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Now that common-place security and
accommodations of every description have, league
by league, climbed up the Alps, tourists laugh
at the idea of any accident occurring on even
the most difficult passes. The inexperienced
traveller, to be sure, abroad for the first time,
and bewildered by novel impressions,
converts the sleet-shower that overtook him on
the Col de Balme, into a terrific storm;
and even astonishes table d'hotes with his
thrilling history of how he was nearly
dashed to pieces on the Gemmi, but for the
iron grip of his guide. But the chronicles
of the faithful Murray contain few records
of anything remarkable having happened to
anybody, anywhere, at any time, within the
last half-century. Hence, the following
plain narrative may be interesting as
detailing a very narrow escape from death,
in the height of the season, under very
ordinary circumstances, and on one of the most
popular passes of Switzerland. The Great St.

Alpine tourists know that the ordinary
road from Chamouni to the Convent is by
the dull bourg of Martigny, in the Canton
de Vallais. It is a wretched place, by all
means to be avoided, if possible. Rank
vegetation, putrid swamps, and a stagnant,
stifling air combine to make it a hotbed of
goitre and idiotcy in their worst phases.
Hideous, wen-laden heads on stunted
misshapen bodies mop and mow and gibber at
you from filthy doorways; a hopeless lethargy
pervades alike the neglected town, the gasping
trade, and the spiritless people: there is
not one single thing to observe in the day;
and at night, when the inundation of the
Rhone is subsiding, the musquitoes
"cousins," as they are termed by the country
peoplecome in such swarms, and clouds,
and flights, and bite with such inflammatory
viciousness, that Venice, or Naples, or
Cairo would be a place of refuge by

I had slept at the comfortable little inn on
the Tete Noire, and started at seven in the
morning, on Thursday, the tenth of September
last, with two chance fellow-travellers,
and Venance Favret, a Chamouni guide, to
see, if we could reach Orsieresa little town
half-way up the St. Bernard passwithout
going down to this wretched Martigny.
When we arrived at the top of the Forclaz,
the old gendarme, who lives there to stamp
passports and sell refreshments, told us that
there was a road, but that it was very difficult;
and, therefore, as I had a baggage mule
with me, we must take another hand. The
route is not in Murray, and certainly it was
troublesome enough to find: but, after a
great deal of labour, and getting astray, and
retracing our steps, we arrived at Orsieres,
at the angle where the Val d'Entremont
joins the Val de Ferret, at two in the afternoon,
in a heavy thunderstorm. My
companions were knocked up, and declined
coming on any further that day; but I was
anxious to reach the Convent. For, Orsieres
is a dreary little place enough, and the Hotel
des Alpes, although clean and moderate, does
not offer many attractions. Small mountain
trout are all very well in their way; but I
am not one of those travellers who think the
mere ten minutes occupied in discussing them
compensates for several hours of yawning in
a gaunt roughly-furnished salle-a-manger.
The eating of whitebait itself would form,
in the abstract, a dull enjoyment if limited
to that particular thing, rudely served-up
in the back room of a third-rate inn. I am
bold enough to declare that I don't care
about whitebait; that, in fact, I think it an
insipid failure; and that little shreds of
batter, with lemon juice and cayenne pepper,
would go down just as well. But add stewed
eels, water souchee, and salmon cutlets,
champagne cup, bright eyes, and ducks and green
peas: and then, Mr. Hart, or Mr. Quartermaine,
if you please I am your frequent visitor.
So with Swiss trout: never be lured away
from where you want to go, by its being
made a specialite of attraction, except there
are some other inducements to back it up.
For the pleasures of the palate are fleeting,
but ennui is continuous.

I started from Orsieres just as three in the
afternoon struck for the second time, according
to the custom, of many churches in the
Vallais, from the storm-worn grey steeple. I
had above five hours' good work before me;
so, already tolerably tired, I got a mule, and
a man to bring it back, whose name was, as
closely as I can recollect, Alexis Pelleuchord.

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