Miss Tschingels Bekannter

W. A. B. Coolidge, eine Neffe der Alpinismus-Pionierin Margret Claudia Brevoort und in jungen Jahren guter Bekannter ihres Beagles Miss Tschingel, welcher beide auf zahlreichen Bergtouren begleitete und dafür die Ehrenmitgliedschaft im britischen Alpine Club zuerkannt bekam, was seinem Frauchen (o tempora, o mores) zeitlebens verwehrt blieb, dieser Coolidge verfaßte, herangereift und aus der Erfahrung seiner tantenbehüteten Gratwanderungen gespeist „The Alps in Nature and History“, darin beschrieben u.a. das sprachlich wie religiös hoch Verwirrende an den Lagen der Dörfer in den Rheinursprungstälern, und, so trocken als irgend möglich, auch die Via Mala, nämlich garnicht sie selbst, sondern die Geschichte ihrer Umgehung: „The San Bernardino (6769 ft.) route, like that of the Splügen, follows the course of the main or Hinter Rhine nearly to its sources, and then turns S. to cross the Alps. Throughout the entire Middle Ages it bore the name of „mons avium,“ „Vogelberg,“ or „Monte Uccello“ (i.e. „the pass of the birds,“ in three languages), and to this day there rises some way to its W. a peak called the Vogelberg, while on the E. the pass is overhung by another point, named the Pizzo Uccello. But some time in the second half of the fifteenth century, this name gave way to the present one, given in honour of San Bernardino of Siena, who had wandered through the N. parts of Lombardy as a missionary preacher and was canonised in 1450 – six years after his death. A chapel on the S. slope of the pass was dedicated to him. It is possible that the left wing of the Frankish army crossed this pass in 590 on its way to attack the Lombards. More certain is that in the winter 941 Willa (wife of Berengar, Marquess of Ivrea), though far advanced in pregnancy, fled across it, to escape from Hugh, king of Italy. Much later, in the winter of 1799, Lecourbe, with a French army, traversed the pass. But no doubt, it, like the Splügen, was kept for long in the background through the difficulties of getting through or round the Via Mala gorge, above Thusis. Probably it served only the traffic between the german-speaking colony at the sources of the Rhine with the Italian bailiwicks held by the Swiss, especially after, in 1496, the Val Mesocco (on its S. slope), came into the hands of the Raetians, who thus had direct access to the St. Gotthard route. In 1818-23 the present fine carriage road was built over the pass, and, like that of the St. Gotthard, lies for its whole length within Swiss territory. Most of the expenses were borne by the king of Sardinia, who wished to secure for himself a road across the Alps, which should not be in the hands of the Habsburgers.“