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قراءة كتاب Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 305 New Series, Saturday, November 3, 1849

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‏اللغة: English
Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 305
New Series, Saturday, November 3, 1849

Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 305 New Series, Saturday, November 3, 1849

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 2

chivalry. The paroxysm of public feeling in which such noble structures originated was a true thing, and one of the finest true things of its era. It is past—it can never be reproduced. The feelings and energies which took that direction are now expended on totally different objects. It is from a different and secondary source that Gothic renovations proceed.

At this time there were in Hull 8000 people out of employment, in consequence of the interruption to the Hamburg trade, and it was said that much misery existed in the town. One would have expected, in such circumstances, that any little job to one of the hangers-on of the streets would have been keenly relished, and the remuneration, if decent in amount, thankfully received. Nevertheless, when I handed a shilling to two men who had, at one turn of three minutes, carried my few packages from the cab on the quay into the vessel, it was contemptuously rejected, and only accepted after it became clear that I would not accede to their demand of half-a-crown. What would a foreigner, in such circumstances, have thought of the state of things which had been described to him as appertaining to Hull? He could scarcely have resisted a supposition that bad times in England are something better than the best times on the continent.

Usually, the passport grievance does not commence till one has set his foot on a foreign soil. On this occasion it began before I left the harbour. At the earnest solicitation of the owners of the steamer, I went to the Danish consul to have my passport visé, for the sake of establishing that I had come from a district unaffected by cholera. For this a fee of five shillings was exacted from myself and some other passengers. It was hoped, by such means, that no interruption would occur in the landing of passengers at Copenhagen, and the subsequent proceeding of the vessel to St Petersburg. It will be found that in this object we were disappointed, and that the exaction was to us virtually an act of spoliation. When will states be above the meanness of imposing these petty taxes on travellers, whom one might suppose they would see it to be for their interest to encourage, by every possible act of civility and generosity, to visit their lands?

On rising early next morning, I found the vessel ploughing its way out of the Humber, with the new works of Great Grimsby on the right. This is designed as a new port for the east of England, in connection with certain lines of railway. It is to enclose a hundred and thirty-five acres of the sea-beach, and within this space there will be an entrance basin, accessible at all times to every kind of vessel, besides large docks, piers, and wharfs. The scheme is a magnificent example of English enterprise, and promises to be attended with success. In this event, Hull must fall into a secondary place among British ports. If I am rightly informed—but I only speak upon report—those privileges which have hitherto appeared as her strength will have had no small concern in bringing about the result.

A sea-voyage seems as if it could never be a comfortable thing. The sickness from the motion of the vessel is the first and greatest drawback; but the lesser evils of straitened accommodations, imperfect ventilation, the odious smell inherent in the vessel, and the monotony of the daily life, are scarcely less felt. Prostrated under a sense of nausea, afraid to rise, and afraid or unable to eat, unable to exert the mind in reading or discourse, one sinks down into a state of mere stupid endurance, almost the most hapless in which one can well be in the course of ordinary existence.

After suffering thus for four-and-twenty hours, I ventured upon deck, and, finding the weather not unpleasant, walked about for an hour or two. Here the want of objects on which to exert the mind beset me, and I became surprised at the interest which the slightest change of circumstances or sights occasioned. We eagerly scanned the dim horizon for vessels, and reckoned them up with the greatest care. We marked every variation in the direction of the wind, and in the ship's course. But all was insufficient to give an agreeable stimulus to the craving mind, and passiveness always appeared, after all, as the best resource. Seeing two vessels at a distance, sailing different ways under one wind, I amused myself by comparing them to two speculative philosophers driving to opposite conclusions from one set of facts.

On the third morning there were some symptoms of our coming near the land, though it was still beyond the ken of vision. One of these symptoms was a couple of small boats. Finding afterwards that we sailed seven hours, or as much as seventy miles, without approaching the land, I wondered that two small boats should be met so far out at sea. Supposing they were fishing-boats, it was the more surprising that it was on a Sunday morning, though this, a passenger explained, might be from an anxiety to make as much as possible of the short season during which fishing can be carried on in these seas. As we approached the opening of the Sound, vessels became more frequent, and at length one happy passenger was able to announce that he saw the 'loom of the land.' It was, as expected, a portion of the north of Jutland, a low tract of sandy downs, presenting scarcely an object for many miles besides a lighthouse and a solitary country church. We soon passed the Skaw Point, amidst a crowd of vessels of all sizes, calling for almost as much care in steering as is necessary in conducting a drosky through the Strand. Then the young moon appeared setting in a cloudless summer sky, and it became delightful to walk along the elevated deck, watching her slow descent into the gleaming wave, interchanging a word of remark now and then with a companion, and mentally speculating on the new scenes which must meet our eyes under the next sun. We were all by this time fully restored to our usual healthy sensations, and each meal, as it came upon the board, was heartily done justice to.

I was awakened next morning at five with the intelligence that we were just about to pass through the Sound. I ascended to the deck in a provisional dress, and soon saw that assemblage of objects which has been made so generally familiar by means of pictures—a low point, fronted with mounds bristling with cannon, and an old pinnacled palace starting up from within a few yards of the water's edge, while the narrow sea in front bears a crowd of vessels of all sizes. We had now an opportunity of examining the coast on either hand, but found nothing worthy of special observation, beyond the smiling character imparted to the landscape by pleasant woods, cottages, and gardens, such as one sees on the coast of England. Behind Elsinore, however, there is a lofty bank, of which I shall afterwards take some notice.

After passing a few miles of the low coast of Sealand—for such is the name of this insulated part of the kingdom of Denmark—we were told that the vessel was near Copenhagen, which, however, shows itself in this direction only by a few traces of steeples and dock-yards, with a screen of green mounds serving as batteries in front. We were quickly brought to a pause in the mouth of the harbour. Every passenger had prepared for immediate landing. The offer of breakfast by the steward was treated disdainfully, as visions of the Hôtel Royal rose before us. The captain had gone ashore with our passports, and his return with permission for our landing was instantly expected; when a rumour began to spread that we were to be detained a couple of days in quarantine. It proved to be too true, the government having received intelligence of the revival of cholera in London, which had determined it to subject all vessels coming from England to a quarantine which should interpose five full days between their leaving port and their landing passengers and goods in Denmark. Then all was dismay, though at first we could scarcely perceive or believe in the extent of our misfortune.