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inaccessible. The expense of roads, even if it were possible to make them in such situations, would prevent the inhabitants from deriving any advantages from these almost inexhaustible supplies. Placed by nature at a considerable elevation above the spot on which they are required, they are precisely in fit circumstances for the application of machinery; and the inhabitants constantly avail themselves of it, to enable the force of gravity to relieve them of some portion of their labour. The inclined planes which they have established in various forests, by which the timber has been sent down to the watercourses, must have excited the admiration of every traveller; and these slides, in addition to the merit of simplicity, have that of economy, as their construction requires scarcely anything beyond the material which grows upon the spot. Of all these specimens of carpentry, the Slide of Alpnach was by far the most considerable, both from its great length, and from the almost inaccessible position from which it descended."]
For many centuries, the rugged flanks and the deep gorges of Mount Pilatus were covered with impenetrable forests. Lofty precipices encircled them on all sides. Even the daring hunters were scarcely able to reach them; and the inhabitants of the valley had never conceived the idea of disturbing them with the axe. These immense forests were therefore permitted to grow and to perish, without being of the least utility to man, till a foreigner, conducted into their wild recesses in the pursuit of the chamois, was struck with wonder at the sight, and directed the attention of several Swiss gentlemen to the extent and superiority of the timber. The most intelligent and skilful individuals, however, considered it quite impracticable to avail themselves of such inaccessible stores. It was not till November, 1816, that M. Rupp, and three Swiss gentlemen, entertaining more sanguine hopes, drew up a plan of a slide, founded on trigonometrical measurements. Having purchased a certain extent of the forests from the commune of Alpnach for 6000 crowns, they began the construction of the slide, and completed it in the spring of 1818.
The Slide of Alpnach is formed entirely of about 25,000 large pine trees, deprived of their bark, and united together in a very ingenious manner, without the aid of iron. It occupied about 160 workmen during eighteen months, and cost nearly 100,000 francs, or £4,250. It is about three leagues, or 44,000 English feet long, and terminates in the lake of Lucerne. It has the form of a trough, about six feet broad, and from three to six feet deep. Its bottom is formed of three trees, the middle one of which has a groove cut out in the direction of its length, for receiving small rills of water, which are conducted into it from various places, for the purpose of diminishing the friction. The whole of the slide is sustained by about 2,000 supports; and in many places it is attached, in a very ingenious manner, to the rugged precipices of granite.
The direction of the slide is sometimes straight, and sometimes zig-zag, with an inclination of from 10° to 18°. It is often carried along the sides of hills and the flanks of precipitous rocks, and sometimes passes over their summits. Occasionally it goes underground, and at other times it is conducted over the deep gorges by scaffoldings 120 feet in beight.
The boldness which characterizes this work, the sagacity displayed in all its arrangements, and the skill of the engineer, have excited the wonder of every person who has seen it. Before any step could be taken in its erection, it was necessary to cut several thousand trees to obtain a passage through the impenetrable thickets; and, as the workmen advanced, men were posted at certain distances to point out the road for their return, and to discover, in the gorges, the places where the piles of wood had been established. M. Rupp was himself obliged, more than once, to be suspended by cords, in order to descend precipices many hundred feet high; and, in the first months of the undertaking, he was attacked with a violent fever, which deprived him of the power of superintending his workmen. Nothing, however, could diminish his invincible perseverance. He was carried every day to the mountain in a barrow, to direct the labours of the workmen, which was absolutely necessary, as he had scarcely two good carpenters among them all; the rest having been hired by accident, without any of the knowledge which such an undertaking required. M. Rupp had also to contend against the prejudices of the peasantry. He was supposed to have communion with the devil. He was charged with heresy, and every obstacle was thrown in the way of an enterprise, which they regarded as absurd and impracticable. All these difficulties, however, were surmounted, and he had at last the satisfaction of observing the trees descend from the mountain with the rapidity of
lightning. The larger pines, which were about a hundred feet long, and ten inches thick at their smaller extremity, ran through the space of three leagues, or nearly nine miles, in two minutes and a half, and during their descent, they appeared to be only a few feet in length. The arrangements for this part of the operation were extremely simple. From the lower end of the slide to the upper end, where the trees were introduced, workmen were posted at regular distances, and, as soon as every thing was ready, the workman at the lower end of the slide cried out to the one above him, “ Lachez” (Let go). The cry was repeated from one to another, and reached the top of the slide in three minutes. The workman at the top of the slide then cried out to the one below him, “Il rient' (It comes), and the tree was immediately launched down the slide, preceded by the cry, which was repeated from post to post. As soon as the tree had reached the bottom, and plunged into the lake, the cry of Lachez was repeated as before, and a new tree was launched in a similar manner. By these means a tree descended every five or six minutes, provided no accident happened to the slide, which sometimes took place, but which was instantly repaired when it did.
