Henry [Garrett] 1804-1860 Newland.

Forest scenes in Norway and Sweden: being extracts from the journal of a fisherman online

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particularly good and sweet there, and sheep and cows are
intensely conservative in their idiosyncracy ; so stoutly had
they kept up the principle of stare super antiquas vias, that
the appearance was as if the whole region was thickly
inhabited and intersected with foot-paths in every direction,
while every animal that helps to make them rings its own
individual bell, and carries its own individual brand, but
pastures in uncontrolled liberty. A cow is a very good
guide to a lost man, for, if he has patience to wait till even-


ing, slie is sure to feed her way to the soeter to be milked ;
tut woe to the man who puts his trust in bullocks or in
sheep ; they feed at ease, and roam at pleasure, till the frosts
and snows ot approaching winter bring them home to the
fold, the stall, and the salting-tub.

Much of the shrubbery appearance of the scene is pro-
duced by the numerous plants of the vaccinium tribe, the
bright glossy leaves of which look like myrtle ; and the blue
aconite, and the gentian, and the lily of the valley, flowers
which we seldom meet with in England, absolutely wild,
and the familiar leaves of the raspberry, and black cur-
rant, suggest ideas of home, while the turf on which the
traveller treads, looks as if it had been mown by the gardener
that very morning.

The course, though varied by quite as many ups and
downs as there were ins and outs, was, upon the whole,
continually ascending ; and, as the higher regions were
attained, and the facilities of transport diminished, the tall
stately fir began to assert its natural supremacy among the
northern sylva. Still, however, there was enough of birch,
and even of the softer woods, to diversify the foliage, and
preserve the park -like aspect. Heather, of which the Par-
son had anticipated making his couch, there was none ; but,
on the other hand, there was no furze to irritate the shins,
or brambles to tear the clothes. The latter does grow in
Norway, and is much more prized for its fruit than either
raspberry or strawberry, but the former cannot stand the
winters. Linnseus is said to have sat for hours in de-
lighted contemplation of an English field of furze in full
bloom, and the plant is generally seen in Swedish conserva-
tories to this day, or set out in pots as oranges and myrtles
are with us.

The mid-day sun had scattered the clouds of the morning,
as, in truth, it very generally does on a Norway summer
day, and, shining down in patches of brilliant light through
the openings, added to the beauty of the scene, and dimi-
nished in an equal proportion all regrets at leaving the
Torjedahl behind ; for it was quite evident that, except


in the Hell Fall, or the pools, little or nothing could
be done on so bright a day, had the baulks been entirely out
of the question.

It was an hour or two past noon when they arrived at the
ridge which divides the valley of the Torjedahl from that of
the Aalfjer — not that ridge is the proper expression, for the
ground had, for some miles, become so nearly level that,
were it not for a little rill, whose line of rushes had been
for some time their guide, they would not have known
whether they were ascending or descending. The country
still preserved its character of beauty, but its features had
gradually become more tame, so that the inequalities which,
in the beginning of their journey had looked like fragments
of mountains, were now rounded and regular, like so many
gigantic mole-hills.

Between two of these, the turf of which was green and
unbroken to the summit, and shorter and more velvety, if
that were possible, than any they had passed over, was the
source of the rill, a black, boggy, rushy, uninviting bit of
ground, but covered with myrica bushes, which diffused
through the still air their peculiarly aromatic and refreshing
scent ; in the centre of this was a deep still hole — it
could be called nothing else — it certainly was not a spring
head, for there was not a bubble of springing water ; it was
perfectly still and motionless, and looked absolutely black in
its clearness.

It was a welcome halt to all, for the sun was hot and the
wav was long. The well-head was a noted haunt of the
dwarfs or Trolls, indeed it was said to penetrate to the centre
of the earth, and to be the passage through which they
emerged to upper air.

This was the reason why, though everything around
was scorching and dropping in the withering heat, and
though the unshaded sun fell full upon the unprotected
surface, the water was at all times very cold, and yet in
the hardest winter no ice ever formed upon it — its cold
was that of the well of Urdar which waters the roots of
Yggdrassil, the tree of life ; no frost can bind these waters,
neither can they be polluted with leaves or sticks, for a dwarf

k 2


sits continually on guard there, to keep open the passage for
his brethren.

