Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland.


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

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There cannot be any better place for recruiting strength than the lovely primitive valley of Les Plans, two hours up the course of the Avencon 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 glacieres.  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 glaciere 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 Dauphine, department of the Drome, at an altitude of more than 5,000 feet above the sea.  M. Hericart 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 Chambery and Grenoble and Valence, and so visit this glaciere without making the journey too long; and accordingly I bade farewell to Madame Cherix’s comfortable room, leaving my sisters in their quarters in a neighbouring chalet, 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 Rhone—­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 Praetorium in which Pontius Pilate is said to have given judgment can still be pointed out.  The true Mount Pilate

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Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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