Friday, August 29, 2008

Viinankeiton kiellännästä

...Vielä oli ilmi ilkeyet,
Paljolti tavat pahimmat,
Joita en kaikkia katala,
Ylös ymmärrä sanoa.
Monta se veljestä vetäisi
Varsin vankihuonehesen,
Isät jätti itkemähän
Huti huolessa kovassa;
Mammat maistoivat surua,
Sukulaiset suuret harmit,
Koska talvet taitavasti
Joivat joukoissa isoissa.
Nyt on suonut suuret herrat,
Valtamme vapaasukuiset,
Kultarinnat riemujuhlan
Tänne antoi täysin määrin,
Lahjoitti hyvän lakinsa
Suomalaisillen suvuillen,
Koska kielsi kirjan kautta
Viinankeiton kerrassansa,
Josta kilvoin kiittelemme
Lapsi raukat lauluissamme
Suomen suuren ruhtinoita,
Kultarintoja koreita, ...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mist pools

I leaned back again; and I watched the whole of the light-cone. Snow white wisps would float and whirl through it in graceful curves, stirred into motion by the horses' trot. Or a wreath of it would start to dance, as if gently pulled or plucked at from above; and it would revolve, faster towards the end, and fade again into the shadows behind. I thought of a summer in Norrland, in Sweden, in the stone-and-birch waste which forms the timberline, where I had also encountered the mist pools. And a trip down a stream in the borderland of the Finns came back with great vividness into my mind. That trip had been made in a fog like this; only it had been begun in the early morning, and the whole mass of the mist had been suffused with the whitest of lights. But strange to say, what stood out most strikingly in the fleeting memory of the voyage, was the weird and mocking laughter of the magpies all along the banks. The Finnish woods seemed alive with that mocking laughter, and it truly belongs to the land of the mists. For a moment I thought that something after all was missing here on the prairies. But then I reflected again that this silence of the grave was still more perfect, still more uncanny and ghostly, because it left the imagination entirely free, without limiting it by even as much as a suggestion.

No wonder, I thought, that the Northerners in their land of heath and bog were the poets of elves and goblins and of the fear of ghosts. Shrouds were these fogs, hanging and waving and floating shrouds! Mocking spirits were plucking at them and setting them into their gentle motions. Gleams of light, that dance over the bog, lured you in, and once caught in these veils after veils of mystery, madness would seize you, and you would wildly dash here and there in a vain attempt at regaining your freedom; and when, exhausted at last, you broke down and huddled together on the ground, the werwolf would come, ghostly himself, and huge and airy and weird, his body woven of mist, and in the fog's stately and leisurely way he would kneel down on your chest, slowly crushing you beneath his exceeding weight; and bending and straightening, bending and stretching, slowly--slowly down came his head to your throat; and then he would lie and not stir until morning and suck; and after few or many days people would find you, dead in the woods--a victim of fog and mist...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

There is no centre, no emulation, nothing to say,

On entering into Finland, every thing indicates that you have passed into another country, and that you have to do with a very different race from the Sclavonians. The Finns are said to come immediately from the North of Asia ; their language also is said to have no resemblance to the Swedish, which is an intermediate one between the English and the German. The countenances of the Finns, however, are generally perfectly German : their fair hair, and white complexions, bear no resemblance to the vivacity of the Russian countenance; but their manners are also much milder; the common people have a settled probity, the result of protestant instruction, and purity of manners. On Sundays, the young women are seen returning from sermon on horseback, and the young men following them. You will frequently receive hospitality from the pastors of Finland, who regard it as their duty to give a lodging to travellers, and nothing can be more pure or delightful than the reception you meet with in those families ; there are scarcely any noblemens' seats in Finland, so that the pastors are generally the most important personages of the country. In several Finnish songs, the young girls offer to their lovers to sacrifice the residence of the pastor, even if it was offered to them to share. This reminds
me of the expression of a young shepherd, " If I was a king, I would keep my sheep on horseback." The imagination itself scarcely goes beyond what is known.

