Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

CHAP. VI.

CROSS THE SOUND SWEDEN--CINDERELLA'S NICE-RAPID TRAVELLING-STRANGE QUESTION-ROOF-GRAZING-MISLED BY

THE LIGHT-A DISCOVERY-A CAUTION- FRENCH HOTEL.

THE traveller will do right to obtain letters of introduction to Mr. Fenwick, our consul at Elsineur: they will be the means of making him acquainted with an amiable and highly respectable family, whose manners, information, and hospitality, must afford gratification. In the evening we procured a boat, embarked ourselves and baggage, and, by the assistance of a gentle breeze, that just curled the water, we crossed the Sound, about four English miles in breadth, and in three quarters of an hour found ourselves in Sweden. We passed close by Cronberg Castle, which stands upon a peninsular point the nearest to Sweden. I was again forcibly struck with the abbey-like appearance of this build. ing: it now forms the residence of the governor of Elsineur. It mounts three hundred and sixty-five pieces of cannon, and its subterranean apartments will hold more than a regiment of men. Fame, at one period, assigned to it the character of the impregnable and impassable fortress. On the celebrated second of April, admirals Parker and Nelson passed it with perfect security, and disdained to return a shot. Two British seventy-fours judiciously moored, and well served, would, in a short time, blow all its boasted bastions and intrenchments at the moon. No visitor, without special permission from the governor (seldom granted), is allowed to put his foot upon the drawbridge: why all this caution is used, I know not; perhaps to keep up the mystery of invincibility. For my part, I am so well assured that the policy of power is unostentatiously to shew itself, that could I have discharged a paper bullet from my little boat into this redoubted castle, I would have enclosed in it this sentence: “ Where there is concealment there is apprehension.” This place was open to every one, until the wand of Fatima was broken on the second of

April. The Crown-battery is a place of real force, and even Englishmen are permitted to see it without the least difficulty.

We disembarked under the steep and rocky shores of Helsinborg, a small town upon a long pier, where the carriage was landed with considerable risk and difficulty ; and I warn those who travel with one, to take good care that they cross the Sound in calm weather, as it is obliged to be lifted out of the boat by mere manual strength. On landing, a Swedish hussar, a finelooking fellow, in blue loose trowsers and jacket, with his two side-locks plaited, and fastened at the end by little weights of lead, demanded very civilly our passports; and, whilst he went to the commander with them, we paid our robust boatmen in Danish money :

Dollars Marks Skillings
For the boat

3 O 0
Carriage

2 0 0 Drink Money

O 3 We now settled all our accounts with Denmark, and proceeded to a very neat little inn, not far from the shore, where we found comfortable accommodations, which I suppose are improved by the neighbourhood of Ramlos, where the nobility of this province assemble every season to drink the waters. Having refreshed ourselves with some excellent coffee, we hastened to the duties of the evening, which proved a very busy one, for we intended to start direct for Stockholm at five o'clock in the morning, and our impatience cost our pride nothing less than figuring away a few days afterwards in the Stockholm Gazette, as a couple of couriers just landed. The reader who never means to make a nearer approach to Sweden than from his fireside to his library, may as well pass over the following dull but necessary detail of money, matters :

SWEDISH MONEY.

[ocr errors]

SILVER.

12 Runstycks make 1 skilling.
48 Skillings 1 silver dollar or Banco dollar.

1 Silver dollar is worth at par five shillings English.

PAPER.

The notes of Government are in Plotes, Ricksgalds, and Banco dollars.

K

A plote is equal to 16 skillings, or one third of a silver dollar, or 18. 8d. English. This small paper is very useful to travellers.

A Ricksgalds dollar carries an agio of 50 per cent.; so that one silver dollar is equal to one and a half of a Ricksgalds dol

lar.

A Banco dollar is worth at par 58. English, the same as the silver dollar.

N. B. Banco money is both coin and paper. To the Swedish collector of the customs we paid

Drs. Marks. Sks. For tax and wharfage

2 12 0
Porterage

1
12

0 We paid also a little sum to the custom-house officer for a slight search.

Whilst we were settling these little matters, a young fellow, from whose face the picture of honesty might have been penciled, with the additional recommendation of a military hat, cockade and feather, such as might belong to the rank of a serjeant, made a low bow, and an application, which will be more clearly understood when the reader is informed that in Sweden, the traveller who is not willing to wait an hour and a half for his horses at the end of a post, will take special care to dispatch, some hours before he sets off, an avant courier, called a vorbode, who will proceed to the end of the journey for a mere trifle per mile Swedish, which is equal to six miles and three quarters English, and will order horses to be ready at the proper post-houses, at the hours which are mentioned in his instructions.

The peasants are obliged by law to furnish the adjoining posthouses with a certain number of horses, according to the value of their farms, and are under the control of the post-master. The horses are obliged to remain twenty-four hours at the post-house: their owners are paid for their time and trouble, if a traveller arrives; if not, they lose both. This regulation must be oppressive to the peasant, and injurious to agriculture, and calls loudly for amelioration. The price of posting is twelve skillings, or eight pence English, for a horse, per Swedish mile. When the posthouse happens to be in a town, the price is doubled. The object of our visitor was to state that he was going to Feltza (a great part of the way to Stockholm), and if we would pay for the hire of a little cart and horse he would act as our vorbode, and carry some of the luggage: to these terms we soon acceded, and he retired to rest, in order to start at two o'clock in the morning, which he did in a little carriage, somewhat of the size and shape of that which in London I have seen drawn by a large mastiff, and filled with dogs' meat. Our servant, who had been in Sweden before, and knew its characteristic honesty, entrusted him with his trunk, to which we added another. Our next care was to prepare our rope harness, as our tackling was to be entirely of a new construction, and to lay in provision for the journey, the most valuable part of which was some ribs of roasted mutton, cooked after our own fashion; but lo! and behold! when we rose in the morning, our basket in which it had been most carefully deposited, had been rifled by some vile dog, and only a mangled and indented wreck remained. The unprovided traveller may vainly expect to find any thing which he can eat on the road; even eggs in this part of the country are a rarity.

As I had it in contemplation to spend the winter at Venice or Rome, I was obliged with regret to proceed direct to Stockholm, instead of visiting Carlscrona, the celebrated Swedish arsenal, the town of which we understood was much improved since its revival after the dreadful conflagration of 1790, and that the new docks, hewn out of rocks of granite, as far as they are advanced, are marvellous monuments of labour and enterprise. For the same reason also I was obliged to relinquish the gratification of seeing Gotheborg, the second city of Sweden, and the stupendous falls and works of Trolhætta. In these routes I am informed that provisions and accomniodations are better. A lucky discovery made by our good-humoured host in his pantry, supplied the melancholly emptiness of our basket, with an admirable piece of cold stewed beef, and thus provided we commenced our journey. Our servant drove us, attended by two peasants, to whom the horses belonged; one of them was seated on the box, and the other stood behind the carriage, yet with such a weight our four little horses conveyed us with the most surprising velocity. The animals looked as if Cinderella's protective Genius had waved her wand over them, and had raised them from mice to the rank of tiny horses: they started in full gallop, and scarcely ever slackened their pace, until they had reached the end of their post. The peasants drive very skilfully, and it is not unusual to see a blooming damsel assume the reins. The roads, which are of rock, thinly covered with gravel and earth, are said to be, and I believe with truth, the finest in the world. We accomplished several stages at the rate of thirteen and even fourteen English miles an hour. At the end of each stage the traveller is presented with a book called a dagbok, to enter his name, his age, whence he came, whither he is going, the number of horses, and whether he is satisfied with his postilion.

The spring here is scarcely perceived; and although it was the seventeenth of June, the morning air was very cold and nipping. Our road lay through Scone or Scania, said to be one of the finest provinces of Sweden. The nightingale has seldom been known to extend her northern visit beyond this province,and even here she but feebly pours “ her amorous descant.” Farther northward, only magpies, woodpeckers, crows, and birds of the rock, are to found. We passed through forests of beech and fir; many of the latter were blasted, and had a very picturesque appearance. The first stage was sixteen English miles, during which the only animated creatures we saw were a group of dancing goats, and boy with a flageolet, going to the fair. Between Astrop and Lynngby is one of the most convenient ferries on which I ever floated : we drove upon it without any difficulty, and were immediately conveyed to the other side. At the first post-house where we stopped my astonishment was not a little excited, by the peasants, whimsically enough, as I then thought, asking us to tell them where their beloved king was.

The first day we dined at Orke Ginga under the porch of a little cottage: the scenery about us was very desolate and dreary. As we skirted some of the lakes, which abound in Sweden, we saw the peasant women, half-knee deep in water, washing their linen : they looked hardy and happy. The architect must ever be governed by nature in the size, shape, and materials of his building. Sweden is one continued rock of granite, covered with fir : hence the cottages, which are only one story high, and many of the superior houses, are constructed of wood, the planks of which are let into each other in a layer of moss, and the outside is painted of a red colour; the roof is formed with the bark of the birch, and

« AnteriorContinuar »