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By this time the Court Banquet was drawing to its close; and the brilliant assembly entered the drawingroom, on the first floor of the Ducal Palace, overlooking the square. The Archduke Maximilian and his Archduchess, attended by their suite, came out on to the balcony erected in front, and covered with a rich canopy of crimson velvet, where they remained seated for an hour, listening to the music and enjoying the fairy-like scene that lay extended beneath them. As all the windows in the state-rooms were thrown open, the brilliant light of the wax-candles enabled us to see the magnificence of the apartments. The roof and walls were ornamented with pilasters and arches of gilt, very elegantly chased, and alternated with flutings of crimson drapery, the whole being lighted with arches and clusters of wax-lights. After an hour, the Ducal party retired, and dancing commenced.
We lingered a little longer amidst the crowd, which, though composed almost exclusively of the poorest classes, was remarkably orderly in its behaviour, and allowed us easily to retire to our hotel, when satiated with the scene, and fatigued with our evening's perambulation.Rev. J. Ridgway.
WHEN you look at the map of the world, you see how small Europe looks in comparison with the other great divisions of the earth.
It is smaller than Africa, and not half so large as either Asia or America. Yet Europe is more interesting to us than any other portion of the globe, because it is that in which we ļive,
Europe is divided, you know, into many different countries; different from each other in climate (that is, in weather), in the look of the people, in their customs and manners, and in their language.
There are two things that have made it superior to the other continents—first, the happy temperature of the climate, no part of it being excessively hot; and, secondly, the great variety of its surface, and the great extent of its sea-coast. The effect of a moderate climate on the inhabitants tends to make them more energetic and active. The number of mountains, seas, and rivers, is also advantageous. Mountains are natural barriers, which prevent conquest and despotism; while the sea coasts, and numerous ports and rivers, make intercourse and trade with other nations more easy. Even barren rocks excite human industry, which is dulled by a luxuriant soil.
The southern countries of Europe, such as Portugal, Spain, South France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, enjoy a delightful climate. A blue sky is more often seen than any other, and the sun is so powerful that the people want no fire during most of the year, excepting to dress their victuals. The fruits and flowers of these climates, too, are very beautiful, though the verdure (that is, the greenness) of the grass and trees is not so bright and pleasant to look upon as it is in our own fields and gardens. The people, however, are naturally indolent.
All through the central countries of Europe, as well as in our western part of it, the weather is colder, and more rainy. And in the north of Europe, in Sweden, Norway, and North Russia, it is very cold; and as you go farther north it becomes colder, till you reach that part of the earth where the sun does not rise for days, or weeks, or months in winter; the time being longer as the land is nearer to that most northern point of our globe, called the north pole.
The people who live nearest to this point, in these icy regions, are called Laplanders. And we should think
them very wretched, but they do not seem to dislike their long nights, or rather long dark days. They have plenty of oil, from the whales they take in those icy seas, to light up their cottages; and the moon, while it is shining, and the stars look very bright. They gain some light, also, from a bright appearance in the sky, sometimes of a pale pink colour, sometimes red or whitish, which spreads over a great part of the heavens, and which we too sometimes see, called the Aurora Borealis, or northern light, or dawn-Borealis meaning northern, and Aurora dawn; it has been so called, because it resembles that light which we often see at sun-rise. Then the reflection of the white snow, with which these regions are covered, must increase what little light they have.
Among the people of the northern and central parts of Europe, light hair and eyes, and a fair complexion prevail. In the south, dark hair and eyes, and a sallow or brown complexion, is almost universal.
Various languages are spoken by the nations of Europe, besides our own English. If we cross the English Channel to France, or the German Ocean to Hamburg (which we can do in a few hours), we find a different language spoken by the people, viz., French in the one country, and German in the other. Almost
nation has its own language, although the letters are for the most part the same as ours, except in Germany and Greece,
THE SAXON BROTHERS.
It was in the reign of King Stephen, a most lawless period of English history, that the Baron de Mont-fau-çon held rule in the castle, the ruins of which are still to be seen on the top of the Wynd. He had been one of Stephen's most devoted supporters in his seizure of the
crown; but his character for cruelty and licentiousness was so odious, even in such a court as that of his patron, that the latter was glad to get rid of his presence, by bestowing on him the Castle and Lordship of Barford. He had not been long settled in his new possessions before he began to oppress his neighbours after the fashion of those times. The cattle of the peasantry were seized and driven to the castle; fines were imposed for imaginary offences on the wealthier citizens; and deeds more outrageous than these ruthlessly perpetrated, whenever the evil passions of the baron and his retainers were roused. For a long time this was borne with patience, but at length a wide-spread conspiracy was formed to storm the castle, and put Montfaucon and his minions to the death they had so amply merited.
Prime movers in this league were two brothers, Osbert and Edmund. They were among the richest of the citizens: strong in body, in the flower of their years; and noted for daring among their fellow-citizens. Of late a coldness had sprung up between them, for they were both suitors for the hand of Bertha, the daughter of Thorwald, a wealthy trader; and as yet the damsel had manifested no decided preference for either over the other.
About the time when the disaffection of the citizens was beginning to assume the form of open rebellion, it chanced that Conrad de Montfaucon, while riding through the streets of Barford, caught sight of the fair Bertha, as she leaned from an upper window of her father's house. He was greatly struck by her beauty, which was of a very uncommon order for one in her rank of life. Reining in his steed, he removed his plumed cap, and made her a profound reverence, which brought all the colour into her cheeks, though she instantly retired from the casement, and closed it behind her. Conrad's passions had been awakened, and from thenceforth there was no peace in the household of Thorwald. Messages, presents,
entreaties, threats, followed thick on one another. At last, one summer evening, Bertha disappeared altogether. She had gone forth for a stroll through the fields, unattended by her maid, and never returned to her father's house. There could have been no reasonable doubt as to what had become of her, even if one of the neighbours had not chanced to see a group of three or four horsemen riding furiously up the ascent which led to the castle, and carrying in the midst of them a female figure veiled and muffled. This was the last drop in a cup already filled to the brim. No sooner was the fact of her abduction known than instant measures were taken for her rescue. That same night the castle was attacked by the armed citizens, the outer defences forced, and the Baron Montfaucon only just contrived to escape with the main body of his followers into the Keep. Here he was regularly besieged for several weeks, until a capitulation was agreed on, by which the Baron and his men-at-arms were allowed to march out without their arms or property, while everything in the castle was to become the prey of the besiegers.
Osbert and Edmund, who had opposed the capitulation with all their influence, hastened to explore the Keep the moment after its evacuation by the garrison. Chamber after chamber was searched, and at length, stretched on a pallet in a small upper room, the remains of the hapless Bertha were found.
“It was generally thought that she had died of grief and shame, to which want of the necessaries of life might have contributed, for the garrison had suffered terribly by famine,—while others did not scruple to declare that her end had been violently hastened to prevent any disclosure of the secrets of her imprisonment. When her corpse was discovered by Osbert and Edmund, it is said that the effect on both was something terrible to witness. Osbert snatched his sword from its sheath, and swore upon its blade an implacable enmity not only to the whole S. IV.