
the sun, but fell to 47° when relieved from the heat due to radiation.
At the time of this observation, there were still patches of snow lying
on the mountain-side, exposed to the full power of direct radiation;
and, therefore, there is not anything very surprising in the permanence
of snow under such favourable circumstances as are developed in the
cave. Mr. Airy, a few summers ago, found the rooms of the Casa Inglese,
on Mount Etna, half filled with snow, which had drifted in by an open
door, and had been preserved from solar radiation by the thick

Humboldt remarks, that the mean temperature of the region in which the
Cueva del Hielo (ice-cave) occurs, is not below 3° C. (37.4° F.), but so
much snow and ice are stored up in the winter that the utmost efforts of
the summer heat cannot melt it all. He adds, that the existence of
permanent snow in holes or caves must depend more upon the amount of
winter snow, and the freedom from hot winds, than on the absolute
elevation of the locality.

The natives of Teneriffe are men of faith. They have large belief in the
existence and intercommunication of numerous vast caverns in the Peak,
one of which, on the north coast, is said to communicate with the
ice-cavern, notwithstanding 8 miles of horizontal distance, and 11,000
feet of vertical depth. The truth of this particular article of their
creed has been recently tested by several worthy and reverend hidalgos,
who drove a dog into the entrance of the cavern on the sea-coast, in the
belief that he would eventually come to light again in the ice-cave: he
was accordingly found lying there some days after, greatly fatigued and
emaciated, having in the interval accomplished the 11,000 feet of
subterranean climbing. How he could enter, from below, a water-logged
cave, does not appear to have been explained.


[Footnote 98: The _Caves of Szelicze_ are mentioned in Murray's
_Handbook of Southern Germany_ (1858, p. 555), where the following
account is given of them:--'During the winter a great quantity of ice
accumulates in these caves, which is not entirely melted before the
commencement of the ensuing winter. In the summer months they are
consequently filled with vast masses of ice broken up into a thousand
fantastic forms, and presenting by their lucidity a singular contrast to
the sombre vaults and massive stalactites of the cavern.'

The _Drachenhöhle_ (Murray, 1. c.p. 553), a series of caverns not far
from Neusohl in Hungary, afford another instance of an ice-cave, one of
the largest of them being said to be coated with a sheet of translucid
ice, through which the stalactitic fretwork of the vault is seen to
great advantage.]

[Footnote 99: Not far from Kaschau.]

[Footnote 100: _Travels in Hungary_, 1797, pp. 317, &c.]

[Footnote 101: _A Peep into Toorkistan_; London, 1846; chapters x. and

[Footnote 102: They were now in a country far removed from the Affghans,
and hostile to that people.]

[Footnote 103: The remainder of this paragraph is in Captain Burslem's
own words.]

[Footnote 104: I am indebted for the knowledge of the existence of these
caves to W.A. Sandford, Esq., F.G.S., who informed me that an account of
them was to be found in a book of travels by an English officer. I am
not aware that they have been visited on any other occasion than this.]

[Footnote 105: _Reise durch Island_, Copenhagen, 1744 (being a German
translation from the original Danish), i. 128 sqq.]

[Footnote 106: _Henderson's Iceland_, ii. 189 sqq.]

[Footnote 107: Pp. 145 sqq.]

[Footnote 108: The Sturlunga, Landnama, and Holmveria Sagas.]

[Footnote 109: Two priests determined to solve the mystery of this
unapproachable valley, the Aradal, or Thoris-thal, with its rich meadows
and gigantic inhabitants, and made an expedition for this purpose in
1664. They reached a point where the glaciers fell off into a valley so
deep that they could not see whether there were meadows at the bottom or
not, and the slope was so rapid that it was impossible to descend.]

[Footnote 110: _Voyage en Islande; Atlas Historique_; t. ii., pl.

[Footnote 111: _Iceland: its Scenes and Sagas_: pp. 97, 98.]

[Footnote 112: Page 113.]

[Footnote 113: _Russia and the Ural Mountains_, i. 186, sqq.]

[Footnote 114: See the Papers read before the Geological Society of
London, on March 9, 1842, by Sir John Herschel and Sir E. Murchison, the
substance of which has been given above.

See also the _Edinburgh Philosophical Journal_ for 1843 (xxxv. 191), for
an attempt by Dr. Hope to explain the phenomena of this cave by a
reference to the slow penetration of the winter and summer waves of cold
and heat. Dr. Hope believes that, although the external changes do not
travel to any great depth, they reach far enough to communicate with
some of the fissures leading to the cave.]

[Footnote 115: _Voyages_ (French translation); Paris, 1788; i. 364.]

[Footnote 116: In the gypsum to the NE. of Kungur, on the banks of the
Iren, there is a cave containing ice. Four of its chambers have ice, in
one of which a stalagmite of ice rises almost to the roof. The farthest
chamber, 625 fathoms from the entrance, contains a lake of water which
stretches away out of sight under the low roof. (_Taschenbuch für die
gesammte Mineralogie_; Leonhard, 1826; B. 2, S. 425. Published as
_Zeitschrift für Mineralogie_.)]

[Footnote 117: Pallas, _Voyages_, i. 84.]

[Footnote 118: _Teneriffe_, by Professor Smyth, ch. viii., and Humboldt,
_Voyage aux Régions Équinoctiales_; Paris, 1814; i. 124.]

[Footnote 119: They afterwards discovered smoke issuing from the centre
of this patch of stones; so that volcanic heat may possibly have had
something to do with the disappearance of the snow.]

[Footnote 120: '_Ce petit glacier souterrain_,' Humboldt, l.c.]

[Footnote 121: See p. 272 for an account of the underground glacier in
the neighbourhood of the Casa Inglese.]

       *       *       *       *       *



On the Brandstein in Styria, in the district of Gems, there is an
ice-hole closely resembling some of the glacières of the Jura. It is
described by Sartori,[123] as lying in a much-fissured region, reached
after four hours of steep ascent from the neighbouring village, through
a forest of fir. Some of the fissures contain water and some snow,
while others are apparently unfathomable. From one of the largest of
these, a strong and cold current blows in summer, and in this fissure is
the ice-hole. Sartori found _crimpons_ necessary for descending the
frozen snow which led from the entrance to the floor of the cave, where
he discovered pillars and capitals and pyramids of ice of every possible
shape and variety, as if the cave had contained the ruins of a Gothic
church, or a fairy palace. At the farther end, after passing large
cascades of ice, his party reached a dark grey hole, which lighted up
into blue and green under the influence of the torches; they could not
discover the termination of this hole, and the stones which they rolled
down into it seemed to go on for ever. The greatest height of the cave
is about 36 feet, and its length 192 feet, with a maximum breadth of 126
feet. Towards the end of autumn, the temperature of the ice-hole rises
so much, that the glacial decorations disappear, and various wild
animals are driven by the cold of winter to take shelter in the
comparative warmth of the cave. The elevation of the district in which
this ice-hole occurs is about 1,800 German feet above the sea.

In Upper Styria, where the Frauenmauer overlooks the basin in which the
mining town of Eisenerz is situated, an ice-cave has been explored, and
a description of it has been given by certain members of the Austrian
Alpine Club.[124] The Brandstein is spoken of as one of the peaks in the
immediate neighbourhood; and as the cave previously described is stated
by Sartori to be on the Brandstein, that district would seem to be rich
in glacières. The cavern is most easily explored from Eisenerz, and on
that side the entrance is 4,539 Vienna feet above the sea. Its other
outlet, in the Tragöss valley, is 300 feet higher. The total length of
the cave is 2,040 Vienna feet. After passing the entrance, which is an
archway from 12 to 18 feet high, the main course of the cave is soon
left, and a branch is followed which leads to the _Eis-kammer_. This
ice-chamber consists of a grotto from 30 to 40 fathoms long, decked with
ice-crystals, pillars of ice, and cascades of the same material, the
floor being composed of ice as smooth as glass. In the summer,
pleasure-parties assemble in the cave and amuse themselves with the game
of _Eisschiessen_, so popular in Upper Styria as a winter diversion. The
hotter the summer, the more ice is found in the Eiskammer, and the
general belief is that it all disappears in winter.

The cave proper, which assumes stupendous dimensions in its long course,
shows no ice. It seems to be formed in the Muschelkalk of the Trias
formation, and so far no limestone stalactites have been discovered. It
has not, however, as yet been fully explored. The editor of the
proceedings of the Austrian Alpine Club gives a reference to Scheiner,
'_Ausflug nach der Höhle der Frauenmauer,' (Steiermarkische Zeitschrift,
neue Folge_, i. 2, 1834, p. 3.)

At Latzenberg, near Weissenstein in Carniola, there is another ice-cave,
described by Rosenmüller.[125] It is entered by a long dark passage in
which are pillars of ice arranged like the pipes of an organ, varying
from the thickness of a man's body to the size of a straw. All these are
said to melt in winter. Farther on are two other passages, one of which
passes upwards over _Stufe_, and is coated in summer with ice; the other
has not been explored.

Near Glaneck in the Untersberg, not far from Salzburg, is a cave called
the Kolowrathöhle, of which a description is given by Gümbel in his
great geological work on the Bavarian Alps.[126] It is a spacious
cavern, opening in a steep wall of rock above the _Rositenschlucht_
between the Platten and _Dachstein-kalk._[127] An ice-current rushes
from within, and ice is found on the threshold, becoming more prevalent
in the farther recesses of the cave. The lower parts are tolerably
roomy, and masses of ice of various shapes are found piled one upon
another, lighting up with magical effect when torches are brought to
bear upon them. Gümbel believes that the cold currents which stream into
the cave from the numerous fissures in its walls are the cause of the
ice; and though this is the only known ice-cave far and near, he
imagines that the icy-currents which are frequently met with in that
district, and in the _Hochgebirge_, would be found to proceed in reality
from like caves, if the fissures from which they blow could be

Behrens[128] describes two ice-caves near Questenberg, in the county of
Stollberg, on the Harz mountains. They both occur in limestone, and are
known as the Great and Little Ice-holes. The one is close to the village
of Questenberg, and consists of a chasm several fathoms deep, so cold
that in summer the water trickling down its edges is frozen into long
icicles. The opening is large and faces due south, and yet the hotter
the day the more ice is found; whereas in winter a warm steam comes out,
as if from a stove. The other cave is farther into the mountain; it is
spacious and light, and very cold in summer.

In Gehler's _Physik. Wörterbuch_ (Art Höhle), a small hole is mentioned
near Dôle, which is said to be remarkable for the large and
curiously-shaped icicles found there; but no sufficient account of it
seems to have been given.

An ice-hole is also spoken of in the same article, which occurs on the
east side of the town of Vesoul.[129] The hole is described as being
small, with a little rivulet of water: this water, and also that which
trickles down the walls of the cave, is converted into ice, and so much
is formed on a cold day that it requires eight warm days to melt it.
Gollut, in his description of the _fré-puits_ of Vesoul,[130] observes
that the remarkable pit known by that name was so cold, that in his time
it had never been fully explored. Gehler's expression, however, 'a small
hole,' cannot possibly apply to the _fré-puits_; so that these would
seem to be two different examples of cold caves near Vesoul.

There is an interesting account in Poggendorff's Annalen[131] of a visit
made by Professor A. Pleischl to a mountain in the circle of Leitmeritz,
where ice is found in summer under very curious circumstances. The
mountain is called Pleschiwetz, and lies above Kameik, in Bohemia, not
far from the town of Leitmeritz. On the 24th of June in each year, large
numbers of pilgrims assemble at the romantic chapel of S. John the
Baptist in the Wilderness; and it is a part of their occupation to
search for ice under the basaltic rocks, and carry it home wrapped in
moss, as a proof that they have really made the pilgrimage. Professor
Pleischl visited this district at the end of May 1834. The weather was
hot for the season, as had been the case in April also, and there had
been very little snow in the winter. A path leads from the chapel of S.
John through the woods which deck the Pleschiwetz, and then over a small
plain to the foot of the basaltic rocks. Here the mountain slopes away
very steeply to the south, and the slope is thickly strewn with basaltic
_débris_. From east to west this slope measures about 40 fathoms, and
its length is about 70 fathoms. It is surrounded on both sides and at
the foot by trees and shrubs. The sun burned so directly on to the
_débris_, that the basaltic blocks were in some cases too hot to be
touched by the naked hand.

