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numerable, poplars, and walnuttrees; and forestry is studied in a really scientific way. The aspect of the countryside, viewed from any of the hills, is exactly like that depicted in old tapestries—the fields varying in rich colour, according to the progress of the crop, and the poplar-trees standing out in their dignified and artificial manner, while the deep green of the pine forests extends up to the snows. The little farms seem to be much better cared for than those on the Italian slopes, probably because the peasants own the land; the woods, too, are more carefully thinned. In winter the inhabitants of the hamlets on the steep hillsides are confined for the most part to their châlets, where the cows occupy the basement, the living-rooms being on the first floor and approached by little external staircases. The lofts under the roof are used for the storage of food for the cattle and wood for fuel. The Snow may be three or four feet deep, and it is no easy matter to move about. Many of the men are expert carpenters, and turn out excellent work during the winter months, while the girls make lace, some of it very good. Each hamlet has its own tiny chapel, which is generally kept beautifully clean by the women. A visit from the priest is not very frequent, as he can only occasionally reach the more distant villages; and the more devoutly disposed of the vil
lagers are accustomed to say their own prayers in the church on Sundays when (as is very often the case) mass cannot be celebrated. Indeed, the people say (whether accurately or not, I do not know) that there are now only two priests for the whole community, both of whom live at Séez, where there is a big parish church, built in the seventeenth century. It is not an interesting building, but the parish is a very ancient one, now reckoned as in the diocese of Chambéry, but having been in former times under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Aosta, when the patronage was in the gift of the monastery of the Little St Bernard. The only churchyard or cemetery in the district is behind the parish church—a somewhat insanitary situation from the point of view of the Séez shopkeepers, one would think. So, when a death occurs on the hillsides, the body has to be brought down to the mother church for burial, a sort of sleigh or traineau being used for its transport in winter down the snow-covered mule-paths. The men of the commune are independent in their manners, as befits landowners in their own right; but they are very courteous when they are treated with due respect to their dignity. They do not usually salute a stranger, unless he salutes them first, but they are quite ready for a talk as one passes and to dilate on the laboriousness of their iife. Sturdy yeomen, in fact, they have not been spoilt by tourists. The women dress charmingly on fête-days and Sundays, wearing a becoming gilt coif of the Tudor pattern, with a gay kerchief or shawl round their shoulders; and the wellto-do farmers' wives have sometimes a rich dress of silk, in which they look most dignified and important. They generally wear as an ornament a little Savoy cross of characteristic pattern. One and all, however, work hard, and their industry is conspicuous everywhere. There are hardly any cafés on these hillsides, and very few wine-shops, even of the poorest kind. It is not a wine country, as vines do not prosper in the snows. Tobacco can be had occasionally at Séez itself, but there is very little smoking. That may be due, in part, to the high price of wine and tobacco, consequent on the war, as the like abstinence may be noticed in other parts of France; but there is no doubt that these hillmen habitually live an austere life. On the Italian side of the Alps you will see half a dozen wineshops for one on the Savoy side, some of them with bowlinggreens of a primitive kind, where the young men may disport themselves. But there are few of such amenities of life among the mountaineers of the commune of Séez. As one climbs the steep path or sentier which leads from Séez up the mountain-side of Beau Pré, and as, rising to six thousand feet or so, one passes
through bleak and rocky country, it is interesting to recall that this is the old Roman way from Gaul to Italy, reaching its highest point at the pass of the Little St Bernard, more than seven thousand feet high. There is now, indeed, a very fine road to the pass, ascending Mont Valaisan in zigzags, up which motor-cars are driven, and the views of the Tarentaise from this are magnificent. But the older road is the road with a history, and has been used for thousands of years. The Celtic tribesmen, who occupied in Roman times the two passes now known by the name of St Bernard, used to give a great deal of annoyance to travellers. They were at last exterminated by the Emperor Augustus, who founded the city of Augusta or Aosta as a sort of border fortress commanding the roads. Monuments of Roman origin are still to be seen at the top of the passes—the Mont Joux and Colonne Joux, originally dedicated to Jupiter, the ruler of the thunder and the Storm. There was probably some kind of shelter for wayfarers in these bleak places under the Roman domination. But it was in the tenth century (about 960 A.D.) that the famous hospices of St Bernard—the Great St Bernard on the north-eastern pass, and the Little St Bernard on that to the south-east—were founded by a great Christian philanthropist. St Bernard of Menthon is not to be confounded with the austere Cis
endom."ctator of and was,
