« FöregåendeFortsätt »
shine on its head; but not about the storm and the clouds.
U. O. The region of storms is not very high, and the tops of high mountains are generally above it; and it is the nature of mountains to attract clouds. I have seen the clouds hide the top, and rest much below the top of Gibraltar, which is a mole-hill compared with Ararat. In the higher part of the road over the Caucasus I have seen thick clouds resting on cliffs not more than 700 feet above me; and, indeed, it is often difficult to get a sight of the tops of these high mountains at all, on account of the thick white clouds, which cover them like a hood; but often the glittering top appears when all the middle parts are quite hidden by clouds, which sometimes remain stationary for days, weeks, or months together.
Among the remarkable features of this famous Ararat, I must not forget to tell you that an immense chasm extends nearly half way down its side. Some travellers think that this chasm is the mouth of an extinct volcano. It is certain that lava and volcanic stones, or rather masses of cinders, black, heavy, and honeycombed, as if thrown from an iron-forge, with such other
matters as issue from volcanoes, are found abundantly in the mountains and the plain ; but though the appearances of the mountain have been carefully registered in the convent for 800 years, there is no tradition in the neighbourhood of any eruption, nor is such mentioned by the ancient historians who were acquainted with Ararat. A large mound of earth appears near this vast chasm, and looks as if it had been thrown out from it; and in the chasm itself there is an enormous mass of ice, which seems to have fallen from a cliff that overhangs the rent. The Armenians say that the ice which gradually gathers on the cliff falls down once in twenty years. That which was in the chasm when I saw it, was so situated that the sun only shone upon it for two hours in the day, and that which it then thawed quickly froze again when the hollow was left in the shade. Those who have witnessed the fall of these enormous masses of ice, describe the noise as extremely awful; and this may well be believed, for the common cracking of the ice, and the fall of ordinary avalanches, is attended with a most appalling report. Now, before we conclude with Ararat, consider whether there is anything more you wish to know.
H. (After a general pause, during which the picture was carefully viewed.) How does the mountain look, Sir, when all the snow, except that at the top, has melted away?
U. O. Its appearance is that of stern and simple grandeur, not softened by that rich cul. tivation and abundance of trees and plants in its lower regions, which I have seen on other mountains. This appears an immense heap of stones thrown confusedly together, between the lines of rock and the cliffs. Except the green grass on the gentle slope at the base, the mountain is bare, only affording a few scattered plants. As it is colder the higher one goes up into the air, this mountain, of course, has several climates. In consequence of this change of climate, the limits within which certain vegetables will grow, and in which certain animals will live, are distinctly marked on some mountains. In the lower, that is the warmer, region of the mountain you may find the date-tree, the fig-tree, and the melon; above that, the orange, the olive, the pomegranate, and the vine; above that, the apple, the strawberry, and gooseberry; and, higher still, the birch-tree and the fir. This is not clearly seen in a sterile mountain like Ararat; yet even there the botanist Tournefort found at the base the plants peculiar to Armenia ; above these he met with plants that are found also in France; at a still higher point he found himself among such plants as grow in Sweden ; and nearer the summit he found only such as vegetate near the polar regions. Animals, also, are seen to enjoy in Ararat the climates they are known to prefer. Thus, the wild boar is found in the marshes formed by the river Aras, at the base of the mountain, the lower regions of which are inhabited by lions, tigers, lynxes, and snakes; while the bear roams in the higher and colder climates. No men live on the mountain, except the robbers and outlaws of the surrounding country, who do so for security. The people who live near this mountain regard it with deep reverence, and from infancy they study it with so much attention as to be intimately acquainted with all its appearances. By these, as by a calendar, all their agricultural labours are regulated; and sowing, planting, and reaping are never commenced without consulting the snows on Ararat.
Henry. Sir, from what you said last evening, I suppose I must understand that a valley is always warmer than a mountain ?
Uncle Oliver. Yes. · H. Then, would it not be a nice thing if the people were to go up into the cool mountain to live when it is too hot in the valley, and come down again when it is getting too cold in the mountain and is not too hot in the valley ?
U.0. That is very well thought, Henry. The people who, in Persia and other countries of Asia, lead a wandering life, almost always do so, and by that means are equally exempt from great heat in winter, and great cold in summer. Some tribes who in winter live in cottages in the valleys, ascend into higher regions when the warm weather comes, and live there in tents. This course seems, in some measure, a dictate of nature. We see that many birds remove to warm climates in winter, and return to the cooler climate in summer; but men who are