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with sound, as if from the heavy bass of a great organ. For fully a minute heaven and earth seemed to be filled with yelling, shrieking fiends. Then one by one they began gradually to drop off, the unearthly tumult grew momentarily fainter and fainter, until at last it ended, as it began, in one long inexpressibly melancholy wail, and all was still. One or two of our men moved restlessly in their sleep, as if the mournful howls had blended unpleasantly with their dreams, but no one awoke, and a death-like silence again pervaded heaven and earth. Suddenly the aurora shone out with increased brilliancy, and its waving swords swept back and forth in great semicircles across the dark, starry sky, and lighted up the snowy steppe with transitory flashes of colored radiance, as if the gates of heaven were opening and closing upon the dazzling brightness of the celestial city. Presently it faded away again to a faint, diffused glow in the north, and one pale green streamer, slender and bright as the spear of Ithuriel, pushed slowly up toward the zenith, until it touched, with its translucent point, the jewelled belt of Orion. Then it, too, faded and vanished, and nothing but a bank of pale white mist, on the northern horizon, showed the location of the celestial armory, whence the arctic spirits drew the gleaming swords and lances which they shook and brandished nightly over the lonely Siberian steppes. Crawling back into my bag as the aurora disappeared, I
fell asleep, and did not wake until near morning.
With the first streak of dawn the camp began to show signs of animation. The dogs crawled out of the deep holes which their warm bodies had melted in the snow, the Cossacks poked their heads out of their frosty fur-coats, and whipped off, with little sticks, the mass of frost which had accumulated around their breathing-holes; a fire was built, tea boiled, and we crawled out of our sleeping-bags to shiver around the fire, and eat a hasty breakfast of rye-bread, dried fish, and tea. In twenty minutes the dogs were harnessed, sledges packed, and runners covered with ice, and one after another we drove away at a brisk trot from the smoking fire, and began another day's journey across the barren steppe.
In this monotonous routine of riding, camping, and sleeping on the snow, day after day slowly passed, until, on Dec. 20th, we arrived at the settled Korak village of Shestakova, near the head of Penzhinak Gulf. From this point our Geezhega Cossacks were to return, and here we were to wait until the expected sledges from Penzhina should arrive. We lowered our bedding, pillows, camp equipage, and provisions down through the chimney-hole of the largest yourt in the small village, arranged them as tastefully as possible on the wide wooden platform which extended out from the wall on one side, and made ourselves as comfortable as darkness, smoke, cold, and dirt would permit.
IN Denmark the peasants comprise two thirds of the whole population; and, as agriculture is the main resource of the country, the tillers of the soil are the main body of society. In the middle of the eighteenth century their social advantages were, nevertheless, very small. Statesmen in those times, especially those of narrow mind and sentimental tendencies, considered the State a large household, and according to this idea society was planned and the Government conducted. The king was considered the master, the noblemen his family, the royal officers a sort of stewards, and the lower classes-the peasants-his servants. But in the household, where the master has the right to do all that he likes, his family the right to do all that the master does not dislike, and the stewards the right to cheat both of them, there can be but a small portion of rights remaining to the servants. So it was at that time.
The Danish peasants were not exactly slaves, but something still worse. the slave, who has no rights at all, his poverty and defencelessness are, in a measure, a passport to his master's compassion; but the Danish peasants, who were tenants, had a form of rights, which deprived them of the lord's benevolence, without enabling them to defend themselves against his despotic encroachments. A century ago the peasants were the property of their lords; and if the lord was gambling, and had no more money left, he set a number of peasants, instead of dollars, on his card. At the end of the eighteenth century this had changed, but still a deed of conveyance would sometimes enumerate: an estate, consisting of two hundred acres of ground, with house and barns, with four horses, twenty cows, eight peasants, and so forth. Even if the tenant was not the property of the lord, he was, neverthe
less, as little his own master; for he was forbidden to move from the place where he was born until he had completed his fortieth year. Thus he lost almost entirely a man's first right, the right to live where he likes; for if one has been shut up within the same box for forty years of his life, he is likely to have lost all energy to move away from it.
