POPULAR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1880, by J. B. Lippincott & Co., in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
Transcriber's notes: Minor typos have been corrected. Table of contents has been generated for HTML version.
A CHAPTER OF AMERICAN EXPLORATION.
ADAM AND EVE.
SEVEN WEEKS A MISSIONARY.
FINDELKIND OF MARTINSWAND: A CHILD'S STORY.
HORSE-RACING IN FRANCE.
GLIMPSES OF PORTUGAL AND THE PORTUGUESE.
A GRAVEYARD IDYL.
STUDIES IN THE SLUMS.
UNDER THE GRASSES.
A GREAT SINGER.
OUR MONTHLY GOSSIP.
LITERATURE OF THE DAY.
A CHAPTER OF AMERICAN EXPLORATION.
Those adventurous gentlemen who derive exhilaration from peril, and extract febrifuge for the high pressure of a too exuberant constitution from the difficulties of the Alps, cannot find such peaks as the Aiguille Verte and the Matterhorn, with their friable and precipitous cliffs, among the Rocky Mountains. The geological processes have been gentler in evolving the latter than the former, and in the proper season summits not less elevated nor less splendid or comprehensive than that of the Matterhorn, upon which so many lives have been defiantly wasted, may be attained without any great degree of danger or fatigue. All but the apex may often be reached in the saddle. The bergschrund with its fragile lip of ice, the crevasse with its treacherous bridges, and the avalanche which an ill-timed footstep starts with overwhelming havoc, do not threaten the explorer of the Western mountains; and ordinarily he passes from height to height—from the base with its wreaths of evergreens to the zone where vegetation is limited to the gnarled dwarf-pine, from the foot-hills to the basin of the crisp alpine lake far above the life-limits—without once having to scale a cliff, supposing, of course, that he has chosen the best path. The trail may be narrow at times, with nothing between it and a gulf, and it may be pitched at an angle that compels the use of "all-fours;" but with patience and discretion the ultimate peak is conquered without rope-ladder or ice-axe, and the vastness of the world below, gray and cold at some hours, and at others lighted with a splendor which words cannot transcribe, is revealed to the adventurer as satisfaction for his toil.
But, though what may be called the pure mountain-peaks do not entail the same perils and difficulties as the members of the Alpine Club discover in Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany, the volcanic cones and cañon-walls of the West have an unstable verticality which, when it is not absolutely insurmountable, is more difficult than the top of the Matterhorn itself; and though the various expeditions under Wheeler, Powell, King and Hayden have not had Aiguilles Vertes to oppose them, they have been confronted by obstacles which could only be overcome by as much courage as certain of the clubmen have required in their most celebrated exploits. Indeed, nothing in the journals of the Alpine Club compares in the interest of the narrative or the peril of the undertaking with Major Powell's exploration of the cañons of the Colorado, which, though its history has become familiar to many readers through the official report, gathers significance in contrast with all other Western expeditions, and stands out as an achievement of extraordinary daring.
The Colorado is formed by the junction of the Grand and Green Rivers. The Grand has its source in the Rocky Mountains five or six miles west of Long's Peak, and the Green heads in the Wind River Mountains near Fremont's Peak. Uniting in the Colorado, they end as turbid floods in the Gulf of California, a goal which they reach through gorges set deep in the bosom of the earth and bordered by a region where the mutations of Nature are in visible process. In all the world there is no other river like this. The phenomenal in form predominates: the water has grooved a channel for itself over a mile below the surrounding country, which is a desert uninhabited and uninhabitable, terraced with long series of cliffs or mesa-fronts, verdureless, voiceless and unbeautiful. It is a land of soft, crumbling soil and parched rock, dyed with strange colors and broken into fantastic shapes. Nature is titanic and mad: the sane and alleviating beauty of fertility is displaced by an arid and inanimate desolateness, which glows with alien splendor in evanescent conditions of the atmosphere, but which in those moments when the sun casts a fatuous light upon it is more oppressive in its influence upon the observer than when the blaze of high noon exposes all