« PreviousContinue »
tion of the Alps. They begin on the shores of the Mediterranean between France and Sardinia, and first go northward; then they turn eastward through Switzerland, and again tend towards the south, reaching the Adriatic Sea: many mountain chains branch off from them.
Along the whole of Italy extend the Apennines, some of which are nearly ten thousand feet high. On the west side of Italy, where I now point, is Mount Vesuvius; it is a volcano. On the top of it is a large opening, out of which come fire and smoke; sometimes it throws out stones and ashes, and then the country around shakes and trembles, so that houses and churches fall and many people are killed. Streams of melted minerals
down its sides, and burn up trees, gardens, and houses; sometimes whole towns are destroyed. But when the mountain is quiet, people can climb up to the top and look in at the fire without danger.
There is a volcano in the island of Sicily, called Mount Etna. It is nearly eleven thousand feet high; the hollow on the top, out of which the fire comes, is three miles round. The lower part of this mountain is very warm, and bears rich fruits—grapes, and oranges, and corn.
One hundred thousand people live on it! Higher up is a great forest of pine trees, chesnuts, oaks, beeches, and hawthorns; and, above all these, rocks covered with snow. People gather the snow, and carry it down the mountain to cool the water used for drinking, and for other purposes. How strange that a mountain which is always burning within should be covered with snow! Many people have been killed by the fire and the earthquakes caused by this mountain. Fifteen thousand persons lost their lives at one time in one town near it; and at another time the houses of twenty-seven thousand people were destroyed.
Let us now look to where the Alps join the chain of the Balkan mountains, which extend through Turkey eastward to the Black Sea. The south part of Turkey is very mountainous, but there are many fertile valleys. We will nowtrace the Carpathian mountains to the north and east of Hungary; many of them exceed eight thousand feet in height. Some of the branches of the Carpathians in Hungary are called the ore mountains, because gold and silver are found in them.
Far away to the east of Russia are the Ural mountains, which extend fifteen hundred miles ; some of them are six thousand feet high.
THE PEOPLE OF EUROPE.
What kind of people live in Europe? They are called white people, and are, generally speaking, like those of our own country; that is, fair complexioned, with lips and cheeks tinged with red, an oval face, straight nose, small mouth and chin, and high forehead: some have blue eyes and light hair; some dark hair and eyes. The Laplanders, however, are not like the other people of Europe; they are shorter, and have different features and darker complexions. Fancy to yourselves a Lapland hut: it is like a little low cottage built of stones, turf, and sticks, with a door only three feet high: You enter it, and what do you see? 'A fire in the middle of the floor; pots and pans scattered about; on one side stalls for cattle, and in a corner, a bed of leaves and twigs for the family; some shelves, on which are dishes of milk, cheeses, and perhaps some boiled fish. But where are the people? The woman is milking a cow outside the hut; but what a little woman! She is no taller than an Irish girl of ten years old! Her daughter is standing near her with a very little baby tied up in a sort of wooden case or cradle: even the is
small. Where is the woman's husband? Perhaps he is away minding his reindeer on the hills. Poor people, they have to live in one place in summer and another in winter, just as they can get food for their cattle.
There are only a
few Laplanders scattered over a large country: some of them have fifty miles to go to church, some in sledges, some skating over the snow on long wooden skates. The Lap lander keeps many reindeer; they serve to draw his sledge and to carry burdens, their milk and flesh afford him food, their skins make his clothes and bed, and their sinews serve him for thread to sew with. In winter the Laplander wears a covering of sheep-skin, with the woolly side inwards, and over that a dress of reindeer-skin, with the hair turned outwards; for in Lapland the winter is very cold indeed, so cold that water will freeze in the cup as a person is about to drink it.
