Henry [Garrett] 1804-1860 Newland.

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

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gay apron, with the ribbons, and beads, and the silver chains
and necklaces, I should think were hired ; the dollars round her
neck are her dowry in all probability, and, consequently, her
own ; so is the muff, and the handkerchiefs of various colours
that hang from it ; and possibly, also, those yellow kid
gloves. But look at the crown itself ! why it is silver gilt ! —
and that scarf, which hangs down from the spray on the top
of it, is covered with satin lappets, three-quarters long ! now
do you think a peasant would buy that 1 A green bridal,
you see, is a much more modest affair ; they wear their silver
chains over their green bodices like the others, but on their
heads, instead of the crown, they have the ordinary wimple
of married women, made of fine white linen, and above it the
triangular snood of unmarried girls."

" Here come our party at last ! What a host they have
collected ! the church will not hold them all. And there is
pretty Lota, with her bridesmaids after her. Well, I hope
no one will pull her crown off; how pretty she looks in it."

" Not half so pretty as that little fresh-looking, innocent,
Lilla Nordlingen," said Birger. " Upon my word I am half
inclined to make love to her myself."

" You had better not, Mr. Guardsman, you do not stand
the ghost of a chance ; how she would turn up that innocent
little Norwegian nose of hers at a brute of a Swede. Besides,
do you not see how she is making love to the Captain,
how uncommonly smart the Captain has turned out in his


red uniform ! to which the moustache he has been growing
ever since he has been here, forms so appropriate an appen-
dage. Your blue and yellow would look dingy to eyes that
have been dazzled with such scarlet magnificence."

" Ah, well, we will see. The Captain looks as if he were
saying to her, ' Aimez moi vite, car je pars demain.'' '

" That's your best chance," said the Parson, maliciously ;
" but come, the bells are ringing in, and we had better get
into the ranks of the procession. Here comes Nordlingen,
with his long-legged Candidatus at his heels."

While the Pfarrherr went in to array himself in his
robes, the different marriage parties, warned by the bells,
had begun to arrange themselves into one grand procession ;
while their respective musicians, who together formed a
pretty numerous band, laid their heads together about the
tune to be played on this grand occasion, and tuned their
fiddles into concord.

The party had by this time increased considerably, and
when at last the band, having settled their harmonious dif-
ferences, marched up the nave of the church playing, some-
what incongruously, a jolly polka, there marched after them
no less than six happy couples, with their followers, each
bride and each bridegroom having a silver ort (ninepence)
tied up under their respective garters, for luck. Only two
of the six were crowned brides, and that, Birger whispered,
as they took their places, was a wonderfully large pro-

First after the fiddlers came the Candidatus in his gown,
who had gone out to marshal the procession ; then came the
married men related to the parties, in their short blue
jackets and white-fronted shirts, some of which were clean ;
then came the bridegrooms with their bridesmen, dressed
something in the same fashion, except that they aflected
buckskin breeches and white stockings : each bridegroom,
by way of distinction, had a fine white handkerchief (cam-
bric, if he could possibly come by it), tied round his right
arm ; then came the bridesmaids in green, (which there is
not an unlucky colour as it is with us), with bare heads, and


their hair, which was plaited with many coloured ribands,
hanging down their backs in two tails ; then the bride-leaders,
married women, who are supposed to encourage the brides
during the ceremony, and lastly, the brides themselves, in all
their splendour. The chancel was as full as it could hold,
the principals disposing themselves round the altar, kneeling,
while the bridesmaids held canopies of shawls and handker-
chiefs over their heads, and the congregation craned in through
the chancel rails, while the priest proceeded with the service.

Scarcely was the benediction pronounced, when the fiddlers
again struck up their polka, and the happy couples, now
arm-in-arm, marched down after them, (the wedding-party
forming a sort of escort), and proceeded with great ceremony
to the prsestgaard meadow, where the marriage feast — an
enormous pic-nic — was prepared for them, and where the
wedding presents, many of them of considerable value, were
set out for public inspection.

