- Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have been preserved. Errata listed on Page viii have been corrected in the text ā is a with a macron; ă is a with a breve -
DENMARK, AND SWEDEN.
W. A. ROSS, ESQ.
Ver erat: errabam: Zephyrus conspexit: abibam: Insequitur: fugio.
OVID. Fast., Lib. v.
HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER,
GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
LONDON: PRINTED BY T. R. HARRISON, ST. MARTIN'S LANE.
AN AMIABLE AND A GENEROUS FRIEND,
ROBERT, LORD RODNEY,
I DEDICATE THIS VOLUME,
OF ADMIRATION, GRATITUDE,
Departure from Greenwich—The History of the Iris Yacht —Sheerness—Harwich—Under Weigh—The North Sea—Sail in Sight—The Mail Overboard—Speaking the Norwegian 1
Foggy Weather—First View of Norway—Christiansand Fiord —Arrival at Christiansand—Description of the Town—The Toptdal River—Excursion Inland—The Enthusiastic Angler—Rustic Lodgings—Hunting the Bear—The Trap—The Death—Norwegian Liberality 13
Departure from Christiansand—The Pilot's Pram—Skaw Point —Delinquencies of Jacko—Expensive Cannonading—Elsineur —Hamlet's Walk—The Minister, Struensee—Story of Queen Caroline-Matilda—Legend of the Serf 46
The Pilot—Tempestuous Weather—Distant View of Copenhagen —Lord Nelson—The Battle of the Baltic—The Harbour-Master —Interest excited by the Yacht's Arrival—The Artist—The Angler—We go Ashore 58
Copenhagen—The Cape—The Dilemma—The Guard—Compliment to England—Description of the Harbour and Fortifications— Delinquent Sailors—The City on Sunday—Negro Commissionaire —A Walk through the City—Notices of the various Public Buildings 74
The Casino—The Royal Family of Denmark—Succession to Holstein—The English Consul—Visit to the English Ambassador —Colossal Statue of Christian the Fifth—Anecdote of Belzoni —Trinity Church—Extraordinary Feat of Peter the Great —Ducking an Offender—Palace of Christiansborg—The Exchange —The Castle of Rosenberg 91
Dinner at the Embassy—Manners and Customs of the Danes—The Spanish Ambassador and the English Exile—The Citadel—Story of the Two Captives—Joe Washimtum, again—A Danish Dinner —Visit to the Theatre—Political Reflections—Festivities on Board the Yacht—Merry Party at the American Ambassador's —The Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein 106
The Exile's Souvenir—The Disappointed Artist—Departure from Copenhagen—Arrival at Elsineur—Description of the Town—The Castle of Cronenborg—Hamlet's Garden—Esrom Lake—The Legend of Esrom Monastery—The French War-Steamer —Sailing up the Cattegat 140
Arrival at Falkenborg—The Storm—The Yacht in Danger—Safe Anchorage—Visit to Falkenborg—Ludicrous Adventure—A Drive into the Interior—Great Scarcity experienced by the Inhabitants—Description of the Country—The Disappointed Anglers—Kongsbacka—The Yacht runs aground—Gottenborg 154
The Casino at Gottenborg—Awkward Dilemma—The Watchman and the Northern Star—Swedish Artillery—The Grove—An Old Man's History—The Alarm of Fire—The Carriage overturned—The River Gotha—Washing in the Stream—The Narrow Streets—Description of Gottenborg—Its Decayed Commerce—The Herring Fishery 172
Return to Norway—Sail up the Gulf—Approach to Christiania —Its Appearance from the Water—Anecdote of Bernadotte— Description of the City—The Fortress—Charles the XIIth —The Convicts—Story of the Captured Cannon—The Highwayman —Prospect from the Mountains—The Norwegian Peasant Girl 204
A Drive into the Interior—Extensive and Sublime Prospect —Norwegian Post-Houses—Repair of the Roads—Preparations for Departure 215
The Yacht under sail—Jacko overboard—Fredricksvaern—The Union Jack—Scenery on the Larvig River—Transit of Timber —Salmon Fishing—The Defeated Angler—Ludicrous Adventure with an Eagle—Result of the Angling Expedition—The Bevy of Ladies—Norwegian Dinner-Party, Singular and Amusing Customs 240
Another Fishing Excursion—Landing a Salmon—The Carriole— Boats rowed by Ladies—Departure from Larvig—Christiansand Harbour—Return to Boom—Sincere Welcome—Angling at the Falls—The Forsaken Angler—A Misunderstanding—Reconciliation —St. John's Day—Simplicity of Manners 260
Sailing up the Gron Fiord—Dangerous Swell—Excursion Ashore —Trout-Fishing—Mountain Scenery—Ant-Hills—Hazardous Drive—The Scottish Emigrant—Miserable Lodging—Condition of the Peasantry—A Village Patriarch—Costume of the Country People—Arrival at Faedde 287
Return to the Yacht—Poor Jacko—Ascending the Stream— Description of the Faedde Fiord—Adventures of an Angler—Sail to the Bukke Fiord—The Fathomless Lake—The Maniac, and her History—The Village of Sand—Extraordinary Peculiarities of the Sand Salmon—Seal Hunting—Shooting Gulls—The Seal caught—Night in the North 303
The Dangerous Straits—British Seamanship—The Glaciers of Folgefonde—Bergen—Habits of the Fishermen—The Sogne Fiord—Leerdal—Arrival at Auron—A Hospitable Host— Ascending the Mountains—The Two Shepherdesses—Hunting the Rein-Deer—Adventure on the Mountains—Slaughtering Deer—The Fawn 336
The Sick Sailor—The Storm—The Lee-Shore—"Breakers a-head"—The Yacht in Distress—Weathering the Storm—Return to Bergen—The Physician—The Whirlpool—The Water-Spout —Homeward Bound—Scarborough—Yarmouth Roads—Erith— Greenwich Hospital—Conclusion 397
Page 79, line 14, for "Nelson," read "Gambier." 92, omit "to the eye." 100, line 12, for "Nelson's," read "Gambier's." 145, last line, for "Braggesen," read "Baggesen." 165, line 31, for "they had endured," read "each of them had endured." 201, line 9, read "as here at Gottenborg." 239, line 33, for "immovably," read "immoveably." 243, line 6, for "jibbed," read "jibed." 286, line 18, for "everywhere," read "ever where." 327, line 10, for "than me," read "than I." 338, line 31, for "jibbing," read "jibing."
A YACHT VOYAGE TO NORWAY, SWEDEN, & DENMARK.
DEPARTURE FROM GREENWICH—THE HISTORY OF THE IRIS YACHT—SHEERNESS—HARWICH—UNDER WEIGH—THE NORTH SEA—SAIL IN SIGHT—THE MAIL OVERBOARD—SPEAKING THE NORWEGIAN.
I believe the old Italian proverb says, that every man, before he dies, should do three things: "Get a son, build a house, and write a book." Now, whether or not I am desirous, by beginning at the end, to end at the beginning of this quaint axiom, I leave the reader to conjecture. My book may afford amusement to him who will smile when I am glad, and sympathise with the impressions I have caught in other moods of mind; but I have little affinity of feeling, and less companionship with him who expects to see pictures of life coloured differently from those I have beheld.
At three o'clock on the boisterous afternoon of the 1st of May, 1847, I left Greenwich with my friend Lord R——, in his yacht, to cruise round the coasts of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden; and, although the period of the year at which I quitted London was the one I most desired to remain in it, and join, as far as I was able, in the pomps and gaieties of Old Babylon, I did not like to miss this opportunity, offered under such favourable circumstances, of seeing countries so rarely visited by Englishmen, more particularly as the invitation had been pressed upon me so unaffectedly and kindly, that I could not, with any reason, decline it.
Dropping down with the tide, we arrived the same evening alongside the guard-ship at Sheerness; and, being desirous of making ourselves snug, and of landing two unfortunate friends whom we had originally promised to send ashore at Gravesend, we made fast to a Government buoy, and remained in smooth water till the following morning.
The "Iris" cutter belongs to the R.Y.S., and is the sister-vessel of the "Corsair." She was built by Ratsey for the late Mr. Fleming, with whom she was a great favourite, and for whom she won many valuable prizes. From England to the Mediterranean, she safely bore her first master many times; but with flowing canvass and with rapid keel at last enticed him once too often from his native shore; for, during a cruise in the Mediterranean, after many months of pain, he died while gazing on her. Passing through several hands, serving all equally well in gale or calm, she came at last into the possession of Lord R——, who has travelled farther, and made more extraordinary voyages in her than any member of the Squadron; and in spite of all improvements adopted of late years in yacht-building, there are but few, if any, vessels of seventy-five tons, that can surpass her in speed and symmetrical beauty, or in the buoyant ease with which she has encountered the fiercest storms.
Her crew consisted of seven or eight regular seamen, a sailing-master, mate, cook, steward, and a boy to assist him. A fine Newfoundland dog, called "Sailor," and a droll little ring-tail monkey, called "Jacko," also joined in the mess for'ard. Lord R——, with Captain P—— and myself, made up the entire complement.
On Sunday morning, the 2nd, at eleven, as the church bells of Sheerness were chiming a merry peal, we commenced preparations for our departure, by sending our two friends off in the jolly-boat, in which they must have got pretty wet; for a sea was running sufficiently high to cause them some little discomfort. After a gloomy day's work, we reached Harwich, and at nine in the evening rested again in five fathoms water.
We rose betimes the following day, and strolled about the town in search of stores. We collected on board every kind of preserved meat and vegetable one could think of; and every kind of wine, from champagne down to cherry cordial, the taste of man could relish. We had milk, too, in pots, and mint for our peasoup; lard in bladders, and butter, both fresh and salt, in jars; flour, and suet, which we kept buried in the flour; a hundred stalks of horseradish for roast beef; and raisins, citron, and currants, for plum-pudding.
We had rifles and guns to shoot bears and wolves; and large rods, large as small maypoles, to catch salmon, and small rods to secure the bait. We had fishing-tackle which, when unwound, went all the way into the after cabin, and then back again ten times round the main cabin.
We had water-proof boots, reaching up to the hips, for wading the rivers; and India-rubber pilot-jackets for keeping the chest and back secure from the spray of foss, or wave. Indeed, we had all that the heart of man could wish, and all that his judgment could devise.
I contrived, before the day had passed, to become very sick of Harwich and myself; for of all dull holes in this kingdom of England, does not this one claim the superlative degree? Tuesday, the 4th, still found me on the same spot, gazing on the two lighthouses; and, to enhance my gaiety, R—— and P—— went to Ipswich to see a schooner yacht, being built for an old friend of R—— and at that moment on the stocks. They returned laden with turnips, carrots, radishes, and cabbages. The luckless schooner was rated in great style—berths too numerous, and cabin not lofty enough. A fiddle also was bought to-day for Jerome, a sailor, who, though self-taught, had some idea of music and afterwards, wiled away, in Norway, and on the ocean, during the calm evenings, many a weary hour, by playing to us some of Old England's most plaintive airs.
The following day came and went in the same monotonous fashion as its predecessor, since I find its events recorded thus:—"Fine day—nothing new. Went ashore. Bought fish, mutton, and beef. Eat all the fish, and some of the beef. Wind E.S.E."
Thursday dawned beautifully calm, and not a cloud was visible between earth and the blue Heaven. As I paced up and down the deck, yet damp with dew, I thought the serenity of the morning emblematic of our future wanderings—and was I wrong? As the sun gained altitude and power, the water became rippled with a light air, and nine o'clock found us fairly under weigh.
There was not a heavy heart on board; even Jacko chirupped, and, swinging by his tail from the bowsprit shroud, revelled in the warm sunshine. Being desirous of showing the exuberance of our spirits, R——, who had observed an old dame and her maid plying in a wherry round the cutter—probably to take a nearer view of our beautiful craft and her adventurous crew, or, perhaps to breathe the morning air, I know not which—ordered the two quarter swivels to be loaded, and watching his opportunity, when the cautious wherry came rather near, fired both of them right over the old lady's black bonnet, and sent the wad fizzing and smoking into the servant-girl's lap. I need not describe the alarm of the old woman, nor the shriek of the young one; but the grin of the well-seasoned tar who rowed, coupled with his efforts to keep the fair freight quiet where he had stowed it, were worth our whole cargo.
We shipped from this port a man named King, who was to act as interpreter. He had been in Norway, and was well acquainted with the people and language, having been for many previous years of his life employed in the lobster fisheries. He proved a most willing, honest, good-tempered servant, and a most useful linguist.
The wind being light, the Iris found it tough work in stemming the strong tide which sets into Harwich; but we contrived at half-past eleven to pass Orfordness Light. At six, the breeze having eastern'd a little, and increased till it became what sailors term "pleasant," we lost sight of Lowestoff; and lastly, being this day's work, as well as for the information of all nautical men, we sounded at half-past seven on Smith's Knoll, in seven fathoms.
Friday morning, the 7th, dawned upon our glorious craft dashing through the water in great style, with a moderate breeze from S. to S.S.E. As I cast my eye round the horizon, and descried no land, thoughts of old days crowded to my recollection, when I left home for the first time, and England for the West Indies. How all the high hopes of youth had vanished; and how unaltered my condition now from what it was then! Had an angel come down from Heaven and told me, twelve years ago, when I, a boy, stood on the hencoop of a West Indiaman, gazing at the Lizard, that I should be the same creature in feeling and condition, I should have questioned the prophecy. But the wind is fair, and this is no time for sorrowful thoughts.
"Hard-up the helm! Dick," said D——.
"Ay, ay, sir."
"Some man there, heave the lead!" and down it went, rushing, in five-and-twenty fathoms on the Silver Pits. At nine, the vessel was hove to, and we tried our lines for fish, but did not succeed. We filled on her again, and stood away, as before, to the N.E. At two o'clock, while we were trying our lines for the second time, I felt, suddenly, squeamish; and, in spite of the splendid weather and pure air, wished myself most heartily in the middle of Bond-street, or any, the most ignoble alley in the neighbourhood of Leicester-square. I closed my eyes and fancied myself seated on a bench in the Green Park, watching the sheep browsing round me, and listening to the rumbling of carriages as they passed along Piccadilly. I opened my eyes; the vision fades, and, lo!
"Nil nisi pontus et aer."
However, I plucked up courage, and remained on deck until half-past six, when the gaff-topsail was unbent and the top-mast struck; D——, the sailing-master, anticipating no good from the calm, and the dense fog, which had succeeded a fine wind and cheerful sunshine.
Early in the morning, about four o'clock, I was awakened by a good deal of laughing and shuffling of feet on deck, and by an occasional thump, as if a cargo of pumpkins was being taken on board.
I leaped out of my berth, and, putting my head above the companion, saw all the men who composed the watch hard at work with their fishing-lines, and the main-deck covered with several large codfish. Witnessing the pugnacity of one or two fish when they were hauled out of the water, I turned in again: for it was no easy matter to stand, the swell increasing as we got more on the Dogger Bank.
While we were at breakfast, eating cods' sound and talking of smoked salmon, the sailing-master came below and told us a small vessel was in sight, and, by running down to her, we might speak her and send letters home by her. Of course, all the married men commenced scratching in great style both paper and their pates, and in a shorter time than could be imagined, made up a small mail. The more strenuously, however, we endeavoured to approach the vessel, the more she bore away; and, being a long way to the eastward of us, and going before the wind with her square-sail set, it was doubtful whether we should fetch her. At last, we fancied she mistook us for pirates; for, I must confess, we looked suspicious; and the squadron ensign flying at the peak made our cutter appear more warlike and determined than she really was. By eleven, notwithstanding our friend's manoeuvring, we were pretty close to her, and, lowering the dingy as quickly as possible, two men were ordered to pull to the strange smack, and, ascertaining her destination, to deliver the letters. This last action on our part took the poor craft by surprise; for it was curious to observe the pertinacity with which this little vessel avoided our boat, although we used every stratagem devised by seafaring men to allay the consternation of the weak: such as the waving of our caps, the hoisting of pacific signals, the lowering of our gaff-topsail, &c., &c.; nor could she be persuaded of our amicable intentions before poor King had shouted, at the top of his lungs, that we were Englishmen in search of pleasure, and destined for no marauding purpose.
She turned out to be, what our glasses had anticipated at daylight, a Norwegian, laden with dried fish, and bound to the coast of Holland; and, therefore, our letters were brought back.
Scarcely had the incident I have just mentioned come to a conclusion, than another sail, just emerging from the horizon, was discovered on our weather bow. We rubbed our hands, plucked our caps over the forehead, and walked up and down the deck more briskly than ever; for there is no man who has not been to sea can imagine the feelings of sailors when, far from land, a sail is seen.