Professor Pleischl spent three hours of the early afternoon on this
spot. The upper surface of the basaltic blocks had a temperature of at
least 122° F. The presence of an icy current was detected by inserting
the hand into the lower crevices; and on removing the loose stones to a
depth of 1-1/2 or 2 feet, ice was found in considerable quantities. On
the 27th of August, he proceeded to make a further investigation of this
phenomenon; but he found the temperature of the blocks only 106° F., and
in the crevices, at a depth of 2 or 3 feet, the lowest temperature
reached was 38°·75 F. The external temperature in the shade was at the
same time 83° F.

A third visit, in January 1835, gave no results; but on January 21,
1838, the Professor succeeded in determining some very remarkable
facts. A depression in the sloping plain is called, _par excellence_,
the ice-hole; and this is surrounded by firs and birches, which grow
within three or four fathoms of the edge of the hole, so that the
rays of the sun do not reach the hole in winter. Fresh snow lay on
these trees; and there was nowhere any sign of melted snow, or of the
formation of icicles. The basaltic _débris_, in which ice had been
found in the summer, covers here a space of 5 fathoms long by 3 or 4
broad, immediately at the foot of a steep basaltic precipice. At
eleven in the morning the temperature was 14° F. in the shade; and
snow lay all round the ice-hole, to a thickness of 1-1/2 or 2 feet.
The snow which covered the _débris_ was pierced by holes, which could
not have been caused by the sun, for its rays did not penetrate the
trees; and, indeed, no sun had been visible for some days. These holes
were generally turned towards the north, and were like chimneys. On
investigation, it was found that icicles hung down into them, showing,
of course, past or present thaw, and within the cavities no ice was
found. The thermometer gave here from 27°·5 F. to 25°·15 F.; but in
the crevices, into which the thermometer could not be pushed, the hand
discovered a warm air. The moss drawn from these crevices was found to
be steeped in unfrozen water, and it froze promptly when brought into
the outer air.

The party afterwards climbed up the precipitous basalt, and reached, at
3 P.M., a level covered with large blocks of the same material, where
the thermometer was slightly under 12° F. in the shade. The blocks were
for the most part stripped of snow, and in some cases thin shields of
ice were observed standing out two or three inches from them, forming
hollow chambers, in which an agreeable warmth was found. These shields
were invariably on the south side of the stones, the north side being
free from ice and snow alike. In some places vapours were seen to rise.
The thermometer gave 41° F. at a depth of six inches among the stones,
though the external temperature, as has been said, was 12° F. For eight
days previously, the thermometer had been always far below the freezing
point, and on the 17th (four days before) had been 13° below zero (F.).
On the 19th and 20th heavy snow had fallen. All these facts seem to show
that the warmth which had caused the chimneys in the snow over the
ice-holes, and the heated vapours on the higher parts of the mountains,
proceeded from within, and not from without.

The people of the district assured Professor Pleischl that the hotter
the summer, the more ice is formed; and that it disappears when the
nights become long and the days short. Dr. Weiss, for six years head of
the Gymnasium of Leitmeritz, stated that when one of the holes was
emptied of ice in the summer, it filled again in a few days. The
explanation given by the Professor of this phenomenon is, that the
blocks of basalt, that being an excellent conductor of heat, pass so
much warmth through to their under surfaces--which form the roof of
small chambers filled with a spongy mass of decaying leaves--that the
rapid evaporation thereby caused produces the cold air and the ice. He
omits to explain why there should be anything exceptional in the winter
phenomenon of the crevices among the stones.

There are two other places in Bohemia where ice is found in summer. One
is on the Steinberg, in the county of Konaged;[132] it is a small basin,
surrounded by trees, where, in the middle of summer, lumps of ice are
found under basaltic _débris_. This ice is only formed, according to
Sommer, in the hottest part of the year. The other is on the
Zinkenstein, one of the highest points of the Vierzehnberg, in the
circle of Leitmeritz. It is described by Sommer[133] as a cleft, five
fathoms deep, in the basaltic rock, where ice is found in the hottest
seasons. Professor Pleischl put this assertion to the test by visiting
the spot in the end of August, when he found no signs of ice.

Another writer in Poggendorff[134] describes a somewhat similar
appearance on the Saalberg. Here ice is found on the surface from June
to the middle of August; and that, too, with a west exposure and in
moderate shade. In July, the ice was so abundant that it could be seen
from some distance: it was half a foot thick, and yielded neither to sun
nor rain. In the middle of August there was no ice on the surface; but
when the loose _débris_ was removed, the most beautiful ice appeared,
and at a little depth all was frozen as hard as if it had been the depth
of winter.[135] The people who work in the neighbourhood declare that
the place remains open, and free from ice or snow, in the greatest cold,
and that no ice begins to form till the month of June. When the writer
of the account in Poggendorff visited the ice-hole, the peasants were in
the habit of carrying large masses of ice down to their houses, through
a temperature of 81° F.

Reich[136] gives a detailed and valuable account of the prevalence of
subterranean ice on the Sauberg, a hill which forms one side of a ravine
near Ehrenfriedersdorf. The surface is about 2,000 feet above the sea,
and its mean temperature, as determined by many careful observations,
about 45° F. There are several tin-mines in this district, and the
extended observations made by the authorities establish the curious fact
that the mean temperature is considerably lower beneath than at the
surface. For instance, in the S. Christoph pit, it is found that the
mean temperature, at 15 fathoms below the surface, is only slightly
above 42° F.; while at the Morgenröther cross-cut the same mean
temperature is found at a depth of 46 fathoms. The annual change of
temperature is very small in these mines, and the maximum and minimum
are reached very late; so that, if a point could be found with a mean
temperature of 32° F., ice would increase there up to June or even July,
and then diminish until December or January; in which case the
phenomenon so often said to be observed in connection with subterranean
ice--the melting in winter and forming in summer--would really be

The ice on the Sauberg is frequently found to commence at a depth of 3
or 4 fathoms, and in the years 1811 and 1813 it extended to 24 fathoms
below the surface: this depth, however, was exceptionally great, and as
a rule the limit is reached at about 14 fathoms.[137] The ice is usually
not very firm, and can be broken by stout blows with a stick; but
between the years 1790 and 1800, when it was found at a depth of from 3
to 9 fathoms, it was so hard that blasting became necessary, and at that
time the miners were with difficulty protected from the effects of the
severe cold. The greatest quantity of ice is found in the interstices of
the rubbish-beds of old workings, and here it assumes a crystalline
form, the rocks being covered with a 'fibrous' structure, arranged
perpendicularly to their surface.

Reich reports the universal presence of cold currents of air in these
shafts and mines, and, in consequence, takes the opportunity of
contradicting a statement in Horner's _Physik. Wörterbuch,_[138] that
the absence of all current of air is essential to the formation of
subterranean ice. He quotes the case of the cheese-caves of Roquefort as
a further confirmation of his own observations with regard to the
connection between ice in caves and cold currents of air; but of the
many accounts which I have met with of the curious caves referred to,
both in books and from the lips of those who have visited them, not one
has made any mention of ice.[139] He states, too, that when the strength
of the current is diminished, its temperature is increased; a fact which
all observations of the cold currents in caves, especially those made
with so much care by M. Saussure, abundantly establish.

In the way of explanation, Reich mentions the possibility of rocks of
peculiar formation possessing actually a low degree of temperature;[140]
but he rejects this suggestion, preferring to believe that in some cases
the cold resulting from evaporation is the cause of ice, and in others
the greater specific gravity of cold as compared with warmer air.

In the _Bulletin des Sciences Naturelles_,[141] it is stated that a
large quantity of ice is found in one of the recesses of the grotto of
Antiparos--a fact which I have not seen mentioned elsewhere. After
penetrating a long way through difficult fissures, a square chamber is
at length reached, measuring 300 feet in length and breadth, with a
height of about 80 feet. The walls and roof and floor are beautifully
decorated with ice, and reflect all the colours of the rainbow. There
are groups of pyramidal and round columns, and in some parts of the cave
screens or curtains of ice 10 or 12 feet broad hang down to the floor.

In a later volume of the same periodical,[142] there is a description of
a hill in Virginia where ice is found in summer. This hill lies near the
road between Winchester and Romney, on the North River, latitude 39º N.
One side of the hill is entirely composed of loose stones from ten to
twenty pounds in weight, and under these the ice is found, although
their upper surface is exposed to the full sun from 9 or 10 A.M. till
sunset. In all seasons there is an abundance of ice. A writer in the
'London and Paris Observer'[143] visited the spot on the 4th of July,
after a time of stifling heat, and in ten minutes he found more ice than
the whole party could have carried away. He did not explore any farther
than the foot of the hill; but the neighbours, who used the ice
regularly in summer, assured him that it was to be found high up also.
A constant and strong current issued from the crevices, stronger and
infinitely colder than the current in the famous 'blowing cave' of
Virginia. A man had built a store-room for meat within the influence of
one of these currents, and hard dry icicles were seen hanging from the
wooden supports inside: the flies, too, which had been attracted by the
meat, were found frozen on to the stones. This is not the only district
where ice is found within temperate latitudes in North America. In
Professor Silliman's 'American Journal of Science,'[144] in a sketch of
the geology of the township of Salisbury, Con. (latitude 43° N.),
'natural ice-houses' are mentioned. These consist of chasms of
considerable extent in the mica-state, where ice and snow remain during
the greater part of the year. The principal of these chasms lies in the
east part of the town, and is several hundred feet long, sixty feet
deep, and about forty wide. The slate is of a very compact kind; and the
walls are perpendicular, and correspond with much exactness. At the
bottom is a cold spring, and a cave of considerable extent, in which it
is probable that the ice lies--for the writer does not specify the
position in which it is found. The chasm is a favourite retreat in
summer, and is called the Wolf-hollow, from its having formerly been a
famous haunt for wolves.

Similar receptacles for summer-ice are found in several places in North
America. In the forty-ninth volume of the _Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserl.
Akademie in Wien_ (1te. Abth.), a list of references to various
ice-holes is appended to a paper by Dr. Boué on the geology of Servia.
Many of the passages referred to have nothing to do with ice-caves, as,
for instance, the sections of De Saussure's book describing his
observations of 'cold caves', or the account of the mass of ice and
snow from which the river Jumna springs, for which Dr. Boué refers to
the 'Philosophical Magazine' for November 1823, meaning, in fact, the
'London Magazine'. The 'Description des Glacières' of M. Bourrit is also
given as a part of the literature on ice-caves; whereas (see the account
of the Glacière of Montarquis, in the Valley of Reposoir) by 'glacière'
M. Bourrit meant only a locality where ice is to be found, or a glacier
district. Dr. Boué, however, gives some references to the 'American
Journal of Science' which it is possible to make out by a careful search
in the neighbourhood of the volume and page he mentions. In vol. iv.
(1822,--Dr. Boué says 1821) there is an account by the editor[145] of a
natural ice-house in the township of Meriden, Con., between Hartford and
Newhaven, at an elevation of not more than 200 feet above the level of
the sea. The ice is found in a narrow defile, which is hemmed in by
perpendicular sides of trap-rock, and displays a perfect chaos of fallen
blocks of stone. The defile is so narrow, that the sun's rays only reach
it for an hour in the course of the day; and even the trees and rocks,
and beds of leaves, protect the ice from any very material damage. Dr.
Silliman visited this defile on the 23rd July, 1821,[146] with Dr. Isaac
Hough, the keeper of a neighbouring inn, and found that the ice was only
partially visible, in consequence of the large collection of leaves
which lay on it: they sent a boy down with a hatchet, and he brought up
some large firm masses, one of which, weighing several pounds, they
carried twenty miles to Newhaven, where it did not entirely disappear
till the morning of the third day. Seven miles from Newhaven, in the
township of Branford, there is a similar collection of ice. In both of
these cases, the ice is mixed with a considerable quantity of leaves and

In the same volume (p. 331,--Dr. Boué says p. 33), two accounts are
given of a natural ice-house near the summit of a hill in the
neighbourhood of Williamstown (Mass.). In the next volume there is a
further account of it by Professor Dewey, stating that since the trees
in the neighbourhood had been cut, the snow and ice had disappeared
each year about the first of August.

In vol. xlvi. (p. 331) an ice mountain in Wallingford, Rutland County
(Vt.), is described, which is ordinarily known in the neighbourhood as
the ice-bed. An area of thirty or fifty acres of ground is covered with
massive _débris_ of grey quartz from the mountains which overhang it;
and here--especially in a deep ravine into which many of the falling
blocks of stone have penetrated--ice is found in large quantities. It
appears to be formed during the melting of the snow in February, March,
and April, and vanishes in the course of the summer, in hot years as
early as the last days of June.

These descriptions call to mind the Glacière of Arc-sous-Cicon, in which
many of the features of the American ice-caves are reproduced. An
American photograph is current in this country, in the form of a
stereoscopic slide, representing an ice-cave in the White Mountains, New
Hampshire; but it is only a winter cave, and in no way resembles any of
the glacières I have seen. It is merely a collection of long and slender
icicles, with beds of ice formed upon stones and trunks of trees on the
ground; nothing more, in fact, than is to be seen in any tolerably
severe winter in the neighbourhood of a cascade in a sheltered Scotch

The 'American Journal of Science' (xxxvi. 184) gives a curious instance
of a freezing-well near the village of Owego, three-quarters of a mile
from the Susquehanna river. The depth of the well is 77 feet, and for
four or five months in the year the surface of the water is frozen so
hard as to render the well useless. Large masses of ice have been found
in it late in July. A thermometer, which stood at 68° in the sun, fell
to 30° in fifteen minutes at the bottom of the well; and the men who
made the well were forced to put on thick clothing in June, and even so
could not work for more than two hours at a time. No other well in that
neighbourhood presents the same phenomenon. A lighted candle was let
down, and the flame became agitated and thrown in one direction at a
depth of 30 feet, but was quite still at the bottom; where, however, it
soon died out. The water is hard or limestone water.

Rocks of volcanic formation would seem to afford favourable
opportunities for the formation of ice. Scrope mentions this fact in an
account of the curious district called Eiffel or Eifel, in Rhenish
Prussia, which was published originally in the 'Edinburgh Journal of
Science,'[147] and has since been translated in Keferstein's
Deutschland.[148] The village of Roth, near Andernach, is built on a
current of basalt, derived from the cone above it, which has at some
time sent down a stream of lava to the north and west. A small cavern
near the village, forming the mouth of a deep fissure in the
lava-stream, half-way up the cone, displays a phenomenon which the
writer says he has often observed in volcanic formations. The floor of
the cavern was covered with a crust of ice at the time of his visit,
about noon on a very hot day in August. The peasants report that there
is always ice in summer, and never in winter, when the sheep retreat to
the cave on account of its warmth. Steininger[149] found a thickness of
3 feet of ice on September 19, 1818, but it was evidently in a melting
state, and the thermometer stood at 36·5 F. in the cavern. He describes
it as possessing a narrow entrance facing north, entirely sheltered from
the sun by lava-rocks, and by the trees of a wood which covers the cone
of scoria.

Scrope believes that this is the mouth of one of the arched galleries so
frequently met with under lava in Iceland, Bourbon, and elsewhere; and
on this he founds his explanation of the phenomenon. If the other
extremity is connected with the external air at a much lower level, a
current of air must be constantly driven up this gallery, and in its
passage will be dried by the absorbent nature of the rock--which is
perhaps partly owing to the sulphuric or muriatic acid it
contains[150]--and the evaporation caused by this current produces a
coating of ice on the floor of the grotto, where there is a superficial
rill of water. The more rarified the lower external air, the more rapid
will be the current of cool air; and, therefore, the greater the
evaporation. The winter phenomenon is to be explained by the fact that
the current of air will be about the mean annual temperature of the
district, taking its temperature, in fact, from the rocks through which
it passes; and, therefore, by contrast the grotto will appear warm.

The same writer mentions a similar example of summer ice in
Auvergne.[151] There is a natural grotto in the basalt near Pont Gibaud,
some miles to the north-west of Clermont, in which a small spring is
found partly frozen during the greatest heats of summer, while the water
is said to be warm in winter; probably, Scrope observes, only seeming to
be warm by contrast with the external temperature. The water is
apparently frozen by means of the powerful evaporation produced by a
current of very dry air proceeding from some long fissures or arched
galleries which communicate with the cave. In this case also the writer
suggests that the air owes its dryness to the absorbent qualities of the
lava through which it passes: he repeats, too, the remark that the
phenomenon is of common occurrence in caverns in volcanic

There is a remarkable instance of ice occurring under lava, near the
_Casa Inglese_ on Mount Etna, which it may be as well to mention, though
the causes of its existence have probably nothing in common with the
phenomena of ice-caves, or summer ice. An account of it is to be found
in Sir Charles Lyell's 'Elements of Geology.'[153] It appears that the
summer and autumn of 1828 were so hot, that the artificial ice-houses of
Catania and the adjoining parts of Sicily failed. Signer M. Gemmellaro
had long believed that a small mass of perennial ice at the foot of the
highest cone of Etna was only a part of a large and continuous glacier
covered by a lava current, and from this he expected to derive an
abundant supply of ice. He procured a large body of workmen, and
quarried into the ice; but though he thus proved the superposition of
lava for several hundred yards, the ice was so hard, and the expense of
quarrying consequently so great, that the works were abandoned. This was
on the south-east of the cone, not far from the _Casa Inglese_. Sir
Charles Lyell suggests that, probably, at the commencement of some
eruption, a large mass of snow has been thickly covered with volcanic
sand, showered upon it before the arrival of the lava itself. This sand
is a non-conductor of heat, and would therefore tend to preserve the
snow from complete fusion when the hot lava-stream passed over it, and
thus the existence of the underground glacier may be explained. The
peasants of the district are so well acquainted with the non-conducting
properties of volcanic sand, that they secure an annual store of snow,
for providing water in summer, by strewing a layer of sand a few inches
thick upon a field of snow, thus effectually shutting out the heat of
the sun. It is curious that when De Saussure visited Chamouni for the
first time, his attention was arrested by the sight of women sowing what
seemed to be grain of some kind in the snow; but, on enquiring, he found
that it was only black earth, which the inhabitants spread on the snow
in spring, in order to make it disappear sooner. He was told that snow
thus treated would melt a fortnight or three weeks before the ordinary
time for its disappearance in the valley; but it will be seen that this
does not contradict the theory of the Sicilian peasants.[154]

Sir Charles Lyell adds that, after what he saw on Mount Etna, he should
not be surprised to find layers of glacier and lava alternating in some
parts of Iceland.

Something similar was observed by Von Kotzebue, near the sound which
bears his name.[155] His party was encamped on a large plain covered
with moss and grass, when they discovered a fissure which revealed the
fact that the moss and grass were but a thin coating on a layer of ice a
hundred feet thick. This was not mere frozen ground, but aboriginal ice;
for, in the ice which formed the walls of the fissure, they found the
bones and teeth of mammoths embedded.

The frozen soil of Jakutsk, in Siberia, has for many years attracted
considerable attention. The ordinary law of increase of temperature in
descending below the surface of the earth would appear, however, to be
only modified here; for it is found in sinking a well which has
afforded opportunities for observing the state of the soil, that the
temperature gradually increases with the depth.[156]

Two ice-caverns were examined by Georgi, in the course of his travels in
Russia.[157] One occurs near the mines of Lurgikan, on the east side of
a hill about 450 feet high, not far from the confluence of the Lurgikan
stream with the Schilka (a tributary of the Amur), in the province of
Nertschinsk. In the course of driving an adit in one of the lead-mines,
in the year 1770, the workmen were struck by the hollow sound given
forth by the rock, and, on investigation, they found an immense grotto
or fissure, of which the entrance was so much blocked up by ice that
they had much difficulty in sliding down by means of ropes. The fissure
extended under the hill, in a direction from north to south, and was 130
fathoms long, from 1 to 8 broad, and from 3 to 12 high. Where it
approached nearest the surface, the thickness of the roof was about 10
fathoms. The rock is described by Georgi as _quarzig, bräunlich, und von
einem starken Kalkschuss_. He found the greater part of the walls
covered with ice, and many pillars and pyramids of ice on the floor. The
cold was moderate, and was said to be much the same in summer and
winter. Patrin has given a fuller description of the same cavern in the
_Journalde Physique_.[158] The lead-mine is in limestone rock,
containing a third part of clay. The entrance to the glacière was still
difficult at the time of his visit, and it was necessary to use a rope,
and also to cut steps, for the descent was made along a ridge of ice
with almost perpendicular sides. The spectacle presented by the
decoration of the roof was remarkably beautiful, long festoons and tufts
of ice hanging down, light and brilliant as silver gauze: this ice was
supposed to be formed from the abundant vapours of the beginning of
winter, and resembled glass blown to the utmost tenuity. It was
crystallised, too, in a wonderful manner. Patrin found long bundles of
hexahedral tubes, the walls of which were formed of transverse needles:
the diameter of these tubes was from two to six lines only, but at the
lower extremities they opened out into hollow six-sided pyramids, more
than an inch in diameter, so that the festoons, sometimes as large round
as a man, presented terminal tufts of some feet in diameter, which
glittered like diamonds under the influence of the torches. Towards the
farther end of the fissure, stalactites of solid ice were found,
displaying all the forms and more than all the beauty of limestone
stalactites. The other instance mentioned by Georgi occurred in the
mines of Serentvi, where two of the levels yielded perennial ice, and
were thence (Georgi says) called _Ledenoi_. A spring of water flowed
from the rock at a depth of thirty fathoms below the surface, and was
promptly frozen into a coating of ice a foot thick. Patrin[159] visited
Serentvi, but he did not observe any ice in the mines. He believed the
rock to be very ancient lava.

Reich[160] mentions a cavern on Mount Sorano which contains ice, quoting
Kircher;[161] but he seems to have misinterpreted his author's
Latin.[162] He also refers to the existence of ice in the mines of
Herrengrund in Hungary, and Dannemora in Sweden. Kircher, who has the
credit of having been the first to call attention to the increase of
temperature in the earth, made full enquiries into the temperature of
the mines at Herrengrund, but he was not informed of the existence of
ice.[163]; Townson visited these mines in the course of his travels in
Hungary, and neither does he make any mention of ice in connection with
them. He describes them as lying south of Teplitz, in a limestone
district, with sandstone in the more immediate neighbourhood. The mines
themselves (copper mines) are in a kind of mica-schist, which the people
call granite. The superintendent of mines informed Reich that one of the
shafts is called the ice-mine, from the fact that when the workmen
attempted to drive a gallery from south to north, they came upon ice
filling up the interstices of the _Haldenstein_, within five fathoms of
the commencement of the gallery. The temperature was so low, and the
expense caused by the frozen mass so great, that the working was

The iron mines of Dannemora, eleven leagues from Upsal, contain a large
quantity of ice, according to a manuscript account by Mr.
Over-assessor-of-the-board-of-mines Winkler:[164] Jars, however, in his
_Voyages Métallurgiques_,[165] gives a full description of them without
mentioning the existence of ice. He states that ice is found in the
mines of Nordmarck, three leagues from Philipstadt in Wermeland, a
province of Sweden: these mines are merely numerous shafts sunk in the
earth, reaching to the bottom of the vein of ore, so that they are fully
exposed to the light, and yet the walls of the shafts become covered
with ice at the end of winter, which remains there till the middle of
September. Jars believed that, if it were not for the heat caused by
blasting, and by the presence of the workmen, the ice would be
perennial. Humboldt[166] speaks of the ice in these mines and on the
Sauberg. Reich states that ice is found in the mill-stone quarry of
Nieder-Mendig, quoting Karsten's _Archiv für Bergbau_.[167] The ice is
found in the hottest days of summer, although the interior of the quarry
is connected with the outer air by many side shafts. The porous nature
of the stone is assigned as the cause of the phenomenon. Daubeny (On
Volcanoes) describes the remarkable basaltic deposits at
Niedermennig--as he spells it--but says nothing of the existence of ice.

Daubuisson[168] speaks of a _Schneegrube_, on a summit of the
_Riesengebirge_, in Silesia, 4,000 feet above the sea; but such holes
are common enough at that elevation, and I have seen two or three
remarkable instances on the Jura, within the compass of one day's walk.
Voigt[169] describes an _Eisgrube_ in the Rhöngebirge, on the
_Ringmauer_, the highest point of the _Tagstein_, where abundant ice is
found in summer under irregular masses of columnar basalt. Reich had
received from a forest-inspector an account of an ice-hole in this
neighbourhood, called _Umpfen_, which is apparently not the same as that
mentioned by Voigt.

In the Saxon Erzgebirge there are three points remarkable for their low
temperature,[170] in addition to the mines on the Sauberg mentioned
above. These are the _Heinrichssohle_, in the Stockwerk at Altenberg,
where the mean of two years' observations gives the temperature 0°·54 F.
lower at a depth of 400 feet than at the surface; the adit of
_Henneberg_, on the Ingelbach, near Johanngeorgenstadt, where the
temperature was again 0°·54 F. lower than in shafts some hundred feet
higher; and the _Weiss Adler_ adit, on the left declivity of the valley
of the Schwarzwasser, above the Antonshütte. It would appear that there
are local causes which affect the temperature in the Erzgebirge, for
Reich found that in several places the mean temperature of the soil was
higher than that of the air: for instance--

                         Soil.         Air.     Height above the sea.