The aspect of nature is very different in Finland to what it is in Russia; in place of the marshes and plains which surround St. Petersburg, you find rocks, almost mountains, and forests : but after a time, these mountain-, and those forests, composed of the same trees, the fir and the birch, become monotonous. The enormous blocks of granite which are seen scattered through the country, and on the borders of the high roads, give the country an air of vigor ; but there is very little life around these great bones of the earth, and vegetation begins to decrease from the latitude of Finland to the last degree of the animated world. We passed through a forest half consumed by fire; the north winds which add to the force of the flames, render these fires very frequent, both in the towns and in the country. Man has in all ways great difficulty in maintaining the struggle with nature in these frozen climates. You meet with few towns in Finland, and those few are very thinly peopled. There is no centre, no emulation, nothing to say, and very little to do, in a northern Swedish or Russian province, and during eight months of the year, the whole of animated nature is asleep.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Eager patrons of night schools and libraries

Many farms in the Northwest are occupied by Finns, of whom there were in 1910 over two hundred thousand in the United States. They are a Tatar race, with a copious sprinkling of Swedish blood. Illiteracy is rare among them. They are eager patrons of night schools and libraries and have a flourishing college near Duluth. They are eager for citizenship and are independent in politics. The glittering generalities of Marxian socialism seem peculiarly alluring to them; and not a few have joined the I.W.W. Drink has been their curse, but a strong temperance movement has recently made rapid headway among them. They are natural woodmen and wield the axe with the skill of our own frontiersmen. Their peculiar houses, made of neatly squared logs, are features of every Finnish settlement.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Historical tales

Birger Jarl, who became one of the great men of Sweden about 1250, rose to such importance in the early history of that kingdom that one cannot pass him by without saying something about his career. Sweden was then a Christian kingdom and had been for many years, for the religion of Christ had been preached there, as the sagas tell, four centuries earlier. But heathenism prevailed until long afterwards, and it was not until the days of King Stenkil, who came to the throne in 1061, that an earnest effort was made to introduce the Christian worship. Finally paganism completely died out, and when Birger came to the throne Sweden had long been a Christian realm.

But paganism still had a stronghold in Finland, and when Bishop Thomas, a zealous churchman, of English birth, proclaimed that the Christians should have no intercourse with the pagans in Finland or even sell them food, the Finlanders became so incensed that they invaded the Christian country and put the people to death with frightful tortures. Their cruelties created terror everywhere and Bishop Thomas fled to Gothland where, crazed with horror at the result of his proclamation, he soon died.

King Erik was then on the throne of Sweden, but Birger, the son of a great earl of Gothland, became a famous warrior, and as the king had no sons he made Birger a jarl, or earl, and chose him as his heir. One of the exploits by which Birger had won fame was the following. The town of Lübeck, in North Germany, was closely besieged by the king of Denmark, who had cut it off from the sea by stretching strong iron chains across the river Trave, on which the town is situated. He thus hoped to starve the people into surrender, and would have done so had not Birger come to their rescue. He had the keels of some large ships plated with iron, loaded them with provisions, and sailed up the river towards the beleaguered city. Hoisting all sail before a strong wind, he steered squarely on to the great chains, and struck them with so mighty a force that they snapped asunder and the ships reached the town with their supplies, whereupon the Danish king abandoned the siege. This story is of interest, as these are the first iron-plated ships spoken of in history.

By this and other exploits Birger grew in esteem, and when the Finns began their terrible work in the north he and the king summoned the people to arms, and the old warlike spirit, which had long been at rest, was reawakened in the hearts of the Swedes. The Pope at Rome had proclaimed a crusade against the Finns, promising the same privileges to all who took part in it as were enjoyed by those then taking part in the crusades to the Holy Land, and on all sides the people grew eager to engage in this sacred war...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Treat your rooms like "still life"

Before you buy anything, try to imagine how you want each room to look when completed; get the picture well in your mind, as a painter would; think out the main features, for the details all depend upon these and will quickly suggest themselves. This is, in the long run, the quickest and the most economical method of furnishing.

There is a theory that no room can be created all at once, that it must grow gradually. In a sense this is a fact, so far as it refers to the amateur. The professional is always occupied with creating and recreating rooms and can instantly summon to mind complete schemes of decoration. The amateur can also learn to mentally furnish rooms. It is a fascinating pastime when one gets the knack of it.

Beautiful things can be obtained anywhere and for the minimum price, if one has a feeling for line and colour, or for either. If the lover of the beautiful was not born with this art instinct, it may be quickly acquired. A decorator creates or rearranges one room; the owner does the next, alone, or with assistance, and in a season or two has spread his or her own wings and worked out legitimate schemes, teeming with individuality. One observes, is pleased with results and asks oneself why. This is the birth of Good Taste. Next, one experiments, makes mistakes, rights them, masters a period, outgrows or wearies of it, and takes up another.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Most thick-headed beauty (cont)

