Henry [Garrett] 1804-1860 Newland.

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

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and soundings ; still less did we suspect that one of his
quartermasters had been the mate of a coasting jagt, and
knew the coast as well as we did. I have met the fellow
since ; he got a boatswain's rating for his services, and I think
he should have got something better.

" At that time I was on board the frigate. Old Hulm,
our commodore, said I was too wild to be trusted with a
separate command, and one morning we were dodging about
where we are now, with a steady breeze from the westward
that looked as if it would stand. There were the old
Dictator's mast-heads, just where we had seen them twenty
times before, over the trees of Laxo, — that is, the island we
are just opening, where those salmon nets are hanging up to

" ' By the keel of Skidbladner, that sailed over dry land,'
says Hulm, ' what is the fellow at now V as we opened the
point of the island, and the line-of-battle ship, that had been
lying with her main-topsail aback, squared away her yards
and dashed in after us. ' O, by Thor and by Mjolner 1 if
that is your fun I will see what Norwegian rocks are made
of. Keep her away a couple of points, quartermaster ; and
Mr. Sinklar (to the first lieutenant), turn the hands up/ By
this time we were running away dead before it ; the enemy,
who was all ready, had her studding-sails set on both sides, — it
was beautiful to see how smartly they went up, it was like a
bird unfolding her wings. ' That's a fine fellow,' said Hulm ;
• it's a pity, too, to sink him, but we must, so here goes.*

" Old Hulm, who was full of fight, all this time dodged
along under plain sail, just as if he did not care for that the big
fellow, and it is my opinion he would not have set his studding-
sails had the distance been less. You see that green point
just on the port bow, that one with the black stone lying off
it : — by the way, I do not see why we should not run the
very course ourselves. I have a passenger to Lyngor, and
we>may just as well go that course as any other. Starboard
your helm, my man ! that will do ! meet her ! keep her as she

" Tjjjjgre, now, you begin to see that there is an opening to
the '^|[ward and northward of that point. As soon as we


brought it abeam, down went our helm, and everything was
braced as sharp up as it would draw ; for the channel winds, as
you see, to the southward of east. We thought to bother her,
but those fifties on two decks are so short, they come round
like tops. We were running free again to the eastward,
outside the channel. When she came abreast of the opening,
in came her studding-sails all at once, and there were her sails
standing like boards, and her yards braced up as sharp as
ours had been, and so much L id he gained upon us, that as
her port broadside came to bear, three or four shots, just to
try the distance, came across the end of the island after us,
skipping and dancing over the seas.

" ' We must get Mjolner to speak to them,' said old Hulm,
rubbing his hands and looking delighted. ' I think she will
pitch her shot home now.' Mjolner was a long French
eighteen, a very handsome brass gun, ornamented with
fleurs-de-lis, and all sorts of jigmarees; the private property
of the captain. Where he had picked it up, no one knew ; —
people said it had been the Long Tom of a French pirate.
Old Hulm had called it Mjolner, which I suppose you know
is the name of Thor's hammer ; he was as fond of it as he
was of his wife, and always kept it on the quarter-deck,
under a tarpaulin, which he never took off except on

" It took some time to train the gun aft, and by this time
the line-of-battle ship had cleared the channel, and was
putting up her helm to follow us. The old skipper laid his
pet gun himself, and squinted, and squinted over her breech,
and elevated, and depressed, and trained to the right, and
trained to the left, till we thought he never meant to
twitch the lanyard at all. Crack went Mjolner. By this
time we had pretty nearly got the line-of-battle ship's three
masts in one, and the shot striking just under the fore top-
mast cross-trees, cut the topsail tie and the jib halyards at
once ; down rattled the yard, snapping the fore top gallant
sheets, out flew the top gallant sail, and away went the jib
dragging under her fore-foot ; and up flew the ship herself
into the wind again, letting drive her broadside at us, as if
she had done it on purpose.


