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Chambers, William / Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 457 Volume 18, New Series, October 2, 1852
CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OF 'CHAMBERS'S
INFORMATION FOR THE PEOPLE,' 'CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c.


No. 457. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2, 1852. PRICE 1-1/2_d._




ROBINSON-CRUSOEISM OF COMMON LIFE.


It is wonderfully exciting to read the adventures of a shipwrecked
mariner; to find him cast away on a desert island, destitute of
everything that before seemed necessary to his very existence; to see
him settling himself down in a strange and untried form of life,
substituting one thing for another, doing altogether without some
other thing, turning constantly from expedient to expedient, bending
to his will the circumstances that seemed his fate, and at length
naturalising himself to the place, and living bravely on, truly and
literally the Monarch of all he surveys. The avidity with which we
drink in such details, seems to depend upon some principle in our
nature; for a feeling of the same kind is excited by all other
narrations of vicissitude. The picture of calamity would be merely
tiresome, were it not for the rebound we expect: we want to see what
the unfortunate whose story we follow will _do_; by what steps he will
try to reascend, or by what expedients he will make for himself a new
world in the depths to which he has fallen. This principle is known to
the skilful novelist, and he is the most successful who knows it best.
It is to the complete gratification afforded to the mystical sympathy
referred to--the sympathy, not with calamity, but with struggle--that
Robinson Crusoe owes its distinction as the most universally popular
of all works of fiction; for although the facts of the narrative had
probably never any actual existence, they are so rendered as to be
instinctively received as the component parts of a thing eternally
true in nature.

But in actual life the Robinson Crusoes are few, and the shipwrecked
mariners many. The mass of castaways, when they find themselves
separated from their kind, their comforts, their necessaries, yield,
after a few feeble efforts, or without effort at all, to what is
called their fate, and die of cold, or hunger, or despair. These
multitudes we take no note of. They pass away from the earth like
shadows; or, if our eye follows them for a moment till the view is
lost in the crowding incidents of life, we look upon them as the
victims of unavoidable and irresistible circumstances, and so turn
calmly away. But it would be well to examine this notion; to contrast
the victims with the vanquishers; to inquire whether the train of
circumstances really differed in their several cases; and so to
ascertain the share individual character may have had in the result.
Let us, by all means, continue to pity the victims, whether we find
their bones bleaching in the desert, or stirred on the shore by the
tide; but it may be suspected that we ought to pity them less for the
hardness of their fate than for the weakness which could not withstand
it. A French writer has finely said, that history is the struggle of
the human race with destiny. Even so, we think, is the history of
individuals.

Look abroad into ordinary life, and examine the condition of its
castaways. One finds himself alone in the crowd of mankind, with wind
and tide against him, surrounded by influences like evil spirits, the
earth dry and famished under his foot, and the heavens black with
thunder above his head. He has no experience, little physical
strength, only ordinary talent; but he has nerve and will: he can plod
when necessary; he can stoop or climb as the time demands; he can cut
a new path when he loses the old one; and so, step by step, he goes
on--this gallant Crusoe--till he has conquered circumstances and
reached a secure shelter. Another man: but here we must speak of
crowds and classes, for imbecility affects whole regions of society at
once. A certain branch of industry, we shall say--agriculture,
handloom weaving, anything--is struck with decay, and its followers
thrown out of employment. What course do the unfortunates take? They
sit down and curse their day; they appeal to the sympathies of their
more successful brethren; they lean idly wherever they can find
support; and failing this, they starve in a body, or drift into the
workhouses. In such circumstances, men seldom think even of the
obvious expedient of changing their locality, far less of changing
their employment. They are rooted to the soil like a plant; when the
work they have been accustomed to is no longer wanted, they cross
their hands; and so they remain, and wither, and despair, and die.
Thus when the kelp business was at an end, the Scotch Highlanders sat
down in their helpless hunger, till they were swept as with a besom
out of the land they cumbered. Yet what Mechi has done for his Tiptree
bog on a large scale, with expensive machinery, and hired labour,
might have been done by each of them on a small scale, without
expense, and with his own labour. A wholesome living might be wrested
by determined men from the wildest nook in Scotland, and the sea alone
would support a large population. What the people did, however, was
merely to pick up such shell-fish as the waves chanced to throw at
their feet, and hold out their lean hands for national charity.

