Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Geography of the North owes much to the researches of Professor Parrot

The Geography of the North owes much to the researches of Professor Parrot, well known for his ascent of Mount Ararat, who made a journey in the course of last summer to North Cape, at the expense of the University of Dorpat, for the purpose of making astronomical and magnetical observations, and of noting the oscillations of the pendulum. He left Dorpat, and travelling through Russian Finland by Wyborg, Kuopio, and Uleaborg. reached Torneo. In that remote little town, at the head of the Gulf of Bothnia, he was surprised to find a comfortable inn, and markets well supplied with the produce of the South. He proceeded on his route by an interesting navigation of 380 miles up the rivers Tornea and Muonio, sometimes between hills well peopled and cultivated, but more frequently through thick woods. The rivers, in some places, opened into lakes, in others they fell in bold cascades. At length he reached the sources of the Muonio, about 1400 feet above the sea, and close to the borders of the three kingdoms, Sweden, Norway, and Russia. Leaving his boat on the shores of the lake, and placing his instruments and baggage on the shoulders of eight sturdy Finlanders, M. Parrot crossed on foot the Scandinavian ridge, through the most diversified scenery imaginable ; patches of snow lying in the clefts of the rocks, while at their feet was a most luxuriant herbage, with berries of many kinds, and the full bloom of a short but vigorous summer. The little lakes and cascades were without number. He had not advanced far through this wild scenery before he descried the waters of Lyngenfiord, an inlet which runs a long way into the land.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Guided to his home by the light of a conflagration

At Uitzoki the party found the pastoral residence occupied by one of those men who sacrifice on the shrine of Christian duty, not merely the comforts of civilized life, but talents and acquirements of a high order. On accepting his charge he had performed the journey from Tornea in the depth of winter, accompanied by a young wife and a female relation of the latter, fifteen years of age. He had found the parsonage vacated by his predecessor a wretched edifice, distant some fifteen miles from the nearest Lap habitation. After establishing himself and his family in this, he had returned from a pastoral excursion, guided to his home by the light of a conflagration from which its inmates had escaped with difficulty, but with a total loss of everything they possessed. A wretched hut, built for the temporary shelter of the Laps who resorted thither for divine service, afforded the family a shelter for the winter. He had since contrived to build himself another dwelling, in which our party found him, after five years' residence, the father of a family, and the chief of a happy household. The latter was destined to be diminished by the visit of our travellers. The susceptible Durmann fell a victim to the attractions and accomplishments, musical especially, of the young lady, and he left Uitzoki, in company with our author, for Enare, a betrothed man. Their journey was hurried, for Mr. D. was engaged to perform service at the church of Enare, and love had delayed his departure to the last moment. The second of their three days' journey was one of eight Swedish, or nearly sixty English, miles, performed in wet clothes, and almost without rest or sustenance, for sixteen consecutive hours.

Essays on history, biography, geography, engineering &c. contributed to the 'Quarterly Review' by the late Earl of Ellesmere. 1858

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The nobility of Finland also unfortunately prove an exception to this rule

If we except the inhabitants of a few Finnish villages within the government of St. Petersburg, which, having fallen within the pale of the Russian empire at a very early period, were reduced to servage, it is surprising how little the constant contact with Russia and Russians has altered the Finnish character, even in those free villages which are situated in the vicinity of the metropolis, and which draw their subsistence from it, by sending thither their fish and dairy produce. The nobility of Finland also unfortunately prove an exception to this rule. Selected for offices of trust by the Russian government, with the double view of gaining them over to its interests, and securing the services of public servants whose probity rendered them valuable in the vast sink of the Russian administration, so far from operating favourably on its corruption, they have become themselves perverted and corrupted.

For many years past, a considerable contraband trade with St. Petersburg has been carried on by the Finns, all foreign articles being only subject to a nominal duty in Finland, and to a very heavy one in passing the Border of Russia Proper. It is principally carried on in sledges across the Gulf of Finland, and the small and active horses bred in the country, which are harnessed to them by the smugglers, are very fast trotters, and are sometimes purchased at high prices for this purpose.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

As I advanced I found every thing getting more and more Russian

The first night I slept at Bjorsby, which is nothing but a miserable post-house, and early in the morning set off for Helsingfors, a tolerable sea-port town, defended by the fortress of Sveaborg, said to be the strongest in Finland. As dining and sleeping comprised the whole of my operations there, I can only say that I performed them both very commodiously, particularly the former with the assistance of partridges and a cock of the woods, of which there are a prodigious number. On the twenty-sixth I arrived at Louisa, which, as well as I remember, Coxe represents to be a neat town ; on this subject I can only say that his ideas of neatness by no means coincide with mine. The following day I crossed the frontier into Russian Finland, when my baggage was searched at both extremities of a bridge, which divides the territories of the King of Sweden from those of the Emperor ; and after having obtained an order for horses from the officer stationed on the frontier, I found myself in the evening at Frederickshams. As this country formerly belonged to the Swedes, the inhabitants preserve their own customs and religion ; but as I advanced I found every thing getting more and more Russian ; the churches began to be ornamented with gilt domes, and the number of persons wearing beards, continued to increase.