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A more absurd practice than that of putting
the pictures of deceased pastors in churches, from
whence those of saints are banished, can scarcely
be conceived. It is practised in Sweden also.
But there the pictures take the side of loyalty,
rather than piety, in the country churches. I
have seen Charles XII. capering on horseback at
the side of an altar; his charger's feet raised over
the heads of his soldiers, who are engaged with
bayonets beneath them. And the companion of
this strange altar-piece, at the other side, was the
common print of Bernadotte, with his hand on
the sword which he seems always trying to draw.
What subjects for contemplation to a Christian
congregation! CHAPTER VII.
"Voyager! c'est un triste plaisir!" said wise Madame de Stael; and, though I have often contradicted her aphorism, I can now sincerely respond to its truth. Verily a triste plaisir it is to rock on the cross-grained Kattegat, and the Skaggerack must be as bad. A name, they say, is nothing, but these names are expressive ones to me.
"Berce, berce, berce encore,
Says M. Lamartine, in his eulogy on the sea, and I echo the last line as my most fervent wish; yet I am as happily exempt from that "malady of the sea" as, I suppose, the French poet must be when he complained of being rocked upon it for the last time.
I have been coasting by the pleasant isles of poor Denmark: by beechwood shores and through cockchafer-covered waters; bloodstained these lately were, but now as calm beneath the sunny skies as if the demon of civil war—foolish, useless, and cruel war—had not so lately breathed its deadly breath on scenes so peaceful now.
Away from iNyeborg we sailed without a breeze, and along the pretty Isle of Fyen (it is a pity to write its name, as we do, Funen), and so on by the coast, of Jutland, which was quite visible beneath the golden light of a setting sun. And I watch the gradual termination of woodland and cultivated scenery till the red curtain of the western sky falls slowly over the beams of dazzling gold, and as the light mellows, the beechwoods are left behind us; cultivation thins, and thins, and finally disappears; now the moon brings forth her chaster radiancy, and in the wake of our steamer there is a line of white and gold, rippling, broken, beautiful. A little longer, and dark, smutty clouds are gathering round her orb; she looks like a vestal Queen threatened with malicious persecution. Shadows fall over sea and land; the wind murmurs; the coast of Jutland grows bare, bleak, barren. This part of it is just fit to be seen under a stormy sky. Only thin patches of corn now appear among the sands; and now these sands present an aspect of singular desolation. Had the Sea-King his tower here in days of old, and is that tower beneath the waves which cast up those heaps of sand?
That a natural, as well as political, disruption of old Denmark must have at some time occurred, would seem evident; the land that is now shattered into so many islands was, doubtless, once united.
Now nothing is to be seen but a long line of sand, a light-house, and a hamlet of pilots and fishers. What an existence must be there, on the barren sands! Yet, even there, this mortal life is dear. And then comes the village of Skagen, and then the seamen's foe, that long, dagger-like point of the island of Jutland, which our sailors call the Skaw, dangerous as it is desolate, with the white-crested waves breaking over it, and closing, on its northern side, the kingdom of Denmark. Near to the pretty town of Veile is a chateau, of which one long room is floored with planks, cut from the masts of vessels shipwrecked on the coast of Jutland. A singular fancy! Think, of dancing on boards that might remind the merry creatures whose feet flew over them, of nature's latest struggle; of the sailor's drowning cry, of the stout heart's agony; perhaps of the fate of the tender and delicate woman!
Here were wrecked, in the time of Denmark's fatal war with England, three of our noble line-ofbattle ships, with about two thousand of our gallant men.
Now, good night to thee, thou cruel and uglynamed Skaw; and adieu to thee, thou pleasant and much-threatened Denmark; adieu to thy brave and faithful sons, thy warm-hearted and sensible daughters; our acquaintance has been short, but long enough to make me add Denmark to the list of many lands, where I have known and left some whom I should wish to meet again.