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In a country of which they knew hurries its onward way toward either nothing, with a scanty supply of food, and no means by wbich they might ob- A little more to the left we see Castle tain more, besides the prospect of a long Peak-which we have before noticed and tedious winter, their situation was --crowned by turreted rocks, which, far from encouraging, and the tempting viewed from the distance, resemble a fortune, in full view before them, turned ruined castle, with its towers, battleto a dreary, blauk uncertainty.
ments, and ivy-grown windows. There was no possibility of escape. Upon this mountain, in the autumn The soft snow lay many feet deep, and of 1861, a hardy mountaineer and trapwas many miles in extent between them per-Harry Hartley by name-built and their sunny land of promise. Day himself a cabin wherein to winter and by day they saw their stock diminish, follow his adventurous occupation. until at last there was nothing left; even Previous to Hartley's advent few, if the faithful beast, who had brought any, white men had set foot upon this them thus far on their journey, had desolate spot; indeed, there was little gone to sustain the lives of those who to attract them to such a cheerless remained. When hunger commenced place; but Hartley was of a solitary its fearful cravings, and the hope of disposition : years of self-sacrifice had relief had entirely faded out, the young
inured him to almost any deprivation. 2st child, by mutual consent of the From a counting-house in the Empire parents, was rudely torn from its moth- City he had hurried away in search of er's breast, and given up, a bloody, that greatest boon of human life--good horrible sacrifice to the fiendish hunger health; and the object of his search of the survivors. Want drove them to had become swallowed up, but not lost, madness, and madness to desperation. in his ambition as a path-breaker for Of the whole family-four in number, if civilization. There is a peculiar fasciI recollect rightly-only one came forth nation in pioneer-life. It enslaves some alive from that fatal encampment. One. men; not that they love it so well, but after another they fell victims to the because of the perfect freedom which it dread enemy, each time the stronger grants to them—a freedom which can overpowering the weaker, until the last be found in no other occupation. remaining one trod over the bones of To be a pioneer in the Sierra Nevada his own murdered family.
is no menial service, nor is it without For only a few weeks in midsummer attendance of professional dignity, for it is the lake free from ice. Then it is the calls into play all the nobler instincts sportsman's paradise; and Donner Lake of true manliness. With energy, and trout are counted among the delicacies patience, and confidence, the pioneer which the mountaineer's table affords, must be a man of nerve and decision, while the pretty California quail, pine. else his long and tedious labor will martens, and occasionally a shuflling
Almost all pioneers grizzly, resort to its banks to quench possess strongly-developed reasoning their thirst or bathe in its cool waters. powers; their mode of life renders logiIt will take first rank among the cal conclusions almost imperative, and grandest and most attractive spots in the care with which this faculty is exerthe world; stark, rugged mountains cised is particularly noticeable when enclose it and are reflected in its extra- they are journeying in rough, unknown ordinarily glassy surface, while the giant places. In small things as well as pines on its shores fringe it through the great they carefully study cause and long winter with unfading green. effect, where others would dash forward
To-day its natural beauties remain without a thought. undisturbed ; to-morrow its ages of soli- Hartley possessed these endowments tude will be broken by the echoing in a remarkable degree; and they ultihowl of the locomotive whistle, as it mately proved his success. Fifteen
lonely and unfrequented miles lay in jects are undiscernible. We are sur one billowy and desolate stretch be- rounded by snow, but in the valley tween his cabin and the nearest habita- upon which we look the golden grain tion of white men-impassable miles, and rich green grass flourish beneath withal; but in that lonely cabin he the sun of early summer. With scarcely lived for four long months without see- more than a leap we are transported ing the face of a human being or hold- from icy mid-winter to strawberries and ing converse with any one. This is but one of the many deprivations of fron- The Sacramento and San Joaquin tier-life. It requires a stout heart to valleys lie in a great bowl, as it were; take that one step which carries a man for if we urge our sight off in the disbeyond the assistance and association tance, we find a distinct blue line, of his fellow-beings, and that, too, when crowned with white, against the horizon, the reward is comparatively small. and losing itself on either band. This Yet, this patient labor is, to the world is the coast-range, situated more than at large, of inestimable value, for it one hundred miles from the spot on hews the way for more important pro- which we stand, the snow still crownjects which will surely follow.
