But why should I dwell on their labours
Why sing of their eyelids’ astonishing strength?
How they ride up “aretes” with slow, steady advance,
One leg over Italy, one over France.
Now the summit is gained, the reward of
So they sit down contentedly water to boil:
Eat and drink, stamp their feet, and keep warm if they can—
O who is so blest as the Alpine Club man?
Now their lips and their hands are of
And skinless their noses, that ’erst were so blue:
And they find to their cost that high regions agree
With that patient explorer and climber—the flea.
Then they slide down again in a manner
(Descensus baud facilis est Montis Rosae)
Now spread on all fours, on their backs now descending,
Till broad-cloth and bellows call loudly for mending.
Now harnessed together like so many—horses,
By bridges of snow they cross awful crevasses;
So frail are these bridges that they who go o’er ’em
Indulge in a perilous “Pons Asinorum.”
Lastly weary and Jaded, with hunger opprest,
In a hut they chew goat’s flesh, and court gentle rest;
But entomological hosts have conspired
To drive sleep from their eyelids, with clambering tired.
O thou, who with banner of strangest device
Hast never yet stood on a summit of ice,
Where “lifeless but beautiful” nature doth show
An unvaried expanse of rock, rain, ice, and snow.
Perchance thou may’st ask what avails
all their toil?
What avails it on mountain-tops water to boil?
What avails it to leave their snug beds in the dark?
Do they go for a view? do they go for a lark?
Know, presumptuous wretch, ’tis
not science they prize,
The lark, and the view (’tis all mist) they despise;
Like the wise king of France with his ten thousand men,
They go up their mountain—to come down again.
 Cf. Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers, 1st Series, p. 296.
Year after year, as Summer suns come round,
Upon the Calais packet am I found:
Thence to Geneva hurried by express,
I halt for breakfast, bathe, and change my dress.
My well-worn knapsack to my back I strap;
My Alpine rope I neatly round me wrap;
Then, axe in hand, the diligence disdaining,
I walk to Chamonix, by way of training.
Arrived at Coutlet’s Inn by eventide,
I interview my porter and my guide:
My guide, that Mentor who has dragg’d full oft
These aching, shaking, quaking limbs aloft;
Braved falling stones, cut steps on ice-slopes steep,
That I the glory of his deeds might reap.
My porter, who with uncomplaining back
O’er passes, peaks, and glaciers bears my pack: