of the world : she understands what is romantic. Forgive, O ancient
virgin, thou that hast been yoked to the needle, and sighest for romance
in the prose of thy life, if these stories are not exciting enough for thee.
" Off with her head ! " says the sempstress.
There sits a figure in a dressing-gown, the Oriental garb of the North
for young counts, highnesses, rich brewers, and others. It is not easy
to judge from the dressing-gown, the look of command, and the polished
smile, upon what tree he has grown. His aspirations are those of the
sempstress to be excited, aroused, stuffed full of mysteries such as the
late Speiss knew.
And Scheherazade is decapitated.
Wise, enlightened Sultan, now thou coinest in the form of the school-
boy ; Eomans and Greeks, buckled together in the book-strap, bearest
thou upon thy back, as Atlas bore the sky. Don't overlook poor Sche-
herazade ; don't cut her head off before you have learned your task,
and become a child again ; don't decapitate poor Scheherazade.
Thou young diplomatist, in gorgeous array, who showest by the crosses
on thy breast the number of Courts thou bast visited with thy noble
IDE SULTAN AND SCHEDEEAZADE.
chief, speak kindly of Scheherazade's name, speak of her in French,
that she may attain a distinction beyond her native tongue. Translate
a single verse of her song, as badly as thou mayest, but carry it into
the brilliant saloon, and her sentence of death will be remitted by the
sweet charmant of mercy.
Mighty thrower-down and setter-up ! Thou Jupiter of newspapers,
Zeus of weeklies, monthlies, and periodicals generally, shaka not thy
locks in wrath ! Hurl not thy thunderbolts if Scheherazade sing other-
wise than thou hast been accustomed in thy family to hear, or if she
have no following amongst thy retainers. Don't cut off her head !
One more form we must notice, the most dangerous of all the man
with the stormy rapture of applause upon his lips, the blind enthusiast.
The water into which Scheherazade has dipped her fingers is to him a
Castalian spring ; and the throne he builds up for her apotheosis be-
comes her scaffold.
Such is the poet's scutcheon : paint upon it
"THE STJLTAN AND SCHEHEEAZADE."
But why portray none of the worthy forms, the mild, the honest, and
the noble ? They come, too, and upon these Scheherazade turns her
eyes ; among them she boldly raises her proud head towards the heavens,
944 Stones for the Household.
and sings of the harmonies there, and of those here below in the heart
That would have a disturbing effect upon the shield, " the Sultan and
Scheherazade." The sword of death hangs over her while she tells her
stories, and the Sultan's expression lets us expect that it will fall. But
Scheherazade is the conqueror, and the poet is a conqueror too : he is
rich and conquering, even in his poor room in his most solitary hours ;
arid then rose after rose bursts forth, the sky is bright with shooting
stars, as if a new heaven were being created, and the old one were rolling
away. The world does not hear of it, for it is the poet's own festival,
richer than the costliest firework display of kings. He is happy like
Scheherazade, he is a conqueror, he is mighty ; fancy adorns his walls
with tapestry brighter than those in the king's chamber ; feeling strikes
for him a chord of beauty from the bosom of humanity ; reason lifts
him through the glory of creation up to God, while yet he forgets not
to plant his foot firmly on the earth. His is a rare power, a rare hap-
piness. We will not see him at the bar of misrepresentation, accused
and pitied : we paint only his scutcheon, dip into the colours of the
"wrong side " of the world, and thus receive the interpretation of
" THE SULTAN AND SCHEHEBAZADE."
Look ! that is it don't cut off Scheherazade's head !
THE EIVEE DAL.