These were not exactly the expensive sort of trumpery
which forms the staple of bridal presents in England, — silver
vessels that no one ever drinks out of, and dressing cases far
too expensive for ordinary use. The presents here were real
honest implements of house-keeping or farming; pots and
pans, and plates and dishes, and chairs and tables, — spades,
pickaxes : a tonne of rye-meal was the offering of one, — a
sack of potatoes of another ; here was a pile of oderiferous
salt- fish, — there a flitch of bacon, at which one of the Captain's
best jokes missed fire — bacon having no allegorical value what-
ever in Norway ; here again was a good milch cow, tethered
to a tree, or half-a-dozen sheep or pigs folded with hurdles,
while the bride's feather-beds would have borne a high
value in England. Lota's were something quite magni-
ficent. With such hunters in her train, as Torkel and poor
Svensen, and her own brother Jan, (who in his younger days
and before he had found out some one to whom to transfer
his youthful allegiance, had contributed largely to his sister's
stores), it was not to be wondered at if she easily eclipsed all
the brides of the season.

At a comparatively early hour, Torkel and his wife took


their leave, as they had that evening to reach Lonvik, a pretty
little farm in the interior, on the banks of a small lake of the
same name, which Torkel's father had given up to him on his
marriage. But this by no means put a stop to the festivities,
which were carried on to a late hour in the night, and at
which, Sunday though it was, Nordlingen himself presided.
Sunday in Norway begins at six o'clock on Saturday night,
when invariably preparations are commenced for the next
day, in the way of looking up Sunday clothes, and brushing
up or washing out the house, — sometimes, in religious
families, by special prayer, though that is not very common,
— sometimes even by washing their own persons, though this,
it must be confessed, is rarer still, — for all of them have a very
great horror of the personal application of soap and water.
Sunday, therefore, even as a day of worship, legitimately
ceases at the same hour on the following day, and, as Nord-
lingen himself remarked, — what was a more fitting time for
enjoyment than just after they had been admitted to their
Lord's presence, and had had their sins forgiven them. It
was surely much more congruous than the English way of
" making a Saturday night of it," with all their sins yet upon
their shoulders.

If, however, there was dancing, there was no visible
drunkenness ; the Pfarrherr was a man of sufficient influence
to make a stand against the national vice, and if any of the
guests did feel a little the worse for liquor, he quietly took
himself, or was taken by his friends, beyond the glare of the
great bonfire, where no one could see him, — for Nordlingen
was wise enough not to look too closely into what was not
intended for his inspection.

It was this idea, or perhaps the recollection that the
Haabet was to sail the next day, that induced him to close
his eyes to the fact that that innocent little Lilla had danced
with no one but the Captain the whole evening, on the plea
that no girl of the party, except herself, was able to talk to
him in English. Whatever it was that they had to say to
one another, there was a good deal of it, and it took a good
while saying, and as Birger, who was outrageously jealous


remarked spitefully, — " they, as well as the drunkards, pre-
ferred evidently the light of the moon to that of the great
wedding bonfire," and thinking, probably, how he would
make up for lost time after the Ilaabet had tripped her
anchor, whistled pensively the Swedish song —

"Hence on the shallows our little boat leaving,
On to the Haaf where the green waves are heaving,
Causing to Thyrsis so much dismay."

2 D




And, now, my good friends, I've a fine opportunity
To obfuscate you all by sea terms with impunity.

And talking of " caulking,"

And "quarter-deck walking,"

" Fore and aft,"

And "abaft,"
"Hookers," "barkeys," and "craft,"
(At which Mr. Poole has so wickedly laught) ;
Of "binnacles," "bilboes," the boom called the "spanker,"
The best "bower cable," the "jib," and sheet anchor ;"
Of " lower-deck guns," and of " broadsides and chases ;"
Of "taff-rails" and "top-sails," and " splicing main braces,"
And " shiver my timbers," and other odd phrases
Employed by old pilots with hard-featured faces •"
Of the expletives sea-faring gentlemen use, —
The allusions they make to the eyes of their crews.


The Haabet did not sail that night, which indeed was hardly
possible, her Captain being employed in dancing, and making
love, and singing, in the words of Karl Bellman, —

"Awake, Amaryllis! my dearest, awaken, —
Let me not go to sea by my true love forsaken, —
Our course among dolphins and mermaids is taken :
Onwards shall paddle our boat to the sea."