Every minute now brought us closer, and at two P.M. we had come within hail. There was little wind, but a nasty short sea was running; and it was comical in the extreme to observe each man endeavouring to steady himself, and place his hands to his mouth for the purpose of hailing, when a sudden swell would send him rolling over Sailor's hutch, or seat him gently on the sky-light behind. After a little trouble, the speaking-trumpet was found and brought on deck, and by its assistance a communication was opened with the vessel. She was a large Norwegian bark from Christiansand, and bound to London. To our request that they would take charge of some letters, the captain, leaning over the weather-quarter, assented in a loud Norwegian dialect. The question which now arose was, how were we to get the said letters on board; but necessity, being here established as the mother of invention, gave a prompt answer. P——, holding the letters in his hand, desired that a potato might be brought. The largest from the store was presented. It was then lashed with a piece of twine to the letters, now transposed into a tidy brown-paper parcel, which P——, balancing in the palm of his left hand, suggested was not of sufficient weight to reach the ship. We were not long at a loss, for the cook appeared, grim and smiling, with a tolerable-sized coal exposed to view and approbation, between his thumb and forefinger. Side by side, like a fair-haired youth with his swarthy bride, the coal and potato were placed; and P——, poising for the second time the precious parcel, rolled up his shirt-sleeve, and, throwing himself well back, hurled, with all the elegance of a Parthian, coal, potato, and parcel toward the Norwegian captain's head. But, horror! the potato and coal combined proved rather too heavy, and, retaining their impetus longer than intended, carried the luckless brown-paper bundle over the lee-side and into the North Sea.
The ship immediately backed her main-yard, and, lowering one of her stern boats, sent her off in search of the unhappy letters; but having rowed about for some time without catching a glimpse of coal, paper, or potato, the search was abandoned, and the boat came alongside of us. After delivering another packet of brown paper, and presenting each man (there were four) with a bottle of brandy, we parted company with mutual good wishes conveyed through our interpreter, King, not omitting sundry well-meaning gesticulations telegraphed between the fat Norwegian captain on the weather quarter and ourselves. This was the first specimen we had met with of northern kindness; and, although we had heard a great deal of their unaffected goodness of heart, this act of civility made no slight impression upon us. At four o'clock, while our Norwegian bark was just hull down, the gaff-topsail was taken in, a strong S.E. wind with rain having arisen. The wind still increasing, at seven the first reef in the mainsail was also taken in, jibs shifted, and the bowsprit reefed.
During the rest of the evening I was a martyr to all the miseries of sea-sickness, and, stretched at full length on the cabin sofa, I closed my eyes, and, allowing my thoughts to wander where they would, hoped to cheat myself out of my present discomfort; but nausea, like no other ill to which we are subservient, is not to be pacified, and I lay the whole night sensible of the keenest pain.
FOGGY WEATHER—FIRST VIEW OF NORWAY—CHRISTIANSAND FIORD—ARRIVAL AT CHRISTIANSAND—DESCRIPTION OF THE TOWN—THE TOPTDAL RIVER—EXCURSION INLAND—THE ENTHUSIASTIC ANGLER—RUSTIC LODGINGS—HUNTING THE BEAR—THE TRAP—THE DEATH—NORWEGIAN LIBERALITY.
Sunday, the 9th, dawned on us, tossed about on a troubled sea indeed; for a strong wind was blowing from E.S.E. However, at eight o'clock, just before breakfast, we sounded in thirty-five fathoms. We had scarcely concluded this cautious operation before the wind began to lull; and after conjecturing, both from our calculations and soundings, that land was not far away, we were confirmed in this opinion by a thick fog rising above the horizon on our lee beam. We went to dinner in great glee, and, in spite of the hazy atmosphere which now surrounded us, compensation was felt and accepted by us at the hour of six, when a perfect calm prevailed; and our peasoup and curry were threatened, for the first time this week, to be demolished in that gentlemanly and collected mode which the usages of society had rendered familiar to our observation in England.
At eleven o'clock at night the haziness cleared away, and in about half an hour afterwards a light was seen. It was imagined to be the light at the mouth of the Christiansand Fiord, the name of which, amidst the bustle and joyousness of the moment, I could but indistinctly learn, and cannot now remember. As midnight approached, our old friend the fog gathered density, and effectually deprived us of the slightest glimpse of the light; and we retired to rest ill at ease, plunged into the vale of anxiety in the same ratio as we had been exalted on the peaks of expectation and joy.
Sunday at sea retains all the monotony of the shore; for the waves seem to show deference to the day, and move their crests with more solemnity and order; while the sailors gather round the vessel's bows, and, in a group, listen with wrapt attention to the sublime and poetic sentences of prophetic Isaiah.
I cannot, in all my wanderings at sea, call to mind a tempestuous Sabbath, nor the sailors who would profane it. Mark them! How solemnly the shadow of thought hangs over their countenances; and how, with cheek cradled on the hand, with pipes unsmoked in their mouths, leaning over the bulwarks, their eyes intently riveted on the clear distant horizon, as, carried away by the inspiration and fervour of the great prophet, a messmate, who reads with energy of gesture, ever and anon raises his voice, which, by its tremulous intonation, tells the deep feeling of his heart, and the quickness with which its pulse vibrates in answer to the burning words he utters aloud!
Monday, the 10th, the most lovely of May mornings, fanned by the softest of south winds. Land in all its grandeur of mountain and of cloud lay before me, the towering peaks of the mountains, capped with everlasting snow, and piercing an atmosphere of the intensest blue.
I sat down on the after-lockers, and looked with swelling heart on the sublime scene. As far as the eye could reach inland, mountain over mountain, extending round half the horizon, the land of old Norway, I had read of in my earliest years, expanded itself. On my left hand the Naze hung, frowning, over the Northern Ocean. How memory, in a moment, rushed back to the quaint schoolroom at Ditton, and its still quainter little bookcases huddled up in one corner, where and whence I first began to pronounce and find the "Lindsnes!"
Just at this instant, poor old "Sailor," who had been poking his nose over the vessel's side, and snuffing and whining, rushed up to me, and, placing his head in my lap, turned his eyes towards my face, and looked as much as to say, "Are we not near our journey's end; and don't I smell the land?" Little Jacko, too, came out of his crib, and chirped, and chattered, and scratched himself, and rolled about on the deck in the sunniest corners; and then, all of a sudden, up he would jump, and, seizing hold of "Sailor's" tail, pull it as if he was hauling taut the weather runner. How everything was replete with life; and how happiness, without the heart's reservation, was written on every face! I cannot conceive anything more exhilarating than a beautiful morning at sea, and land in sight; I could have passed the remaining portion of my life without a pang of sorrow, or a gush of joy, but with equanimity, on this dark blue wave, surpassed only in its dark dye and eternity by the dome on which it looked.
When I returned upon deck after breakfast, the first object that attracted my attention was the helmsman. He smiled as soon as his eye met mine, and raised, in recognition, his Spanish-looking hat. He was a stout, tall, fair-complexioned man, with a mild expression of countenance, blue eyes, a long, straight-pointed nose, high cheekbones, and light flaxen hair flowing down almost to his shoulders. He made some observation to me in a dialect which sounded as being a mixture of German, Celtic, and English; but the sense of it was incomprehensible.
"Norway?" I said in reply, pointing to the land now not three miles from us.
"Ja, ja," he answered; and, turning to King, our interpreter, begged, in the Norwegian language, that some of the sails might be trimmed.
I need not say he was the pilot who had come on board to take us up to Christiansand. His dress differed not from the ordinary costume of our own pilots; but I could not help gazing on him with a feeling of mystery and interest which cannot easily be described. His whole appearance bore a close resemblance to all I had read and seen in pictures of the Esquimaux; and now I have formed their acquaintance personally, I feel assured that the Norwegians are a branch of that family.
The scenery, the nearer we approached the shore, heightened in grandeur. Though we were now not a mile from the most bold and formidable rocks, no harbour or creek of any kind could be seen where we might find shelter; yet our northern guide continued to point out with his finger and explain as well as he could in his strange but harmonious idiom, the mouth of the Fiord, up which we were to proceed to Christiansand.
The rocks along this coast of Norway are terrific, the sea breaking and rushing upon them with tremendous noise and fury. Nor do the waves ever rest peaceably here: for the tides of the North Sea and of the Cattegat both meet together at this point of the "Sleeve," and cause a fearful swell, which, when aided at times by the wind, rises to such a great height that vessels are obliged to run for protection into some of the smaller fiords abounding in this quarter.
It was now mid-day, and the sun shone with more heat than I had felt in the tropics. Indeed, everything around us reminded one so vividly of a tropical climate, that it required some resolution to keep imagination in subserviency. The thermometer was at 80 on deck; and our good-tempered pilot told us it was "manga varm" in August.
At one o'clock, the gallant Iris might be seen gliding along, with her accustomed speed and elegance, in smooth water, up the Christiansand Fiord. As we sailed along we would now and then catch a glimpse of large and small vessels in all directions, in full sail, wending their way through the tributary fiords to some town in the interior. On each side of us rose from the surface of the water, perpendicularly into the clear sky, mountains of solid stone, covered to their very summits with no other vegetation than the fir, which springs out of the crevices of the rocks. We pursued our course for many miles amidst the grandest scenery, changing like a panorama, at every point of land round which the vessel wound, and amidst the most profound silence, which is a peculiarity of these fiords. Ever and anon the gulls, in flocks of thousands, would soar into the air, only the flapping of their wings echoing through these silent mountains.
At three o'clock, as we sailed round an enormous rock about a mile high, with not a tree or shrub of any sort on its surface, the town of Christiansand burst upon the view.
We had no sooner anchored, and the sails were not yet furled, when Captain P——, who was an inveterate sportsman, went ashore to gather what intelligence he could about the salmon fishing, it being for that amusement Lord R—— had been induced to visit Norway.
During the absence of P——, R—— and I lay down on the deck, and feasted our eyes with the beautiful prospect around us. The novelty of every object which met the view acted in broad contrast to England. The cutter was soon surrounded by boats without number, of the most primitive construction and fantastic form. One old man, wearing a bear's-skin cap and a black frock coat, rowed off to us in the family "pram," for the purpose of recommending his hotel to our notice, the cleanliness and comfort of which, he said, were unquestionable; since, to test the verity of his assertions, he handed to us a piece of paper, not larger than the palm of my hand, containing the names of those persons who had lodged under his roof; and the Earl of Selkirk, Sir John Ross, Sir Hyde Parker, and one or two other eminent men stood in bold relief and large Norwegian type. This was the only deed approximating to British we had yet witnessed.
Christiansand is considered as a tolerably important town, and is about half the extent of Dover. The houses are all painted a pure white colour, which has a fine effect when brought so immediately in contrast with the surrounding scenery. There being no ebb or flow of the sea in this part of the earth, no beach exists, and the houses are built on piles close to the water's edge, ships of 500 or 600 tons being moored at the very doors of the warehouses.
I could discover only one church within the precincts of Christiansand, and close to it a dancing academy; for the Norwegians, though they are pious, are as partial to the recreation of a dance as any of our Gallic neighbours; and, during the long and dark days of winter, the merchants and other persons employed in business of any description, close their offices, and devote their time to sleighing and dancing. The town is clean and romantically situated, being girt on the E. and the S. by the picturesque fiord, dotted with islands, which bears its name, and on the N. and W. by mountains rising one above the other until the eye loses them in the mist of distance.
The sun had already sunk beyond the mountains, when P—— returned on board; and, near as the day seemed to its end, it was determined to start for the Toptdal River, and proceed as far as Boom, a small village about twelve miles from Christiansand, where a merchant of some note had granted us permission to fish.
Fishing-rods and fishing-books, and gaffs, and landing-nets, and everything piscatory, were pulled from their cupboards and packed up, that is to say, tied together in three distinct bundles by the mate; and the steward removed from the custody of the cook a large iron pot, which he filled with potatoes, as well as a smaller copper pot for stewing, but which, for the present, received a mustard-pot, some salt in paper, some black pepper, three teaspoons, and a similar number of knives and forks. A good-sized game-basket, cocked hat in shape, was then, after a diligent search, found, brought forth, and replenished with biscuits (for we had not, and could not buy, any bread), three pots of preserved meats, three bottles of champagne, the same of claret, one bottle of brandy, one of Twining's chocolate tin cases filled with tea, both green and black, and a like, though larger, one concealed from the inquisitive gaze some white sugar.
About six o'clock, these items were stowed at the bottom of the gig, under the immediate superintendence of the steward, and the men, with their oars raised aloft in the air, showed all was prepared to convey us on our excursion. After taking leave of one or two Norwegian gentlemen who had come on board to welcome us, with their characteristic kindheartedness, to their country, and, with their usual unaffected hospitality, to invite us to dine with them, we started.
We had proceeded some distance when P——, after lighting his meerschaum, and looking the ideal of comfort and delight, commenced rummaging the baggage of pots and baskets; and he had not given up his energies to that occupation more than a few seconds when his pipe almost dropped, paralyzed, from his mouth, and, with much vehemence of manner and voice, he exclaimed,
"Hang that fellow! Just like him; he has forgotten the pot."
"What pot?" said R——.
"Why, the copper one, of course," retorted P——. "The knives and forks are in it, and the tea and sugar."
"Avast pulling!" said the Coxswain.
"We must go back," said R——.
"Very good, my Lord. Easy, starboard oars," again said the Coxswain; and in a quarter of an hour, we were taking the copper kettle into the gig, which P—— placed quietly away, within his reach and sight, in the stern sheets.
As we rowed on, our fingers (bringing to my recollection my school-days) would occasionally be thrust over the boat's side into the water to test its temperature; for it had been hinted to P—— at Christiansand, that the rivers might yet be too cold for the salmon to leave the sea and enter them.
The Toptdal River is narrow, shallow, and swift of current; so that it is no facile task to contend with its rapidity and force. When we had proceeded about half-way, the boat and its crew were left to contend with the stream, and we commenced walking.
It was now seven o'clock; and, though we were sheltered from the sun's rays by the huge mountain-shadows, the air was warm, and I felt in a short time as greatly fatigued as if it were a dog-day in England.
P——, who, as I said before, was excessively fond of fishing, led the van; and, as we toiled along the bank of the river, would, himself insensible of weariness, scramble down declivities to its edge whenever the projecting rocks formed a kind of pool, and, scrambling up to us again, would assert with emphasis, the convincing proofs the river showed of containing much fish. He would, likewise, plunge his hand into the tide, and deem it temperate in the extreme.
"There now," he said, as we turned a point of land, and saw below us a small bay formed by the indentation of the river,—"there now; do you mean to say there's no fish there?"
"I should think there were a great many," replied R——.
The river flowed on, and brought on its surface the foam of some neighbouring foss, floating unbroken in small lumps like soap-suds; which, borne by the eddying stream, revolved round and round a piece of fallen rock elevated a little above the water. P——, with the eye of a fisherman, gazed on the little bay; and it was with difficulty we could dissuade him from putting his rod together and having a cast. However, we did eventually dissuade him; but he had barely gone on in front, with his usual velocity of motion, when, at the suggestion of R——, I hurled a good-sized stone into the centre of the pool which had so riveted P——'s fancy.
"By Jove!" he shouted, and, starting back, "did you hear that? It was a rise. Holloa!" and he hailed the boat which was struggling against the stream on the opposite bank. He seemed now determined to throw a fly; but the night was so near at hand, and Boom was yet so distant, that we exhorted him to mark the spot for our return on the following day.
"Why, my dear fellow, in two minutes I shall have a bite. Walk on, I'll follow."
"No, no;" and, after a little consideration, he assented to what we said.
The stars now began to show themselves, and shone forth with great brilliancy in the deep blue Heaven. The roar of the first foss, or fall, where we intended to fish, could be heard distinctly; and, about ten o'clock, we arrived at Boom.
We presented, on our arrival, a letter our merchant friend had written to an old and confidential servant, to whose care he recommended us, and desired that every facility should be afforded us in the attainment of our sport. Although it was almost dark, we walked about with the old Norwegian, who, in order to obtain our kind thoughts and inclinations, told us, that he had, in his youth, been apprenticed to a carpenter at Hull. He spoke English sufficiently well to understand what we said, and make himself understood by us.
The first check P—— received to his ardour, was the Norwegian's assertion, that the river was still too cold for angling; and that no salmon had yet been seen or caught in the neighbourhood. He then recommended us to leave Norway and go to Copenhagen, or some other capital in the south, and enjoy ourselves until the snows in the interior had melted, and return to Christiansand about the end of the first week in June, when he guaranteed we should have salmon-fishing in all its phases to our heart's content.
After a slight allusion to the letter we had delivered to him, and which he still held crumpled and soiled in his hand, he said, that his master's house was being painted, and he could not accommodate us as he had been commanded; but, if we had no objection, he would lodge us for the night at a cottage hard by. Many Englishmen, he added, had slept there, and found the people to whom it belonged, clean, attentive, and honest. We replied, that we were content and wearied enough to rest any where, and were prepared to take in good part any abode he could offer us for the night.
We strolled on; and, in a few minutes, a cottage, with thatched roof, and standing lonelily at the base of one of the high mountains, by which we were surrounded, loomed through the grey tint of evening.
Its outward appearance at first, I must confess, staggered my sense of comfort and cleanliness very wonderfully; and its internal arrangements did not at all help to quiet my apprehensions. In one corner of the room into which we were shown, stood a bedstead. Implements of cookery were scattered negligently about the floor, and on a huge hob bubbled a huge saucepan. The presence of salt-herrings and other dried fish, the common Norwegian diet, could, by no art, be concealed. The ceiling was so low, that I could hardly stand upright with my hat on; and the floor being strewed with juniper leaves, the smell of which, though not ungrateful in itself, aided by the villainous compound of stale tobacco smoke, in no way prepossessed me in favour of the cottager's nicety; and, finally, to consummate the discomfort, the small windows were closed as tightly as a coffin, while the evening teemed with all the sultriness of an oriental latitude.
R—— and P—— enjoyed my long face, and each, seating himself on the only two deal chairs, laughed immoderately at my doleful complaints. The gaunt Norwegian, the owner of this humble dwelling, made such comical grimaces, and winked his little eyes so frequently and eruditely, in endeavouring to fathom their mirth, that I could not restrain myself, and took a conspicuous part in the joke. After arranging, through King, who had come with us, as forming one of the boat's crew, where and how we should sleep, we went into the open air, and R—— and P——, lighting their cigars, again entered into conversation with the Anglo-Norwegian regarding the sports of the country. He told us, with brightening eyes, that, at the top of the mountain, which towered in the rear of our cot, a large bear had been seen for some weeks past, and his depredations had been so extensive, that the peasantry many miles round were terrified out of their wits. This was something to hear; but the old man went on to say, that a bait, consisting of a dead horse, had been laid, and he doubted not, but that in a day or two a shot might be had at the brute. After this narrative our sporting curiosity had reached its zenith; and mutually promising to meet at a certain hour on the morrow, we parted with our voluble informant.
Some bread and cheese, and Bass's stout, formed our supper, and reconciled us to our dormitory; and, while we smoked our pipes at the now opened window, we wandered back to old England, and talked of friends and fair ones left behind.
It was near midnight. Descending from the hills, the smell of the evening air, impregnated with the sweet odour of a thousand wild flowers, refreshed us, jaded as we were by a long journey, and added delight to the novelty of our situation. The lofty mountains, too, on either hand, seemed, with their summits, to touch the stars; and, except the roar of a cataract, no sound interrupted the silence, which, amidst such vast natural creations, almost amounted to pain.
Notwithstanding my many antipathies, I went to bed, and slept soundly till the next morning, having awaked but once during the night to throw off my eider coverlet. The Norwegians hold the eider in great estimation, and, invariably, whether it be in summer or winter, place it on the bed of a stranger; but I would recommend those who travel in that part of Europe, as we did, during the three summer months, to decline this domestic attention. The eider appears very much like a feather mattress, but is so light, that, when used as a coverlet, you can scarcely feel the difference between its weight and that of an ordinary linen sheet.
At six o'clock the following morning, we were up and on the banks of the river, which flowed within sight of the cottage windows. Our old Norwegian, punctual to his appointment, was walking by our sides in the joint capacity of spectator and mentor. Captain P—— threw the first fly, and continued throwing fly after fly, various as the tints of the rainbow, but with the same result as the Norwegian had anticipated. I soon became grieved at seeing the river well thrashed, and left P—— to persevere in his sport, and R——, like Charon, standing bolt upright in a punt, rod in hand, and tackle streaming in air, to be ferried about in search of some quiet nook for his particular diversion. Besides, it was now nine, and I felt interiorly that breakfast would be more pleasant than loitering on the banks of a river, pinched exteriorly by the eagerness of a N.E. wind; for the climate of Norway, in the early part of summer, is influenced by the same fickleness as the climate of England; and the wind, during the night, will visit the cardinal points of the compass, breathing as it did last night, from a warm quarter, and will blow as it does this morning, from the opposite extreme.
I had scarcely made myself a cup of coffee, and not yet added the cream, which encouraged the spoon to stand upright in its thickness, when R—— and P——, tired with their angling, came in. After demolishing nearly a dozen eggs amongst us, and two capital salmon-trout, which our fast friend, the Anglo-Norwegian, had filched from a large cistern, where they are placed during the winter, for the benefit of his master's table; and after imbibing cauldrons of coffee—so delicious was its flavour—we showed and expressed great anxiety to pay Bruin the compliments of the season, and as strangers and Englishmen to testify to him, as loudly as we could, the repute his fat had obtained in England.
Our cicerone raised no objection; and, turning to one of his countrymen who had entered the room to gape at us, for I could not then, and I cannot now conceive the nature of his business, addressed him in his native language. The man immediately disappeared, and in half an hour returned with two rifles over each shoulder, and one pistol in his breeches' pocket. The rifles were larger and heavier than the fowling-pieces formerly used by our regiments of the line, and the pistol was of the horse genus, and had a rusty muzzle and a flint lock. However, we were going to annihilate a ruthless foe; and the clumsiness of our accoutrements was of little moment. A few good-natured observations passed between us and the Norseman concerning the susceptibility and quality of the powder, for its grains were coarser than those black beads of which ladies in England make their purses. The said powder for security, was poured into an empty porter-bottle, and corked down.
We started; but we had barely proceeded three-quarters of a mile before our little Anglo-Norwegian, who had abided by our good or ill fortune constantly from the beginning, suddenly remembered that some important business required his presence in the low lands where dwelt industry and peace, and accordingly recommending us to the skill of two guides, shook hands cordially with us, and in a few minutes his ominous face and oval form were hidden from our sight by the shrubs and stunted firs which covered the mountain's side.
The waning of his courage did not darken ours; for, like all Englishmen, we instantly commenced a political discussion, which terminated, after an hour's duration, in the British fleet attacking, fatally, the Norwegian gun-boats at Christiansand, nemine contradicente, and the two boors grinning from ear to ear.
At length our guides, by signs, signified that silence was requisite. A quarter of an hour more elapsed when one of them motioned us to keep close, and going down on his hands and feet, intimated the proximity of our game.
We were now five and thirty yards from the brow of the mountain, and, crawling with the stealth and silence of a cat, the principal guide reached the summit, at the same moment levelling his gun, which made us imagine that Bruin was in full view; but gradually lowering his piece, till the butt reached the ground, and leaning on it with both hands, the man turned towards us, shook his head, and smiled. We were instantly by his side.
Round a hollow piece of table-land, tending to a swamp, we saw, standing at equal distances from each other, three sheds, constructed of long fir poles driven into the earth and tapering, like a cone, into the air, covered scantily with the branches of the pine or fir, and having an only inlet by which a man, crouching, might reach the interior. In the centre of this swamp the carcass of a horse lay, mangled and scattered in every direction. The trunks of trees, which had been felled for the purpose, were piled on the dead body; and this was done that the bear, finding it too troublesome, for he is economical of labour, to remove the body nearer to his den, would satisfy his hunger on the spot, and offer an opportunity to overtake him at his meals; besides, the bear, being quick of sight and shy, and so sensitive of scent that he can smell a man at the distance of a mile or more if he approaches with the wind, will frequently leave his food and as frequently return to it; and, therefore, the Norwegians conceal themselves in the kind of sheds I have described above, and remain for days and nights under such precarious roofs in order to circumvent and destroy the animal.
We felt rather disappointed at not having even seen old Bruin, but a good laugh in some degree compensated us for the fatigue we had undergone. For my own part, armed as I was with the rusty horse pistol, and intent on the manufacture of my own bear's grease, I had heard so many pleasing anecdotes of the bear's noble nature, that I did not regret his retreat had been commenced in time. These animals, unless severely pressed by hunger, will never attack any living creature, and will even avoid with much care those parts of the mountains where cattle are wont to feed; and it is beyond the recollection of the oldest inhabitant, or, indeed, the reach of tradition, when a child has been, in the slightest degree, hurt by the Norwegian bear. On the contrary, it is well known that these animals have met children in their track, and, though at the time much oppressed by thirst and famine, have passed them harmlessly by.
We sate down on a large rock, about twelve feet square, slightly elevated above the ground, and entirely overgrown with moss. A small fir tree, not ten inches high, grew in its centre, and the symmetry of its diminutive trunk, rendered more beautiful by the regularity with which its little branches sprung forth and drooped around first attracted our notice to the spot as one where we should rest.
It was so situated that we could see for many miles around us in one direction; but were excluded from any prospect at the other points. A bog, filled with animalculae of all forms sporting about in the water, which was black from long stagnation, surrounded three parts of the rock, leaving but one approach to it, which was the side least raised above the level of the earth. The bog, therefore, acted as a moat; and it was with that, or some similar feeling of security, we stretched ourselves at full length on the soft moss, and basked in the sun. P——, as usual, drew forth his pipe, and soothing himself with its fumes, exemplified absolute comfort and contentment in the placidity of his countenance. R—— dangled his legs over the edges of the rock; and I, assuming the same attitude, gazed with him on the mountains towering and straggling, at a great distance above and beneath us.
"What a bore it is" said R——, "fagging all the way up here, and not getting a shot at that brute."
"Why, yes," I replied, "but bears, you know, are as likely to deceive people now-a-days, as will-o'-the-wisps did monks of yore."
"That's all very well," observed R——, "but I am no monk, and I think those Norwegians tell a good many lies; and this dead horse has been only pulled about up here by a herd of famished dogs, and no bear. These fellows say there are bears to make their country appear finer than it is."
