Friday, December 23, 2011

They are a strange people

'About the Finns I'll warrant,' said Father Cassimer. 'They are a strange people. My brother the merchant told me that he knew one of them at Abo who said he had a charm for the wolves; but somebody informed against him for smuggling, and the Russian government sent him to the lead-mines in Siberia. By Saint Sigismund, there's the first of them!'

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The old hereditary castle, of a wealthy landowner in Finland

Just a year ago, during the Christmas holidays, a numerous society had gathered in the country house, or rather the old hereditary castle, of a wealthy landowner in Finland. Many were the remains in it of our forefathers' hospitable way of living; and many the mediaeval customs preserved, founded on traditions and superstitions, semi-kinnish and semi-Russian, the latter imported into it by its female proprietors from the shores of the Neva. Christmas trees were being prepared and implements for divination were being made ready. For, in that old castle there were grim worm-eaten portraits of famous ancestors and knights and ladies, old deserted turrets, with bastions and Gothic windows; mysterious sombre alleys, and dark and endless cellers, easily transformed into subterranean passages and caves, ghostly prison cells, haunted by the restless phantoms of the heroes of local legends. In short, the old Manor offered every commodity for romantic horrors. But alas! this once they serve for nought; in the present narrative these dear old horrors play no such part as they otherwise might.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Finnois flegmatique qui s'était endormi

Pierre lui fit le salut militaire et reprit son récit après avoir mis sa chaise à l'envers pour s'asseoir à califourchon.

--Je tournai le coin du jardin, suivant qu'il m'avait été ordonné, et je fis arrêter mon équipage. Personne! Un instant je crus que cette proposition d'enlèvement n'avait été qu'une aimable mystification de ma charmante cousine, et je ne saurais dire qu'à cette idée mon coeur éprouvât une douleur bien vive; mais je faisais injure à Clémentine. Je la vis accourir dans l'allée, un petit paquet à la main: elle ouvrit la porte palissadée qui donnait sur la route, et, d'un saut, bondit dans la calèche. Je sautai auprès elle.

--Touche! dis-je à mon postillon, Finnois flegmatique qui s'était endormi sur son siège pendant cette pause.

Quand vous aurez une femme à enlever, mes amis, je vous recommande de prendre un cocher finnois; ces gens-là dorment toujours, ne tournent pas seulement la tête et ne se rappellent jamais rien. Au fait, vous savez cela aussi bien que moi, et ma recommandation était inutile.

Henry Gréville: La fille de Dosia

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Finlander is evidently in uniform

At the British Museum there is a curious collection of broadsides and ballads, printed in Germany during the thirty years' war. One of these designs heads a ballad, and represents an "Irlander," a "Lappe," and a " Findlander." In the ballad the Lappe asks what has brought them all so far from home, and the "Irlander" explains the reason of their coming, which was to assist the Protestant cause. This was in 1631. The Lappe is partly dressed in skins, and is armed with a bow and arrows. His face is very characteristic; Ms boots are of the same pattern as those now made in Lappmark, and his knife and its scabbard resemble those now used on the Tana river.

The Finlander is evidently in uniform; and the Lapp wears knickerbokers; so he was probably clad in part at the expense of his country.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gambolled away gracefully as a Finland horse

"Not at all!" replied Herr Kalm. "It is the constant use of the life-giving infusion of tea that has saved China! Tea soothes the nerves; it clears the blood, expels vapors from the brain, and restores the fountain of life to pristine activity. Ergo, it prolongs the existence of both men and nations, and has made China the most antique nation in the world."

Herr Kalm was a devotee to the tea-cup; he drank it strong to excite his flagging spirits, weak to quiet them down. He took Bohea with his facts, and Hyson with his fancy, and mixed them to secure the necessary afflatus to write his books of science and travel. Upon Hyson he would have attempted the Iliad, upon Bohea he would undertake to square the circle, discover perpetual motion, or reform the German philosophy.

The professor was in a jovial mood, and gambolled away gracefully as a Finland horse under a pack-saddle laden with the learning of a dozen students of Abo, travelling home for the holidays.

"We are fortunate in being able to procure our tea in exchange for our useless ginseng," remarked the Lady de Tilly, as she handed the professor a tiny plate of the leaves, as was the fashion of the day. After drinking the tea, the infused leaves were regarded as quite a fashionable delicacy. Except for the fashion, it had not been perhaps considered a delicacy at all.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The few suitable supernormal youngsters

JOHN continued his search. I accompanied him. I shall not at this stage describe the few suitable supernormal youngsters whom he discovered and persuaded to prepare themselves for the great adventure. There was a young girl in Marseilles, an older girl in Moscow, a boy in Finland, a girl in Sweden, another in Hungary, and a young man in Turkey. Save for these, John found nothing but lunatics, cripples, invalids, and inveterate old vagabonds in whom the superior mentality had been hopelessly distorted by contact with the normal species.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Finland offers most pleasing winter landscapes

Travelling always towards north, we had made, during the finest season of frost, under a radiant and glorious sun, which coloured the waste of snow with a rose-tint, an interesting and picturesque journey. Far more varied than the central provinces of tho Russian empire, and almost mountainous after its interminable plains, Finland offers most pleasing winter landscapes. It presents northern nature in all its most savage yet wild and attractive beauty. I must not forget to mention a small lake, over the frozen surface of which we passed from one end to the other to shorten the distance, between two lines of young fir plantations, so planted as to mark the road during the night as during the snow storms. This lake, at least six miles long, had the appearance of a small sea ; but, [in comparison with the lake Lagoda, and other lakes in the north of Russia, it is a mere pond. It is charming to look on, and still more charming to glide over when comfortably seated in a sledge, enclosed by surrounding rocky and wood-clad heights; indeed, it resembles a large white table-cloth spread over, the earth. And as you slide rapidly over its frozen surface, innumerable are the varied features it presents of dense forests and rocky inlets which line its interesting banks. Now a little bay is seen sleeping, as it were, in the midst of dense pine woods, the large dark branches of whose trees, sugared with frozen snow, stretch their arms as if in protection; while here and there a promontory extends itself, on whose granite headland a village church, with a palc-grccn cupola, or some country house of strange form, and still stranger architecture—half Eastern, half European—stands, regardless of place or weather.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finnish postboys have capital legs

From Riga, Reval, and Petersburg, steamers rim to Helsingflors, a watering-place greatly frequented in summer; and thence others carry the traveller to Wiborg, Abo, and Stockholm. The Storfursten bore us in six hours, on a sunshiny afternoon, from Reval to Helsingflors. It was a lovely evening when we approached the celebrated harbour, and steamed in past the fortress of Sveaborg, which truly merits its title of the "impregnable," and the Russian emperor is well aware that he possesses in this granite rock a jewel more valuable than the finest in his diadem. The grey-brown rocks, the red-brown wooden-houses, planted upon it with military regularity, the long cannon which peep out from the embrasures, a large hull which has been covered with a roof, and so forms half-house, half-ship—all these are very adapted to a fortress, but at the same time make such a triste impression, that the traveller is glad to escape into the inner harbour out of reach of the many-pounders, and approach the cheerful town of Helsingflors. But before landing we had to endure a highly unpleasant siege from the touts who came on board, of both sexes. The hotels of the second and third class are said to have only woman servants, who receive no wages from the landlord, but depend on douceurs from the guests. The " Societats hus," an hotel of the first class for Finnland, has good attendance, and deserves a word of praise, though it has lost much of its former renown, and is far inferior to German hotels of the same rank as regards elegance and arrangement.

