Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

liar with much that would have burdened, of dancing at the White House during President others. An anecdote is here in point.

Polk's administration.

A company of ladies While Mr. Polk resided in Tennessee, a story conversing with Mrs. Polk one day, alluded to was put in circulation, calculated to injure his the matter rather plainly. reputation as a public man. He was, at the “Why,” said she, in reply to a question time of which we speak, several hundred miles indirectly put to her on the subject, “I away from home. A gentleman well known, wouldn't dance in the President's house, would who was then editor of a political paper, eager you?” to vindicate his fair fame, repaired to Mrs. This silenced them. They were, at once, Polk, and made known the circumstances to struck with the propriety of an answer, so her. She instantly led him into her husband's delicately intimating that the public ball-room, private office, and selecting different journals or the private drawing-room, were much more and manuscripts, referred immediately to the suitable places for such pleasures, than the page and paragraph containing proofs of her residence of the chief magistrate of the nation. husband's non-participation in the plot imputed Her religious views are extremely liberal. to him. These were soon published to the They commend themselves, in the loveliness of world. Mr. Polk was then hurrying home. their charity, even to those who do not coincide Rumours of these accusations had reached him, with her. There is a perfectness in her chaand he was anxious to confute them, before racter, a freedom from austerity and bigotry, they were generally received. As he was that speaks louder than the most untiring crossing one of the rivers of Tennessee, he efforts put forth by many to reform the erring. accidentally met with a paper, containing a She was always regular in her attendance complete refutation of the falsehood. In ex- on the ministrations of her pastor, while in treme, but delighted surprise, he turned to a Washington. Those who were members with friend, and remarked, “Why! this is indeed her, and by whom she was recognised as a true singular-who could have done it? No one but Christian, testify to the uniformity of her exSarah knew so intimately my private affairs.” ample, her affectionate interest in their wel

Mrs. Polk possesses the faculty of making fare, and her untiring solicitude for the prosherself popular with all classes of people. perity of the holy cause, in which she has for None see her but to praise. The sweetness of so many years been engaged. her countenance, radiant with the impress of Her leave-taking of the church was mournmind, and the affectionate warmth of her ful, yet tenderly solemn. The elements of the reception, inspire the beholder with the feeling holy communion were administered to her, that she is an uncommon woman.

amid the silent weeping of gathered friends, I remember my own impressions, when, in waiting to bid her farewell. It was an imprescompany with some friends, I visited the White sive scene; few words were spoken, and those House, on the occasion of a public levee. An were uttered in the tremulous tones of grief, immense crowd had assembled, for it was the but the many prayers for her welfare, silently first day of the new year. The foreign courts breathed by the sympathizing communicants, were well represented, in the imposing splen- blended into one, as on the wings of love and dour of official costumes and uniforms shining faith they were wafted before the Eternal. with gold. The audience-room was nearly I have but faintly limned her virtues; suffice filled. Many ladies, beautifully attired, stood it to say that she is respected and loved by thounear the wife of the President; but among sands who have never seen her. Her name them all, I should have selected her, as fitly has always been associated with good and holy representing, in person and manner, the dignity things. As a wife, & benefactress, a friend, and grace of the American female character. she is a model for every woman to imitate, Modest, yet commanding in appearance, I felt whether of exalted or lowly estate. Her life she was worthy of all the admiration which has been unmarked by sorrow, until the behas been lavished upon her. She was affable, reavement which has so lately afflicted her. easy in her deportment, richly and most be- Existence cannot seem so joyous to her now, comingly dressed. The thought involuntarily since that dark hour. But she has an arm entered my mind, “You well become the whereon to lean; an Almighty presence overhigh station which Providence has assigned shadows her path, to guide her, till the dawn you."

of a purer day ushers her into the better land, Much has been said about the discontinuance where dwell her richest treasures.

LIFE IN THE NORTH.

BY FREDERIKA BREMER.

WRITTEN FOR SARTAIN'S MAGAZINE, AND TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL SWEDISH

BY MARY HOWITT.

OHAPTER I.

