Henry [Garrett] 1804-1860 Newland.

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

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during his play, a very singular method which both the tjader and the
black-cock has ot calling together the females of their respective species,
is strictly contrary to law.

J Fjeld Ripa — The mountain grouse ; a bird something like our
ptarmigan, the pursuit of which is always attended with toil, and some-
times danger.


Mr. