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A description of travel from Geneva to the area of Mt. Blanc.




letter, McIlvaine, wife


[?] Sept. 1 69

Dearest Wife,

It is Sunday, but I do not think I shall do wrong in escaping time after the Morning Service in writing to you. Every thing amongst these glorious sights of God’s works calls to remembrance the brief opportunity you had here and makes me so sorry that then we were so harmed and we know so little what was to see, though had we known [?] it would only have tantalized us, as we had no time to see [?]. All the time here I am thinking, “Oh! If you could see it.” There are things which you would so specially enjoy. Yesterday where [?] and I were nearly [?], our feet up the sides of Mount Blanc where no grass even grows, nothing but [?], as I looked at the beautiful [?] with the sweetest little flowers growing out of it, I thought how you would delight in them. Good Charly [?] kept constantly thanking you and Emery and [?] and all indeed, dear he [?] [?]. I never saw near as much of those [?] before. On Monday night last we took a night train to Geneva. Out of how little a matter great things come-- Mr. and Mrs. [Missinger] of Brooklyn and two daughters met us and as we were looking into the carriage [?] [?] [?] that would hold us all. We found one that had two persons in and were leaving it, to find [?] that had none, when we of [?] said “you had better come in here, you will find none unoccupied.” So we all got in. He proved to be an Englishman named Messer, a member of the Alpine Club, who for 15 years has come every year to Mt. Blanc and has twice made the great ascent. He became very attentive and offered every [?]. We got to Geneva on Tuesday morning last, stayed that night, took a carriage on Wednesday, (the Missengers and Sam and I), for [?]. It was a cloudy day, and no sight of the mountain all the way. Got to [?] Wed. Ev. Next morning at 8 began to ascend. We took 5 mules and two guides, four for the 4 women folk, and one between Dr. M. and me. We first ascended the [?], a new [?] [?]. Emmery was here. It is much higher than the [?], and is the way to the higher emminence called the Brevent. An hour more would have let in to the letter, but we had started to go from the top of the [?] [?] to the [?] and thence descended. But we had not calculated the distance accurately and concluded to start the part. It was a most arduous day. We did 22 miles, much more than we calculated, together. Dr. Missenger would not use the mule and was completely tuckered up. [?] walked at least ¾ of the while and was not fatigued. She and the ladies did a great deal of walking and more stuff the next day. I walked quite ⅔ of the way and was fresh for Wednesday. Dr. M. was too much [?]. So not next day. So [?] and I went down. Dr. Missinger came the day after we got here and arranged a charming [?] for Friday. We had some [?] 3 guides of Dr. Blanchard’s [?] two of whom had been with Lyndall and are recommended in his book. Dr. Missinger and a Cambridge [?] named Hardy, a jolly fellow, one of the most famous of the Club, and who has written some excellent books on the Alps, and a Dr. Barry and the Alpine [?] weather up to the clouds on the Mount Arne. The rest of us rode. There we left the mules and on descending to the glacier. We ascended it about a mile, perhaps more, beyond the [?] [?] place, where its gentle [?] character caused [?] to great fissures as seen. There we lunched near one of the high places, thence we asked to the [?] grand indeed (what places we went up and down). Content, one of Tyndall’s guides, went upon and cast places for our feet, in the ice, and explored the path, for it was an unexplored way. Then we descended by the Manvari Pass to the foot of the Glacier and rode to the Hold. It is marvellous to see how the Glaicer has receded, and contracted at its foot. Where in 1858, when I was last here, on the glacier, is now a mountain cast, of rock, and sand. We were out all day. I had walked all the time except the past 2 ½ hours and [?] [?], and we [?] [?] good time at the end. [?] was always close with her guide. L’avenque toujours le avance, I cried not on the glacier as she kept no far check of the rest to the admiration of all. Mr. Missinger said she could do anything, and was surprised at my strength as I indeed [?], for I did [?] those two days what I never did before and when I left here should not have thought I [?] to attempt, as to strength. Well the next day was yesterday, Saturday. Mr. Missinger proposed, after the work of Friday, a great exploration just for [Nan] and me and himself. He did not want any English ladies. They (he thought) were not equal to it. It was tempting to be sure. It was to see what I had never seen before and to go on a path which is seldom let. Nan was so full of it, I hesitated lest it should be too much. But I did not want to deprive Nan of such a great delight, as I know she could do it and Mr. M. said I could stop and come back whenever I pleased. So I consented. We started at 7 yesterday morning, struck the beginning of the Mt. Blanc ascent, then to the [?] (a mule for each) and two guides Coutet and Francois. By [?] we ascended the mountain directly behind our [?] (the Royal) and which marks the base of the [Arguilles] connected on the left with the dome of Mt. Blanc. After getting up about 7,000 feet, we left the mules to be sent back. Then we ascended till we were just at the base of the sum. Of the Arguilles, the crooked, large glacier which gives that de Boupin, but is not seen from below. We passed snow in two places that extended far below us. The guides send this to Charly, as he will understand it. I will write to dear Vic.

Letter to Emily McIlvaine



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