Denmark! Thou knowest it, and yet thon

dost not know it, this wonderful little island“We discover throughout all nature an kingdom, which stretches from the vicinity of activity which knows no rest. That which the north pole, where the Greenlander tosses in appears to our eyes repose is merely a slow his “ kajack" amid the icy waves, and sees the change.” Thus says H. C. Oersted in his spirits of his fellows hunt and play in the Philosophy of the Universal Laws of Nature; flames of the northern lights, where eternal and not only to Nature, but to man, to nations, Death seems in the Isse-fiords to have erected to the world, to all created things, do the words the pillars of its temple of never-melting iceof the great naturalist apply. Therefore bergs, which still tremble and sometimes are beautiful and fraught with meaning is the prostrated at the sound of the human voice,* old northern myth regarding the Tree of the to the southern ocean, where, under the glowing World, whose ead, to prevent its withering, line, the sugar-cane and the coffee-plant are must every morning be afresh sprinkled with cultivated by the negro, and the life of nature the waters of the Urda-brunn, or fountain of never ceases to bloom in magnificence. Belife. By this means, says the saga, its foliage tween Greenland and Santa Cruz-eternal greens ever anew, and from its leaves falls winter and eternal summer-lies an archipelago “ dew into the valleys,” the honey dew from of islands subject to the Danish crown-Icewhich the bees collect their nourishment. True land, with the most ancient memories of the and beautiful! for the tree does not live North, the volcanic cradle of the skalds; the through its great boughs alone, but it breathes Päro Isles, peculiar in scenery and people, through its smallest leaves. These convey the where amid rocks and mists the sun portrays power of the sun and the nutritive principles Ossianic shapes; the Halligs, where the men of the air, by invisible channels, to the root, and and the sea contend for the land; and many, the vigorous sap ascends also from the root to very many more. But Denmark proper, the them. In this movement of exchanges all life oldest and the original Denmark, that by whose moves both in heaven and upon earth. Friend cradle the Vala-songs resounded; that which, in in the South! I know that life in the North common with Sweden and Norway, has a mythic seems to thee scarcely more than a lifeless lore, and in that a philosophy of life loftier than condition, like that of the bear in his winter that of any other people on the earth; that sleep; like the slow movement of Uranus round the sun compared to the whirling waltz

They who have not frequently seen these Fiords, may

summon to their aid all the powers of their imagination, of Mercury--the life of the South. And this

and even then will not be fully able to conceive them. may be admitted, that life in the North, com- Imagine a tract of many miles full of icebergs, so huge pared with life in the South, may be called a that they descend from two to three hundred fathoms still life.

below the surface of the sea. In sailing past them, you

see houses, castles, gateways, windows, chimneys, and the But the life of the developing plant, the like. Some are white, some blue, others green, according ripening fruit, the ascending day, the advan- as they are of salt or fresh water, whereby their illusion is cing spring, is also a still life, and yet it is pro- greatly increased, especially when the powerful rays of gressive, full of power. And such is the life of the sun come in aid. They have an attractive power,

which is, without doubt, in a great measure derived from the North at this moment. I speak of the currents, and by which large ships are in danger of being Scandinavian North. And as an auspicious driven upon them. The Greenlanders are familiar with star conducted me lately to that part of it them, notwithstanding which many of them pay for this

confidence with their lives. But as the seals are fond of where this life is in most activity, that is to

their vicinity, they are obliged to seek them there, and Denmark, I will converse with thee a little fetch away bread or death. Echo is so strong among the about life as it is there. And yet, in its iceberge, that when people speak in sailing under them, essential principles this is not different from they not only hear their words distinctly returned from from whose shores the Norman bands went a People, a living unity; an eternal, undyforth throughout the world, with their heroes | ing genius, with a peculiar existence, a pecuand their songs; Denmark proper, the mother-| liar mission in the history of mankind. Such land, consists of the great and fertile islands, a time does not come all at once, as by a where the beech woods murmur, where the stroke of magic. No; silent streams from the stork, the sacred bird of Denmark, builds its wells of life, silent influences of the sun, nest, in whose azure creeks the Dannebrog, quickening winds, storms, or zephyrs, prepare the national flag, floats—the beautiful islands it long beforehand.

the summits, but if these are rotten, as it is there calledthat which is contemporaneously moving in

that is, loose-they are shaken by the sound, and plunge Sweden and Norway.

down headlong--and wo to those who are near them.