" The old skipper sent his steward for some bottles of true
Cognac, and gave the men a tot all round, to drink Mj bluer' s

" The enemy had brailed up her driver, and braced by her
after-sails, and got before the wind again in no time ; and was
not much longer in bending on a new tie and splicing her
halyards ; but we had got pretty well out of range now, and
were bobbing in and out among a cluster of rocks as thick
as porpoises. We had a man at the flying jib-boom as a
look-out, and a couple more on the spritsail yardarms (for
our ships had not whiskers in those days), and it was nothing
but ' Breakers ahead ! ' ' Rock on the port bow ! ' ' A reef to
starboard !' for the next quarter of an hour or twenty
minutes, enough to make one's hair stand on end. A-ha !
thought I, when the last of them showed clear on the quarter,
this is the skipper's trap ; here's where the old Dictator is
going to lay her bones ! But she did not. She dodged
through every one of them every bit as well as we had done,
and there certainly was no doubt but that the distance be-
tween us was a good deal decreased. These tubs of fifties
sail like a haystack on a wind, but before it they go like
Skidbladner herself.

" Old Hulm began to look grave ; he had never dreamt of
her following him within the islands like that, and he began
to ' smell a rat.' The frigate had been caught on her very
worst point of sailing. We might easily have worked to
windward at first, but now she had got us fairly under her
lee, and if we tried to tack under her guns, she would have
stripped us of every rag of canvas we could show. Mjolner
came into play again, as well as the stern chasers on the main
deck, and to good purpose, too ; but, on the other hand, the
English shot were flying like peas about us — and they did
not always fall short, either. Now and then there was a
rope shot away, or a man knocked over, or a gun capsized, —
for, at that distance, every shot that hit us pitched in upon
the deck and trundled forwards, hopping here and there off
the bulwarks without going through them, like so many
billiard balls.

" ' I will tell you what,' says Hulm, ' I will shove her


through the Lyngor Channel, there is a rock in the middle
that it will be as much as we can do to shave ourselves, and
if we do get past it, the chances are, that it will bring up
the liner ; it is a desperate chance, but we must try it, and
if the Englishman does get through after us (which she will
not), we will reach out into the offing as close to the wind
as we can lie. Port your helm at once, Mr. Sinklar — drop
your main course, and haul out the driver.'

" Up she came to the wind again, but the main-sail, which
had been clewed up while we were running, had got a shot
through it, exactly where the bunt-line gathered it into a
bundle. The shot had gone through fold after fold of the
canvas, cutting the foot-rope also, and before the tack was
well hauled down, the sail had split from top to bottom; and
then, just as she drew in under cover of the land, the mizen
top-mast came clattering about our ears.

" It was all up for beating to windward, unless we could
shift our top-mast in time, and this the enemy was too
close upon us to allow us do ; everything lay on the rock
bringing her up, and as I looked over the side as we passed,
the rugged points looked so close to our own bends, that
I thought they must have gone through ; and the liner drew
more water than we did.

"All eyes were turned on the English ship, at least, on her
sails, for a point of land concealed her hull, and prevented
our firing ; every moment we expected to see her sheets let
fly ; — not a bit of it, — on she came as steadily as ever.

" Just at the village of Lyngor the channel turns at right
angles, and the islands that form it, being high, took the
wind out of our courses ; while we had been running it had
drawn a little to the southward of west, — which, as we had
been off the wind all day, we had not taken notice of — as
we turned the angle it headed us. Whether, under any
circumstances, we could have fetched clear of the northern
cape is doubtful ; without our mizen top-sail it was impos-
sible, for as the courses were becalmed, we really carried
nothing but head sail that would draw ; and in fact, we could
scarcely look up for the cape, much less weather it.

" Down with the anchor ! out boats, to lay out a warp


to spring her ! we will fight it out here !" said old Hulm.
But the Englishman had seen us over the land from his
mast-heads, and anchored by the stern, clewing up or letting
fly everything, and passing out his cable from his stern-port,
so as to check her way by degrees ; when she came into
sight round the point, at not a cable's length from us, she
had a cluster of men on her bowsprit with a hawser. On
she came, as if she was going to leap over the town, and
dropped her men on the houses, who, sliding down by the
dolphin-striker, leaped on shore and made fast with her
hawser forward, while her anchor brought her up abaft.
And there she lay, as steady as a land battery, and opened
her fire. The first broadside, loaded with grape, came
rattling among the boats that were laying out the warp ; what
became of them I never heard ; but the warp lay slack, and
the current drifted us end-on to the line-of-battle ship's
broadside, and I felt our decks crumbling and splintering
under me as her shot tore them up.