"No, no," answered P——, "the fact is, we are too late; the day is hot, as you feel, and these animals disliking the heat, feed at daylight, and then retire into the heart of the forest, where they can escape the oppression of the mid-day sun."
"Always?" R—— asked.
"Of course," replied P——.
"Oh! of course;" R—— reiterated, "that may be natural philosophy, but my way of thinking seems as natural; and I take it, that, when animals, like men, know where food is to be found and eat for the mere walking, sunlight and moonlight, heat and cold are alike to them."
"I know," answered P——, "these Norwegian fellows tell enormous crammers; but you may depend upon it, if we wish to get sport we must get up earlier."
"Well," R—— replied, "all I can say to the bears and sporting animals in general is, that if they don't breakfast a little later, or indulge in luncheons, they won't hear much of me. Fun is fun, and sport is sport; but catch me out of bed at half-past 2 A.M."
"I abide by R——," I said, "I hold his logic in high repute, since its principle is good."
P—— replied not; but, removing the pin from his silk neckcloth, stirred up with its sharp point the smouldering ashes of his pipe. R—— looked in silence at the surrounding scene, and then broke into an exclamation of rapture.
"Is it not beautiful?" concurred P——, turning his eyes in the direction of the mountains. "There is nothing in the world to be compared to the sublimity of this scenery, defined as the outlines are by the clearness of the atmosphere and its deep blue tint." After a short pause he continued, "When we can see at one glance such an immensity of space, and know that this vast tract of mountain and of valley must be full of animal life, is not this silence awful?"
We made no answer, but tacitly complied with his observation.
The rustling of dried leaves and the sharp crack of a breaking twig now crept upon the ear; and P——, a sportsman at all points and at all times, had already turned in the direction whence the interruption came; and, as I was about to speak, he grasped me convulsively by the arm, and, without any other intimation of danger, began slowly to raise his rifle from the ground. R—— and I immediately started up, utterly at a loss to know the cause of his dismay.
"For God's sake!" P—— whispered, without removing his eyes from the quarter where they had been fixed, "don't speak: here he is!"
"Here is what?" in imitative whispers, breathed R——; but, at the same time, cocking the trigger of his rifle, "I don't see him."
"Don't fire!" again whispered P——; "take your time."
"'Don't fire!' and 'take your time,'" said R——; "but what do you see?"
"Look there! don't you see him—close to that old stump?"
"Oh! ah! now I do. By Jove! he's a wapper!"
"Where are those fellows?" asked P——, glancing round. I guessed to whom he alluded, and beckoned to our guides, who were sitting at some short distance, in ignorance of our plight, but had been watching our actions with all the attention, and listening to our conversation with all the comprehension of persons who did not understand our language. An instant sufficed to range them at our elbows.
P—— pointed to the spot he had already suggested as the focus of attention, and they both saw, with the quick-sightedness of men accustomed to live by the chase, the cause of his excitement.
"Ja! ja!" they exclaimed simultaneously, their countenances radiant with joy, "goot."
P—— bowed his head in the affirmative; and we could not help admiring the courage of the Norwegians, which seemed to merge into enthusiasm, the more imminent the risk and danger of our sport became.
An enormous bear, apparently fatigued by long travel, and panting loudly with protruding tongue, slowly stalked forth from a mound of earth which had accumulated round the stump of a beech-tree grown to maturity, but now decaying in the midst of rushes and briars of every sort. Bruin, no doubt, overheard our voices, for he stopped on his way, drew in his tongue, ceased his violent respiration; and, raising his head on high, snuffed the air on all sides, and then placing his nose close to the ground, kept it there for some little time. He was eighty or ninety yards from the spot where we stood. As again his head was lifted up, his small tuft of a tail moved quickly from right to left, revealing his turbulence and hesitation.
"Don't let us all fire together," hinted P——, in an under tone; "but let those Norwegians blaze away first, as we don't know anything about their skill."
"Then, I'll follow," said R——.
"And my pistol next," I interceded.
"Very well; and I will try my luck last," said P——. "Are all ready?"
"All right," we both answered, and the two Norwegians assented with a nod.
The bear kept moving gradually near and nearer to the bait, and approached within a very short space of the rock where we lay hid, thickly surrounded by the branches of the fir and beech.
"Fire!" breathed P——, lowly.
One guide, elevating his gigantic rifle, pulled the trigger. A tremendous report was one result, and the total disappearance of the Norwegian was the other; the fowling-piece having kicked him completely off the edge of the rock into our natural moat, the bog. We heard the splash of the man's body below, and thought, at first, he was killed by the bursting of his rifle; but when his companion, who had leaped down to his assistance, helped him, reeking and muddy, from the dominions of the tadpole, and placed him, uninjured, though stunned, on his legs, we could not resist a burst of merriment at his countenance of unmitigated disgust, as the liquid filth oozed from the tips of his dependent fingers.
The sound of our laughter alarmed Bruin, and revealed us to his sight, and, rising immediately on his hind-legs, he commenced moving towards the Norwegians, and hissing like a hot coal dipped in cold water.
"Hang the mud, jump up!" exclaimed P——.
"Grin and bear it, old fellow," and, saying so, R—— quietly levelled his rifle, with some misgiving, for it was of Norwegian manufacture, and fired at the animal. Poor Bruin received the ball in his left fore-leg; and, with a piteous moan, he instantly assumed his natural position on all fours, and hissed and growled, and licked the blood which streamed from the wound. The animal, nothing daunted, even in this extremity, still moved towards us with great ferocity; and, as he came within forty feet, P—— lodged a second bullet in his loin. The pain exasperated him to the quick, and he rushed furiously towards the rock.
"Where's the powder?" shouted P——.
"I don't know," echoed from every one. No powder could be found; the Norwegian having taken possession of the porter bottle, and placed it in his pocket, had doubtlessly fallen with it into the quagmire; and they had now absconded.
"Don't let him get up!" continued P—— emphatically.
"Not to my knowledge," R—— replied, assuming a long recognised attitude of great military defence.
I now presented my rusty old horse-pistol at Bruin's head, at an interval sufficient under the circumstances, of three yards, and fired it; when, whether from having received its contents, or from alarm at its loud report, the bear rolled over on his back; but, recovering himself in a moment, he made an awkward spring, short of the rock, and received, in commemoration of his false agility, a blow on the head from the butt-end of R——'s rifle. The shock removed R——'s glazed cap from his head, and it fell, bounding from the rock, close to Bruin's nose. Mistaking, no doubt, this ingenious covering for R——'s especial skull, the bear, infuriated, flew at it impetuously, and seizing it in his mouth, shook it as an angry dog would have shaken a rag.
The blood was now fastly trickling down his tongue, which hung from his mouth, and through his side at every pulsation, spouted, smoking, the warm element of life. Gradually, slowly, yet reluctantly, his head drooped towards the ground, and, faint from loss of blood, the animal, tottering from side to side, sate, weakened as he was, upright on his haunches, showing his teeth, and growling until the coagulated blood, accumulating in his throat, would make him cough, and threatened suffocation.
Descending from the rock, we came near to the dying creature, and, striving to reach one of us, he lifted his paw, and, as he did so, lost his balance, and tumbled over on the earth. Although, as we supposed, on the point of death, the gallant brute still growled, and attempted to rise again and renew the fight, but complete exhaustion denied what his courage prompted.
The Norwegians now reappeared, and one of them knelt down to remove R——'s cap from the bear's clutches; but the undaunted Bruin, as if desirous of giving his countryman a final embrace, seized him round the neck, and drew him tightly to his clotted breast. We were, of course, alarmed a second time for the man's safety, and by great exertions tried to release him from his perilous condition; but our efforts were not a little crippled by the legs of the Norwegian, which he flung violently about at every possible tangent; and one arm, moving with the rapid oscillating motion of a steam-engine, brought the fist in sharp contact with the other Norwegian's chest, and threw him, head over heels, into the identical pool whence he had himself but lately escaped.
The accident was so ludicrous, that in the ecstasies of mirth, we forgot the man lying prostrate and kicking in the arms of the bear; until, by dint of his own exertions, he released himself, and, standing upright before us, showed his face plastered from forehead to chin, and ear to ear, with a multitude of withered leaves, which adhered to the blood he had borrowed from the animal's wounds.
The poor bear was now dead; and, behaving bravely as he did to the last, we could not help regretting his end. Though young, he almost reached an Alderney cow in height and standard, and great power was developed in the sinews and breadth of his chest. His coat to the touch and sight was soft and glossy as silk.
After standing over his body for a few minutes in silent observation, R—— wiped the gore from his cap, and placing it, shattered as it was, on his head, we all left the bear, for the present, where he lay; and wandering through the forest for some time, enjoyed the coolness of the air at this great elevation, pursuing, by a circuitous route, our descent to the cottage.
