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Two Days Excursion to the High Valleys of the Vaudois. 495
in its abysses, they did what in them lay to shew to the world the lustre of that jewel which Christ had confided to their care. And now the turn is ours. Instead of the bright river of truth, theirs is now the stagnant slough of superstition. Let us cleanse the fount that they may drink of the pure waters of life. In our own day let us not be found wanting. S. X.
TWO DAYS' EXCURSION TO THE HIGH VALLEYS
OF THE VAUDOIS.
(Concluded from pp. 416 and 452.) MONDAY morning, at half-past three, found us commencing an arduous journey to the Valleys of Clusone and San Martino. We wound our way up the steeps of Angrogna—the vast amphitheatre of hills, brightly gilded with the morning sun. After two hours' walk, we reached the peaceful retreat of M. Monastier, perched like a bird's nest in this Vallambrosa of Piedmont. The picturesque spire of the Protestant “ Oratory," rose amid clumps of chesnut trees—the rich plains of Sardinia were stretched in the far distance, bounded by the gigantic barrier of Italian Alps. Close by, was the bold rocky hill of Siroin—the scene of many desperate struggles in bygone days; and the little town of Lucerne, with its white-washed houses, slept in quiet loveliness, where the valley loses itself in the champaign country.
After a homely breakfast, our party considerably increased, and by and bye a large phalanx marched merrily along the heights of Angrogna, preceded by the two precentors of Angrogna and St. Jean, who made the rocks echo to their spirit-stirring strains. We could not at first understand the cause of the fast increasing squadron. But this was fully explained on arriving at the summit of a mountain overlooking the plains of Piedmont, where, under a canopy constructed of the branches of beech trees, a still larger reinforcement was waiting, with pots, pans, plates, knives and forks, and all the other appurtenances of an extensive pic-nic! It was the happy occasion of a great annual fête in the valleys, in which pastor and people mingled together in the same innocent recreationsthus affording an opportunity of seeing and judging of the Vaudois character in a way which even a lengthened residence could not have allowed of. The picture would have been worthy of Wilkie. It consisted of two booths erected at the side of a fountain, gracefully festooned with branches of beech. The one on the right was occupied by three sturdy cooks, who would have won a meed of praise from more fastidious palates,—a cart-load of plates, dishes, bread, potatoes, vegetables, &c., formed a comfortable looking back-ground; and a barrel of wine, stationed like a sentinel in front of the whole, completed the arrangements of the rustic feast. On the left side was erected a verandah of similar size and form, for the accommodation of the guests. These amounted to twenty-five, including nearly all the Waldensian pastors, also some members of the Table, and some Swiss students. The dejeuner finished, the guests were entertained with the simple music of the valleys,—the whole terminated with a round of gymnastic exercises, in which the athletic powers of clergy and laity were called into generous rivalry. A walk to a celebrated fountain in a neighbouring hill, filled up the interval till the hour of dispersion ; and at six o'clock the sylvan tents were struck, and all separated delighted with the enjoyments of the day. There was something beautifully patriarchal in this " feast of tabernacles." It was pleasing to mark the easy unrestrained freedom of feeling and intercourse existing among all classes. The minister, and the poorest of his flock—the proprietor, and the peasant, were brethren, mingling heart and hand in all the hilarities of the occasion; and yet, with all this perfect parity and free interchange of sentiment, there was no lack, but the reverse, of that respectful decorum due by the humbler to their superiors.
We wound our way down the rugged hill that leads to St. Germains. The plains of Piedmont at our feet, and the Superga, the burial place of the Sardinian monarchs, glittering in the setting sun. Half-way down, we paused at a farmhouse, by the side of the hill, and were entertained with a frugal supplement to the feast of the day by two interesting peasants. It is not easy to forget the benignant countenance of the old man as he spread his table before his cottage door, or pressing our hands with a “ Dieu accompagnie,” bade us farewell.
Two Days' Excursion to the High Valleys of the Vaudois. 497
The night was spent in the hospitable cure or manse of the moderator, M. Bonjour, and next morning, we commenced an excursion to the gloomier wilds of San Martino. Our road lay along the fertile valley of Perosa, passing the elegant Catholic Church of Villar, and the village of Pinache,—the latter associated with the name of the celebrated Vaudois historian, Leger. We walked in company with a young Protestant, a native of Fenestrelle, who informed us, that the preceding year, a Catholic priest had scoured the adjoining Valley of Pragelas, seizing and destroying no less than sixty Bibles. He mentioned, also, that he had recently been the eyewitness of the following spectacle in the church of Fenestrelle :-Two priests, in presence of the congregation, mounted a platform beside the altar. The one was dressed up to personate the devil—the other as an angel. A controversy was carried on between the two on the points of the Catholic faith ; and, after a protracted struggle, the angel, of course, came off victorious. He spoke, also, of another novel fête in the Catholic churches, in their celebration of Good Friday, intended to represent the death and resurrection of our Lord. A priest is brought in, stretched on a couch, as if dead, amid the sighs, and groans, and lamentations, of the assembled audience. After an interval, a bell rings, the priest starts up, and the walls of the church echo with the shouts of the worshippers, who change their lamentations into the most violent demonstrations of joy.