Norwegians.—Should you like to travel in Norway ? Suppose you were to go in a vessel from England, and sail up one of the fiords or deep bays of Norway, what would you see? Some green sloping fields by the water-side, and neat wooden houses in them painted of different colours; men in red caps
and busy working in the fields, and others fishing in the fiords: the girls are away minding the cattle on the hills. One house is the Kiopman's, where all sorts of stores are sold to the neighbours; and travellers stop at this house as they would at an inn. A woman is standing at the door, dressed in a green petticoat, leathern jacket, and red waistcoat! Beyond the green fields rise dark woods of pine trees and high grey rocks; and still further off are seen high, snowy mountains.
In winter all will be covered with snow; then you would only see the painted houses, dark trees, and grey rocks; all the rest would be snow! Then the Norwegians keep within doors; the men saw up wood for the fires, and the women sew and weave. Sometimes the bears and wolves come down from the mountains and try to eat the cattle, and the men and dogs have to drive them away or kill them.
Russians. What is a Russian cottage like? It is built of trees or logs of wood laid one on the other;
grey dresses there are small holes for windows, with close wooden shutters to keep it warm.
In the middle of the cottage is a large stove ; for the winter in Russia is very, very cold, and then the people sleep on a bed placed over the stove, and cover themselves with furs. When they go out in winter time, they wear coats of sheepskin, with the wool turned inside, hats lined with fur, and large boots reaching to the knee. In winter, the Russians travel in sledges, which are carriages without wheels, but which slide easily over the smooth snow. The towns and villages in Russia are far apart; and there are many large forests, and waste places, in which are wolves and bears. The rich people have large houses, and many servants, horses, and cattle. The Russians are fond of music and dancing. In their cities are many fine churches, and great bells which they like to hear rung.
The Dutch.-Holland is a very wet country; if the people who live in it did not take great care, their goods and furniture would rust or get mouldy; but they are so clean and tidy, that everything about them looks bright and new. Their houses are gaily painted, and their gardens full of bright flowers, with neat sanded borders between. If you went into a Dutch house, you would find everything clean, and the people themselves very neat. To keep the country dry there are many ditches for the water to flow into, and great pumps like windmills to
into canals which are made to carry it off to the sea. In some of the towns there are canals along the middle of the streets, and people go from one place to another in boats on the canals; and in winter, when the sharp north wind has frozen the water up, the people skate along on the ice. Girls skate to market with eggs and poultry in baskets on their heads, and ladies and children are pushed along the ice in little sledges. The Dutch keep many cows in their low, damp meadows (or polders); of their milk they make butter and cheese. They have many fishing boats, which bring home plenty of fish, and they build large ships, and go with them to distant countries to trade. The Dutch are an industrious people; some are farmers, some sailors, and some are busy weaving linen or woollen cloths, or making paper or china ware. Holland would be nearly all covered by the sea, if the people did not build dykes to keep the water out. What is a dyke? It is a great bank or wall, sometimes of stone and sometimes of clay, faced with mats or sea-weed. One thing you will be glad to hear, that all the little children in Holland go to school, and learn to read and write, so that none are allowed to remain ignorant.
Italians.—The Italians live in a beautiful country; the climate is very warm, which makes it produce grapes, oranges, lemons, and many other rich fruits. Should
you like to see an Italian town? In it you might see many grand old houses and churches; in the streets, many people would be walking or sitting about to enjoy the air; some men perhaps selling maccaroni, which is food made of flour paste drawn out into long stripes, and then boiled; some are selling melons or grapes, and others carry about little barrels of water, cooled with snow or ice: you might see a little boy, with dark eyes and hair, and olive complexion, come to buy a glass of iced water: the air is hot, and he is parched with thirst; he drinks the cool water and is refreshed; it is better to him than wine. like to go into the country and see the people gathering the grapes or reaping the corn ? The men are dark complexioned; they wear embroidered jackets, and hats tapering towards the top. The women are handsome; they wear coloured dresses, with aprons, and a fold of linen over the head. On the hills, you would see shepherds, with sheep-skin capes to keep off the the cold night air, and large dogs to mind the sheep, and keep away robbers and wolves. On the hills are many chesnut trees, which afford food for the peo