Friday, October 28, 2011

We came to Abo, on the coast of Finland

Imagine it! We land under cover of the night; three men of heathenish aspect drive three horses with shaggy manes, lengthy tails, and vixenish steps, having over their several backs a sort of yoke turned wrong side up, which increases their dangerous appearance, and attached to three little, light, rickety contrivances called droskeys. Seven expectant individuals dispose themselves variously in these villainous vehicles, in momentary danger of capsizing. The paragon of captains utters an authoritative sentence in the unclassic Finnish tongue; when, presto! we are off, at furious speed, with frightful clatter, over the stony street. Our wiry, fiery, little steeds stay not for break, stop not for stone, but rush us through the Abo streets in a manner calculated to make one sick with jolting, insane with fear, or gleeful to excess, according to his humor. Ours was the last, and the glimmering gas-lights cast the shadows of a mad-cap company as we raced up the steep streets, past the low, yellow, plastered houses standing in unvarying lines on either side, and onward to the ball.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wyborg Bible Society is held, speeches are delivered in German, in Finnish, and in Russian

We reached the town of Wyborg, 140 versts from St. Petersburg, about one o'clock, to dinner. Wyborg is quite unlike Russia in its appearance: indeed, as soon as one enters Finland, a higher degree of civilization is very perceptible. Wyborg is a small port, strongly fortified with bastions of irregular masses of granite and dry ditches. The houses are well constructed, exactly in the Swedish mode of building; being of wood, painted of a darkred colour, and the windows four square. It has 5000 inhabitants, three Lutheran churches, one Russian church, one Catholic church, and a Gymnasium, which is attended by about fifty students, with eight teachers: they have a district school, in which there are five teachers and seventy scholars; also two elementary schools for the lower classes. Children of the better classes, here, as in Russia, are educated at home, by private teachers. When the anniversary of the Wyborg Bible Society is held, speeches are delivered in German, in Finnish, and in Russian.

Robert Pinkerton: Russia; or, Miscellaneous observations on the past and present state of that...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Depressed feeling is generally true of the Finlanders

I met to-day a young gentleman from Finland. He had come over to make inquiries of Mr. Siljestrom, in regard to the improvements he had brought back from America in the school-system.

He said that the young Russian Emperor was beginning to be in favour of popular schools ; and some of those interested were trying now to find what had been done elsewhere. At present, they have nothing in Finland of value in institutions of popular education. A progress, however, was beginning. It is well known, though this gentleman did not state it, that it is the policy of the Russian Government now to encourage the Finnish national spirit, in order to counterbalance any attachment towards their old masters or countrymen, the Swedes. For this object, the revival of the old Finnish literature, of such poems as the Kalewala and the Kantelitar, has met with great favour from the Russian authority. The great Finnish University, as is well known, has been removed from Abo to Helsingfors, where it can be more directly under Russian influence, and at present no Swedish is allowed in the language of instruction. This process of Russianizing goes very skilfully on, year by year. The nobles are enticed by honours to Russia ; the offices in Finland are filled by Russians, and the peasants made to forget as much as possible their old connection with Sweden. From all accounts, these efforts are succeeding. The peasantry is becoming attached to the government. Russia has never kept, of course, her promises in regard to States Assemblies with local powers in Finland ; but she is now forced by the spirit of the age to do something for popular education.

This gentleman, like all the Finlanders I have met, was very guarded; yet you could not help remarking a certain depressed or sad expression, both in his appearance and in the few words he said of political matters.

My friends say this depressed feeling is generally true of the Finlanders. You instinctively know it is the shadow of despotism.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A distinguished Finlander, going to London

It is related of him, that upon one occusion a distinguished Finlander, going to London, availed himself of that opportunity to visit Swedenborg, who was residing there at the time. Being ushered into the reception room, and informed that Swedenborg already had company with him, he was left alone to await his coming. As he had taken his seat near the inner door, he could not avoid hearing the lively conversation which was passing within the adjoining room, accompanied with the sound of footsteps pacing up and down the floor. The conversation was in Latin, and respecting the antiquities of Rome, a subject in which the young stranger was deeply interested. He was surprised, however, to observe that the conversation was carried on throughout with only one voice speaking, between pauses of longer or shorter duration, during which the speaker seemed to obtain satisfactory answers, and was incited to new enquiries. While tho stranger remained absorbed in both the manner aud the subject-matter of the conversation, the door opened, and Swedenborg, passing him with a friendly salutation, conducted his imaginary visitant out of the opposite door with many bows, all the while expressing in fluent Latin, the gratification the visit had afforded him, and begging an early repetition of it. This leave-taking over, he approached the Finlander with much cordiality, saying, "Excuse me for making you wait! I had, as you observed, a visitor." The stranger, embarrassed, answered, " Yes, I observed it." "And can you guess whom?" asked Swedenborg. "Impossible," replied the other. "Only think, my dear sir, Virgil! and so you know he is a fine and pleasant fellow. I have always had a good opinion of the man, and he deserves it. He is as modest as he is witty, and most agreeably entertaining." Although this singular interview impressed the Finlander with the belief that he was conversing with an insane man, he afterwards visited him several times, and perceived nothing extraordinary excepting his monstrous mental resources and learning.

Monday, October 3, 2011

He going to make me queen of Finland

Their supper was the feast of two girls. Carol was in the dining-room, in a frock of black satin edged with gold, and Bea, in blue gingham and an apron, dined in the kitchen; but the door was open between, and Carol was inquiring, "Did you see any ducks in Dahl's window?" and Bea chanting, "No, ma'am. Say, ve have a svell time, dis afternoon. Tina she have coffee and knackebrod, and her fella vos dere, and ve yoost laughed and laughed, and her fella say he vos president and he going to make me queen of Finland, and Ay stick a fedder in may hair and say Ay bane going to go to var—oh, ve vos so foolish and ve LAUGH so!"
Sinclair Lewis: Main Street

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

He never tunes his throat unless when he is drunk

No part of the Finlander's success with his mistress depends upon the exertion of his vocal talents, as he never tunes his throat unless when he is drunk, and then he roars without any regard to music, of which he has very little notion; he catches, perhaps, a tune from seme passing Russian, hut he forgets it again in a few minutes.

On their wedding day, and other holidays, they wear a strange kind of dress, ornamented with embroidery of different coloured threads, and hung in every corner with glass beads, which are even wrought into the cloth. They are also fond of gold and silver ornaments, and on these occasions wear a silver gorget on their breasts. The unmarried women allow their hair to fall upon their shoulders, and have sometimes a gaudy head-dress composed of pasteboard, or some other stiff substance, studded with beads, or sparkling with lace; but after marriage they tie up their hair, and always wear upon their heads a small linen hood.

The Finlanders are a very quiet, harmless people, and, in general, treat their wives with less austerity than their neighbours the Laplanders.

Marriage Ceremonies in different Parts of the World.—No. II.
THE ENTERTAINING MAGAZINE, OR, REPOSITORY OF GENERAL KNOWLEDGE FOR THE YEAR 1815

Friday, September 23, 2011

Åbo was obliterated

The scroll of the dream unwound; the dreamer moved, easing his position, shaking back a lock of dark hair that had fallen across his forehead. He was no longer rocking to the power of the north express; he was standing on the platform at the end of a little train that puffed out of the Finland station—a primitive, miniature train, white with frost and powdered with the ashes of its wood fuel. The vision came and passed a sketch, not a picture—a suggestion of straight tracks, wide snow plains, and the blue, misty blur of fir woods. Then a shifting, a juggling of effects! Åbo, the Finnish port, painted itself upon his imagination, and he was embarked upon the lonely sledge-drive, to the harbor. He started in his sleep, shivered and sighed at that remembered drive. The train passed over new points, the hoods of the lamps swayed, the lights blinked and winked, and his mind swung onward in response to the physical jar.

Åbo was obliterated. He was on board a ship—a ship ploughing her way through the ice-fields as she neared Stockholm; salt sea air flicked his nostrils, he heard the broken ice tearing the keel like a million files, he was sensible of the crucial sensation—the tremendous quiver—as the vessel slipped from her bondage into the cradle of the sea, a sentient thing welcoming her own element!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finns use only the branch-harrow

The russian boor generally labours only his old arable lands, whereas the finnish peasant strives to lessen his work at the expence of the forests. The finnish implements of husbandry are, if possible, more light and simple than the russian. Thus the Finns use only the branch-harrow, and not unfrequently nothing more than the rake instead of the knife-plough. Their little country carts are not, as with the Russians, on two, but only one axletree, the wheels whereof are never shod with iron; and, instead of this miserable vehicle, they very frequently employ only a couple of poles fastened at one end to the two sides of the saddle and the two other ends trailing on the ground.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Already the Emperor has made an alteration in Finland

A little further on, I came to the "Goestgifvaregard" of the town. On one side of the gateway I observed a post, on which was painted in large letters, "To St. Petersburg, 1735 wersts." This was the first mark I saw of the change that Tornea had undergone by the fortune of war; its distance was now calculated from a new centre. As yet, little change has been made in the laws, as was agreed by the treaty of cession; but who can answer for its being observed when the performance of it depends solely on the will of one man, who has deprived his subjects of the power to resist his commands. Is there much reliance to be placed in a man who, in the plenitude of his power, lately issued an ukase, forbidding all persons under a certain age to wear spectacles? Already the Emperor has made an alteration in Finland; it is but trifling, some will call it nominal, but the people, who feel that it is the first step towards assimilating their country to the rest of the Russian empire, cannot look upon it but with distrust. While under the Swedish crown Finland was divided into Loens, over which officers, called Landshöfvdingar, or the heads of the land, presided; latterly the Autocrat had taken a dislike to that Swedish title, and substituted the more Russian one of Governor and Government.

The next day the young Norwegian, whom I had left at Ranby, came to Happaranda, and we drove over together to Tornea. The peasant that went with us was a Finlander, and wore the handsome cap peculiar to that nation. It is a cloth or velvet skull-cap surrounded by fur, much after the manner of the tiara of the Russian women. They also wear a particular kind of boots, called komager, the feet of which are made of one entire piece, and the leg that reaches up to the knee of another. As the soles are not harder than what would be the upper leather with us, they are much better suited for walking on the snow and keeping the feet warm than the common sort of boots; the same kind are worn by the Habitants of Lower Canada.

Arthur Edmund D. Lee- Dillon: A winter in Iceland and Lapland. (1840)



Monday, September 12, 2011

In the south, they are something better polished

This country is full of. lakes, the most remarkable of which is the great lake of Jende: the chief town Travastia, called also Croneburg, being in the latitude of 62 degrees odd minutes. The soil of Finland in general is barren, and the country full of lakes, bogs, and bushes; and there are scarce any villages in the inland country, the houses standing single and dispersed: but towards the south and west upon the lea coast the soil is better, and there are several good towns to be found, besides those already mentioned, which will be laid down in the map of this country. The Finlanders in the north differ but very little from the Lappomans; but in the south, being mixed with the Swedes, and trading with other nations of Europe, they are something better polished.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A perfect pattern to the folk in Finland

One such summer evening surges up before me with a crimson smear across its sunlight. There was a Low Country fellow there, waist deep in schnapps, and a Finlander sucking strong beer like a hog. Meinheer and the Finn came to words and blows, and I, who was sitting astride of the railing staring, heard a shrill scream from the old man and a rattle as he dropped his fiddle, and then a flash and a red rain of blood on the table as my Finn fell with a knife in him, the Hollander's knife, smartly pegged in between the left breast and the shoulder. I declare that, even in my excitement at that first sight of blood drawn in feud, my boyish thought was half divided between the drunken quarrel and the poor old fiddler, all hunched together on the ground and sobbing dry-eyed in a kind of ecstasy of fear and horror. I heard afterwards that he had a son knifed to his death in a seaman's brawl, and never got over it. As for the Finn, they took him home and kept it dark, and he recovered, and may be living yet for all I know to the contrary, and a perfect pattern to the folk in Finland.

Justin Huntly McCarthy: Marjorie

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Finlander sits a quiet picture of indifference

You may know what countryman your isvoshtshik is, by the way in which he treats his horses. The German is sure to be the most reasonable. He speaks little to any body, and to his horse not at all. His reins and his whip form ' he only medium of communication between the man and the animal. The Finlander sits a quiet picture of indifference, only now and then brings out a long drawling " Naw! naw!" through his teeth, and from the varied intonations of the one word, the horse is expected to divine the wishes of its master. The cabalistic word of the Lette is " Nooa, nooa!" but to this he has recourse only in moments of great emergency; when, for instance, his horse manifests a disposition not to stir from the spot, or a piggish determination to go any way rather than the way he is wanted to go. The most restless of charioteers is the Pole, who wriggles incessantly about, and wlustles, hisses and howls without intermission, while the shaking of his reins and the cracking of his whip are kept up with equal perseverance. The Russian coachman, on the other hand, seems to trust more to the persuasiveness of his own eloquence, than to any thing else. He seldom uses his whip, and generally only knocks with it upon the foot-board of his sledge, by way of a gentle admonition to his steed, with whom meanwhile he keeps up a running colloquy, seldom giving him harder words than: " my brother," " my friend," " my little father," " my sweetheart," " my little white pigeon," &c. " Come, my pretty pigeon, make use of thy legs," he will say. " What now ? art blind ? come be brisk! Take care of that stone there. Dost not see it ? There, that's right. Bravo ! hop, hop, hop! steady, boy, steady! Now, what art turniug thy head aside for ? Look out boldly before thee ! Huzza! Yukh, yukh !"

Friday, September 2, 2011

They have a peculiar language of their own

Next in order follows Finland, which some think to be so called in comparison of Sweden, as tho' it did in fruitfulness far exceed it, (who are foully deceived, for it is more probable, that it was first called Fiendland, by reason of the great hostility those Finlanders exercised against this nation, so long as they were commanded by a king of their own.) This country abounds in corn, pastures, fish, and fowl; and, finally, in such things as are most necessary for the life of man. The people are very laborious, and able to endure hardship. Of old they were esteemed the Nature mildest among all the Scanzian people, howbeit, at this day, they are somewhat harsher; and their valour in war was well witnessed in the memorable battle fought near Leipjick in Misnia. They have a peculiar language of their own; in which are some singularities to be observed, namely, that some letters they cannot pronounce, as b, d, g, and that they want the letter f, neither have they any word beginning with two consonants; and therefore, when they pronounce any such word in other languages, they leave out such letters : (and for this cause, if they be not sent abroad while they are young, they can never learn to pronounce foreign languages:) thus for gratus, they pronounce ratus; for Spes, pes; for dominus, tominus; for bonus, ponus, &c. And this is the reason why the nobles, merchants, and others of ability, fend their youth to be instructed in the Swedish tongue; by which means they are afterwards fitted for the learning of any other. Again, in their language, they observe no genders, having one only article se, which they attribute to both sexes, and to all genders.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An atmosphere of cleanliness and civilization

During my stay in Russia at the time of the Crimean War, I had been interested in the Finnish peasants whom I saw serving on the gunboats. There was a sturdiness, heartiness, and loyalty about them which could not fail to elicit good-will; but during this second stay in Russia my sympathies with them were more especially enlisted. During the hot weather of the first summer
my family were at the Finnish capital, Helsingfors, at the point where the Gulf of Finland opens into the Baltic. The whole people deeply interested me. Here was one of the most important universities of Europe, a noble public library, beautiful buildings, and throughout the whole town an atmosphere of cleanliness and civilization far superior to that which one finds in any Russian city. Having been added to Russia by Alexander I under his most solemn pledges that it should retain its own constitutional government, it had done so up to the time of my stay; and the results were evident throughout the entire grand duchy. While in Russia there had been from time immemorial a debased currency, the currency of Finland was as good as gold; while in Russia all public matters bore the marks of arbitrary repression, in Finland one could see the results of enlightened discussion; while in Russia the peasant is but little, if any, above Asiatic barbarism, the Finnish peasant--simple, genuine--is clearly far better developed both morally and religiously. It is a grief to me in these latter days to see that the measures which were then feared have since been taken. There seems a determination to grind down Finland to a level with Russia in general.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You have still further to go!

'Ah, you poor creatures!' said the Lapland woman; 'you have still further to go! You must go over a hundred miles into Finland, for there the Snow-queen lives, and every night she burns Bengal lights. I will write some words on a dried stock-fish, for I have no paper, and you must give it to the Finland woman, for she can give you better advice than I can.'

Friday, August 19, 2011

Finn's tent, made exactly like a Terra del Fuego wigwam

A considerable resemblance is said to exist between the Finnish and Chinese languages, and the similarity in their countenances is very striking. A Dutch officer told Mr. Knoph that he talked Chinese to a Finn for a considerable time before the latter discovered that he was not speaking Finnish, though he could not understand what was said to him. We returned to Roraas in the afternoon, round the head of the lake Oresund, over a very desolate country, with scarcely any inhabitants.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We are told that in Finland the great wealth of the people lay in certain animals

Surely the etymology of "reindeer" admits of no dispute. The earliest English description of the animal bearing the name is, I think, that which we find in King Alfred's book on Geography. In that book we are told that in Finland the great wealth of the people lay in certain animals. The king's informant said that lie himself owned—tamra deora unbebohtra syx hund (tha deor hi hatath hranas) tharu waeron syx stael-hranas, tha beoth swythe dyre mid Finnum, for tham hy foth tha wildan hranas mid — six hundred tame deer unpurchased (the deer they call ranes), of them six were decoy ranes, which are of much value with the Finlanders, for with them they catch the wild ranes.

Rane was the name by which the Finlander distinguished the animal which we, not understanding the origin of the word, call reindeer, rangifer, &c. In my translation I give deer as the equivalent for deora, not presuming to judge whether the original word in that connection signify " deer" in our modern sense of the word, or simply "wild animal" in its more extended meaning: ("Rats and mice and such small deer.") Your readers can for my "deer" substitute "beast" if they please.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The courage and enterprise of the Finlander

The hunting of the Seal also sets the courage and enterprise of the Finlander in the strongest possible light. The season for this chase begins when the sea breaks up, and the ice floats in shoals upon the surface. Four or five peasants will go out to sea in one small open boat, and will often continue more than a month absent from their families. Thus do they expose themselves to all the horrors of the northern seas, having only a small fire, which they kindle on a sort of brick hearth, and living on the flesh of the Seals which they kill. The fat and skins they bring home. The perils with which these voyagers have to struggle, are almost incredible. They have incessantly to pass betwixt masses of ice, which threaten to crush their little bark to atoms. They mount the floating shoals; and, creeping along them, steal cautiously upon the animals, and kill them as they repose on the ice.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

At Helsingfors the landlord speaks German, and keeps a very good inn

Borgo is esteemed a town of consequence in Swedish Finland, has a Gymnasium, and carries on some trade by a river, which is thus far navigable for small craft. From that place to Helsingfors, I found it excessively hot, much more so than I experienced near AEtna, and in Lombardy. The inns were at a great distance from each other, and by no means good. They looked neat and inviting, but in general nothing was to be obtained at them except very sour beer, very coarse bread, and very bad butter. These inns were the post-houses, and I observed that they were not kept by very conscientious people, for the posting charge was frequently added to my expences. I suppose the good Swedes thought me an eccentric kind of character, who ought to pay for his whims. The Swedish miles are extremely long, and the charge for posting is not heavy. The traveller proceeds with great rapidity, and only with a single horse when alone and unincumbered with luggage as I was. I therefore seated myself in a carriole, first to escape the heat, secondly to expedite my journey, and thirdly because it cost me no more but perpaps less than if I walked. In Italy probably these reasons would not have all had their force. At Helsingfors the landlord speaks German, and keeps a very good inn. At Swensky I even met with a postillion who understood my native tongue, and had often been on board of ship to Reval. Near Mialbosta, there are several very fine situations upon a lake, with some country-houses.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It was a motley crowd

This is a stormy Sunday, December ninth, but the weather is not so bad as yesterday, and B. and L. came back from the Home. We have eight men here today, including the two young fellows who have been at work on the Home building, and who came over from Nome weeks before the rest of us. This is the first time they have been here since we arrived. They, too, are Swedes, as are all these men but M., who is a Finlander.
...
Something unpleasant has happened. M., the Finlander, told me this morning that he wants the room I occupy upstairs, and, of course, I will have to give it up. As the other rooms upstairs must be left for the men, of whom there are such numbers, there is no place for me except on the old wooden settle in the sitting room. To be sure, this is in a warm corner, but there are many and serious inconveniences, one being that I must of necessity be the last one to retire, and this is usually midnight.

May Kellogg Sullivan: A Woman who went to Alaska

Saturday, July 30, 2011

När jag kommer i tjenst till Helsingfors

Klockan åtta på morgonen kom en af pigorna in och frågade om de ej ville ha kaffe. Fem sömniga röster mumlade ett belåtet ja, den sjette svarade med en långt utdragen snarkning, som kunde tydas hur man ville.

— Låt oss få sex koppar kaffe, — bad Bella, som fortfarande agerade tolk.

Pigan nickade. Hon stod och betraktade deras upphängda klädningar med mycket intresse.

— Hvarifrån ha ni fått så vackra spetsar? — sade hon och petade om ryscherna kring hals och ärmar.

— Från Helsingfors, derifrån vi äro hemma, — svarade Bella.

— Jaså. När jag kommer i tjenst till Helsingfors, skall jag också köpa mig lika vackra spetsar, — sade flickan med ett längtansfullt tonfall i rösten, i det hon gick att hemta kaffet.

— Seså, nu ha vi gjort flickan fåfäng, — sade Lilli, i det hon eftertänksamt drog strumporna på sig. — Jag skall gifva henne en af mina ryscher till tack för nattqvarteret.

Toini Mathilda Topelius: I Utvecklingstid

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I remember the regiment of Finland cuirassiers

"I crave your pardon, sir," said Dalgetty, "such is not the rule of our foreign service in respect I remember the regiment of Finland cuirassiers reprimanded, and their kettle-drums taken from them, by the immortal Gustavus, because they had assumed the permission to march without their corslets, and to leave them with the baggage. Neither did they strike kettle-drums again at the head of that famous regiment until they behaved themselves so notably at the field of Leipsic; a lesson whilk is not to be forgotten, any more than that exclamation of the immortal Gustavus, 'Now shall I know if my officers love me, by their putting on their armour; since, if my officers are slain, who shall lead my soldiers into victory?' Nevertheless, friend Ranald, this is without prejudice to my being rid of these somewhat heavy boots, providing I can obtain any other succedaneum; for I presume not to say that my bare soles are fortified so as to endure the flints and thorns, as seems to be the case with your followers."

Sir Walter Scott: A Legend of Montrose

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nos pilotes nous conduisirent d'Echero au rocher de Singelshar

Nos pilotes nous conduisirent d'Echero au rocher de Singelshar; cette île, d'un aspect effrayant, présente une nature morte, un lac entouré de roches nues et à pic, dont les teintes grisâtres se reflètent dans l'eau glacée. La neige qui remplit les crevasses et les inégalités semble s'y être arrêtée pour faire mieux ressortir, par sa blancheur, l'obscurité de cette atmosphère brumeuse. Des monceaux de glace, brisés par la force des courans, et amoncelés en différens endroits, présentent l'image du chaos, et jettent dans l'âme une sorte de découragement, et de profonde tristesse. Aucune végétation, aucun vestige d'hommes; seulement, çà et là, un peu de mousse et de verdure.

