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boy died, when the living and the dead had one common home.
Shortly after this the fowls in the stable died, which deprived the prisoners of their only time-keepers, for as yet the crowing of the birds at the usual morning hour afforded the family some notion of time.
When nearly a month had passed, the condition of the three survivors became such that few imaginations can depict its terrible nature. The exhalations from the dead body of the child and the animals were of themselves sufficient to render the state of the living most terrible ; and the horrors of such a charnel-vault nearly brought the sufferers to the verge of madness. Then the intense cold of the trickling snow-water benumbed every limb, though it probably prevented some of the worst effects of the terrible effluvia from being felt. They also began to suffer from some vermin which had been generated in the dead bodies, and from this dreadful pestilence there was no shelter. Yet amidst these horrors, some bright circumstances mingled, preventing loss of life or of reason. The goat, which had supplied them so long with her milk, died; but to their surprise and delight, the other brought forth a kid. This gave a farther supply of milk, to secure which they were forced, with great trouble from their weakness, and with much sorrow, to kill the kid. At last they were gladdened by the dull sounds which seemed to come from one side of their prison-house. This almost overpowered their excited brains, and in their wild joy all burst into weeping
Whilst the direction of the noises occasioned much astonishment, they expected rescue to come from above the mass, and that their friends would dig downwards. This the reader is aware had been done in the first instance, and it was only when the house was found empty that the excavation was commenced in a lateral direction. The suffering women were, however, soon assured from the peculiarity of the sounds that the long-delayed aid was approaching, and raised at intervals their faint voices for the guidance of the excavators. Such feeble sounds were of no avail for this purpose, and it was not till the rod had made an opening that the hollow voices of the sufferers reached the ears of their friends.
The deliverance has been already narrated ; and most persons must acknowledge that few escapes from peril are more remarkable than that now recorded, and few attended by sufferings of so terrible a character.
This account does not contain instances of active courage, nor a long-sustained series of heroic efforts—for such the nature of the peril did not call. But we see what simple endurance will oftentimes accomplish ; for surely it was surprising that these women retained reason amidst such various horrors, and that their relatives did not find them maniacs or idiots. Such a happy termination must have resulted from the patience with which these peasant women bore their sudden calamity, the hopes of deliverance, which never wholly left them, and that religious spirit which so often brings great results from feeble agencies.
The preceding narrative refers to a Swiss avalanche. Perhaps some readers may not deem it needless to be told that the avalanches in that region are neither the largest nor the most destructive of snow-slips. In the mountains of Asia the most tremendous falls occur, which being accompanied by furious hurricanes, and extending for miles over the lowlands, create by their descent an epoch in the annals of the natives, Rivers are stopped, vast lakes formed, and the most destructive inundations add to the wildness of the havoc, in which vast forests, the growth of ages, and masses of split rocks, are hurled in one death-sweeping ruin on the homes of men. The least disturbance in the atmosphere will sometimes produce an avalanche; nor is this surprising when it is remembered that the slip of a pepble may remove the peg, as it were, against which the edge of a snowy mass has long been resting. This first slip draws the whole mass, till then balanced, down the steep ; and perhaps the snowy accumulations of half a century follow the fall of the fatal pepble.
THE POWER OF FROST ;
THE MISERABLE RETREAT OF A SWEDISH ARMY ACROSS THE
NORWEGIAN ALPS, IN THE WINTER OF 1719.
HE miseries produced by war exceed, both in
mber and intensity, those which plague and famine combined have occasioned. Victory or
defeat—advance or retreat-cities exulting in the conqueror's triumphal entrance, or towns blackened with flame and torn by shot—all alike speak of human woe inflicted by man on his fellow-man, through ages of strife. No amount of civilization can disconnect war from suffering ; as it matters little to the soldier, whose body has been torn by the explosion of a shell, whether the hand that fired the mortar was that of an educated gentleman or of a brutal savage.