ing their tops, though they be but playHartley, during his stay on Castle things in comparison with the Sierra. Mountain, discovered, in one of the Here our range of vision extends over a valleys, several valuable gold-bearing section of country exceeding in area the quartz veins. Knowing their value, he whole State of Connecticut. Of course, claimed them, and five years later-in we cannot distinguish the fields and 1866– within sight of his isolated cabin, houses, but we can see the steamboatthere sprung up the town of Meadow smoke on the Sacramento River-some Lake; and his solitary four months in seventy miles away-and dark patches the Sierra paid him with a life-long over the surface of the plain, which competence.
mark either the wooded or the tilled Side by side with Castle Peak stands lands. its compeer, Fremont's Peak, urging its It is indeed a wonderful sight. The proud, treeless top far among the eye at a glance sweeps over one of the cloudis. Through all the balmy Sierra largest and most fertile valleys of our summer they bear aloft the relic of de- whole land, and a journey from our parter winter, and while the grass is stand-point to the extreme limit of our rich and green in the deep-sheltered observation would cost us at least thirtyvalleys which surround them, the snow six hours of travel. flurries and wreaths about their tops, As we stand, facing toward the west, bidding defiance to the sunlight and a stone tossed from the band will fall a awaiting another season of storms. distance of fifteen hundred feet, striking
Looking to the north, the rugged upon the ice-covered, snow-bound bomountains, with their pine-forests, again som of French Lake, which, in the confront us—unnamed, unknown, vast course of a month or so from this time, recesses, which have never been explored will be transformed to a placid, dark, by civilized eyes-broad arenas, where picturesque sheet of water some twenty civilized man has never set foot; all acres in extent. The mountains seem waiting for the time when their cen- to have split apart and formed the crevturies of silence shall be disturbed by ice in which it rests, for its other side is the activity of a fast-advancing and backed up by a correspondingly precipbusy population.
itous mountain-face. At last we turn our eyes to the west; We have now taken a fair view of the and here our sight sweeps the mighty country, as seen from Prospect Peak-a plain of the Sacramento, with its con- place which, I doubt not, will, in years tinuation to the south, the San Joaquin to come, become famous as one of the -So far off and far below us that ob- sublimest points of observation which
the world affc rds. From Meadow tain-sides is fearful. In such places I Lake, which lies a little to the east- have seen the measured inile accomward, the ascent is comparatively easy, plished in fifty seconds, and have myand after reaching its top the traveller self slid, repeatedly, one mile in less forgets his fatigue, and is lost in the than seventy seconds. grand scene before him.
Snow-shoe racing is a favorite pas
time among the mountain-people, both Mounting our snow-shoes, a few mo- sexes participating in the sport, and tuents of very rapid sliding brings us many of the women challenging the within the limits of the town of Mcad- best and most expert runners.* With ow Lake.
their snow-shoes thoroughly “ doped," This town, in point of elevation, the crowd resort to some suitable place ranks thi d or fourth among the perma- for the contest, which begins with a nent habitations of man in the known grand dash, all participating. Woe to world. It rests on a sheltered plain, the inexperienced ones, for they are which caps a high ridge, and is sur- generally left sitting in the snow while rounded by rolling hills on every side; they see their shoes shooting away in its buildings are those rudely-finished the exciting race, riderless, or else, owing structures which one so often meets to their uncertain footing, they are shot, with in these mountains--crazy affairs, arrow-like, head-first into the soft snow, whose thin boards prove scarcely a from which they must extricate themsufficient protection against the severe selves and spend the rest of the day in storms which assail them.
hunting up their untrustworthy conveyIt may not be out of place here to ance. Experts dash on regardless of mention the fact that during the long circumstances, with the swiftness of the winters which prevail in this section, wind, until they come to a halt in the the chief and only method of locomo
deep valley to which they have descendtion, for pedestrians, is by snow-shoes; ed, which may be two or three miles and as neither horses nor mules can be from their starting-point. used, owing to the depth of the snow, The rider stands erect on the shoes, all journeys in the unfrequented dis- allowing them to slide, or rather plunge, tricts must be accomplished with their in the direction intended, at the same aid.
time steadying himself with the stout The unwieldy raw - hide network, snow-pole, which he grasps in his hands. known as the “Canadian shoe,” is sel- The only mode by which he can retard dem used, the Norwegian pattern hav- his swift progress is by falling from the ing proved more acceptable and less shoes, at the risk of a roll in the snow, cumbersome. The latter are very sim- and detaining them as he falls —a feat ple in their construction, consisting of which requires some dexterity. To lose two long, narrow, and flat strips of the shoes is a serious matter, for fatigue, wood slightly curved at the forward exhaustion, and perhaps more serious ends, and confined to the feet by strips mishaps, may overtake him ere he of leather, which are placed at their reaches his journey's end. balancing point, and pass over the in- All through the long winter-season step. The traveller is not to fatigue
the snow upon the Sierra Nevada, at himself by raising them, but simply any elevation above five thousand feet, slides along over the surface of the lies at a depth averaging from ten to snow. The shoes vary in length from
twenty feet, while drifts pile themselves nine to twelve feet, the longer shoes up to enormous and incredible proporbeing preferable for swift running. The tions. Snow-slides are frequent, and wearer must necessarily become skilled in their use before venturing into diffi- * I have known a party of ladies to start out in
the morning, on their snow-shoes, travel eight cult or dangerous places, for the speed
miles to visit and spend the night with their attaineid in descending the steep moun- friends, and return on the following day.
vast areas of snow sometimes move the latter part of November, and fairly down the mountain-sides, wrecking terminating about the first of July. Be every thing in their way, and often it in any season, I know of no climate proving fatal to the unfortunate living so eminently calculated to benefit sufferbeings whom it may overtake. Scarcely ers from bronchial or pulmonary diffia year passes that does not record a culties; and of all climates which I number of deaths from this cause. have had the good fortune to visit, I
I have seen the waters of Phænix know of none more beautiful than the Lake rise six feet, and then rapidly sub- Sierra Nevada spring and summer. In side, when one of these vast bodies of the former season, though the ground snow has plunged into it from the be covered with snow, the sun is warm steep sides of Old-Man Mountain. and invigorating, while the great pine
During the month of March, 1866, wilderness echoes with countless bird. there was a snow-storm in the Sierra of songs. seventeen days' duration. Day after Right through this temple of Nature, day, for a week, I shovelled the snow this region of grandeur and snow, the . from my doorway, in the vain hope that great enterprise pushes itself for a disthe storm would soon cease. When it tance of sixty miles or more; now did cease, my cabin—the extreme height plunging into a ravine, shadowed and of which was twelve feet-was entirely darkened by the rocky heaps which covered with snow, in such a way that rise thousands of feet above it, now I was obliged to cut a hole in the roof, stretching off on the open plain, and and shovel a passage through in order guarded on either side by huge, gaunt to obtain light, air, and an entrance- pines, which stand stiff and listless by way.
The mountains were visited by a still Lounging upon the steps of the severer storm in February, 1867. One rudely-finished but comfortable house of the county-papers, in speaking of it, known as Polley's Station, at Crystal stated : “ The snow in some places lics Lake, we can hear the clear, ringing thirty feet deep, and a two-story house sound of bammer and drill; now and on the Plaza of Meadow Lake is entirely then a thundering blast rolls away, out of sight. The average depth of the echoing up and down the great valsnow is twenty-one feet, and drifts form leys. This is the steady, onward march to a depth of twenty feet in a single of civilization, breaking the pathway night.” This storm continued for thirty through forests, and mountains, and days.
solid granite, for the most magnificent The atmosphere of the mountains is enterprise which has prompted mandry, and seldom intensely cold, but the kind for centuries past—the Pacific winters are very long, commencing in Railroad,
Looked at from one point of view, these Bunsen, the scene was observed with aston. two thick volumes contain the record of a life ishment. In 1846 he writes, “I was invited that was a tragedy. Yet few biographies to Windsor Castle to spend the birthday of narrate the story of a career so uninterrupted- the Prince of Wales for the first time, as it is ly fortunate in externals. Bunsen's life be- not usual with the Queen to have foreign gan under a thatched roof, but it was passed guests on that occasion. * *, I had in the splendid society of scholars and states- brought with me German books for the chilmen, of cardinals and kings. He lived to dren.
The Prince wanted to have within one year of the allotted term of human the pictures explained, and I sat on the floor life, and through that long period he enjoyed in the midst of the group; we all spoke the most splendid health, and unquencbable German," etc. These volumes are full of good spirits, enabling him to work to an ex- similar evidences of the affectionate familiarity tent remarkable even in Germany, that land that existed between Bunsen and persons of of intellectual bees and beavers. He married high station, and not only with such persons, at an early age the woman he loved, and his but with men distinguished in literature, in wedded life was an undisturbed course of science, in art, and in politics. Truly has happiness, surrounded as he was by a family his widow written of him :“Wherever his lot of nine intelligent, affectionate children, and had been cast,—whether in his native father. sustained by the devotion and appreciating land, or in his beautiful Italy, or in that no sympathy of his excellent English wife. He less beloved England, the fatherland of his enjoyed, to a degree rarely experienced by a wife,—there he attracted all with whom he subject, the intimate personal friendship of came into contact by his sympathy and bethree kings of his own country, the present nevolence, by the brilliancy of his wonderful king of Prussia, William I., his brother and mind, no less than by the depth of his genu. predecessor, Frederic William IV., and their ine humility.” And yet, in spite of all this father, Frederic William fl.; and in the outward prosperity, Bunsen's life reads like a family of Queen Victoria his position was tragedy; for, what hope that be lived for more like that of an elder brother, than that was fulfilled ? what dream of his youth was of Minister of Prussia. On one occasion, accomplished ? and what substantial result when lie was absent from Prussia, Frederic remains as the fruit of this life, passed in more William IV. issued these extraordinary words: than Herculean labor3? If we look at the “ I hunger and thirst after Bunsen,” and in vast extent of his personal influence; at the asking him to Berlin, in 1857, to be present good his example did ; at the moral effect of at the Meeting of the Members of the Evan- bis pure and manly life, with its perpetual gelical Alliance, he ended his letter with these sacrifice of inclination to duty and its rever. words: “You surely will not refuse to be the dampened enthusiasm for truth, with his un. guest of an old friend in his own house ?" conquerable belief in the future triumph of and when the king, on entering the hall, saw the right; we must, perhaps, allow that a life Bunsen, he came straight up to him, em- of which these are the striking traits, cannot braced him once, and then again, saying rightly be called a tragedy. It is only when aloud, “I thank you from my heart, dear we ask for the outward material results of Bunsen, that you have fulfilled my request such splendid opportunities; for the proofs and conue so quickly-God reward you !" which future time will demand of this man's No wonder that, as Humboldt afterward told right to influence his age and to be remem.
bered, that our feeling, on closing these vol. * A Memoir of Baron Bunsen, late Minister Plen- umes, is explained. He resided in Rome ipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary of his Majesty during twenty-two years, and during nearly Frederic William IV., at the Court of St. James.
the whole of that time he was in the service Drawn chiefly from family papers, by his widow of Prussia ; yet, politically, his diplomatical Frances Baroness
In two volumes, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. London: labors were of no advantage to eithe: Prussia Longmans & Co. 1868.
or Rome; and if it ought not to be said that