« PreviousContinue »
or three of the summer months to watch the cattle in the mountains, and to make their butter and cheese for their winter provision.
When, in the year 1814, these sons of the mountains and the fiords were struggling for their independence, and when it was decided to turn them over to Sweden, Earl Grey, in the House of Lords, asked—” And what people is it whose fate you are thus to decide ?- -a people who have never done you any wrong, who have never injured any of your interests -a people who are known to you only by their virtuous character, by their meritorious services, by their interchange of good offices, by the extension of your commercial relations, and by their constant and unremitting discharge of all those duties which constitute the moral greatness and happiness of a nation." The Norwegian people were highly deserving of this just and generous appeal made in their favour, but made in vain.'
We shall indulge our readers with another extract, containing an account of a village merry-making, consequent upon a marriage; and which affords some rather curious glimpses of manners and acquirements.
The priest, or pastor, came up and attempted to address us in French, but could make little of it. He then spoke to our servant, who informed us who he was, of which we were ignorant, and that he wished to invite us to his house; that there had been a wedding that morning, and he thought it might be agreeable to us to pay a visit to the bride. We of course were delighted, and in proceeding thither the whole village followed us, and sans cérémonie, as many as could, walked into the parsonage, which was filled in a moment. The good pastor cordially shook hands with us, and received us with great civility. The bride was not in the room when we entered, but was brought in for the purpose of dancing before us. She was decked out in gaudy apparel, and looked very like a gingerbread queen. Her upper dress was gaily embroidered with tinsel, and she wore what appeared to be meant for a silver crown upon her head, to which were attached various gold or gilt ornaments ; and beneath it hung her long hair in flowing ringlets, which "streamed like a meteor" over her neck and shoulders, not ungracefully, as she danced; but she appeared, not unnaturally, to be somewhat abashed at making such an exhibition, on such an occasion, in the presence of strangers. A good-humoured old man, who afterwards turned out to be the vestry-clerk, was her first partner; her next was a female, and they danced very gracefully together; but her third partner was by far the best dancer I had seen among the Norwegians: he was a good-looking young man, uncommonly active, and danced with great good taste: he was very pressing that I should also dance with the bride, but, unfortunately, waltzing is an accomplishment which I cannot boast. I concluded this young man to be the husband, but we were afterwards introduced to another who sustained that character, and who presented each of us with a dram of strong spirits in a little silver cup, out of which we were to drink to the health of the bride. We were pleased with the decorum with which the assembly conducted themselves. On leaving the company for our embarkation, we shook hands with the bride and
bridegroom, the priest, and the vestry-clerk, and, I think, with the fiddler also, who was the next in rank and importance; and my friend gave the bride a few English needles, with which they all seemed much pleased.'
The bay of Drontheim is beautiful; but the town is almost entirely built of wood; a fact which, as Mr Barrow observes, makes it very difficult to account for Dr Clarke's statement, that there is no part of Copenhagen better built, or neater in its 'aspect.' Christiania is now the real capital of Norway; and even Bergen is considerably superior to Drontheim in population. The trade of both has been attracted to the nearer and more conveniently situated port of Christiania; so that the ancient capital-the extreme capital of civilisation in the northern hemisphere -wears at present a rather decayed appearance. The English language is here generally spoken by the upper classes; and in fact,' says Mr Barrow, every thing looked English except the dogs, which had a very wolf-like appearance.'
From Drontheim Mr Barrow returned to Christiania, by the common road across that part of the Norwegian chain of mountains, called the Dovrefi-eld; of which, the elevated peak of Sneehätten forms the highest point. It is 8115 feet above the level of the sea; but as it starts from a base which is itself more than 4500 feet above that level, its altitude does not appear at all remarkable. The scenery on this part of the journey, though occasionally grand, was in no degree comparable to that on the route by which Mr Barrow had travelled to Drontheim; but when, in his progress southward, he came to the village of Tofté, he there entered upon the beautiful valley of Gulbrandsdalen, which stretches alongst the Miosen lake, and presents a lengthened succession of the finest landscapes in the world. He reached Christiania, on his return to England, exactly a month from the day on which he had left it for Drontheim; having travelled wards of 1000 miles by land and water-400 of these through a part of Norway, seemingly untraversed by any preceding traveller. We have now reached the Conclusion of this agreeable narrative. We find here one or two of the very few passages that we could have wished struck out. We have no objection to sentimental or to patriotic effusions on fit or necessary occasions; but is the Farewell to Norway,' in good taste? Or was it necessary, in bestowing a high and deserved eulogium on that portion of Scandinavia, to enter a formal protestation in behalf of the superiority of England-a country in all respects so different? These, however, are trifling offences. We shall quote a part of this conclusion, which contains some comparisons that may fitly enough be made, and with which it might have been as well to finish.
'There is no country which I have hitherto visited, where nature appears to have done so much to make it agreeable, and man so little to make it what may be called comfortable; none where I have been so much impressed with the grandeur of the scenery, and the honest simplicity of the natives. Yet I have traversed every part of SwitzerlandI have seen its lofty mountains covered with snow, its lakes, its rivers, its waterfalls, and its smiling valleys; but the valleys, the lakes, the rivers, and the waterfalls of Norway are not in any degree inferior. The mountains of Switzerland may be loftier, wrapt deeper in perpetual srow, and bound faster in "thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;" but where in Switzerland shall we look for the dense forests embosoming the bases of the wall-sided mountains, and where find those clear and glassy fiords which abound in Norway? Then, as to the people-what the Swiss peasantry may have been half a century ago, or more, I can only speak from what has been reported; but with all the good parts they still possess, and of which I have had experience, it would be a departure from truth to say that they are at all to be compared, in their integrity and single-mindedness, with the peasantry of Norway. The few of what may be called the upper class with whom we had any intercourse in the towns were of kind and affable manners, and clever, well-informed men; they were generally perfect masters of our language, and entered willingly into conversation.'
