The railroad through the Black Forest is one of the great victories of civil engineering which characterize this age of great undertakings. We passed in exactly one hour through 38 tunnels, during which time, in our ascent of the mountains, we passed through one valley three times! When we had reached the highest point, we saw the two other tracks at different elevations on the mountain side below us! Here we passed for many hours through pine forests, all the trees of which were raised from seed, (some sown, and others planted). Many square miles of this mountainous section is covered with pines planted as regularly as our orchards; and the scenery of these mountain-sides green with dense forests in which the comical tree-tops stand with mathematical exactness in the square or quincunx order, is among the most beautiful imaginable.
It is almost impossible to describe the scenery of the Alps to one who had never yet ascended mountains above the region of the clouds, without so bewildering his imagination that his fancy will call forth and accept more fictitious notions than true ones. The best description that I had ever heard of the Alps, was the occasion of my most incorrect conceptions about them. I think the speaker did not misstate or exaggerate anything in a single word, but as he could in an hour’s talk tell only one tenth of what one ought to know, in order to form a correct notion of what the Alps look like, my fanciful imagination promptly supplied the coloring of the other nine tenths of the picture which he left untouched; and consequently when I came to see the Alps, I found them entirely different from what I had anticipated.
The ordinary school maps represent the Alps as extending along the borders of Switzerland, as if they consisted of a single range, or possibly of several parallel ranges, and Mount Blanc as its towering peak. With what surprise a scholar who only saw these maps, will look about him, when he reaches the summit of any high peak in Switzerland! On the Rigi, for example, one sees an extent of territory almost 300 miles in circuit, every part of which is studded with ice-capped peaks. These range not in any one particular direction, nor do they number only several dozen, but many hundreds of them stand around the beholder toward every point of the compass and at variable distances, from the Pilatus near by to the most distant part of the horizon—more than 50 miles away. The snow-clad crowns of many of these rise high above the clouds, so that
“Through the parting clouds only
The earth can be seen,
Far down ’neath the vapour
The meadows of green.”