Saturday, October 30, 2010

Marching among the Finnish mountains

"Fallen!" exclaimed Frithiof; "King Helge is fallen?"

"Yes, my Frithiof. Thou must know that while thou wert building this temple, Helge was far away, marching among the Finnish mountains. On a lonely crag of the mountains was an ancient shrine. He wished to enter, but the gate was closed and the key fast in the lock. Helge was angry, and, grasping the doorposts, he shook them with all his might. All at once with horrid crash the rotten pillars gave way, and a great image standing on the doorposts fell upon him, and crushed him to earth. Thus he died.

Florence Holbrook: Northland Heroes

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Helsingfors has a small community of girls engaged in teaching and nursing

Three other places are served from Petrograd--Helsingfors, Narva, and Schlusselberg. Helsingfors has a small community of girls engaged in teaching and nursing, and the one Englishman who lives there with his wife, a Mr. Reid, is a Professor of English in the Finn University. One has to go there and return during the night, and during my day there I had a Confirmation in the Art School, most carefully and reverently prepared, and in the evening Mr. and Mrs. Reid had all the girls for a reception, at which I was able to chat with them individually and speak to them about the important and responsible trust they had in being allowed to lay the foundations of character in young lives. At midnight they were all on the station to say good-bye, bright English girls with sparkling eyes and happy faces. Who could not go away deeply thankful that they were not allowed to feel in that remote place that they were forgotten by their Church?

Right Rev. Herbert Bury: Russian Life To-day

Monday, October 18, 2010

Viborg — a delightfully picturesque place

The country through which we are just now passing has very little to recommend it, picturesquely considered. True, in the vicinity of the villages there are signs of cultivation and small pasture-lands; but grey rocks constantly cropping out bear unmistakable witness to the shallowness of the soil. Otherwise, for the most part, heathery moorland and dismal swamp predominate, with, here and there, belts and stretches of stunted, wind-bowed pine and birch. The method of construction of the fences which separate the fields is as curious as it is ingenious, and not easy, therefore, to describe. But, roughly speaking, it is this. At intervals of every ten feet or so two posts are planted side by side at something like the angle of 45°, and linked together by spaced-out rungs. On these rungs are laid slant-wise wooden battens, increasing in length as they ascend the 'ladder,' so that, while those at the bottom reach across to the next 'point d'appui' with but little to spare, their successors project through and beyond it with a progressively greater overlap, thus supplying in a raggedly effective way the upper half of the neighbouring division. The manufacture of haycocks is also carried out in this part of the world in a distinctly original way. A tall stake is driven into the ground, which, fitted promiscuously with nine or ten short arms, suggests nothing more exactly than a gigantic edition of the perch-holder in a parrot's cage. On to this quaintly-devised apparatus the hay is tossed; that portion of it which remains lodged on the arms forming the nucleus round which is gradually built up a compact little stack not dissimilar in shape to an overgrown beehive. At 2.30 we reach the historic old fortified town of Viborg — a delightfully picturesque place, even as seen from the railway; on the left, a busy harbour, guarded by an ancient castle of a somewhat ecclesiastical type of architecture; on the right, a broad, winding estuary, dotted with green-clad islands, which forms the sea-ward end of the canal that connects it with Lake Siama some forty miles to the north.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Most of the magical Finnish songs were composed since the twelfth century

The Hon. John Abercromby, in the second volume of his work entitled "Pre- and Proto-historic Finns," gives a vast number of the magic songs, or charms, of Finland, among which are to be found a collection of formulas, under the caption, "words of healing power," which were recited for the cure of physical ailments of every description. For the purpose of comparison the author has also grouped together many specimens of spells and incantations in vogue among the neighboring peoples, as the Swedes, Slavs, and Lithuanians. He is of the opinion that most of the magical Finnish songs were composed since the twelfth century, and in the transition period, before Christianity had fully taken the place of paganism. During this period the recitation of metrical charms was no longer restricted to the skilled magician, but became popular in every Finnish household. Hence apparently the gradual evolution of a mass of incantations for use in every conceivable exigency or emergency of life. A chief feature of many of these medical charms consists in vituperation and personal abuse of the particular spirit of sickness addressed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We spoke mostly about the sea

Wangel. But how on earth, Ellida! How did you come to betroth yourself to such a man? To an absolute stranger! What is his name?

Ellida. At that time he called himself Friman. Later, in his letters he signed himself Alfred Johnston.

Wangel. And where did he come from?

Ellida. From Finmark, he said. For the rest, he was born in Finland, had come to Norway there as a child with his father, I think.

Wangel. A Finlander, then?

Ellida. Yes, so he called himself.

Wangel. What else do you know about him?

Ellida. Only that he went to sea very young. And that he had been on long voyages.

Wangel. Nothing more?

Ellida. No. We never spoke of such things.

Wangel. Of what did you speak, then?

Ellida. We spoke mostly about the sea.

Henrik Ibsen: The Lady From The Sea

Monday, October 4, 2010

We know nothing of how she got to Helsingfors

She stayed for a week at the British Embassy in Petrograd, where her escort was obliged to leave her, so the rest of the journey was undertaken alone.

We know nothing of how she got to Helsingfors, but I believe it was at that place that she had to walk some considerable distance over a frozen lake to reach the ship. She was hobbling along, leaning heavily on two sticks, and just as she stumbled and almost fell, a young Englishman came up and offered her his arm.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It seemed like a voyage through fairyland.

Having satisfactorily completed all my business arrangements in St. Petersburg, I prepared to set out homewards. But as I had some business to transact at Stockholm and Copenhagen I resolved to visit those cities. I left St. Petersburg for Stockholm by a small steamer, which touched at Helsingfors and Abo, both in Finland. The weather was beautiful. Clear blue shy and bright sunshine by day, and the light prolonged far into the night. Even in September the duration of the sunshine is so great and the night so short that the air has scarcely time to cool till it gets heated again by the bright morning rays. Even at twelve at night the sun dips but a little beneath the bright horizon on the north. The night is so bright in the Abo latitude that one can read the smallest print.

Nothing can be more beautiful than the charming scenery we passed through in our tortuous voyage to Stockholm. We threaded between the granite islands which crowd the shores of the Baltic. They are covered with pines, which descend to the water's edge. We swept them with our paddle-boxes, and dipped their bright green fronds into the perfectly clear sea. For about two days our course lay through those beautiful small islands. It seemed like a voyage through fairyland. And it continued in this exquisite tranquil way until we reached that crowning feature of all--the magnificent city of Stockholm, sleeping, as it were, on the waters of the Malar Lake, and surrounded by noble mountains clad with pines.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A l'université même, certains cours se font en finnois

En Finlande, par exemple, la lutte est entre les Suédois, qui forment la classe aisée habitant les villes de la côte, et les Finnois, qui constituent la classe rurale. Visitant le pays avec le fils de l'éminent linguiste Castrèn, qui est mort en allant chercher jusqu'au fond de l'Asie les origines de la langue finnoise, je trouvai que celle-ci dominait même dans les faubourgs des grandes villes, comme Abo et Helsingfors. Les inscriptions officielles y sont bilingues. L'enseignement primaire se donne presque partout en finnois. A côté des gymnases suédois, il y en a de finnois. A l'université même, certains cours se font en finnois. Il y a jusqu'à un théâtre national où j'ai entendu chanter _Martha_ en finnois.