We take leave of Mr Barrow, with sincere thanks for the pleasure he has afforded us, and with the hope of again meeting him after his return from the new 6 Excursion,' in which we under
stand he is engaged, to Iceland.
ART. VI. The Present State of the Tenancy of Land in Great Britain. By L. KENNEDY and T. B. GRAINGER, Esqrs. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1828-30.
THIS is a valuable practical work, which we are afraid has not met with the attention it deserves. The subjects of which it treats are of great national importance; its authors have placed several of them in a new and striking light; and they have communicated much useful and authentic information, not to be met with in any other publication.
It would be useless, at this time of day, to enter into any lengthened argument to show the paramount importance of an improved system of agriculture in countries like Great Britain and Ireland. Every one is ready to admit its superior claims on the public attention. The power and wellbeing of a country are, in fact, much more certainly promoted by the adoption of improved processes and methods of cultivating the soil, than they would be
by making proportional additions to its extent. And though we do not go so far as to contend that a single uncultivated acre is a 'real physical evil in any state,' yet there can be no question, that the better a country is cultivated, the greater is its means of supporting a large amount of population; and the greater the excess of produce raised by the agriculturists above what is necessary for their own supply, the greater, of course, are their means of purchasing the various articles of necessity, convenience, and enjoyment, furnished by others. Hence, also, it appears, that every improvement in agriculture-every means by which the earth may be made to furnish a larger quantity of produce for the same, or for a less proportional outlay, not only redounds to the advantage of its owners and occupiers, but to that of every other class. It reacts powerfully on all departments of industry, stimulating universally the inventive powers, and rewarding their successful application.
Taking into view, therefore, the vast importance of an improved system of agriculture, the immense number of persons directly dependent on this branch of industry, and interested in its advancement, either as landlords or farmers; and considering, also, the facility with which all kinds of information are now diffused, it might, one should think, have been fairly anticipated, that every sort of improvement would be eagerly grasped at; and that no really beneficial system of managing land could be followed for any considerable time in one country, without being adopted in others having a suitable soil and climate. But reasonable as this conclusion may, at first sight, appear, there is none less consistent with truth and experience. In agriculture, the progress of improvement is peculiarly slow. So much is this the case, that instead of rapidly introducing processes and plans followed in other countries, an undoubtedly superior system is frequently for years introduced into one parish or county before it makes its way into those immediately contiguous. Mr Harte mentions, in his instructive Essays on Husbandry,' that when he was a youth, he heard the famous Jethro Tull declare, that though he introduced turnips into the field in King William's reign, with little trouble or ex'pense, and great success, the practice did not travel beyond the hedges of his own estate, till after the conclusion of the peace of Utrecht.'-(P. 223.)
During the last hundred years, the means of diffusing information have been prodigiously augmented, and a spirit of emulation has been infused into all classes; so that it may seem next to impossible, in the present state of the country, that any such extraordinary indifference to an obvious improvement should manifest itself. In point of fact, however, there is, in this respect, but little
difference between the reigns of William III. and William IV. No one, indeed, acquainted with the merest rudiments of agriculture, can travel over any considerable portion of England, without being struck with the extreme discrepancy in the modes of managing the same sort of land that prevail in different counties, and even in different parts of the same county. In some places, the drillhusbandry is generally introduced, while in others it is hardly known; and the contrast in many other respects is equally striking. Abundant proofs of what is now stated are found in the work before us; and as the statements in it proceed from practical men, who have travelled over, and carefully inspected, the districts of which they speak, their accuracy may be depended on. Now, they tell us, that what is well known and systematically 'practised in one county, is frequently unknown or utterly 6 disregarded in the adjacent districts; and that what is, to every unprejudiced observer, evidently erroneous and injurious to the land, is, in some quarters, persisted in most pertinaciously, though a journey of not many miles would open to the view the • beneficial effects of a contrary practice.'-(Introd. p. 8.)
But not satisfied with this general statement, Messrs Kennedy and Grainger review each county separately; briefly noticing the mode in which lands are usually held in it, and the more prominent features of its system of management. Speaking generally, the eastern are much better managed than the western, and the greater number of the southern counties. Though the regu lar alternation of corn and green crops lies at the foundation of all good farming, there are many extensive districts where it is still but very partially introduced; and in several counties, such is the state of the arable husbandry, that even turnips are universally sown broad-cast. The authors before us, speaking of Worcestershire, observe,- The mode of farming in this county is, gen'erally speaking, in itself a very bad one, and is carelessly and 'negligently conducted. There being no restriction as to rotation or manner of cropping, there is no regular system; but the plan usually adopted, is to sow the land that requires the least work, and barley and oat stubbles are frequently dunged over ' after harvest, and sown with wheat; a system of farming which ⚫ certainly does not require much labour, but it is a most ruinous one for the land. No pains whatever are taken to relieve the ground from water, nor is a water furrow to be seen scarcely in any part of the county. The ploughing is, in general, very in'differently performed; and the appearance of the land is sufficient to convince any one that neither master nor man has any system to act upon.'-(Vol. i., p. 359.)
In Somersetshire, matters seem to be but little better. • soil cannot be said to be injured by excessive cropping; only by