So in this case. What of Zealand, Jutland, and Funen. There has pure patriotism, what a great love for the the Danish people its home; the home of which humanly great, what genius and virtue effected Ingemann sings:

through the men and women of Denmark; what

the great kings of this little country, its war“Denmark with the verdant shoro

riors and poets have accomplished through the By the sparkling floods, In thy breast dwells love secure

past centuries for the honour of the nation, for And peace within thy woods.

the good of the people, for the advancement of Singing wild birds cleave the air

this spring of which we speak,—all that, we O'er the giants' barrow,

must leave here unnoticed; little indeed of And violets spring up everywhere All the valley thorough.

that has the historian recorded: who on earth

knows the sources of the Nile? But we revert Bloody Christian! Sweden's éxecutioner, to these things that we may not be wanting in how couldst thou be born among this people, justice and piety. The spring is come--the in this land !

spring which they nobly prepared; and I will It is a kindly and a noble land; a land of now speak of its phenomena as they have green and undulating fields, which, without developed themselves within the last century, mountains and rocks, but with fertile plains and especially within the last twenty or thirty and beautiful woods, arises from the sea : years, as I have seen them, and see them at Zealand, with rich corn-fields, old towns, with this moment in actual life. Regard this old, proud memories, cairns, and castles; sketch as a faint attempt to reflect impressions Funen, with its orchards, its fine estates, its for ever stamped on the heart's memory. wealthy farms; Jutland, with its heaths, the At

On Christmas Eve, 1848, a chill and cloudy lantic, Himmelberg, features of grand scenery, winter's evening, I found myself in Copenwhich are almost adored by those who have hagen, in a large hall, where more than a lived among them from childhood. Around the hundred children, boys and girls, sung, danced, large islands cluster a wreath of small, often and made a joyous clamour around a lofty very small ones—which also abound with Christmas Tree, glittering with lights, flowers, great recollections; some from the times of the fruits, cakes, and sweetmeats, up to the very sagas, some from later ages, and which have

ceiling fostered many a great man for the common mother country. There breathes a fresh, kind

But brighter than the lights in the tree ly, vernal life over these islands, around which shone the gladness in the eyes of the children, swell the waves of the North Sea, with the and the bloom of health on their fresh counteCattegat, the Baltic, and the Atlantic. This

A handsome, stately, middle-aged harmonizes with the spirit of the people ; for lady in black went round amongst the children, notwithstanding the solemnity of the memories with a motherly grace, examining their work in of the ancient times--notwithstanding the sewing and handicraft arts, encouraging and stamp of the northern spirit in the character rewarding them in an affectionate manner. of family and popular life, it cannot be denied The children pressed round her and looked up that Scandinavia has in Denmark its link to her, all seeming to love, none to fear her. with southern Europe, and that the southern It was a charity-school in which I found life shows itself amongst the Danish people, myself; it was Denmark's motherly but childcombined with the natural liveliness of dispo- less Queen, Caroline Amalia, whom I here saw sition and manners of the islanders. The surrounded by poor children whom she had Danes have, of late years, undergone a great made her own. It was a beautiful scene; and change, yet without losing their peculiar cha- what I here saw was also an image of a life, a racter. They have been born to a new life, or movement, which at this time extends through rather, they have awakened to a consciousness the whole social life of the North. It is the of their own proper life.

womanly, the motherly movement in society, There is a spring-time also in the life of expanding itself to a wider circle, to the care the people, when the inner life, as it were, of the whole race of children beyond the limits bursts its limits and blossoms forth vigorously. of home; to the enfranchisement, the elevation These are the times when a people feels itself l of all neglected infancy. It is the maternal

nances.

