Thursday, September 30, 2010

"And where on earth is Imatra?" ask I innocently.

When I first made the acquaintance of Viborg, a journey thither from St. Petersburg, though the distance by land is only about eighty miles, was no light undertaking. The daring traveler who elected to travel by road had no choice but to provide himself with abundant wrappings and a good stock of food, draw his strong boots up to his knee, fortify his inner man with scalding tea or fiery corn-whisky, and struggle through axle-deep mud or breast-high snow (according to the season), sometimes for two days together. "Mais nous avons changé tout cela." Two trains run daily from St. Petersburg, covering the whole distance in about four hours, and the stations along the line, though bearing marks of hasty construction, are still sufficiently comfortable and well supplied with provisions. Thanks to this direct communication with the capital, Viborg is now completely au fait of the news of the day, and all fashionable topics are canvassed as eagerly on the promenade of this little Finnish seaport as along the pavements of the Nevski Prospect.

David Ker: A Day's March through Finland

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Finland was distinct from Russia

To the traveller without special credentials, the short journey from Haparanda to the railway-car at Tornea which is to bear him onwards must have been almost a foretaste of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Even for the members of a military mission with "red passports," whose advent had been announced, it was one prolonged agony; and it would probably have been even worse when the intervening estuaries were not frozen over and when one had to take the ferry. All the formalities had to be gone through twice over because there was an island, although the Russian officials were the very pink of courtesy. One learns a great deal of geography on journeys of this kind; we had not realized the extent to which Finland, with its special money, its special language, and its special frontier worries, was distinct from Russia. The train took three days and nights between Stockholm and Petrograd, and one was supposed to fetch up at the terminus somewhere about midnight; but it always took two or three hours to get through the frontier station between Finland and Russia at the last moment, with the result that one might arrive at the capital at any hour of the early morning.

Charles Edward Callwell: Experiences of a Dug-out, 1914-1918

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Among the dwellers in this little-known land

A short time since I received a well-printed but mysterious booklet, entitled: _Tri L. Zamenhofin kansainvalinen apukieli Esperanto. Kielioppi seka Esimerkki ja Harjoitussarja. Suomenkielelle

At first I thought it was some new mysterious Volapuk, but soon discovered that brethren in the _Land of Lakes and Marshes_ now have their own Esperanto textbook (72 pages, 1s.).

Up to the present there are not many Esperantists in Finland, and those who already exist must, doubtless, have learned from the Swedish Textbook of Dr. Henriclundquest.

It is now to be hoped that our Army will gain many recruits among the dwellers in this little-known land.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Found himself stranded at Helsingfors in Finland

Sainton, a southern Frenchman from Toulouse, of naive and fiery temperament, was living with a full-blooded German musician from Hamburg, named Luders, the son of a bandsman, of a brusque but friendly disposition. I was much affected when I heard, later on, of the incident which had made these two men inseparable friends. Sainton had been making a concert tour by way of St. Petersburg, and found himself stranded at Helsingfors in Finland, unable to get any further, pursued as he was by the demon of ill-luck. At this moment the curious figure of the modest Hamburg bandsman's son had accosted him on the staircase of the hotel, asking whether he would be inclined to accept his offer of friendship and take half of his available cash, as he (Luders) had of course noticed the awkwardness of the other's position.

Richard Wagner: My Life, Volume II

Friday, September 17, 2010

A regular supply of seal's flesh for their dinner

There is no term in political philosophy more ambiguous and lax in its meaning than Luxury. In Ireland, salt with a potato is, by the peasant, placed in this category. Among the Cossacks, a clean shirt is more than a luxury--it is an effeminacy; and a Scotch nobleman is reported to have declared, that the act of scratching one's self is a luxury too great for any thing under royalty. The Russians (there is no disputing on tastes) hold train-oil to be a prime luxury; and I remember seeing a group of them following an exciseman on the quays at Dover to plunder the oil casks, as they were successively opened for his operations. A poor Finland woman, who for her sins had married an Englishman and followed him to this country, was very glad to avail herself of her husband's death to leave a land where the people were so unhappy as to be without a regular supply of seal's flesh for their dinner. While the good man lived, her affection for him somewhat balanced her hankering after this native luxury; but no sooner was the husband dead, than her lawyer-like propensity re-assumed its full force, and, like Proteus released from his chains, she abandoned civilized life to get back to her favourite shores, to liberty, and the animals of her predilection.

Monday, September 13, 2010

We managed to steal a plane and flew it to Finland

"We tried to get out by air but that proved impossible. All civil flights were canceled so that the fields could accommodate the armadas of military aircraft that swarmed into the area. We couldn't even get a wireless message out because of the spreading chaos. We had to proceed out of the city on foot and by then affairs were beginning to take an ugly turn. Food supplies were becoming exhausted and as long as the military refused to budge nothing could be brought in, even their own supplies. Once out of the city we took to the river. No one attempted to stop us but neither did any official attempt to help their Chinese comrades. The curious paralysis had spread. It was as if the entire countryside was holding its breath, waiting for some positive sign of authority. In Gorki, where there was less air-congestion, we managed to steal a plane and flew it to Finland. The rest you know."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Funny place for people to come from—Finland—isn’t it?

Batterby bit off the end of a great black cigar.

“If the missus will let me,” said he.

“Missus? Your wife? You are married, my dear Reginald?” Aristide leaped, in his unexpected fashion, from his chair and almost embraced him. “Ah, but you are happy, you are lucky. It was always like that. You open your mouth and the larks fall ready roasted into it! My congratulations. And she is here, in this hotel, your wife? Tell me about her.”

Batterby lit his cigar. “She’s nothing to write home about,” he said, modestly. “She’s French.”

“French? No—you don’t say so!” exclaimed Aristide, in ecstasy.

“Well, she was brought up in France from her childhood, but her parents were Finns. Funny place for people to come from—Finland—isn’t it? You could never expect it—might just as well think of ’em coming from Lapland. She’s an orphan. I met her in London.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

The sight of Sveaborg made me feel that I was still a Swede in soul and heart

In the fall of the same year I took a trip through Finland and Russia, having secured a passport issued by Gen. C. C. Andrews, who was then United States minister in Stockholm. I went with the steamer Aura from Stockholm to Abo, Helsingfors, and Cronstadt. The pine-clad islands and shores of the Bay of Finland afforded a beautiful panorama from the steamer. The sight of Sveaborg made me feel that I was still a Swede in soul and heart, for I was overpowered by a deep sadness when I thought of the heinous treason by which this impregnable fortress was forced to surrender.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Finns were an absolutely unreliable people

Captain Rustenberg went to Helsingfors in Finland where he had been ordered to look up certain Finnish agitators with whom the German Intelligence Department was in communication. He found them much excited against Russia and just as much against Sweden. None of them was in the least sympathetic with Germany and German Kultur, and when the captain tried to discuss with them their eventual attitude in the, as he put it, improbable case of war breaking out between Russia and Germany they told him frankly that they would support Russia so long as they had no hopes of winning back their independence, but that the moment they saw the least likelihood of doing this, they would organize a systematic revolt against their present masters. When they were asked whether they would seek help from Germany in their attempt to shake off the Russian yoke, they replied categorically that they would never dream of doing such a thing, because it would be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

On the other hand the anarchist elements in Finland, of whom there were more than the captain had been led to think, were absolutely pro-German and seemed to him at least to be in complete accord with several German socialist groups. They considered Scheidemann a kind of prophet, and they made no secret of the fact that at different times they had accepted financial subsidies from their German comrades, especially during the troubled years which had followed the Russo-Japanese war.

After several days spent in their society, the captain considered that the Finns were an absolutely unreliable people ready to conclude an alliance with any person who flattered them and just as ready to break afterwards. In case of a war they would undoubtedly cause trouble, even if they ostensibly declared themselves on the German side.