" The next thing after that that I recollect, is a great
rough hand pulling me out of the water by my collar, and a
kindly English voice asking me if I was hurt. The smoke
was still lying on the water, and hanging in little clouds
upon the trees ; but all that was to be seen of the old
Najaden, was the main and fore-top gallant and royal masts,
which, with their sails set, were still above water, and the
blue and yellow pennant over all. We had gone down with
our colours flying, and Captain Stuart would not have the
pennant struck, — ' we had fought gallantly for it,' he said,
c and we should keep it still.'

" Poor old Hulm, he was a fine fellow : there now ! that is
the very spot of the action," for by this time they had opened
the point of Lyngor, and had come in sight of the beautiful
little village. " Do you see that iron pillar on the point %
that is Captain Hulm's monument."

" He went down with his ship, then V

" No, he did not ; how he was saved I do not remember,
but he was saved, and rewarded too for his standing up to
the line-of-battle ship ; for Father Karl is an old soldier,
and knows that a man often deserves as much praise for


being beat as for beating. The old fellow lived to a good old
age ; that was his house, that white fronted one on the hill,
for Lyngor was his native place. It is not two years ago
that he was capsized in his little schooner and drowned.
There's his monument, any how ; and I always salute it,
whenever I pass this way :" and as they came abreast of the
point, the GefjorCs swallow-tailed ensign dipped from her
peak, and her little pop-guns again testified their respect to
the old sailor's memory.




"A cautious guest,
When he comes to his hostel,
Speaketh but little ;
With his ears he listeneth,
With his eyes he looketh, —
Thus the wise learneth.

"No better burthen
Bears a man on his journey
Than observation : —
No worse provision
Bears a man on his journey
Than frequent drunkenness."

High Song of Odin the Old.

Early rising is not pleasant at sea. Captain Basil Hall
may talk of the joyous morning watch if he likes, — but there
is nothing joyous in washing decks, and that is what most
ships are occupied with at that hour. The Parson did not make
his appearance on deck till after breakfast, and he was the
first of the party.

The steamer was now approaching the end of her voyage,
for the land, closing on both sides, showed the estuary of the
Gotha. Most of the party were not sorry for the conclusion
of the voyage, enjoyable as the earlier part of it had been ;
for the steamer,— after coasting all the way to Christiania,
where the party had supplied themselves with carioles for
their land journey, which, with their wheels unshipped,
were stowed away snugly forward, — had taken her course,
southward, over the tumbling Skagarack — a part of the
world notorious for sea-sickness.

All the morning long, preparations had been going forward
for making a creditable appearance on arriving in port, and



the discomforts of the early-risers had been considerably in-
creased by a very liberal use of the holy-stone, — an amuse-
ment which, as the men were still employed in blacking the
rigging, gave promise of an early repetition.

Slung from a block at the mainmast head was a small
triangular stage, made of three battens, on which sat a very
dirty individual with a pot of slush before him and a tarring-
brush in his hand, with which he was polishing off his
morning's work on the shining mast.

Seated on the bitts below was a sturdy Norwegian, who,
as if disdaining the compromise usually adopted by the coast-
ing inhabitants, appeared in the caricature of a full-dressed
Tellemarker, with a strip of jacket like a child's spencer, of
orange tawny wadmaal, great loose blue trousers with a
waistband over his shoulder blades, crimson braces, and two
strings of silver bullets dependent from the collars of a very
dirty shirt. He was caressing a particularly ugly dog, which
he called Garin, — an appellation which proved him to be
what in England would be called a fast man ; it is much as
if an English young gentleman were to call his dog Satan.
He was haranguing, of course, on the vast superiority of
Norway to Sweden, and the infinite degradation which the
former country had received from the union of the crowns, —
that being not only the most favourite topic of Norwegian
declamation, but, in the present instance, at all events, the
most injudicious and unsuitable subject in which to exhibit
before so mixed an audience.

They behaved, however, exceedingly well, and rather
trotted him out, much to the disgust of Torkel, who had
sense enough to perceive what was going on, and would have
infinitely preferred their beating him : after vainly en-
deavouring to draw his countrymen away, he had walked
forward, and was looking moodily over the bows.