advance from the individual life into the gene- , and by their means the young criminals were ral, to the erection of a new home. The asylum speedily removed from the capital to the remote is an expanded embrace. There Christian love provinces, where they were placed in good and makes restitution for the injustice of fortune. orderly families, chiefly those of farmers. There the child seems to escape from the faults Transplanted into a better soil, these young and the calamities of its parents, to be pre- shoots of vice almost wholly changed their served for society at large, and to be educated nature, and became good and serviceable memfor its benefit. Silently proceeds the maternal bers of society; while ever since this period power to give a new birth to the human race the amount of crime in the capital has signally in its earliest years. But we rely on this decreased, * and the public good has as sensibly power more than on any other on earth for the improved under the continued culture of the accomplishment of this work, if ever such a before neglected youth. Very rarely now is new birth is really to take place. And that the eye or the mind shocked in the streets of the women of the North more clearly seem to Copenhagen by the sight of mendicant chilaccept this mission, and that the Queens of the dren. North, Carolina Amalia in Denmark, and Jose- Here we have the Nile-sources in society, those phins in Sweden, march at the head of this which are concealed in the heart, and which maternal movement, it is only a duty to ac- go forth out of their silent deeps to constitute knowledge. Nor do these ladies confine them- the stream of beneficence, and fill the land with selves to the care of childhood; they extend good corn. There are also silent blessings. their beneficent activity through a variety of No voice proclaims them on earth, but they rest channels to the children of misfortune, to the with a secret sun-power on the benefactors, solitary, the sick, the old and neglected in whether the day is stormy or the night dark society, who are sought out and assisted or and oblivious. consoled by the more fortunate. * Blessed is Denmark's motherly women; men like Drewmaterial help in the huts of the needy; but sen, V. Osten, Brink-Seidelin, and others; still more blessed is the intellectual result and the venerable Collin, the minister of two which is effected by the personal, affectionate kings, and to whom his country and its people sympathy of the rich, whether in intellectual owe so much on many accounts, cannot be or worldly wealth, for the poor in society.

without such blessings.

For the rest, it can do us no harm to listen to the words of these men, in the report which they have lately made of their operations in the above-mentioned departments.

“Many,” say they, " are the circumstances To this, an activity not less on the part of with which we have become acquainted by the men associates itself, supporting it and placing ourselves in connexion with the famicontinuing it where it ceases. We will merely lies whose children have been taken under our give an example of this. About thirty years care, and we have through them arrived at the ago, there swarmed in the streets of Copenha-conviction, that the great objects which those gen a multitude of lads from ten to fifteen who desire to improve the condition of the years of age, like those in Stockholm, who are labouring classes, above all others, ought to called Hamnbusar, or ragamuffins; a repulsive aim at, are:-a stricter morality; a more conrace, in filthy garments, and with wild thievish scientious education of the children; more eyes; the children of crime and misery, and steadiness in labour and for the individual growing up in all wickedness, for ever on the development during it; a greater regard for watch for robbery and mischief. A government the sacredness of marriage, and its importance officer, who about that time received an office in in society; and a more universal taste for the the police, Mr. A. Drewsen, was struck by the enjoyment of domestic life. Guided by these prevalence of this class, laid it to heart, and convictions, our association has proceeded with with other similarly disposed and philanthropic the education of children. It will henceforth men formed a plan to extirpate this growing evil receive increased activity in this direction, and by a thorough and searching remedy. When he we are persuaded, that although at the present had matured his scheme, he called on his fellow- moment, other circumstances demand great citizens for assistance. He did not call in vain. sacrifices, the labours of the association will Liberal subscriptions flowed in from all sides ;

• Another cause of this ought, however, to be taken * One of the most actively useful societies in Copenha- into account; the more favourable circumstances of recent gen ought to be mentioned, “The Female Association of years in trade and cheapness of food the consequence of Nurses," under the patronage of the Queen, and the ma- which has been a growing prosperity amongst the working Dagement of the chief Lady of the Court of the Queen, the classes, plenty of employment and good wages, &c. In universally respected Mrs. Rosenörn.

Denmark there is no genuine proletariat.

