The study of these powers is one of the fascinations of our time. Let me ask you to enjoy with me several of the greatest manifestations of force on this world of ours.
THE MONTE ROSA
Many of us in America know little of one of the great subjects of thought and endeavor in Europe. We are occasionally surprised by hearing that such a man fell into a crevasse, or that four men were killed on the Matterhorn, or five on the Lyskamm, and others elsewhere, and we wonder why they went there. The Alps are a great object of interest to all Europe. I have now before me a catalogue of 1,478 works on the Alps for sale by one bookseller. It seems incredible. In this list are over a dozen volumes describing different ascents of a single mountain, and that not the most difficult. There are publications of learned societies on geology, entomology, paleontology, botany, and one volume of Philosophical and Religious Walks about Mont Blanc. The geology of the Alps is a most perplexing problem. The summit of the Jungfrau, for example, consists of gneiss granite, but two masses of Jura limestone have been thrust into it, and their ends folded over.
It is the habit, of the Germans especially, to send students into the Alps with a case for flowers, a net for butterflies, and a box for bugs. Every rod is a schoolhouse. They speak of the “snow mountains” with ardent affection. Every Englishman, having no mountains at home, speaks and feels as if he owned the Alps. He, however, cares less for their flowers, bugs, and butterflies than for their qualities as a gymnasium and a measure of his physical ability. The name of every mountain or pass he has climbed is duly burnt into his Alpenstock, and the said stock, well burnt over, is his pride in travel and a grand testimonial of his ability at home.
There are numerous Alpine clubs in England, France, and Italy. In the grand exhibition of the nation at Milan the Alpine clubs have one of the most interesting exhibits. This general interest in the Alps is a testimony to man’s admiration of the grandest work of God within reach, and to his continued devotion to physical hardihood in the midst of the enervating influences of civilization. There is one place in the world devoted by divine decree to pure air. You are obliged to use it. Toiling up these steeps the breathing quickens fourfold, till every particle of the blood has been bathed again and again in the perfect air. Tyndall records that he once staggered out of the murks and disease of London, fearing that his lifework was done. He crawled out of the hotel on the Bell Alp and, feeling new life, breasted the mountain, hour after hour, till every acrid humor had oozed away, and every part of his body had become so renewed that he was well from that time. In such a sanitarium, school of every department of knowledge, training-place for hardihood, and monument of Nature’s grandest work, man does well to be interested.