"As for the Swedes," said our judicious friend, "they are
nothing better than swindlers. I have, for my sins, to go
to Gotheborg every year, to lay in stores for the winter, and
I am sure to be cheated. We don't let Jews land on our
shores, and I must go to Gotheborg to find them."


"Well, but we have no Jews either," said a bye-stander ;
" they do not come to us, they go to the Free Towns."

" You are all Jews ; the real Jews don't go to you, that
is very true, but it is because they know that the Gothe-
borgers are hogs, and their law does not allow them to have
anything to do with unclean animals. Yes, you are all
swine together. Why, I tell you a Norwegian dog would
not touch anything Swedish. Come here, Garm !" — and he
pulled out of his pocket a bit of ham, evidently niched from
the breakfast table.

Here the Parson thought he detected a glance of intelli-
gence between Captain Hjelmar and the man at the mast-
head, who, much amused, had left off his work to listen.

" Come here, Garm !" — placing the tempting morsel on
the deck.

The dog wagged his tail, evidently preparing to seize it.

" Svenske !" said the man. The dog, who had been well
trained in this common trick, turned up his nose with ap-
parent disgust, and refused the meat.

" There !" said he, I defy any Swede among you all to
make a true Norwegian dog eat a bit of it. Garm knows
what you all are, don't you, Garm T

Just then, by the merest accident in the world, the slush-
kettle got unhitched from the stage above his head, and came
tumbling over on the deck, and in its descent, taking the un-
fortunate Norwegian on the nape of his neck as he was
leaning forward to caress his dog, pitched the whole of its
contents between his jacket collar and his back.

Captain Hjelmar rated the man severely for his careless-
ness in spoiling his decks, and, ordering him off the stage,
directed the boatswain to put his name into the black list.
The man, however, did not seem much cast down about it,
but slid down the greasy mast with a broad grin on his
countenance, while the Norwegians carried their discom-
fited companion forward to purify him ; and Garm, profiting
by the confusion, proved a traitor to his country, by not only
swallowing down the Swedish ham, but also by licking up
as much as he could of the Swedish slush that had poured


from the liead and shoulders of his master on the Swedish

The coast of Sweden and the banks of the Gotha below
the town, offer a striking contrast to the lovely sceneiy they
had left. There are the rocks and the fringing islets, as in
Norway, but .here they are all flat, and most of them
absolutely bare. The coasts, too, where they could be seen,
exhibited ledges of rock and wastes of sand, with just enough
cultivation to make the desolateness painful, by connecting
it with the idea of people living there. Eider ducks would
dive before them, and wild-fowl in little knots would cross
they? course, and hoopers would go trumpeting over their
heads, with their white wings reflecting the sun like silver,
and dippers of all sorts would play at hide-and-seek with the
waves, and seals would put up their bullet-heads to gaze at
them as they passed. The water is always beautiful when
the sun shines directly upon it ; but the eye must not range
so far as the shore, for no sunshine could gild that.

There was a good deal of life, and traffic too, upon the
waters, for Gotheborg, the nearest port to the Free Towns
and to all foreign trade whatever, as well as the outlet of the
river navigation, may be considered the Liverpool of

As they proceeded the scenery slightly improved : the right
bank began to be dotted with houses and small villages,
wretched enough compared with the picturesque jilaces on
the other end of the Skaggerack, but at all events showing
signs of life. At length they became continuous, and at a
couple of miles distance, the three churches of Gotheborg,
with the close cluster of houses, came into view. The anchor
was dropped opposite to the fishing suburb of Gammle
Hafvet, and a shore-going steamer came alongside to receive
the passengers ; which steamer, much to the fishermen's
delight, contained their old friend Moodie, who, on hearing
that the Norway packet had been signalized, had gone to
meet her on the chance of seeing them.