  Altenberg       ...   42·732° Fahr.  41·27°     2,450 feet
  Markus Röhling  ...   43·542° "      41·832°    1,870"
  Johanngeorgenstadt.   43·115° "      41·09°     2,460"

The temperature at Markus Röhling is peculiarly anomalous, considering
the elevation of the surface above the sea.

There is said to be an ice-cave in Nassau, but I have been unable to
obtain any account of it, unless it be the same as the _ice-field_
mentioned on page 303.

There is a cave in the south-east of Hungary[171] which presents the
same features as several of the glacières I have visited. It is called
the Ice-hole of Scherisciora, and is described as lying in the
Jura-kalk, at a distance of 2-1/2 hours north-east from the
forest-house of Distidiul. The approach is by ladders, down a pit 30
fathoms wide and 24 deep; and when the bottom of this pit is reached,
an entrance is found to the cave in the north wall, in the
neighbourhood of which is congealed snow which shortly becomes ice.
The floor of the first chamber is composed of glacier-ice, separated
from the side walls by a cleft from 1 to 3 feet wide, where it shows a
depth of from 4 to 6 feet; it is as smooth as glass, and about 6
fathoms from the entrance a cone of ice stands upon it, 8 or 9 feet
high. Both the floor and the cone are at once seen to be transformed
remains of ancient masses of snow, and are of a dirty yellow colour.

At the back of this chamber, a narrow passage opens towards the interior
of the mountain, and winds steeply down with a height of 4 feet, and a
length of a few fathoms, till a magnificent dome is reached, on the
beauties of which Herr Peters becomes eloquent. The floor is so smooth
that crimpons are necessary, and stalagmites and stalactites of ice are
found in rich profusion, the latter being generally formed on small
limestone stalactites, while the former have no such nucleus.

There is another opening near the original entrance to the cave, a sort
of fissure covered with elegant forms of ice, leading to a steep shaft.
The imperial forester of Topfanalva was bold enough to let himself down
the slope of ice which formed the edge of the shaft, on a rope ladder 60
feet long, notwithstanding the difficulty of grasping the iron steps
which of course lay pressed on to the ice; but when he had descended
about 30 feet, the shaft became perpendicular, and stones thrown in
showed a very considerable depth. There appeared to be no sound of water
in the abyss below.

Both entrances, that to the shaft as well as that to the second chamber,
were ornamented with delicate ice crystals, which occurred both on the
limestone stalactites and on the walls, and presented almost the
appearance of plants of cauliflower. The ice-floor of the first chamber
is described as consisting of a 'coarse-grained' material.

In the south-east of Servia, on the western slope of Mount Rtagn, is a
pit 20 feet in diameter, and 40 or 50 feet deep, the bottom of which is
reached by a succession of trunks of trees with the branches lopped off,
a sort of ladder called _stouba_ by the natives.[172] The peasants
assert that the snow and ice disappear from this pit in September, and
do not reappear before June. The Swiss peasants have never yet got so
far as to say that the _snow_ in their pits disappears in winter and
returns in summer. Boué[173] found the temperature of the bottom of the
pit to be 28°.4 F., while that of the air outside was 76° F. The same
writer[174] mentions a source in a mill-stone quarry in Bosnia which is
frozen till the end of June.


[Footnote 122: Several of these caves are referred to by Reich,
_Beobachtungen über die Temperatur des Gesteins in verschiedenen Tiefen
in den Gruben des Sächsischen Erzgebirges;_ Freiberg, 1834.]

[Footnote 123: _Naturwunder des Oesterr. Kaiserthums_, iii. 40.]

[Footnote 124: _Mittheil. des Oesterr. Alpen-Vereins_, ii. 441. I am
indebted to G.C. Churchill, Esq., one of the authors of the well-known
book on the Dolomite Mountains, for my knowledge of the existence of
this cave, and of the Kolowrathöhle.]

[Footnote 125: _Beschreibung merkwürdiger Höhlen_, ii. 283.]

[Footnote 126: _Geognostísche Reschreibung des bayerischen
Alpengebirges_; Gotha, 1861.]

[Footnote 127: These constitute the upper bone bed and Dachstein
limestone beds of the uppermost part of the Trias formation.]

[Footnote 128: _Hereynia Curiosa_, cap. v. The same account is given in
Behren's _Natural History of the Harz Forest_, of which an English
translation was published in 1730.]

[Footnote 129: See also Muncke, _Handbuch der Naturlehre_, iii. 277;
Heidelberg, 1830.]

[Footnote 130: See page 58. The more modern spelling is _frais-puits_.]

[Footnote 131: liv. 292.]

[Footnote 132: Described by Schaller, _Leitmeritzer Kreis_, p. 271, and
by Sommer, in the same publication, p. 331. I have not been able to
procure this book.]

[Footnote 133: _Böhmens Topogr._, i. 339. This reference is given by
Professor Pleischl.]

[Footnote 134: _Annalen_, lxxxi. 579.]

[Footnote 135: I was told, in 1864, by a chamois-hunter of Les Plans, a
valley two hours above Bex, that some years before he was cutting a
wood-road through the forest early in September, when, at a depth of 6
inches below the surface, he found the ground frozen hard. We visited
the place together, but could find no ice. The whole ground was composed
of a mass of loose round stones, with a covering of earth and moss, and
the air in the interstices was peculiarly cold and dry.]

[Footnote 136: _Beobachtungen_, &c. (see note on p. 258), 181.]

[Footnote 137: Reich found the temperature of the ice to be 31·982° F.,
that of the air in the immediate vicinity 34·025°, and the rock, at a
little distance, 32·765°.]

[Footnote 138: iii. 150.]

[Footnote 139: See many careful descriptions of these caves in the
_Annales de Chimie_; also, an account by Professor Ansted, in his
_Science, Scenery, and Art_, p. 29. M. Chaptal (_Ann. de Chimie_, iv.
34) found the lowest temperature of the currents of cold air to be 36º·5
F.; but M. Girou de Buzareingues _(Ann. de Chimie et de Phys_., xlv. 362)
found that with a strong north wind, the temperature of the external air
being 55º·4 F., the coldest current gave 35º·6 F.; with less external
wind, still blowing from the north, the external air lost half a degree
centigrade of heat, while the current in the cave rose to 38º·75 F. The
cellars in which the famous cheese of Roquefort is ripened are not
subterranean, but are buildings joined on to the rock at the mouths of
the fissures whence the currents proceed. They are so valuable, that
one, which cost 12,000 francs in construction, sold for 215,000 francs.
The cheese of this district has had a great reputation from very early
times. Pliny (_Hist. Nat_. xi. 97) mentions, with commendation, the
cheeses of Lesura (_M. Lozère_ or _Losère_) and Gabalum (_Gevaudan,
Javoux_). The idolaters of Gevaudan offered cheeses to demons by
throwing them into a lake on the Mons Helanus _(Laz des Helles?_) and it
was not till the year 550 that S. Hilary, Bishop of Mende, succeeded in
putting a stop to this practice.]

[Footnote 140: It would seem from his own account of the Sauberg, and
from the description given above of the presence of ice among the rocky
_débris_, as well as from the account on this page of ice in Virginia,
that a formation of loose stones is favourable to the existence of a low
degree of temperature. See also the note on p. 263, with respect to the
loose stones near Les Plans. Forchhammer found, on the Faroë Islands,
that springs which rise from loose stones are invariably colder than
those which proceed from more solid rock at the same elevation, as
indeed might have been expected.]

[Footnote 141: xvii. 337. The account is taken from a Dutch journal.]

[Footnote 142: xix. p. 124.]

[Footnote 143: October 11, 1829.]

[Footnote 144: viii. 254.]

[Footnote 145: Pp. 174-6.]

[Footnote 146: Thermometer about 85° F.]

[Footnote 147: v. 154.]

[Footnote 148: iv. 300.]

[Footnote 149: _Die erlöschenen Vulkane in der Eifel_, S. 59.]

[Footnote 150: Dr. Gmelin, of Tubingen, detected the presence of ammonia
both in clinkstone lava and in columnar basalt (_American Journal of
Science_, iv. 371).]

[Footnote 151: _Geology and Extinct Volcanoes of Central France_, p. 60
(second edition).]

[Footnote 152: Mr. William Longman has informed me that some years ago
he had ice given him in summer, when he was on a visit to the inspector
of mines at Pont Gibaud, and he was told that it was formed in a
neighbouring cavern during the hot season.]

[Footnote 153: Original edition of 1830, i. 369.]

[Footnote 154: See Professor Tyndall's _Glaciers of the Alps_, for an
account of glacier-tables, sand-cones, &c. Anyone who has walked on a
glacier will have noticed the little pits which any small black
substance, whether a stone or a dead insect, sinks for itself in the

[Footnote 155: Gilbert, _Annalen_, lxix. 143.]

[Footnote 156: According to the latest accounts I have been able to
obtain, a temperature of 29·75° F. had already been reached some years
ago; the temperature, a few feet from the surface, being 14° below
freezing. The soil here only thaws to a depth of 3 feet in the hottest
summer. Sir R. Murchison wrote to Russia, in February last, for further
information regarding this well.

Since I wrote this, Sir Roderick Murchison has applied to the Secretary
of the Imperial Academy of St. Petersburg for further information
respecting the investigations at Jakutsk. The Secretary gives a
reference to Middendorff's _Sibirische Reise_, Bd. iv. Th. i., 3te
Lieferung, _Klima_, 1861. I have only been able to find the edition of
1848-51; but in that edition, under the heading _Meteorologische
Beobachtungen_, elaborate tables of the meteorological condition of
Jakutsk are given (i. 28-49). Also, under the heading _Geothermische
Beobachtungen_, very careful information respecting the frozen earth
will be found (i. 157, &c., and 178, &c.). The point at which a
temperature of 32° will be attained, is reckoned variously at from 600
to 1,000 feet below the surface.]

[Footnote 157: Reise im Russischen Reich_, i. 359; St. Petersburg,

[Footnote 158: xxxviii. 231 (an. 1791), in an article called _Notice
minéral, de la Daourie]

[Footnote 159: L.c., p. 236.]

[Footnote 160: _Beobachtungen_, &c., 194.]

[Footnote 161: _Mundus Subterraneus_, i. 220 (i. 239, in the edition of

[Footnote 162: 'Vidi ego in Monte Sorano cryptam veluti glacie
incrustatam, ingentibus in fornice hinc inde stiriis dependentibus, e
quibus vicini mentis accolæ pocula æstivo tempore conficiunt, aquæ
vinoque quæ iis infunduntur refrigerandis aptissima, extremo rigore in
summas bibentium delicias commutato.']

[Footnote 163: Both here and at Schemnitz, Kircher made particular
enquiries on a subject of which scientific men have altogether lost
sight. At Schemnitz he asked the superintendent, _an comparcant
Dæmunculi vel pygmæi in fodinis?--respondit affirmative, et narrat plura
exempla_; and at Herrengrund, _utrum appareant Dæmunculi seu
pygmæi?--respondit tales visos fuisse, et auditos pluries_. (Edition of
1678, ii. 203, 205.)]

[Footnote 164: Reich, 199.]

[Footnote 165: i. 108 (Lyon, 1794).]

[Footnote 166: _Ueber die unterirdischen Gasarten_, 101.]

[Footnote 167: xvii. 386.]

[Footnote 168: _Mém. sur les Basaltes de la Saxe_, p. 147.]

[Footnote 169: _Mineralog. Reisen_, ii. 123.]

[Footnote 170: Reich, 200, 201; Bischof, _Physical Researches on the
Internal Heat of the Globe_, 46, 47.]

[Footnote 171: Peters, _Geologische und mineralogische Studien aus dem
sudöstlichen Ungarn_, in the _Sitzungsberichte der kais. Ak. in Wien_,
B. xliii., 1te Abth., S. 435. See also pages 394 and 418 of the same
volume (year 1861).]

[Footnote 172: Such ladders are in ordinary use in the Jura.]

[Footnote 173: _Turquie d'Europe,_ i. 132 (he quotes himself as i. 180,
in the _Sitzungsb, der k. Ak. in Wien_, xlix. l. 324).]

[Footnote 174: L.c., p, 521.]

       *       *       *       *       *



The only glacière which is in any sense historical, is that near
Besançon; and a brief account of the different theories which have been
advanced in explanation of the phenomena presented by it, will include
almost all that has been written on ice-caves.

