Darjeeling, 7 February 1893

The first look at dawn was towards the mountains or at least in that direction in which the mountains would be visible. Unfortunately we only saw fog, nothing but fog. In a sad mood I spent a few hours with the diary while the gentlemen of my entourage went to the bazaar to buy some things for me. Among others, they returned from their trip a scraggy true Tibetan mountain dog which I had had shipped home at once: a charming animal, with long hair, black, tanned, sized like a shepherd dog, with smart eyes and a black mouth — a special mark of the breed.

Hides of diverse animals especially that of a beautiful red panda (Ailurus fulgens) which I had seen in the bazaar, made me ask the commissioner to organize a hunt. He explained that all the good places are too far away but that here was a wood nearby where we could try our luck and hunt birds. Though this didn’t sound promising, we nevertheless made ready to go and rode in the densest fog on a small mountain track about 350 m down until we reached a steep mountain hillside covered in the most luxurious vegetation. We left our horses behind and entered the jungle maze in multiple parties. I regretted not having taken my nailed mountain shoes from Goisern. Between the trees, ferns and lianas there were so many steep and smooth inclines that I was in touch with mother earth at any one moment. Such mishaps did not diminish my pleasure to track through unknown and unaccustomed terrain which offered new views with every step. Especially the giant sometimes impenetrable ferns caught the eye. Our ornithological catch proved to abundant, letting us hint at the richness of the Ornis in this area in other seasons of the year.

Having Returned to the hotel towards evening, I was standing in the dining room negotiating the acquisition of interesting objects from Inner Tibet when Kinsky rushed in with the news that the mountains were visible. With a jump I was on the terrace and enjoyed the view for a few moments, a view on the mountains which will be carved into my memory for all my life. As if the spirits had had mercy with the human soul who had ventured from so far away to be at the feet of such unapproachable natural giants to appreciate them in all their splendor — the dense fog suddenly departed at high altitude and laid bare the heights in full splendor of the setting sun, „the five white brothers“, Kangchenjunga before us. In shy awe only dares the eye look at the full view at this majestic image,  locking in on it fully enchanted. A wall of fog as if grown out of the valleys lies just up to the throning peaks which emerge out of the clouds. A settled chapter of the history of the earth, the mountains, the constant in the change, look in Olympic calm on the growth, bloom and decay of peoples — these ephemeral beings in the aeons of existence. Little was granted to my view; but even the little is of such splendor that I could imagine the total greatness of the full picture which was denied to me. A feeling of human helplessness overcame me in view of nature at such a grand scale — even the most hard-headed person has to bow their head in humility and lift it again enthusiastically in view of what had been given to me.

Only one drop of bitterness in the goblet of joy  — that my beloved at home, far away from me, can not participate in this splendid spectacle, in the deepest emotions it awakens. There is truth in the plain saying; Shared joy, double the joy!

The mountain spirits seemed to regret to have experienced a human feeling and to have presented the virgin mountains on which never a human’s step was heard to the eye of mortals  — the fog rises, become denser and denser, the rosy tinted peaks fade away, their contours melt away and finally the magic image has disappeared.

Links

  • Location: Darjeeling, India
  • ANNO – on 07.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Emperor has visited the new building of the top-notch polyclinic in Vienna’s 9th district in Mariannengasse. His guide was the physician and writer Arthur Schnitzler.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, while the k.u.k. Hof-Opermtheater is performing Meyerbeer’s opera “Die Hugenotten”.

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