Passing Catholic Perosa, we entered the noble Valley of San Martino, at the entrance of which stands the picturesque village and church of Pomaretto—the former charge of the venerated Peyrani, to whose memory a tablet is erected on the walls of the “ Temple,” by his attached friend Dr. Gilly. Passing Villa Secca, we continued a somewhat perilous path, by the side of the rapid waters of the Germanasca, whose banks display the finest combinations of scenery. We witnessed the remains of an avalanche, which, during the previous winter, had wrought a work of appalling destruction. Eleven individuals had been buried in a living tomb. Upwards of a thousand trees, of gigantic size, had been torn up by the roots, or snapped asunder by the terrific invader. Hundreds are still left as monuments of the catastrophe-many acres around are laid waste, and the waters of the Germanasca wind their way through dismal caverns, underneath the superincumbent snow. We arrived at six o'clock at the lonely mountainous retreat of Prali. A wretched hovel, which we entered by a cellar-like door, unworthy of the meanest Scottish barn, we found to be the house of M. Revel, the pastor. “But no quarters could be more pleasant or comfortable than this little hermitage. The minister and his wife, a youthful couple, are the picture of happiness and contentment. He is a man of no meagre attainments, an acute theologian-German especially forming his favorite study and recreation, when domiciled in winter, for weeks together, amid a wilderness of snow.
Our path, next day, led across the Col de Pis to the Balsille, the most renowned spot in the valleys. Well may it be called 80; for this little Thermopylæ is associated with one of the greatest triumphs of heroism on record. A handful of Vaudois peasants here successfully resisted the flower of the chivalry of France and Sardinia. .22,000 of the latter occupied a position on the adjoining hill, and when they found their efforts in vain to dislodge the brave 700 who occupied the summit of the Balsille Rock, under the andaunted Henri Arnaud, heavy artillery were, with great difficulty, brought to their assistance. The defenceless Protestants, knowing the impracticability of withstanding so formidable a cannonade, retreated, under covert of night, across their mountains; and after a series of almost incredible dangers and hair-breadth escapes, peace was procured, and the storm of persecution lulled. The Balsille, apart altogether from its historical interest, is the foreground of noble scenery. A wild alpine valley stretches behind, with a cascade in the centre, which takes a leap of about 300 feet. But the magnificence of the scenery demanded a proportionate amount of fatigue. Our way, in crossing the Col de Pis, lay through mist, snow, avalanches, torrents, and paths intended only for the chamois, the solitary inhabitant of these wilds. At last, after ten hours of continued walking, we arrived at a comfortable inn under the rocky battlements of the town of Fenestrelle.
SCIENCE FORESHEWN IN SCRIPTURE.
THE philosophical and scientific statements of the Bible afford convincing proof of its Divine origin.
No stronger argument, perhaps, has been brought forward in favor of the Divinity of the Scriptures than that deduced from the fore-knowledge of God as evidenced in the Fulfilment of Prophecy. This fact is an unquestionable proof that the Spirit which dictated the Bible must have seen the end from the beginning; and has thus made good his claim at all events to one of the most characteristic attributes of Divinity—that of Omniscience.
It is, indeed, so generally admitted, that in matters of history the Scriptures are eminently prophetic, and that this prophetic character furnishes an unanswerable argument for the Divinity of its Author, that no need can now exist for farther demonstration on the subject. And yet it is scarcely allowed, by any, that in matters of philosophy and science the same law obtains at all. A few years since, it would have excited no feeling but that of contempt-no expression but that of ridicule -to speak of the scientific character of the Bible. The unvarying answer then was—“The Bible is a popular book, it has nothing of an abstruse or technical nature about it-it was never intended to teach philosophy.”
In the same spirit, and with equal truth, we might reply, that it was never intended to teach history by anticipation. Yet this objection furnishes no reason whatever why we should question the soundness or the value of its historical predictions, or lose the benefit of that overwhelming evidence to its divinity which they unquestionably afford.
An exact parallel appears to exist between its prophecies in history and its prophecies in science; for just as the fulfilment of historical prophecy helps us to its right understanding, so is it in many cases necessary that science should unfold itself by actual researches and discoveries, before we can adequately appreciate the scientific knowledge supposed in many passages of the Bible,
If it be admitted that the Bible anticipates history, we cannot