This regulation was, strictly speaking, not a feudal bondage, but rather a sort of military duty. The lord was compelled by law to supply the army out of his tenantry with a certain number of soldiers. He had received his real estate from the king, and still held it on this condition. It was, however, often impossible for him to fulfil it, because the young people ran away when the time of enlistment arrived. In consequence of this, the Government tied the peasants by law to the soil on which they were born. Military service was, indeed, a horror to the peasants, and could not fail to be so, for it was such as to be to them an anticipation of hell itself. The Danish king kept up a large standing army, with which to ornament his palaces, to wage some wars, and to provide his treasury with money. It seems a singular business to make money by dealing in soldiers; yet, Frederick IV. let out his soldiers to William III. of England for a considerable sum, and an additional amount for each one who happened to be shot. When Marlborough advised him that such or such a regiment or battalion had been mown down by the enemy's grapeshot, this dreadful report was softened to his royal heart by an enclosed assignment on the English treasury; and it was his comfort that peasants, like rabbits and rats, are very prolific. The Danish kings themselves sometimes waged wars, never by virtue of any war-like temper or military talent, seldom for any use
ever, was a relief to the soldiers. They fared much worse during peace, when only used as an ornament. When the king took a ride, the soldiers had to accompany him in large numbers and in pompous array. It was a brilliant show. The coach itself, though it looked very like a cage in our menageries, was, nevertheless, something imposing, for it was gilded and upholstered all over, and it moved gravely and majestically along, drawn by eight horses. Within sat the king; without rode on horseback the dragoons and hussars, certainly not to prevent the royal beast of prey from breaking out, but as little to prohibit the subjectlambs from breaking in; for, indeed, these last stood humbly bowing on both sides of the road. When the king returned home, the infantry were drawn up in the court-yard, upon the stairs, and along the corridors, presenting arms; and through these brilliant ranks he dragged along his rheumatism or his gout, his waking vices and his sleeping conscience. Such a military service seems not difficult to perform; yet it was difficult to learn, and could not be acquired without almost intolerable vexations. The officers were Germans, and perhaps not one of them could speak Danish. At all events, the words of command were in German. The army, being Danish peasants, of course did not understand these commands; nevertheless, if they were mistaken, the soldiers were soundly flogged. To be beaten and basted, drubbed and cudgelled, was the soldier's natural lot; for, indeed, this was the only language through which the officer could make his will understood. And what was his will? It was, to have all his soldiers exactly alike in size and form. The thick were to be laced and the thin to be stuffed. Those who had no beard, had to wear a false one; and those who had a full beard, to have the greater
part of it pulled out. All military matters were pedantic, as the whole military method was barbarous. The greatest injuries and cruelties that Heaven ever looked upon have perhaps been committed in the European armies of the eighteenth century. No wonder, therefore, that the young peasants used every possible means to avoid the army. They sometimes cut off their forefingers, in order to be incapable of using arms, and consequently unfit for military service. Often, at the time of enlistment, the lord had to establish a regular system of hunting after the youth of his tenantry. They would disappear from their homes and flee into the forests. But the lord scoured the forest with rifle and horn, with huntsmen and dogs, coursing the deserter from tree to tree, over the hills, down to the swamp, where usually he was taken, sitting in the mud up to the neck, and with all the dogs barking around him.
The military duty, however, as it was called, was not completed by an actual service of eight or ten years; for the peasant was still nominally bound by law to the same duty. This, however, was a sort of imposition in behalf of the nobleman, in order that his ground might be cultivated. When the service was over, the peasant had to return to his birthplace and remain until the fortieth year of his age. But though this command was issued under pretext of a military duty, the real cause was, nevertheless, the miserable system of gathering taxes. The peasants paid their taxes not to a royal tax-gatherer, but to the lord, and he himself was tax-free, on condition that he should be security to the king for the tenants' taxes. This, however, he could not be, unless the king, on his part, would be security to the lord that he should not lack ten
pelled to take whatever farm, and for whatever rent, the lord chose to designate; and the rent was to be paid partly with money, but chiefly with labor. At any time he could be commanded to go to the manor and work for the lord, when he had instantaneously to let his own work wait, if he would not ride the wooden horse. This was a board, on the edge of which the refractory tenant was placed astride without pillion, but with weights tied to his feet, and from which he often dismounted a cripple. Thus, he could seldom get his own soil tilled or his own crop gathered in due time, particularly as he had to wait for the tither. He paid the tithe in kind, and had to let the crop remain in the field until the tithe-gatherer had come to count the sheaves and take a tenth part. Meanwhile, the grain often sprouted and was spoiled. His harvest was small and bad, sufficing perhaps to feed himself and his family upon, but leaving nothing for the market; and as his condition was thraldom, so his life was starvation. If, however, some strenuous and industrious tenant happened to conquer his fate so as to gain a little surplus, it was none the better for him, and the money had to be carefully concealed, because, if the fact came to the knowledge of the lord, the tenant was likely to be robbed by him. The lord could, indeed, seize upon the tenant's property without violating the law. He could arbitrarily increase the rent; he could, without any possible protest, remove him to a poorer farm, and could enforce his demands in preference to all other creditors, even with out presenting any certificate of debt. Thus robbery was legal, if the lord was the robber and the tenant the robbed; and the poor peasant, after losing the enjoyment of personal freedom, lost, moreover, the right of accumulating wealth-yea, of having property. Was there now any thing left for him to lose?