As we ascend in society, a similar spectacle presents itself. All
trades and professions, without exception, are crowded with once
well-doing individuals, who now serve only to cumber the ground, and
obstruct the progress of others. Whatever be his reverses, a man seems
to think it necessary to abide by his employment and his station, even
if he starves in the one, and excites pity or ridicule in the other.
He will not see that he has suffered shipwreck; that he has been
thrown into entirely new circumstances; that he must disengage himself
from old habits and prejudices, and construct anew his scheme of life.
He is one of a tribe, and must stand or fall by his profession and his
order. He has lost all perception of his own individuality, and is
afraid to take a single step that is not prescribed by custom and
example. But, independently of the Robinson Crusoes of the class, many
such slaves of conventionalism achieve their freedom while intending
only to better their condition. They emigrate to a new country, and
find themselves actually in a desert island--an oasis in the
wilderness--where it is necessary to work at whatever employment
offers the means of subsistence--to resort to all sorts of shifts and
expedients, and to submit cheerfully to the deprivation of things they
had in former times reckoned necessaries of life. The change is found
to be conducive to vigour both of mind and body. The indolent become
active, the delicate, strong. Neither the physical nor moral
constitution is easily injured, except by the influences of artificial
life. A man who dares not sit by an open window for fear of the
draught of air, if thrown upon a rock in the sea--exposed for days and
nights to all the winds that blow, wet, cold, and starving--sustains
no injury. Persons in this situation, or similar ones, have remarked
over and over again with astonishment, that they were never in better
health in their lives!

The beneficial effect of emigration on the character and habits of the
lazzaroni of Ireland, is sufficient to indicate the cause of many of
the great evils of social life at home. People will not recognise the
fact, that they are castaways of fortune, and require to scramble as
well as they can for a subsistence. They like to read of the struggles
of the Robinson Crusoes, but never think of imitating them. They have
not imagination enough to see the analogy between such positions and
their own; and it is not till they actually find themselves in some
far-away desert, that the slumbering energies of their character are
awakened. Then they have nothing to lean upon but their
industry--nothing to look to but their ingenuity. Expedients must take
the place of habits; necessity must be their law instead of
prescription; the chains of conventionality--as strong among the
lowest as among the highest--drop from their limbs, and the man rises
up from the ruins of the slave and beggar. This consummation, however,
is not the invariable result. Even emigration only increases, although
to a large extent, the number of Crusoes; and there is still a portion
of the people who drift to and fro as helplessly as sea-weed. But at
home, the _bulk_ of the people are in this condition; they have no
capacity for expedients, which are the stepping-stones of progress. A
resolute tradesman, when one thing fails, tries another; when one
process is found tedious or expensive, he has recourse to another; and
in the same way the whole of society is on the move onward and upward.
But the movers are not the mass; they are the stirring spirits of the
time, at whose ceaseless work the multitude gaze unreflectingly,
grumbling when their own occupation grows scanty, and looking for
relief, not to themselves, but to their neighbours, their superiors,
their rulers.

Some time ago, a correspondent of ours, struck apparently with
the true cause of the evil--the tyranny of conventional
feeling--deprecated the emigration of those classes supposed to be the
most slavishly subjected to it, without having previously made a trial
of their energies. He proposed that every 'genteel' family, before
setting their lives and fortune upon the cast, should establish
themselves for a time in some solitary district of their own country,
remote from the comforts and conveniences of life, and try whether
their industry and ingenuity were of an available kind. He seemed to
be of opinion that in most cases the experiment would fail, and that
thus many an unfortunate expedition into the wildernesses beyond seas
would be prevented. We are of the same opinion, only we do not think
either the experiment fair or the result desirable. The very
atmosphere of our country is pervaded by a conventionalism which, as
is proved by what passes every day before our eyes, cannot be
counteracted by mere external circumstances. The family in question
would feel themselves to be only amateur Crusoes; they would be
haunted by the idea, that they were surrounded, at a distance of only
a day or two's travel, by the 'genteel' society of which they had
formed a part; and, above all, they would have the consciousness
perpetually before them, of being able to withdraw from the adventure
as soon as they lost heart. This last consideration of itself would be
fatal. Nothing rouses energy and strengthens determination so
effectually as the knowledge that we are irretrievably committed: the
climber of some desperate but possible steep is never safe till the
rope is cut beneath him; the crosser of a difficult ford is never sure
of completing the feat till he has

Stept in so far that, should he wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.