The first mention I have found of this cave is contained in an old
history of the Franche Comté of Burgundy, published at Dôle in 1592, to
which reference has been already made. Gollut, the author, speaks more
than once of a _glacière_ in his topographical descriptions, and in a
short account of it he states that it lay near the village of _Leugné_,
which I find marked in the Delphinal Atlas very near the site of the
Chartreuse of Grâce-Dieu; so that there can be no doubt that his
glacière was the same with that which now exists. His theory was, that
the dense covering of trees and shrubs protected the soil and the
surface-water from the rays of the sun, and so the cold which was stored
up in the cave was enabled to withstand the attacks of the heat of
summer.[175] In the case of many of the glacières, there can be no
doubt that this idea of winter cold being so preserved, by natural
means, as to resist the encroachments of the hotter seasons, is the true
explanation of the phenomenon of underground ice.

The next account of this glacière is found in the History of the Royal
Academy of Sciences (French), under the year 1686,[176] but no theory is
there suggested. The writer of the account states that in his time the
floor of the cave was covered with ice, and that ice hung from the roof
in festoons. In winter the cave was full of thick vapours, and a stream
of water ran through it. The ice had for long been less abundant than in
former times, in consequence of the felling of some trees which had
stood near the entrance.

The Academy received in the same year another letter on this subject,
confirming the previous account, and adding some particulars. From this
it would seem that people flocked from all sides to the glacière with
waggons and mules, and conveyed the ice through the various parts of
Burgundy, and to the camp of the Saone; not thereby diminishing the
amount of ice, for one hot day produced as much as they could carry away
in eight days. The ice seemed to be formed from a stream which ran
through the cave and was frozen in the summer only. The writer of this
second account saw vapours in the glacière (the editor of the _Histoire
de l'Académie_ does not say at what season the visit to the cave took
place), and was informed that this was an infallible sign of approaching
rain; so much so, that the peasants were in the habit of determining the
coming weather by the state of the grotto.

In 1712, M. Billerez, Professor of Anatomy and Botany in the University
of Besançon, communicated to the Academy[177] an account of a visit made
by him to this cave in September 1711. He found 3 feet of ice on the
floor of the cave, in a state of incipient thaw, and three pyramids,
from 15 to 20 feet high and 5 or 6 feet in diameter, which had been
already considerably reduced in size by thaw. A vapour was beginning to
pass out from the cave, at the highest part of the arch of entrance; a
phenomenon which, he was told, continued through the winter, and
announced or accompanied the departure of the ice: nevertheless, the
cold was so great that he could not remain in the glacière more than
half an hour with any sort of comfort. The thermometer stood at 60°
outside the cave, and fell to 10°[178] when placed inside; but
thermometrical observations of that date were so vague as to be useless
for present purposes. The ice appeared to be harder than the ordinary
ice of rivers, less full of air-bubbles, and more difficult to melt.

M. Billerez enunciated a new theory to account for the phenomena
presented by the cave. He observed that the earth in the immediate
neighbourhood, and especially above the roof of the grotto, was full of
a nitrous or ammoniac salt, and he accordingly suggested that this salt
was disturbed by the heat of summer and mingled itself with the water
which penetrated by means of fissures to the grotto, and so the cave was
affected in the same way as the smaller vessel in the ordinary
preparation of artificial ice. He had heard that some rivers in China
freeze in summer from the same cause.[179]

In 1726, a further communication was made to the Academy by M. des
Boz,[181] Royal Engineer, describing four visits which he had made to
the grotto near Besançon at four different seasons of the year, viz., in
May and November 1725, and in March and August 1726. In all cases he
found the air in the cave colder than the external air,[182] and its
variations in temperature corresponded with the external variations, the
cold being greater in winter than in summer.

M. des Boz ascribed the existence of ice in the cave to natural causes.
The opening being towards the north-east, and corresponding with a gorge
in the hills opposite, running in the same direction, none but cold
winds could reach the mouth of the grotto. Moreover, the soil above was
so thickly covered with trees and brushwood, that the rays of the sun
could not reach the earth, much less the rock below. Credible persons
asserted that since some of the trees had been felled, there had not
been so much ice in the cave.

In order to test the presence of salt, M. des Boz melted some of the
ice, and evaporated the resulting water, but found no taste of salt in
the matter which remained.[183] He denied the existence of the spring of
water which previous accounts had mentioned, and believed that the water
which formed the ice came solely from melted snow, and from the
fissures of the rock.

In 1727, the Duc de Lévi caused the whole of the ice to be removed from
the cave, for the use of the army of the Saone, which he commanded. In
1743 the ice had formed again, and the grotto was subjected to a very
careful investigation by M. de Cossigny, chief engineer of Besançon, in
the months of August and October.[183] The thermometer he used had been
presented to him by the Academy, and was very probably constructed by M.
de Réaumur himself, for de Cossigny's account was sent through M. de
Réaumur to the Academy, but still the observations made with it cannot
be considered very trustworthy. On the 8th of August, at 7.30 A.M., the
temperature in the cave was 1/2° above the zero point of this
thermometer, and at 11.30 A.M. it had risen to 1° above zero. On the
17th of October, at 7 A.M., the thermometer stood at 1/2°, and at 4 P.M.
it gave the same register.

M. de Cossigny found that the entrance to the cave was rather more than
150 feet above the Abbey of Grâce-Dieu, and about half a league distant
by the ordinary path. A great part of his account is occupied by
contradictions of previous accounts, especially in the matter of
dimensions,[184] The people of Besançon had urged him to stay only a
short time in the cave, because of the sulphureous and nitrous
exhalations, but he detected no symptoms of anything of that kind. The
most curious thing which he saw was the soft earth which lay, and still
lies, at the bottom of the long slope of ice by which the descent is
made; and he subjected this to various chemical tests and processes, but
could not find that it contained anything different from ordinary

When M. de Cossigny visited the cave, there were thirteen or fourteen
columns of ice, from 6 to 8 feet high, and he was in consequence
inclined to doubt the accuracy of the statement of M. Billerez, that in
his time (1711) there were three columns only, from 15 to 20 feet high.
But my own observation of the shape of the columns suggested that the
largest of all was probably an amalgamation of several others; so that
it is not unreasonable to suppose that after the Duc de Lévi removed the
large columns seen by M. Billerez, a number of smaller columns were
formed on the old site, and that these had not become large enough to
amalgamate in 1743.

Not satisfied with these visits of August and October, M. de Cossigny
visited the cave in April 1745. He found the temperature at 5 A.M. to be
exactly at the freezing point, and at noon it had risen 1°. From this he
concluded that the stories of the greater cold in the cave during the
summer, as compared with the winter, were false.

In 1769, M. Prévost, of Geneva, visited the cave, as a young man; and in
1789, he wrote an account of his visit in the _Journal de Genève_
(March), which was afterwards inserted as an additional chapter in his
book on Heat.[186] He believed that one or two hundred _toises_ was the
utmost that could be allowed for the height of the hill in which the
glacière lies,--a sufficiently vague approximation. He rejected the idea
of salt as the cause of ice, and came to the conclusion that the cave
was in fact nothing more than a good natural ice-house, being protected
by dense trees, and a thick roof of rock, while its opening towards the
north sheltered it from all warm winds. He accounted for the original
presence of ice as follows:--In the winter, stalactites form at the
edges of various fissures in the roof, and snow is drifted on to the
floor of the cave by the north winds down the entrance-slope. When the
warmer weather comes, the stalactites fall by their own weight, and,
lying in the drifted and congealed snow, form nuclei round which the
snow is still further congealed, and the water which results from the
partial thaw of portions of the snow is also converted into ice. Thus, a
larger collection of ice forms in winter than the heat of summer can
destroy; and if none of it were removed, it might, in the course of
years, almost fill the cave. At the time of his visit (August), M.
Prévost found only one column, from 6 to 8 feet high.

In 1783 (August 6), M. Girod-Chantrans visited the Glacière of Chaux
(so called from a village near the glacière, on the opposite side from
the Abbey of Grâce-Dieu), and his account of the visit appeared in the
_Journal des Mines_[187] of Prairial, an iv., by which time the writer
had become the Citizen Girod-Chantrans. He found a mass of
stalactites of ice hanging from the roof, as if seeking to join
themselves with corresponding stalagmites on the floor of the cave;
the latter, five in number, being not more than 3 or 4 feet high, and
standing on a thick sheet of ice. There was a sensible interval
between this basement of ice and the rock and stones on which it
reposed: it was, moreover, full of holes containing water, and the
lower parts of the cave were unapproachable by reason of the large
quantity of water which lay there. The thermometer stood at 35°·9 F.
two feet above the floor, and at 78° F. in the shade outside. M.
Girod-Chantrans determined, from all he saw and heard, that the summer
freezing and winter thaw were fables, and he believed that the cave
was only an instance of Nature's providing the same sort of receptacle
for ice as men provide in artificial ice-houses. He was fortunate
enough to obtain by chance the notes of a neighbouring physician, who
had made careful observations and experiments in the glacière at
various seasons of the year, and a _précis_ of these notes forms the
most valuable part of his account.

Dr. Oudot, the physician in question, found ten columns in January 1778,
the largest of which was 5-1/2 feet high. The flooring of ice was
nowhere more than 15 inches thick, and the parts of the rock which were
not covered with ice were perfectly dry. The thermometer--M.
Girod-Chantrans used Réaumur, so I suppose that he gives Dr. Oudot's
observations in degrees of Réaumur, though some of the results of that
supposition appear to be anomalous--gave 22° F. within the cave, and 21°
F. outside.

In April of the same year, the large column had increased in height to
the extent of 13 inches; and the floor of ice on which it stood was
1-1/2 inch thicker, and extended over a larger area than before; the
thermometer stood at 36°.5 F. and 52° F. respectively in the same
positions as in the former case. In July, the large column had lost 6
inches of its height, and the thermometer gave 38°.75 F. and 74°.75 F.

In October, the large column was only 3 feet high, and many of the
others had disappeared, while their pedestal had become much thinner
than it had been in the preceding months. There was also a considerable
amount of mud in the cave, brought down apparently by the heavy rains of
autumn. The thermometer gave 37°.6 F. and 63°.5 F.

On the 8th of January, 1779, there were nine columns of very beautiful
ice, and one of these, as before, was larger than the rest, being 5 feet
high and 10 feet in circumference. The temperatures were 21° F. and
16°.15 F. in the cave and in the open air respectively.

Tradition related that, before the removal of the ice in 1727, one of
the columns reached the roof, (Prévost calculated the limits of the
height of the cave at 90 and 60 feet,) and this suggested to Dr. Oudot
the idea of placing stakes of wood in the heads of the columns he found
in the cave, in the hope that ice would thus collect in greater
quantities under the fissures of the roof. Accordingly, he made holes in
three of the columns, and established stakes 4, 5, and 10 feet high,
returning on the 22nd of February, after an interval of six weeks, to
observe the result of his experiment. He found the two shorter stakes
completely masked with ice, forming columns a foot in diameter; and the
longest stake, though not entirely concealed by the ice which had
collected upon it, was crowned with a beautiful capital of perfectly
transparent ice. The columns which had no stakes fixed upon them had
also increased somewhat in size, but not nearly in the same proportion
as those which were the subject of Dr. Oudot's experiment. The
thermometer on this day gave 29°.5 F. and 59° F. as the temperatures.

It may be remembered that I found one very beautiful column, far higher
than any of those mentioned by Dr. Oudot, and higher than those which M.
Billerez saw, formed upon the trunk and branches of a fir-tree. I have
now no doubt that the peculiar shape of another--the largest of the
three columns which were in the cave at the time of my visit--is due to
the fact of its being a collection of several smaller columns, which
have in course of time flowed into one as they increased separately in
bulk, and that its height has been augmented by a device similar to that
adopted by Dr. Oudot. The two magnificent capitals which this column
possessed, as well as the numerous smaller capitals which sprang from
its sides, will thus be completely accounted for.

One more account may be mentioned, before I proceed to the theory which
has found most favour in Switzerland of late years. M. Cadet published
some _Conjectures_ on the formation of the ice in this cavern, in the
_Annales de Chimie,_ Nivôse, an XI.[188] He saw the cave in the end of
September 1791, and found very little ice--not a third of what there had
been a month before, according to the account of his guide. The
_limonadier_ of a public garden in Besançon informed him that the people
of that town resorted to the glacière for ice when the supplies of the
artificial ice-houses failed, and that they chose a hot day for this
purpose, because on such days there was more ice in the cave. Ten
_chars_ would have been sufficient to remove all the ice M. Cadet found,
and the air inside the cave seemed to be not colder than the external
air; but, nevertheless, M. Cadet believed the old story of the greater
abundance of ice in summer than in winter, and he attempted to account
for the phenomenon.

