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From the Danish capital Mr Barrow returned by Travemunde and Hamburg to London; having, in a period of sixty-eight days, passed over a space, by sea and land, of more than 4000 'miles.'
The second Excursion was limited to Norway, and took place in the months of July and August of the last year. The sublime, wild, and picturesque scenery of this country has attracted to it a number of travellers, and called forth many animated descriptions. We still recollect the brief but glowing touches of Mary Wolstonecroft, who visited only a small part of it; and no one who has perused them can have forgotten the delineations of Dr Clarke and Von Buch, not to mention those of Sir A. De Capell Brooke, and other later travellers; some of whom-Mr Edward Price in particular-have largely and happily availed themselves of the assistance of the pencil to supply more lively and graphic impressions than can be communicated by the pen. Mr Barrow certainly does not outstrip the best of his predecessors in descriptive power; but he has described to us, for the first time, an unfrequented and remarkable route; and he gives us some new information concerning a country which has other objects of interest besides its mountains, its forests, and its lakes. His details regarding the people are more ample, and his observations more unconstrained and manly, than in his earlier tour; and his language, elevated by the view of this magnificent region, is more animated and impressive. It is no small praise of his narrative to say, that, coming after many others of the same kind, it is still found to present us with fresh entertainment and instruction.
Accompanied by the companion of his former tour, he proceeded in a steam-vessel from Copenhagen to Christiania, the modern capital of Norway; which is situated on the beautiful bay of that name, and has a considerable trade in timber, deals, tar, hemp, and iron. Here the Norwegian Parliament, or Storthing as it is called, assembles once in every three years, when its sittings continue from February till August. Mr Barrow, who was present at one sitting, observes, that he never saw an assemblage of men wearing the appearance of sages so strongly sages so strongly as the mem'bers of the Storthing. They were mostly of a certain age, clad 'generally in coarse grey woollen coats, their hair long, and flowing over their shoulders; and their whole deportment grave, sober, and intent on the business before them. The President 'was reading a paper, which lasted the whole time we were there,
! Norway: Views of wild scenery, and Journal. 4to. 1834. We cannot say much for the Journal, but the Views are forcibly and strikingly executed.
and of which each member appeared to have a printed copy. What the subject was I know not, but it seemed to occupy their 'whole attention: there was no moving about, all kept their seats ' with their hats off, and observed the greatest silence and deco'rum.' We wish that only half as much could be said of some legislative assemblies of far greater name and pretensions than the Norwegian Storthing.
Bergen was the next point of our traveller's destination, and for that place he and his companion set out, each in a slight carriage, called a carriole, suited to only one person, who drives himself; this being the only mode of conveyance adapted to this long and hazardous route of above 300 miles. Horses are found, though with some delays, at the different stations; the sum charged for posting is very moderate; and wholesome provisions are supplied in tolerable plenty at a cheap rate. The traveller, in the summer months, may be said to enjoy the advantage of perpetual day; but the road is difficult-sometimes terrific-though presenting at every turn scenes of unspeakable grandeur and beauty. Norway seems to be a country that will disappoint no preconceptions, be they what they may, of the wonderful in scenery. Nature here leaves the fancy at fault, and shows how vastly she can transcend the imaginings of man. One of the features in which Norway excels Switzerland, and all other countries remarkable for scenery, is the unvarying transparency of her waters. The fiords, or deep inlets of the sea, which occur in quick succession, as well as the lakes properly so called, are all of them so limpid, that the smallest pebbles, and the colour and size of the fishes, may be seen from a great depth. Mr Barrow makes the following observations on this subject :
• The extraordinary clearness of the water of the fiords of Norway has been remarked by all travellers, and I believe has no parallel in any other country; but it has not, that I am aware, been satisfactorily accounted for by any perhaps it may be owing to the combined effect of the purity and transparency of the water itself, the clear blue sky overhead, and the clean white sandy bottom which prevails almost in all of them; and yet blue skies and sandy bottoms are not peculiar to Norway; besides, the open sea is equally transparent along the whole coast. How different is this in Switzerland, where all the waters are dirty, except about three miles of the Rhone, where it is purified in passing through the lake of Geneva. The reflection of the mountains is often as strongly and well defined in the water of the fiord as the rocks themselves; and when viewed at a short distance, it is no easy matter to decide whereabout the line is that separates the water from the shore; and this uncertainty, when on the fiord in a boat, has a most singular effect: every thing appears topsy-turvy-houses upset, trees growing the wrong way, men walking on their heads, cattle on their backs. In short, the whole appearance wears a complete deception.'