In the course of the dinner, I told the amtmand, about the character of his office, as we get it in " Afraja"-the cruel and tyrannical amtmand of Tromsöe. He had not seen the novel, though they all knew about Mügge. They laughed at his romance of the oppression of the Finns by the Norwegians; and his sketches of Finnish magicians and maidens. The feeling towards the Finns and Lapps, seemed to be very much like the feeling of an intelligent Western company towards the Indians. The poetry of the race is quite obscured in their debased or drunken habits. The Lapps are simply ignorant, dirty men, who live in a barbarous way among reindeers, or who catch the cod and the ducks which the Norwegians want. Still Mügge is right. They present a fair foil to the Norwegians, such as a dramatist would seize upon-weak, poetic, roving and unsettled, while their masters are strong, practical, steady, and perhaps tyrannical. They have lost, too, their old possessions and habitations before the conquering race of Northmen. Without doubt, they have suffered much injustice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Most thick-headed beauty

"We hauled him up afterwards, and he brought with him a basketful of game; so much, indeed, that Anga did not know how she could preserve and salt it all."

"Anga is, I perceive, the housewife of your worthy friend Wingeborg," said Hannah.

" She is the most charming and most thick-headed beauty, of genuine Finnish stock, that ever wandered about in Finnmark without shirt or stockings, in a blouse of sheep-skin;" said Paul, laughing.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Aikain muuttuvaisuudesta

Ajat aina muutteleksen
Sekä vuodet väisteleksen
Niinkuin Salomo sanopi.
Koko luonnon valtakunta
Ain' on muutosten alainen.
Aika asettaa asiat,
Aika laitkin laittelepi,
Aika muuttavi monarkit,
Valtakunnat vaihtelepi.
Aika linnat liittelepi,
Aika vallit vahvistapi ,
Myöskin muuttapi muruiksi.
Aika kaupungit kutopi,
Aika poroks polttelepi.
Aika sytyttää sodatkin,
Aika riidat ratkaisepi.
Aika kansat kasvattapi ,
Aika mullaks muuttelepi.
Aika kaikki kääntelepi,
Kaikki paikat kallellensa,
Mailmanki mahtinensa
Muuttelepi mullinmallin.
Aika muuttanut minunki,
Tieni monenmutkaiseksi,
Kun olen elänyt ennen,
Vaeltanut vaivan kanssa
Ylös ja alas mäkeä.
Aika antoi onnen mulle,
Aika antoi aika käellä,
Aika antoi arvon mulle,
Aika arvoni alensi.
Kyllähän minäi kykenin
Nuotallen nuorempanani,
Vaan nyt vanhana vapisen,
Voimatoinna voivottelen.
Aika kummasti kulupi ,
Aikalaillansa ajelee,
Aika viepi vuodet kaikki,
Aika viikot vierettäpi.
Aika arvon ansaitsepi,
Aika kaikki kirjottapi,
Aika Amenen sanopi.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

By far the best seamen on board the Russian men-of-war

Among the various craft they passed, they were much amused by the little Finnish schooners, which went careering on before the breeze, laden chiefly with firewood, or some other not very valuable cargo, for the Saint Petersburg markets. They were built of fir, with very little paint, very few ropes, and had very white canvas. Altogether they had, as Cousin Giles observed, an exceedingly fresh-water look about them. The Finns who manned them were, however, hardy fellows, and formed by far the best seamen on board the Russian men-of-war.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Such a strange account

ON February the First 1887, the Lady Vain was lost by collision with a derelict when about the latitude 1' S. and longitude 107' W.

On January the Fifth, 1888—that is eleven months and four days after—my uncle, Edward Prendick, a private gentleman, who certainly went aboard the Lady Vain at Callao, and who had been considered drowned, was picked up in latitude 5' 3" S. and longitude 101' W. in a small open boat of which the name was illegible, but which is supposed to have belonged to the missing schooner Ipecacuanha. He gave such a strange account of himself that he was supposed demented. Subsequently he alleged that his mind was a blank from the moment of his escape from the Lady Vain. His case was discussed among psychologists at the time as a curious instance of the lapse of memory consequent upon physical and mental stress. The following narrative was found among his papers by the undersigned, his nephew and heir, but unaccompanied by any definite request for publication.

H. G. Wells: The Island of Doctor Moreau

Saturday, August 9, 2008

English Nursing Sister in Belgium & Russia

The frozen track was so uneven that we rocked from side to side, and were thrown violently about in the car, like little kernels in a very large nut. But it was a wonderful night all the same, the air was thin and intoxicating like champagne, and the stars up in these northern latitudes more dazzlingly brilliant than anything I have seen before. We had to get out at Haparanda and walk over the long bridge which led to Torneo, where the Finnish Custom House was, and where our luggage and passports had to be examined.