The family, therefore, might fail in their experiment, and yet be
fully adequate to the struggles of actual emigration.

The humanitarians of the day, though full of a fine Crusoe spirit
themselves, seem not to recognise its necessity as a general
principle. They draw a distinction that has no existence in nature
between the classes they design to benefit and themselves, legislating
for their protÚgÚs in the fashion of a permanent providence. They know
that a very large part of the population must labour with their hands
for hire--that this is an indispensable condition of all civilised
society. They know likewise that the labour-market is necessarily full
of vicissitude, that work of particular kinds is constantly shifting
its place, now from one street to another, now from one town to
another, now from one province to another. It would seem, therefore,
to be their cue, to fit the labourer for the changes that are liable
to beset the way of life he has chosen, or into which he has been
thrown; to imbue him with the noble Crusoe spirit of adventure and
expedient; and to leave his hands free to embrace his fortune wherever
it may offer. But no such thing. Their grand effort at present appears
to be, to chain him to the spot on which he happens to stand, by
making him the possessor of some small house, or some small plot of
ground. If the labour-market were permanent in its demand, exactly
proportioned to the existing numbers, and yet elastic enough to meet
the movement of population, this would be an excellent plan; but as it
is, it may be doubted whether there is not in a system which restricts
the locomotion of the workman, the germ of a great evil, both to the
class to which he belongs and to the cause of general progress. It
seems to us that this plan, which is now making such rapid strides
over the whole kingdom, is in antagonism with the other great
influences that are occupied in developing the character of the age.
While railway transit and steam navigation are labouring to break the
chains that bound the workman to the locality in which he grew, the
various land-investment societies are doing everything in their power
to rivet them anew. But this hint must be understood as applied to the
system in its general, not special application. There can be no doubt
of its admirable effect in multitudes of individual cases: what we
disapprove of, is the manner in which it addresses itself to the
working-class as a body.

That no external circumstances at home, however terrible or desperate,
can struggle successfully, except in a small minority of cases, with
the spirit of conventionalism and the inert force of habit, is proved
by what is passing around us in society. But it may at least be hoped,
that reason is able to exercise a power which appears not to reside in
the mechanical pressure of events. The misfortune is, that the
calamities of life do not find our minds in a state of preparation to
meet them. We have formed no _Ó priori_ theory. We are able to sink,
and to suffer--some of us bravely; we are able, when necessary, to
'die like the wolf in silence;' but of manly struggle we are
incapable. Now, we have a plan of our own to propose, in which, we
think, resides the grand arcanum of social regeneration. Have you
guessed it, intelligent reader? It is simply this: _read Robinson
Crusoe_. But not as formerly. Do not regard it as a romance. Look upon
it as a mirror of human life, in which the fortunes of men--in which
your own possible fortunes are figured with photographic truth; and
learn from it how to meet, how to resist, how to subdue them. Forget
not, when overtaken by heavy misfortunes, that you have suffered
shipwreck; and do not fancy that your desert island is a land flowing
with milk and honey. Look at things as they are. Listen to the wind as
it moans along the water, and to the sea as it breaks on that dread
lee-shore. Remember that your safety depends upon your own courage,
your own energy, your own ingenuity. Do not dream that you hear amid
the din the voices of friends and comrades, for that is proved by
everyday experience to be a delusion: and, above all things, if you be
of the station in which conventionalism is strongest, do not fancy
that the eyes of genteel people are staring at you through the gloom!




AN EPISODE OF THE BATTLE OF THE BALTIC.


Brave old Denmark was sincerely neutral during the great French
Revolution; but England, by a very questionable act, seized two Danish
frigates--under search-warrants--and towed them to British ports. This
arbitrary insult appears to have induced both Denmark and Sweden to
join the 'Northern Armed Neutrality,' which they did in the middle of
December 1800. Upon this, England embargoed all Danish and Swedish
ships in our ports, and seized all, or nearly all, their colonies.
Shortly afterwards, Admiral Sir Hyde Parker (commander-in-chief of the
fleet), Admiral Lord Nelson, and Admiral Graves, sailed for the Baltic
with some forty-seven ships of war. They passed without opposition
through the Sound, and the Swedish fleet of seven ships of the line
and three frigates, could not, or did not, leave Carlscrona; as to the
Russian fleet, it was frozen up; besides which, the demise of the
Emperor Paul caused a vacillation in the councils of Russia. The
result was, that little Denmark was left unaided to bear the brunt of
mighty England's vengeance.