Neither did the Haabet sail on the morrow, for the wind
had chopped round to the south-west ; neither did she sail
tHe next day, for there was a dead calm ; — there was plenty
of time for leave-taking, and a leisurely journey to Christian-
sand besides, which was accomplished in the carioles — their
last journey, as Tom feelingly remarked. The Captain


arrived at Ullitz's, a good hour behind the rest, who would
not wait for the end of his last conference with Lilla Nord-
lingen. — They were, besides, a little anxious about the
weather, for the season was somewhat advanced, and every-
thing was so deadly calm, that it was quite evident a change
of some sort was at hand.

What that change was, the next morning made manifest
enough, for the wind was roaring round the house, and the
rain pattering furiously against the windows long before the
sun was up.

However, the old copper lion that surmounted the church
had veered round again, and was turning his battle-axe
towards England, and Jan Torgensen — Captain Torgensen
we should call him now in virtue of his new command, and
in truth he was not a little proud of the title himself, — came
in just as a very sulky breakfast was completed, and an-
nounced, "that as the wind was fair, he did not care the scale
of a herring how much there was of it, and that this night
should be spent at sea."

No one was sorry for this announcement, not even
Birgesr, who was going back to Nordlingen's, as he said, " in
order to console Ariadne for the desertion of her faithless
Theseus." The pleasures of the summer had departed, and it
was useless to linger over the scenes of past enjoyments. At
Nordlingen's perhaps the time might have passed pleasantlj*
enough, notwithstanding the change of weather, but Chris-
tiansand has but few resources for a rain}'' day; and besides
this, the very idea of a prolonged parting is depressing.
Torkel was gone, and Tom was much too low for a story
or a joke. There were, however, some marine difficulties —
there always are ; papers are never ready, and agents are
always behind time, and thus, though every one was anxious
to be off, and noue less than Torgensen himself, who grudged
every blast of the fair wind, it was full five o'clock before the
anchor broke ground ; and a cake, the last token of Marie's
affection, having been previously placed on the taffrail ipr
Nyssen, the Haabet turned her stem to the blast, and set
her fore-sail, and hoisted a couple of double reefed top-sails to
receive it. The rain redoubled — certainly if Gammle Norge

9 ™ 9
a it u


had received them with smiles, she honoured their departure
with tears.

The first thing that met the Captain's eye, as he turned
from waving the last farewell to Birger's receding boat, was
the pilot, roaring drunk already, and the mate supplying him
with no end of additional brandy. He went forward to draw
Torgen sen's attention to this apparently dangerous breach of
naval discipline.

" Be quiet," said Torgensen, in broken English, " the mate
knows very well what he is about, I supplied him with the
brandy myself. That drunken rascal is sure to get us into a
scrape, if he has sense enough left in his drunken body to
fancy he can take charge of the ship ; and I am obliged, by
law, to take him drunk or sober. As soon as he gets too
drunk to interfere, which I am happy to say will be the
case very shortly, I shall pilot my own ship, and I should
think I ought to know how to take her out of Christiansand
by this time — we all do that ; in fact, these drunken pilots are
nothing: but an incumbrance." And an incumbrance in this
instance he proved, for, Torgensen having safely carried his
brig to the mouth of the fjord, they were obliged to heave
to for the pilot's boat, which kept them waiting for a good
hour more. The Parson suggested taking him to sea ; but
Torgensen swore he had had too much of him already.

It was long after dark, therefore, when they passed the
lighthouse, which they did in a furious squall of wind and
rain, and stood out to sea under close reefed top-sails and
reefed fore-sail, with two men at the helm, the brig steering
as wild as if the Nyssen were blowing on both quarters at
once, but dashing away through it for all that, and heaping
up the sea under her bluff bows.

The whole surface was one vast blaze of phosphoric light
— the ship's ragged wake was a track of wavering flame, the
water that broke from her bows was a cataract of fire, a rope
that was towing under her counter (Torgensen was not at
all particular about these little matters), was ten times more
visible than it would have been by broad daylight, for every
strand in it was clearly defined by lines of delicate blue flame,
while each breaking wave was a flash of brightness. The


wind was as fair as it could be, and as they drew out from
under the lee of the land, seemed enough to tear the sails
from their bolt ropes.

