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trast to the dark evergreen foliage with which they are surrounded. Still higher, at the height of thirteen thousand feet, near the summit of the lower ranges of the Cordilleras, almost constant rains overspread the earth with a verdant and slippery coating of moss; amidst which a few stunted specimens of the melastoma still exhibit their purple blossoms. A broad zone succeeds, covered entirely with Alpine plants, which, as in the mountains of Switzerland, nestle in the crevices of rocks, or push their flowers, generally of yellow or dark blue, through the now frequent snow. Higher still, grass alone is to be met with, mixed with the grey moss which conducts the wearied traveller to the region of perpetual snow, which in those warm latitudes is general only at an elevation of fifteen thousand feet. Above that level no animated being is found, except the huge condor, the largest bird that exists, which there, amidst ice and clouds, has fixed its gloomy abode." - Tableau de la Nature dans les Régions Equatoriales, 59, 140–144.
In the rhythm of prose these are the colours of poetry; but it is of poetry chastened and directed by the observation of reality, and possessing the inimitable charm of being drawn from real life, and sharing the freshness and variety which characterise the works of nature, and distinguish them from the brightest conceptions of human fancy. have set out in this article with placing Humboldt at the head of modern travellers, and much above any that Great Britain bas produced, and assigned as the main reason of this superiority the exclusive and limited range of objects on which the attention of our youth is fixed at our great universities, we shall, in justice to Oxford and Cambridge, present the reader with a specimen of the finest passages from Clarke and Bishop Heber, that he may judge for bimself on their merit, great as it often is, when compared with that of the ardent and yet learned German. Clarke, on leaving Greece, gives the following brilliant
of the leading features of that classic land :
"The last moments of this day were employed in taking once more a view
“In such an imaginary flight he enters, for example, the defile of Tempe; and as the gorge opens to the south, he beholds all the Larissian plain. This conducts him to the fields of Pharsalia, whence he ascends the mountains south of Pharsalus ; then, crossing the bleak and still more elevated region extending from these mountains towards Lamia, he views Mount Pindus far before him, and, descending into the plain of the Sperchius, passes the straits of Thermopylæ. Afterwards, ascending Mount (Eta, he beholds opposite to him the snowy point of Lycorea, with the rest of Parnassus, and the villages and towns lying at its base: the whole plain of Elataia lying at his feet, with the course of the Cephisus to the sea. Passing to the summit of Parnassus, he looks down upon all the other mountains, plains, islands, and gulfs of Greece ; but especially surveys the broad bosom of Cithæron, Helicon, and Hymettus. Thence, roaming into the depths and over all the heights of Eubea and Peloponnesus, he has their inmost recesses again submitted to his contemplation. Next, resting upon Hymettus, he examines, even in the minutest detail, the whole of Attica, to the Sunian promontory; for he sees it all—and all the shores of Argos, Sicyon, Corinth, Megara, Eleusis, and Athens. Thus, although not in all the freshness of its living colours, yet in all its grandeur, doth GREECE actually present itself to the mind's eye--and may the impression never be obliterated! In the eve of bidding it farewell for ever, as the hope of visiting this delightful country constituted the earliest and warmest wish of his youth, the author found it to be some alleviation of his regret excited by a consciousness of his never returning, that he could thus summon to his recollection the scenes over which he had passed.”—Clarke's Travels, vol. vii. p. 476-478.
So far Clarke—the accomplished and famed traveller of Cambridge. We now give a favourable specimen of Bishop Heber-his companion in traversing Russia—the celebrated author, in early life at Oxford, of Palestine, the amiable and upright Bishop of Calcutta, whose life, if ever that could be said of mortal, was literally spent in doing good. This accomplished and excellent prelate thus describes the first view of the Himalaya range and the summits of Nundidevi, one of the highest mountains in the world, nearly 5000 feet above the loftiest peak of Chimborazo.
"After coasting the lake for a mile, we ascended for thirteen more by a most steep and rugged road over the neck of Mount Gaughur, through a succession of glens, forests, and views of the most sublime and beautiful description. I never saw such prospects before, and had formed no adequate idea of such. My attention was completely strained, and my eyes filled with tears ; everything around was so wild and magniticent that man appeared as nothing, and I felt myself as if climbing the steps of the altar of the great temple of God. The trees, as we advanced, were in a large proportion fir and cedar; but many were ilex ; and to my surprise I still saw, even in these wild Alpine tracts, many venerable Peepul trees, on which the white monkeys were playing their gambols. Tigers used to be very common and mischievous; but since the English have begun to frequent the country, they have become very scarce. There are many wolves and bears, and some chamois, two of which passed near us. After wendivg up
"A wild romantic chasm, that slanted
Down the steep hill athwart a cedar cover-
By woman's wailing for her demon lover,'
we arrived at the gorge of the Pass, in an indent between the two principal summits of Mount Gaughur, near 8600 feet above the sea. And now the snowy mountains, which had been so long eclipsed, opened upon us in full magnificence. To describe a view of this kind is only lost labour: and I found it nearly as impossible to make a sketch of it. Nundidevi was immediately opposite, Kedarnath was not visible, but Marvo was visible as a distant peak. The eastern mountains, for whom I could procure no name, rose into great consequence, and were very glorious objects as we wound down the hill on the other side. The guides could only tell us they were a great way off, and on the borders of the Chinese empire. Nundidevi, the highest peak in the world, is 25,689 feet above the sea, 4000 higher than Chimborazo. Bhadinath and Kedarnath, which are merely summits of it, are 22,300 feet high. They are all in the British dominions."-Ileber's India, vol. ii. p. 193-194, 209.