Upon the crown-prince of Denmark--afterwards Frederick VI., one of the
best sovereigns that ever swayed a northern sceptre--devolved the
management of the nation's affairs; for he had been regent since 1784,
in consequence of the mental derangement of Christian VII. The
crown-prince was a brave and energetic man, and he made every possible
preparation to defend Copenhagen--himself assuming the very
responsible post of commander-in-chief. The land defences consisted of
the Citadellet Frederikshavn, the Crown Batteries, and if they were as
formidable in 1801 as they were when we saw them in 1850, they indeed
possessed tremendous powers of destruction--also batteries on the
shore of the island of Amak--Amager, as the English call it--which is
separated from Copenhagen by a narrow arm of the sea called
Kallebostrand. The Danish fleet was moored in the inner harbour, which
is a very strong position, as the entrance is defended by booms, and
batteries are along its east or seaward side.

On April 1, 1801, the English fleet loomed ominously in the horizon,
and it became evident that a fearful combat was close at hand. The
crown-prince issued his last orders to Admiral Fisher, the gallant
commander of the Danish fleet, and to the officers in command of the
several batteries. A terrible day and night was that for the Danes!
They knew that with the morrow's sun many of their fathers, husbands,
and brothers, _must_ fall; and in case victory should declare on the
side of the assailant, they knew not what horrors of war might befall
their city. Yet the Danes--as brave and noble a people as any upon
earth--yielded not to despair. They bitterly felt the cruel nature of
their position, and with characteristic fortitude and unflinching
resolution, prepared to meet it. They might be conquered, and their
capital given to the flames--they knew that; but undauntedly did they
rely on their native bravery, and the justice of their cause; for they
believed they were engaged in a struggle of right against might.

At the hour of seven o'clock on this momentous evening of the 1st of
April, a 'mess' of sailors on board a Danish ship of the line, the
outermost of all in the harbour, had just received, in common with
their shipmates, an extra allowance of _brŠndeviin_--white
corn-brandy, somewhat like whisky. They were filled with feelings of
high professional pride and confidence, and eagerly pledged one
another, with patriotic resolves, to conquer or die in the morrow's
conflict. Some tossed off their allowance with national toasts. One
man among them held his _brŠndeviin_ untasted until all the others had
swallowed theirs. This man was a sailor who had volunteered to serve
in the man-o'-war only the previous day. He was a native of
Copenhagen, and hitherto had spent his life in the merchant service;
but he had offered himself patriotically on this great emergency to
fight in his country's cause. There was nothing remarkable or striking
in his appearance: he was a sun-burnt, hardy-looking young man of
about five-and-twenty, and slight rather than muscular in appearance.
Like many of his countrymen, his hair was very light flaxen, and his
eyes bright blue. His name was Anton Lundt.

'Come, messmate,' said one of the sailors, 'what is _your_ toast?'

Anton Lundt started a little, his lip quivered, and his eyes grew
lustrous with hidden emotion. Holding his glass on high, he exclaimed
with fervour: 'For Pigen og vort Land--for Rosine og gamie Danmark!'
(For the girls and our country--for Rose and old Denmark!) and
drained his _brŠndeviin_ to the last drop.

'Ah!' exclaimed his messmates, 'your sweetheart and your country--no
toast can be better than that! Hurrah for Rosine and old Denmark!'
Anton Lundt dashed the cuff of his sleeve over his eyes, and turned
aside with a glowing heart, and a prayer on his lips.

On the eventful morning of the 2d April--

---- To battle fierce came forth
All the might of Denmark's crown,
And her arms along the deep proudly shone.
By each gun a lighted brand,
In a bold determined hand,
And the prince of all the land
Led them on.

Nelson was the chief in command of the English ships engaged on this
eventful day, for Sir Hyde Parker could not possibly come up with his
portion of the fleet, as wind and tide were both dead against him. Of
Nelson, then, and his ships, it is that Campbell sings:

It was ten of April morn by the chime;
As they drifted on their path,
There was silence deep as death,
And the boldest held his breath
For a time.

