A Scottish Storyteller


A Wee Guessing Game

I found myself telling someone about this piece of writing recently. Perhaps it was offshore, or perhaps it was Fudge that told me?

So I just raked it out of one of the books piled up behind my bed.

The aeroplanes I guess the author could easily have imagined... but the Channel Tunnel and phone lines accross the Atlantic! Coooo.

Anyway, I want you all to guess where it's from! i.e. When was it written? And by Whom? (Who? Whom. I dinna ken. We couldn't afford grammar when I were a lass)


IN A THOUSAND YEARS

Yes, in a thousand years people will fly on the wings of steam through the air, over the ocean! The young inhabitants of America will become visitors of old Europe. They will come over to see the monuments and the great cities, which will then be in ruins, just as we in our time make pilgrimages to the mouldering splendours of Southern Asia. In a thousand years they will come!

The Thames, the Danube, and the Rhine still roll their course, Mont Blanc stands firm with its snow-capped summit, and the Northern Lights gleam over the lands of the North; but generation after generation has become dust, whole rows of the mighty of the monument are forgotten, like those who already slumber under the grave-mound on which the rich trader whose ground it is has built a bench, on which he can sit and look out across his waving cornfields.

"To Europe!" cry the young sons of America; "To the land of our ancestors, the glorious land of memories and fancy - to Europe!"

The ship of the air comes. It is crowded with passengers for the transit is quicker than by sea. The electro-magnetic wire under the ocean has already telegraphed the number of the aerial caravan. Europe is in sight: it is the coast of Ireland that they see, but the passengers are still asleep; they will not be called till they are exactly over England. There they will first step on European shore, in the land of Shakespeare as the educated call it; in the land of politics, the land of machinery, as it is called by others.

Here they stay a whole day. That is all the time the busy race can devote to the whole of England and Scotland. Then the journey is continued through the tunnel under the English Channel to France, the land of Charlemange and Napoleon. Moliere is named; the learned men talk of a classical and romantic school of remote antiquity: there is rejoicing and shouting for the names of heroes, poets, and men of science, whom our time does not know, but who will be born after our time in Paris, the crater of Europe.

The air steamboat flies over the country whence Columbus went forth, where Cortez was born and where Calderon sang dramas in sounding verse. Beautiful black-eyed women live still in the blooming valleys, and ancient songs speak of the Cid and the Alhambra.

Then through the air, over the sea, to Italy, where once lay old, everlasting Rome. It has vanished! The Campagna lies desert; a single ruined wall is shown as the remains of St Peter's but there is a doubt if this ruin be genuine.

Next to Greece, to sleep a night in the grand hotel at the top of Mount Olympus, to say that they have been there; and the journey is continued to the Boshorus, to rest there a few hours, and see the place where Byzantium lay; and where the legend tells that the harem stood in the time of the Turks, poor fishermen are now spreading their nets.

Over the remains of mighty cities on the broad Danube, cities which we in our time know not, the travellers pass; but here and there, on the rich sites of those that time shall bring forth, the caravan sometimes descends, and departs thence again.

Down below lies Germany, that was once covered with a close net of railways and canals, the region where Luther spoke, where Goethe sang and Mozart once held the sceptre of harmony. Great names shone there, in science and in art, names that are unknonw to us. one day devoted to seeing Germany, and one for the North, the country of old Oersted and Linnaus , and for Norway, the land of the old heroes and the young Normans. Iceland is visited on the journey home; Geyser boils no longer, Hecla is an extince volcano, but the rocky island is still fixed in the midst of the foaming sea, a continual monument of legend and poetry.

"There is really a great deal to be seen in Europe," says the young American, "and we have seen it in a week, according to the directions of the great traveller" (and here he mentions the name of one of this contemporaries) "in his celebrated work, "How to See all Europe in a Week."

7 Responses to “A Wee Guessing Game”

  1. # Blogger lost

    Ooh - it makes you shiver! It's a US tourist package deal! How feary!

    Nah, ye nivver telt me about this, but it's gr8, to borrow text language.

    Ye'll hiv tae tell me fa it wiz written by. Or ask Uncle Google?  

  2. # Blogger Poz

    Isn't it great though !?

    I'll see if anyone else has a guess before I tell yez! :)  

  3. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Hmm... H C Andersen by any chance? Don't remember this particular piece, but the telling style is too much like his.
    Red Queen  

  4. # Blogger Neighbour of Teh Hoors!

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  

  5. # Blogger Poz

    Yes Red Queen!
    Well done, it was indeed Hans Christian Andersen. 10/10, top marks! :)  

  6. # Blogger lost

    Hey - what happened to that post?  

  7. # Blogger Chris Baines

    Hey! Fudge! I asked Uncle Google....

    He didn't come up with the goods: Aunty Archive.org neither.

    Huh!  

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