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Letters on Sweden, Norway, and Denmark by Mary Wollstonecraft

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instability of human greatness.

The teeth, nails, and skin were whole, without appearing black like
the Egyptian mummies; and some silk, in which they had been wrapped,
still preserved its colour--pink--with tolerable freshness.

I could not learn how long the bodies had been in this state, in
which they bid fair to remain till the Day of Judgment, if there is
to be such a day; and before that time, it will require some trouble
to make them fit to appear in company with angels without disgracing
humanity. God bless you! I feel a conviction that we have some
perfectible principle in our present vestment, which will not be
destroyed just as we begin to be sensible of improvement; and I care
not what habit it next puts on, sure that it will be wisely formed
to suit a higher state of existence. Thinking of death makes us
tenderly cling to our affections; with more than usual tenderness I
therefore assure you that I am yours, wishing that the temporary
death of absence may not endure longer than is absolutely necessary.


Tonsberg was formerly the residence of one of the little sovereigns
of Norway; and on an adjacent mountain the vestiges of a fort
remain, which was battered down by the Swedes, the entrance of the
bay lying close to it.

Here I have frequently strayed, sovereign of the waste; I seldom met
any human creature; and sometimes, reclining on the mossy down,
under the shelter of a rock, the prattling of the sea amongst the
pebbles has lulled me to sleep--no fear of any rude satyr's
approaching to interrupt my repose. Balmy were the slumbers, and
soft the gales, that refreshed me, when I awoke to follow, with an
eye vaguely curious, the white sails, as they turned the cliffs, or
seemed to take shelter under the pines which covered the little
islands that so gracefully rose to render the terrific ocean
beautiful. The fishermen were calmly casting their nets, whilst the
sea-gulls hovered over the unruffled deep. Everything seemed to
harmonise into tranquillity; even the mournful call of the bittern
was in cadence with the tinkling bells on the necks of the cows,
that, pacing slowly one after the other, along an inviting path in
the vale below, were repairing to the cottages to be milked. With
what ineffable pleasure have I not gazed--and gazed again, losing my
breath through my eyes--my very soul diffused itself in the scene;
and, seeming to become all senses, glided in the scarcely-agitated
waves, melted in the freshening breeze, or, taking its flight with
fairy wing, to the misty mountain which bounded the prospect, fancy
tripped over new lawns, more beautiful even than the lovely slopes
on the winding shore before me. I pause, again breathless, to
trace, with renewed delight, sentiments which entranced me, when,
turning my humid eyes from the expanse below to the vault above, my
sight pierced the fleecy clouds that softened the azure brightness;
and imperceptibly recalling the reveries of childhood, I bowed
before the awful throne of my Creator, whilst I rested on its

You have sometimes wondered, my dear friend, at the extreme
affection of my nature. But such is the temperature of my soul. It
is not the vivacity of youth, the heyday of existence. For years
have I endeavoured to calm an impetuous tide, labouring to make my
feelings take an orderly course. It was striving against the
stream. I must love and admire with warmth, or I sink into sadness.
Tokens of love which I have received have wrapped me in Elysium,
purifying the heart they enchanted. My bosom still glows. Do not
saucily ask, repeating Sterne's question, "Maria, is it still so
warm?" Sufficiently, O my God! Has it been chilled by sorrow and
unkindness; still nature will prevail; and if I blush at
recollecting past enjoyment, it is the rosy hue of pleasure
heightened by modesty, for the blush of modesty and shame are as
distinct as the emotions by which they are produced.

I need scarcely inform you, after telling you of my walks, that my
constitution has been renovated here, and that I have recovered my
activity even whilst attaining a little embonpoint. My imprudence
last winter, and some untoward accidents just at the time I was
weaning my child, had reduced me to a state of weakness which I
never before experienced. A slow fever preyed on me every night
during my residence in Sweden, and after I arrived at Tonsberg. By
chance I found a fine rivulet filtered through the rocks, and
confined in a basin for the cattle. It tasted to me like a
chalybeate; at any rate, it was pure; and the good effect of the
various waters which invalids are sent to drink depends, I believe,
more on the air, exercise, and change of scene, than on their
medicinal qualities. I therefore determined to turn my morning
walks towards it, and seek for health from the nymph of the
fountain, partaking of the beverage offered to the tenants of the

Chance likewise led me to discover a new pleasure equally beneficial
to my health. I wished to avail myself of my vicinity to the sea
and bathe; but it was not possible near the town; there was no
convenience. The young woman whom I mentioned to you proposed
rowing me across the water amongst the rocks; but as she was
pregnant, I insisted on taking one of the oars, and learning to row.
It was not difficult, and I do not know a pleasanter exercise. I
soon became expert, and my train of thinking kept time, as it were,
with the oars, or I suffered the boat to be carried along by the
current, indulging a pleasing forgetfulness or fallacious hopes.
How fallacious! yet, without hope, what is to sustain life, but the
fear of annihilation--the only thing of which I have ever felt a
dread. I cannot bear to think of being no more--of losing myself--
though existence is often but a painful consciousness of misery;
nay, it appears to me impossible that I should cease to exist, or
that this active, restless spirit, equally alive to joy and sorrow,
should only be organised dust--ready to fly abroad the moment the
spring snaps, or the spark goes out which kept it together. Surely
something resides in this heart that is not perishable, and life is
more than a dream.

Sometimes, to take up my oar once more, when the sea was calm, I was
amused by disturbing the innumerable young star fish which floated
just below the surface; I had never observed them before, for they
have not a hard shell like those which I have seen on the seashore.
They look like thickened water with a white edge, and four purple
circles, of different forms, were in the middle, over an incredible
number of fibres or white lines. Touching them, the cloudy
substance would turn or close, first on one side, then on the other,
very gracefully, but when I took one of them up in the ladle, with
which I heaved the water out of the boat, it appeared only a
colourless jelly.

I did not see any of the seals, numbers of which followed our boat
when we landed in Sweden; but though I like to sport in the water I
should have had no desire to join in their gambols.

Enough, you will say, of inanimate nature and of brutes, to use the
lordly phrase of man; let me hear something of the inhabitants.

The gentleman with whom I had business is the Mayor of Tonsberg. He
speaks English intelligibly, and, having a sound understanding, I
was sorry that his numerous occupations prevented my gaining as much
information from him as I could have drawn forth had we frequently
conversed. The people of the town, as far as I had an opportunity
of knowing their sentiments, are extremely well satisfied with his
manner of discharging his office. He has a degree of information
and good sense which excites respect, whilst a cheerfulness, almost
amounting to gaiety, enables him to reconcile differences and keep
his neighbours in good humour. "I lost my horse," said a woman to
me, "but ever since, when I want to send to the mill, or go out, the
Mayor lends me one. He scolds if I do not come for it."

A criminal was branded, during my stay here, for the third offence;
but the relief he received made him declare that the judge was one
of the best men in the world.

I sent this wretch a trifle, at different times, to take with him
into slavery. As it was more than he expected, he wished very much
to see me, and this wish brought to my remembrance an anecdote I
heard when I was in Lisbon.

A wretch who had been imprisoned several years, during which period
lamps had been put up, was at last condemned to a cruel death, yet,
in his way to execution, he only wished for one night's respite to
see the city lighted.

Having dined in company at the mayor's I was invited with his family
to spend the day at one of the richest merchant's houses. Though I
could not speak Danish I knew that I could see a great deal; yes, I
am persuaded that I have formed a very just opinion of the character
of the Norwegians, without being able to hold converse with them.

I had expected to meet some company, yet was a little disconcerted
at being ushered into an apartment full of well dressed people, and
glancing my eyes round they rested on several very pretty faces.
Rosy cheeks, sparkling eyes, and light brown or golden locks; for I
never saw so much hair with a yellow cast, and, with their fine
complexions, it looked very becoming.

These women seem a mixture of indolence and vivacity; they scarcely
ever walk out, and were astonished that I should for pleasure, yet
they are immoderately fond of dancing. Unaffected in their manners,
if they have no pretensions to elegance, simplicity often produces a
gracefulness of deportment, when they are animated by a particular
desire to please, which was the case at present. The solitariness
of my situation, which they thought terrible, interested them very
much in my favour. They gathered round me, sung to me, and one of
the prettiest, to whom I gave my hand with some degree of
cordiality, to meet the glance of her eyes, kissed me very

At dinner, which was conducted with great hospitality, though we
remained at table too long, they sung several songs, and, amongst
the rest, translations of some patriotic French ones. As the
evening advanced they became playful, and we kept up a sort of
conversation of gestures. As their minds were totally uncultivated
I did not lose much, perhaps gained, by not being able to understand
them; for fancy probably filled up, more to their advantage, the
void in the picture. Be that as it may, they excited my sympathy,
and I was very much flattered when I was told the next day that they
said it was a pleasure to look at me, I appeared so good-natured.

The men were generally captains of ships. Several spoke English
very tolerably, but they were merely matter-of-fact men, confined to
a very narrow circle of observation. I found it difficult to obtain
from them any information respecting their own country, when the
fumes of tobacco did not keep me at a distance.

I was invited to partake of some other feasts, and always had to
complain of the quantity of provision and the length of time taken
to consume it; for it would not have been proper to have said
devour, all went on so fair and softly. The servants wait as slowly
as their mistresses carve.

The young women here, as well as in Sweden, have commonly bad teeth,
which I attribute to the same causes. They are fond of finery, but
do not pay the necessary attention to their persons, to render
beauty less transient than a flower, and that interesting expression
which sentiment and accomplishments give seldom supplies its place.

The servants have, likewise, an inferior sort of food here, but
their masters are not allowed to strike them with impunity. I might
have added mistresses, for it was a complaint of this kind brought
before the mayor which led me to a knowledge of the fact.

The wages are low, which is particularly unjust, because the price
of clothes is much higher than that of provision. A young woman,
who is wet nurse to the mistress of the inn where I lodge, receives
only twelve dollars a year, and pays ten for the nursing of her own
child. The father had run away to get clear of the expense. There
was something in this most painful state of widowhood which excited
my compassion and led me to reflections on the instability of the
most flattering plans of happiness, that were painful in the
extreme, till I was ready to ask whether this world was not created
to exhibit every possible combination of wretchedness. I asked
these questions of a heart writhing with anguish, whilst I listened
to a melancholy ditty sung by this poor girl. It was too early for
thee to be abandoned, thought I, and I hastened out of the house to
take my solitary evening's walk. And here I am again to talk of
anything but the pangs arising from the discovery of estranged
affection and the lonely sadness of a deserted heart.

The father and mother, if the father can be ascertained, are obliged
to maintain an illegitimate child at their joint expense; but,
should the father disappear, go up the country or to sea, the mother
must maintain it herself. However, accidents of this kind do not
prevent their marrying, and then it is not unusual to take the child
or children home, and they are brought up very amicably with the
marriage progeny.

I took some pains to learn what books were written originally in
their language; but for any certain information respecting the state
of Danish literature I must wait till I arrive at Copenhagen.

The sound of the language is soft, a great proportion of the words
ending in vowels; and there is a simplicity in the turn of some of
the phrases which have been translated to me that pleased and
interested me. In the country the farmers use the THOU and THEE;
and they do not acquire the polite plurals of the towns by meeting
at market. The not having markets established in the large towns
appears to me a great inconvenience. When the farmers have anything
to sell they bring it to the neighbouring town and take it from
house to house. I am surprised that the inhabitants do not feel how
very incommodious this usage is to both parties, and redress it;
they, indeed, perceive it, for when I have introduced the subject
they acknowledged that they were often in want of necessaries, there
being no butchers, and they were often obliged to buy what they did
not want; yet it was the custom, and the changing of customs of a
long standing requires more energy than they yet possess. I
received a similar reply when I attempted to persuade the women that
they injured their children by keeping them too warm. The only way
of parrying off my reasoning was that they must do as other people
did; in short, reason on any subject of change, and they stop you by
saying that "the town would talk." A person of sense, with a large
fortune to ensure respect, might be very useful here, by inducing
them to treat their children and manage their sick properly, and eat
food dressed in a simpler manner--the example, for instance, of a
count's lady.

Reflecting on these prejudices made me revert to the wisdom of those
legislators who established institutions for the good of the body
under the pretext of serving heaven for the salvation of the soul.
These might with strict propriety be termed pious frauds; and I
admire the Peruvian pair for asserting that they came from the sun,
when their conduct proved that they meant to enlighten a benighted
country, whose obedience, or even attention, could only be secured
by awe. Thus much for conquering the INERTIA of reason; but, when
it is once in motion, fables once held sacred may be ridiculed; and
sacred they were when useful to mankind. Prometheus alone stole
fire to animate the first man; his posterity needs not supernatural
aid to preserve the species, though love is generally termed a
flame; and it may not be necessary much longer to suppose men
inspired by heaven to inculcate the duties which demand special
grace when reason convinces them that they are the happiest who are
the most nobly employed.

In a few days I am to set out for the western part of Norway, and
then shall return by land to Gothenburg. I cannot think of leaving
this place without regret. I speak of the place before the
inhabitants, though there is a tenderness in their artless kindness
which attaches me to them; but it is an attachment that inspires a
regret very different from that I felt at leaving Hull in my way to
Sweden. The domestic happiness and good-humoured gaiety of the
amiable family where I and my Frances were so hospitably received
would have been sufficient to ensure the tenderest remembrance,
without the recollection of the social evening to stimulate it, when
good breeding gave dignity to sympathy and wit zest to reason.

Adieu!--I am just informed that my horse has been waiting this
quarter of an hour. I now venture to ride out alone. The steeple
serves as a landmark. I once or twice lost my way, walking alone,
without being able to inquire after a path; I was therefore obliged
to make to the steeple, or windmill, over hedge and ditch.

Yours truly.


I have already informed you that there are only two noblemen who
have estates of any magnitude in Norway. One of these has a house
near Tonsberg, at which he has not resided for some years, having
been at court, or on embassies. He is now the Danish Ambassador in
London. The house is pleasantly situated, and the grounds about it
fine; but their neglected appearance plainly tells that there is
nobody at home.

A stupid kind of sadness, to my eye, always reigns in a huge
habitation where only servants live to put cases on the furniture
and open the windows. I enter as I would into the tomb of the
Capulets, to look at the family pictures that here frown in armour,
or smile in ermine. The mildew respects not the lordly robe, and
the worm riots unchecked on the cheek of beauty.

There was nothing in the architecture of the building, or the form
of the furniture, to detain me from the avenue where the aged pines
stretched along majestically. Time had given a greyish cast to
their ever-green foliage; and they stood, like sires of the forest,
sheltered on all sides by a rising progeny. I had not ever seen so
many oaks together in Norway as in these woods, nor such large
aspens as here were agitated by the breeze, rendering the wind
audible--nay musical; for melody seemed on the wing around me. How
different was the fresh odour that reanimated me in the avenue, from
the damp chillness of the apartments; and as little did the gloomy
thoughtfulness excited by the dusty hangings, and worm-eaten
pictures, resemble the reveries inspired by the soothing melancholy
of their shade. In the winter, these august pines, towering above
the snow, must relieve the eye beyond measure and give life to the
white waste.

The continual recurrence of pine and fir groves in the day sometimes
wearies the sight, but in the evening, nothing can be more
picturesque, or, more properly speaking, better calculated to
produce poetical images. Passing through them, I have been struck
with a mystic kind of reverence, and I did, as it were, homage to
their venerable shadows. Not nymphs, but philosophers, seemed to
inhabit them--ever musing; I could scarcely conceive that they were
without some consciousness of existence--without a calm enjoyment of
the pleasure they diffused.

How often do my feelings produce ideas that remind me of the origin
of many poetical fictions. In solitude, the imagination bodies
forth its conceptions unrestrained, and stops enraptured to adore
the beings of its own creation. These are moments of bliss; and the
memory recalls them with delight.

But I have almost forgotten the matters of fact I meant to relate,
respecting the counts. They have the presentation of the livings on
their estates, appoint the judges, and different civil officers, the
Crown reserving to itself the privilege of sanctioning them. But
though they appoint, they cannot dismiss. Their tenants also occupy
their farms for life, and are obliged to obey any summons to work on
the part he reserves for himself; but they are paid for their
labour. In short, I have seldom heard of any noblemen so innoxious.

Observing that the gardens round the count's estate were better
cultivated than any I had before seen, I was led to reflect on the
advantages which naturally accrue from the feudal tenures. The
tenants of the count are obliged to work at a stated price, in his
grounds and garden; and the instruction which they imperceptibly
receive from the head gardener tends to render them useful, and
makes them, in the common course of things, better husbandmen and
gardeners on their own little farms. Thus the great, who alone
travel in this period of society, for the observation of manners and
customs made by sailors is very confined, bring home improvement to
promote their own comfort, which is gradually spread abroad amongst
the people, till they are stimulated to think for themselves.

The bishops have not large revenues, and the priests are appointed
by the king before they come to them to be ordained. There is
commonly some little farm annexed to the parsonage, and the
inhabitants subscribe voluntarily, three times a year, in addition
to the church fees, for the support of the clergyman. The church
lands were seized when Lutheranism was introduced, the desire of
obtaining them being probably the real stimulus of reformation. The
tithes, which are never required in kind, are divided into three
parts--one to the king, another to the incumbent, and the third to
repair the dilapidations of the parsonage. They do not amount to
much. And the stipend allowed to the different civil officers is
also too small, scarcely deserving to be termed an independence;
that of the custom-house officers is not sufficient to procure the
necessaries of life--no wonder, then, if necessity leads them to
knavery. Much public virtue cannot be expected till every
employment, putting perquisites out of the question, has a salary
sufficient to reward industry;--whilst none are so great as to
permit the possessor to remain idle. It is this want of proportion
between profit and labour which debases men, producing the
sycophantic appellations of patron and client, and that pernicious
esprit du corps, proverbially vicious.

The farmers are hospitable as well as independent. Offering once to
pay for some coffee I drank when taking shelter from the rain, I was
asked, rather angrily, if a little coffee was worth paying for.
They smoke, and drink drams, but not so much as formerly.
Drunkenness, often the attendant disgrace of hospitality, will here,
as well as everywhere else, give place to gallantry and refinement
of manners; but the change will not be suddenly produced.

The people of every class are constant in their attendance at
church; they are very fond of dancing, and the Sunday evenings in
Norway, as in Catholic countries, are spent in exercises which
exhilarate the spirits without vitiating the heart. The rest of
labour ought to be gay; and the gladness I have felt in France on a
Sunday, or Decadi, which I caught from the faces around me, was a
sentiment more truly religious than all the stupid stillness which
the streets of London ever inspired where the Sabbath is so
decorously observed. I recollect, in the country parts of England,
the churchwardens used to go out during the service to see if they
could catch any luckless wight playing at bowls or skittles; yet
what could be more harmless? It would even, I think, be a great
advantage to the English, if feats of activity (I do not include
boxing matches) were encouraged on a Sunday, as it might stop the
progress of Methodism, and of that fanatical spirit which appears to
be gaining ground. I was surprised when I visited Yorkshire, on my
way to Sweden, to find that sullen narrowness of thinking had made
such a progress since I was an inhabitant of the country. I could
hardly have supposed that sixteen or seventeen years could have
produced such an alteration for the worse in the morals of a place--
yes, I say morals; for observance of forms, and avoiding of
practices, indifferent in themselves, often supply the place of that
regular attention to duties which are so natural, that they seldom
are vauntingly exercised, though they are worth all the precepts of
the law and the prophets. Besides, many of these deluded people,
with the best meaning, actually lose their reason, and become
miserable, the dread of damnation throwing them into a state which
merits the term; and still more, in running after their preachers,
expecting to promote their salvation, they disregard their welfare
in this world, and neglect the interest and comfort of their
families; so that, in proportion as they attain a reputation for
piety, they become idle.

Aristocracy and fanaticism seem equally to be gaining ground in
England, particularly in the place I have mentioned; I saw very
little of either in Norway. The people are regular in their
attendance on public worship, but religion does not interfere with
their employments.

As the farmers cut away the wood they clear the ground. Every year,
therefore, the country is becoming fitter to support the
inhabitants. Half a century ago the Dutch, I am told, only paid for
the cutting down of the wood, and the farmers were glad to get rid
of it without giving themselves any trouble. At present they form a
just estimate of its value; nay, I was surprised to find even
firewood so dear when it appears to be in such plenty. The
destruction, or gradual reduction, of their forests will probably
ameliorate the climate, and their manners will naturally improve in
the same ratio as industry requires ingenuity. It is very fortunate
that men are a long time but just above the brute creation, or the
greater part of the earth would never have been rendered habitable,
because it is the patient labour of men, who are only seeking for a
subsistence, which produces whatever embellishes existence,
affording leisure for the cultivation of the arts and sciences that
lift man so far above his first state. I never, my friend, thought
so deeply of the advantages obtained by human industry as since I
have been in Norway. The world requires, I see, the hand of man to
perfect it, and as this task naturally unfolds the faculties he
exercises, it is physically impossible that he should have remained
in Rousseau's golden age of stupidity. And, considering the
question of human happiness, where, oh where does it reside? Has it
taken up its abode with unconscious ignorance or with the high-
wrought mind? Is it the offspring of thoughtless animal spirits or
the dye of fancy continually flitting round the expected pleasure?

The increasing population of the earth must necessarily tend to its
improvement, as the means of existence are multiplied by invention.

You have probably made similar reflections in America, where the
face of the country, I suppose, resembles the wilds of Norway. I am
delighted with the romantic views I daily contemplate, animated by
the purest air; and I am interested by the simplicity of manners
which reigns around me. Still nothing so soon wearies out the
feelings as unmarked simplicity. I am therefore half convinced that
I could not live very comfortably exiled from the countries where
mankind are so much further advanced in knowledge, imperfect as it
is, and unsatisfactory to the thinking mind. Even now I begin to
long to hear what you are doing in England and France. My thoughts
fly from this wilderness to the polished circles of the world, till
recollecting its vices and follies, I bury myself in the woods, but
find it necessary to emerge again, that I may not lose sight of the
wisdom and virtue which exalts my nature.

What a long time it requires to know ourselves; and yet almost every
one has more of this knowledge than he is willing to own, even to
himself. I cannot immediately determine whether I ought to rejoice
at having turned over in this solitude a new page in the history of
my own heart, though I may venture to assure you that a further
acquaintance with mankind only tends to increase my respect for your
judgment and esteem for your character. Farewell!


I have once more, my friend, taken flight, for I left Tonsberg
yesterday, but with an intention of returning in my way back to

The road to Laurvig is very fine, and the country the best
cultivated in Norway. I never before admired the beech tree, and
when I met stragglers here they pleased me still less. Long and
lank, they would have forced me to allow that the line of beauty
requires some curves, if the stately pine, standing near, erect,
throwing her vast arms around, had not looked beautiful in
opposition to such narrow rules.

In these respects my very reason obliges me to permit my feelings to
be my criterion. Whatever excites emotion has charms for me, though
I insist that the cultivation of the mind by warming, nay, almost
creating the imagination, produces taste and an immense variety of
sensations and emotions, partaking of the exquisite pleasure
inspired by beauty and sublimity. As I know of no end to them, the
word infinite, so often misapplied, might on this occasion be
introduced with something like propriety.

But I have rambled away again. I intended to have remarked to you
the effect produced by a grove of towering beech, the airy lightness
of their foliage admitting a degree of sunshine, which, giving a
transparency to the leaves, exhibited an appearance of freshness and
elegance that I had never before remarked. I thought of
descriptions of Italian scenery. But these evanescent graces seemed
the effect of enchantment; and I imperceptibly breathed softly, lest
I should destroy what was real, yet looked so like the creation of
fancy. Dryden's fable of the flower and the leaf was not a more
poetical reverie.

Adieu, however, to fancy, and to all the sentiments which ennoble
our nature. I arrived at Laurvig, and found myself in the midst of
a group of lawyers of different descriptions. My head turned round,
my heart grew sick, as I regarded visages deformed by vice, and
listened to accounts of chicanery that was continually embroiling
the ignorant. These locusts will probably diminish as the people
become more enlightened. In this period of social life the
commonalty are always cunningly attentive to their own interest; but
their faculties, confined to a few objects, are so narrowed, that
they cannot discover it in the general good. The profession of the
law renders a set of men still shrewder and more selfish than the
rest; and it is these men, whose wits have been sharpened by
knavery, who here undermine morality, confounding right and wrong.

The Count of Bernstorff, who really appears to me, from all I can
gather, to have the good of the people at heart, aware of this, has
lately sent to the mayor of each district to name, according to the
size of the place, four or six of the best-informed inhabitants, not
men of the law, out of which the citizens were to elect two, who are
to be termed mediators. Their office is to endeavour to prevent
litigious suits, and conciliate differences. And no suit is to be
commenced before the parties have discussed the dispute at their
weekly meeting. If a reconciliation should, in consequence, take
place, it is to be registered, and the parties are not allowed to

By these means ignorant people will be prevented from applying for
advice to men who may justly be termed stirrers-up of strife. They
have for a long time, to use a significant vulgarism, set the people
by the ears, and live by the spoil they caught up in the scramble.
There is some reason to hope that this regulation will diminish
their number, and restrain their mischievous activity. But till
trials by jury are established, little justice can be expected in
Norway. Judges who cannot be bribed are often timid, and afraid of
offending bold knaves, lest they should raise a set of hornets about
themselves. The fear of censure undermines all energy of character;
and, labouring to be prudent, they lose sight of rectitude.
Besides, nothing is left to their conscience, or sagacity; they must
be governed by evidence, though internally convinced that it is

There is a considerable iron manufactory at Laurvig for coarse work,
and a lake near the town supplies the water necessary for working
several mills belonging to it.

This establishment belongs to the Count of Laurvig. Without a
fortune and influence equal to his, such a work could not have been
set afloat; personal fortunes are not yet sufficient to support such
undertakings. Nevertheless the inhabitants of the town speak of the
size of his estate as an evil, because it obstructs commerce. The
occupiers of small farms are obliged to bring their wood to the
neighbouring seaports to be shipped; but he, wishing to increase the
value of his, will not allow it to be thus gradually cut down, which
turns the trade into another channel. Added to this, nature is
against them, the bay being open and insecure. I could not help
smiling when I was informed that in a hard gale a vessel had been
wrecked in the main street. When there are such a number of
excellent harbours on the coast, it is a pity that accident has made
one of the largest towns grow up on a bad one.

The father of the present count was a distant relation of the
family; he resided constantly in Denmark, and his son follows his
example. They have not been in possession of the estate many years;
and their predecessor lived near the town, introducing a degree of
profligacy of manners which has been ruinous to the inhabitants in
every respect, their fortunes not being equal to the prevailing

What little I have seen of the manners of the people does not please
me so well as those of Tonsberg. I am forewarned that I shall find
them still more cunning and fraudulent as I advance towards the
westward, in proportion as traffic takes place of agriculture, for
their towns are built on naked rocks, the streets are narrow
bridges, and the inhabitants are all seafaring men, or owners of
ships, who keep shops.

The inn I was at in Laurvig this journey was not the same that I was
at before. It is a good one--the people civil, and the
accommodations decent. They seem to be better provided in Sweden;
but in justice I ought to add that they charge more extravagantly.
My bill at Tonsberg was also much higher than I had paid in Sweden,
and much higher than it ought to have been where provision is so
cheap. Indeed, they seem to consider foreigners as strangers whom
they shall never see again, and may fairly pluck. And the
inhabitants of the western coast, isolated, as it were, regard those
of the east almost as strangers. Each town in that quarter seems to
be a great family, suspicious of every other, allowing none to cheat
them but themselves; and, right or wrong, they support one another
in the face of justice.

On this journey I was fortunate enough to have one companion with
more enlarged views than the generality of his countrymen, who spoke
English tolerably.

I was informed that we might still advance a mile and a quarter in
our cabrioles; afterwards there was no choice, but of a single horse
and wretched path, or a boat, the usual mode of travelling.

We therefore sent our baggage forward in the boat, and followed
rather slowly, for the road was rocky and sandy. We passed,
however, through several beech groves, which still delighted me by
the freshness of their light green foliage, and the elegance of
their assemblage, forming retreats to veil without obscuring the

I was surprised, at approaching the water, to find a little cluster
of houses pleasantly situated, and an excellent inn. I could have
wished to have remained there all night; but as the wind was fair,
and the evening fine, I was afraid to trust to the wind--the
uncertain wind of to-morrow. We therefore left Helgeraac
immediately with the declining sun.

Though we were in the open sea, we sailed more amongst the rocks and
islands than in my passage from Stromstad; and they often forced
very picturesque combinations. Few of the high ridges were entirely
bare; the seeds of some pines or firs had been wafted by the winds
or waves, and they stood to brave the elements.

Sitting, then, in a little boat on the ocean, amidst strangers, with
sorrow and care pressing hard on me--buffeting me about from clime
to clime--I felt

"Like the lone shrub at random cast,
That sighs and trembles at each blast!"

On some of the largest rocks there were actually groves, the retreat
of foxes and hares, which, I suppose, had tripped over the ice
during the winter, without thinking to regain the main land before
the thaw.

Several of the islands were inhabited by pilots; and the Norwegian
pilots are allowed to be the best in the world--perfectly acquainted
with their coast, and ever at hand to observe the first signal or
sail. They pay a small tax to the king and to the regulating
officer, and enjoy the fruit of their indefatigable industry.

One of the islands, called Virgin Land, is a flat, with some depth
of earth, extending for half a Norwegian mile, with three farms on
it, tolerably well cultivated.

On some of the bare rocks I saw straggling houses; they rose above
the denomination of huts inhabited by fishermen. My companions
assured me that they were very comfortable dwellings, and that they
have not only the necessaries, but even what might be reckoned the
superfluities of life. It was too late for me to go on shore, if
you will allow me to give that name to shivering rocks, to ascertain
the fact.

But rain coming on, and the night growing dark, the pilot declared
that it would be dangerous for us to attempt to go to the place of
our destination--East Rusoer--a Norwegian mile and a half further;
and we determined to stop for the night at a little haven, some half
dozen houses scattered under the curve of a rock. Though it became
darker and darker, our pilot avoided the blind rocks with great

It was about ten o'clock when we arrived, and the old hostess
quickly prepared me a comfortable bed--a little too soft or so, but
I was weary; and opening the window to admit the sweetest of breezes
to fan me to sleep, I sunk into the most luxurious rest: it was
more than refreshing. The hospitable sprites of the grots surely
hovered round my pillow; and, if I awoke, it was to listen to the
melodious whispering of the wind amongst them, or to feel the mild
breath of morn. Light slumbers produced dreams, where Paradise was
before me. My little cherub was again hiding her face in my bosom.
I heard her sweet cooing beat on my heart from the cliffs, and saw
her tiny footsteps on the sands. New-born hopes seemed, like the
rainbow, to appear in the clouds of sorrow, faint, yet sufficient to
amuse away despair.

Some refreshing but heavy showers have detained us; and here I am
writing quite alone--something more than gay, for which I want a

I could almost fancy myself in Nootka Sound, or on some of the
islands on the north-west coast of America. We entered by a narrow
pass through the rocks, which from this abode appear more romantic
than you can well imagine; and seal-skins hanging at the door to dry
add to the illusion.

It is indeed a corner of the world, but you would be surprised to
see the cleanliness and comfort of the dwelling. The shelves are
not only shining with pewter and queen's ware, but some articles in
silver, more ponderous, it is true, than elegant. The linen is
good, as well as white. All the females spin, and there is a loom
in the kitchen. A sort of individual taste appeared in the
arrangement of the furniture (this is not the place for imitation)
and a kindness in their desire to oblige. How superior to the apish
politeness of the towns! where the people, affecting to be well
bred, fatigue with their endless ceremony.

The mistress is a widow, her daughter is married to a pilot, and has
three cows. They have a little patch of land at about the distance
of two English miles, where they make hay for the winter, which they
bring home in a boat. They live here very cheap, getting money from
the vessels which stress of weather, or other causes, bring into
their harbour. I suspect, by their furniture, that they smuggle a
little. I can now credit the account of the other houses, which I
last night thought exaggerated.

I have been conversing with one of my companions respecting the laws
and regulations of Norway. He is a man within great portion of
common sense and heart--yes, a warm heart. This is not the first
time I have remarked heart without sentiment; they are distinct.
The former depends on the rectitude of the feelings, on truth of
sympathy; these characters have more tenderness than passion; the
latter has a higher source--call it imagination, genius, or what you
will, it is something very different. I have been laughing with
these simple worthy folk--to give you one of my half-score Danish
words--and letting as much of my heart flow out in sympathy as they
can take. Adieu! I must trip up the rocks. The rain is ever. Let
me catch pleasure on the wing--I may be melancholy to-morrow. Now
all my nerves keep time with the melody of nature. Ah! let me be
happy whilst I can. The tear starts as I think of it. I must flee
from thought, and find refuge from sorrow in a strong imagination--
the only solace for a feeling heart. Phantoms of bliss! ideal forms
of excellence! again enclose me in your magic circle, and wipe clear
from my remembrance the disappointments that reader the sympathy
painful, which experience rather increases than damps, by giving the
indulgence of feeling the sanction of reason.

Once more farewell!


I left Portoer, the little haven I mentioned, soon after I finished
my last letter. The sea was rough, and I perceived that our pilot
was right not to venture farther during a hazy night. We had agreed
to pay four dollars for a boat from Helgeraac. I mention the sum,
because they would demand twice as much from a stranger. I was
obliged to pay fifteen for the one I hired at Stromstad. When we
were ready to set out, our boatman offered to return a dollar and
let us go in one of the boats of the place, the pilot who lived
there being better acquainted with the coast. He only demanded a
dollar and a half, which was reasonable. I found him a civil and
rather intelligent man; he was in the American service several
years, during the Revolution.

I soon perceived that an experienced mariner was necessary to guide
us, for we were continually obliged to tack about, to avoid the
rocks, which, scarcely reaching to the surface of the water, could
only be discovered by the breaking of the waves over them.

The view of this wild coast, as we sailed along it, afforded me a
continual subject for meditation. I anticipated the future
improvement of the world, and observed how much man has still to do
to obtain of the earth all it could yield. I even carried my
speculations so far as to advance a million or two of years to the
moment when the earth would perhaps be so perfectly cultivated, and
so completely peopled, as to render it necessary to inhabit every
spot--yes, these bleak shores. Imagination went still farther, and
pictured the state of man when the earth could no longer support
him. Whither was he to flee from universal famine? Do not smile; I
really became distressed for these fellow creatures yet unborn. The
images fastened on me, and the world appeared a vast prison. I was
soon to be in a smaller one--for no other name can I give to Rusoer.
It would be difficult to form an idea of the place, if you have
never seen one of these rocky coasts.

We were a considerable time entering amongst the islands, before we
saw about two hundred houses crowded together under a very high
rock--still higher appearing above. Talk not of Bastilles! To be
born here was to be bastilled by nature--shut out from all that
opens the understanding, or enlarges the heart. Huddled one behind
another, not more than a quarter of the dwellings even had a
prospect of the sea. A few planks formed passages from house to
house, which you must often scale, mounting steps like a ladder to

The only road across the rocks leads to a habitation sterile enough,
you may suppose, when I tell you that the little earth on the
adjacent ones was carried there by the late inhabitant. A path,
almost impracticable for a horse, goes on to Arendall, still further
to the westward.

I inquired for a walk, and, mounting near two hundred steps made
round a rock, walked up and down for about a hundred yards viewing
the sea, to which I quickly descended by steps that cheated the
declivity. The ocean and these tremendous bulwarks enclosed me on
every side. I felt the confinement, and wished for wings to reach
still loftier cliffs, whose slippery sides no foot was so hardy as
to tread. Yet what was it to see?--only a boundless waste of water-
-not a glimpse of smiling nature--not a patch of lively green to
relieve the aching sight, or vary the objects of meditation.

I felt my breath oppressed, though nothing could be clearer than the
atmosphere. Wandering there alone, I found the solitude desirable;
my mind was stored with ideas, which this new scene associated with
astonishing rapidity. But I shuddered at the thought of receiving
existence, and remaining here, in the solitude of ignorance, till
forced to leave a world of which I had seen so little, for the
character of the inhabitants is as uncultivated, if not as
picturesquely wild, as their abode.

Having no employment but traffic, of which a contraband trade makes
the basis of their profit, the coarsest feelings of honesty are
quickly blunted. You may suppose that I speak in general terms; and
that, with all the disadvantages of nature and circumstances, there
are still some respectable exceptions, the more praiseworthy, as
tricking is a very contagious mental disease, that dries up all the
generous juices of the heart. Nothing genial, in fact, appears
around this place, or within the circle of its rocks. And, now I
recollect, it seems to me that the most genial and humane characters
I have met with in life were most alive to the sentiments inspired
by tranquil country scenes. What, indeed, is to humanise these
beings, who rest shut up (for they seldom even open their windows),
smoking, drinking brandy, and driving bargains? I have been almost
stifled by these smokers. They begin in the morning, and are rarely
without their pipe till they go to bed. Nothing can be more
disgusting than the rooms and men towards the evening--breath,
teeth, clothes, and furniture, all are spoilt. It is well that the
women are not very delicate, or they would only love their husbands
because they were their husbands. Perhaps, you may add, that the
remark need not be confined to so small a part of the world; and,
entre nous, I am of the same opinion. You must not term this
innuendo saucy, for it does not come home.

If I had not determined to write I should have found my confinement
here, even for three or four days, tedious. I have no books; and to
pace up and down a small room, looking at tiles overhung by rocks,
soon becomes wearisome. I cannot mount two hundred steps to walk a
hundred yards many times in the day. Besides, the rocks, retaining
the heat of the sun, are intolerably warm. I am, nevertheless, very
well; for though there is a shrewdness in the character of these
people, depraved by a sordid love of money which repels me, still
the comparisons they force me to make keep my heart calm by
exercising my understanding.

Everywhere wealth commands too much respect, but here almost
exclusively; and it is the only object pursued, not through brake
and briar, but over rocks and waves; yet of what use would riches be
to me, I have sometimes asked myself, were I confined to live in
such in a spot? I could only relieve a few distressed objects,
perhaps render them idle, and all the rest of life would be a blank.

My present journey has given fresh force to my opinion that no place
is so disagreeable and unimproving as a country town. I should like
to divide my time between the town and country; in a lone house,
with the business of farming and planting, where my mind would gain
strength by solitary musing, and in a metropolis to rub off the rust
of thought, and polish the taste which the contemplation of nature
had rendered just. Thus do we wish as we float down the stream of
life, whilst chance does more to gratify a desire of knowledge than
our best laid plans. A degree of exertion, produced by some want,
more or less painful, is probably the price we must all pay for
knowledge. How few authors or artists have arrived at eminence who
have not lived by their employment?

I was interrupted yesterday by business, and was prevailed upon to
dine with the English vice-consul. His house being open to the sea,
I was more at large; and the hospitality of the table pleased me,
though the bottle was rather too freely pushed about. Their manner
of entertaining was such as I have frequently remarked when I have
been thrown in the way of people without education, who have more
money than wit--that is, than they know what to do with. The women
were unaffected, but had not the natural grace which was often
conspicuous at Tonsberg. There was even a striking difference in
their dress, these having loaded themselves with finery in the style
of the sailors' girls of Hull or Portsmouth. Taste has not yet
taught them to make any but an ostentatious display of wealth. Yet
I could perceive even here the first steps of the improvement which
I am persuaded will make a very obvious progress in the course of
half a century, and it ought not to be sooner, to keep pace with the
cultivation of the earth. Improving manners will introduce finer
moral feelings. They begin to read translations of some of the most
useful German productions lately published, and one of our party
sung a song ridiculing the powers coalesced against France, and the
company drank confusion to those who had dismembered Poland.

The evening was extremely calm and beautiful. Not being able to
walk, I requested a boat as the only means of enjoying free air.

The view of the town was now extremely fine. A huge rocky mountain
stood up behind it, and a vast cliff stretched on each side, forming
a semicircle. In a recess of the rocks was a clump of pines,
amongst which a steeple rose picturesquely beautiful.

The churchyard is almost the only verdant spot in the place. Here,
indeed, friendship extends beyond the grave, and to grant a sod of
earth is to accord a favour. I should rather choose, did it admit
of a choice, to sleep in some of the caves of the rocks, for I am
become better reconciled to them since I climbed their craggy sides
last night, listening to the finest echoes I ever heard. We had a
French horn with us, and there was an enchanting wildness in the
dying away of the reverberation that quickly transported me to
Shakespeare's magic island. Spirits unseen seemed to walk abroad,
and flit from cliff to cliff to soothe my soul to peace.

I reluctantly returned to supper, to be shut up in a warm room, only
to view the vast shadows of the rocks extending on the slumbering
waves. I stood at the window some time before a buzz filled the
drawing-room, and now and then the dashing of a solitary oar
rendered the scene still more solemn.

Before I came here I could scarcely have imagined that a simple
object (rocks) could have admitted of so many interesting
combinations, always grand and often sublime. Good night! God
bless you!


I left East Rusoer the day before yesterday. The weather was very
fine; but so calm that we loitered on the water near fourteen hours,
only to make about six and twenty miles.

It seemed to me a sort of emancipation when we landed at Helgeraac.
The confinement which everywhere struck me whilst sojourning amongst
the rocks, made me hail the earth as a land of promise; and the
situation shone with fresh lustre from the contrast--from appearing
to be a free abode. Here it was possible to travel by land--I never
thought this a comfort before--and my eyes, fatigued by the
sparkling of the sun on the water, now contentedly reposed on the
green expanse, half persuaded that such verdant meads had never till
then regaled them.

I rose early to pursue my journey to Tonsberg. The country still
wore a face of joy--and my soul was alive to its charms. Leaving
the most lofty and romantic of the cliffs behind us, we were almost
continually descending to Tonsberg, through Elysian scenes; for not
only the sea, but mountains, rivers, lakes, and groves, gave an
almost endless variety to the prospect. The cottagers were still
carrying home the hay; and the cottages on this road looked very
comfortable. Peace and plenty--I mean not abundance--seemed to
reign around--still I grew sad as I drew near my old abode. I was
sorry to see the sun so high; it was broad noon. Tonsberg was
something like a home--yet I was to enter without lighting up
pleasure in any eye. I dreaded the solitariness of my apartment,
and wished for night to hide the starting tears, or to shed them on
my pillow, and close my eyes on a world where I was destined to
wander alone. Why has nature so many charms for me--calling forth
and cherishing refined sentiments, only to wound the breast that
fosters them? How illusive, perhaps the most so, are the plans of
happiness founded on virtue and principle; what inlets of misery do
they not open in a half-civilised society? The satisfaction arising
from conscious rectitude, will not calm an injured heart, when
tenderness is ever finding excuses; and self-applause is a cold
solitary feeling, that cannot supply the place of disappointed
affection, without throwing a gloom over every prospect, which,
banishing pleasure, does not exclude pain. I reasoned and reasoned;
but my heart was too full to allow me to remain in the house, and I
walked, till I was wearied out, to purchase rest--or rather

Employment has beguiled this day, and to-morrow I set out for Moss,
on my way to Stromstad. At Gothenburg I shall embrace my Fannikin;
probably she will not know me again--and I shall be hurt if she do
not. How childish is this! still it is a natural feeling. I would
not permit myself to indulge the "thick coming fears" of fondness,
whilst I was detained by business. Yet I never saw a calf bounding
in a meadow, that did not remind me of my little frolicker. A calf,
you say. Yes; but a capital one I own.

