CHAPTER I. THE VOYAGE TO THE BRAZILS.
We now proceeded into the scanty wood, where we saw about twenty tents erected. A bustling landlord came up, and offering us some glasses of bad milk, said that every year a fair is held in the Bush for three weeks, or rather, on three successive Sundays, for during the week days the booths are closed. The landlady also came tripping towards us, and invited us, in a very friendly manner, to spend the next Sunday with them. She assured us that we should "amuse ourselves charmingly;" that we elder members of the company should find entertainment in the wonderful performances of the tumblers and jugglers, and the younger gentlemen find spruce young girls for partners in the dance.
We expressed ourselves much pleased at this invitation, promised to be sure to come, and then extended our walk to Ritzebuttel, where we admired a small castle and a miniature park.
5th July. Nothing is so changeable as the weather: yesterday we were revelling in sunshine, and today we were surrounded by a thick, dark fog; and yet this, bad as it was, we found more agreeable than the fine weather of the day before, for a slight breeze sprang up, and at nine o'clock in the morning, we heard the rattling of the capstan, as the anchor was being weighed. In consequence of this, the young people were obliged to give up the idea of an excursion to the Bush, and defer all dancing with pretty girls until their arrival in another hemisphere, for it was fated that they should not set foot in Europe again.
The transition from the Elbe to the North Sea is scarcely perceptible, as the Elbe is not divided into different channels, but is eight or ten miles broad at its mouth. It almost forms a small sea of itself, and has even the green hue of one. We were, consequently, very much surprised, on hearing the captain exclaim, in a joyful tone, "We are out of the river at last." We imagined that we had long since been sailing upon the wide ocean.
In the afternoon, we bore in sight of the island of Heligoland, which belongs to the English, and presented really a magical appearance, as it rose out from the sea. It is a barren, colossal rock; and had I not learned, from one of the newest works on geography, that it was peopled by about 2,500 souls, I should have supposed the whole island to have been uninhabited. On three sides, the cliffs rise so precipitously from the waves, that all access is impossible.
We sailed by the place at a considerable distance, and saw only the towers of the church and lighthouse, in addition to the so-called "Monk," a solitary, perpendicular rock, that is separated from the main body, between which and it there sparkles a small strip of sea.
The inhabitants are very poor. The only sources of their livelihood are fishing and bathing visitors. A great number of the latter come every year, as the bathing, on account of the extraordinary swell, is reckoned extremely efficacious. Unfortunately, great fears are entertained that this watering-place cannot exist much longer, as every year the island decreases in size, from the continual falling away of large masses of rock, so that some day the whole place may disappear into the sea.
From the 5th to the 10th of July, we had continued stormy and cold weather, with a heavy sea, and great rolling of the ship. All we poor "land-lubbers" were suffering from sea sickness. We first entered the British Channel, also called "La Manche" (420 miles from Cuxhaven) in the night of the 10-11th.
We awaited with impatience the rising of the sun, which would display to our gaze two of the mightiest powers in Europe. Luckily, the day was fine and clear, and the two kingdoms lay before us, in such magnificence and proximity, that the beholder was almost inclined to believe that a sister people inhabited both countries.
On the coast of England, we saw the North Foreland, the Castle of Sandown, and the town of Deal, stretching out at the foot of the cliffs, which extend for many miles, and are about 150 feet high. Further on, we came in sight of the South Foreland; and lastly, the ancient castle of Dover, that sits right bravely enthroned upon an eminence, and overlooks the surrounding country, far and wide. The town itself lies upon the sea-shore.
Opposite Dover, at the narrowest part of the channel, we distinguished, on the French coast, Cape Grisnez, where Napoleon erected a small building, in order, it is said, to be at least able to see England; and, further on, the obelisk raised in memory of the camp at Boulogne, by Napoleon, but completed under Louis Philippe.
The wind being unfavourable, we were obliged, during the night, to tack in the neighbourhood of Dover. The great darkness which covered both land and sea rendered this maneuvre a very dangerous one; firstly, on account of the proximity of the coast; and, secondly, on account of the number of vessels passing up and down the channel. To avoid a collision, we hung out a lantern on the foremast, while, from time to time, a torch was lighted, and held over the side, and the bell frequently kept sounding: all very alarming occurrences to a person unused to the sea.