Ce sont de ces images dont la plume est inhabile à peindre l'impression produite sur nos sens.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Prevent travellers from Finland from entering the Russian dominions

Stockholm, August 5 [1774]. The extraordinary hot weather and drought, that has lasted during the whole summer in Finland, has caused a sickness among the people, and an epidemical distemper among the horned cattle in that province, for which reason a party of Russian troops are posted upon the confines of the empire, to prevent travellers from Finland from entering the Russian dominions without performing a quarantine of five days. And we hear that the king, on account of the sickness, has postponed his intended journey to that quarter till the spring.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Then they saw the old Finlander raise his gun to his eye

A Swedish youth was betrothed to a Finnish girl; but returning home, he forgot to fetch his bride. Being some time after visited by a Laplander skilled in witchcraft, he asked news of his betrothed. "You may see her yourself," answered the sorcerer, and, having filled a pail with water, and made many incantations, he bade him approach.—Then the young man beheld the cottage of his betrothed. His heart beat high on seeing her come forth pale, her eyes swollen with weeping; behind her came her father, fierce-looking, with a gun in his hand. The father, on his side, produced a pail of water, and looked into it. After a while he shook his head and cocked the gun, while his daughter wrung her hands. "Now," said the Laplander, "he'll shoot you if you don't forestall him. Take aim quickly with your gun!" Then they saw the old Finlander raise his gun to his eye. "Make haste," cried the Laplander, "or you're a dead man—fire!'' The young Swede obeyed, and the old Finlander fell lifeless. Conscience led the faithless lover back to his betrothed,—then he learned that her father had died of apoplexy the same day the Laplander had performed his witchcraft.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Any soldiers coming back from Finland?

(She sets milk, &c. on a table—Charles throws himself into a chair, and flings his knapsack behind her.)

Charles. —'Tis a choice thing to rest oneself;—I say, mistress, you must know I, and some more of us peasants, have come a many, many leagues, since break of day.

Cath. Indeed, you may well be tired— and where do you come from ?—Did you meet, on your road, any soldiers coming back from Finland?

Charles (eats and speaks) Not the soldiers themselves, I can't say as I did; but we are them that are bringing home the knapsacks of the poor fellows, that have lost their lives in the wars in Finland.

Catherine, (during this speech of Charles's, leans on the back of a chairaside) Now I shall know my fate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

He was much disappointed in entering Tornea

Next morning on landing at Pakkila, he mounted a small car, and was driven with furious rapidity by a young Finlander, along an excellent road, and through a rich and populous country. He met crowds of people returning home from church, dressed in their best attire; youths and maidens hurrying gaily along; while the elderly persons, clad in a long dark mantle, girt with a yellow sash, and having a small black cap on their head, marched with stately gravity. But he was much disappointed in entering Tornea, which, though built after an uniform plan, consists mostly of detached cottages, and contains only 630 inhabitants. The streets are very broad, and, not being paved, they are grown over with grass, on which the cows regularly pasture. The inhabitants, a mixture of Finns and Swedes, have the character of being idle, and extremely given to drunkenness. Yet the adjacent country, chiefly through the industry of the Finnish settlers, is rapidly improving; and the population of the province of Lapmark appears to have advanced much faster than that of any other part of Europe. In the year 1751, this, according to Baron Hermelin, was 27,000; in 1772, it had increased to 31,000; but in 1801, it amounted to 52,000.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Humbel, the ruler of Finland

The news that Swipdager, at the instigation of Ingo, was preparing to invade Denmark, first aroused him from the melancholy into which he had fallen. He gathered all his brave warriors together, and was preparing to march against the enemy, when a Finlander came to him with the news that Humbel, the ruler of Finland, had a wonderfully beautiful daughter, whom he kept in confinement, because it had been prophesied that her marriage would cause some great misfortune to fall upon him.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Old Finland, with its glorious recollections

The major was an old Finlander, and loved his country with all the impetuosity and enthusiasm of an ardent temper. Old Finland, with its glorious recollections, that land, intersected by thousands of rivulets and torrents, situated beyond the Baltic, whose sons (the major was one of these) did not cease to hope and to struggle until after a bloody though fruitless battle,—that land was the old man's idol, the only object to which he clung with heart and soul, and from this country he had been compelled to become a voluntary exile. After its lost idol his soul wept and fretted, and his unavailing sorrow frequently vented itself in spleen against his neighbours, for grief often makes us unjust.

The aristocrat and the pauper, from the Swedish of Uncle Adam (Dr. Carl Anton Wetterbergh)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Account of a Borsten or the Bristles, very common among Children in Finland

THE Distemper, of which I propose to give a brief Account; is very common to new-born Infants in Finland, and vulgarly called lie Borsten, or the Bristles, from a supposition that a pregnant Woman touching a Hog or eating too much Pork, the Infant contracts the Borste: But as a Fright is always a a Fright, this absurdity we dismiss without any further animadversion.

I am very far from denying the influence of the Imagination on the Foetus; all I insist on is that the Borste is not in all Children owing to their Mothers having run against a Hog, but proceeds from a Cause little thought of, and which after a description of the Disease itself I shall explain. The Borste is a cutaneous Distemper in Children, their Skin appearing full of minute Excrescences like Bristles or Worms, some quite transparent, others blackish at the Tip, some straight, others crooked, whereby the Children are in extreme Pain, without any Sleep, and perpetually trembling and moaning.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Finns of Finland

The last subject referred to by the lecturer was the Finns of Finland, whose study reveals the fact that they embrace two ethnic types, one of which, the _Tavastlanda_, belongs without doubt to the great Finnish family, spread over Asia as well as in Europe, and a second, the Karelien, whose representatives possessed the poetic instinct, which causes M. Quatrefages to ally them with the Aryan race, "to whom we owe all our epics, from the Ramayana, Iliad, and Eneas to the poems of to-day."

Friday, June 17, 2011

To Abo, where he was to have a conference with the Emperor Alexander

The defeat of Oudinot at Polotzk, the junction of Begration and Barclay de Tolly with the grand Russian army under Kutusoff, and the battle of Borodino, gave a favourable turn to affairs, but not such as to dispel every apprehension, and it was determined by the Emperor Alexander to send the whole Russian fleet to winter in England. Admiral Crown was expected from Archangel with eight sail of the line, and Admiral Tait with ten, and six frigates from Cronstadt. The former having sailed from Wingo before this had been determined on, it became necessary for Sir James to delay his return. The Aquilon, which had been sent through the Belt to meet Lord Cathcart at Daleroe, and convey his lordship to Abo, where he was to have a conference with the Emperor Alexander, met with some damage and returned to Wingo.

Mr. James Saumarez, eldest son of the Admiral, who had accompanied his lordship, made a tour and visited the Swedish, Finland, and Russian capitals; he returned on board the Victory on the 9th of October, when the afflicting intelligence arrived of the sudden death of his sister, the eldest daughter of the Admiral, whose loss was deeply regretted by all who knew her excellent disposition. The shock, as may be imagined, was deeply felt by Sir James; but it will be seen by the following correspondence that his mind was supported under this severe trial, and much as his presence was required at home he regarded his duty to his country to be paramount to every other consideration, and unflinchingly remained at his post. His son (the present Lord de Saumarez) who had just finished his education for the Established Church, was indeed a great comfort to his suffering parent.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A lady from Finland asked me to tell her a story in our Negro dialect

Five or six years ago a lady from Finland asked me to tell her a story in our Negro dialect, so that she could get an idea of what that variety of speech was like. I told her one of Hopkinson Smith's Negro stories, and gave her a copy of 'Harper's Monthly' containing it. She translated it for a Swedish newspaper, but by an oversight named me as the author of it instead of Smith. I was very sorry for that, because I got a good lashing in the Swedish press, which would have fallen to his share but for that mistake; for it was shown that Boccaccio had told that very story, in his curt and meagre fashion, five hundred years before Smith took hold of it and made a good and tellable thing out of it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It is so windy and cold, and oh! so wretchedly dull.

And she was undoubtedly English, after all!

"Oh no," she declared in a low, musical voice, in response to a fear I had expressed, "I am not at all cold. This place is so charming, and so warm, to where my father and I have recently been--at Uleaborg, in Finland."

"At Uleaborg!" I echoed. "Why, that is away--out of the world--at the northern end of the Gulf of Bothnia!"

"Yes," she declared, with a light laugh. "It is so windy and cold, and oh! so wretchedly dull."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fear and terror along the coast of Finland

Now, turn to your atlases again and look for the large island of Gotland off the southeastern coast of Sweden, in the midst of the Baltic Sea. In the time of Olaf it was a thickly peopled and wealthy district, and the principal town, Wisby, at the northern end, was one of the busiest places in all Europe. To this attractive island the boy viking sailed with all his ships, looking for rich booty, but the Gotlanders met him with fair words and offered him so great a "scatt," or tribute, that he agreed not to molest them, and rested at the island, an unwelcome guest, through all the long winter. Early in the spring he sailed eastward to the Gulf of Riga and spread fear and terror along the coast of Finland. And the old saga tells how the Finlanders "conjured up in the night, by their witchcraft, a dreadful storm and bad weather; but the king ordered all the anchors to be weighed and sail hoisted, and beat off all night to the outside of the land. So the king's luck prevailed more than the Finlander's witchcraft."

E. S. Brooks: THE BOY VIKING--OLAF II OF NORWAY
The Junior Classics — Volume 7 Stories of Courage and Heroism

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wrote a letter on a dried fish, as she had no paper

The loaves and the ham were finished, and Gerda and the reindeer were in Lapland.

They stopped in front of a little hut. Its roof sloped down almost to the ground, and the door was so low that to get into the hut one had to creep on hands and knees. How the reindeer squeezed through I cannot tell, but there he was in the little hut, telling an old Lapp woman who was frying fish over a lamp, first his own story and then the sad story of Gerda and little Kay.

"Oh, you poor creatures," said the Lapp woman, "the Snow Queen is not in Lapland at present. She is hundreds of miles away at her palace in Finland. But I will give you a note to a Finn woman, and she will direct you better than I can." And the Lapp woman wrote a letter on a dried fish, as she had no paper.

Then, when Gerda had warmed herself by the lamp, the Lapp woman tied her on to the reindeer again, and they squeezed through the little door and were once more out in the wide world.

On and on they sped through the long night, while the blue northern lights flickered in the sky overhead, and the crisp snow crackled beneath their feet.

At last they reached Finland and knocked on the Finn woman's chimney, for she had no door at all. Then they squeezed down the chimney and found themselves in a very hot little room.

The old woman at once loosened Gerda's things, and took off her mittens and boots. Then she put ice on the reindeer's head. Now that her visitors were more comfortable she could look at the letter they brought. She read it three times and then put it in the fish-pot, for this old woman never wasted anything.

Suddenly they stopped before a little house, which looked very miserable. The roof reached to the ground; and the door was so low, that the family were obliged to creep upon their stomachs when they went in or out. Nobody was at home except an old Lapland woman, who was dressing fish by the light of an oil lamp. And the Reindeer told her the whole of Gerda's history, but first of all his own; for that seemed to him of much greater importance. Gerda was so chilled that she could not speak.

"Poor thing," said the Lapland woman, "you have far to run still. You have more than a hundred miles to go before you get to Finland; there the Snow Queen has her country-house, and burns blue lights every evening. I will give you a few words from me, which I will write on a dried haberdine, for paper I have none; this you can take with you to the Finland woman, and she will be able to give you more information than I can."

When Gerda had warmed herself, and had eaten and drunk, the Lapland woman wrote a few words on a dried haberdine, begged Gerda to take care of them, put her on the Reindeer, bound her fast, and away sprang the animal. "Ddsa! Ddsa!" was again heard in the air; the most charming blue lights burned the whole night in the sky, and at last they came to Finland. They knocked at the chimney of the Finland woman; for as to a door, she had none.

There was such a heat inside that the Finland woman herself went about almost naked. She was diminutive and dirty. She immediately loosened little Gerda's clothes, pulled off her thick gloves and boots; for otherwise the heat would have been too great--and after laying a piece of ice on the Reindeer's head, read what was written on the fish-skin. She read it three times: she then knew it by heart; so she put the fish into the cupboard--for it might very well be eaten, and she never threw anything away.

Hans Christian Andersen: Andersen's Fairy Tales

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Finlander's world, the Finlander's joy

But Eigil was impatient and struck his reindeer, that willing beast which flies like the wind and needs not the touch of a whip. It bounded forward in surprise, and knocked down one of the elves that stood in its path. But the hands of his brothers laid hold of the reins, and stopped the reindeer, and sang again,

The Finlander's world, the Finlander's joy,
Lies under the earth;
Seek not without what we offer within,
Despise not the elves, small and dark though they be.
The best is within, do not seek it without:
The Finlander's world, the Finlander's joy,
Lies under the earth.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The decent fare of some little wayside hostelry in Finland

The hotels in the country places, too, would be better. At present they exist on a system of monopolism and favouritism; it is quite beyond the ambitions of their managers to collect a clientele; most of these concerns are palpably run on the following principle: to keep the guest in such a state of chattering starvation, that he is ready to eat anything. How often have I yearned, in these "Grand Hotels"--they are all grand hotels--for the material comforts and the decent fare of some little wayside hostelry in Finland, or a rest-house in the jungle of Ceylon!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The journey across Finland was a very pleasant one

The journey across Finland was a very pleasant one. Both were in high spirits. The cloud that had hung over Julian had been dispelled, and Frank's constant anxiety about him had been laid to rest. They had gone safely through the most wonderful campaign of modern times, and were now on their way home. Julian's supply of money was untouched save for the purchase of a variety of presents for his aunt. They travelled only by day. The carriage was constructed with all conveniences for sleeping in, and when, on their arrival at the end of their day's journey, they returned from a stroll down the town to an excellent dinner prepared by their servant, they had but to turn in for a comfortable night's rest in the vehicle. At Abo they found their baggage awaiting them.

"By Jove! Julian," Frank said laughing, as he looked at the great pile of trunks in the post-house, "one would think that you were carrying the whole contents of a household. Those modest tin cases comprise my share of that pile."

"It is tremendous!" Julian said almost ruefully. "I feel quite ashamed to turn up with such an amount of baggage. The first thing we must do, as soon as we get back, is to effect a division. I am afraid that my outside clothes will be of no use to you—they would require entire remaking; but all the other things will fit you as well as me. I do believe that there are enough to last me my life-time; and it will be downright charity to relieve me of some of them. You may imagine my stupefaction when I came back one day to the count's and found my room literally filled with clothes."

"I will help you a bit," Frank laughed. "The campaign has pretty well destroyed all my kit, and I shan't be too proud to fill up from your abundance."