But why did he not rebel, rather than lose all in such a manner? Alas, poor unfortunate! To endure is the character of the Danish nation, perseverance
their virtue, indolence their vice. The Danish history, through the last five or six centuries, presents many instances of bold defence, but none of brilliant assault; many of indomitable will, but none of impulsive passion. And these poor fellows, moreover, had grown up in the conviction that all was as it ought to be; that life on earth ought to be a hell to them and a paradise to the lord, and that this was the will of the Creator. They could neither read, write, nor cipher; and as to religion, they knew Satan better than God. The minister was a stout theologian, who received the office from the nobleman's hands by marrying his predecessor's widow. He was always very busy in bringing accusations of heresy against the neighboring clergyman, and with writing congratulatory verses to his patron; but he took little care of his flock, and suffered them to feed upon the most foolish superstitions. He was often a sort of maître de plaisir to the lord; and while the minister was thus, in a great measure, taken up with arranging the amusements at the manor, his neglected parishioners sought the witch for help in all spiritual matters. The witch was not only the peasant's physician, but also his judge and his priest. To her he went, if any thing had been stolen, that she might detect and punish the thief by her sorcery. To her he brought the new-born little one to have it blessed with a sign, lest the elf should take it away and substitute a child of its own. She was, indeed, his faith, his hope, and all his comfort; but her business was very dangerous to herself. If the minister became jealous, and waged war against her, there could be no terms of peace. The old hag was to be thrown into the If she sank to the bottom and was
drowned, she was declared innocent of sorcery, and buried like a Christian woman; but if she floated on the water, she was deemed able to do so only by help of Satan himself, and she was burned to death. If once accused of sorcery, water or fire was inevitably her death; and with her died the spir
itual matron of the parish. The schoolmaster was a weak theologian, who got his employment at the hands of the steward, by marrying the landlord's chambermaid. He was a man of wit, able to demonstrate that the earth was
flat, like a pancake; he could speak Latin and make altar-candles, but he never taught his pupils any thing worth learning. He was an itinerant teacher, and did not tarry in one place longer than three or four days at a time. When he reached a village, he gathered the children into a barn, and began his instructions. Standing on a table or barrel, and crying out the articles and commandments from the catechism, majestically beating time with a switch, and now and then animating his spirit by a dram of brandy, he made the children repeat these matters over and over again. At last, getting drunk, his lessons would end. Such instruction, even though it was religious instruction, was a mere matter of memory to the children; and he left to their hearts only his own example-an example of drunkenness. But did he never give their intellect any thing? Certainly. Sometimes, when in splendid humor, he poured out his wits, consisting of a precious combination of sagacious questions and answers. For instance: "Who cried so loud as to be heard by all living on the earth?"—" The ass in Noah's ark; for in it were all living beings enclosed." Or: "What grows larger by subtracting from it, and smaller by adding to it?"-"A pit-hole." The worst of all, however, was, that the most benevolent teacher of man-life itself-could teach the poor peasant nothing. Horace has said, that the owner's two eyes see more than the servant's hundred-and there is deep truth in these few words; for, indeed, if labor is to be not a dumb drudgery, but a development of strength and mind-if one is to work strenuously and with prudence, gaining by working, he himself must be the possessor of the results of his labors. It is only the enjoyment of the fruit which dignifies the labor, and it is only the dignified VOL. VI.-21
labor which develops the laborer. But the Danish peasants, in the middle of the eighteenth century, lived only to put meat into the nobleman's pot. From a life of such labor nothing is learned but to steal the meat. A people thus trained are not fit for rebellion. If they are good-natured, they will only suffer and degenerate.
Yet, in process of time, a feeling of the cruel injustice of this state of things began to dawn in the higher classes of society. The first who gave public expression to this sentiment was a poetLouis Holberg. In his comedy of Jeppe, which has been translated into all European languages, he has portrayed to the life the Danish peasantry of that time. He drew a picture of the drunkenness, indolence, superstition, and silliness of that class, with such humor and wit as to convulse the reader with laughter, and with such energy of truth as to make him shrink before the naked ugliness. But though the likeness has by no means been flattered by the poet, it savors, nevertheless, of something not directly said, like Beaumarchais' Figaro. We laugh at Jeppe, and we shrink before him, but we take an interest in him. Glimpses of strong common sense and sound feeling, in connection with some undefinable loveliness of mind, prove him to be a goodnatured man, only depraved by odious conditions. He touches our feeling and excites our indignation on account of his social position. It is a masterpiece, and it was fully understood. Upon the whole, the Europeans have a talent for catching the pith of a drama; and the Revolution of 1830, in Paris, is not the only one which has begun in the theatre.
A little after this event, the condition of the peasantry became the subject of animated debates. In 1770, Denmark obtained the liberty of the press. It was, later-in 1772-much limited, but the debate had begun, and could not be kept down. The facts were too striking. When travelling through the country, one would meet with only painful scenes. The dwellings were in