And well might the boldest hold his breath! It was no ordinary foe
that British valour had to contend with, but one of the bravest and
most skilful both by sea and land in the whole world. At length the
dread signal flew 'along the lofty British line,' and each gun--

From its adamantine lips,
Spread a death-shade round the ships,
Like the hurricane eclipse
Of the sun.

The appalling roar of a thousand cannon answered on the part of the
Danes, and soon the very wind of heaven was stilled by the thundering
reverberations of the artillery. We leave the historian to describe
minutely the progress of the fight, and turn to the ship of Anton
Lundt.

We have already said that this ship was the outermost in the inner
harbour, and as the combat deepened, she was exposed to the heavy
broadsides of two English seventy-fours. She was moored stem and
stern, but her stern moorings were shot away, and she consequently
drifted in such a position, that both the English ships poured in an
awful fire that raked her fore and aft. In a few minutes, her bowsprit
was cut to shivers; her foremast was splintered and tottering; her
main-yard broken up; her mizen-mast entirely carried away, and
drifting under her counter; her bows riddled with shot; and her upper
decks strewn with dead and dying. Only about half a dozen of her guns
could be brought to bear, and although the crew made every possible
attempt to manoeuvre the ship, so as to recover her original position,
they entirely failed in doing so; and it was obvious that the
unfortunate vessel would soon be a mere floating shambles, if not
altogether shattered to pieces, and sent to the bottom.

If a boat could have been sent ashore with a hawser, the ship would
speedily have hauled, so as to avoid being raked, and also her own
broadside would have been available; but it would have been hopeless
to send off a boat, as every yard of intervening water was ploughed up
with round and grape shot, and a boat would have been specially aimed
at, and sunk before she had gone a couple of lengths. Moreover, every
boat in the ship had been staved or knocked to atoms already.

In this horrible crisis, Anton Lundt, who was stationed on the
quarter-deck, stepped up to the captain, stripped to the waist, all
begrimed with powder, and sprinkled with the blood of his messmates,
and said: 'I will leap overboard with a line, and swim ashore to that
battery, and then you can bend a hawser to the line; and when we have
hauled and secured it ashore, you will heave upon it, and get the ship
back to her moorings!' The captain gazed a moment at the intrepid
mariner who made such a chivalrous proposal, and then, without a word
of reply, sadly shook his head, and significantly pointed to the
water, which was all alive with hissing balls.

'I know it, captain,' rejoined the undaunted volunteer; 'but there is
a God above all!' Without further parley, Anton seized a coil of small
white line, and with the dexterity of a seaman, knotted the end over
his neck and beneath one arm, bringing the bight over his shoulder for
convenience in swimming. He then slipped off his trousers--the only
garment he had on--and took a few loose coils in his hand, his
messmates undertaking to attend to the running out of the bight after
him. All was the work of a minute; and without pause, he plunged
head-foremost into the sea from the taffrail, shouting, as he clave
the air: 'For Rosine og gamle Danmark--hurrah!'

He rose some dozen yards or more from the ship's stern, having dived
straight for his bourne, which was not more than eighty yards distant
at the most. The general surface of the harbour would have been
perfectly calm, had it not been for the continuous swells created by
the oscillations of the Danish ships, as they rocked to and fro under
their heavy broadsides. Just as Anton Lundt emerged, a twenty-four
pounder struck the water within a few yards of his back, but
ricochetted exactly over his head, merely stunning him for a moment
with the spray. He swam straight as an arrow, with the long and
powerful strokes of a first-rate swimmer; and occasionally, when the
grape and musket shots whistled thick as hailstones around him, he
dexterously dived. Thus swimming and diving alternately, he very
quickly sped two-thirds of the perilous distance, amid the cheers of
his countrymen. At length, however, the nearest English ship observed
him, and probably guessed his object; for the marines on her poop
fired a close volley at him, and a scream of rage and despair from his
messmates arose, when they beheld him wildly throw up his left arm in
unmistakable agony, and flounder in what appeared his death-flurry.
Then his body rose perpendicularly, till his shoulders were a foot or
more clear above the water, and he slowly fell backward, with his head
pointing to the Danish battery. Contrary to expectation, he did not
sink, however, but floated at full length, with nothing but a portion
of his face visible. After a pause, he was observed to be propelling
himself with his feet--swimming on his back, in fact--and his
messmates on board the ship, and his countrymen at the battery, now
cheered louder than ever. Two minutes of breathless suspense followed,
and then a dozen hands were stretched forth, and he was lifted up the
stony slope that led to the level of the battery. A moment he turned
round, and faced towards his ship--his right arm hanging helplessly
down by his side, shattered above the elbow by a ball, and his naked
body streaming with blood from several wounds--then he waved his left
arm in the air, and feebly hurrahing, fell senseless in the arms of
the soldiers. By the order of one of their officers, he was
immediately conveyed out of further danger. Meanwhile, had victory to
the Danish arms depended on poor Anton Lundt's single heroic effort,
Denmark would assuredly have triumphed, for his scheme succeeded
perfectly. A hawser had been attached to the end of the line aboard
the ship, the soldiers promptly hauled it ashore and secured it, and
then the man-o'-war was easily hauled out of her critical position.