The ground above and near the cave is covered with beech and chestnut
trees, and thus is protected from the rays of the sun. The leaves of
these trees give forth abundant moisture, which has been pumped up
from their roots; and as this moisture passes from the liquid to the
gaseous state, it absorbs a large quantity of caloric. Thus,
throughout the summer, the atmosphere is incessantly refrigerated by
the evaporation produced by the trees round the cave; whereas in
winter no such process goes on, and the cave assumes a moderate
temperature, such as is usually found in ordinary caves. Unfortunately
for M. Cadet's theory, the facts are not in accordance with his
imaginary data, nor yet with his conclusions. He adds, on the
authority of one of his friends, that the intendant of the province,
M. de Vanolles, wishing to preserve a larger amount of ice in the
cave, built up the entrance with a wall 20 feet high, in which a small
door was made, and the keys were left in the hands of the authorities
of the neighbouring village, with orders that no ice should be
removed. The effect of this was, that the ice diminished considerably,
and they were obliged to pull down the wall again. M. Cadet saw the
remains of the wall, and the story was confirmed by the Brothers of
Grâce-Dieu. It would be very interesting to know at what season this
wall was built, and when it was pulled down. If my ideas on the
subject of ice-caves are correct, it would be absolutely fatal to shut
out the heavy cold air of winter from the grotto.

In 1822, M.A. Pictet, of Geneva, took up the question of natural
glacières, and read a paper before the Helvetic Society of Natural
Sciences,[189] describing his visits to the caves of the Brezon and the
Valley of Reposoir. In order to explain the phenomena presented by those
caves, M. Pictet adopted De Saussure's theory of the principle of
_caves-froides_, rendering it somewhat more precise, and extending it
to meet the case of ice-caves. It is well known that, in many parts of
the world, cold currents are found to blow from the interstices of
rocks; and these are utilised by neighbouring proprietors, who build
sheds over the fissures, and so secure a cool place for keeping meat,
&c. Examples of such currents are met with near Rome (in the _Monte
Testaceo_), at Lugano, Lucerne (the caves of Hergiswyl), and in various
other districts. It is found that the hotter the day, the stronger is
the current of cold air; in winter the direction of the current is
changed, and it blows into the rock instead of out from it.[190] De
Saussure's theory, as developed by M. Pictet, was no doubt satisfactory,
so far as it was used to account for the phenomenon of 'cold-caves,' but
it seems to be insufficient as an explanation of the existence of large
masses of subterranean ice; of which, by the way, De Saussure must have
been entirely ignorant, for he makes no allusion to such ice, and the
temperatures of the coldest of his caves were considerably above the
freezing point.

Pictet represents the case of a cave with cold currents of air to be
much the same as that of a mine with a vertical shaft, ending in a
horizontal gallery of which one extremity is in communication with the
open air, at a point much lower, of course, than the upper extremity of
the shaft. The cave corresponds to the horizontal gallery, and the
various fissures in the rock take the place of the vertical shaft, and
communicate freely with the external air. In summer, the columns of air
contained in these fissures assume nearly the temperature of the rock in
which they rest, that is to say, the mean temperature of the district,
and therefore they are heavier than the corresponding external columns
of air which terminate at the mouth of the cave; for the atmosphere in
summer is very much above the mean temperature of the soil, or of the
interior of the earth at moderate depths. The consequence is, that the
heavy cool air descends from the fissures, and streams out into the
cave, appearing as a cold current; and the hotter the day is--that is,
the lighter the columns of external air--the more violent will be the
disturbance of equilibrium, and therefore the more palpable the cold
current. Naturally, in this last case, the air which enters by the upper
orifices of the fissures is more heated, to begin with, than on cooler
days; but external heat so very slightly affects the deeper parts of the
fissures, that the columns of air thus introduced are speedily impressed
with the mean temperature of the district. In winter, the external
columns of air are as much heavier than the columns in the fissures as
they are lighter in summer; and so cold currents of air blow from the
cave into the fissures, though such currents are not of course colder
than the external air. Thus the mean temperature of the cave is much
lower than that of the rock in which it occurs; for the temperature of
the currents varies from the mean temperature of the rock to the winter
temperature of the external atmosphere.

The descending columns of warmer air, in summer, must to some extent
raise the temperature of the fissures above that which they would
otherwise possess, that is, above the mean temperature of the place; but
that may be considered to be counteracted by the corresponding lowering
of the temperature of the fissures by the introduction of cold air from
the cave in winter. By a similar reasoning, it will be seen that for
some time after the spring change of direction in the currents takes
place, the temperature of the cave will be less than would have been
expected from a calculation founded on the true mean temperature of the
rock through which the fissures pass. This, together with the fact of
the porous nature of the rock in which most of the curious caves in the
world occur, which allows a considerable amount of moisture to collect
on all surfaces, and thereby induces a depression of temperature by
evaporation, may be held to explain the presence of a greater amount of
cold than might otherwise have been fairly reckoned upon in ice-caves.

The idea of cold produced by evaporation Pictet took up warmly,
believing that when promoted by rapid currents of air it would produce
ice in the summer months; and he thus explained what he understood to be
the phenomena of glacières. But it will have been seen, from the account
of the caves I have visited, that the glacières are more or less in a
state of thaw in the summer; and M. Thury's observations in the winter
prove conclusively that they are then in a state of utter frost, so that
the old belief with respect to the season at which the ice is formed may
be supposed to have been exploded. The facts recorded by Mr. Scrope[191]
would appear to depend upon the peculiar nature of rocks of volcanic
formation; and I am inclined to think there is very little in common
between such instances as he mentions and the large caves filled with
ice which are to be found in the primary or secondary limestone.

One of De Saussure's experiments, in the course of his investigation of
the phenomena and causes of cold currents in caves, is worth recalling.
He passed a current of air through a glass tube an inch in diameter,
filled with moistened stones, and by that means succeeded in reducing
the temperature of the current from 18° C. to 15° C.; and when the
refrigerated current was directed against a wet-bulb thermometer, it
fell to 14° C., thus showing a loss of 7°·2 F. of heat. No one can see
much of limestone caverns without discovering that the surfaces over
which any currents there may be are constrained to pass, present an
abundance of moisture to refrigerate the currents; and it is not
unreasonable to suppose that the large number of evaporating surfaces,
which currents passing through heaps of débris--such as the basaltic
stones described on page 261--come in contact with, are the main cause
of the specially low temperature observed under such circumstances.

Pictet's theory, however, did not convince all those into whose hands
his paper fell, and M.J. Deluc wrote against it in the _Annales de
Chimie et de Physique_ of the same year, 1822.[192] Deluc had not seen
any glacière, but he was enabled to decide against the cold-current
theory by a perusal of Pictet's own details, and of one of the accounts
of the cave near Besançon. He objected, that in many cases the ice is
found to melt in summer, instead of forming then; and also, that in the
Glacière of S. Georges, which Pictet had described, there was no current
whatever. Further, in all the cases of cold currents investigated or
mentioned by De Saussure, the presence of summer ice was never even
hinted at, and the lowest temperatures observed by him were considerably
above the freezing point. I may add, from my own experience, that on the
only occasions on which I found a decided current in a glacière--viz.,
in the Glacière of Monthézy, and that of Chappet-sur-Villaz,--there was
marked thaw in connection with the current. In the latter case, the
channel from which the current came was filled with water; and in the
former, water stood on the surface of the ice.

The view which Deluc adopted was one which I have myself independently
formed; and he would probably have written with more force if he had
been acquainted with various small details relating to the position and
surroundings of many of the caves. The heavy cold air of winter sinks
down into the glacières, and the lighter warm air of summer cannot on
ordinary principles of gravitation dislodge it, so that heat is very
slowly spread in the caves; and even when some amount of heat does reach
the ice, the latter melts but slowly, for ice absorbs 60° C. of heat in
melting; and thus, when ice is once formed, it becomes a material
guarantee for the permanence of cold in the cave.

For this explanation to hold good, it is necessary that the level at
which the ice is found should be below the level of the entrance to the
cave; otherwise the mere weight of the cold air would cause it to leave
its prison as soon as the spring warmth arrived. In every single case
that has come under my observation, this condition has been emphatically
fulfilled. It is necessary, also, that the cave should be protected from
direct radiation, as the gravitation of cold air has nothing to do with
resistance to that powerful means of introducing heat. This condition,
also, is fulfilled by nature in all the glacières I have visited,
excepting that of S. Georges; and there art has replaced the protection
formerly afforded by the thick trees which grew over the hole of
entrance. The effect of the second hole in the roof of this glacière is
to destroy all the ice which is within range of the sun. A third and
very necessary condition is, that the wind should not be allowed access
to the cave; for if it were, it would infallibly bring in heated air, in
spite of the specific weight of the cold air stored within. It will be
understood from my descriptions of such glacières as that of the Grand
Anu, of Monthézy, and the Lower Glacière of the Pré de S. Livres, how
completely sheltered from all winds the entrances to those caves are.
There can be no doubt, too, that the large surfaces which are available
for evaporation have much to do with maintaining a somewhat lower
temperature than the mean temperature of the place where the cave
occurs. This had been noticed so long ago as Kircher's time; for among
the answers which his questions received from the miners of Herrengrund,
we find it stated that, so long as mines are dry, the deeper they are
the hotter; but if they have water, they are less warm, however deep.
From the mines of Schemnitz he was informed that, so long as the free
passage of air was not hindered, the mines remained temperate; in other
cases they were very warm. Another great advantage which some glacières
possess must be borne in mind, namely, the collection of snow at the
bottom of the pit in which the entrance lies. This snow absorbs, in the
course of melting, all heat which strikes down by radiation or is driven
down by accidental turns of the wind; and the snow-water thus forced
into the cave will, at any rate, not seriously injure the ice. It is
worthy of notice that the two caves which possess the greatest depth of
ice, so far as I have been able to fathom it, are precisely those which
have the greatest deposit of snow; and the ice in a third cave, that of
Monthézy, which has likewise a large amount of snow in the entrance-pit,
presents the appearance of very considerable depth. The Schafloch, it is
true, which contains an immense bulk of ice, has no snow; but its
elevation is great, as compared with that of some of the caves, and
therefore the mean temperature of the rock in which it occurs is less
unfavourable to the existence of ice.

I believe that the true explanation of the curious phenomena presented
by these caves in general, is to be found in Deluc's theory, fortified
by such facts as those which I have now stated. The mean temperature of
the rock at Besançon, where the elevation above the sea is
comparatively so small, renders the temptation to suggest some chemical
cause very strong.

The question of ice in summer where thaw prevails in winter, may fairly
be considered to have been eliminated from the discussion of such caves
as I have seen, in spite of the persistent assertions of some of the
peasantry. The observations, however, in caverns in volcanic formations,
and in basaltic débris, are so circumstantial that it is impossible to
reject them; and in such cases a theory similar to that enunciated by
Mr. Scrope[193] seems to be the only one in any way satisfactory, though
I have not heard of such marvellous results being produced elsewhere by
evaporation. One observer, for instance, of the cavern near the village
of Both, in the Eiffel, found a thickness of 3 feet of ice; and in that
case it was melting in summer, instead of forming. In some cases it has
been suggested that the length of time required for external heat or
cold to penetrate through the earth and rock which lie above the caves
is sufficient to account for the phenomenon of summer frost and winter
thaw. Thus, it is said, the thickness of the superincumbent bed may be
such that the heat of summer only gets through to the cave at Christmas,
and then produces thaw, while in like manner the greatest cold will
reach the cave in mid-summer. But there is a fatal objection to this
idea in the fact that the invariable stratum--i.e., the stratum beyond
which the annual changes of external temperature are not felt--is
reached about 60 feet below the surface in temperate latitudes,[194]
while at the tropics such changes are not felt more than a foot below
the surface. Humboldt calculated that in the latitude of central France
the whole annual variation in temperature at a depth of 30 feet would
not amount to more than one degree.[195]


[Footnote 174: As Gollut's phraseology is peculiar, it may be as well
to reproduce his account of the cave:--'Je ne veux pas omettre
toutefois (puisque je suis en ces eaux) de mettre en memoire la
commodité que nature hat doné à quelques delicats, puis qu'au fond
d'un mõntagne de Leugné, la glace (_glasse_ in the index), se treuve
en esté, pour le plaisir de ceux qui aim[~e]t a boire frais. Néanmoins
dans ce t[~e]ps cela se perd, nõ pour autre raison (ainsi que íe
pense) que pour ce que lon hat dépouillé le dessus de la mõtagne d'une
époisse et aulte fustaie de bois, qui ne permettoit pas que les raions
du soleil vinsent échauffer la terre et déseicher les distillations,
que se couloi[~e]t iusques au plus bas et plus froid de la montagne:
ou (par l'antipéristase) le froid s'epoississoit, et se reserroit,
contre les chaleurs, entornantes et environnantes le long de l'esté,
toute la circonference extérieure du mont.'--_Histoire_, &c.,  p. 87.]

