Imágenes de páginas

attributed to this massy building its due share of importance in adding to the grandeur of the scene.

Whilst on the subject of the picturesque we shall notice the following observations, which Mr. James introduces in speaking of Falcrantz, a painter of some eminence in Sweden.

* It is not enough in modern days that a man should design and execute with taste and spirit; our ideas of excellence are formed on certain fixed models, and our prejudices are become by association so strong, that any recent production, whatever its intrinsic merit, is disregarded, if it does not savour in some respect of the style of the old masters. Nor is this a mere outcry of fashion, but a fictitious feeling which has grown upon us by habit, till it has entirely overpowered the natural bias of our minds. The arts, we say, are lost to our days, that is, they have flourished in times past, and for this very reason they never will or can attain again the same degree of excellence. The great masters of thre several old schools of painting have lest nothing to their successors but imitation: and the necessity of following the beaten track lays a restraint on the efforts even of the most daring, and effectually suppresses the experimental ardour of native genius.'-pp. 122, 123.

Nothing is more true than the remark here made respecting the fictitious feeling in regard to ideal beauty, which the study of the old masters in painting is too apt to create, and the despondency which is often produced by too high a veneration for their most celebrated works. We do not go so far as to say, with some, that: a large collection of pictures of the greatest painters may prove detrimental to the young artist by encouraging in his mind a feeling of inferiority on turning to his own unsatisfactory performances; but it is not impossible that native genius may be materially depressed by too servile an imitation of the ancient professors of the art, and too enthusiastic an idea of the excellence of their works.

The account by Mr. James of the elevation of Bernadotte to the rank he at present holds in Sweden, corresponds with the statements which we have before heard from those who were likely to be best informed on the subject. Bonaparte, it is clear, had no hand in his election; and it is equally evident that it was no part of Bernadotte's project in joining the coalition against France, to remove his former master from the throne ; for so long as he continued Emperor of the French there would always exist a stubborn in stance of successful usurpation which would blind the world to the weakness of the Crown Prince's title. We know that in discussing the probable issue of events, at the opening of the campaign, with those who were empowered by this country to negotiate with him, Bernadotte spoke largely (a failing to which he is addicted) of his intended operations, which he announced with confidence, would compel Bonaparte to cross the Rhine by the month of March following, and ultimately to grapt peace to Europe. Here his prophecies ended, though after all they far outstripped his performances; and it is fortunate for the good cause that the other members of the grand alliance.were guided by a more disinterested policy than that which marked the career of this successful adventurer. Throughout the whole of the campaign it was visible, that if victories were to be gained, the allies must suffer him to achieve them at the expense of any troops but his own; and his tardy co-operation in the advance through Germany produced more than one angry and uncourtly message from Blucher, whilst zealous in the pursuit of the enemy. At Leipsic, as is well known, his conduct was so equivocal as to call forth the strongest remonstrances from more than one of the allied powers concerned; and from that period he appears to have thought it unnecessary longer to assume a virtue which he did not possess, and to have devoted himself entirely to the accomplishment of those objects which were immediately of importance to him for the support of his new character in Sweden.

The Crown Prince certainly deserves well of the Swedish people ; he has obtained Norway for them, which adds materially to the security of the kingdom, and he has rendered the lower orders of greater consequence by taking from the nobles some of the excly privileges which they have hitherto enjoyed. The conscription introduced by him is now extended to all ranks, and a more equitable system of taxation is in general established. Upon the question of his eventual succession to the Swedish throne, we shall not offer any conjectures; for, as his royal highness is the only survivor of that spurious broodof kings which sprung up under the wing of Bonaparte, some uneasy sensations may, perhaps, cross him when he reflects on the fate of his great luminary, and most of his satellites. Murat-he of the snow white plume --is gone! Jerome and his red boots, and his cavalry-Louis and his novel-Joseph and but we cannot pursue the track of extinct meteors!