I cannot write composedly--I am every instant sinking into reveries-
-my heart flutters, I know not why. Fool! It is time thou wert at

Friendship and domestic happiness are continually praised; yet how
little is there of either in the world, because it requires more
cultivation of mind to keep awake affection, even in our own hearts,
than the common run of people suppose. Besides, few like to be seen
as they really are; and a degree of simplicity, and of undisguised
confidence, which, to uninterested observers, would almost border on
weakness, is the charm, nay the essence of love or friendship, all
the bewitching graces of childhood again appearing. As objects
merely to exercise my taste, I therefore like to see people together
who have an affection for each other; every turn of their features
touches me, and remains pictured on my imagination in indelible
characters. The zest of novelty is, however, necessary to rouse the
languid sympathies which have been hackneyed in the world; as is the
factitious behaviour, falsely termed good-breeding, to amuse those,
who, defective in taste, continually rely for pleasure on their
animal spirits, which not being maintained by the imagination, are
unavoidably sooner exhausted than the sentiments of the heart.
Friendship is in general sincere at the commencement, and lasts
whilst there is anything to support it; but as a mixture of novelty
and vanity is the usual prop, no wonder if it fall with the slender
stay. The fop in the play paid a greater compliment than he was
aware of when he said to a person, whom he meant to flatter, "I like
you almost as well as a NEW ACQUAINTANCE." Why am I talking of
friendship, after which I have had such a wild-goose chase. I
thought only of telling you that the crows, as well as wild-geese,
are here birds of passage.


I left Tonsberg yesterday, the 22nd of August. It is only twelve or
thirteen English miles to Moss, through a country less wild than any
tract I had hitherto passed over in Norway. It was often beautiful,
but seldom afforded those grand views which fill rather than soothe
the mind.

We glided along the meadows and through the woods, with sunbeams
playing around us; and, though no castles adorned the prospects, a
greater number of comfortable farms met my eyes during this ride
than I have ever seen, in the same space, even in the most
cultivated part of England; and the very appearance of the cottages
of the labourers sprinkled amidst them excluded all those gloomy
ideas inspired by the contemplation of poverty.

The hay was still bringing in, for one harvest in Norway treads on
the heels of the other. The woods were more variegated,
interspersed with shrubs. We no longer passed through forests of
vast pines stretching along with savage magnificence. Forests that
only exhibited the slow decay of time or the devastation produced by
warring elements. No; oaks, ashes, beech, and all the light and
graceful tenants of our woods here sported luxuriantly. I had not
observed many oaks before, for the greater part of the oak-planks, I
am informed, come from the westward.

In France the farmers generally live in villages, which is a great
disadvantage to the country; but the Norwegian farmers, always
owning their farms or being tenants for life, reside in the midst of
them, allowing some labourers a dwelling rent free, who have a
little land appertaining to the cottage, not only for a garden, but
for crops of different kinds, such as rye, oats, buck-wheat, hemp,
flax, beans, potatoes, and hay, which are sown in strips about it,
reminding a stranger of the first attempts at culture, when every
family was obliged to be an independent community.

These cottagers work at a certain price (tenpence per day) for the
farmers on whose ground they live, and they have spare time enough
to cultivate their own land and lay in a store of fish for the
winter. The wives and daughters spin and the husbands and sons
weave, so that they may fairly be reckoned independent, having also
a little money in hand to buy coffee, brandy and some other

The only thing I disliked was the military service, which trammels
them more than I at first imagined. It is true that the militia is
only called out once a year, yet in case of war they have no
alternative but must abandon their families. Even the manufacturers
are not exempted, though the miners are, in order to encourage
undertakings which require a capital at the commencement. And, what
appears more tyrannical, the inhabitants of certain districts are
appointed for the land, others for the sea service. Consequently, a
peasant, born a soldier, is not permitted to follow his inclination
should it lead him to go to sea, a natural desire near so many

In these regulations the arbitrary government--the King of Denmark
being the most absolute monarch in Europe--appears, which in other
respects seeks to hide itself in a lenity that almost renders the
laws nullities. If any alteration of old customs is thought of, the
opinion of the old country is required and maturely considered. I
have several times had occasion to observe that, fearing to appear
tyrannical, laws are allowed to become obsolete which ought to be
put in force or better substituted in their stead; for this mistaken
moderation, which borders on timidity, favours the least respectable
part of the people.

I saw on my way not only good parsonage houses, but comfortable
dwellings, with glebe land for the clerk, always a consequential man
in every country, a being proud of a little smattering of learning,
to use the appropriate epithet, and vain of the stiff good-breeding
reflected from the vicar, though the servility practised in his
company gives it a peculiar cast.

The widow of the clergyman is allowed to receive the benefit of the
living for a twelvemonth after the death of the incumbent.

Arriving at the ferry (the passage over to Moss is about six or
eight English miles) I saw the most level shore I had yet seen in
Norway. The appearance of the circumjacent country had been
preparing me for the change of scene which was to greet me when I
reached the coast. For the grand features of nature had been
dwindling into prettiness as I advanced; yet the rocks, on a smaller
scale, were finely wooded to the water's edge. Little art appeared,
yet sublimity everywhere gave place to elegance. The road had often
assumed the appearance of a gravelled one, made in pleasure-grounds;
whilst the trees excited only an idea of embellishment. Meadows,
like lawns, in an endless variety, displayed the careless graces of
nature; and the ripening corn gave a richness to the landscape
analogous with the other objects.

Never was a southern sky more beautiful, nor more soft its gales.
Indeed, I am led to conclude that the sweetest summer in the world
is the northern one, the vegetation being quick and luxuriant the
moment the earth is loosened from its icy fetters and the bound
streams regain their wonted activity. The balance of happiness with
respect to climate may be more equal than I at first imagined; for
the inhabitants describe with warmth the pleasures of a winter at
the thoughts of which I shudder. Not only their parties of pleasure
but of business are reserved for this season, when they travel with
astonishing rapidity the most direct way, skimming over hedge and

On entering Moss I was struck by the animation which seemed to
result from industry. The richest of the inhabitants keep shops,
resembling in their manners and even the arrangement of their houses
the tradespeople of Yorkshire; with an air of more independence, or
rather consequence, from feeling themselves the first people in the
place. I had not time to see the iron-works, belonging to Mr.
Anker, of Christiania, a man of fortune and enterprise; and I was
not very anxious to see them after having viewed those at Laurvig.

Here I met with an intelligent literary man, who was anxious to
gather information from me relative to the past and present
situation of France. The newspapers printed at Copenhagen, as well
as those in England, give the most exaggerated accounts of their
atrocities and distresses, but the former without any apparent
comments or inferences. Still the Norwegians, though more connected
with the English, speaking their language and copying their manners,
wish well to the Republican cause, and follow with the most lively
interest the successes of the French arms. So determined were they,
in fact, to excuse everything, disgracing the struggle of freedom,
by admitting the tyrant's plea, necessity, that I could hardly
persuade them that Robespierre was a monster.

The discussion of this subject is not so general as in England,
being confined to the few, the clergy and physicians, with a small
portion of people who have a literary turn and leisure; the greater
part of the inhabitants having a variety of occupations, being
owners of ships, shopkeepers, and farmers, have employment enough at
home. And their ambition to become rich may tend to cultivate the
common sense which characterises and narrows both their hearts and
views, confirming the former to their families, taking the handmaids
of it into the circle of pleasure, if not of interest, and the
latter to the inspection of their workmen, including the noble
science of bargain-making--that is, getting everything at the
cheapest, and selling it at the dearest rate. I am now more than
ever convinced that it is an intercourse with men of science and
artists which not only diffuses taste, but gives that freedom to the
understanding without which I have seldom met with much benevolence
of character on a large scale.

Besides, though you do not hear of much pilfering and stealing in
Norway, yet they will, with a quiet conscience, buy things at a
price which must convince them they were stolen. I had an
opportunity of knowing that two or three reputable people had
purchased some articles of vagrants, who were detected. How much of
the virtue which appears in the world is put on for the world? And
how little dictated by self-respect?--so little, that I am ready to
repeat the old question, and ask, Where is truth, or rather
principle, to be found? These are, perhaps, the vapourings of a
heart ill at ease--the effusions of a sensibility wounded almost to
madness. But enough of this; we will discuss the subject in another
state of existence, where truth and justice will reign. How cruel
are the injuries which make us quarrel with human nature! At
present black melancholy hovers round my footsteps; and sorrow sheds
a mildew over all the future prospects, which hope no longer gilds.

A rainy morning prevented my enjoying the pleasure the view of a
picturesque country would have afforded me; for though this road
passed through a country a greater extent of which was under
cultivation than I had usually seen here, it nevertheless retained
all the wild charms of Norway. Rocks still enclosed the valleys,
the great sides of which enlivened their verdure. Lakes appeared
like branches of the sea, and branches of the sea assumed the
appearance of tranquil lakes; whilst streamlets prattled amongst the
pebbles and the broken mass of stone which had rolled into them,
giving fantastic turns to the trees, the roots of which they bared.

It is not, in fact, surprising that the pine should be often
undermined; it shoots its fibres in such a horizontal direction,
merely on the surface of the earth, requiring only enough to cover
those that cling to the crags. Nothing proves to me so clearly that
it is the air which principally nourishes trees and plants as the
flourishing appearance of these pines. The firs, demanding a deeper
soil, are seldom seen in equal health, or so numerous on the barren
cliffs. They take shelter in the crevices, or where, after some
revolving ages, the pines have prepared them a footing.

Approaching, or rather descending, to Christiania, though the
weather continued a little cloudy, my eyes were charmed with the
view of an extensive undulated valley, stretching out under the
shelter of a noble amphitheatre of pine-covered mountains. Farm
houses scattered about animated, nay, graced a scene which still
retained so much of its native wildness, that the art which appeared
seemed so necessary, it was scarcely perceived. Cattle were grazing
in the shaven meadows; and the lively green on their swelling sides
contrasted with the ripening corn and rye. The corn that grew on
the slopes had not, indeed, the laughing luxuriance of plenty, which
I have seen in more genial climes. A fresh breeze swept across the
grain, parting its slender stalks, but the wheat did not wave its
head with its wonted careless dignity, as if nature had crowned it
the king of plants.

The view, immediately on the left, as we drove down the mountain,
was almost spoilt by the depredations committed on the rocks to make
alum. I do not know the process. I only saw that the rocks looked
red after they had been burnt, and regretted that the operation
should leave a quantity of rubbish to introduce an image of human
industry in the shape of destruction. The situation of Christiania
is certainly uncommonly fine, and I never saw a bay that so forcibly
gave me an idea of a place of safety from the storms of the ocean;
all the surrounding objects were beautiful and even grand. But
neither the rocky mountains, nor the woods that graced them, could
be compared with the sublime prospects I had seen to the westward;
and as for the hills, "capped with ETERNAL snow," Mr. Coxe's
description led me to look for them, but they had flown, for I
looked vainly around for this noble background.