THERE were heroes before Homer's time, but they are not known no
poet gave them immortality by his songs. The same necessity exists
with regard to the beauties of nature they must be made famous iu the
world by books and pictures ; they must be introduced to the notice of
the many, and receive a kind of world-patent attesting what they are,
and then only do they become living realities. The mountain streams
of the North have foamed on during thousands of years in unacknow-
ledged beauty. The great high road of the world does not lead this way;
no steamer carries the traveller conveniently along the Dal Elf; cascade
after cascade necessitate a complicated system of locks. Schubert is,
perhaps, the only stranger who has written of the wild splendour and
beauty of Dalecarlia, and who has spoken of the greatness of the Dal
Clear as the waves of a sea, the mighty Dal Elf rolls onward in endless
windings through silent forests and changing plains, now spreading out
in its broad bed, now hemmed in, sometimes reflecting the nodding trees
and the red blockhouses of the lonely towns, at others falling in cascades
over great boulders of rock.
Miles asunder, on the mountain ridge between Sweden and Norway,
In Sweden. 945
the eastern and the western Dal Elf have their source, and above Biilstad
they flow together in one bed. By this time their waters have been
augmented by mountain streams and lakes. Come up hither. Here you
shall find a wealth of picturesque scenery, sometimes in rocky majesty,
at others in soft idyllic beauty ; you will be drawn quite to the source
of the stream, to the rushing brook above the huts of the Finns, for a
longing will come upon you to follow the windings of every stream
which this river receives into its bosom.
By the Norwegian boundary, in the parish of Serna, the traveller sees
the first waterfall, the mighty cascade of Njupeskiirs ; the river falls
perpendicularly from a rock to the depth of above four hundred feet.
We linger in the dark woodland waste, where the Elf seems to be
surrounded by all the solemnity of nature. The stream rolls its clear
waters over a prophyry bed, where the mill-wheel turns, and where the
gigantic prophyry sarcophagi and vases are hewn out.
We follow the river through the Siljan Lake, where superstition re-
presents Noke swimming as a gigantic river horse with a mane of green
rushes, and where the Fata Morgana exhibits its wonders in the warm
We sail on the stream from the Siljan Lake under drooping branches
of the willow, by the parsonage, where the swans collect in ttocka ; we
glide slowly, horses and carriage embarked on the great ferry-boat, across
the deep rushing stream, under Balstad's picturesque shore. Here the
Elf spreads out and majestically rolls its great waves through a wooded
landscape, as majestic and grand as a scene in North America.
We see the foaming river under Avesta's ridges of yellow clay like
liquid amber ; the yellow water pours clown in picturesque falls by the
copper mine, where fiery tongues arise in rainbow splendour, and the
hammer-strokes on the plates of copper sound in unison with the moan-
ing of the Elf waterfalls.
And as a concluding scene of splendour in the life of the Dal Elf,
before the river loses itself in the waves of the Baltic, appears the Elf
Schubert has compared this cataract with that at Schaffhansen, but
we must not forget that the Rhine cannot show such a mass of water at
Laufen as that which pours down at Elf Karleby.
T\vo and a half Swedish miles from Gefle, where the main road to
Upsala leads over the Dal Elf, the traveller, from the stone bridge which
he has to cross, gets a view of the entire majestic waterfall. Close by
the bridge is a toll-house, and here the stranger may pass the night, and
gaze from his little window at the foaming waters ; he may behold them
in the clear moonlight, when darkness dwells among the pine trees and
in the thickets of oak, and all the reflected light comes from the flying,
bubbling waters; he can behold them when the morning sun builds up
their rainbow, like an airy bridge of colour, from the wood-crowned rock
to the middle of the fall, through the trembling spray.
We came hither from Gefle, and already from afar we could see from
the high road the blue clouds of shivered water-dust rising over the dark
946 Stones for the Household.
green tree-tops. The carriage stopped near the bridge ; we alighted,
Had close to us the whole mighty stream was thundering down.
No painter can give us on the canvas the true picture of a waterfall
the movement would be wanting ; and how then can we paint in words
the majestic greatness of such a spectacle, its beauty of colour and its
lightning course ? It cannot be done ; and yet the attempt is made :
a sketch is built up in words of the marvellous picture which our eye
beheld, and which even memory can only recall with uncertain touches.
