'Hear ye no sound of sobbing in the air V The poetic pessimist is usually rampant at this season. With long face and moist eye he sighs of 'the ah-ness of things,' declares that 'in my heart is grief,' and looks upon Nature as passing to the tomb, meet subject for depression and tears. He is the same, probably, who sang with such inordinate optimism in the Spring; for extremes do ever tend to meet. Driven to a desperate optimism by the wearying gloom of a blank, Winter-inspired pessimism, he sang exuberantly of vernal promise, of Summer's heated splendour; and now here he is, back once again in the depths of melancholy, having travelled - always in the same extravagantly ornate yet dilapidated conveyance - the year's cycle of extreme emotion. For him Autumn is cause for despondency and the wringing of hands. For him the mountains are sombre and forbidding, the weather fitful and wild, the bright fruits and berries but a sign of decadence, and Nature generally in a bad, depressing way. All things are putting on a dress of mourning, and it is only decent, he avers, that thoughts should be of death and of the grave. To be sure, he may address to Autumn some such words as did Keats:

'Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too;' but what a terribly doleful music our pessimist makes of it! And yet the music of Autumn is not the wailing dirge he would have us to understand; there is strength in it, promise in it, life in it. Autumn has no lack of gladness; but 'l' oeil qui pleure trop finit par s'aveugler,' and our poet's eyes are blinded by his pessimistic tears. Who was it wrote:

'It ain't no good to grumble and complain; It's easier and cheaper to rejoice. When God serves out the weather, and sends rain, Well - rain's my choice!'?

Whoever it was, he was a well-regulated optimist, one more likely to catch the real beauty, the true music of things. Ruskin said much the same in speaking of the king of Welsh mountains: 'God never sent bad weather to Snowdon yet - only variations of good.' And that is the spirit in which Autumn in the Alps should be greeted. There should be 'No sense of aught but of her loveliness.'

Blended with its own strong individuality there is a distinct strain of Spring, a marked note of promise, in an Alpine Autumn. Nature is not dour and hopeless. A rainbow-coloured arc domes the season - an arc in which the hopeful tints of Spring are prominently present. Bright and tender blue is there, in the two autumnal Gentians and in the reappearing Vernal Gentian; so also are the clear and tender greens and yellows, in the changing foliage of the Alpine Eglantine, the Alpine Honeysuckles, and many another deciduous bush and shrub; whilst red - as strong and vigorous a red as at any time of year - pervades the whole with a full and ample note of life. It might be thought that with, on every hand, such broad, dense forests of 'Green pine, unchanging as the days go by, an autumnal glory of foliage would be most noticeable by its absence. But this is not the case. The Alps glow with colour, and the sombre Pines and Rhododendrons do but serve as admirable, enhancing contrasts. See how, below us on the slopes, the mountain Cherry-trees are afire with brilliant crimson-lake and cadmium; look over at the wine-red haze of Bilberry which pervades yonder expanse of Rhododendron; or at the flame-like patches of Geranium and other plants on yonder scree; mark, too, in these steep and stony places, the flaring profusion of Berberis, veritable ' burning bushes,' with their orange foliage and cascades of scarlet fruit; notice how the golden Larch sparkles amid ' the dark and secret pine,' and how, upon every rock and boulder, the plants, mosses, ferns, and lichens are aglow with rich yellows, reds, and browns. Yes, Autumn in the Alps can vie with Autumn elsewhere, and can ring out as gladsome a note as any note in Spring.

Nor by any means is the season lacking in charming flowers. On rough, shady slopes the graceful Willow Gentian {Gentiana asclepiadea), with its long sprays of pointed leaves and rich blue flowers (sometimes pure white), is the equal of anything to be found earlier in the year; as is that other autumnal Gentian, G. ciliata, the Bearded Gentian, its lively, sun-loving flowers brightening the shaly banks by the side of the paths and roads.

Rhododendron And Thalictrum, And The Glacier De Trient. The Middle Of July

Rhododendron And Thalictrum, And The Glacier De Trient. The Middle Of July.

In the neighbourhood of this latter Gentian will be 'The pliant harebell, swinging in the breeze On some grey rock;' not, however, the harebell of which Wordsworth sang, but the diminutive porcelain-blue (sometimes white) Campanula pusilla. Dianthus superbus, the Fringed Pink, doing full justice to its Latin name, can be found in semi-shade at the edge of copse or forest, and in company with the False Box (Polygala Chamoebuxus), aflower again as in the Spring; and late specimens of the stately brown-red, purple-spotted Martagon Lily are often found of this company. Gentiana verna, together very often with G. Kochiana, is making its reappearance, towards the end of September, in the parched turf - coming purposely, it would seem, to bid us a cheerful 'au revoir, and not good-bye.' The Monk's-hood and the Wolf's-bane, too, are in bloom well into the Autumn, as also are the two Masterworts (Astrantia major and minor) in some sheltered spot at the fringe of the forest. Tucked away among the lichened rocks, on which basks the lazy, agile lizard, two white or rosy little Catchflies (Silene rupestris and S. quadrifida) may still be found in flower, not far away from the white Alpine Mouse-ear (Cerastium alpinum), the Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia palustris) - more like a white Ranunculus than a grass! - and the creamy-white Saxi-fraga aspera and the yellow S. aizoides - all of them blooming comparatively freely for this late season, and often associating with dwarf and sturdy specimens of the poisonous, scarlet-berried shrub Daphne Mezereum, and with the russet or grey-black viper, sunning himself while yet he may, and announcing, probably, the approach of a storm.