Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

have only aspired to the rank of Captain by staying at home, had brought his sword wherever it was wanted, and had gained—how much honour you can judge, when he was able to announce himself as a Pacha of three tails.

I went to Frederikshalde, and saw a brisk commercial town, and had the honour of being conveyed in—what a nice little girl with an air of pretty pride told me was Frederikshalde's steam-boat, the first it had sent forth. I took this child with me as a guide in a peasant's cart, driven by a rough and intelligent boy. We went up lovely Tistedalen ; but here natural beauty, unlike that of Gulbrandsdal, is deformed, and strangely perplexed, by frightful wooden factories and numberless saw-mills: and yet, rising below these, the flourishing town of Frederikshalde appears to be their product; owing her prosperity, not to the natural beauty, but to the artificial deformities on the most picturesque waterfalls of a stream that flows from Lake Fem; which lake is seen to advantage from a field adjoining an ugly old house, called Wien, from whence my young conductors brought me by a wooden bridge over the falls; a wild and pretty scene, although we saw it in mist and sunshine; and then on by a

IN

romantic and pleasant bye-road to Frederiksteen, that fortress of Norway which is more renowned for the death of the hero of Sweden than for anything else. My little driver, a boy of perhaps twelve years (the girl who acted as my guide was only ten), showed me a cavity, in which a piece of stone was indented, and which, he assured me, the knee of Charles XII. had made when he received his death-wound. He also showed me a small pillar, which, he asserted, marked the spot where he died. They were about fifty yards apart. I wanted to argue, that he could not, after receiving a bullet through the temple, have dropped on one knee at one spot, and died at the other; but the little man was much more decided on the point than many other conjecturers have been on the facts of the Swedish monarch's death.

“It was so," he asserted; “yes, it was so." And who could say it was not so ?

“And he was shot when besieging that fortress ?” I said, thinking to myself what a silly man Charles XII. was, to have caused his own death, and the deaths of so many of his people, for what after all proved to be of no good to king, or country, or people; but the boy seized only on one item of my thoughts; he

SS

ours

was besieging that fortress, he was invading Norway.

“Yes, yes,” he cried, with a vehemence that I thought was not like Norwegian calm; 5 yes, he was trying to do it, but he did not do it. He did not,” he cried, pointing his hand to the fortress. “It is there still it is ours-it is Norway's.

56 And Norway is Sweden's,” said I to myself, but I dared not say it aloud, so fierce, so proudly national, stood my little coachey, with his hand pointing to the fortress, while his foot was firmly set on the cavity made by the knee of Charles XII. of Sweden. The fortress was there, and there was the spot where the invader fell; and the little patriot brandished his whip, and was quite sure that if the King of Sweden planted his cannon against the fortress of Frederiksteen now, he would be served just the same way.

So he hammered me off a bit of the almost hammered-away pillar, that marks the spot where the invader died, whose hat, very like one of those now vulgarly called (I believe) a wideawake, is preserved in Stockholm, with the identical round hole made by the bullet, fired, it is generally believed, by the hand of an assassin

on the same level, and not from the fort he was besieging without foreseeing that that fortress, by means of things called treaties, and perhaps the intervention of a few British menof-war, would be one day quietly brought round to the service of his country.

And I came away from Frederiksteen, perhaps a little wiser than when I went there. One thing is certain, I came away impressed with the idea, that if Frederiksteen were in England, very few poor little peasant boys would tell me anything of its history, and still fewer would feel so much pride in pointing to the untaken fortress, and saying of the invader, “he tried to take it, but he could not do it !” How much do our peasants know of our history? As much, perhaps, as an old Londoner, who, in arguing with me once on behalf of Unitarianism, said, “The Unitarians are of the oldest religion, for there were Unitarians in England in the time of William the Conqueror, and William the Conqueror was before Christ."

Well, my little patriotic conductor, and my intelligent little guide, who made me comprehend more by her expressive and graceful gesticulations than she did by her words, put me into

JALLISU."

a steam-boat, which took me from Frederikshalde at 5 p.m., and landed me somewhere else at some other later p.m. I thought it should have been at Gottenburg, but it was not. It was amid a group of white and grey wooden houses, encircled by granite rocks. So drear, so sterile a spectacle of human habitation, I never saw before. Rocksbare, stone-grey, granite rocks—nothing else.

“Where am I ?" I asked.

" You are in Sweden,” was the evidently congratulatory reply.

“This is not Gottenburg ?”

“Nay, this is Strömstad, the fashionable watering-place of Sweden. You will have the advantage of seeing the baths of Strömstad. It is a piece of good fortune for the Swedes to come here in summer, and here we shall stop two days. So much the better for you.

“ Ack!” I cried, looking round on the grim, grey rocks; "and where shall I stay ?"

“ You shall lodge at the English Consul's."

A little man with one eye and half a leg came to me. He spoke some English, and brought me to a horrid little room in a very uncouth house, telling me a great deal about the time when Lord Bloomfield was minister at Stockholm, and

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »