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List Of Contents | Contents of Letters From High Latitudes, by Lord Dufferin
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arrows,--and all were very merry." On nearing the castle,
they see "a cloud of dust as from horses' feet, and under
it shining shields and bright armour." English Harold's
army is before them. Hardrada sends back to his ship for
succour, and sets up his banner, "Land Ravager," undismayed
by the inequality of his force, and their comparatively
unarmed condition. The men on each side are drawn up in
battle array, and the two kings in presence; each gazes
eagerly to discover his noble foe among the multitude.
Harald Hardrada's black horse stumbles and falls; "the
King got up in haste, and said, 'A fall is lucky for a
traveller.'"

The English King said to the Northmen who were with
him, "Do you know the stout man who fell from his horse,
with the blue kirtle, and beautiful helmet?"

"That is the Norwegian King," said they.

English Harold replied, "A great man, and of stately
appearance is he; but I think his luck has left him."

And now twenty gallant English knights ride out of their
ranks to parley with the Northmen. One advances beyond
the rest and asks if Earl Toste, the brother of English
Harold (who has banded with his enemy against him), is
with the army.

The Earl himself proudly answers, "It is not to be denied
that you will find him here."

The Saxon says, "Thy brother, Harold, sends his salutation,
and offers thee the third part of his kingdom, if thou
wilt be reconciled and submit to him."

The Earl replies, at the suggestion of the Norse King,
"What will my brother the King give to Harald Hardrada
for his trouble?"

"He will give him," says the Knight, "SEVEN FEET OF
ENGLISH GROUND, OR AS MUCH MORE AS HE MAY BE TALLER THAN
OTHER MEN."

"Then," says the Earl, "let the English King, my brother,
make ready for battle, for it never shall be said that
Earl Toste broke faith with his friends when they came
with him to fight west here in England."

When the knights rode off, King Harald Hardrada asked
the Earl, "Who was the man who spoke so well?"

The Earl replied, "That knight was Harold of England."

The stern Norwegian King regrets that his enemy had
escaped from his hands, owing to his ignorance of this
fact; but even in his first burst of disappointment, the
noble Norse nature speaks in generous admiration of his
foe, saying to the people about him, "That was but a
little man, yet he sat firmly in his stirrups."

The fierce, but unequal combat is soon at an end, and
when tardy succour arrives from the ships, Harald Hardrada
is lying on his face, with the deadly arrow in his throat,
never to see Nidaros again. Seven feet of English earth,
and no more, has the strong arm and fiery spirit conquered.

But enough of these gallant fellows; I must carry you
off to a much pleasanter scene of action. After a very
agreeable dinner with Mr. K--, who has been most kind to
us, we adjourned to the ball. The room was large and well
lighted--plenty of pretty faces adorned it;--the floor
was smooth, and the scrape of the fiddles had a festive
accent so extremely inspiriting, that I besought Mr. K--
to present me to one of the fair personages whose tiny
feet were already tapping the floor with impatience at
their own inactivity.

I was led up in due form to a very pretty lady, and heard
my own name, followed by a singular sound purporting to
be that of my charming partner, Madame Hghelghghagllaghem.
For the pronunciation of this polysyllabic cognomen, I
can only give you a few plain instructions; commence it
with a slight cough, continue with a gurgling in the
throat, and finish with the first convulsive movement of
a sneeze, imparting to the whole operation a delicate
nasal twang.  If the result is not something approaching
to the sound required, you must relinquish all hope of
achieving it, as I did. Luckily, my business was to dance,
and not to apostrophize the lady; and accordingly, when
the waltz struck up, I hastened to claim, in the dumbest
show, the honour of her hand. Although my dancing
qualifications have rather rusted during the last two or
three years, I remembered that the time was not so very
far distant when even the fair Mademoiselle E-- had
graciously pronounced me to be a very tolerable waltzer,
"for an Englishman," and I led my partner to the circle
already formed with the "air capable" which the object
of such praise is entitled to assume.  There was a certain
languid rhythm in the air they were playing which rather
offended my ears, but I suspected nothing until, observing
the few couples who had already descended into the arena,
I became aware that they were twirling about with all
the antiquated grace of "la valse a trois temps." Of
course my partner would be no exception to the general
rule! nobody had ever danced anything else at Throndhjem
from the days of Odin downwards; and I had never so much
as attempted it. What was to be done? I could not explain
the state of the case to Madame Hghelghghagllaghem; she
could not understand English, nor I speak Norse. My brain
reeled with anxiety to find some solution of the difficulty,
or some excuse for rushing from her presence. What if I
were taken with a sudden bleeding at the nose, or had an
apoplectic fit on the spot? Either case would necessitate
my being carried decently out, and consigned to oblivion,
which would have been a comfort under the circumstances.
There was nothing for it but the courage of despair; so,
casting reflection to the winds and my arm round her
waist, I suddenly whisked her off her legs, and dashed
madly down the room, "a deux temps." At the first perception
that something unusual was going on, she gave such an
eldritch scream, that the whole society suddenly came to
a standstill. I thought it best to assume an aspect of
innocent composure and conscious rectitude; which had
its effect, for though the lady began with a certain
degree of hysterical animation to describe her wrongs,
she finished with a hearty laugh, in which the company
cordially joined, and I delicately chimed in. For the
rest of the dance she seemed to resign herself to her
fate, and floated through space, under my guidance, with
all the ABANDON of Francesca di Rimini, in Scheffer's
famous picture.

The Crown Prince is a tall, fine-looking person; he was
very gracious, and asked many questions about my voyage.

At night there was a general illumination, to which the
"Foam" contributed some blue lights.

We got under way early this morning, and without a
pilot--as we had entered--made our way out to sea again.
I left Throndhjem with regret, not for its own sake, for
in spite of balls and illuminations I should think the
pleasures of a stay there would not be deliriously
exciting; but this whole district is so intimately
associated in my mind with all the brilliant episodes of
ancient Norwegian History, that I feel as if I were taking
leave of all those noble Haralds, and Olafs, and Hacons,
among whom I have been living in such pleasant intimacy
for some time past.

While we are dropping down the coast, I may as well employ
the time in giving you a rapid sketch of the commencement
of this fine Norse people, though the story "remonte
jusqu'a la nuit des temps," and has something of the
vague magnificence of your own M'Donnell genealogy, ending
a long list of great potentates, with "somebody, who was
the son of somebody else, who was the son of Scotha, who
was the daughter of Pharaoh!"

In bygone ages, beyond the Scythian plains and the fens
of the Tanais, in that land of the morning, to which
neither Grecian letters nor Roman arms had ever penetrated,
there was a great city called Asgaard. Of its founder,
of its history, we know nothing; but looming through the
mists of antiquity we can discern an heroic figure, whose
superior attainments won for him the lordship of his own
generation, and divine honours from those that succeeded.
Whether moved by an irresistible impulse, or impelled by
more powerful neighbours, it is impossible to say; but
certain it is that at some period, not perhaps very long
before the Christian era, under the guidance of this
personage, a sun-nurtured people moved across the face
of Europe, in a north-westerly direction, and after
leaving settlements along the southern shores of the
Baltic, finally established themselves in the forests
and valleys of what has come to be called the Scandinavian
Peninsula. That children of the South should have sought
out so inclement a habitation may excite surprise; but
it must always be remembered that they were, probably,
a comparatively scanty congregation, and that the unoccupied
valleys of Norway and Sweden, teeming with fish and game,
and rich in iron, were a preferable region to lands only
to be colonised after they had been conquered.

Thus, under the leadership of Odin and his twelve Paladins,
--to whom a grateful posterity afterwards conceded thrones
in the halls of their chief's Valhalla,--the new emigrants
spread themselves along the margin of the out-ocean, and
round about the gloomy fiords, and up and down the deep
valleys that fall away at right angles from the backbone,
or keel, as the seafaring population soon learnt to call
the flat, snow-capped ridge that runs down the centre of
Norway.

Amid the rude but not ungenial influences of its bracing
climate, was gradually fostered that gallant race which
was destined to give an imperial dynasty to Russia, a
nobility to England, and conquerors to every sea-board
in Europe.

Upon the occupation of their new home, the ascendency of
that mysterious hero, under whose auspices the settlement
was conducted, appears to have remained more firmly
established than ever, not only over the mass of the
people, but also over the twelve subordinate chiefs who
accompanied him; there never seems to have been the
slightest attempt to question his authority, and, though
afterwards themselves elevated into an order of celestial
beings, every tradition which has descended is careful
to maintain his human and divine supremacy. Through the
obscurity, the exaggeration, and the ridiculous fables,

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