CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OF 'CHAMBERS'S INFORMATION FOR THE PEOPLE,' 'CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c.
VOYAGE TO COPENHAGEN.
Ever since the end of a very pleasant excursion in Rhineland and Switzerland in 1848, I had set apart the summer of the present year for a more extended tour, which should embrace the principal German cities and Italy. When the time came, however, those parts of the continent were in such a volcanic state, that unless I had had a decided taste for walking over hot cinders and lava ('incedere per ignes'), there was no chance of getting along with any degree of comfort. In these circumstances, I turned my thoughts to a part of Europe which is not perhaps possessed of so many attractions, but which at least had the merit of being sufficiently cool for the foot of the English traveller—namely, the group of countries which rank under the general appellative of Scandinavia. In England these countries are generally regarded as only too cool—which is not altogether true either—and they are accordingly little visited. But here, again, lay a reconciling consideration; for, if neglected, they were just so much the more recherchés to the person who should make his way into them. I also reflected on the singular social condition of Norway as a curious study for such a wanderer as myself: it would, I thought, be deeply interesting to try and ascertain if a democratic constitution, and the absence of a law of primogeniture, really did render that country the paradise which it appears to be in the pages of Samuel Laing. Then there were some curious geological and archæological studies to be pursued in Scandinavia. One large lump of it is supposed to be playing a sort of game of see-saw, to the great inconvenience of mariners in the adjacent seas; while another, though now steady, appears to have at some former period been engaged in the same strange procedure. According to some philosophers, there had been a time when a sheet of ice had passed athwart the whole country, rubbing away every asperity from its craggy surface, excepting only the peaks of the highest mountains. Its wild fiords were still as curious for their natural phenomena as for the lonely grandeur of their aspect. And the remains of the early inhabitants of these remote regions, whether in the form of literature, or that of their arms, personal ornaments, and domestic utensils, were, I knew, a treasure of the richest kind to any one taking the least interest in the past history of his species.
Having, for these reasons, determined on a tour through Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, I left Edinburgh in the latter part of June. The readiest course for one proposing such a tour is, in general, either by the steamers which leave London, Hull, and Leith for Hamburg, or those which proceed from the two first of these ports to Copenhagen. At the time of my proposed journey, the Elbe was under blockade by the Danish navy, in consequence of the Sleswig-Holstein war. Copenhagen was therefore the only access. It is much to be regretted that there is no steamer direct from England to any port of Sweden and Norway. There was one to Gottenburg a few years ago; it was discontinued because it did not pay. According to Swedish report, an endeavour to revive it has been obstructed by a demand of the English government that only English steamers shall be employed; apparently a most unreasonable demand, and one not characteristic of the present policy. It would surely be much to be lamented if anything so advantageous to the two countries as a direct intercourse be really prevented by such petty difficulties. Let us hope that not another summer shall elapse without the revival of the Gottenburg steamer.
A railway train conducted me from Edinburgh to Hull in the interval between breakfast and supper, allowing me three hours of pause at York, which I employed in a visit to the Minster. The consequences of the second conflagration of this superb building are now repaired, and the edifice is probably in a state of completeness, both as to building and decoration, which it never knew in Catholic times. I was led to reflect how strange it was that so much zeal had been expended in the reconstruction of this theatre of an extinct drama—for the Gothic church of the middle ages was strictly a theatre in which to present daily to mankind, under suitably impressive circumstances, the spectacle of a divine sacrifice which had been made for them. Under modern Christianity, this object exists no longer. The ancient church, accordingly, when too large to be rendered into an ordinary place of worship—as is the case with the English cathedrals—becomes, over and above the corner devoted to the reading of a liturgy, a mere antiquarian curiosity. It is strange that what was done in the twelfth century under the impulse of a powerful religious feeling, can now be done, and done more promptly and quickly, under a feeling almost purely romantic. We must of course rejoice that so beautiful a building as York Minster has been redeemed from the ruin into which it was accidentally thrown, and once more made worthy of the homage of the highest taste. Yet we cannot well forget that such works amongst us can only be something similative or imitative—what the Eglintoune tournament was to real