In order to show the enormous force which the trees acquired from the great velocity of their descent, M. Rupp made arrangements for causing some of the trees to spring from the slide. They penetrated, by their thickest extremities, no less than from eighteen to twenty-four feet into the earth; and one of the trees having by accident struck against the other, it instantly cleft it through its whole length, as if it had been struck by lightning.
After the trees had descended the slide, they were collected into rafts upon
the lake, and conducted to Lucerne. From thence they descended the Reuss, then the Aar to near Brugg, afterwards to Waldshut by the Rhine, then to Basle, and even to the sea, when it was necessary.
In order that none of the small wood might be lost, M. Rupp established in the forest large manufactories of charcoal. He erected magazines for preserving it when manufactured, and had made arrangements for the construction of barrels for the
of carrying it to the market. In winter, when the slide was covered with snow, the barrels were made to descend on a kind of sledge. The wood which was not fit for being carbonized was heaped up and burnt, and the ashes packed up and carried away during the winter.
A few days before the author of the preceding account visited the slide, an inspector of the navy had come for the purpose of examining the quality of the timber. He declared that he had never seen any timber that was so strong, so fine, and of such a size; and he concluded an advantageous bargain for one thousand trees.”
[Such is a brief account of a work undertaken and executed by a single individual, and which has excited a very high degree of interest in every part of Europe. We regret to add, that this magnificent structure no longer exists, and that scarcely a trace of it is to be seen upon the flanks of Mount Pilatus. Political circumstances have taken
away the principal source of demand for the timber; and no other market having been found, the operation of cutting and transporting the trees necessarily ceased.]
98.-TO HIS BROTHER.
KEATS. [JOHN KEATS was born in London in 1796. He died at Rome at the early age of twenty-four. Every one knows Byron's allusion to the supposed cause of his death :
“ 'Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
Should let itself be snuffed out by an article.” Keats was a young enthusiast-one who had dedicated himself with his whole heart to his poetical aspirations. He “ was killed off by one critique,” says Byron. Had Keats been of a less sensitive nature—had he mixed more with the world—had he been much behind the scenes where the parrots of criticism are taught to call, ‘fool' and ' knave,'— he would have felt how utterly to be despised was such dirt as 'The Quarterly' then thought it grand and dignified to cast at an apothecary's poor apprentice. He would have known that persecution from such a quarter was his necessary fate, because he had found friends amongst men of political opinions differing from those of the Review; and was not one of the coterie who arrogated to themselves as they still arrogate) a supremacy of literary judgment. It would be hard to say that the same journal had redeemed the disgrace of its cruelty to Keats, by any generous encouragement of merit beyond its own pale, during its subsequent career of a quarter of a century, Fortunately such influences upon public opinion are rapidly waning, and the world asks for some better guide than flippant dogmatism and anonymous insolence.
Keats published, in 1818, ` Endymion, a Poetic Romance;' in 1820, Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St. Agnes, and other Poems.' These may now be obtained in a cheap form. The unhappy poet, whose agonies under the contempt with which he had been treated, are stated by his friend Shelley “to have resembled insanity,” could not have anticipated that he should so soon have taken his rank amongst the most enduring names of our literature.]
many a dreary hour have I past,
But there are times, when those that love the bay,