Tuesday, November 5, 2019

No country is better adapted to Botany

This part of Finland is not so extensive as Swedish Finland. It is remarkable that in both countries the productions of nature are sooner ripe in the parts covered with forests, than on the sea-coast and on islands. There the people breathe a more salubrious air. In the towns on the sea, only one of sixty dies annually, while there is born one of forty three. No country is better adapted to Botany. There are enumerated near thirteen hundred different kinds of plants, besides a great number of herbs fit for divers uses. They raise also several kinds of grain, such as wheat, rye, oats, barley, but all of them, especially wheat; in quantities too scanty for the supply of the inhabitants. The interval between seed-time and harvest is from ten to twelve weeks. The Finns apply principally to the culture of tobacco, which thrives uncommonly in their country. As to trees, those which bear fruit, such as Cherry and Plumb-trees, are almost always destroyed by the rigours of winter; the Mulberry is planted and thrives only on the islands ; the Oak does not grow beyond 61, and the Ash beyond 62 degrees.

(Anthony Cross (In the land of the Romanovs) tulkitsee matkakertomuksen toisen käden tiedoksi.)

Friday, November 1, 2019

Helsingfors is not an old city, but has some very fine public buildings

The second day out, we touched at Helsingfors, the capital of Finland. We had always supposed the Lapps and Finns to be quite on a level ; but we found that in this we were greatly mistaken. Finland is not at all the forsaken, half-barbarous land we had pictured it. [...]

Helsingfors is not an old city, but has some very fine public buildings. Most of the houses are built of brick, roughly joined together, covered with a coating of white plaster that resembles stone, and is said to be very durable. Yet Finland is noted for its beautiful marble, most of which is taken to Russia. Many of the smaller houses have double windows, and the ledge between them is filled with dried moss to keep out the cold. The government buildings were striking, but dazzling, with their pure white walls. On an eminence in the distance stood a large Greek church, with walls of red brick, cupolas capped with brazen balls, and roof of snowy white. This was to be painted green — a favorite color with the Russians.

Strolling about the city under the hot sun, we were suddenly startled by the cry of fire. We fol lowed the crowd a long distance. The firemen were very slow — running on foot, with the hose in their hands, while the water for their use was carried in barrels. Several cottages were burned, in spite of the cries and bustle in trying to put out the flames.

Mary Louise Ninde Gamewell. We two alone in Europe. 1886

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Very affecting scenes even among the rugged rocks of Finland

How desolate, how rigid soever the northern climates may be deemed — nature in its rudest state will still in some respect present me with a pleasing prospect. I have been witness of very affecting scenes even among the rugged rocks of Finland. - I have seen there summers finer and more serene than those of the tropics, days without night, lakes so covered with swans, ducks, woodcocks, plovers, &c. that one might say they had forsaken all other waters to come hither and build their nests. The sides of the rocks are frequently covered with moss of a shining purple, and the Kloucva
A beautiful kind of creeper with a red flower
with its flowers of scarlet, and leaves of lively green, having spread abroad a carpet on the ground, meets with the stately fir, and round the dusky pyramid twines its fragrant branches, forming retreats alike adapted to love or to philosophy. In a deep valley, and on the margin of a meadow, stood the mansion of a gentleman of family, where repose was undisturbed, save by the sound of a torrent of water, which the eye saw with pleasure falling and foaming upon the black surface of a neighbouring rock. 'Tis true, that in winter the verdure and the birds disappear together. Wind, snow, hoar frost, and hail envelope and beat upon the house, while chearfulness and hospitality reign within. They will go fifteen leagues to visit each other, and the arrival of a friend proclaims a festival for a week :
The women are of their parties, and 'tis but just that as they bear their husbands company in the wars, they should preside in their entertainments. Instances of conjugal affection, among these people are frequent and extraordinary. The wives of some general officers I have known, have followed their husbands in the field from their first entering into the army. Note of the Author.
they drink the healths of their guests, their ladies, and their great men, to the sound of horns and drums. The old men sit smoaking by the fire and relate the feats of their youth, while the young fellows in their boots, dance to the fife or tabor, round the Finland maid ; who in her furred petticoat, appears like Minerva in the midst of the youths of Sparta.

Bernardin de Saint-Pierre: A voyage to the Isle of Mauritius, (or, Isle of France), the Isle of Bourbon, yhe Cape of Good-Hope, &c. With observations and Reflections upon Nature and Mankind. 1775

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Russians and Finns, but with great difference

In the government of St. Petersburg, husbandry is the business of the Russians and Finns, but with great difference. The former live together in valleys, the latter singly or by families.— The former generally labours his old land, the latter strives to lessen his work, at the expence of the parish. They differ also in their instruments of husbandry; the Finnish are more light and simple than the Russian: they use only the branch harrow ; their little country carts are not, like the Russian, on two, but one axle-tree; and the wheels never shod with iron. Some times, they employ two poles, fastened at one end to the two sides of the saddle, and the other two trailing on the ground.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

When the Finlander with surprising boldness and dexterity

In the Plate, a native of Finland having slain a Bear, is seen, according to the custom of that country, offering thanks to the Deity for his success. The hardy inhabitants of this province seldom shoot the Bears ; but attack them with a short spear, and rarely with any other weapon. They first approach the retreat of the Bear, and by irritating him, induce him to come forth to the attack. As soon as the animal beholds the assailant, he rises on his hind legs, to encircle htm in his grasp, when the Finlander with surprising boldness and dexterity, rushes into the embrace, and plunges the concealed weapon in the shaggy monster's heart.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Would be glad to see Finland absorbed in Russia

The next move which revealed the extraordinary ignorance prevailing in Russia on all matters connected with Finland, was an attempt to stir up class against class ; the Russian press shed ding crocodile tears over the lamentable economical and political position of the downtrodden Finnish peasant, and broadly hinting that under Russian rule he would live in a land overflowing with milk and honey. These tactics had proved singularly successful in the Baltic Provinces a few years ago, when the untutored Letts enthusiastically hailed the Russians as their benefactors, and were impatient for the reforms which would, it was promised, include an equitable redistribution of land. The " reforms " have come to pass since then, and the Letts are painfully picking up ideas on Russian good faith, and feeling like the ill-advised horse who invited man to espouse his quarrel. But the Finnish peasant is shrewd and practical, and he is very well aware that he has an important share in the government of his country. Moreover, unlike the Russian, he never was a serf, and has consequently no particular quarrel with the rod that was never lifted up against him. When, therefore, a few weeks ago the semi-official Novoye Vremya expressed the hope and belief that after all the Finnish peasantry would be glad to see Finland absorbed in Russia, the whole country resolved to record its solemn protest against any such calumny, and would have done so had the government not interfered to prevent it.

E. B. Lanin: Finland ("From The Fortnightly Review". Littell's Living age. v.188. 1891.)