(Reprinted From The 'Cornhill Magazine ')

I found the other day, when looking through some old family papers, a journal written by my father-in-law during a tour through Denmark, Sweden, and Russia in 1825-26.

Charles Earle was born in the last days of the preceding century, and was consequently in the flower of his youth at the time that he writes this journal. He seems to have been a young man of a simple, genial nature, and in these pages, written only for his own amusement, he continually expresses his gratitude for all the kindness he received. He was apparently quite unruffled by the discomforts and dangers he went through by land and water. He narrates several times with the utmost simplicity his hairbreadth escapes from carriage accidents. In these days an occasional railway accident startles us because of the numbers it affects, but the risks that our luxurious parents experienced when travelling in their solitary grandeur were far greater than those incurred by any individual in modern travelling. Charles Earle had the good fortune to be in St. Petersburg at the time of the death of the Emperor Alexander I. and the accession of the handsome and interesting Nicholas I., who began his reign by weakening the power of Turkey and helping on the independence of the Greeks, but closed it with his ambitions crushed by the alliance of France and England with the Turks, and died leaving his peace-loving successor Alexander II. to sign the treaty disastrous to Russia which closed the campaign in the Crimea. I have had immensely to curtail the journal, only selecting those passages which seem of some general interest. The prophecy at the end, in the light of after-events, is distinctly remarkable.

He begins his journal at Hamburg on July 31, 1825, with the following words: 'After having trodden for two years in the beaten track of European travellers, and after having visited most of the countries south of the Baltic, my account of which was stolen from me at Warsaw, I have determined, in spite of this misfortune, to begin another journal of the tour I am on the eve of making through the North of Europe.'

He leaves Hamburg without regret, and apparently finds Lubeck much more interesting. He writes several pages in the ordinary handbook style, of which one remark may be noticed :

I was particularly amused by a picture by Holbein, called "Death's Dance," which occupies three walls of a chapel in one of the principal churches,' &c, &c. Living before the critical age, he simply accepts the attribution of this picture. Nowadays we know that the ' Dance of Death' was one of the favourite subjects of northern mediaeval painters; and the best critics state that there is no authentic record of any 'Death's Dance' by Holbein, and throw considerable doubt even on the celebrated engravings.

He left Lubeck on a steamer for Copenhagen with his Italian travelling companion, Signor Rossi, and says: 'On arriving at Copenhagen, I paid my respects to Professor Oirsted, to whom Dr. Young had given me a letter of introduction, and who procured admission for me to the fine cabinet of minerals.'

He constantly mentions visiting museums, and in this interest for science there is probably a touch of romance, as he was intimately acquainted with Dr. Thomas Young, whose wife was the elder sister of the lady whom Charles Earle already knew and afterwards married. Thomas Young, M.D., was a scientific man of great distinction. Among other things, I read that he discovered the law of the interference of light, though I know not what that means. He also evolved the process of investigation by which the received interpretation of hieroglyphics has been arrived at. It was he who deciphered the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum, and I believe he is recognised as one of the most ingenious and original philosophers of his time.

They show the tomb of Hamlet in a garden not far from the town. A simple stone marks the spot where he was supposed to have been buried. On arriving at Elsinor we paid a visit to the castle of Cronenburg, a fortress commanding the Sound. It is a Gothic structure, and from its lofty tower there is a view of which travellers are wont to speak in raptures. In order, however, to enjoy the prospect, the permission of the Governor is necessary; no easy matter to obtain, as experience proved. After passing along corridors innumerable and traversing dirty and deserted apartments, we at length found the animal in his lair in the inmost recesses of the castle. I had seldom seen, and it would be difficult to describe, anything in the shape of a civilised being so filthy as the said Governor. His uniform, covered with the accumulated grease of years and in tatters, contrasted with the numerous orders that glittered on his breast. 'Nein, mein Herr," was the only answer we could obtain to our humble request to be allowed to mount the tower to enjoy the view of the Sound. He assured us the responsibility was so great that he dared not incur it. At length, however, he yielded to our earnest entreaties; but a dirty, slovenly sentry, to whom he gave the order to admit us, declared that he had refused. In vain we begged he would return and bring the permission we had been promised; so our errand was after all a fruitless one, and we descended in no good humour from this impregnable fortress.' In the midst of drastic reducing of the journal I keep this little anecdote of the visit to Elsinor as characteristic of the want of civilisation at that time.