tercian, St Bernard of Clair- now to be found. Fifty or vaux, who condemned Abelard, sixty of them, belonging to the preached a crusade, and was, Order of Augustinian Canons, indeed, the dictator of Western live in the monastery, to which Christendom. Nor is our Alpine the great hospice, known to 80 saint to be identified with the many tourists, is attached. It Cluniac monk, Bernard of Mor- was by this pass that Napoleon laix, whose grand hymn on the led the French into Italy. But heavenly country is so familiar the monks have disappeared in its English dress as “Jeru- from the Little St Bernard, salem the golden.” St Bernard which is the pass over which of Menthon was a young man our mountaineers from the comof noble family, whose father mune of Séez cross the frontier. and mother had expected him The hospice still remains, and to marry a beautiful girl of retains its old traditions of free their choice, and to succeed hospitality to the poor. It is them as the lord of Menthon. maintained, however, not by But the legend tells that he monks, but by the Military chose rather the “religious ” Order of St Maurice and St life. Living in self - denial, Lazarus, of which the King of charity, and sanctity, he was Italy is the Grand Master; and ordained priest, and ultimately the present building was rebecame Archdeacon of Aosta. stored under royal auspices in The iron rule of the Cæsars had 1862. All, except the very long since disappeared, and poor, who lodge there, pay for once again the Alpine passes their rooms and their food at were infested with marauding the customary hotel rates, rough bands who troubled Christian as the fare is ; and, except that pilgrims. The righteous soul there is a little chapel in the of the saint was vexed that house, and that the arrangesuch things should be, and ments are controlled by a having brought about the ex- “rector " in Holy Orders, there pulsion of the brigands and is nothing monastic about it. planted the Cross on the ruins It may surprise some who of the ancient Temple of Jupi- think of a “hospice” as a ter, he established the refuges medieval kind of place, to learn which for a thousand years that there is electric light in have borne his name. From the rooms! But the fact is, time to time the ecclesiastical that of recent years you will status of the monks of St Ber- find electric light in most of nard has been changed, but the larger Alpine villages and hospitality and protection have inns, the water-power being got ever since his day been pro- from the mountain torrents for vided for poor travellers passing nothing except the cost of a between Italy and France. simple installation. A few of
It is only on the Great St the famous St Bernard dogs Bernard that any monks are are still kept at the hospice.
A remarkable feature of this bleak and grim mountain pass is a lovely rock-garden, which was created by the late rector, Rev. Pierre Chanoux, who was not only the beloved pastor of his people, but an enthusiastic botanist, and who collected plants from the Himalayas and the Pyrenees as well as from the Alps. “Chanousia,” for so this garden is called, is kept up by the Order of St Maurice, and provides by itself a quite sufficient attraction to lovers of flowers to induce them to make a pilgrimage to the Little St Bernard—a quite easy journey now by the new motor road for those who cannot face the climb up the steep path that the peasants of Séez still use, as they bring their cattle to graze on the high Savoy slopes.
The flowers are only to be seen for about three months in the summer, as the snow begins to cover them for their winter sleep as early as September.
Whether for its exceeding beauty, or for the interest attaching to its old traditions, or as providing opportunities for studying a self-contained community of mountaineers, there are few districts in the Alps which offer greater attractions to a quiet visitor than the district of Séez in the Tarentaise. And the mountain road into Italy through the pass leads into one of the fairest parts of Piedmont, to the foot of Mont Blanc at Courmayeur, and to Aosta with its memories of the ancient Roman occupation.
J. H. BERNARD.
FROM THE OUTPOSTS.
PRIVATE FADALMULLA sat on mulla's head, or settled on the a rock and reflectively picked features of the recumbent and at a jigger in his little toe. undisturbed old gentleman by Close by, a few kids, nominally his side. under the control of two diminu. On the whole, Fadalmulla tive and undraped infants, gam- was contented. It gave him bolled and butted each other some satisfaction to think that in a languid manner. A vener- most of his companions-in-arms able savage, with a yard of would have been drilling at tattered and dirty americani daybreak, and would at that round his loins, had completed moment probably be engaged the lengthy process of choosing in some tedious fatigue. Had a really comfortable boulder Fadalmulla been of their numfor a pillow, and was composing ber, he would probably even himself for his diurnal nap now be standing, like a block under an adjacent thorn-bush. of carved ebony, in front of The Manyatta, a rambling col- the orderly-room table, receivlection of dome-shaped huts ing with outward calm, but no surrounded by a straggling little inward discomfort, the zeriba, seemed to have settled pointed remarks of his Comdown for the day. The camels pany Commander anent the unand goats had been milked and cleanness of his rifle on parade driven off to graze. Such of that morning. However, Allah the ladies as had not set out in bis goodness had ordained with their water-pots in the that he should be sent on guard direction of the wells had be- to an outlying manyatta, and taken themselves to their do- as his corporal happened to be mestic tasks and gossip. A few also his son-in-law (for Fadalelmoran 1 sat idly in the shade mulla was something of a of the huts, while the majority veteran), his lot seemed for the had disappeared towards some moment to have fallen in a unknown rendezvous of laziness pleasant place. Moreover, the and meat-eating in the bush. plump little wife of old Leboteng In fact, the only living crea- yonder had thrown him not a tures that were really taking few saucy glances as she moved an active interest in life were among the camels with her the flies, some thousands of bowl at milking-time that mornwhich buzzed round Fadal- ing. So Fadalmulla, stripped