" Well," said Birger, " I can readily believe that these are
the waters of life, I never met with anything so refreshing,
it beats all the brandy in the universe."

Jacob put in no protest to this heresy, but expressed a
practical dissent by applying his mouth to a private bottle
and passing it to Tom.

The Captain was proceeding to wash his face and hands in
the well-head, but the men begged him not to pollute it ; the
rill below, they said, did not so much signify.

The place had been noted by Birger for a halt, and
right glad were they all to disembarrass themselves of their
respective loads, and to stretch themselves in various
attitudes of repose picturesque enough upon the whole,
under the great white poplars whose restless leaves flut-
tered over head though no one could feel the breeze that
stirred them, and shaded the fairy precincts of the haunted

The Parson threw himself on his back upon the turf with
his jacket, waistcoat, and shirt-collar wide open, his arms
extended, and his neckerchief, which he had removed,
spread over his face and bare neck to keep off the mus-
quitoes. He was not asleep exactly, nor, strictly speaking,
could it be said that he was awake ; he was enjoying
that quiet dreamy sort of repose, that a man thoroughly
appreciates after walking for five or six hours on a burn-
ing hot summer's day. His blood was still galloping
through his veins, and he was listening to the beat of his
own pulses.

" This is very delightful, very," he said, in a drowsy
drawling voice, speaking rather to himself than to Torkel.
" A very curious sound, one, two, three, it sounds like distant

"Oh, the Thousand!" said Torkel, "where are we
lying &"

The Parson, when he threw himself down on the hill
side, had been a great deal too hot and tired to pay much
attention to his couch, beyond the evident fact that the turf


was very green and inviting, and that it contained no
young juniper or other uncomfortable bedding : roused by
Torkel's observation, he sat upright, and seeing nothing very
remarkable except a good rood of lilies of the valley at his
feet, the scent of which he had been unconsciously enjoying,
and which did not look at all terrible, stared at him.
" Well," said he, " what is the matter 1 where should we be
lying T

" I do not know," said Torkel, " that is, I do not know
for certain ; but did you not say you heard hammers ?
Stay," he said, looking as if he had resolved to do some
desperate deed — " yes, I will, I am determined," and he
took a piece of clay that was sticking on his right boot,
and having patted it into the size of a half-crown, put it
on his head and dashed his hat on over it. Then shading
his eyes with his hand, he looked fixedly at the hill, as
if he were trying to look through it. " No," said he,
"I do not see anything, I hope and trust you are mis-

" What can you be about ?" said the Parson impatiently,
" have you found a brandy shop in the forest 1"

" I thought it must be the Bjergfolk," he said, " when
you heard the hammers. I never can hear them myself,
because I was not born on a Saturday, and I thought
perhaps you might have been. It is a very round hill too,
just the sort of place they would choose, and they have
not a great deal of choice nowadays, there are so many bells
in the churches, and the Trolls cannot live within the sound
of bells."

" No r said the Parson, « why not ?"

" None of the spirits of the middle earth like bells," said
Torkel, " neither Alfs, nor Nisses, nor Nechs, nor Trolls,
they do not like to think of man's salvation. Bells call
people to church, and that is where neither Troll nor
Alf may go. They are sometimes very spiteful about it,

" In the good old times, when it was Norway and Den-
mark, and we were not tied to those hogs of Swedes as we
are now" (sinking his voice, out of respect to Birger, but by


no means so much so that Birger could not hear him), " they
were building a church at Knud. They pitched upon a
highish mound near the river, on which to build it, because
they wanted the people to see their new church, little
thinking that the mound was the house of a Troll, and that
on St. John's eve, it would stand open supported on real
pillars. Well, the Troll, who must have been very young
and green, could not make out what they were going to do
with his hill, and he had no objection whatever to a house
being built upon it, because he reckoned upon a good supply
of grod and milk from the dairy. He could have seen but
very little of the world above the turf not to know a church
from a house. However, he had no suspicions, and the bells
were put up, and the Probst came to consecrate. The poor
Troll could not bear to see it, so he rushed out into the wide
world, and left his goods and his gold and his silver behind

" The next day a peasant going home from the consecra-
tion saw him weeping and wringing his hands beyond the
hearing of the bells, which was as near as he could venture
to come. And the Troll told him that he was obliged to
leave his country, and could never come back, and asked him
to take a letter to his friends.

" I suppose the man's senses were rather muzzy yet — he
could hardly have had time to get sober so soon after
the ceremonv ; but somehow or another he did not see that
the speaker was a Troll, but took him for some poor
fellow who had had a misfortune, and had killed some one,
and fancied he was afraid of the Landamptman, particu-
larly as he had told him not to give the letter to any
one (indeed it had no direction), but to leave it in the
churchyard of the new church, where the owner would
find it.

" One would naturally wish to befriend a poor fellow in
such a strait ; so the man took the letter, put it into his
pocket, and turned back.

" He had not gone far before he felt hungry, so he took
out a bit of flad brod and some dried cod that he had
put into his pocket. They were all wet. He did not know


how that could be ; but he took out the letter for fear
it should be spoiled, and then found that there was wet
oozing out from under the seal. He wiped it ; but the
more he wiped it, the wetter it was. At last, in rubbing,
he broke the seal, and he was glad enough to run for it
then, for the water came roaring out of the letter like
the Wigelands Foss, and all he could do he could only
just keep before it till it had filled up the valley. And
there it is to this day. I have seen it mysell — a large
lake as big as our Forres Vand. The fact was, the Troll
had packed up a lake in the letter, and would have drowned
church, bells, and all, if he had only sealed it up a little more

" Well," said the Parson, " this beats our penny-post ; we
send queer things by that ourselves, but I do not think any-
body has ever yet thought of sending a lake through the
General Post Office."

" Is there not some story about Hercules cleaning out the
Admiralty, or some such place, in a very similar way ?" said
the Captain.

" No," said the Parson, " I never heard that the Admi-
ralty has ever been cleaned out at all since the days of Pepys.
If ever it is clone, though, it must be in some such wholesale
way as this — I do not know anything else that will do it."

" The hill-men are not such bad fellows, though," said
Tom, on whom all this by-play about the Admiralty was
quite lost, British seaman as he was ; " and, by the way,
Torkel, I wish you would not call them by their names, you
know they do not like it, and may very well do us a mischief
before we get clear of this fjeld. Many people say that
there is no certainty of their being damned after all — our
schoolmaster thinks they certainly will not, for he says he
cannot find anything about damning Trolls in the Bible,
and I am sure I hope it will not be found necessary to damn
them, for they often do us a good turn. There was a Huus-
bonde in the Tellemark who had one of their hills on his
farm that no one had ever made any use of, and he made up
his mind to speak to the Troll about it. So he waited till St.
John's eve came round and the hill was open, and then he


went, and sure enough lie found the Bjergman. He seemed
a good-humoured fellow enough, but he was not so rich as
most of them ; he had only a very few copper vessels in his
hill and hardly any silver.

" ' Herr Bjergman, 'said the Huusbonde, ' you do not seem
to be in a very good case, neither am I. but I think we may
make something of this hill of yours between us — I say
between us, for, you know, the top of the soil belongs to me,
just as the under soil belongs to you.'

" ' Aye, aye ! ' said the Bjergman, ' I should like that very
well. What do you propose? '

" 'Why, I propose to dig it up and sow it, and as we have
both of us a right to the ground, I think in common fairness
we ought both of us to labour at it, and then we will take
the produce year and year about. The first year I will have
all that is above ground and you shall have all below ; and
the next year we will change over, and then you shall have
all that is above and I will have all that is below."

" ' Well,' said the Troll, greatly pleased, ' that is fair, ; I
like dealing with an honest man. When shall we begin % '

« < Why, next spring, I think ; suppose we say after
Walpurgis night, # we cannot get at the ground much

" ' With all my heart,' said the Bjergman — and so they
did. They worked very well together, but the Bjergman
did twice as much work as his friend ; they always do when
they are pleased ; and they sowed oats and rye and bear ;
and when harvest came the Huusbonde took that which was
above the gronnd, the grain and the straw which came to
Ins share, while the Bjergman was very well contented with
his share of roots.