Let us now briefly glance at the progress of the main battle. It
commenced exactly at five minutes after ten A.M., and in about an
hour it was general on both sides. The Danes fought--as they ever have
fought, and ever will fight--like worthy descendants of their
Scandinavian forefathers, and for awhile the result seemed doubtful.
As already mentioned, Sir Hyde Parker could not get to Nelson's aid;
and it is related that this excellent man--who was as generous-minded
as brave--endured dreadful anxiety on account of Nelson and Graves. In
another half hour he could bear it no longer, and resolved to make a
signal for the recall of the two subordinate admirals, remarking to
his own captain, that if Nelson, whose extraordinary character he well
understood, really felt himself in a position to continue the battle
with a prospect of ultimate victory, he would heroically disobey the
signal.

The signal of recall was accordingly hoisted, just at the time when
the fire of the Danes had reached its acme, and it was yet a matter of
considerable uncertainty to which side victory would incline. Nelson
was swiftly pacing his quarter-deck, moving the stump of his lost arm
up and down with excitement, and the balls of the foe whizzed thickly
around him, stretching many a brave fellow lifeless at his feet. The
splinters flew from the main-mast, which a ball perforated; and then
it was that Nelson is said to have smilingly observed: 'Warm work!
this day may be the last to any of us at a moment! But, mark you--_I
would not be elsewhere for thousands!_'

The lieutenant whose duty it was to attend to the signals, now
informed him that No. 39--'Leave off action!'--was hoisted on board
the commander-in-chief. Nelson heard this unmoved, and made no reply.
A second time the signal-lieutenant reported it to him, and asked if
he should answer it in turn. 'No!' was the stern reply; 'but
acknowledge it.' He then asked if his own signal for 'close action'
was duly flying, and being affirmatively responded to, said: 'Mind you
keep it so!' Let us quote the characteristic scene that immediately
ensued:--

'"Do you know," said he to Mr Ferguson, "what is shewn on board the
commander-in-chief! No. 39!" Mr Ferguson asked what that meant. "Why,
to leave off action!" Then, shrugging his shoulders, he repeated the
words, "Leave off action? Now, ---- me if I do! You know, Foley,"
turning to his own captain, "I have only one eye--I have a right to be
blind sometimes!" and then, putting the glass to his blind eye, in
that mood of mind which sports with bitterness, he exclaimed: "I
really do not see the signal!" Presently he exclaimed: "---- the
signal! keep mine flying for closer battle! That's the way I answer
such signals! Nail mine to the mast!"'

The action continued with increased vigour, for Admiral Graves,
probably taking his cue from Nelson, also disobeyed Sir Hyde Parker's
signal. At one P.M., the fire of the Danes grew weaker, and by degrees
it slackened, so that at thirty minutes past two P.M., it had ceased
altogether in many parts of their shore defences, and most of their
ships struck to the English, although the Crown Batteries, and a few
men-o'-war ahead of Nelson's position, still fought with desperation,
and fired on the English boats sent off to secure the prizes. Some of
the surrendered ships were, in fact, placed between two fires--that of
friends and foes, and the unfortunate crews suffered proportionately.
Nelson was both angry and grieved at this; and he immediately went
into the stern-gallery, and addressed a world-renowned note to the
crown-prince, couched in these words:--

'Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson has been commanded to spare Denmark when she
no longer resists. The line of defence which covered her shores has
struck to the British flag; but if the firing is continued on the part
of Denmark, he must set on fire all the prizes that he has taken,
without having the power of saving the men who have so nobly defended
them. The brave Danes are the brothers, and should never be the
enemies, of the English.'

He sealed this in an unusually formal manner, saying, that 'it was no
time to appear hurried.' Captain Sir Frederick Thesiger carried this
letter ashore,[1] with a flag of truce, and delivered it to the
crown-prince, at the Sally Port. The latter sent to know the precise
meaning of Nelson, and he replied thus:--'Lord Nelson's object in
sending the flag of truce was humanity; he therefore consents that
hostilities shall cease, and that the wounded Danes may be taken on
shore. And Lord Nelson will take his prisoners out of the vessels, and
burn or carry off the prizes as he shall think fit. Lord Nelson, with
humble duty to his Royal Highness the Prince, will consider this the
greatest victory he has ever gained, if it may be the cause of a happy
union between his own most gracious sovereign and his majesty the king
of Denmark.'

The immediate result was a total cessation of hostilities, and a most
complete victory to the English. When the contest was over, the
wounded were gradually collected and removed to the hospitals and
private houses of the city--to the latter when their personal friends
claimed them. Many of the Danish soldiers and sailors engaged were
natives of Copenhagen, or had relatives and dear friends therein, and
the scenes that ensued during the afternoon, evening, and night, were
heart-rending in the extreme. Parents, wives, brothers, sisters, and
sweethearts, franticly ran from place to place, alike hoping and
dreading to learn certain tidings of the fate of those so dear to
them. All Copenhagen was a city of wo and wailing. Everybody had
sustained a loss. Mothers and fathers wept for their brave sons
killed, wounded, or prisoners; sisters for their brothers; girls for
their lovers; the patriot for his poor conquered country and his
slaughtered countrymen. Tremendous, in our estimation, was the moral
responsibility of the English ministry for 'letting slip the dogs of
war' for a slight cause--nay, strictly speaking, for no valid cause
whatever. Our firm conviction is, that had England left Denmark to her
own honourable instincts, the latter nation would never have given
real occasion for an appeal to arms. Even yet more cruel and criminal
was the bombardment of the city of Copenhagen itself, only six years
subsequently to Nelson's _raid_--for it was nothing better. But they
managed matters fifty years ago in a different manner from what the
enlightened spirit of the age would now tolerate. No British ministry
of the present day would dare or wish to act as did the ruling sachems
in the early part of this century.

Anton Lundt--as true a hero as Nelson himself, although incomparably a
humbler one--was, as already related, conveyed to the rear of the
battery, and his wounds were attended to as well as circumstances
would admit. Later in the evening, his father, an old invalid
man-o'-war's-man, found him, and had him removed to his own humble
home. The poor fellow had never recovered consciousness, and for many
long hours he lay moaning, and occasionally struggling convulsively,
under his natal roof, and in the same little room where he was born.
His aged parents and a few friends wept around him; but there was one
other watcher by his side, whose grief, although silent, surpassed
theirs. It was his betrothed _Pige_, or sweetheart, Rosine
Boerentzen--she whose image had excited his heroism, she whose name
was coupled with Denmark as his battle-cry. She shed not a tear--her
anguish was too deep for that--but sat by his lowly pallet,
supporting his head on her bosom, and wiping away the light foam from
his bubbling lips. Ever and anon the dying sailor--for, alas! dying he
was--would utter sea-phrases, or affecting words of friendship or of
love, yet not even the voice of Rosine, continually murmuring in his
ear, could recall him to sensibility.

The midnight hour approached: a medical man had just been in, and
departed with the brief but decided assurance that the patient could
not possibly survive many minutes. A worthy clergyman was kneeling
with the family around the couch, praying to God to receive the
parting spirit. In the midst of their supplications, the countenance
of Anton Lundt was illumined with a gleam of unearthly triumph, and
springing half-upright, he tossed his left arm aloft, and in
soul-thrilling tones pealed forth his battle-cry of 'Rosine og gamle
Danmark--hurrah!' He then instantly fell back a corpse on the bosom of
his betrothed.

