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rather jealous at my expending so much of the power of admiring on what was not to be compared, they said, with the scenery of their own Fjord. However, I would not obey the steward's call to dinner, deeming the fleeting beauty far too precious to be sacrificed for any gastronomic considerations; so, possibly having an eye to the bill-and no blame to him either-he brought it up to me on deck, by which a sailor or two were none the worse.
When Christiansand at last opened, I was surprised at the slighting way in which I had seen it spoken of, for to my eye it was very charming. And when the ship was moored to the little wooden quay I was one of the first to be ready to step on shore. But as I ask the captain what time we shall leave again, he tells me he shall know as soon as the agent comes on board ; so pre
sently seeing a man who looks like one, I boldly venture on a · bit of Norsk, to which he replies evidently in the affirmative, though what he says I have no idea of. As soon as you step ashore it is abundantly patent that you are in a foreign land. The houses are large and well built, mostly of wood, but have an appearance of strength, and solidity, and comfort which I had not anticipated ; the streets are broad and regular. A stranger will be struck with the pleasant aspect which all the windows present, perhaps without an exception; they are larger than ours are generally, and filled with plants in flower—tall plants for the most part, reaching half-way up the window; and this is the case with the windows above, as well as those on the ground floor, The plants everywhere looked healthy, no signs of slovenliness or neglect, but as if they were carefully and lovingly tended. I derived very pleasant impressions of the domestic and kindly character of the people from this universal (for so I found it subsequently) fondness for flowers, which were of great variety too, many of them exotics.
Most of the men I met took off their hats as I passed, and seemed as if from natural kindliness they were prepared to give a stranger-at all events an Englishman—a welcome; and in the course of three hours' stay in the little town, meeting with several of them again and again, and always greeting each other, I began to feel myself scarcely a foreigner after all. Besides, the Norwegians have a decidedly British look, and they and we easily amalgamate.
Being Sunday afternoon, I soon found my way to the church, though with little expectation of any service, because of the hour, but was pleased to find the congregation still there. The clergyman—" priest," though is the title here, notwithstanding the religion is Lutheran—was in the uncomfortably-high pulpit, in strait long black gown, and, instead of bands, with a deep broad frill or ruff round the neck, on which the head seems to lie like John the Baptist's on the charger. Not that I mean to insinuate anything ungraceful, much less grotesque in the appearance, for indeed the effect is rather pleasing than otherwise, and if it be deemed desirable for a christian minister to adopt a distinctive costume, that of the Norsk clergy is quite as agreeable to the eye as the gown and bands of our English clergy. But this ruff above the straight black gown, or full frock, carrying us back to our own Elizabethean times, and reminding one of the pictures of some of the martyrs in the old books that awed our childhood, oddly enough made me fancy how the good man would look if he were tied to the stake. I could not tell from his manner whether he was praying or preaching, for he was speaking extempore, now and then lifting his eyes, which were open all the time, to heaven; neither did the air of the congregation enable me to decide. But he soon concluded, and leaving the pulpit, went to the altar, and there was singing, led by an organ and some female voices. All the people joined.
When the service was over I strolled about the church, which is large, and but for its cruciform shape and altar, would be very like a great big “meeting-house” of the olden time (for nous avons changé tout cela) in an old country town in England. There were quaint galleries, not running the whole length of any of the walls, but perched up on high here and there like private boxes, some large, some small, and one in particular, just opposite the pulpit, which was surmounted with a crown, and which I found to be the king's.
Two or three of the congregation, seeing me taking my time in inspecting their church, lingered, and on my bunglingly asking one of them some questions, he answered me in very fair English, and was pleased, not only to show a stranger a little attention, but to let his neighbours see how well he could converse in the foreigner's own tongue. He conducted me into the vestry, from which the priest passed as I entered. It was a large and lofty chamber, hung round with portraits, some of them old, and a few of them better pictures than I should have looked for. My cicerone told me they were portraits of the bishops of the district, and that the good bishops themselves were all of them “in the cellar;" a piece of information which under some circumstances would almost upset my gravity, I fear, for the idea of bishops in a cellar will be admitted to be sufficiently amusing and suggestive. But returning into the church, I noticed in the centre of the floor of the very broad aisle a large wooden trap-door, as it seemed, and was informed that it led down“ into the cellar;" whereupon expressing a wish to explore, the great frame was with some difficulty removed, four or five of us helping, and a ladder which was fixed there enabled me to descend." The cellar" extended
under the entire building, and was divided into compartments, all filled with coffins, not such as ours, which are no larger than necessary, but large, and somewhat resembling an ancient sarcophagus ; the lids were pieces of heavy framed work, raised and narrower in the middle, with a good deal of carpenter's work about them, as well as I could see in the gloom. A young Englishman, a fellow-passenger who had accompanied me, did not at all like this ramble through the low-vaulted chambers of the dead, with black-looking coffins on every hand, and, fancying he breathed death, returned from this forecourt of Hades to the upper air. For my own part, I would willingly have been left there alone for a while, amid these dark shadows so near to the sunshine above which we had just left, but my conductor was more garrulous than contemplative, and hastened on to show me the chief chamber. The bishops lie apart, just beneath the vestry. They have a portion of "the cellar” to themselves, and there I stood-surrounded by dead bishops! the bishops of several generations. Could I have had my way, that particular chamber was the one in which I would have sat down alone, and, as a christian pastor myself, meditated among the now silent teachers, who, methinks, “ though dead,” might still have something to “speak.” But I question whether my meditations would have been given to the public.