[Footnote 175: _Hist. de l'Acad._, t. ii., p. 2.]

[Footnote 176: _Hist. de l'Acad._, an 1712, p. 20.]

[Footnote 177: _C'est à dire_--M. Billerez explains--_à 10 degrés
au-dessous du très-grand froid._ What the 60° may be worth, I cannot

[Footnote 178: Tournefort (_Voyage du Levant_, iii. 17) believed that
the ammoniac salt, of which the earth was full in some districts near
Erzeroum, had something to do with the persistence of snow on the ground

[Footnote 179: _Hist, de l'Acad.,_ an 1726, p. 16.]

[Footnote 180: But see on this point the experience of M. Thury, in the
Glacière of S. Georges (Appendix).]

[Footnote 181: Sir Roderick Murchison's suggestion of the possible
influence of salt in producing the phenomena of his ice-cave in Russia,
did not, of course, proceed upon the supposition of salt actually
mingling with water, but only of its increasing the evaporation of the
air which came in contact with it.]

[Footnote 182: _Mém. présentés à l'Académie par divers Sçavans_, i,

[Footnote 183: A long account was published in a history of Burgundy,
printed at Dijon, in quarto, in 1737, which I have not been able to
find. It was from the same source as the account in the Hist. of the
Academy, in 1726.]

[Footnote 184: I took this earth to be a collection of the particles
carried down the slope of ice by the heavy rains of the month preceding
my visit. M. de Cossigny speaks of the abundant rains of July, his visit
being in August.]

[Footnote 185: _Recherches sur la Chaleur_; Geneva and Paris, 1792.]

[Footnote 186: P. 65. Now called _Annales des Mines_.]

[Footnote 187: T. xlv. p. 160.]

[Footnote 188: _Bibliothèque Universelle de Genève_, Première Série, t.

[Footnote 189: See De Saussure's account of his numerous observations of
such caves in the _Voyage dans les Alpes_, sections 1404-1415.]

[Footnote 190: P. 271.]

[Footnote 191: P. 271.]

[Footnote 192: xxi. 113.]

[Footnote 193: P. 271.]

[Footnote 194: Daubuisson estimated the depth in question at from 46 to
61 feet, while Kupffer put it at 77 feet.]

[Footnote 195: De Saussure found a variation of 2°·25 F. at a depth of
29·5 feet; but this was in a well, where the influence of the atmosphere
was allowed to have effect. Naturally, the fissures which there may be
in the rock surrounding a cave will increase the annual variation of
temperature, by affording means of easier penetration to the heat and

Sir K. Murchison's cavern in Russia would seem to be entirely _sui

       *       *       *       *       *



It was natural to suppose that the prismatic structure which I found so
very general in the glacières was the result of some cause or causes
coming into operation after the first formation of the ice. On this
point M. Thury's visit to the Glacière of S. Georges in the spring of
1852 affords valuable information, for at that time the coating of ice
on the wall, evidently newly formed, did not present the _structure
aréolaire_ which he had observed in his summer visit to the cave. He
suggests that, since ice is less coherent at a temperature of 32°
F.--which is approximately the temperature of the ice-caves during
several months of the year--than when exposed to a greater degree of
cold, its molecules will then become free to assume a fresh system of
arrangement.[196] On the other hand, Professor Faraday has found that
ice formed under a temperature some degrees below the ordinary freezing
point has a well-marked crystalline structure.[197] M. Thury suggests
also, as a possibility, what I have found to be the case, by frequent
observations, that the prismatic ice has greater power of resisting heat
than ordinary ice; and on this supposition he accounts for the fact of
hollow stalactites being found in the Cavern of S. Georges.[198] At the
commencement of the hot season, the atmospheric temperature of the
glacières rises gradually; and when it has almost reached 32° F., the
prismatic change takes place in the ice, extending to a limited depth
below the surface. The central parts of the stalactites retain their
ordinary structure, and are after a time exposed to a general
temperature rather above than below the freezing point; and thus they
come to melt, the water escaping either by accidental fissures between
some of the prisms, or by the extremity of the stalactite, or by some
part of the surface which has chanced to escape the prismatic
arrangement, and has itself melted under increased temperature.[199]

M. Héricart de Thury describes the peculiar structure of the ice which
he found in the Glacière of the Foire de Fondeurle.[200] He found that
the crystallised portions were very distinctly marked, displaying for
the most part a six-sided arrangement; and in the interior of a hollow
stalactite he found numerous needles of ice perfectly crystallised, the
crystals being some triangular and some six-sided. He was unable to
detect any perfect pyramid.[201] I have already quoted Olafsen's
observations on the polygonal lining which he saw on the surface of the
ice in the Surtshellir. The French Encyclopædia [202] relates that M.
Hassenfratz saw ice served up at table at Chambéry which broke into
hexagonal prisms; and when he was shown the ice-houses where it was
stored, he found considerable blocks of ice containing hexahedral prisms
terminated by corresponding pyramids.

In vol. xv. (New Series) of the American Journal of Science,[203] an
extract is given from a letter describing the 'Ice Spring' in the Rocky
Mountains, which the mountaineers consider to be one of the curiosities
of the great trail from the States to Oregon and California. It is
situated in a low marshy 'swale' to the right of the Sweetwater river,
and about forty miles from the South Pass. The ground is filled with
springs; and about 18 inches below the turf lies a smooth and horizontal
sheet of ice, which remains the year round, protected by the soil and
grass above it. On July 12th, 1849, it was from 2 to 4 inches thick; but
one of the guides stated that he had seen it a foot deep. It was
perfectly clear, and disposed in hexagonal prisms, separating readily at
the natural joints. The ice had a slightly saline taste,[204] the ground
above it being impregnated with salt, and the water near tasting of
sulphur. The upper surface of the stratum of ice was perfectly smooth.

In Poggendorff's _Annalen_ (1841, Erganzsband, 517-19,--Boué, an old
offender in that way, says 1842) there is an account of ice being
found in the Westerwald, near the village of Frickhofen at the foot of
the _Dornburg_, among basaltic débris about 500 feet above the
sea.[205] Commencing at a depth of 2 feet below the surface, the ice
reaches from 20 to 22 feet farther down, where the loose stones give
place to dry sand. The ice is in thin layers on the stones, and is
deposited in the form of clear and regular hexagonal crystals. The
lateral extent through which this phenomenon obtains is from 40 to 50
feet each way, and is greater in winter than in summer. As in other
cases that have been noticed in basaltic débris, the snow which falls
upon the surface here is speedily melted. The _Allgemeine Zeitung_
(1840, No. 309), from which the account in Poggendorff is taken,
suggested that the melted snow-water which would thus run down among
the interstices would readily freeze below the surface, while the
heavy cold air of winter would be stored up at the lower levels, and
the poor conducting powers of basaltic rock[206] would favour its
permanence through the summer. The temperature of the cold current
which was perceptible in the parts of the mass of débris where the ice
existed was 1° R. (34°·25 F.). Nothing but a few lichens grow on the
surface of the débris.

These are, I think, all the references I have met with to the prismatic
structure of subterranean ice. But there is an interesting account in
Poggendorff 's _Annalen_,[207] by a private teacher in Jena, of the
crystalline appearance of ice under slow thaw near that town. In the
winter of 1840, the Saale was frozen, and the ice remained unbroken till
the middle of January, when the thermometer rose suddenly, and the
river in consequence overflowed the lower grounds, and carried large
masses of ice on to the fields, where it was left when the water
subsided. On the 20th of January the thermometer fell again, and
remained below the freezing point till the 12th of February: some of the
ice did not disappear till the following month.

When the ice had lain a short time, cracks appeared on the surface
exposed to the sun, and spread like a network from the edges towards the
centre of the surface. At first there was no regularity in the
connection of these lines, and the several meshes were of very different
sizes. After a time, the larger meshes split up into smaller, and the
system of network was found to penetrate below the surface, the cracks
deepening into furrows, which descended perpendicularly from the
surface, and divided the ice into long thin rhomboidal pillars. The
surface-end of some of these pillars was strongly marked with right
lines parallel to one of the sides of the mesh, and it was found that
there was a tendency in the ice to split down planes through these lines
and parallel to the corresponding side-plane. Parallel to the original
surface of the mass of ice, the pillars broke off evenly. The
side-planes had a rounded, wrinkled appearance; and their mutual
inclinations--as far as could be determined--were from 105° to 115°, and
from 66° to 75°. When these ice-pillars were examined by means of
polarised light, they were found to possess a feeble double-refracting

The writer of the article in Poggendorff suggests a question which he
was not sure how to answer:--Is this appearance in correspondence with
the original formation of the ice, or does it only appear under slow

It is worthy of remark, that from the 1st to the 11th of February the
thermometer was never higher than 22°·8 F., and during that time fell as
low as 21° below zero, i.e. 43° below the freezing point.

Professor Tyndall has informed me that in the winters of 1849, 1850,
1851, he found the banks of a river in Germany loaded with massive
layers of drift-ice, in a state of thaw, and was struck by the fact that
every layer displayed the prismatic structure described above, the axes
of the prisms being at right angles to the surfaces of freezing. It may
be, he adds, that this structure is in the first place determined by the
act of freezing, but it does not develop itself until the ice thaws.

M. Hassenfratz observed an appearance in ice on the Danube at
Vienna[208] corresponding to that described at Jena. He gives no
information as to the state of the weather or the temperature at the
time, nor any of the circumstances under which the ice came under his
notice. One of the masses of ice which he describes was crystallised in
prisms of various numbers of sides: of these prisms the greater part
were hexahedral and irregular. Another mass was composed of prisms in
the form of truncated pyramids; and in another he found quadrilateral
and octahedral prisms, the former splitting parallel to the faces, and
also truncated pyramids with five and six sides. He adds, that he had
frequently seen in the upper valleys tufts of ice growing, as it were,
out of the ground, and striated externally, but had never succeeded in
discovering any internal organisation, until one evening in a time of
thaw, when he found by means of a microscope that the striated tufts of
ice had assumed the same structure on a small scale as that which he had
observed on the Danube.

A Frenchman who was present in the room in which the Chemical Section of
the British Association met at Bath, and heard a paper which I read
there on this prismatic structure, suggested that it was probably
something akin to the rhomboidal form assumed by dried mud; and I have
since been struck by the great resemblance to it, as far as the surface
goes, which the pits of mud left by the coprolite-workers near Cambridge
offer, of course on a very large scale. This led me to suppose that the
intense dryness which would naturally be the result of the action of
some weeks or months of great cold upon subterranean ice might be one of
the causes of its assuming this form, and the observations at Jena would
rather confirm than contradict this view: competent authorities,
however, seem inclined to believe that warmth, and not cold, is the
producing cause.[209]

Professor Tyndall found, in the course of his experiments on the discs
and flowers produced in the interior of a mass of ice by sending a warm
ray through the mass, that the pieces of ice were in some cases
traversed by hazy surfaces of discontinuity, which divided the
apparently continuous mass into irregular prismatic segments. The
intersections of the bounding surfaces of these segments with the
surface of the slab of ice formed a very irregular network of
lines.[210] I am inclined, however, to think that the irregularity in
these cases proved to be so much greater than that observed in the
glacières, that this interior prismatic subdivision must be referred to
some different cause.


[Footnote 196: The continued extrication of latent heat by ice, as it is
cooled a few degrees below 32° F., appears to indicate a molecular
change subsequent to the first freezing.--_Phil. Trans._, as quoted in
the next note.]

[Footnote 197: See the paper 'On Liquid Diffusion as applied to
Analysis,' by the Master of the Mint (_Phil. Trans._ 1861, p. 222).]

[Footnote 198: Compare the description of one of the hollow stalagmites I
explored in the Schafloch, p. 145.]

[Footnote 199: Professor Tyndall has pointed out that, owing to the want
of perfect homogeneity, some parts of a block of ice exposed to a
temperature of 32° F. will melt, while others remain solid _(Phil.
Trans_. 1858, p. 214). He also arrived at the conclusion (p. 219) that
heat could be conducted through the substance of a mass, and melt
portions of the interior, without visible prejudice to the solidity of
the other parts of the mass.]

[Footnote 200: _Journal des Mines_, xxxiii. 157. See also an English
translation of his account in the second volume of the _Edinburgh
Journal of Science_.]