We arrived there very cheerful and well pleased with ourselves, to find all our old travelling companions waiting till the Custom House was open; the bishop and his party; the bad-tempered man and his family; a Russian and a Chinese student who were travelling together, and some others. They had been waiting in the cold for hours, and had not had their papers or luggage examined yet, so we had had the best of it after all.

And we scored yet once more, for "St. Raphael," who spoke fluent Finnish, at once secured the only cart to take our things over the ferry to the railway station about half a mile away.

It was borne in upon me during this journey what an immense country Russia is. From Torneo to Petrograd does not look far on the map, but we left Torneo on Wednesday night, and did not arrive in Petrograd till 12.30 A. M. on Saturday, about fifty-two hours' hard travelling to cover this little track—a narrow thread, almost lost the immensity of this great Empire.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Finnish peasant still has faith in incantations and charms

There is nothing strange in the perpetuation of ideas and modes of thought through many thousand years. Their origin is in the very organization of men; for it is through organization that isolated nations manifest a proclivity to certain mental conceptions and even modes of expression. The negro is essentially a Fetish worshiper -a believer in witchcraft and in the efficacy of charms. Such ideas and the modes of expressing them are found wherever that low grade of humanity occurs, occupying a zone across all Africa and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean; nay, even all round the world, if the black populations of America are included; for these in the United States, in the midst of moral, religious, Christian communities, are still full of their African ideas. I believe that if it were possible for a new race of autochthonic negroes to arise, it would inevitably fall into these delusions; as certainly as, if there were new autochthons of the yellow race, they would spontaneously and inevitably invent a monosyllabic language. These are the results of organization. They make their appearance wherever the element of that organization occurs; or, to use a common though perhaps incorrect expression, they descend with the blood. The Finnish peasant still has faith in incantations and charms; he believes that there are witches who can ride on a stick to the moon, and cause her eclipse by their nocturnal invocations; that there are men who can still sell to the sailor a favorable wind, and to the rustic a refreshing shower. It was this element in the blood of Europe that made the barbarian races, after the death of the Latin tongue, such a ready receptacle for all kinds of imposture; that gave faith in relics and force to fetishisms; that turned the minister of the Gospel into a rain-maker and wind-raiser, as if the unchangeable and eternal laws of nature might be suspended or modified at his prayer.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A cry of "there is Åbo, there is Åbo"

Beyond the boat-houses is the custom-house, from whence an officer came on board, and proceeded up the river with us to the town, which, with the cathedral, now presented the appearance of a large and populous city. We soon reached the quay, and very gladly landed in the capital of Swedish Finland.

In our inn yard I beheld the first indication of our being in the neighbourhood of Russia, in a clumsy kibitka, the ordinary carriage of that country, and which was here exposed for sale. It is a small cart, very much resembling a cradle, round at the bottom, about five feet long, and in which two persons can sit or lie, the latter is the usual posture, and who are protected from the weather by a semicircular tilt, open in front, made of broad laths interwoven, and covered with birch or beech bark ; it has no iron in it, but is fastened to the body of the carriage without springs, by wooden pins and ropes : the driver sits upon the front of it, close to the horses' tails. At dinner we had some delicious wild strawberries, the first fruit that we had tasted for the year.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A miscellaneous item

People who think of Finland as a sub-arctic country of bleak and forbidding aspect maybe surprised to hear that several railroads have already made a large part of the region accessible. A new line, 160 miles long, has just been opened to the heart of the country in the midst of great forests and perhaps the most wonderful lake region in the world. Sportsmen are now within less than a day's journey from St. Petersburg of central Finland, where there is the best of hunting and fishing and twenty hours of sunlight every summer day. The most unique of railroads, however, is still the little line in Norway, north of the arctic circle, carrying the product of far northern mines to the sea, and famous as the only railroad that has yet invaded the polar regions.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Enchanted April

It began in a Woman's Club in London on a February afternoon—an uncomfortable club, and a miserable afternoon--when Mrs. Wilkins, who had come down from Hampstead to shop and had lunched at her club, took up The Times from the table in the smoking-room, and running her listless eye down the Agony Column saw this:
To Those Who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine. Small mediaeval Italian
Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be Let furnished for the month of
April. Necessary servants remain. Z, Box 1000, The Times.

That was its conception; yet, as in the case of many another, the conceiver was unaware of it at the moment.

Elizabeth von Arnim: The Enchanted April

Christopher and Columbus
Elizabeth and Her German Garden
The Princess Priscilla's Fortnight
The Solitary Summer