Retreats have been especially marked by disasters, whether directed by a Xenophon across the deserts and mountains of Asia, or by a Napoleon over the trackless and snow-covered Russian wastes. To witness the death of one man by famine, or to see him perish beneath the snow-drift, and yield up his life to the frost, is sufficient to impress, for long years, images of desolation and ruin on the mind; but to mark haggard and fierce men crawl by fifties to die in the ditches along the line of march—to sleep around the bivouac fire, and rise in the morning surrounded by the pale, frosted faces of the dead who have died in the past night—these scenes the retreating soldier has often witnessed,
The remote Norwegian mountains are connected with one of those military catastrophes in which frost ruled over marshalled thousands, and prostrated whole ranks of battle-tried heroes. When Charles XII. of Sweden escaped from Turkey, whither he had fled after the battle of Pultowa, he found himself again involved in war with Denmark, Russia, and Prussia. He instantly prepared, with his accustomed daring, to attack the foe, and fell upon Norway, which then belonged to Denmark, with two armies—one commanded by himself, and the other, consisting of nine thousand men, headed by one of his generals. The latter division penetrated into the northern parts of Norway, towards Drontheim, whilst the king moved upon the southern provinces. These military operations were terminated at the beginning of winter, in consequence of the death of Charles by a gun-shot, before the ramparts of the strong fortress of Frederickstein, near the fortress of Frederic-shall. This event led to the retreat of the Swedish armies. The southern division returned without loss into Sweden ; but the other column encountered danger and death in some of their most fearful forms. It was compelled to retreat across the wild mountain-range separating Sweden from Norway, which is, in some parts, more than eight thousand feet above the sea level, and intersected by deep ravines, through which, in the winter, all passage is impossible. The march of the Swedish force lay through the Dofrine Chain ; where, for leagues, nought could be seen save a wild desert, and chains of snow-covered, rocky peaks. Into this region the warlike mass bravely plunged, with something of the same desperate courage which their late monarch had so often exhibited at the critical periods of his history.
The march began in the early part of January, 1719, the general hoping that energy, courage, and perseverance would scale the icy mountains and pierce the snowy walls around. The first depressing feeling arose from the fact that not more than three or four miles of the road were passed over in a day -a rate of progress which held out the prospect of a fearful struggle with the winter. A rapid advance would have kept up the spirits of the troops, who were now gazing, day after day, upon the icy walls, frozen snow-wreaths, and interminable glaciers. But the Swedes remembered the days of
glory, when their king startled Europe by his dazzling victories. The men who had stormed the Russian camp at Narva eighteen years before, and annihilated an army four times their number, were not daunted at the prospect of a contest with the powers of frost and tempest. On, therefore, they marched, over the snow-blockaded mountains, firm of purpose, and confident of success.
The storms, dashing whole showers of sleet in the men's faces, and blinding them with icy tempests, began to disorganize the columns. Each man resembled a moving frozen pillar, the fast-falling snow clinging to every part of his dress, whilst the cutting blasts penetrated through the thickest covering, and froze the blood in the veins. To rise in the morning, and see forests, hills, and lakes, in their dazzling, frosty covering, is to the naturalist a delight ; for his wellwarmed mansion offers a safe retreat when he has ended his experiments on the powers of frost. Far different is the feeling of him who, after hearing all night that sharp and moaning cry uttered by the wind as it passes through frozen valleys, or down the sides of winter-blasted hills, wakes but to gaze upon snow : nothing for leagues and leagues but that white, death-looking covering, over which the whirlwind drives and chases the tossing heaps of ice-dust. Cold was not the only enemy to be encountered by the Swedes : an east wind swept, with the force of a hurricane, across the glaciers, inflicting the acutest suffering on the troops, who were compelled to march against this frosty tempest. The front ranks of each column were repeatedly forced to halt, and close their eyes, which were threatened with blindness by the ceaseless shower of show, which, driven by the gale, flew in horizontal lines through the air, like clouds of small arrows, against the face. Frequently whole companies might be seen standing, all huddled together, with their backs to the storm, none being able to see more than a few yards through the murky atmosphere, which thus separated company from company and regiment from regiment. In this manner the freezing thousands crawled through one defile after another, and dragged their long columns over the icy heights, not daring wholly to pause, yet fearing to advance.
It was necessary to shield those parts of their bodies most exposed to the wind, as the flesh otherwise became dead ; and