" Hurrah for Nyssen !" shouted Torgensen ; but he shouted
a little too soon, for not an hour afterwards they were close
hauled with a south-west wind, dead foul, dancing like a
cork in a mill pond, on the top of a tumbling cross sea, and
plodding along at barely three knots ; not even looking up
within four points of their course.

And the next day, and the next night, and the next, the
same monotonous story ; only as the wind settled to the
south-west, the bubble went down, and it was not so difficult
to walk the three steps and a half, which formed the Haabeis

Still the only answer to the anxiously repeated morning
question of " How is her head," was, when most favourable,
" half a point southward of west, — think we shall weather the
Naze, please God."

Torgensen was always in high spirits, and was as proud of
his new command, the Captain said, as a peacock with two
tails ; and she really had qualities of which a commander
might well be proud, as a sea-boat, — but these did not com-
prehend either beauty, or comfort, or speed.

There is no between decks in a Norwegian timber brig,
the whole space being occupied with its bulky cargo, much
of which lumbers up the waist, and forecastle besides ; the
crew inhabited a small hurricane-house just abaft the main-
mast ; a very small slip of this was bulk-headed off for the
mate, — while the remainder — and a very small remainder it
was — served the crew for parlour, and kitchen and all, for
there was no other cookery place in the ship ; in one sense
this was an advantage, for they could cook in the worst of
weathers, and this is not always practicable in a merchant
ship ; but if they did get this advantage over the wind and
rain, it was, as the Captain remarked, a very dirty advantage
indeed. All that there was of cover below the deck, was a
very small sail-room aft, also used as a bread- room ; before
this was the Captain's cabin, measuring exactly eight feet by


six, which served for Torgensen and his two passengers, and
for a purser's store-room into the bargain, with all its in-
describable stinks. After a very little practice, the Captain
declared he could always tell the tack they were on, by the
particular description of stink that was uppermost, and
used to say that they had got their starboard or port stinks
on board, as the case might be.

The bread alone of the ship's provisions was under cover ;
the beef and pork was stored in harness casks, lashed to the
bulwarks, thus diminishing still more the very diminutive
quarter-deck. In fact, a quarter-deck walk was what none
of them ever thought of.

Hurrah ! — the Naze bearing NT. N. E., and all dangers of a
lee- shore past : a lee-shore in timber ships is no joke ; they
never sink — they cannot, for the Norwegian deals and
baulks being of less specific gravity than water, the ship
that carries them would be buoyed up even if water-logged,
but their very want of specific gravity is the cause of their
danger on a lee-shore ; besides being full below, the whole
deck is lumbered up for six feet or more, and the centre of
gravity is so high that they are all crank to the most ticklish
degree ; and, though invariably carrying very low sail, re-
quire every attention to keep them on their legs ; for this
reason, if caught on a lee-shore in anything like a breeze,
they can never claw off, for they can carry nothing without
tumbling over on their beam ends. For this reasou, every
Norwegian is very careful of an offing, it is the only thing he
seems to care much about. When the wind changed, every
ship that the fair breeze had tempted out of Christiansand
that day had put back, and Torgensen only had held on,
partly because he knew the comparatively weatherly
qualities of his brig, but principally because he was young
and foolish.

Toward evening the wind drew round to the northward,
and the brig was able, first to lie her course, then to shake
out the reefs from her topsails, and lastly, having brailed up
her fore and aft mainsail, to display a very ragged suit of
studding-sails, which together got a fathom or two over six


knots out of her — the very top of her speed, — and the Naze
slowly sank below the horizon, fading into blue as it

But this good luck was not to hold ; fine weather re-
turned, but with it calm and light baffling breezes, with the
ship's head looking every way except that which she was
wanted to go. Singular as anything of cleanliness seems
among people who personally rejoice in dirt, there was more
fuss in cleaning decks than is to be seen in many a man-of-
war ; the very cabin-deck was holy-stoned every morning, as
well as the quarter-deck ; though so far as the latter was
concerned, this was rendered absolutely useless by the
abominable habit of spitting, for which the Norwegians
deserve as much notice as the Americans themselves, and
which they do not yet only " quia carent vate sacro" because
they have not a Mrs. Trollope to write about them. In the
present instance this was the more inexcusable, because the
northern style of ship-building pinches in their ships so
much aft, that a man with strong lungs might set on
the weather bulwark, and with ease spit over the lee-