Our fame, unlike the
"Fama malum," &c., &c.
of Virgil, did, certainly, precede us with great velocity, but with beneficial effects; for the women came forth to meet us, and looking up in our faces, found out our eyes were beautiful, and our noses better moulded than their own, and called us handsome "Ingerleesh;" and the men, grasping us by the wrists, said we were brave and "goot Ingerleesh."
One little blue-eyed girl, the elegance of her light form unaided by the care of art, attracted my attention; and, with finger in her mouth, sidling coaxingly to me, took my hand gently in hers, and begged in the sweet idiom of her country, and in the earnest tones of her own sweeter voice, that I would carry her with me to "Ingerlaand," where she would serve me, like a slave, till she died.
The sun had long passed the meridian before the felicitations on our success were at an end; and then, having recommended the bear's carcass to the custody of our ancient and well-tried friend, the Anglo-Norwegian, who promised to preserve the skin for us till our return, (and who, by the way, was the first to meet us and thank his pagods for our safe issue out of the skirmish,) and having made a trifling present to our host, we packed up our pots and pans, and, seating ourselves in the gig, were again floating on the Toptdal River.
P——'s first love, the pool, was not forgotten, for he gave it a wistful glance in passing; but the wind drawing aft, our sail was set, and stopping was beyond all question. We continued our course without any interruption until we arrived at the mouth of the river, when a sudden puff took a fancy for R——'s renowned cap, and, forcing it from his head, raised it high in its embrace, and kept it there for a second or two; then, as if suddenly relaxing in its caresses, tossed it vehemently away into the water.
We all witnessed the gyrations of the cap, and saw it fall; but, before we could row to the spot, the great tile sank from repletion, and—for ever!
The same puff in its subtlety nearly capsized us, and completely carried away the step of the mast. No other incident befell us; and we jumped on board the Iris as the church at Christiansand was striking six.
Wednesday, the 12th, did us the kindness of showing the aspect of Old Norway under the effect of a different atmosphere than we had yet inhaled; for it rained the whole day with all the accumulated steadiness, rheumatic rawness, slowness, and obstinacy of a Scotch, or English November mist. We did not, however, heed the weather, but rowed round the Bay, and strolled on the islands in its vicinity, stimulated by the hope of getting a shot at some animal, fish or bird; but no such luck overtook us. We returned on board, wet through, after being absent for three hours, and while removing our damp boots, concluded that we were deceived on our first arrival, and, that Norway was the same "humbugging" sort of a place as the rest of Europe; and, indeed, that the whole world was subject to the identical changes of shower, fog, and sunshine.
Some Norwegian gentleman, just at this nick of time and temper, sent on board a salmon, a brace of black cock, and a cock of the north, as large as a turkey, and we immediately admitted the generosity of foreigners, particularly these Norsemen, but shut out the drizzle of Wednesday, the 12th of May, from any kind of sympathy.
DEPARTURE FROM CHRISTIANSAND—THE PILOT'S PRAM—SKAW POINT—DELINQUENCIES OF JACKO—EXPENSIVE CANNONADING —ELSINEUR—HAMLET'S WALK—THE MINISTER, STRUENSEE— STORY OF QUEEN CAROLINE-MATILDA—LEGEND OF THE SERF.
Thursday broke without a cloud. The wind breathed softly over the mountains from the West. We had no object to detain us longer, for the present, in Norway, and so the cutter was got under weigh. The wind gradually increased, and, at eight o'clock, we passed the Oxoe Light, at the eastern extremity of the Fiord.
The pilot, unaccustomed to the speed of an English yacht, was much alarmed about the safety of his boat towing at the cutter's stern; for, now and then, the antiquated pram would dip its nose so deeply into the water, being drawn swiftly through it, as to threaten instant submersion; and his attention divided between the tiller of a vessel, which flew up in the wind's eye with the slightest negligence, and his anxiety for the well-being of his own boat,—the countenance of the Norse tar was a book on whose leaves the student might have seen how truly "the ridiculous and sublime" can be united.
"Now then, my man," said D——; "mind your helm, or you'll have her up in the wind in a minute."
"Ja; but luke at moin praam—moin Got!"
"Curse your pram,—she won't hurt; haul her on board," said D—— to some of the sailors.
"Nej, nej," exclaimed the Norwegian; "zare—luke zare! Moin Got! luke at moin praam!"
"Her timbers are good, ain't they? If they're good, and will hold together, this lop wont hurt her," observed D——.
"Ja,—goot; but ze vater ville come into moin praam. Moin Got!"
The fellow was glad to take his dollars and his leave, and, as soon as he did so, we shaped our course for the Skaw Point, the most northerly headland of Denmark. The wind now blew strongly from W.S.W., and the Iris tore furiously along, revelling with her favourite breeze, three points on the quarter; and, bounding from wave to wave, she seemed to dally with their soft white crests, which curved half playfully, half reluctantly, as her proud bows met and kissed them lightly, then threw them, hissing, in her wake.
At noon, the latitude observed, was 57.54; and at five o'clock we made the Skaw through the crevices of a fog.
We had run nearly one hundred miles in nine hours, and the reader may easily understand the alarm of the pilot for the safety of his boat. At six o'clock, the fog cleared away, and we discerned with our glasses five vessels which had run ashore during the thickness of the weather. These mishaps frequently occur along this part of the Danish shore, for it is very low, and invariably shrouded in mist.
We did not lack society; as hundreds of vessels of all shapes and sizes, from the lumbering Dutchman to the trim American, were scattered over the surface of the water. We amused ourselves by signalling, first to one ship, and, then, to the other brig, and so on, in rotation, from schooner to smack; and, thus occupied, the afternoon wagged on.
Jacko was convicted of a few misdemeanours to-day, and the principal witness against him was his particular friend, Alfred, the boy. Jacko was seen to descend into the cabin, and, entering my berth, to take thence my best London-made and only remaining tooth-brush; and, after polishing his own diminutive teeth, and committing other pranks with it, such as the scrubbing of the deck, and currying of Sailor's back, left it to batten on the fish-bones in the said Sailor's hutch; and was, moreover, seen by the aforesaid complainant to remove R——'s small ivory box of cold cream from the dressing-case, and, ascending the deck,—not as human creatures do by the companion-stairs, but along the companion-banisters, carrying the purloined article in his tail,—to anoint, in the first instance, his own pugged nose; and, in the second instance, to transfer the obligation to Sailor's (always Sailor!) shaggy ears and shaggier coat; and then, that his guilt might be concealed, till the day of judgment for ring-tailed monkeys should come, the little box itself was sent overboard through one of the scuppers. Jacko was found guilty of these two charges by the steward and helmsman, (whose pipe Jacko had also committed to the waters of the Scaggerack,) and ordered to the mast-head; and there he remained for three hours sitting close to the jaws of the gaff, and chattering, without cessation, his annoyances to the gaff halliard blocks.
At midnight, the Trindelen light-ship bore west, distance six or seven miles. Although Cronenborg Castle had been in sight all day, we did not anchor off the town of Elsineur (the wind being so light) until six o'clock on Friday evening. Immediately on our arrival, a boat was sent ashore to deliver the vessel's papers; for, though the ancient privileges of Cronenborg are not held with such paramount sovereignty as they used to be of yore, some form, and merely form, is, however, observed. For instance—in passing the castle, the ensign of the country to which the vessel belongs must be hoisted at the peak, or at the fore, according to the character of the vessel; and, should this regulation be encroached upon, a gun from the citadel is immediately fired, and is followed by others until the flag is hoisted, and continues to be fired until the flag is seen at its proper place; and, when the commotion is at an end, an artillery officer, or his deputy, boards the refractory vessel and demands payment, (every gun, fired, at so much) for the powder expended in bringing the crew to their senses. Many droll scenes occur between the Castle and the Dutch merchant-vessels going up the Baltic; for the Dutchmen, either from their unwieldiness, or from the confused cargo they carry, cannot always be made, on the instant, to conform to some of these regulations; and the artillerymen, being desirous of profiting by the apparent negligence, knowing well the cause, open an unremitting cannonade on the passive Hollanders, and, in the course of a few minutes, will run up a tolerably long bill.
The night was most beautiful, and the sea calm as death. The fine old Castle of Cronenborg, casting a dark shadow over the water even to the vessel's side, made me dream of days and legends gone by as I remained silently gazing on its elegant tower. My mind, filled with melancholy fancies, flew to centuries long past, when the philosophic Hamlet mused, perhaps, on calm evenings like this, pacing to and fro the very ramparts I was looking on, or sought, on that night of "a nipping and an eager air," the coming of him whose
"Form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones, Would make them capable."
Those old walls, too, are full of poor, Struensee's fate,—he, whose great soul, sundering aristocratic power, first gave liberty to Denmark, and added to her natural blessings the moral beauty of our own dear England. And how does history speak?
