Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

fallen cloud, a suspended snow wreath,—anything you would think but a mass of water. And when your polite captain assures you it is water, you think the old Troll has arrested its fall and suspended it there, a stationary mass, or a pillar of snow-white vapour.

Then as you go on, still up the Gota, ascending to its parent bed, you see how the young, bounding and exulting river, fresh from its struggle for freedom, bears on its chafed surface some of that young republic frothiness, which a lengthened and widened course will effectually subdue; and see, too, how the great old granite rock looks over it, like the stern guardian frowning on the escape of the prodigal bursting with shouts of triumph from its restraint.

Here we see the same water running away beneath our boat, which there seems to hang like a snow wreath on the mountain side, with the dark pines above and around it. And we come on and on, and now a wonderful chain of locks rises up the face of the mountain, and looks in the distance like the wards of a giant's key; and if, in addition, a steamboat should be standing up there, waiting for the key to turn and set it at liberty, the curiosity of the picture is complete, but alas! the power of the old Troll is lost sight of, and we recollect that machinery is the conuror of our prosaic age. More of these locks, cut mostly in the granite rock, are now to be passed, and for two hours' time we may leave our little boat, and go up, either in a party or alone, to see the falls of Trollhattan.

The walk is a pleasant one, but the village of saw-mills, close to the torrent, is far less in keeping with the naturally picturesque wildness of the spot than is the singular aspect of the enormous locks. We ascend the fir-covered mountain, in which, what are called in Swedish, leaf-trees, and rarely seen in the northern parts of this country, mingle their pleasant murmur with the hum of the saw-mills; but both are soon drowned in the deafening roar of the torrent.

Trollhattan is not like the waterfalls of the Pyrenees or the Alps, or the lovely cascades of Italy; it is more like Sarp-fos in Norway, but beyond comparison grander, and with the advantages of position and scenery. But its chief charm is, that its character is its own, and you do not feel inclined to make comparisons while penetrated with its distinctive grandeur. Around it is no Alpine snow, no Pyrenean colouring, no savage scenery. But everything is vast and wild, and, if the saw-mills were away, would be Scandinavian, and tell you about the Troll who evidently once made it a dwelling-place. The cataract is a vast, whirling, and wonderfully powerful mass of water, which has broken loose that very minute when you first see it, and never can have thundered and roared on thus for ages and ages, dashing over the rocks and tearing through the woods, making the tall pine trees tremble at its self-willed fury, and the woods re-utter its passionate voice, as it sweeps down its uselessly-encumbered descent, bounding over rocks, and encircling in its divided arms a small island of rock, which literally feels to shake and quiver with horror beneath your feet while you stand upon it. So much so is this sensation experienced by the stranger who beholds Trollhattan from this island, standing thus in the very centre of the cataract, that here I was told a German of delicate sentiment fainted, and a still more sensitive Frenchman actually died. The position is really a trying one, and a person of very irritable nerves might find it dangerous. I could hardly help feeling some horrible tendency to jump into the water, and mingle with the mad career of the headlong stream.

"You had better not try it," said a kind and prudent Swede, who accompanied me; "that is what happened to a poor tailor here once." "A tailor?"

"Yes, that is so; at least, they say so. The poor man was in love with a very proud young girl; and, to try his love, she told him she would not have him to be her husband until he had made one complete pair of trousers sitting here on this island."

"Well!" I cried, in anxiety. "Well, he thought he would do that; and he took his work, and sat there, just on that rock

you sit on, and he worked away, but -"

"But what?"

"One day he jumped into the cataract, and took the trousers with him."

Near to the falls is the conjuror's hat, from which the name is taken. It is a curiously scooped out rock. The excavation, which is nearly like that of a man's hat, is supposed to have been made by the action of water; but, as it is very high above the bed of the river, that question is a matter of speculation. The crown of the old Troll's hat is invertically covered with what are called autographs, including the names of Carl Johan (better known always as the celebrated Bernadotte), and of the present royal family, and a host of great or renowned personages, who went into the conjuror's hat in order to inform all other good people that they once had there "a local habitation and a name."

And so we went on over the wide Wenern, fifty miles broad in its fullest width, one hundred in its length, and interesting chiefly from its size, in merely passing over it; but there are several towns on its banks, from which very pleasing excursions can be made. And then again we had recourse to a connecting canal, called the "West Gota, which leads to crooked lake Viken; long, narrow, and winding, it at least is full of interest and excitement, both to captain, crew, and passengers; it is so hard to wind our way through these woody islets and rocks. Now indeed beauty and interest commence, for there is a great deal of loveliness around us, and a good deal of anxiety too. Our channel is marked out for us, even over these small lakes, which succeed Viken with perplexing rapidity. Tall poles, sticks, branches of trees—looking like scarecrows, but they tell me very artistically designed, and simply too, to serve the purpose of buoys—pre

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »