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.

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.