My guide went on without a pause, till he came to one bulky coffin at the end, by the side of which he placed himself. This bishop, he said, mentioning his name, which I have forgotten, as my own will soon be forgotten, and yours, too, perhaps, my gentle reader; this bishop, he said, “had lost his wit.” He then proceeded to open a small lid in the raised upper part of the sarcophagus-looking coffin, and drew forth a letter, which he averred was “a heaven's letter,” “a letter from the Lord Jesus ;" and it was the receiving of this which had turned the poor bishop's brain. Whether it was the mere fact of receiving, as he believed, a direct communication from the invisible world, and from his great Master, or whether it was the nature of the contents of this personal revelation, I could not learn ; but either way it is suggestive enough. When men carp at the idea of a revelation that is chiefly a record of direct communications to other men, they may have more reason than they are aware of for being devoutly thankful that they are not subjected to the tests which tried the nerves of even such men as Ezekiel and Daniel, the “greatly beloved ;" who says, “And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision ; for the men that were with me saw not the vision, but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and there remained no strength in me; for my coneliness was turned in me into
upon wylaniel, a manual stand therifling
on the groknees, and the patly beloved, un and when He like
corruption, and I retained no strength. . . . . And my face was on the ground. And behold a hand touched me, which set me upon my knees, and the palms of my hands. And He said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright. And when He had spoken this word unto me I stood trembling” (x. 7-11). In like manner Habakkuk: “When I heard, my belly trembled ; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered into my bones.” (iii., 16).
And so this poor Scandinavian bishop, only believing that he had received a letter from the Lord and Judge whose sentence is final, lost his reason. Was it a letter of blame, severely faithful, and full of warning, like that sent to the angel of the church at Sardis, or Laodicea ? I know not; for though, on my reaching out my hand, the undoubting narrator gave it me, the gloom was too great to allow of my reading it, and I could not be allowed to take it "out of the cellar," because, he said, it was “a holy letter.” I found, however, that if letters are written in heaven, the paper, at all events, is imported from earth; and Pio Nono may make what use he can of the additional fact that the language adopted is Latin; for this much I was able to ascertain. If any one wants further information, he must go to the spot himself, for I know no more.
“I tell the tale as 't was told to me;". but there the letter is, sure enough.
From the church I strolled to the environs of the little town, and came unawares on the cemetery, which is neatly laid out, and very thickly planted. The graves are evidently, from the peculiar and unmistakable smell, dug very shallow; and, to make up for this, a steep mound of perhaps two or two and a half feet, is raised above the dead; and this receives the greatest attention from survivors, who plant it with flowers, and carefully tend them. Narrow walks everywhere in and out among all these tumuli of dark damp earth, give friends free access to any; and this resting-place of the departed—the God's acre of the Germans, or God's garden, as this particular one might be called—is the favourite place of resort on Sundays. It was crowded with very neatly-dressed people, mostly women and girls and children, all very quiet; cheerful and happy they seemed, but still sedate; no boisterous play, no running and romping about, but an air as of habitual staidness that was far enough from moroseness or insensibility, for they all appeared to be enjoying the Sunday afternoon stroll; and when the strange foreigner asked questions in only halfintelligible Norsk, or less than that, they were wonderfully
amused, and the groups of children laughed as he patted their little heads; but laughter, he fancies, is not an every-day thing with these solid children of the North. There were groups of young soldiers, too, from the garrison, dressed in sober uniform, and though we counted as many as ten and eleven together, they were all as orderly as if on parade, as unlike large groups of our soldiers on leave as possible. Several of them were gathered round an obelisk erected to the memory of men who had fallen in the late Danish war, and as the foreigner with his companion tried to decipher the inscription, of course in Norsk, and talked to one another aloud about it, and must have made no end of blunders, the men were merely silent and observant; could not have been more so had their own commanding officer been there. Everywhere, though Sunday was a holiday, it was the same; the utter absence of not merely indecorum, but even the slightest approach to it. I do not know any village or town in England, where so many would be gathered together on a Sunday afternoon, with such marvellous quietness characterizing them all.
We sailed again between five and six, and a most lovely evening it was, as we steamed through another channel out of the Fjord into the open sea, with the eastern coast on our larboard, for though we still had some hundred and eighty miles to accomplish, we should not be out of sight of land again. The passengers sat together on the deck, and the Norwegian part of the company being Lutheran, of course, and one English gentleman professing himself “a Church of England man”-(present re-, porter not professing anything)—the conversation, on my narrating my experiences in the church, became theological ; the subject soon being the difference between the Lutherans and Romanists on “the Sacrament of the Supper;" and my Norsk friend showing himself as competent to defend his own against the Anglican as he had been to criticise “ Lord Yon.” It is a rule with the writer, in travelling, never to suggest the professional, but to bear his part in the conversation simply as a christian gentleman, a practice which has sometimes afforded advantages to be prized, of the very kind one would desire. So I did my best to put the matter in a true light, without betraying too theological a habit. Presently, the Anglican, who subsequently said in a lower tone to a companion that he was "going in for infidelity now, pretty deeply," began to comment on some of the “strange and incredible statements of the Old Testament,” such as, of course, the slaughter of the Midianites by the command of Jehovah, while the maidens were to be kept alive, --Balaam's talking ass (the progenitor, one fancies, of a numerous race,)--and the lying spirit sent by the Lord to seduce Ahab to