On the 16th of June, 1772, a masked ball was given at the Court of Denmark, surpassing the imaginary brilliancy of an Oriental tale. A thousand tapers threw their splendour over a scene already glittering with the beauty, youth, and power of Copenhagen. The mean and daily feelings which give impulse to the actions of political men, seemed absorbed in the joyousness of the moment; and the gravest senators might have been seen on this night, unravelling the mazes of the dance, with the speed and light-heartedness of the youngest girl. The king himself, throwing aside the apathetic reserve of his state, danced a country-dance with the queen; and, at its conclusion, he having retired to play at quadrille with General Gahler and Counsellor Struensee, the youthful queen gave her hand to Count Struensee during the remainder of the evening. At one end of the room, apart from all, and apparently lost in their own thoughts, stood the Dowager-queen, and her son, Prince Frederick. While his royal mother shone with the dazzling brightness of numberless precious stones attired in all the outward pomp of her high position, the Prince was habited in the splendid uniform of a Danish regiment of horse; and the most honourable Order of the Elephant, surmounted with a castle, set in diamonds, and suspended to a sky-blue watered ribbon, passed over his right shoulder; a white ribbon from which depended a small cross of diamonds, and an embroidered star on the breast of his coat denoted him to be also a Knight of the most ancient Order of Daneburg.
Keeping their eyes intently fixed on the beautiful Caroline-Matilda, as she moved through the dance with Count Struensee, they would occasionally, in whispers, make an observation to each other, but in tones so low, that their nearest attendants could not catch its purport. The young Queen, fatigued at last, retired at two o'clock from the ball-room, followed by Struensee and Count Brandt. About four the same morning, Prince Frederick got up and dressed himself, and went with his mother to the King's bed-chamber, accompanied by General Eichstedt and Count Rantzan. As soon as they had reached the lobby of the royal chamber, the page was roused, and ordered to awake the King; and, in the midst of the surprise and alarm that this unexpected intrusion excited, they informed him, that his Queen and the two Struensees were at that instant busy in drawing up an act of renunciation of the crown, which they would immediately afterwards compel him to sign; and, that the only means he could use to prevent so imminent a danger, was to validate by his signature those orders, without loss of time, which they had brought with them, for arresting the Queen and her accomplices. The King hesitated for some time, and, it is said, was not easily prevailed upon to sign these orders; but at length complied, though with reluctance and expressions of great grief. Count Rantzan and three officers were dispatched, at that untimely hour, to the Queen's apartment, and immediately arrested her. She was hurried into one of the King's carriages, and conveyed at once to the Castle of Cronenborg, where she remained until May, when the King of England sent a small squadron of ships to carry her to Germany. The City of Zell was appointed her place of residence, where she died of a malignant fever on the 10th of May, 1775, at the early age of twenty-three. Some most unjust charges, in connection with the Queen, Caroline-Matilda, were brought against Struensee, and, on the 28th April, 1772, he was, together with his old friend, Count Brandt, beheaded, his right hand being previously cut off.
Caroline-Matilda was the sister of George III.; and her infant son, the late King of Denmark, Christian VIII., was at this period taken from his mother, though only five years of age; and this separation from her little son, on whom she doted, hastened to an untimely grave this innocent and unfortunate queen.
The Danish traditions say that for many ages the clang of arms, and groans of human beings, as if in torture, were occasionally heard in the dismal vaults beneath the Castle of Cronenborg. No human creature knew the cause of these strange noises, and desirous, as all people were, to learn the mystery, there was not in all the land of Denmark a man bold enough to descend into the vaults. The sentinels, as they kept watch by night, would be driven by superstitious terror from their posts, nor could they be induced to resume their duty. On stormy nights, when the rain descended, and thunder and lightning disturbed the face of nature, these unearthly sounds would begin, at first by low moans, to join the universal din; then, increasing loud and more loud, add horror to the raging elements. At last, a poor serf, who had forfeited his life, was told that all the errors of his youth should be regarded no more, and his crimes be forgiven, if he would descend and bring intelligence to his countrymen of what he saw and found in these vaults. Oppressed by the ignominy of his fate, he went down, and following, carefully, to an immense depth, the winding of a stone staircase, came to an iron door, which opened, as if by a spring, when he knocked. He entered, and found himself on the brink of a deep vault. In the centre of the ceiling hung a lamp, which was nearly burnt out, and, by its flickering light, he saw, below, a huge stone table, round which many warriors, clad in armour, sate, resting, as if in slumber, their heads on their arms, which they laid crossways. He who reclined at the farthest end of the table—a man of great stature—then rose up. It was Holger, the Dane. When he raised his head from his arms, the foundations of the vault shook, and the stone table burst instantly in twain, for his beard had grown through it. He beckoned the slave to approach; and, when he had come near, said,
"Give me thy hand!"
The slave, alarmed, durst not give him the hand he had required, but, taking up an iron bar from the ground, put it forth; and Holger, grasping it, indented it with his fingers. This friendly response (for Holger perceived not the difference between flesh and iron,) to the feelings of Holger made a deep impression on his heart, unaccustomed though it had been for centuries to the sympathy of his kind, and smiling, he muttered to the trembling slave,
"It is well! I am glad that there are yet men in Denmark."
The serf returned to earth as soon as permission was obtained, and, relating the story exactly as I have repeated it, received his freedom and a pension from the king.
The Castle of Cronenborg was commenced by Frederick II. in 1574, and finished by Christian IV.
The boat returned at eight o'clock, and brought off some bread; but it was so hard and heavy, we could not touch it, though some Danes, who had accompanied our men from the shore, assured us it was the best bread baked in Elsineur, and eaten by the native nobility. It was darker in colour than the brown bread in England; and so acid, that the sailors, who were cormorants at food, and ostriches in digestion, declined the loaf as a gift. Sailor ate it, and had the cholic for three weeks.
Earlier than the sun I arose on Saturday morning. From the spot where the yacht lay at anchor, the town of Elsineur had an imposing appearance; and, besides the number of fishing-vessels which kept popping out of the harbour, one by one, round the pier-head, at this early time, amidst the shouts and merry laughter of their crews, betokening the light hearts with which they went forth to their daily labour,—the wind-mills on the tops of the neighbouring hills, outvying each other in velocity, showed that the inhabitants entertained, at least, habits of industry, and were not, perhaps, unacquainted with the advantages of traffic. But, since we did not land to-day, I will revert to this celebrated little town on our return from Copenhagen, when, I hope, to make myself more familiar with it.
THE PILOT—TEMPESTUOUS WEATHER—DISTANT VIEW OF COPENHAGEN—LORD NELSON—THE BATTLE OF THE BALTIC —THE HARBOUR-MASTER—INTEREST EXCITED BY THE YACHT'S ARRIVAL—THE ARTIST—THE ANGLER—WE GO ASHORE.
At twelve o'clock the pilot stepped on board, and, in a few minutes, with a freshening wind from the westward, we were on our way to the Danish capital. To a warm, unclouded morning, a wet dark day succeeded; and, except between the chasms of flying clouds, the sun wholly withheld its light. The rain fell, at intervals, in torrents; and, concealing myself under the lee of the gig, which was hoisted on the davits, I endeavoured to enter into conversation with the pilot. The silvery hand of time, or heavier one of toil, had tinged his hair; and though (to judge from his sad and thoughtful mien,) life seemed protracted longer than he wished, his career, I learned by hints, had not been without excitement to himself, and could not be recited without interest and instruction to others. The old man was short and stout, and little gray eyes twinkled beneath an intellectual forehead, scarred by a sabre wound. After I had watched him with attention for some time, his firmly-compressed lips and sombre countenance showed the solidity of his character, and no weak point at which I might attack him with an observation. Sailor, who had been reclining in his hutch, disliking to wet his hide, and who was still labouring from the ill effects of the Danish brown bread, now came forth to stretch himself; and, seeing a man, unknown, standing by the compass-box, approached, and, with all the diffidence of his tribe, determined to form no friendship, without previously ascertaining whence he came, and what his business was. Sailor therefore walked with resolution up to the man, and smelt his coat. The dog also applied his nose to a little bundle tied with a dark silk handkerchief stowed unintrusively away between the pumps; and then, turning round, he looked up at me, and wagged his tail. I could almost see a smile upon his face. The old man laughed, and said, half nettled by Sailor's contemptuous way of smelling his whole wardrobe, "Dat is von vine dog."
Though the allusion to the dog's well-proportioned form, or extreme sagacity, was one which answered itself, I replied,
"Yes; and that is the way he makes friends."
"I know, I know," he answered, "if von maan's schmell vosh as goot, ve shoult schmell de tief vary shoon."
"True; but if we are fond of sweet scents, and had to judge virtue and vice by smell, we should very soon leave off smelling, or leave the world."