The following description, applicable to one part of the journey from Christiania to Bergen, will afford some idea both of the nature of the scenery, and the perils of the route-a route where the traveller must purchase the glorious visions presented to him, not merely at the cost of much bodily fatigue, but at no small risk of life or limb, and in following which, even in narrative, the reader is apt to become giddy at his own conceptions of the awful heights and depths delineated in it.
Starting early the next day, we entered upon what I should have been apt to consider as the sublimest scenery that Norway, or even Nature, could exhibit, had our excursion ended here. Indeed, it appeared difficult for the imagination to conceive any thing more magnificently wild and awfully grand-and yet we found it much surpassed in the course of our travels-than the castellated forms of the mountain peaks, blackened by time and the weather, and rent into pinnacles and turrets, rising out of their wall-shaped sides, between which and us was a yawning gulf, choked with masses of rock and rubble; in this gulf or ravine a large body of water was flowing, rapidly meandering its serpentine course, but constantly interrupted in its progress by the huge fragments that, by impeding, swelled its volume, and
"when collected all
In one impetuous torrent, down the steep
It thundering shoots, and shakes the country round."
In the course pursued by this mass of water, a constant succession of grand falls present themselves to the eye and the ear, one of which was particularly fine; in its rush from the upper ravines of the mountains, it was divided into two cascades, across each of which was thrown a wooden bridge of primitive construction. In this part of the road the traveller is surrounded on all sides by rocks of enormous height, rising almost perpendicularly from their base, while the sides of the mountains are covered with forests of dark green fir-trees, which rear their lofty heads above each other, vying in height with the steep rocks among which they are blended. The precipices both above and below the narrow road are most frightful to look at. No precaution whatever is taken to prevent carriages from slipping off into the abyss below. In many places these precipices were perpendicular, and sometimes even inclined inwards, or overhung their base. The road too was so narrow as to be little more than barely sufficient to admit of the wheels of the carrioles between the edge and the side of the mountain; had we happened, indeed, to meet any other travellers here, we should have been under the necessity of taking the horses out, and of lifting the carrioles over each other. The chances, however, are against such a meeting, for not a single human being had hitherto appeared to us on this route. Oftentimes the road before us seemed to terminate altogether at the very brink of a precipice, when, on reaching the spot, it was found to turn sharply round; and these sharp turns, with the yawning gulf beneath, incur almost inevitable destruction, should the animal become restive, or an overturn unfortunately take place.
'On attaining the summit of the very high mountain up the side of which we were now clambering, and the ascent to which was the steepest road that I ever remember to have witnessed in any part of the world, Switzerland not excepted, we were agreeably surprised to find it to be level, or nearly so, for some little distance, and covered with a forest of fine fir-trees.'
If the ascent of this mountain was found to be difficult and somewhat dangerous, the descent was perfectly terrific; it was so steep that the horses were literally obliged to scramble down on their haunches. We looked along a valley many hundred feet below us, shut in on all sides by steep, rugged, and lofty mountains. Those at the extreme part of the view were capped with snow, upon which the sun shone brilliantly, forming a great contrast to the general gloomy appearance of the deep ravines. Cascades were observed pouring down their waters in every direction, sparkling in their passage down the sides of the mountain, and occasionally lost amidst the dark thick forest of firs.'