Moodie was a singular character, — a cadet of good family,
and brought up to no profession ; he had been from his
childhood passionately fond of field sports, in all of which he



excelled. At an early age he had become his own master
with a good education, some usage of the world, a handsom
person, a peculiarly active frame and sound constitution, an(
two hundred a year, pour tout potage. Rightly judginj
that England afforded no fitting scope for his peculiar talents
without the imminent danger of a committal for poaching
he had expatriated himself to Ireland ; which country, h
had, in a sporting point of view, thoroughly studied, an(
made himself completely master of its resources ; he kne\
when every river in the whole island came into season an<
went out, and the best and cheapest way of transferring sel
and encumbrances from one point to another. He knew th
times at which the woodcocks and the snipes would arrive
and the out-of-the-way places at which they may be safeb
shot ; he could give a catalogue raisonnee of all the way
side public-houses in sporting localities, and was hand-in
glove with half the disreputable squireens of Ireland. Cer
tainly, he bagged more grouse annually than many a mai
who pays a rent of five or six hundred a year for the privi
lege of supplying the London markets.

It was on the Erne that the fishermen had met him, am
Moodie being an extremely well-informed and gentleman-lik
man, besides being a thorough sportsman, they had strucl
up with him what might be called an intimate acquaintance^
which, now that they met as Englishmen on a foreign land
might be considered an intimate friendship.

It was the railroads, and the consequent invasion of th<
cockneys, which had expatriated Moodie from Ms adopte<
country ; people began to preserve, too, and to let thei
fishing and shooting-grounds ; even the Erne was not wha
it had been, and Moodie, whose whole belongings, beside
his live stock in the shape of dogs, were contained hi
two portmanteaus and as many gun-cases, packed then:
and one morning found himself standing on the quay c

If, instead of the coast of Sweden, it had been the coas
of the Cannibal Islands, Moodie would soon have fount)
himself at home ; but here he had letters of introduction, an<
Kari Johaiin, who had a high opinion of the English, wa


very anxious to get an infusion of English blood among his

Swedes. Moodie's peculiar talents, too, which in England

might have consigned him to the county jail, in Sweden

found their legitimate outlet ; he soon found a beautiful

little country house on the banks of the Gotha ; had no

difficulty in renting the exclusive right of fishing for some

miles above and below it ; paid the rent and all expenses of

boats and boatmen, and put a handsome sum into his pocket

besides, by supplying Gotheborg with lake salmon (salmo

ferox). He then got the rangership of a royal forest, by

which he kept his numerous hangers-on in what he called

butcher's meat, and traded with the Zoological Gardens and

private collections in the wild beasts and birds of the country,

by means of which traffic, he had furnished himself with the

1 choicest collection of sporting fire-arms and fishing tackle

' to be found in the north. Besides which, Moodie had

! become a public character. Sweden has its wild beasts as

well as its ordinary game, — he who destroys a wolf or a

I bear is a public benefactor, and Moodie had a peculiar

| talent for tracking them. Every farmer within a hundred

j miles of Gaddeback would pull off his hat to him ; but that is

I not saying much, for a Swede is always pulling off his hat,

I and if he had nothing else to pull it off to he would be

{ making his salaams to the cows and sheej^.

It was not a great deal of Gotheborg the fishermen saw
that evening ; their experience of the country was confined
I to a march by the shortest road from the landing place to
1 Todd's Hotel, and their subsequent view to a sort of Dutch
} interior, of which pipes, tobacco, bottles, glasses, juniper
I beer of native manufacture, and thin vinous importations
I from Bordeaux, made up the accessories ; but the fishermen

I had much to inquire after, and Moodie had much to tell.

Breakfast, always a luxurious meal in the north, at least, in

summer time, on account of the quantities of berries and the

. abundant supply of cream, brought a visitor, — a young artil-

I I lery officer, a friend of Birger, by name Dahlgren, and by
I i rank Count, who had his quarters in the inn, — for the

Swedish officers have no mess like ours, but lodge perma-
I'nently in the hotels, paying a fixed sum per week, and

a 2


dining at the table d'hote. Like Birger, lie was a painter,
but whereas the guardsman exercised his art simply as an
amateur, or at most, in the public service of his country, his
friend, Count as he was, exercised his as a profession, and as a
means of eking out his scanty pay.

There would be a grand review that afternoon, he said,
and it would be well worth seeing, for Gotheborg is the
great artillery station of Sweden, and the Commander-in-
Chief, with his staff, who were on a tour of inspection, had

Online LibraryHenry [Garrett] 1804-1860 NewlandForest scenes in Norway and Sweden: being extracts from the journal of a fisherman → online text (page 21 of 36)