As for seamanship, there are no smarter seamen in the
world than the Norwegians when there is need, or more
slovenly when there is not ; but how they contrive to navi-
gate their ships is a mystery which none but a Norwegian
can solve. The whole of it is done by dead reckoning, with,
in the North Sea at least, a pretty liberal use of the lead :
besides the deep-sea lead, their only nautical instruments
are the log, and what they call the " pein-compassen." This
last is a compass-card made of wood, and marked with
thirty-two lines corresponding to the points, and drawn
from the centre to the circumference, on which centre
revolves freely a brass needle of equal length with the

On starting, the true bearing of the destined port, or of
some remarkable point or headland which must be sighted
during their voyage, is taken, and the " pein-compassen" is
fixed to the binnacle, with that part set towards the head of
the vessel. This, for that particular voyage, is called "the


steering line ;" and so long as the true compass tallies with its
wooden brother — that is to say, so long as the ship looks up
for her port, — the whole run is given her at the end of each
watch ; but, in traverse sailing, the two compasses must of
course point different ways. In this case, at the end of the
watch if the wind has been steady, or whenever the ship,
from tacking, or any other cause, alters her course or her rate
of sailing, the brass needle on the " pein-compassen" is turned
to that point of the compass to which the ship's head has
actually been lying, and a line is drawn from that point with
chalk, intersecting the " steering line" at right angles. The
part cut off between the centre of the compass and the
point of intersection gives the actual gain in distance to the
port towards which she is bound, and answers to the cosine of
our more scientific nomenclature. This, with some corrections
for lee-way, is given to her, while the chalk line drawn from
the point of the moveable needle to the point of intersection,
which answers to our sine, gives the number of miles
which the adverse wind has compelled her to diverge from
her course, and which must be compensated for by a corres-
ponding deviation on the other tack.

Thus it is that, day after day, the ship's reckoning is kept,
not by calculation, but by actual measurement, performed by
a pair of compasses on a graduated scale ; and, clumsy as
this contrivance may seem, they do navigate their ships with
an accuracy that might put some of our merchant skippers
to shame, — to say nothing of the masters in Her Majesty's

So far as the North Sea goes, which is the principal scene
of Norwegian navigation, this mode of reckoning is consider-
ably assisted by the lead, — indeed, it would be hardly too
much to say that these timber ships are navigated by the
lead alone. The soundings of the whole North Sea are accu-
rately marked, and it so happens that there is considerable
variety in the sand which the arming brings up ; besides
which there are a good many " pits," as they are called — that

* The author will not answer for his orthography in the word "pein-
compassen." He can work, a reckoning by it, but has never seen it


is to say, small spaces, some of them not a mile across, in
which, for some unexplained reason, the depth is suddenly
increased. Should the ship be so fortunate as to strike one
of these, they are so accurately noted in the charts, that it is
as good as a fresh departure.

It was about a week or ten days after the Naze — the last
point of Norway — had faded from their sight, like a dim blue
cloud, that the Parson was sitting or lying at the foot of the
foremast in a soft niche, which he had arranged for himself
among the deck timber, and had called his study. He was
reading, for the books which they had brought with them,
and which, hitherto, they had had neither time nor inclination
to look into, were now very acceptable indeed. The Captain,
sitting on the bulwark abreast of him, and steadying himself
by the after- swifter, was watching the proceedings of some
visitors who had come on board the preceding evening — a
kestrel and half-a-dozen swallows. The swallows were so
tired when they came on board, that they readily perched on
the fingers that were held out to them, and one of them had
passed the night on the battens in the mate's cabin. The
hawk did not seem a bit the worse for his journey ; he was

Online LibraryHenry [Garrett] 1804-1860 NewlandForest scenes in Norway and Sweden: being extracts from the journal of a fisherman → online text (page 35 of 36)