and the expanse
On comparing the descriptions of the most interesting objects in Europe and Asia-Greece and the Himalaya range—by these two distinguished British travellers, with the pictures given by Humboldt of the Andes, the falls of the Orinoco, the forests of the same river, and the of the Pampas in South America, every one must admit the great superiority of the German's powers of painting nature. Neither Clarke nor Heber appear to attempt it.
you, indeed, that certain scenes were grand and beautiful, certain rocks wild, certain glens steep ; but they make no attempt to portray their features, or convey to the reader's mind the pictures which they tell you are for ever engraven on their own. This is a very great defects0 great indeed that it will probably prevent their works, how valuable soever as books of authority or reference, from ever acquiring lasting fame. It is a total mistake to say that it is in vain to attempt describing such scenes ; that is the same mistake as was formerly committed by pacific academical historians, who said it was useless to attempt painting a battle, for they were all like each other. How like they really are to each other has been shown by Colonel Napier, and many other modern historians. We question if even the sight of the rapids of the Orinoco would make so vivid an impression on the imagination, as Humboldt's inimitable description ; or a journey over the Pampas or the Andes, convey a clearer or more distinct idea of their opposite features than what has been derived from his brilliant pencil. It is the same with all the other scenes in nature. Description, if done by a masterly hand, can, to an intelligent mind, convey as vivid an idea as reality. What is wanting is the enthusiasm which warms at the perception of the sublime and the beautiful, the poetic mind which seizes as by inspiration its characteristic features, and the pictorial eye which discerns the appearances they exhibit, and, by referring to images known to all, succeeds in causing them to be generally felt by the readers.
With all Humboldt's great and transcendent merits, he is a child of Adam, and therefore not without his faults. The principal of these is the want of arrangement. His travels are put together without any proper method ; there is a great want of indexes and tables of contents ; it is scarcely possible, except by looking over the whole, to find any passage you want. This is a fault which, in a person of bis accurate and scientific mind, is very surprising, and the more inexcusable that it could so easily be remedied by mechanical industry, or the aid of compilers and index-makers. But akin to this is another fault of a more irremediable kind, as it originates in the varied excellences of the author, and the vast store of information on many different subjects which he brings to bear on the subject of his travels. He has so many topics of which he is master himself, that he forgets with how few, comparatively, his readers are familiar; he sees so many objects of inquiryphysical, moral, and political—in the countries which he visits, that he becomes insensible to the fact that, though each probably possesses a certain degree of interest to each reader, yet it is scarcely possible to find one to whom, as to bimself, they are all alike the object of eager solicitude and anxious investigation. Hence, notwithstanding his attempt to detach his Personal Narrative from the learned works which contain the result of his scientific researches, he has by no means succeeded in effecting their separation. The ordinary reader, who has been fascinated by his glowing description of tropical scenery, or his graphic picture of savage manners, is, a few pages on, chilled by disquisitions on the height of the barometer, the disc of the sun, or the electricity of the atmosphere ; while the scientific student, who turns to his works for information on his favourite objects of study, deems them strangely interspersed with rhapsodies on glowing sunsets, silent forests, and sounding cataracts. It is scarcely possible to find a reader to whom all these objects are equally interesting ; and therefore it is scarcely to be expected that his travels, unrivalled as their genius and learning are, will ever be the object of general popularity.
In truth, here, as in all the other branches of human thought, it will be found that the rules of composition are the same, and that a certain unity of design is essential to general success or durable fame. If an author has many different and opposite subjects of interest in his head, which is not unfrequently the case with persons of the higher order of intellect, and he can descant on all with equal facility, or investigate all with equal eagerness, he will do well to recollect that the minds of his readers are not likely to be equally discursive, and that he is apt to destroy the influence or mar the effect of each, if he blends them together ; separation of works is the one thing needful there. A mathematical proposition, a passage of poetry, a page of history, are all admirable things in their way, and each may be part of a work destined to durable celebrity ; but what should we say to a composition which should present us, page about, with a theorem of Euclid, a scene from Shakspeare, and a section from Gibbon? Unity of effect, identity of train of thought, similarity of ideas, are as necessary in a book of travels as in an epic poem, a tragedy, or a painting. There is no such thing as one set of rules for the fine arts, and another for works of thought or reflection. The Iliad is constructed on the same principles as the Principia of Newton, or the history of Thucydides.
What makes ordinary books of travels so uninteresting, and, in general, so shortlived, is the want of any idea of composition, or unity of effect, in the minds of their authors. Men and women seem to think that there is nothing more necessary to do to make a book of travels, than to give a transcript of their journals, in which everything is put down, of whatever importance, provided only it really occurred. Scenes and adventures, broken wheels and rugged rocks, cataracts and omelets, lakes and damp beds, thunderstorms and waiters,