[Footnote 201: It is to be hoped that the accuracy of his scientific
descriptions exceeds that of his topographical information; for he
states that the glacière is two leagues from Valence, whereas it cost me
six hours' drive on a level road, and five and a half hours' walking and
climbing, to reach it from that town.]

[Footnote 202: Branch _Physique_, article _Glace_]

[Footnote 203: P. 146 (an. 1853).]

[Footnote 204: Dr. Lister experimented on sea-water in December 1684
(_Ph. Trans_, xiv. 836), and found that though it took two nights to
freeze, it was much harder when once frozen than common ice, lasting for
three-quarters of an hour under a heat which melted 100 times its bulk
of common ice at once. It was marked with oblong squares, and had a salt
taste. Ice formed from water with an admixture of sulphuric acid is said
to assume a crystalline appearance.]

[Footnote 205: See also a pamphlet entitled _Das unterirdische Eisfeld
bei der Dornburg am Südlichen Fusse des Westerwaldes_, by Thomä of
Wiesbaden (32 pages, with a map of the district), published in 1841.]

[Footnote 206: But see page 262.]

[Footnote 207: lv. (an 1842), 472.]

[Footnote 208: _Journal de Physique_, xxvi. (an 1785), 34.]

[Footnote 209: In looking through some early volumes of the
_Philosophical Transactions_, I found an 'Extract of a letter written by
Mr. Muraltus of Zurich (September 1668), concerning the Icy and
Chrystallin Mountains of Helvetia, called the Gletscher, English'd out
of Latin' (_Phil. Trans._ iv. 982), which at first looked something like
an assertion of the prismatic structure of ice on a large scale. The
English version is as follows:--'The snow melted by the heat of the
summer, other snow being faln within a little while after, and hardened
into ice, which by little and little in a long tract of time depurating
itself turns into a stone, not yielding in hardness and clearness to
chrystall. Such stones closely joyned and compacted together compose a
whole mountain, and that a very firm one; though in summer-time the
country-people have observed it to burst asunder with great cracking,

[Footnote 210: See the woodcut illustrating Professor Tyndall's remarks
in the 148th volume of the _Philosophical Transactions_ (1858, p. 214).]

       *       *       *       *       *



Many interesting experiments have for long been carried on with a view
to determine the mean temperature at various depths below the surface of
the earth. The construction of Artesian wells has afforded useful
opportunities for increasing the amount of our knowledge on this
subject; and the well at Pregny, near Geneva,[211] and the Monk Wearmouth
coal-mines, as observed by Professor Phillips while a fresh shaft was
being sunk,[212] have supplied most valuable facts. Without entering
into any detail, which would be an unnecessary trouble, it may be stated
generally, that, under ordinary circumstances, 1° F. of temperature is
gained for every 50 or 60 feet of vertical descent into the interior of
the earth. I have only met with one account of an experiment made in a
horizontal direction, and it is curious that the law of the increase of
temperature then observed seemed to be very much the same as that
determined by the mean of the vertical observations. Boussingault[213]
found several horizontal adits in a precipitous face of porphyritic
syenite among the mountains of Marmato. In one of these adits--a gallery
called Cruzada, at an elevation of 1,460 mètres--he found an increase
of 1° C. of mean temperature for every 33 mètres of horizontal
penetration, or, approximately, 1° F. for 60 feet.[214]

Again, observations have been made, in various latitudes, of the
decrease of temperature consequent upon gradual rising from the general
surface of the earth; as, for instance, in the ascent of mountains.
Speaking without any very great precision, but with sufficient accuracy
for ordinary purposes, 1° F. is lost with every 300 feet of ascent.[215]
It is evident that this decrease will be less rapid where the slope of
ascent is gradual, from such considerations as the angle at which the
sun's rays strike the slope, and the larger amount of surface which is
in contact with a stratum of atmosphere of any given thickness.

With these data, it is easy to arrive at some idea of the probable mean
temperature of the rock containing several of the glacières I have
described. The elevation of some of them has not been determined with
sufficient accuracy to make the results of any calculation trustworthy;
but four cases may be taken where the elevation is known--namely, the
Glacières of S. Georges, S. Livres, Monthézy, and the Schafloch. If we
take as a starting point the mean temperature of the town of Geneva,
which has been determined at 49°·55 F., the elevation of that town being
nearly 1,200 feet, we obtain the following approximate results for the
mean temperature of the surface at the points in question:--

  S. Georges        ....  40°·22 Fahr.
  S. Livres (Lower) ....  38°·55"
  Schafloch         ....  33°·88"
  Monthézy          ....  41°·55"

The law of decrease of temperature enunciated by M. Thury gives a higher
mean temperature for the surface of the earth in these places, as in the
following table:--

  S. Georges        ....  41°·8 Fahr.
  S. Livres         ....  40°·1"
  Schafloch         ....  35°·6"
  Monthézy          ....  42°·5"

If any certain information could be obtained of the elevation of the
Abbey of Grâce-Dieu, I am sure that a result more surprising than that
in the case of the Glacière of Monthézy would appear. The elevation of
the floor of the church in the citadel of Besançon is 367·7 mètres, and
the plateau on the north side of the town of Baume-les-Dames is 531·9
mètres. I am inclined to think, from the look of the country, that the
latter possesses much the same elevation as the valley in which the
Abbey lies; and in that case we should have comparatively a very high
mean temperature for the surface in the neighbourhood where the glacière

But if these are the mean temperatures of the surface, the natural
temperatures of the caves themselves should be still higher, on account
of the allowance to be made for increase of temperature with descent
into the interior of the earth. This element will very materially affect
our calculations in such a case as the lower part of the ice in the
Glacière of the Pré de S. Livres, and the strange suggestive beginning
of a new ice-cave 190 feet below the surface, on the Montagne de l'Eau,
near Annecy. In any open pit or cave, the ordinary atmospheric
influences find such easy access, that the temperature cannot be
expected to follow the law observed when perforations of small bore are
made in the earth, as in the case of the preliminary boring before
commencing to dig a well;[216] but the two glacières mentioned above are
so completely protected in their lowest parts, that they may be treated
as if they were isolated from external influence of all ordinary kinds;
and it may fairly be said that the mean temperature there ought to be
considerably higher than at the surface.

It is not very likely that the results of the above calculations are
strictly in accordance with what a careful series of observations on the
spot might show. The distance between Geneva and the Glacières of S.
Georges and S. Livres is sufficiently small to make it probable that the
reality is not very far different from the calculated temperature; but
the other two caves are comparatively so far off, that the temperature
and elevation of Geneva are not very safe data to build upon.


[Footnote 211: Bischof, _Physical Researches_, 189.]

[Footnote 212: _Philosophical Magazine_, v. 446 (1834).]

[Footnote 213: _Annules de Chimie et de Physique_, liii. 2-10. See also
Bischof, 136.]

[Footnote 214: The English edition of Bischof affords here a proof of
the danger of frequent changes from one scale to another. Bischof in the
first instance rendered Boussingault into degrees Réaumur, and this was
in turn reduced to degrees Fahrenheit; the result being that the
authorised English edition of his book gives 2°·25 F. for 127·5 feet,
which does not come within 10 feet of Boussingault's statement.]

[Footnote 215: M. Thury calculates a decrease of 1° C. for every 174
mètres between Geneva and S. Bernard, which is less than the decrease
given in the text. He arrives at this conclusion by correcting the mean
temperature of Geneva from 8°·9 C., the observed mean of eighteen years,
to 9°·9 C., in consequence of supposed local causes, which unduly
depress the temperature of Geneva. With the mean 8°·9 C. a result nearly
in accordance with that of the text is obtained.]

[Footnote 216: Professor Phillips found, in the course of his
investigations in the Monk Wearmouth mines, some hundreds of yards below
the sea, that when a new face of rock was exposed, its temperature was
considerably higher than that of the gallery or shaft in which it lay.
In some cases the difference amounted to 9 and 10 degrees. The rock soon
cooled down to an agreement with the surrounding temperature.]

       *       *       *       *       *


M. Thury's observations during his winter visit to the Glacière of S.
Georges are so curious and valuable, that I give the principal results
of them here.

It will be remembered that this glacière consists of a roomy cave, 110
feet long and 60 feet high, with two orifices in the higher part of the
roof, one of which is kept covered with the trunks of trees to shut out
the direct radiation of the sun. A little thought suggested to M. Thury
that the cold in the cave in mid-winter would most probably be greater
than the external cold of the day, and less than that of the night; so
that there should be a time in the later evening when a column of colder
and heavier air would begin, to descend through the hole in the roof. To
test the correctness of this supposition, he took up his abode in the
cavern for the evening of the 10th January, 1858, with a lighted candle.
The flame burned steadily for some time; but at 7.16 P.M. it began to
flicker, and soon inclined downwards through an angle of about 45°; and
when M. Thury placed himself under the principal opening, the flame was
forced into an almost horizontal position. At 8 P.M. the current of air
had all but disappeared. This violent and temporary disturbance of
equilibrium was a matter of much surprise to M. Thury; for he had
naturally expected a quiet current downwards, continuing through the
greater part of the night.

At 7.16 P.M. the external temperature was 23·9° F., and the temperature
of the atmosphere in the cave at the same time was 30°·88 F.;[217] so
that there is no wonder the current of air should be strong. It is very
difficult to say, however, why it did not commence much earlier,
considering that the external air must have been heavier than that in
the cave long before 7 o'clock. M. Thury refers to the mirage as a
somewhat similar instance, that phenomenon being explained by the
supposition that atmospheric layers of different temperatures lie one
above another in clearly-defined strata. He suggests, also, that as the
heavier air tends to pass down into the cave, the less cold air already
in the cave tends to pass out; and the narrow entrance confining the
struggle between the opposing tendencies to a very small area, the
weaker initial current is able for a time to hold its own against the
intruder. On this supposition, it is easy to see that when the rupture
does occur it will be violent.

The next day, M. Thury arrived at the glacière at 9.50 A.M. He had
determined, in the summer, that the temperature of the cave was
invariable, at any rate through the 3-1/2 hours of his visit (from 7.30
to 11 A.M.); but his winter experience was very different. The following
are the results of his observations.

In the cave:--

January 9, at 7.16 P.M.[218]...  30°·884 Fahr.
   "        " 7.20 "        ...  29°·75   "
   "        " 7.27 "        ...  27°·5    "
   "        " 7.50 "        ...  26°·834  "

January 10, at 10.12 A.M.   ...  23°·684  "
   "        "  10.0 "       ...  23°·9    "
   "        "  11.20 "      ...  24°·022  "
   "        "  12.14 P.M.   ...  24°·134  "
   "        "   1.30 "      ...  24°·35   "
   "        "   2.30 "      ...  24°·584  "
   "        "   3.14 "      ...  24°·8    "
   "        "   4.0  "      ...  25°·142  "

Supposing the weather to have been much the same on the 9th and 10th of
January, as M. Thury's account seems to say, there is something very
strange in the great difference between the temperatures registered at 4
P.M. on the one day, and at 7.16 P.M. on the other.

The external temperatures at the mouth of the cave were as follows:--

January 10, at 10.53 A.M. 25°·934 Fahr.
    "       "  11.14  "   26°·384   "
    "       "  11.45  "   28°·04    "
    "       "  12.32 P.M. 27°·944   "
    "       "   1.12  "   30°·644   "
    "       "   3.3   "   26°·834   "
    "       "   3.56  "   25°·7     "
    "       "   4.26  "   25°·25    "

The minimum temperature of the external air during the night of January
10-11 was 18°·392 F., and that of the glacière 19°·76 F.[219] During the
preceding night, the minimum in the cave was 22°·442 F., which may throw
some light upon the difference between the temperatures at 7.16 P.M. on
the 9th, and at 4 P.M. on the 10th.

M. Thury bored a hole, of about 10 inches in depth, in the flooring of
ice, and placed a thermometer in it, at 12.25 P.M., closing it up with
cotton. At 2.55 P.M., and at 4.7. P.M., the thermometer marked the same
temperature, namely, 26°·24 F.

M. Thury's views on glacières in general, based upon the details of the
three which he has visited, are much the same as those which I have
expressed. He has, however, more belief than I in 'cold currents.'


[Footnote 217: This was given by a thermometer only placed in the cave
at 7 P.M., and by construction not very sensible.]

[Footnote 218: The moment when the disturbance of the atmosphere

[Footnote 219: M. Thury gives--4°·62 C. as the minimum in the glacière
during the night in question; but on the next page he gives--6°·8 C.
(=19°·76 F.). It is evident, from a comparison with other details of his
observations, that the latter is the correct account.]

       *       *       *       *       *

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