« ( When next Walpurgis night came round they dug up
the ground again ; and this time the Bjergman was to have
all that was above ground, so they manured it well, and
sowed turnips and carrots ; and by and by, when the har-
vest came, the Hussbonde had a fine heap of roots, and the
Bjergman was delighted with his share of greens. There

* The thirtieth of April.


never came any harm of this that I know, each was pleased
with his bargain, and the Huusbonde came to be the richest
man in the Tellemark. You know the family, Torkel, old
Nils of Bygland, it was his grandfathar Lars, to whom it

" Well," said Torkel, " it is quite true, then, I can testify,
I only wish I had a tenth part so many specie-dalers in the
Trondjhem Bank as old Nils has."

" And our Norfolk squires," said the Captain, " fancy it
was their sagacity that discovered the four-course system of
agriculture ! The Trolls were before them, it seems."

" The system seems to answer quite as well in Norway as
ever it did in England," said the Parson, " If all that Tom
tells us about Nils of Bygland be true."

" There is not a doubt of that," said Torkel, " all Telle-
marken knows Nils of Bygland, and it is a great pity, when
we were crossing the lake the other day, that we did not stop
at Ins house ; he was never known to let a stranger go to bed
sober yet."

" I should think he was seldom without company, then,"
said Birger.

" It seems to have answered very well in this particular
case," said Jacob, " but I do not think you can trust beings
without souls, after all. It is best just to make your offering
to Nyssen, and to the Lady of the Lake, and two or three
others, and then to have nothing more to do with them."

"You certainly had better keep a sharp look- out," said
Torkel, "But I think we Norwegians know how to handle
them, and so do our gallant friends the Danes. Did you
ever hear how Kallendborg Church was built V

The Englishmen, at all events, had not, and Torkel went

" Esberne Snorre was building that church, and his means
began to run short, when a Troll came up to him and offered
to finish it off himself, upon one condition, and that was, that
if Snorre could not find out his name he should forfeit his
heart and his eyes.

" Snorre was very anxious to finish his church, and he con-
sented, though he was not without misgivings either ; and the


Troll set about his work in earnest. Kallendborg Church is
the finest church in the whole country, and the roof of its
nave was to stand on four pillars, for the Troll drew out the
plan himself. It was all finished except half a pillar, and
poor Snorre was in a great fright about his heart and his
eyes, when one evening as he came home late from the
market at Roeskilde he heard a Troll woman singing under
a hill—

" Tie stille, barn min,
Imorgeu komuier Fin
Fa'er din,
Og gi'er dig Esberne Snorre's bine og hjerte at lege mid." *

" Snorre said nothing ; but the next morning out he goes
to his church, and there he meets the Troll bringing in the
last half pillar.

" ' Good morning, my friend Fin/ said he, ' you have got a
heavy weight to carry.'

" The Troll stopped, looking at him fiercely, gnashed his
teeth, stamped on the ground for rage, flew off with the half
pillar he was carrying ; and so Snorre built his church and
kept his heart and eyes."

" Do not believe a word of that," said Jacob, " there is not
a word of truth in the story ; and as for Esberne Snorre
building a church, everybody knows he was no better than
he should be at any time of his life.t He was not the man
to build a church, much less to give his eyes for it."

* Lie still, my child ;

In tbe morning comes Fin

Thy father,
And gives thee Esberne Snorre's eyes and heart to play with.
+ Esberne Snorre is the Danish Faust. In no country whatever
was the reformation popular among the peasantry, and therefore the
popular legends invariably assign the leaders and causes of it to the
devil, as in the case of Faust himself, who, whatever Goethe may say,
really was a very respectable tradesman, and had no more to do with
the devil than is involved in the invention of that art which became so
powerful an instrument in the hands of reformers — printing. Esberne
Snorre was what very few of the Danish Reformers were, a really good
and conscientious man, who might well have built the Church of
Kallendborg, or even have given his eyes for it. Nevertheless, pre-
eminently before all the reformers, the devil carries him off bodily in
every legend of the time, just as he did Faust.


" It is true/' said Torkel, " I have been at Kallendborg
Church myself, and have seen the half pillar with my own
eyes. The roof of the nave stands on three pillars and a
half to this day."

" More shame to the Kallendborgers, who never had re-
ligion enough to finish it," said Jacob, " nor ever will. Do
you mean to deny that the Devil carried off Esberne Snorre
bodily ? I think all the world knows that pretty well."

" That shows that he thought him worth the trouble of car-
rying," said Torkel, " he would never put himself out about
carrying off you, because he knows you will go to him of
your own accord."

" Come, come, Torkel," said the Parson, " do not be per-
sonal, and take your fingers off your knife handle ; we cannot
spare our cook yet, and you seem to like Jacob's grod your-
self, too, judging by the quantity you eat of it ; and now,
Jacob, do not grind your teeth, but let us hear why you do
not believe Torkel's story, which certainly is very circum-
stantial, not to say probable."

" Because every one knows that it was Lund Cathedral
that was built by the Trolls, at the desire of the blessed
Saint Laurentius," said Jacob ; " it was he who promised his
eyes for it, and had them preserved by a miracle, not by a
trumpery trick. Esberne Snorre, indeed ; or any Dane, for
matter of that ! A set of infidels ! It is only a Swede who
would give his eyes for the church."

" I should like to know who Scania belonged to at the
time when Lund Cathedral was built," said Tom, " I do not
think it was to the Swedes ; and I should like to know who
took away its archbishopric when they did get it, and made
the great metropolis of all Scandinavia a trumpery little
bishopric under the see of UpsalaT'

" And I should like to know," said Torkel, " who made
bishops ride upon asses, and drink ' du ' with the hangman.
The Swedes give their eyes for the church, indeed ! That for
the Swedes !" snapping his fingers, and spitting on the

This was a poser. Jacob was not only in the minority,
but clearly wrong in matter of fact. At the dissolution of


the union of Kalmar, Scania, though situated in Sweden, was
a Danish province, and its archbishop was, as he always had
been, the metropolitan.

At the present time it is quite true that Scania is a
Swedish province ; but this is a comparatively modern
arrangement. In the days when the cathedral was built,
though geographically a portion of Sweden, it was politically
a province of Denmark ; nor was it till its union with the
former state that its capital, Lund, was deprived of its
ecclesiastical primacy. And the treacherous conduct of
Gustavus Vasa towards Canute, Archbishop of Upsala, and
Peter, Bishop of Westeras, and the contumelies to which
they were exposed, previous to their most unjust execution,
are a blot even in that blood-stained reign, which Geijer
himself, with all his ingenuity, cannot vindicate, and which
the Norwegians, from whose protection the bishops were
lured, are continually throwing in the teeth of their more
powerful neighbours.

Birger himself was a little taken aback, not exactly liking
that the weak points in his country's history should be thus
exposed to strangers.

" Never mind them, Jacob," said he, forcing a laugh, " they
are only Tellemarkers, and know no better. You and I
shall see them, some of these days, climbing the trees of
Goth's garden themselves."*

This bit of national slang, which fortunately was lost on
the Norwegians, had the effect of soothing the ire of the
sulky Jacob, who drew near to his countryman with a happy
feeling of partisanship.

" The sooner the better," said he, bitterly.

* Equivalent to " spoiling a market " in Ireland, or " opening a
Sheriff's ball" in England, — "Goth's garden" being the cant name for
a place of execution in Stockholm, which is adorned with permanent
gibbets, and is so called from the name of the first man who was hanged
there. The saying is Swedish, not Norwegian, not only because it is
local, but because there are no capital punishments at all in Norway.




" Onward amid the copse 'gan peep,
A narrow inlet still and deep,
Affording scarce such breadth of brim
As served the wild duck's brood to swim J
Lost for a space through thickets veering,
But broader when again appearing, —
Tall rocks and tufted knolls their face
Could in the dark-blue mirror trace ;
And farther as the hunter strayed,
Still broader sweep its channels made."

Laxly of the Lake.

" How shall it be ? Will you look your lay-lines to-day or
to-morrow V said the Parson, who, though not a little
amused at the tilting between the rival champions, and by
the manner in which Birger had suffered himself to be drawn
into the squabble, began to think it had gone quite far
enough for the future peace and unanimity of the expedi-
tion. " Come, Jacob, shoulder your knapsack, and march
like a sensible Swede."

" There never was but one sensible Swede," said Torkel, in
a grumbling aside, " and that was Queen Kerstin, when she

Online LibraryHenry [Garrett] 1804-1860 NewlandForest scenes in Norway and Sweden: being extracts from the journal of a fisherman → online text (page 12 of 36)