Though our author confesses his inability to foresee the future, destinies of the present ruler of Sweden,' such persons," he says, as are desirous of looking into what is to come, may be amused by the following narrative of an extraordinary vision of Charles XI.We cannot, any more than Mr. James, pretend to explain it; it contains, however, so curious a specimen of the mind and manners of one of the greatest Swedish monarchs, that we are unwilling to withhold it from our readers. It is taken from an account written with the king's own hand, attested by several of his ministers of state, and preserved in the Royal Library.

Charles XI, it seems, sitting in his chamber between the hours of eleven and twelve at night, was surprised at the appearance of a light in

[ocr errors]

the window of the hall of the diet: he demanded of the grand chan. cellor, Bjelke, who was present, what it was that he saw, and was answered that it was only the reflection of the moon : with this, however, he was dissatisfied : and the senator, Bjelke, soon after entering the room, be addressed the same question to him, but received the same answer. Looking afterwards again through the window, he thought he observed a crowd of persons in the hall: upon this, said he, Sirs, all is not as it should be in the confidence that he wbo fears God need dread nothing, I will go and see what this may be. Ordering the two noblemen before-mentioned, as also Oxenstiern and Brahe, to accompany him, he sent for Grunsten the door-keeper, and descended the staircase leading to the hall.

• Here the party seem to have been sensible of a certain degree of trepidation, and no one else daring to open the door, the king took the key, unlocked it, and entered first into the anti-chamber: to their infinite surprise, it was fitted up with black cloth: alarmed by this extraordinary circumstance, a second pause occurred; at length the king set his foot within the ball, but fell back in astonishment at what he saw ; again, however, taking courage, be made bis companions promise to follow him, and advanced. The hall was lighted up and arrayed with the same mournful bangings as the anti-chamber : in the centre was a round table, where sat sixteen venerable men, each with large volumes lying open

before them: above was the king, a young man of 16 or 18 years

of age, with the crown on his head and sceptre in his band. On his right hand sat a personage about 40 years old, whose face bore the strongest marks of integrity ; on his left an old man of 70, who seemed very urgent with the young king that he should make a certain sign with his head, which as often as he did, the venerable men struck their hands on their books with violence.

· Turning my eyes, says he, a little further, I beheld a scaffold and executioners, and men with their clothes tucked up, cutting off headsone after the other so fast, that the blood formed a deluge on the floor : those who suffered were all young men. Again I looked up and perceived the throne behind the great table almost overturned ; near to it stood a man of forty, that seemed the protector of the kingdom. I trembled at the sight of these things, and cried aloud" It is the voice of God What ought I to understand ?-When shall all this come to pass ???--A dead silence prevailed ; but on my crying out a second time, The young king answered me, saying, This shall not happen in your time, but in the days of the sixth sovereign after you. He shall be of the same age as I appear now to have, and this personage sitting beside me gives you the air of him that shall be the regent and protector of the realm. During the last year of the regency, the country shall be sold by certain young men, but he shall then take up the cause, and, acting in conjunction with the young king, shall establish the throne on a sure footing ; and this in such a way, that never was before, or ever afterwards shall be seen in Sweden so great a king. All the Swedes shall be happy under bim; the public debts shall be paid; he shall leave many millions in the treasury, and shall not die bat at a very ad


vanced age: yet before he is firmly seated on his throne shall an effusion of blood take place unparalleled in history. You, added 'he, who are king of this nation, see that he is advertised of these matters : you have seen all; act according to your wisdom.

• Having thus said, the whole vanished, and (adds he) we saw nothing but ourselves and our flambeaus, while the anti-chamber through which we passed on returning was no longer clothed in black.--" Nous entrames dans mes appartemens, et je me mis aussitôt à écrire ce que j'avois vu : ainsi que les avertissements, aussi bien que je le puis. Que le tout est vrai, je le jure sur ma vie et mon honneur, autant que le Dieu m'aide le corps et l'ame.

