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or a grander Rubens. Instead, besides, of owning
one palace and one garden, it is the universe
he owns: the vast Savannah is his race-ground;
Niagara his own private cascade.

My heart bounded with these buoyant fancies,
and I stepped out briskly on my road. Now that
I had made this vow of poverty to myself, I felt
very light-hearted and gay. So long as a man
is struggling for place and pre-eminence in life,
how can he be generous, how even gracious?
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's ox, says
the commandment, but surely it must have been
your neighbour's before it was yours, and if you
have striven for it, it is likely that you have
coveted it. Now, I will covet nothing
positively nothingand I will see if in this noble
spirit there will not be a reward proportionately
ample and splendid.

My road led through that wild and somewhat
dreary valley by which the Upper Rhine
descends, fed by many an Alpine stream and
torrent, to reach the fertile plains of Germany. It
was a desolate expanse of shingle, with here
and there little patches of oak scrub, or, at rare
intervals, small enclosures of tillage, though how
tilled, or for whom, it was hard to say, since not
a trace of inhabitant could be seen, far or wide.
Deep fissures, the course of many a mountain-stream,
cut the road at places, and through
these the foot traveller had to pass on stepping-stones;
while wheel carriages, descending into
the chaos of rocks and stones, fared even worse,
and incurred serious peril to spring and axle in
the passage. On the mountain-sides, indeed,
some châlets were to be seen, very high up and
scarcely accessible, but ever surrounded with
little tracts of greener verdure and more varied
foliage. From these heights, too, I could hear
the melodious ring of the bells worn by the
cattlesure signs of peasant comfort. "Might
not a man find a life of simple cares, and few
sorrows, up yonder?" asked I, as I gazed
upward. While I continued to look, the great
floating clouds that soared on the mountain-tops
began to mass and to mingle together,
thickening and darkening at every moment, and
then, as though overweighted, slowly to
descend, shutting out châlet and shady copse and
crag, as they fell, on their way to the plain
beneath. It was a grievous change from the
bright picture a few moments back, and not the
less disheartening that the heavily charged mist
now melted into rain, that soon fell in torrents.
With not a rock nor a shrub to shelter under, I
had nothing for it but to trudge onward to the
nearest village, wherever that might be. How
speedily the slightest touch of the real will
chase away the fictitious and imaginary! No
more dreams nor fancies now, as wet and soaked
I plodded on, my knapsack seeming double its
true weight, and my stick appearing to take
root each time it struck the ground. The fog,
too, was so dense that I was forced to feel my
way as I went. The dull roar of the Rhine
was the only sound for a long time; but this at
length became broken by the crashing noise of
timber carried down by the torrents, and the
louder din of the torrents themselves as they
came tumbling down the mountain. I would
have retraced my steps to Bregenz, but that I
knew the places I had passed dryshod in the
morning would by this time have become impassable
rivers. My situation was a dreary one,
and not without peril, since there was no saying
when or where a mountain cataract might not
burst its way down the cliffs and sweep clean
across the road towards the Rhine.

Had there been one spot to offer shelter, even
the poorest and meanest, I would gladly have
taken it, and made up my mind to await better
weather; but there was not a bank, nor even a
bush, to cower under, and I was forced to trudge
on. It seemed to me at last that I must have
been walking many hours; but having no watch,
and being surrounded with impenetrable fog, I
could make no guess of the time, when at length
a louder and deeper sound appeared to fill the
air, and make the very mist vibrate with its din.
The surging sound of a great volume of water,
sweeping along through rocks and fallen trees,
apprised me that I was nearing a torrent; while
the road itself, covered with some inches of
water, showed that the stream had already risen
above its embankments. There was real danger
in this; light carriagesthe great lumbering
diligence itselfhad been known to be carried
away by these suddenly swollen streams, and I
began seriously to fear disaster. Wading
cautiously onward, I reached what I judged to be
the edge of the torrent, and felt with my stick
that the water was here borne madly onward,
and at considerable depth. Though through
the fog I could make out the opposite bank,
and see that the stream was not a wide one, I
plainly perceived that the current was far too
powerful for me to breast without assistance,
and that no single passenger could attempt it
with safety. I may have stood half an hour
thus, with the muddy stream surging over my
ankles, for I was stunned and stupified by the
danger, when I thought I saw through the mist
two gigantic figures looming through the fog,
on the opposite bank. When and how they had
come there, I knew not, if they were indeed
there, and if these figures were not mere spectres
of my imagination. It was not till having closed
my eyes, and opening them again beheld the
same objects, that I could fully assure myself of
their reality.




With the present volume, in No. 100 of ALL THE
YEAR ROUND, for the 23rd of March, 1861.

The right of Translating Articles from ALL THE YEAR ROUND is reserved by the Authors.

Published at the Office. No. 26, Wellington Street, Strand. Printed by C. WHITING, Beaufort House, Strand