Изображения страниц

which, as if by the arrangement of the conjuror's art, appeared rising to sight exactly as the gloriously rising sun shot its fresh effulgence from the same ocean bed, rendering a first sight a magical one, and a first impression indelible.

Not quite as it rose on the soft Adriatic, does the sun now rise over the North Sea waves; but the weather is clear, and when it is so, a sun-rise at sea is always glorious; darting up, as it does, like the bright rays of eternal truth from the Sun of Righteousness, over the wide and dreary waste wherein, without it, we steer our course in doubt and gloom.

And now the sun is intensely hot; not a breath curls the water, which is parted only by our keel : if it were not for that great thumping engine, we might glide on calmly here, by isles, and along coasts looking now so calm and tame, that one can hardly imagine this to be the land where the old sea kings had their nests—the land of the terrible Danes of olden time, who, they say, were the cause of adding another petition to the AngloSaxon liturgy.*

Yet these now peaceful waters were but recently stained with blood, the blood of brothers.t

* From the attacks of the Northmen, &c. † Written in 1851, soon after the Danish insurrection.

Patriotism ! how often is that name misused ! Sleswig shed her blood, and that of her kindredfor what? Some of the good Sleswig-Holsteiners -good comfortable farmers, who reversed the Scriptural prophecy, and turned their plough-shares into swords, would lead me to think it was for a name only. Whenever I asked them what they had been fighting for, the answer was, “We wish to be Germans, not Danes.” But for the present, at least, they must be Danes, and in my opinion they are as well off.

How vast the sin, how deep the miseries of civil war! I remember when a child, among other childish wonderments, wondering why so uncivil a thing was called civil war. The face of that fine young officer of the Danish navy, with whom I have been conversing, grew dark as he told me he had so lately been in battle with the very ship in which we were.

“It must be dreadful,” I said, " to take human lives away—the lives of friends, perhaps, not of enemies.” The face grew darker; he leaned over the side of the vessel ; with a look, a tone, I still seem to see and hear, he murmured

“ That is forgotten when the spirit of the tiger comes on.” He looked down into the waves, into their opening depth, and said no more.

I heard afterwards how it was. The spirit of the tiger did come on: in that melancholy strife, which deserves not the name of war, he wounded to death the brother of the woman he loved, and should have married. The plighted pair are parted for ever, but not by death. She loved her betrothed; but she loved her brother too-her child hood's comrade-loved long before the lover of her youth was known; and a sister's love! can a wife's replace that pure, unselfish love ? No, for the places are not the same; loves so different can never clash. Why do not all wives, all sisters know that? But this is only a word by the way.

“Have you lost anything by the war ?" I said to a rich farmer; meaning if he had lost some property.

“I had two sons,” he answered; “I have one now, and he is on crutches."

“Where are your nieces ?" I asked an old childless Dane in Copenhagen, who had delighted in the lively society of his brother's children.

“ Hush !” whispered one of the company, “they must not be named to him; he is alone now, for their father fought against our king.”

Miserable disunion ! caused by needless and fruitless civil strife. Poor little Denmark! level

as your shores are with the waters, the waves of the sea seem less likely to engulf you than do the land powers around you to swallow you up as a kingdom.

“ We are too small to be divided now," said a Dane, of the lower class, to me; “having taken Norway from us, they cannot take much more, so they must take us altogether next time.

But we would rather be given to England than to Prussia.”

Not so quietly, however, would you be given to any one, brave little Denmark; the spirit of true patriotism lives in your soil; your sons are a gallant band, watchful and firm. And there are some of them now, with bandaged-up limbs, with pale faces, shrunken frames, and youthful bodies dragged along on wooden supports; there are all these trophies of war, for up goes the screaming steam, “Stop her," sounds out from the paddle box; the towers of Copenhagen are before me, and the streets of Copenhagen are full of the disabled forms of men and officers of the Danish


and navy,


I HAD heard much of the Island of Möen, and I had seen perhaps rather too much of palaces, and galleries, and museums; and so I took it into my head that I would come and write to you from the Danish island, instead of telling you about Thorwaldsen and his statuary, and Copenhagen and its palaces, and politics, and people, and pleasures.

I wanted to see, and to tell you about the natural beauties of Denmark, and Möen is called the Danish Switzerland; so I said, to the Island of Möen I will go, and to the Island of Möen I went.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »