Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Her hoary senators, and gasping patriots.
The tyrant spoke, and his licentious band
Of blood-train’d ministry were loos’d to ruin.
Invention wanton'd in the toil of infants
Stabb’d to the breast, or reeking on the points
Of sportive javelins.—Husbands, sons, and sires,
With dying ears drank in the loud despair
Of shrieking chastity.

The thatch of the cottage in this island, and in most parts of the north, is bristled at the top with cross braces of wood, to keep it together, and has a very inferior appearance to the warm compact neatness of the English thatch. The road from hence to Nioborg is good, partly paved, and the country on all sides very picturesque. The lambs, in the flocks which we passed, had one foot fastened to the body by a piece of string. A custom so.painful to the luckless objects was intended to fix them more closely to their dams, and, by abbreviating their exercise, to fatten them.

I was much surprised at not seeing, either in Denmark or any other part of the north that I visited, a single member of a very ancient family, the most useful, the most ill-treated and depised of any that moves upon all-fours—an ass.

About nine o'clock in the evening we arrived at Nioborg, which is a small but handsome fortified town, containing about nine hundred inhabitants, and determined, as the wind was fair, to cross the Great Belt that night. We were there obliged to shew our passports; the captain of the passage-boat, on account of the lateness of the hour, threw many difficulties in the way of our determination, which, however, the tender looks and eloquence of a French girl at the inn, aided by a little bribery on our part, effectually removed. Here the wheels of the carriage were, obliged to be taken off, and after a delightful sail of about two hours and an half, we effected our passage, which is twenty English miles, and landed at Corsoer, in the metropolitan island of Zealand.

As I passed over this mighty space of water, I could not help reflecting with astonishment, that in the month of February, 1658, it formed a bridge of ice for the hardy troops of the warlike and ambitious Charles X, who, contrary to the advice of his council of war, marched over it to give battle to the Danes. During this tremendous passage, a part of the ice gave way,

and a whole

squa

dron of the guards were immolated, not one of whom were saved, an order having been given that no one should attempt to assist his neighbour in such an emergency, upon pain of death. After passing the Little Belt in the same way, Charles Gustavus Adolphus obliged the Danes to make the peace of Roschild. This enterprise may be ranked amongst the most marvellous achievements, and a recurrence to it will furnish ample means of occupation to the mind of the traveller during his passage over these portions of the sea.

It was midnight by the time we quitted the vessel ; the wind was very fresh, and the moon occasionally darting in full effulgence from a mass of black clouds, illumined the front of an ancient castle of little strength, near the quay, which is the occasional residence of the crown prince. Upon the ramparts the cloaked centinel kept his solitary watch ; it was a “ nipping and an eager air ;" and the scene, more than any other which I saw in Denmark, impressed the imagination with the similitude of that

“ In which the majesty of bury'd Denmark
“ Did sometimes march.”

The good people at the post-house were in bed; but, after many a rap at the door, it was at last opened by a figure, who most completely corresponded with the bard's description of Bardolph. With Shakspeare we might have exclaimed,

" Thou art an admiral ; thou bear'st thy lantern
“ In thy poop-but 'tis in the nose of thee-
“ Thou art the knight of the burning lamp."

As the night was very sharp, we made our way to the kitchen, to catch a little warmth from its expiring embers; but here we found we were distressing the coyness of a comely young cook, who had just quitted her bed to prepare something for our supper, and who was very uneasy until we had left her territory. After a comfortable repast, Bardolph lighted us to bed.

CHAP. III.

DANISH CHARACTER-GIN-ZEALAND TURNPIKE-GATI-MILE STONES -INTELLIGENCE OF WOMEN-THE TOMB OF JÚLIANA MARIA-RUSBAND INTRIGUING WITH HIS WIFE-MARGARET OF VOLDEMAR_THR MOURNING MOTHERCOPENHAGEN-A DANISH DINNER-TOMB OF THE HEROES OF THE 20 OF APRIL, 1801-THE BATTLE OF THAT DAYLORD NELSON-THE BRAVE YOUNG WELMOES.

IT is scárcely necessary for me to observe that the government of Denmark is despotic. The Dane is a good natured, laborious character; he is fond of spirits, but is rarely intoxicated; the severity of the climate naturalizes the attachment, and his deportment in the indulgence of it is inoffensive.

At breakfast at Corsber, a respectable Dane entered the room; the landlady, a vast unwieldy good-humoured creature in boots, without saying a word, opened her cupboard, and taking down a bottle of gin, presented her guest with a large wine-glass full, which he drank off, as if it had been so much cocoa-milk, and immediately retired.

The island of Zealand is said to be very luxuriant, and abounding with picturesque scenery ; its shores are lined with pretty towns, noble chateaus, and extensive and well-wooded domains ; but upon the high road we did not observe, until our near approach to the capital, any indication of such exuberance and beauty; although it was at this time the third of June, the gooseberries and burrants were but just formed into berries.

Upon our first post in this island, we met with, for the first time in Denmark, a turnpike-gate, which was erected at the end of every Danish mile. As the roads, were tolerably good, the impost was unobjectionable, which for a carriage and four horses is six skillings Danish currency. This toll, in consequence of a recent ordinance, is paid before the traveller sets off, to the post-master, which saves the inconvenience of stopping. The turnpike-gate, like all the barrier gates of the north, is simply constructed of a long pole or bar, which turns upon a pivot, fastened in a strong post, about four feet high, placed on one side of the road : the end of this pole is charged at the end with a preponderating weight of stone, or blocks of wood, so that when the postmaster slackens the string or slight chain which attaches it horizontally to a post on the other side of the road, the bar rises sufficiently high to let a carriage pass under.

Themile stones here, the first which we saw in the country, are formed of granite in the shape of a handsome obelisk, and enumerate the miles and half miles, and bear the names of Christian and sometimes of Fred. V. In our route we saw several storks, who shewed no other symptoms of alarm when we approached them, than awkwardly moving from us upon their red, tall, lean legs, upon which the body seemed mounted, as upon stilts. The country from Slagelse to Ringsted was very picturesque. The most ancient church in Denmark is in this town; it is built of brick, with two low towers: there are some royal tombs here, very ancient, which are principally filled with the ashes of the descendants of Sweyn II, and are level with the pavement. We passed many forests of fine beech and oak, feathering the shores of several extensive and beautiful lakes. As we approached the capital we were a little surprised to find every thing become cheaper, and the horses and drivers leaner and shabbier.

I must not omit to state, for the honour of the female sex, that, however we were at a loss to explain ourselves on account of our ignorance of the Danish language, and had exhausted our stock of gestures upon the men in vain, we always found that the women comprehended us with one-third of our pantomimic action; and to the end of my days I shall gratefully and experimentally contend for the superior quickness of female comprehension.

We arrived on a Sunday at Roskild, which, according to Holberg, was formerly a city of many parishes, and contained within its' walls twenty-seven churches, and an equal number of convents, though now a place of very little import. We went to the cathedral, a heavy pile of brick covered with copper, with two spires, the most ancient part of which was erected under the auspices of Harold, the grandfather of Canute the Great, king of England and Denmark. The inside of this building owes its grandeur to its size : the ceiling is stained with little sprigs of flowers in a vile taste, and are. wholly unenriched by those exquisite interlacings in the roof that form the principal beauty of Gothic

architecture, the rudiments of which nature first imparted to our early forefathers, by placing before their imitative eyes the graceful intersections of a simple bower: the organ

is

upon an immense scale, and the tone very fine : the stops are moved by the feet of the organist. In a large octagon chapel, divided from the body of the cathedral by an iron grate, so finely wrought, that at a distance it resembles black gauze, and in a subterranean vault, repose the remains of the royal family of Denmark, in several raised stone coffins, which are covered with black velvet palls, embroidered with small crowns of gold, falling in full drapery upon the floor. It is foreign to my purpose to enumerate them all. The most superb tomb is that of Juliana Maria, whose sanguinary conduct towards the hapless Queen Matilda and the unfortunate counts Struensee and Brandt excited so much sensation some years since. As I gazed upon this gloomy depository of unrelenting jealousy and ambition, imagination raised the bleeding shades of those devoted men, consigned from the pinnacle of power and royal favour to the dungeon and the scaffold. Alas! the common tyrant, in no wide lapse of time, has closed the eyes of the ruthless destroyer and her victims.

I'must not omit the tomb of that wonderful woman Margaret of Voldemar, or, as she was styled, with a derision which she well revenged, the king in petticoats. She flourished in the 13th century, and bore upon her brow the crowns of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The northern Semiramis was destined to astonish the world by her marvellous exploits, and her very entrance into it was rendered somewhat extraordinary on account of her being the legitimate daughter of her father and mother. The former becoming disgusted with her mother, confined her in a castle, and about the same time fell violently in love with one of her dames d'honneur, and was a suitor for her favours; the good-humoured girl affected to consent, but imparted the assignation to the unhappy queen, was instrumental in conveying her in disguise to the spot; and Margaret was the fruit of this singular intrigue.

We were much gratified by seeing in one of the chapels the rich and beautiful mausoleums of Frederick II and Christian III. They were designed and made in Italy, at an immense cost, by the order of Christian IV. The sovereigns are represented in recumbent postures, the size of life, under a stone canopy, supported by

« AnteriorContinuar »