Charles XI. aujourd'hui Roi de Suède." L'an 1791, 17 Dec. « Comme témoins et présents sur les lieux nous avons vu tout ce que S. M. a rapporté, et nous, l'affermons par notre serment, autant que Dieu nous aide pour le corps et l'ame. H. L. Bjelke, Gr. Chancelier du RoyaumeBjelke, Sénateur,--Brahe, Sénateur, -Ax. Oxenstierna, Sénateur,---Petre Gransten, Huissier."

• The whole story is curious, and well worth attention ; but unless the young king's ghostly representative made an error in his chronological calculation, it will be difficult to reconcile the time specified with that which is yet to come. I can offer no explanation, and bequeath the whole, like the hieroglyphic in Moore's Almanack, “ to the better ingenuity of my readers.

." ?-pp. 160~163. The Swedes are certainly partial to the French, who have always had a strong party in that country, and the Crown Prince will, in all probability, owe his security more to this circumstance than to any steadiness of public feeling in the people of Sweden. Mr. James appears to think the higher orders less subject than they were formerly to the influence of foreign powers; and the fact may be so, for there appears no reason to suspect that two of the most striking events in the Swedish history, which have occurred of late years, are at all to be attributed to it :-we mean the deposition of the king, and the assassination of Count Fersen. We have only, therefore, to hope that the Swedish nobility will cease to imitate their forefathers by transplanting to Stockholm the vices of Paris, and that it will become their pride to adopt habits and manners more akin to that simplicity for which the lower orders amongst them are so peculiarly distinguished.

The practice of keeping up a Swedish regiment constantly at Paris, which was the case before the Revolution, will of course not be again adopted. To entertain any fear, indeed, on this head, would be inexcusable, for the Crown Prince seems most cautiously to have avoided hitherto all chance of contamination, by keeping his troops at a most respectful distance from the French capital, even at the risk of some loss of personal reputation.

The Swedish annals, as observed by Mr. James, do, indeed, detail a series of misfortunes which have happened to their kings, and which is only to be paralleled by the melancholy history of the House of Stewart; and the ominous title of the pieces which he notices, Swenska Konungars olycks Oden,' (Calamities of the Kings of Sweden,) would fairly justify his opinion, that a sanguinary turn of mind has been predominant in that country from the earliest times. The cold blooded apathy which belongs to those northern people is, when roused, the most difficult to appease ; but it is due to their character to remark that the deposition of Gustavus IV. was carried into effect without bloodshed.

"Carlscrona, as the chief naval depot of Sweden, is an object of peculiar interest to an Englishman, and the covered docks, for which it is celebrated, are described by Mr. James as edifices of no ordinary grandeur, and far more striking in appearance than the covered ships in the arsenal of Venice. There can be no doubt of the advantage which arises from carrying on the operation of shipbuilding under shelter from the weather. A partial covering to the ships and docks in our naval yards is all that we have as yet been able to afford; and we have nothing in this country so per-' fect in its kind as those docks which the Swedes have completed; they are excavated from the solid rock, secured at the top by a roof resting on twelve square massive pillars, and are capable of containing a second rate ship of the line. It appears, however; that out of ten which it is intended to construct, in addition to the original dock, two only are yet finished; and we should doubt whether the continuation of such expensive works would at present suit the state of the Swedish finances, nor do they appear to be required for the reception of so small a naval force as that which Sweden now has afloat.

The supposed subsidence of the Baltic Sea has of late been can, vassed by many philosophers, and Mr. James, in touching upon

the subject, states, as a proof of the fallacy of the opinion, that no diminution of water, in the port of Carlscrona, has ever been obs' served, nor has the old dock sustained any injury from it; circumstances which icnd strongly to prove that the hypothesis is as chis mcrical as he considers it to be. Wherever a decrease has been observed in the waters of this inland sea, it will probably be found to have arisen from the long continuance of the wind in one quarter, or the accumulation of sand from the ocean, or of detritus from the shore; and this phenomenon will then resolve itself into one which may be remarked in many parts of our own coast, as well as in other quarters of the globe; and these instances ought only ta be produced as proofs of the retirement of the sca froın particular

« AnteriorContinuar »