A few months ago the people of Christiania rose, exasperated by the
scarcity and consequent high price of grain. The immediate cause
was the shipping of some, said to be for Moss, but which they
suspected was only a pretext to send it out of the country, and I am
not sure that they were wrong in their conjecture. Such are the
tricks of trade. They threw stones at Mr. Anker, the owner of it,
as he rode out of town to escape from their fury; they assembled
about his house, and the people demanded afterwards, with so much
impetuosity, the liberty of those who were taken up in consequence
of the tumult, that the Grand Bailiff thought it prudent to release
them without further altercation.

You may think me too severe on commerce, but from the manner it is
at present carried on little can be advanced in favour of a pursuit
that wears out the most sacred principles of humanity and rectitude.
What is speculation but a species of gambling, I might have said
fraud, in which address generally gains the prize? I was led into
these reflections when I heard of some tricks practised by
merchants, miscalled reputable, and certainly men of property,
during the present war, in which common honesty was violated:
damaged goods and provision having been shipped for the express
purpose of falling into the hands of the English, who had pledged
themselves to reimburse neutral nations for the cargoes they seized;
cannon also, sent back as unfit for service, have been shipped as a
good speculation, the captain receiving orders to cruise about till
he fell in with an English frigate. Many individuals I believe have
suffered by the seizures of their vessels; still I am persuaded that
the English Government has been very much imposed upon in the
charges made by merchants who contrived to get their ships taken.
This censure is not confined to the Danes. Adieu, for the present,
I must take advantage of a moment of fine weather to walk out and
see the town.

At Christiania I met with that polite reception, which rather
characterises the progress of manners in the world, than of any
particular portion of it. The first evening of my arrival I supped
with some of the most fashionable people of the place, and almost
imagined myself in a circle of English ladies, so much did they
resemble them in manners, dress, and even in beauty; for the fairest
of my countrywomen would not have been sorry to rank with the Grand
Bailiff's lady. There were several pretty girls present, but she
outshone them all, and, what interested me still more, I could not
avoid observing that in acquiring the easy politeness which
distinguishes people of quality, she had preserved her Norwegian
simplicity. There was, in fact, a graceful timidity in her address,
inexpressibly charming. This surprised me a little, because her
husband was quite a Frenchman of the ancien regime, or rather a
courtier, the same kind of animal in every country.

Here I saw the cloven foot of despotism. I boasted to you that they
had no viceroy in Norway, but these Grand Bailiffs, particularly the
superior one, who resides at Christiania, are political monsters of
the same species. Needy sycophants are provided for by their
relations and connections at Copenhagen as at other courts. And
though the Norwegians are not in the abject state of the Irish, yet
this second-hand government is still felt by their being deprived of
several natural advantages to benefit the domineering state.

The Grand Bailiffs are mostly noblemen from Copenhagen, who act as
men of common minds will always act in such situations--aping a
degree of courtly parade which clashes with the independent
character of a magistrate. Besides, they have a degree of power
over the country judges, which some of them, who exercise a
jurisdiction truly patriarchal most painfully feel. I can scarcely
say why, my friend, but in this city thoughtfulness seemed to be
sliding into melancholy or rather dulness. The fire of fancy, which
had been kept alive in the country, was almost extinguished by
reflections on the ills that harass such a large portion of mankind.
I felt like a bird fluttering on the ground unable to mount, yet
unwilling to crawl tranquilly like a reptile, whilst still conscious
it had wings.

1 walked out, for the open air is always my remedy when an aching
head proceeds from an oppressed heart. Chance directed my steps
towards the fortress, and the sight of the slaves, working with
chains on their legs, only served to embitter me still more against
the regulations of society, which treated knaves in such a different
manner, especially as there was a degree of energy in some of their
countenances which unavoidably excited my attention, and almost
created respect.

I wished to have seen, through an iron grate, the face of a man who
has been confined six years for having induced the farmers to revolt
against some impositions of the Government. I could not obtain a
clear account of the affair, yet, as the complaint was against some
farmers of taxes, I am inclined to believe that it was not totally
without foundation. He must have possessed some eloquence, or have
had truth on his side; for the farmers rose by hundreds to support
him, and were very much exasperated at his imprisonment, which will
probably last for life, though he has sent several very spirited
remonstrances to the upper court, which makes the judges so averse
to giving a sentence which may be cavilled at, that they take
advantage of the glorious uncertainty of the law, to protract a
decision which is only to be regulated by reasons of state.

The greater number of the slaves I saw here were not confined for
life. Their labour is not hard; and they work in the open air,
which prevents their constitutions from suffering by imprisonment.
Still, as they are allowed to associate together, and boast of their
dexterity, not only to each other but to the soldiers around them,
in the garrison; they commonly, it is natural to conclude, go out
more confirmed and more expert knaves than when they entered.

It is not necessary to trace the origin of the association of ideas
which led me to think that the stars and gold keys, which surrounded
me the evening before, disgraced the wearers as much as the fetters
I was viewing--perhaps more. I even began to investigate the
reason, which led me to suspect that the former produced the latter.

The Norwegians are extravagantly fond of courtly distinction, and of
titles, though they have no immunities annexed to them, and are
easily purchased. The proprietors of mines have many privileges:
they are almost exempt from taxes, and the peasantry born on their
estates, as well as those on the counts', are not born soldiers or

One distinction, or rather trophy of nobility, which I might have
occurred to the Hottentots, amused me; it was a bunch of hog's
bristles placed on the horses' heads, surmounting that part of the
harness to which a round piece of brass often dangles, fatiguing the
eye with its idle motion.

From the fortress I returned to my lodging, and quickly was taken
out of town to be shown a pretty villa, and English garden. To a
Norwegian both might have been objects of curiosity; and of use, by
exciting to the comparison which leads to improvement. But whilst I
gazed, I was employed in restoring the place to nature, or taste, by
giving it the character of the surrounding scene. Serpentine walks,
and flowering-shrubs, looked trifling in a grand recess of the
rooks, shaded by towering pines. Groves of smaller trees might have
been sheltered under them, which would have melted into the
landscape, displaying only the art which ought to point out the
vicinity of a human abode, furnished with some elegance. But few
people have sufficient taste to discern, that the art of
embellishing consists in interesting, not in astonishing.

Christiania is certainly very pleasantly situated, and the environs
I passed through, during this ride, afforded many fine and
cultivated prospects; but, excepting the first view approaching to
it, rarely present any combination of objects so strikingly new, or
picturesque, as to command remembrance. Adieu!


Christiania is a clean, neat city; but it has none of the graces of
architecture, which ought to keep pace with the refining manners of
a people--or the outside of the house will disgrace the inside,
giving the beholder an idea of overgrown wealth devoid of taste.
Large square wooden houses offend the eye, displaying more than
Gothic barbarism. Huge Gothic piles, indeed, exhibit a
characteristic sublimity, and a wildness of fancy peculiar to the
period when they were erected; but size, without grandeur or
elegance, has an emphatical stamp of meanness, of poverty of
conception, which only a commercial spirit could give.

The same thought has struck me, when I have entered the meeting-
house of my respected friend, Dr. Price. I am surprised that the
dissenters, who have not laid aside all the pomps and vanities of
life, should imagine a noble pillar, or arch, unhallowed. Whilst
men have senses, whatever soothes them lends wings to devotion; else
why do the beauties of nature, where all that charm them are spread
around with a lavish hand, force even the sorrowing heart to
acknowledge that existence is a blessing? and this acknowledgment is
the most sublime homage we can pay to the Deity.

The argument of convenience is absurd. Who would labour for wealth,
if it were to procure nothing but conveniences. If we wish to
render mankind moral from principle, we must, I am persuaded, give a
greater scope to the enjoyments of the senses by blending taste with
them. This has frequently occurred to me since I have been in the
north, and observed that there sanguine characters always take
refuge in drunkenness after the fire of youth is spent.

But I have flown from Norway. To go back to the wooden houses;
farms constructed with logs, and even little villages, here erected
in the same simple manner, have appeared to me very picturesque. In
the more remote parts I had been particularly pleased with many
cottages situated close to a brook, or bordering on a lake, with the
whole farm contiguous. As the family increases, a little more land
is cultivated; thus the country is obviously enriched by population.
Formerly the farmers might more justly have been termed woodcutters.
But now they find it necessary to spare the woods a little, and this
change will be universally beneficial; for whilst they lived
entirely by selling the trees they felled, they did not pay
sufficient attention to husbandry; consequently, advanced very
slowly in agricultural knowledge. Necessity will in future more and
more spur them on; for the ground, cleared of wood, must be
cultivated, or the farm loses its value; there is no waiting for
food till another generation of pines be grown to maturity.

The people of property are very careful of their timber; and,
rambling through a forest near Tonsberg, belonging to the Count, I
have stopped to admire the appearance of some of the cottages
inhabited by a woodman's family--a man employed to cut down the wood
necessary for the household and the estate. A little lawn was
cleared, on which several lofty trees were left which nature had
grouped, whilst the encircling firs sported with wild grace. The
dwelling was sheltered by the forest, noble pines spreading their
branches over the roof; and before the door a cow, goat, nag, and
children, seemed equally content with their lot; and if contentment
be all we can attain, it is, perhaps, best secured by ignorance.

As I have been most delighted with the country parts of Norway, I
was sorry to leave Christiania without going farther to the north,
though the advancing season admonished me to depart, as well as the
calls of business and affection.

June and July are the months to make a tour through Norway; for then
the evenings and nights are the finest I have ever seen; but towards
the middle or latter end of August the clouds begin to gather, and
summer disappears almost before it has ripened the fruit of autumn--
even, as it were, slips from your embraces, whilst the satisfied
senses seem to rest in enjoyment.

You will ask, perhaps, why I wished to go farther northward. Why?
not only because the country, from all I can gather, is most
romantic, abounding in forests and lakes, and the air pure, but I
have heard much of the intelligence of the inhabitants, substantial
farmers, who have none of that cunning to contaminate their
simplicity, which displeased me so much in the conduct of the people
on the sea coast. A man who has been detected in any dishonest act
can no longer live among them. He is universally shunned, and shame
becomes the severest punishment.

Such a contempt have they, in fact, for every species of fraud, that
they will not allow the people on the western coast to be their
countrymen; so much do they despise the arts for which those traders
who live on the rocks are notorious.

The description I received of them carried me back to the fables of
the golden age: independence and virtue; affluence without vice;
cultivation of mind, without depravity of heart; with "ever smiling
Liberty;" the nymph of the mountain. I want faith!