They found that the servant who had preceded them with the baggage had already made all the arrangements for their crossing the gulf. The extreme cold had everywhere so completely frozen the sea that there was no difficulty in crossing, which, they learned, was not often the case. Three sledges had been engaged for their transport. The distance was about 120 miles; but it was broken by the islands of the Aland Archipelago, and upon one or other of these they could take refuge in the event of any sudden change of weather. They were to start at midnight, and would reach Bomarsund, on the main island of Aland, on the following evening, wait there for twenty-four hours to rest the animals, and would reach the mainland the next day.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I saw the moon rise clear

I SAW THE MOON RISE CLEAR.
A FINLAND LOVE SONG.

I saw the moon rise clear
O'er hills and vales of snow
Nor told my fleet reindeer
The track I wished to go.
Yet quick he bounded forth;
For well my reindeer knew
I've but one path on earth--
The path which leads to you.

The gloom that winter cast,
How soon the heart forgets,
When summer brings, at last,
Her sun that never sets!
So dawned my love for you;
So, fixt thro' joy and pain,
Than summer sun more true,
'Twill never set again.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We could buy a summer cottage in Finland

... With this object in view, a plan has occurred to me which I now have the honour of presenting to you for your consideration. I shall only give you a rough outline, avoiding all details. Our estate does not pay on an average more than two per cent on the money invested in it. I propose to sell it. If we then invest our capital in bonds, it will earn us four to five per cent, and we should probably have a surplus over of several thousand roubles, with which we could buy a summer cottage in Finland—

VOITSKI. Hold on! Repeat what you just said; I don't think I heard you quite right.

SEREBRAKOFF. I said we would invest the money in bonds and buy a cottage in Finland with the surplus.

VOITSKI. No, not Finland—you said something else.

SEREBRAKOFF. I propose to sell this place.

VOITSKI. Aha! That was it! So you are going to sell the place? Splendid. The idea is a rich one. And what do you propose to do with my old mother and me and with Sonia here?

SEREBRAKOFF. That will be decided in due time. We can't do everything at once.

Anton Checkov: Uncle Vanya

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Listen to the moaning of the pine

but last night I saw him in his beauty and his strength; he was about to speak, and my ear was on the stretch, when at once I awoke, and there was I alone, and the night storm was howling amidst the branches of the pines which surround my lonely dwelling: ‘Listen to the moaning of the pine, at whose root thy hut is fastened,’—a saying that, of wild Finland, in which there is wisdom; I listened and thought of life and death. . . .

George Borrow: Lavengro. The Scholar, The Gypsy, The Priest

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Passing the grim fortress of Sveaborg, with its eight hundred guns

"To-morr punkt at 'leven wir schiff for St. Petersburg," was the polyglot announcement by which all of us, Swedes, Germans, English, and one solitary American, were given to understand at what hour on the ensuing day we were to commence our voyage from Stockholm for the Russian capital. With praiseworthy punctuality the steam was up at the appointed hour of eleven, and as our steamer shot out into the Baltic we took our farewell view of Stockholm, the "City of Piles." As we steamed northward we dashed through archipelago after archipelago of islands, some with bold and rocky shores, and others sloping greenly down to the tranquil sea. Having passed the Aland Islands, one of which, not thirty miles from the coast of Sweden, has been seized and strongly fortified by her powerful and unscrupulous neighbor, we turned into a narrow inlet, and touched Russian soil at Abo, the ancient capital of Finland.

Here we made our first acquaintance with those fascinating gentry, whom his Imperial Majesty deputes to watch that nothing treasonable or contraband finds entrance into his dominions. Our intercourse here was, however, brief, our passports merely being demanded, and permission granted us to go on shore while the steamer was detained. At Cronstadt and St. Petersburg we formed a more intimate if not more agreeable acquaintance with these functionaries. Setting out again we coasted eastward up the Gulf of Finland, passing the grim fortress of Sveaborg, with its eight hundred guns, and garrison of fifteen thousand men, and shot up the beautiful bay to Helsingfors, one of the great naval stations of Russia. Touching at Revel, on the opposite shore of the Gulf of Finland, we ran due east up the Gulf, encountering the great Russian summer fleet, which was performing its annual manoeuvres, and on the morning after leaving Helsingfors came in sight of the shipping and fortifications of Cronstadt. As we crept slowly up the narrow and winding channel, by which alone the harbor can be reached, and passed successively the grim lines of batteries which command every portion of it, we were forced to confess that it formed a fitting outpost to a great military power.


Monday, March 14, 2011

The only people in Russia which furnishes good sailors

The only people in Russia which furnishes good sailors are the inhabitants of Finland in the north and the Cossacks in the south. ...

As these vessels exercise the right to call themselves Russian, they must, without regard to their flag, have a Russian captain on board. But this captain is a man of straw, employed only to act according to imperial will. It is generally an unfortunate man, to whom the owner allows a'small monthly pay, on condition that he will do nothing on board, not even in the caboose, from the fact that he is not fit for any thing. When the vessel loses sight of land, the real command is given to a foreign officer, or to a Finlander, and the past captain is requested to do any thing excepting what concerns the ship.

Frédéric Lacroix: The mysteries of Russia

Sunday, March 13, 2011

As he dreamed

As he dreamed, he was standing again in the outer court of a house in Petersburg—a house to which he was debtor for one night's shelter; it was early morning and deadly cold. The whole picture was sharp as a cut crystal—the triple court-yard, the stone pavement, the gray well, and frozen pile of firewood. He saw, recognized, lost it, and knew himself to be skimming down the Nevskiy Prospekt and across the Winter Palace Square, where the great angel towers upon its rose-granite monument. Forward, forward he was carried, along the bank of the frozen Neva and over the Troitskiy bridge, the powdered snow stinging his face like pinpoints as it flew up from the nails in his little horse's shoes. Then followed a magnifying of the picture—massed buildings rising from the snow—buildings gold and turquoise-domed, that, even as they materialized, lost splendor and merged into the unpretentious frontage of the Finland station.

The scroll of the dream unwound; the dreamer moved, easing his position, shaking back a lock of dark hair that had fallen across his forehead. He was no longer rocking to the power of the north express; he was standing on the platform at the end of a little train that puffed out of the Finland station—a primitive, miniature train, white with frost and powdered with the ashes of its wood fuel. The vision came and passed a sketch, not a picture—a suggestion of straight tracks, wide snow plains, and the blue, misty blur of fir woods. Then a shifting, a juggling of effects! Åbo, the Finnish port, painted itself upon his imagination, and he was embarked upon the lonely sledge-drive, to the harbor. He started in his sleep, shivered and sighed at that remembered drive. The train passed over new points, the hoods of the lamps swayed, the lights blinked and winked, and his mind swung onward in response to the physical jar.

Åbo was obliterated. He was on board a ship—a ship ploughing her way through the ice-fields as she neared Stockholm; salt sea air flicked his nostrils, he heard the broken ice tearing the keel like a million files, he was sensible of the crucial sensation—the tremendous quiver—as the vessel slipped from her bondage into the cradle of the sea, a sentient thing welcoming her own element!

Katherine Cecil Thurston: Max

Thursday, March 3, 2011

No hut is so destitute as not to have its family bath

It is a matter of authentic history that the most highly enlightened and prosperous people of the world have been celebrated for their devotion to the bath as a means of securing health and vigor as a means of curing disease, and preventing it, by promoting the activity of the skin. The excavations at Pompeii show the devotion of the people to luxurious bathing. The Romans are famous to this day for the magnificence of their lavatories and the universal use of them by the rich and poor alike. In Russia the bath is general, from the Czar to the poorest serf, and through all Finland, Lapland, Sweden and Norway, no hut is so destitute as not to have its family bath. Equally general is the custom in Turkey, Egypt and Persia, among all classes from the Pasha down to the poorest camel driver. Pity it is that we cannot say as much for the people of our own country.