CHAPTER II.

not be crippled for lack of the accustomed | about it, retain through it all their goodaid.”

humour. A silent party at Stockholm would This aid is frequently called for; for what actually be confounded at the bustle and loud ever is needed in Denmark for the promotion loquacity in the drawing-rooms of Copenhagen. of a better condition of the people, is in no This produces not a harmonious, but a lively country more readily granted. No calls are effect; while the frank kindness which is shown made in the name of humanity, for the support to the stranger, cannot but present life to him of the general or of particular good, which are in a pleasant aspect. not eagerly responded to. Such a fountain But to praise politeness in drawing-rooms, is lies in the heart of a people. There are gold just as much as boasting that there is bread in mines richer, more inexhaustible than those of bakers' shops. No, if you will become acCalifornia.

quainted with the amiable disposition of the The Dane does not willingly talk of his Danish people, you must go into the streets, heart. He will frequently pretend to himself amongst the people, who are called “the raband others, that he has no great quantity of ble;” see them in their traffic and mutual “that article.” But he is fundamentally a intercourse; talk with them; ask your way; cordial and good-natured man. No one loves beg a favour, and so on; and you will be more warmly, more faithfully than he. First amazed at the good-will, the politeness, and of all, his fatherland. The Dane loves Den- the readiness to oblige which you will meet mark as his bride; his young, wedded wife. with, till you are compelled to say, “ In CoHolger, the Dane, the people's national genius, penhagen there is no rabble.” warm-hearted, true, brave, always at hand in In Copenhagen you will be obliged to say the time of need, is the symbol of the people's life. to yourself, “the Danes are a good-looking

The Dane in Copenhagen, or the Copenha- people.” You see very many pleasant countegener, is not quite so good-natured as the Dane nances, though but few handsome ones. The in general; he has frequently head at the contour is more oval, the features finer than expense of heart. He is critical.

He has a in Sweden. In Sweden prevail more strength quick glance for the faulty and the ludicrous and beauty of the eyes ; in Denmark it is the in his neighbour, especially in the literary pleasant and living expression of the mouth. world. Holberg's spirit still lives in Copen- The complexion is fresh, and the expression of hagen. And truly this critical disposition is the countenance gladsome and kind. The frequently in the excess, and it does some- ladies dress with taste and elegance. You see times exaggerate the little failing more than many black silk cloaks or mantillas ; white is either handsome or reasonable. But this bonnets with flowers or feathers floating about is not dangerous. The good-humoured smile in the “ Esplanade,” the "Lange-Linie,” along is still near at hand, and the hand is ready the Sound ; in the “ Bredegade,” and the “Oesfor conciliation. Revenge and malice are un- tergade”—Oestergade, frightful to the memory known to the Dane; he abhors ill nature; and of every quiet soul unaccustomed to the bustle if he sees any one pursued by ill-will, he is of Copenhagen, and who feels himself in the immediately on his side, crying, “ Hold! I can- predicament of wanting to purchase articles of not allow that!”

clothing. For whatever you want, bonnet, The Danes in Copenhagen appear to stran. cap, lace, ribbons, shawl, material for dresses, gers a lively, joyous, life-enjoying, and in a parasol, umbrella, gloves, stockings, shoes, for high degree, amiable people; open-hearted, all these you are directed to the Oestergade. sympathizing, and ready to oblige. In many And when you arrive in this street, morning, respects, they remind you of the Athenians, noon, or night, whatever be the time, you find as Copenhagen, with its stirring and viva- that the whole city is there already, purchascious populace, its museums, its galleries and ing, walking, talking, and looking about. If artists, its learned men and their lectures, you are in the dangerous condition of being its theatre-life and the people's enjoyment obliged to hasten through the Oestergade, in of it, may well be styled the northern Athens. order to reach the other side of the city, then, Copenhagen bears the same relation to Den- poor, inexperienced wanderer, commit thy soul mark, that Paris does to France. It is the into God's hand, and make thy way as thou centre, the organic point of the land where

But prepare thyself for exertion, opposits the life and the soul. The quiet Stockholmsition, and vexation. For at the very comwould be astonished could it come on a visit to mencement, as thou attemptest to advance, Copenhagen, and see the life and the activity three ladies and five servants, each with a there, and how the people there, principally in basket on her arm, stop the way; and if thou certain streets, swarm about one another; run attempt to pass to the right, there comes a amongst each other; throng and push one crew of sailors in full speed; if to the left, another; and as if not troubling themselves two gentlemen in the greatest hurry, cigar in

canst.

« ForrigeFortsæt »