Mr Barrow has given some interesting sketches of the peasantry on this route; describing them generally as an honest, simpleminded, intelligent, and active race. Their present condition appears to be greatly superior to what it was when they were under the Danish dominion. The laws are more favourable to personal liberty; some ancient services of a burdensome nature have been abolished; and the taxes have been lightened. Their repugnance to the Swedish yoke has, in consequence, been greatly lessened. They still, however, hold in veneration the memory of their 'ancient kings, and what they now wish for is a monarchical democracy—a king and the people, without the intervention of a 'third estate.' Mr Barrow was struck with the difference between their condition and that of the Swedish peasantry.
With the exception,' says he, of a few unfrequented spots through which we had to travel, the superiority in the comforts of the Norwegian peasantry, scanty as they must be admitted to be, is conspicuous throughout the country. Their rye bread is generally better, being light, whereas that of the Swede is heavy, sour, and doughy, like a mass of paste; and the corn-brandy of the Norwegians (to them the very essence of life) is far more pure than in Sweden. Fresh butter is an article scarcely ever seen amongst the Swedish peasantry, whilst in Norway no other is met with during the summer months; and I cannot call to mind having more than once, or twice at most, found it even indifferent; it was almost invariably excellent. The Norse cows are small, and not unlike, in shape and appearance, to the Alderney breed. Among them are many beautiful animals, and so active, that they seem to jump from rock to rock as nimbly as the goats.'
Arrived at Bergen, which is a small town, consisting for the most part of wooden houses, neatly constructed, and painted white, Mr Barrow and his companion resolved to proceed to Drontheim, the ancient capital, by a route so little frequented
that he did not find the name of a single Englishman inscribed in the Livre des Etrangers kept at the different post-houses or stations. This route presented scenes in the highest degree grand and romantic. It conducted the travellers across a succession of noble fiords, with stupendous rocky promontories between, to a small town called Moldé, distant from Bergen about 250 miles, and from whence they found a frequented road to Drontheim. In the course of this journey, they crossed above fifty of these magnificent inlets. This was often attended with considerable delays, as it was necessary to transport their light carriages in the boats in which they crossed; but to have seen those lovely lakes, and stupendous mountain precipices, and to have 'witnessed the conduct of the honest boatmen, was worth any 'sacrifice of this kind.' Mr Barrow speaks of these men, and of the Norwegians generally, in a strain of warm and generous commendation, highly creditable to his feelings. • These 'boatmen,' says he, says he, are a fine sample of the human animal' active, powerful, and robust. Never did I witness so much goodnature, such constant cheerfulness, such willingness to oblige, and such perfect contentment as they invariably exhibited. Their address was firm, manly, and open; their manners simple ' and pleasing; and they appeared to know no guile.' This is a very agreeable character; and it is by no means confined to the class just described.
It may be applied,' says he, to the greater part of the peasantry of Norway, and more especially to those little knots of some twenty or thirty persons who cluster round the post-houses, as they are called, by the sides of the fiords, secluded from all the world besides, and forming a little world of themselves. Of these simple people may be truly said, what the poet has applied to their neighbours of Lapland,
They ask no more than simple Nature gives :
They love their mountains, and enjoy their storms.
No false desires-no pride-created wants
Disturb the peaceful current of their lives."
'In such a country as that we passed through, where there are no towns, very few villages that contain half a dozen dwellings, and in many places one solitary house, the poor people have been taught by necessity to help themselves. Accordingly, the inmates of a family make their own hats, shoes, stockings, and woollen cloth, and perform all carpenter and smith's work. The females knit, spin, and make the clothing, and do all the drudgery of the house. While this gives them a feeling of independence, their lonely situation attaches them to their families and kindred, who rarely leave their native villages, excepting when the young people marry, and then only to some unoccupied spot in a neighbouring hill or valley, where food is to be found for their cattle. They rarely leave home except to attend some distant place of worship, or when the younger branches of the family, generally the females, are sent for two