In the suburb of Oesterbr÷, at Copenhagen, is a naval cemetery, and it
generally attracts the eye of the stranger, as it most forcibly did
our own, by a number of rough, picturesque fragments of unhewn
granite, strewn over the mortal remains of the brave men who fell
fighting for old Denmark against Nelson. The simple words, '_Anton
Lundt, d÷d 2 April 1801_,' may be seen on one of them.

Rosine Boerentzen never smiled again. On the first anniversary of the
battle, she returned home from the cemetery, where she had been to
place a wreath of _immortelles_ on the grave of her betrothed, after
the fashion of her country, and ere morning dawned, her soul had fled
to rejoin her hero in heaven. Peace to the souls of the brave, and of
all who loved and were loved of the brave who fell at the Battle of
the Baltic!


FOOTNOTES:

[1] One of the grand basso-relievos recently placed on the base of
Nelson's Monument, in Trafalgar Square, London, represents Nelson in
the act of delivering the letter to the young captain who acted as his
aid-de-camp on the occasion. The subjects of the three other relievos
are _St Vincent_, _The Nile_, and _Trafalgar_.




WHY DOES THE CLOCK KEEP TIME?


A pendulous body vibrates when it is suspended so that the centre of
its mass is not placed directly under the point of suspension, because
then the alternating influences of weight and velocity are constantly
impressing it with motion. Weight carries it down as far as it can go
towards the earth's attraction; acquired velocity then carries it
onwards; but as the onward movement is constrained to be upward
against the direction of the earth's attraction, that force
antagonises, and at last arrests it, for velocity flags when it has to
drag its load up-hill, and soon gives over the effort. The body swings
down-hill with increasing rapidity, because weight and velocity are
then both driving it; it swings up-hill with diminishing rapidity,
because then weight is pulling it back in opposition to the force of
velocity. Weight pulls first this way, then that way; velocity carries
first this way, then that way: but the two powers do not act evenly
and steadily together; they now combine with, and now oppose each
other; now increase their influence together, and now augment and
diminish it inversely and alternately; and so the suspended body is
tossed backwards and forwards between them, and made to perform its
endless dance.

It is related of Galileo, that he once stood watching a swinging lamp,
hung from the roof of the cathedral at Pisa, until he convinced
himself that it performed its vibratory movement in the same time,
whether the vibration was one of wide or of narrow span. This
traditionary tale is most probably correct in its main features, for
the Newtons and Galileos of all ages do perceive great truths in
occurrences that are as commonplace as the fall of an apple, or the
disturbance of a hanging lamp. Trifles are full of meaning to them,
because their minds are already prepared to arrive at certain
conclusions by means of antecedent reflections. Simple and familiar
incidents, thus accidentally associated with the history of grand
discoveries, are the channels through which the accumulating waters at
length descend, rather than the rills which feed the swelling of their
floods. The orchard at Woolsthorpe, and the cathedral at Pisa, were
outlets of this kind, through which the pent-up tide of gathering
knowledge burst. If they had never offered themselves, the laws of
universal gravitation and isochronous vibration would still have
reached the world.

If the reader will hang up two equal weights upon nearly the same
point of suspension, and by means of two strings of exactly the same
length, he will have an apparatus at his command that will enable him
to see, under even more favourable conditions, what Galileo saw in the
cathedral at Pisa. Upon drawing one of them aside one foot from the
position of rest, and the other one yard, and then starting them off
both together to vibrate backwards and forwards, he will observe, that
although the second has a journey of two yards to accomplish, while
the first has but a journey of two feet, the two will, nevertheless,
come to the end at precisely the same instant. As the weights swing
from side to side in successive oscillations, they will always present
themselves together at the point which is the middle of their
respective arcs. This is what is called isochronous vibration--the
passing through unequal arcs in equal periods of time.

At the first glance, this seems a very singular result. The careless
observer naturally expects that a weight hung upon a string ought to
take longer to move through a long arc than through a short one, if
impelled by the same force; but the subject appears in a different
light upon more mature reflection, for it is then seen, that the
weight which performs the longer journey starts down the steeper
declivity, and therefore acquires a greater velocity.



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Library mainpage -> Chambers, William -> Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 457 Volume 18, New Series, October 2, 1852