My imagination hurries me forward to seek an asylum in such a
retreat from all the disappointments I am threatened with; but
reason drags me back, whispering that the world is still the world,
and man the same compound of weakness and folly, who must
occasionally excite love and disgust, admiration and contempt. But
this description, though it seems to have been sketched by a fairy
pencil, was given me by a man of sound understanding, whose fancy
seldom appears to run away with him.

A law in Norway, termed the odels right, has lately been modified,
and probably will be abolished as an impediment to commerce. The
heir of an estate had the power of re-purchasing it at the original
purchase money, making allowance for such improvements as were
absolutely necessary, during the space of twenty years. At present
ten is the term allowed for afterthought; and when the regulation
was made, all the men of abilities were invited to give their
opinion whether it were better to abrogate or modify it. It is
certainly a convenient and safe way of mortgaging land; yet the most
rational men whom I conversed with on the subject seemed convinced
that the right was more injurious than beneficial to society; still
if it contribute to keep the farms in the farmers' own hands, I
should be sorry to hear that it were abolished.

The aristocracy in Norway, if we keep clear of Christiania, is far
from being formidable; and it will require a long the to enable the
merchants to attain a sufficient moneyed interest to induce them to
reinforce the upper class at the expense of the yeomanry, with whom
they are usually connected.

England and America owe their liberty to commerce, which created new
species of power to undermine the feudal system. But let them
beware of the consequence; the tyranny of wealth is still more
galling and debasing than that of rank.

Farewell! I must prepare for my departure.


I left Christiania yesterday. The weather was not very fine, and
having been a little delayed on the road, I found that it was too
late to go round, a couple of miles, to see the cascade near
Fredericstadt, which I had determined to visit. Besides, as
Fredericstadt is a fortress, it was necessary to arrive there before
they shut the gate.

The road along the river is very romantic, though the views are not
grand; and the riches of Norway, its timber, floats silently down
the stream, often impeded in its course by islands and little
cataracts, the offspring, as it were, of the great one I had
frequently heard described.

I found an excellent inn at Fredericstadt, and was gratified by the
kind attention of the hostess, who, perceiving that my clothes were
wet, took great pains procure me, as a stranger, every comfort for
the night.

It had rained very hard, and we passed the ferry in the dark without
getting out of our carriage, which I think wrong, as the horses are
sometimes unruly. Fatigue and melancholy, however, had made me
regardless whether I went down or across the stream, and I did not
know that I was wet before the hostess marked it. My imagination
has never yet severed me from my griefs, and my mind has seldom been
so free as to allow my body to be delicate.

How I am altered by disappointment! When going to Lisbon, the
elasticity of my mind was sufficient to ward off weariness, and my
imagination still could dip her brush in the rainbow of fancy, and
sketch futurity in glowing colours. Now--but let me talk of
something else--will you go with me to the cascade?

The cross road to it was rugged and dreary; and though a
considerable extent of land was cultivated on all sides, yet the
rocks were entirely bare, which surprised me, as they were more on a
level with the surface than any I had yet seen. On inquiry,
however, I learnt that some years since a forest had been burnt.
This appearance of desolation was beyond measure gloomy, inspiring
emotions that sterility had never produced. Fires of this kind are
occasioned by the wind suddenly rising when the farmers are burning
roots of trees, stalks of beans, &c, with which they manure the
ground. The devastation must, indeed, be terrible, when this,
literally speaking, wildfire, runs along the forest, flying from top
to top, and crackling amongst the branches. The soil, as well as
the trees, is swept away by the destructive torrent; and the
country, despoiled of beauty and riches, is left to mourn for ages.

Admiring, as I do, these noble forests, which seem to bid defiance
to time, I looked with pain on the ridge of rocks that stretched far
beyond my eye, formerly crowned with the most beautiful verdure.

I have often mentioned the grandeur, but I feel myself unequal to
the task of conveying an idea of the beauty and elegance of the
scene when the spiry tops of the pines are loaded with ripening
seed, and the sun gives a glow to their light-green tinge, which is
changing into purple, one tree more or less advanced contrasted with
another. The profusion with which Nature has decked them with
pendant honours, prevents all surprise at seeing in every crevice
some sapling struggling for existence. Vast masses of stone are
thus encircled, and roots torn up by the storms become a shelter for
a young generation. The pine and fir woods, left entirely to
Nature, display an endless variety; and the paths in the woods are
not entangled with fallen leaves, which are only interesting whilst
they are fluttering between life and death. The grey cobweb-like
appearance of the aged pines is a much finer image of decay; the
fibres whitening as they lose their moisture, imprisoned life seems
to be stealing away. I cannot tell why, but death, under every
form, appears to me like something getting free to expand in I know
not what element--nay, I feel that this conscious being must be as
unfettered, have the wings of thought, before it can be happy.

Reaching the cascade, or rather cataract, the roaring of which had a
long time announced its vicinity, my soul was hurried by the falls
into a new train of reflections. The impetuous dashing of the
rebounding torrent from the dark cavities which mocked the exploring
eye produced an equal activity in my mind. My thoughts darted from
earth to heaven, and I asked myself why I was chained to life and
its misery. Still the tumultuous emotions this sublime object
excited were pleasurable; and, viewing it, my soul rose with renewed
dignity above its cares. Grasping at immortality--it seemed as
impossible to stop the current of my thoughts, as of the always
varying, still the same, torrent before me; I stretched out my hand
to eternity, bounding over the dark speck of life to come.

We turned with regret from the cascade. On a little hill, which
commands the best view of it, several obelisks are erected to
commemorate the visits of different kings. The appearance of the
river above and below the falls is very picturesque, the ruggedness
of the scenery disappearing as the torrent subsides into a peaceful
stream. But I did not like to see a number of saw-mills crowded
together close to the cataracts; they destroyed the harmony of the

The sight of a bridge erected across a deep valley, at a little
distance, inspired very dissimilar sensations. It was most
ingeniously supported by mast-like trunks, just stripped of their
branches; and logs, placed one across the other, produced an
appearance equally light and firm, seeming almost to be built in the
air when we were below it, the height taking from the magnitude of
the supporting trees give them a slender graceful look.

There are two noble estates in this neighbourhood, the proprietors
of which seem to have caught more than their portion of the
enterprising spirit that is gone abroad. Many agricultural
experiments have been made, and the country appears better enclosed
and cultivated, yet the cottages had not the comfortable aspect of
those I had observed near Moss and to the westward. Man is always
debased by servitude of any description, and here the peasantry are
not entirely free. Adieu!

I almost forgot to tell you that I did not leave Norway without
making some inquiries after the monsters said to have been seen in
the northern sea; but though I conversed with several captains, I
could not meet with one who had ever heard any traditional
description of them, much less had any ocular demonstration of their
existence. Till the fact is better ascertained, I should think the
account of them ought to be torn out of our geographical grammars.


I set out from Fredericstadt about three o'clock in the afternoon,
and expected to reach Stromstad before the night closed in; but the
wind dying away, the weather became so calm that we scarcely made
any perceptible advances towards the opposite coast, though the men
were fatigued with rowing.

Getting amongst the rocks and islands as the moon rose, and the
stars darted forward out of the clear expanse, I forgot that the
night stole on whilst indulging affectionate reveries, the poetical
fictions of sensibility; I was not, therefore, aware of the length
of time we had been toiling to reach Stromstad. And when I began to
look around, I did not perceive anything to indicate that we were in
its neighbourhood. So far from it, that when I inquired of the
pilot, who spoke a little English, I found that he was only
accustomed to coast along the Norwegian shore; and had been only
once across to Stromstad. But he had brought with him a fellow
better acquainted, he assured me, with the rocks by which they were
to steer our course, for we had not a compass on board; yet, as he
was half a fool, I had little confidence in his skill. There was
then great reason to fear that we had lost our way, and were
straying amidst a labyrinth of rocks without a clue.

This was something like an adventure, but not of the most agreeable
cast; besides, I was impatient to arrive at Stromstad, to be able to
send forward that night a boy to order horses on the road to be
ready, for I was unwilling to remain there a day without having
anything to detain me from my little girl, and from the letters
which I was impatient to get from you.

I began to expostulate, and even to scold the pilot, for not having
informed me of his ignorance previous to my departure. This made
him row with more force, and we turned round one rock only to see
another, equally destitute of the tokens we were in search of to
tell us where we were. Entering also into creek after creek which
promised to be the entrance of the bay we were seeking, we advanced
merely to find ourselves running aground.

The solitariness of the scene, as we glided under the dark shadows
of the rocks, pleased me for a while; but the fear of passing the
whole night thus wandering to and fro, and losing the next day,
roused me. I begged the pilot to return to one of the largest
islands, at the side of which we had seen a boat moored. As we drew
nearer, a light through a window on the summit became our beacon;
but we were farther off than I supposed.

With some difficulty the pilot got on shore, not distinguishing the
landing-place; and I remained in the boat, knowing that all the
relief we could expect was a man to direct us. After waiting some
time, for there is an insensibility in the very movements of these
people that would weary more than ordinary patience, he brought with
him a man who, assisting them to row, we landed at Stromstad a
little after one in the morning.

It was too late to send off a boy, but I did not go to bed before I
had made the arrangements necessary to enable me to set out as early
as possible.

The sun rose with splendour. My mind was too active to allow me to
loiter long in bed, though the horses did not arrive till between
seven and eight. However, as I wished to let the boy, who went
forward to order the horses, get considerably the start of me, I
bridled in my impatience.

This precaution was unavailing, for after the three first posts I
had to wait two hours, whilst the people at the post-house went,
fair and softly, to the farm, to bid them bring up the horses which
were carrying in the first-fruits of the harvest. I discovered here
that these sluggish peasants had their share of cunning. Though
they had made me pay for a horse, the boy had gone on foot, and only
arrived half an hour before me. This disconcerted the whole
arrangement of the day; and being detained again three hours, I
reluctantly determined to sleep at Quistram, two posts short of
Uddervalla, where I had hoped to have arrived that night.

But when I reached Quistram I found I could not approach the door of
the inn for men, horses, and carts, cows, and pigs huddled together.
From the concourse of people I had met on the road I conjectured
that there was a fair in the neighbourhood; this crowd convinced me
that it was but too true. The boisterous merriment that almost
every instant produced a quarrel, or made me dread one, with the
clouds of tobacco, and fumes of brandy, gave an infernal appearance
to the scene. There was everything to drive me back, nothing to
excite sympathy in a rude tumult of the senses, which I foresaw
would end in a gross debauch. What was to be done? No bed was to
be had, or even a quiet corner to retire to for a moment; all was
lost in noise, riot, and confusion.

After some debating they promised me horses, which were to go on to
Uddervalla, two stages. I requested something to eat first, not
having dined; and the hostess, whom I have mentioned to you before
as knowing how to take care of herself, brought me a plate of fish,
for which she charged a rix-dollar and a half. This was making hay
whilst the sun shone. I was glad to get out of the uproar, though
not disposed to travel in an incommodious open carriage all night,
had I thought that there was any chance of getting horses.

Quitting Quistram I met a number of joyous groups, and though the
evening was fresh many were stretched on the grass like weary
cattle; and drunken men had fallen by the road-side. On a rock,
under the shade of lofty trees, a large party of men and women had
lighted a fire, cutting down fuel around to keep it alive all night.
They were drinking, smoking, and laughing with all their might and
main. I felt for the trees whose torn branches strewed the ground.
Hapless nymphs! your haunts, I fear, were polluted by many an
unhallowed flame, the casual burst of the moment!

The horses went on very well; but when we drew near the post-house
the postillion stopped short and neither threats nor promises could
prevail on him to go forward. He even began to howl and weep when I
insisted on his keeping his word. Nothing, indeed, can equal the
stupid obstinacy of some of these half-alive beings, who seem to
have been made by Prometheus when the fire he stole from Heaven was
so exhausted that he could only spare a spark to give life, not
animation, to the inert clay.

It was some time before we could rouse anybody; and, as I expected,
horses, we were told, could not be had in less than four or five
hours. I again attempted to bribe the churlish brute who brought us
there, but I discovered that, in spite of the courteous hostess's
promises, he had received orders not to go any father.

As there was no remedy I entered, and was almost driven back by the
stench--a softer phrase would not have conveyed an idea of the hot
vapour that issued from an apartment in which some eight or ten
people were sleeping, not to reckon the cats and dogs stretched on
the floor. Two or three of the men or women were on the benches,
others on old chests; and one figure started half out of a trunk to
look at me, whom might have taken for a ghost, had the chemise been
white, to contrast with the sallow visage. But the costume of
apparitions not being preserved I passed, nothing dreading,
excepting the effluvia, warily amongst the pots, pans, milk-pails,
and washing-tubs. After scaling a ruinous staircase I was shown a
bed-chamber. The bed did not invite me to enter; opening,
therefore, the window, and taking some clean towels out of my night-
sack, I spread them over the coverlid, on which tired Nature found
repose, in spite of the previous disgust.

With the grey of the morn the birds awoke me; and descending to
inquire for the horses, I hastened through the apartment I have
already described, not wishing to associate the idea of a pigstye
with that of a human dwelling.

I do not now wonder that the girls lose their fine complexions at
such an early age, or that love here is merely an appetite to fulfil
the main design of Nature, never enlivened by either affection or

For a few posts we found the horses waiting; but afterwards I was
retarded, as before, by the peasants, who, taking advantage of my
ignorance of the language, made me pay for the fourth horse that
ought to have gone forward to have the others in readiness, though
it had never been sent. I was particularly impatient at the last
post, as I longed to assure myself that my child was well.

My impatience, however, did not prevent my enjoying the journey. I
had six weeks before passed over the same ground; still it had
sufficient novelty to attract my attention, and beguile, if not
banish, the sorrow that had taken up its abode in my heart. How
interesting are the varied beauties of Nature, and what peculiar
charms characterise each season! The purple hue which the heath now
assumed gave it a degree of richness that almost exceeded the lustre
of the young green of spring, and harmonised exquisitely with the
rays of the ripening corn. The weather was uninterruptedly fine,
and the people busy in the fields cutting down the corn, or binding
up the sheaves, continually varied the prospect. The rocks, it is
true, were unusually rugged and dreary; yet as the road runs for a
considerable way by the side of a fine river, with extended pastures
on the other side, the image of sterility was not the predominant
object, though the cottages looked still more miserable, after
having seen the Norwegian farms. The trees likewise appeared of me
growth of yesterday, compared with those Nestors of the forest I
have frequently mentioned. The women and children were cutting off
branches from the beech, birch, oak, &c, and leaving them to dry.
This way of helping out their fodder injures the trees. But the
winters are so long that the poor cannot afford to lay in a
sufficient stock of hay. By such means they just keep life in the
poor cows, for little milk can be expected when they are so
miserably fed.

It was Saturday, and the evening was uncommonly serene. In the
villages I everywhere saw preparations for Sunday; and I passed by a
little car loaded with rye, that presented, for the pencil and
heart, the sweetest picture of a harvest home I had ever beheld. A
little girl was mounted a-straddle on a shaggy horse, brandishing a
stick over its head; the father was walking at the side of the car
with a child in his arms, who must have come to meet him with
tottering steps; the little creature was stretching out its arms to
cling round his neck; and a boy, just above petticoats, was
labouring hard with a fork behind to keep the sheaves from falling.

My eyes followed them to the cottage, and an involuntary sigh
whispered to my heart that I envied the mother, much as I dislike
cooking, who was preparing their pottage. I was returning to my
babe, who may never experience a father's care or tenderness. The
bosom that nurtured her heaved with a pang at the thought which only
an unhappy mother could feel.



I was unwilling to leave Gothenburg without visiting Trolhaettae. I
wished not only to see the cascade, but to observe the progress of
the stupendous attempt to form a canal through the rocks, to the
extent of an English mile and a half.

This work is carried on by a company, who employ daily nine hundred
men; five years was the time mentioned in the proposals addressed to
the public as necessary for the completion. A much more
considerable sum than the plan requires has been subscribed, for
which there is every reason to suppose the promoters will receive
ample interest.

The Danes survey the progress of this work with a jealous eye, as it
is principally undertaken to get clear of the Sound duty.

Arrived at Trolhaettae, I must own that the first view of the
cascade disappointed me; and the sight of the works, as they
advanced, though a grand proof of human industry, was not calculated
to warm the fancy. I, however, wandered about; and at last coming
to the conflux of the various cataracts rushing from different
falls, struggling with the huge masses of rock, and rebounding from
the profound cavities, I immediately retracted, acknowledging that
it was indeed a grand object. A little island stood in the midst,
covered with firs, which, by dividing the torrent, rendered it more
picturesque; one half appearing to issue from a dark cavern, that
fancy might easily imagine a vast fountain throwing up its waters
from the very centre of the earth.

I gazed I know not how long, stunned with the noise, and growing
giddy with only looking at the never-ceasing tumultuous motion, I
listened, scarcely conscious where I was, when I observed a boy,
half obscured by the sparkling foam, fishing under the impending
rock on the other side. How he had descended I could not perceive;
nothing like human footsteps appeared, and the horrific crags seemed
to bid defiance even to the goat's activity. It looked like an
abode only fit for the eagle, though in its crevices some pines
darted up their spiral heads; but they only grew near the cascade,
everywhere else sterility itself reigned with dreary grandeur; for
the huge grey massy rocks, which probably had been torn asunder by
some dreadful convulsion of nature, had not even their first
covering of a little cleaving moss. There were so many appearances
to excite the idea of chaos, that, instead of admiring the canal and
the works, great as they are termed, and little as they appear, I
could not help regretting that such a noble scene had not been left
in all its solitary sublimity. Amidst the awful roaring of the
impetuous torrents, the noise of human instruments and the bustle of
workmen, even the blowing up of the rocks when grand masses trembled
in the darkened air, only resembled the insignificant sport of

One fall of water, partly made by art, when they were attempting to
construct sluices, had an uncommonly grand effect; the water
precipitated itself with immense velocity down a perpendicular, at
least fifty or sixty yards, into a gulf, so concealed by the foam as
to give full play to the fancy. There was a continual uproar. I
stood on a rock to observe it, a kind of bridge formed by nature,
nearly on a level with the commencement of the fall. After musing
by it a long time I turned towards the other side, and saw a gentle
stream stray calmly out. I should have concluded that it had no
communication with the torrent had I not seen a huge log that fell
headlong down the cascade steal peacefully into the purling stream.

I retired from these wild scenes with regret to a miserable inn, and
next morning returned to Gothenburg, to prepare for my journey to

I was sorry to leave Gothenburg without travelling farther into
Sweden, yet I imagine I should only have seen a romantic country
thinly inhabited, and these inhabitants struggling with poverty.
The Norwegian peasantry, mostly independent, have a rough kind of
frankness in their manner; but the Swedish, rendered more abject by
misery, have a degree of politeness in their address which, though
it may sometimes border on insincerity, is oftener the effect of a
broken spirit, rather softened than degraded by wretchedness.

In Norway there are no notes in circulation of less value than a
Swedish rix-dollar. A small silver coin, commonly not worth more
than a penny, and never more than twopence, serves for change; but
in Sweden they have notes as low as sixpence. I never saw any
silver pieces there, and could not without difficulty, and giving a
premium, obtain the value of a rix-dollar in a large copper coin to
give away on the road to the poor who open the gates.

As another proof of the poverty of Sweden, I ought to mention that
foreign merchants who have acquired a fortune there are obliged to
deposit the sixth part when they leave the kingdom. This law, you
may suppose, is frequently evaded.

In fact, the laws here, as well as in Norway, are so relaxed that
they rather favour than restrain knavery.

Whilst I was at Gothenburg, a man who had been confined for breaking
open his master's desk and running away with five or six thousand
rix-dollars, was only sentenced to forty days' confinement on bread
and water; and this slight punishment his relations rendered
nugatory by supplying him with more savoury food.

The Swedes are in general attached to their families, yet a divorce
may be obtained by either party on proving the infidelity of the
other or acknowledging it themselves. The women do not often recur
to this equal privilege, for they either retaliate on their husbands
by following their own devices or sink into the merest domestic
drudges, worn down by tyranny to servile submission. Do not term me
severe if I add, that after youth is flown the husband becomes a
sot, and the wife amuses herself by scolding her servants. In fact,
what is to be expected in any country where taste and cultivation of
mind do not supply the place of youthful beauty and animal spirits?
Affection requires a firmer foundation than sympathy, and few people
have a principle of action sufficiently stable to produce rectitude
of feeling; for in spite of all the arguments I have heard to
justify deviations from duty, I am persuaded that even the most
spontaneous sensations are more under the direction of principle
than weak people are willing to allow.

But adieu to moralising. I have been writing these last sheets at
an inn in Elsineur, where I am waiting for horses; and as they are
not yet ready, I will give you a short account of my journey from
Gothenburg, for I set out the morning after I returned from

The country during the first day's journey presented a most barren
appearance, as rocky, yet not so picturesque as Norway, because on a
diminutive scale. We stopped to sleep at a tolerable inn in
Falckersberg, a decent little town.

The next day beeches and oaks began to grace the prospects, the sea
every now and then appearing to give them dignity. I could not
avoid observing also, that even in this part of Sweden, one of the
most sterile, as I was informed, there was more ground under
cultivation than in Norway. Plains of varied crops stretched out to
a considerable extent, and sloped down to the shore, no longer
terrific. And, as far as I could judge, from glancing my eye over
the country as we drove along, agriculture was in a more advanced
state, though in the habitations a greater appearance of poverty
still remained. The cottages, indeed, often looked most
uncomfortable, but never so miserable as those I had remarked on the
road to Stromstad, and the towns were equal, if not superior, to
many of the little towns in Wales, or some I have passed through in
my way from Calais to Paris.

The inns as we advanced were not to be complained of, unless I had
always thought of England. The people were civil, and much more
moderate in their demands than the Norwegians, particularly to the

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