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FOR JUNE, 1819.
Art. 1. Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa,
by Edward Daniel Clarke, LL.D. Part the Third, Scandinavia. Sec
tion the First, 4to. pp. 763. Price 41. 145. 64. London, 1819. WE may justly congratulate the traveller who, at a time
abounding to excess with the works of competitors in the same department, can veuture to put his credit with the reading public to such a test as that involved in a fifth massive quarto volume of travels, accompanied with the announcement that yet another (though of inferior dimensions) remains to be brought out as the conclusion of the series,-a series which will by that time have extended to between four and five thousand pages.
We have no doubt Dr.Clarke is safe in making this daring experiment; and that he is so, is a powerful testimony to his extraordinary qualifications. At the same time, many even of bis most gratified readers will think, that he has taken the utmost advantage of the privilege enjoyed in virtue of his uncommon endowments. They may be of opinion, that for the sake of preserving a geographical continuity of narrative, he has sometimes described spots, and sometimes related incidents, which would better bave been passed without notice in a course of such immense length. It may, especially, be thought that one large volume might have sufficed for this Third Part, relating to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Lapland, and Finland, regions which have contributed rather largely within the last twenty years to the English library of travels and topography. Of several portions of these tracts, we have in fact much later descriptions, Dr. Clarke's travelling journal being dated so far back as the year 1799.
The journey was therefore in part contemporary with that performed through the same countries by Acerbi, who published his very entertaining account seventeen years ago, during which interval, successive tourists through those northern regions, have had time enough to travel, publish, and be forgotten. VOL. XI. N.S.
In an age when the world is so changeable, and when books so quickly report its changes, it is obvious what a deduction is felt to be made from the interest of this Third Part, by the consideration of how much has taken place to render its descriptions obsolete. Descriptive sketches, which twenty years ago were strikingly true to reality, may now have their significance transmuted into a new character, as exemplifications of the truth that the fashion of the world passes away. Tbis new mode of interest has its value, but it is not what we naturally seek for in a book of travels ; besides, in order to feel it, we must possess in the knowledge of the present or recent state of things, the means of making the comparison.
Changes of no slight importance have been effected in some parts of Scandinavia, since our Author's peregrinations there. That, however, which necessarily remains very much the same,
most interesting. The general character and manners of the people, bearing the ancient impression of time, will but little have yielded to any modifying influence of new political arrangements. And as to the great features of nature, the mountains, the immense forests, the torrents,-little signifies it to them, or to the persons who shall contemplate them, whether a king, or an emperor, whether an old legitimate dynasty, or an upstart, stands as the denomination of chief authority, which has been willingly retained, or compulsorily adopted, in the public offices of the country.
It is to be added, that Dr. Clarke is one of that small number of writers of travels who may assume to be, in a considerable measure, independent on time; whose observations involve so much general truth and so much learning, whose descriptions are so picturesque, whose narratives have so much vivacity without affectation, that their books will command attention by means of these intrinsic qualities long after they may have ceased, in consequence of changes wrought by time, to be regarded as authorities for the actual state of the countries to which they relate. That our Author's work might possess this advantage in the highest degree, is one reason for regretting its excessive dilatation.
All his readers are apprised that the part of his journal which he reserved to come last in the order of publication, was first in the order of travelling. Lest, however, any one should apprehend it may therefore be a string of crudities and inflations, betraying a youth just let loose from school or from college, and marvelling at every thing beyond sea, it is proper to be mentioned that he was already, at the beginning of the long career, of which bis book when finished will present the relation, an old stager in the business, having spent, he says, the preceding ten years ia travelling, chiefly in the south of Europe.
As it would be quite superfluous now to recount the distinguishing qualities and merits of a traveller and writer so often criticised and become so intimately known to the reading public, we shall content ourselves with a very brief indication of the stages, and the most striking views of nature and man, in his northern progress.
Few inore remarkable objects occurred, in the whole route than one at the beginning of it, the island of Heligoland. The circumstance which makes it so is the vast difference between its present and its past visible dimensions.
"Of this island there is nothing now remaining but the higher part, appearing like a huge mound rising out of the water. All the lower and fertile districts have been covered by an encroachment of the sea; and the rest, being annually diminished, is preparing to undergo the same fate. A map of Heligoland* has been preserved, wherein is delineated the situation of ancient temples, citadels, and villages, surrounded by woodlands and cultivated districts, traversed by rivers, all of which are now beneath the waves, By this curious document, it may be seeno what the island was in the seventh, at the end of the thirteenth, and in the seventeenth centuries; and the gradual destruction, which has reduced an extensive territory to its present inconsiderable state, may be duly traced.'
It may be questioned whether we should so implicitly adınit the entire authenticity of a delineation which assigns exactly the sites of so many now submerged temples, and cloisters, and castles. At any rate, however, there must have been a tremendous catastrophe. And yet we cannot help being pleased with the kiod of emblem it seems to suggest to the fancy, of the future annihilation of heathenism, popery, and war. How delightful it will be one day to look at a moral map of the world constructed to tell where they did exist, but have perished.
The prodigious bustle of traffic in Hamburgh, at that tiine, when it was flourishing immoderately upon the ruination of the property of all Europe besides, the earnest universal worship of Mammon, the destitution of literature and fine art, the luxurious diet, the beds made for gentlemen sleeping with their boots on, and the other characteristics, we may without hazard say all the other characteristics of the place, are bit off in a very spirited manner. On the route from Hamburgh our Author meets with many things which amuse and interest him in spite of the execrable roads and wretched travelling vehicles ; things, however, not of an order to make the reader regret that he cannot, though at that or any greater cost, see or bear them himself. As for
* The Author is indebted for this map to the kindness of his friend, Sir W. Gell. It was found in Heligotand, and there copied by Mr. Atkins,