Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

pear, preceded by Corruption, and followed by Famine. There is one law in Denmark which restrains the tyranny of parents towards their children, that deserves to be particularly mentioned : No parent can, by his own act, disinherit his child: if he thinks that his son will dishonour him, and dissipate his fortune, he cannot change the usual channel of his property, without applying to the sovereign for permission, who, in council,

cautiously considers the allegation and answer; and thus the | refusal or permission is the result of a public process. Admi

rable as the laws of England are, it would be well if such a law as this, adapted to the genius of the constitution, could be introduced. Alas! in England, how often is the happiness of an excellent child sacrificed to the unnatural caprice or pride of an angry, foolish, mercenary parent!

The mildness of the Danish government is such, that when the king and the subject, as is frequently the case, happen to be engaged in litigation, respecting titles to land, the judges are recommended, if the point be dubious, to decree in favour of the subject. A short time before we arrived, a woman had been found guilty of murder, and she was sentenced only to four years of solitary confinement. The Crown Prince is unwilling to see the sword of justice stained with human blood : he is merciful almost to a fault;

The quality of mercy is not strained ;
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heav'n,
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed :
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.

The internal taxes are raised or reduced at the discretion of the king, which, with the customs and tolls upon exports and imports, the duties paid by foreigners, and his own demesne lands and confiscations, constitute the revenues of the crown. The land tax ad valorem is admirably managed in Denmark, by which the soil is charged according to its fertility, which is estimated by the quantity of grain required to sow a certain quantity of land. This tax is formed into classes: the peasants have no assignable property in the soil, like tenants in England upon long leases; they contract with their lord to cultivate so much land, in the manner prescribed by the ordinances respecting agriculture, and pay their rent either in money or provision. Such is the lasy now, that they can experience no oppression :

Princes and Lords may flourish or may fade,
A breath can make them, as a breath hath made ;
But a bold Peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroy'd can never be supply'd.

The hospitality of the numerous and highly respectable family of the De Conincks, the principal merchants at Copenhagen, would not suffer us to quit the capital, without visiting their beautiful seat called Dronningaard or Queen's palace. As we reserved Sunday for this little country excursion, we learned, not without some inconvenience, that the Danes are remarkably rigid in their observance of the hours of worship. On that day, during divine service, no one is permitted to quit or enter the city but at one gate. Immediately after we had passed the wrong drawbridge, the clock struck eleven, and the gate closed upon all erratic sinners: this unlucky event compelled us to go round the ramparts, and make a deviation of several miles. Thoroughly impressed as I am with the necessity of preserving the sanctity of the Sabbath, I must confess I am at a loss to see the utility of barring gates, to keep religion in. This expedient appears to me as use, less as that of a burgomaster, who, upon a favourite lady flying to him in tears, to tell him that her canary-bird had escaped from its cage, ordered the drawbridges of the town to be raised, to prevent the elopement of the little fugitive. The gates are shut in summer at twelve, and in winter at seven, at night.

Dronningaard is the first private residence in Denmark, lies about sixteen English miles from the city ; the grounds, which are very extensive, and tastefully laid out, slope down to a noble lake, twelve English miles in circumference, and is skirted with fine woods, and romantic country houses. At the end of a beautiful walk I was struck with the appearance of an elegant marble column, on a tablet affixed to which was inscribed :

" This Monument is erected in gratitude to a mild and
beneficent Government, under whose auspices

I enjoy the blessings that surround me.

In another part of the grounds, in a spot of deep seclusion, we beheld the ruins of a hermitage, before which was the channel of a little brook, then dried up; and a little further, in a nook, an open grave and a tomb-stone.

The story of this retired spot deserves to be mentioned. Time has shed many winter snows upon the romantic beauties of Dronningaard, since one who, weary of the pomp of courts and the tumult of camps, in the prime of life, covered with honours and with fortune, sought from its hospitable owner permission to raise a sequestered cell, in which he might pass the remainder of his days in all the austerities and privation of an anchorite. This singular man had long, previous to the revolution in Holland, distinguished himself at the head of his regiment; but, in an unhappy moment, the love of aggrandizement took possession of his heart, and marrying under its influence, misery followed : and here, in a little wood of tall firs he raised this simple fabric: moss warmed it within, and the bark of the birch defended it without; a stream of rock water once ran in a bed of pebbles before the door, in which the young willow dipped its leaves; and at a little distance from a bed of wild roses the laburnum gracefully rose and suspended her yellow flowers; he selected an adjoining spot for the depository of his remains, when death

like a lover's pinch, That hurts, but is desired,

should have terminated all his sufferings here. Every day he dug a small portion of his grave, until he had finished it: he then composed his epitaph in French, and had it incribed upon a stone. The reader, I think, will be pleased with it in the English dress, which it has received from the distinguished pen of William Hayley, esq.

THE HERMIT'S EPITAPH.
Here may he rest, who, shunning scenes of strife,
Enjoy'd at Dronningaard a Hermit's life;
The faithless splendour of a court he knew,

And all the ardour of the tented field,
Soft Passion's idler charm, not less untrue,

And all that listless Luxury can yield.

G

He tasted, tender Love! thy chaster sweet ;
Thy promis'd happiness prov'd mere deceit.
To Hymen's hallow'd fane by Reason led,

He deem'd the path he trod, the path of bliss;
Oh! ever mourn'd mistake! from int’rest bred,

Its dupe was plung'd in Misery's abyss.
But Friendship offer'd him, benignant pow'r!
Her cheering hand, in trouble's darkest hour.

Beside this shaded stream, her soothing voice

Bade the disconsolate again rejoice :
Peace in his heart revives, serenely sweet;

The calm content, so sought for as his choice,
Quits him no more in this belov'd retreat.

In this singular solitude he passed several years, when the plans of his life became suddenly reversed, by a letter of recall from his prince, which contained the most flattering expressions of regard. The wishes of his sovereign and of his country were imperative; he flew to Holland, and, at the head of his regiment, fought and fell. The night preceding his departure, he composed a farewel to the enchanting scenery in whose bosom he had found repose, which, as an affectionate remembrance of the unfortunate hermit, is inscribed upon a tablet of marble, raised in a little grove not far from the hermitage. For the following translation I am indebted to the poetic and elegant mind of Leigh Hunt, esq.

FAREWEL OF THE HERMIT OF DRONNINGAARD.

Vain would life's pilgrim, ling’ring on his way,
Snatch the short respite of a summer's day;
Pale Sorrow, bending o’er his sad repose,
Still finds a tear in ev'ry sheltring rose :
Still breaks his dream, and leads th’ unwilling slave
To weep, and wander to a distant grave.
E’en 'he, whose steps since life's ungenial morn
Have found no path unfretted with rude thorn :
From all he lov'd must turn his looks away,
Far, far from thee, fair Dronningaard, must stray,
Must leave the Eden of his fancy's dreams,
Its twilight groves and long resounding streams;
Streams, where the tears of fond regret have ran,
And back return to sorrow and to man!
O yet once more, ye groves, your sighs repeat,
And bid farewel to these reluctant feet:
Once more arise, thou soft, thou soothing wave,

In weeping murmurs, ere I seek my grave ;
Ere yet a thousand social ills I share,
Consuming war, and more consuming care,
Pleasures that ill conceal their future pains,
Virtue in want, blest Liberty in chains,
Vice, proud and powerful as the winter's wind,
And all the dire deliriums of mankind.

Yet e’en this heart may hail its rest to come;
Sorrow, thy reign is ended in the tomb !
There close the eyes, that wept their fires away ;
There drop the hands, that clasp'd to mourn and pray ;
There sleeps the restlessness of aching hearts ;
There Love, the tyrant, buries all his darts !

O grant me, heav'n, thus sweetly to repose !
'Tis thus my soul shall triumph o'er its woes ;
Spring from the world, nor drop one painful tear
On all it leaves, on all it treasures here;
Save once, perhaps, when pensive moonlight gleams
O’er Dronningaard's meek shades and murm’ring streams,
The sacred grief, to dear remembrance true,
O’er her soft flow’rs may shed its gentlest dew,
May once in sounds, that soothe the suff’ring mind,
Breathe its lorn murmurs through the solemn wind ;
Lament, sweet spot, thy charms must wither'd be,
And linger e'en from heav'n to sigh for thee !

The dispatch with which nature pushes on her vegetation in these cold climates is amazing. This delightful spot, which was now in full foliage, presented nothing but naked branches a fortnight before. I quitted Dronningaard with almost as much regret as did the devoted eremite.

A visit to the Crown-battery was very interesting. A young Danish officer, who was present at the battle of the second of April, pointed out the respective positions of the fleets and block ships, and described with great candour and liberality the particulars of the engagement. This formidable battery is about half an English mile from shore, is square, and the water flows into the middle of it; it is now very rapidly enlarging, and undergoing such alterations as will make it a place of great strength. It is also in contemplation to raise a fresh battery to the southward in addition to that called the lunette. The harbour is very capacious

« AnteriorContinuar »