Sunday, April 25, 2010

City of Fredericksham, upon a dunghill

I have seen, in Finland, near Wiburg, beyond the fixty-first degree of Latitude, cherry-trees entirely exposed to the weather, though these trees are natives of the forty-second degree ; that is, of the kingdom of Pontus, from whence Lucullus transplanted them to Rome, after the defeat of Mithridates. The peasantry of that Province cultivate tobacco with success, which is a much more southerly plant, being originally a native of Brasil. It is, I admit, an annual plant, and that it does not acquire, in it's northern situation, a very high degree of perfume ; for they are under the necessity of exposing it to the heat of their stoves, in order to bring it to a state of perfect maturity. But the rocks with which Finland is covered over, would undoubtedly present, to attentive eyes, reverberating situations, which might bring it to a sufficient degree of maturity, without the aid of artificial heat.

I myself found, not far from the city of Fredericksham, upon a dunghill, under the shelter of a rock, a very lofty tuft of oats, the produce of a single seed, consisting of thirty-seven stalks, loaded with as many ears completely ripe, without reckoning a multitude of other small sucklers. I gathered it, with an intention of having it presented to her Imperial Majesty, Catharine II. by my General M. Dubfosquet, under whose orders, and in whose company I was then visiting the fortified places of that province ...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Må de, som vilja veta det, lyssna

Hur dvärgarna lämnade från sig hornet Månegarm och hur ett frö gömdes i mullen, innan ett stort träd kunde växa, det skall här beskrivas. Här skall berättas om en släkt, som vann högsta ära och sedan spårlöst sopades från jorden. Vad de mäktiga av denna ätt tänkte om sina guldkronor, när deras livsdagar stupade som kalla och slippriga trappsteg ned till helvetet, och de olyckliga och ömkade om sina fjättrar, det skall också bli sagt. Må de, som vilja veta det, lyssna. Ingenting skall bli förtegat. Oöverskådliga avstånd breda sig mellan dem och oss, men alla människoöden susa under fingrarna på samma spinnerskor.

Verner von Heidenstam: Folkungaträdet

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The conquest of Finland

ACROSS the frozen marshes
The winds of autumn blow.
And the fen-lands of the Wetter
Are white with early snow.

But where the low, gray headlands
Look o'er the Baltic brine.
A bark is sailing in the track
Of England's battle-line.

No wares bath she to barter
For Bothnia's fish and grain;
She saileth not for pleasure.
She saileth not for gain.

But still by isle or mainland
She drops her anchor down.
Where'er the British cannon
Rained lire on tower and town.

Outspake the ancient Amtman,
At the gate of Helsingfors :
"Why comes this ship a-spying
In the track of England's wars ? "

"God bless her," said the coast-guard,
"God bless the ship, I say,
The holy angels trim the sails
That speed her on her way !

"Where'er she drops her anchor,
The peasant's heart is glad ;
Where'er she spreads her parting sail.
The peasant's heart is sad.

" Each wasted town and hamlet
She visits to restore;
To roof the shattered cabin.
And feed the starving poor.

"The sunken boats of fishers.
The foraged beeves and grain.
The spoil of flake and storehouse.
The good ship brings again.

"And so to Finland's sorrow
The sweet amend is made,
As if the healing hand of Christ
Upon her wounds were laid!"

Then said the gray old Amtman:
"The will of God be done!
The battle lost by England's hate
By England's love is won !

"We braved the iron tempest
That thundered on our shore;
But when did kindness fail to find
The key to Finland's door?

"No more from Aland's ramparts
Sliall warning signal come,
Nor startled Sweaborg hear again
The roll of midnight drum.

"Beside our fierce Black Eagle
The Dove of Peace shall rest ;
And in the mouths of cannon
The sea-bird make her nest.

" For Finland, looking seaward,
No coming foe shall scan;
And the holy bells of Abo
Shall ring 'Good-will to man!'

"Then row thy boat, fisher!
In peace on lake and bay;
And thou, young maiden, dance again
Around the poles of May!

"Sit down, old men, together.
Old wives, in quiet spin;
Henceforth the Anglo-Saxon
Is the brother of the Tinn ! "

John Greenleaf Whittier.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"I'm sure I can manage on here alone."

There were once two orphans, a brother and a sister, who lived alone in the old farmhouse where their fathers before them had lived for many generations. The brother's name was Osmo, the sister's Ilona. Osmo was an industrious youth, but the farm was small and barren and he was hard put to it to make a livelihood.

"Sister," he said one day, "I think it might be well if I went out into the world and found work."

"Do as you think best, brother," Ilona said. "I'm sure I can manage on here alone."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Politicians here more unscrupulous than Bobrikoff

TIM. Not another word. Shake hands.

BROADBENT. But I should like to explain—

TIM. Sure I know every word you're goin to say before yev said it. I know the sort o man yar. An so you're thinkin o comin to Ireland for a bit?

BROADBENT. Where else can I go? I am an Englishman and a Liberal; and now that South Africa has been enslaved and destroyed, there is no country left to me to take an interest in but Ireland. Mind: I don't say that an Englishman has not other duties. He has a duty to Finland and a duty to Macedonia. But what sane man can deny that an Englishman's first duty is his duty to Ireland? Unfortunately, we have politicians here more unscrupulous than Bobrikoff, more bloodthirsty than Abdul the Damned; and it is under their heel that Ireland is now writhing.

TIM. Faith, they've reckoned up with poor oul Bobrikoff anyhow.

BROADBENT. Not that I defend assassination: God forbid! However strongly we may feel that the unfortunate and patriotic young man who avenged the wrongs of Finland on the Russian tyrant was perfectly right from his own point of view, yet every civilized man must regard murder with abhorrence. Not even in defence of Free Trade would I lift my hand against a political opponent, however richly he might deserve it.

George Bernard Shaw: John Bull's Other Island