Chas. A. Tyrrell: The Royal Road to Health

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Finland is overshadowed by despotism

In a really democratic State, where the whole people had equal voices in the government and all could exercise free power of persuasion, active rebellion, I think, would be very rare and seldom justified. But there are, I believe, only four democratic States in the world. All four are small, and of these Finland is overshadowed by despotism, and Australia and New Zealand have their foreign relations controlled and protected by the mother country. Hitherto the experiment of a really democratic government has never been tried on this planet, except since 1909 in Norway, and even there with some limitations; and though democracy might possibly avert the necessity of rebellion, I rather doubt whether it can be called advantageous to any State to accord to its members the right of revolt.

Henry W. Nevinson: Essays in Rebellion

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The police came down upon them, took away all their badges

The very beginning of the Work was due entirely to one of his most daring decisions, for it may well be doubted whether any attempt, under the leadership of a foreigner, would have been tolerated at that time. But when a young lady, who had become acquainted with The Army in
Stockholm, devoted herself to its service, and after passing some time in Training in London, was sent back with two or three subordinates to begin work in Helsingfors, who could look upon her with suspicion?

The moment she succeeded, however, in inducing a few of her first Converts to put on our uniform or insignia, the police came down upon them, took away all their badges, and declared that the formation of a Corps there must be regarded as for ever prohibited. Even when the Converts were provided with a second supply of badges, they were called to the police-station, and again deprived of them. But the leader had learnt from The General too well the lessons of patient endurance and continuance to give way. And when the police saw her followers supplied a third time with the signs of union with us, having in the meantime had so many opportunities to learn more both of the leader and of her people, they concluded that it would be, after all, the best for the public interest to let them alone.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

He muffled himself in wolfskins to his neck

January of 1787 saw him in Sweden seeking passage across the Baltic. Usually the trip to St. Petersburg was made by dog sleighs across the ice. This year the season had been so open, neither boats nor dog trains could be hired to make the trip. Ledyard was now thirty-six years old, and the sum of his efforts totalled to a zero. The first twenty-five years of his life he had wasted trying to fit his life to other men's patterns. The last five years he had wasted waiting for other men to act, men in New York, in Philadelphia, in Paris, in London, to give him a ship. He had done with waiting, with dependence on others. When boats and dog trains failed him now, he muffled himself in wolfskins to his neck, flung a knapsack on his back, and set out in midwinter to tramp overland six hundred miles north to Tornea at the head of the Baltic, six hundred miles south from Tornea, through Finland to St. Petersburg. Snow fell continually. Storms raged in from the sea. The little villages of northern Sweden and Finland were buried in snow to the chimney-tops. Wherever he happened to be at nightfall, he knocked at the door of a fisherman's hut. Wherever he was taken in, he slept, whether on the bare floor before the hearth, or among the dogs of the outhouses, or in the hay-lofts of the cattle sheds. No more waiting for Ledyard! Storm or shine, early and late, he tramped two hundred miles a week for seven weeks from the time he left Stockholm. When he marched into St. Petersburg on the 19th of March, men hardly knew whether to regard him as a madman or a wonder.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A little Finlander sharp-shooter

"Oh, then," said M. Struve, after hearing a portion of the above, "a pretty mistake your British inventor, and the officer too, would have made upon some of our Russian soldiers, according as they had seen in the distance either one of the Brèo-brèjenski Guard, who stands with his bear-skin shako, above seven feet hig ; or a little Finlander sharp-shooter, who, with his flat blue-cloth cap and short stature, is under four and a half feet. Yes indeed, a pretty mistake; for the real distance might have been almost double, or only half, of whatever the telescope and its micrometer wires had caused it to appear."

Charles Piazzi Smyth: Three cities in Russia, Volume 1

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Arrowheads regarded as thunderbolts

Flint arrowheads of the stone age are less often taken for thunderbolts, no doubt because they are so much smaller that they look quite too insignificant for the weapons of an angry god. They are more frequently described as fairy-darts or fairy-bolts. Still, I have known even arrowheads regarded as thunderbolts, and preserved superstitiously under that belief. In Finland, stone arrows are universally so viewed; and the rainbow is looked upon as the bow of Tiermes, the thunder-god, who shoots with it the guilty sorcerers.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Am I so very much to blame?

But while the birds about the Harringtons' home simply offend my regard for the truth, the Harringtons' dog causes me acute bodily and mental discomfort. He is of a spotted white, with a disreputable black patch over one eye, and weighs, I should imagine, between eighty and ninety pounds. During luncheon he takes his place under the table, and from there emits blood-curdling howls with sufficient frequency to make conversation extremely difficult. This he varies by nosing about the visitor's legs and growling. I am not fond of dogs under the best of circumstances. I always labour under the presumption that they will bite. Their habit of suddenly dashing across the floor, in furious pursuit of nothing in particular, upsets me. But an invisible dog under a dining-room table is a dreadful experience. It is true that I managed to give Mrs. Harrington a fairly rational account of the woman's suffrage parade. But was she aware, as I sat there smiling spasmodically, what agonies of fear were mine as I waited for those white fangs under the table to sink into my flesh? If, under the circumstances, I confused Harriet Beecher Stowe with Julia Ward Howe, and made a bad blunder about woman's rights in Finland, am I so very much to blame?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ten Days That Shook the World

Old Russia was rapidly breaking up. In Ukraine, in Finland, Poland, White Russia, the nationalist movements gathered strength and became bolder. The local Governments, controlled by the propertied classes, claimed autonomy, refusing to obey orders from Petrograd. At Helsingfors the Finnish Senate declined to loan money to the Provisional Government, declared Finland autonomous, and demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Finlander, happily, can read a little English

" November 15. We have been this afternoon to take leave of our friends of the Brig George, which was an event of deep interest to us. All on board exhibited feelings of kind regard. It is a little singular that an American crew, with its officers, amounting to eleven souls only, should speak seven languages; viz. the Finnish, Danish, Swedish, German, French, Italian, and English. We found all these persons destitute of the word of God, except one of the Danes; who had a German Testament. We leave them provided with Bibles, each one in his own tongue, except the Finlander, who, happily, can read a little English.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Finlander, or "Hiawatha," as we familiarly called him

I left on the 21st of January. The evening before I called on some friends to take a final leave, and some called on me for the same purpose. My friends, the Pole, the Finn, the Saxon, and Erben, chatted around my little log fire until a late hour. Talking about the sweets of friendship and the sadness of severing its ties, the Finlander, or "Hiawatha," as we familiarly called him, said, " Well, we shall all make a journey to another still sunnier Italy, won't we ? And we shall walk together through the streets of another Eternal City, where we shall find no ruins to dream over. There nothing will fade or grow old." "Yes," I said, "what our eyes fail to see now, our ears to hear, our hearts to feel, we shall experience up there. There we can speak more about these things."

NATHAN: MY PILGRIM'S POUCH.The Guardian, Volumes 8-9

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Finlander, with a credulous and oval physiognomy

Ludlow had seen, on entering the vessel, that her crew was composed of men of different countries. Age and personal character seemed to have been more consulted, in their selection, than national distinctions. There was a Finlander, with a credulous and oval physiognomy, sturdy but short frame, and a light vacant eye; and a darkskinned seaman of the Mediterranean, whose classical outline of feature was often disturbed by uneasy and sensitive glances at the horizon. These two men had come and placed themselves near the group on the quarter-deck, when the last music was heard, and Ludlow had ascribed the circumstance to a sensibility to melody, when the child Zephyr stole to their side, in a manner to show that more was meant by the movement than was apparent in the ac tion itself. The appearance of Tiller, who invited the party to re-enter the cabin, explained its meaning, by showing that these men, like themselves, had business with the being who, it was pretended, had so great an agency in controlling the fortunes of the brigantine.

Frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland

 I never addressed myself, in the language of decency and friendship, to a woman, whether civilized or savage, without receiving a decent an...