Above the waterfall the Dal Elf divides into three arms ; two of these
encircle a wooded rocky island, and fall beside its perpendicular walls ;
of these falls the right hand one is the finest : the third arm makes a
circuit, and rejoins the main stream just below the united falls ; it comes
rushing forward as if to meet the cataract, or to command it to stop, and
now turns away in boiling eddies with the arrowy stream, which comes
bursting against the stone pillars of the bridge as if it would crush them
The landscape on the left was enlivened by the appearance of a number
of goats browsing among the nut bushes ; reared here, and accustomed
to the thundering moan of the waters, they ventured to the very edge
of the precipice ; on the right a flock of screaming birds flew onward
over the glorious oak trees. Light waggons, each drawn by one horse,
and driven by a man who stood upright holding the reins, hurried along
the broad forest road from the mining works on the island.
Thither will we betake ourselves, to bid farewell to the Dal Elf at one
of its most beautiful spots, a spot that seems to transport the stranger
into a far more southerly scene than he can expect to encounter here in
the North. For the road here is lovely, and the oak tree grows in full
luxuriance, spreading forth its leafy crown.
The island mining works are beautifully situated. We went there
what a life and movement reigned around ! The mill-wheels were turn-
ing round and round, heavy beams were being sawn asunder, iron was
being forged on gigantic anvils, and all by the power of the water. The '
houses of the workmen form a complete little town. There was a long
street, with red-painted wooden houses under the picturesque oak and
birch trees. The grass was velvety to behold ; and in the master's house,
that rises like a little castle in front of its garden, there reigned in hall
and chamber what the Englishman emphatically calls " comfort."
AVe did not find the proprietor at home, but hospitality is always
the prevailing spirit in these parts. AYe were well and kindly enter-
tained ; fish and poultry, fragrant and steaming, were served up to us,
as in an enchanted castle. The garden itself was a species of enchant-
ment ; and here were planted three beech trees, which throve well.
The strong north wind had marvellously rounded off the crowns of the
wild chestnut trees in the avenue ; they looked as if the shears of the
gardener had been at work upon them. In the forcing-house hung
golden yellow oranges ; the windows were half opened to-day for these
glorious fruits and flowers of the South, so that the artificial warmth
and the fresh warm air of the northern summer met eacli other. The
arm of the Dal Elf which winds round the garden is strewn with little
islands, on which grow pleasant hanging birches and pines in northern
splendour. There are little islands with quiet green groves, and others
with rich grass, high ferns, and variegated wild flowers; 'no Turkey
TIIE HAUNT OF NOSE.
carpet could display fresher colours. The stream between these islands
is sometimes rapid, deep, and clear, sometimes like a broad meadow
with silky green reeds, water-lilies, and brown feathery rushes ; some-
times it appears as a brook with a pebbly bottom, and now again it is
spread abroad like a quiet mill-pond.
The landscape here in summer about Sfc. John's Day seems created
for the play of Noke and for a dance of elves. Here in the sheen of
the full moon the dryad must tell her stories, and Noke must seize the
golden harp, and believe that one may be happy at least so long as the
Stories for the Household.
On the other side of the estate the chief stream rolls on, the full Dal
Elf. Dost thou hear the monotonous moaning ? It comes not upon
thine ear from the Elf Karleby, it is close beside thee ; it is the Laa
waterfall, in the midst of which the island of Ask lies : the Elf is roar-
ing and foaming over the leaping salmon.
Let us sit down here, between the rocky blocks on the shore, in the
red evening sun, which pours its golden glory over the waters of the
Dal Elf. Splendid river ! only for a few seconds dost thou labour
yonder amongst the mills, and then rushest foaming over the rocks of
Elf Karleby into thy bed, that leads thee to thy eternity the Baltic !
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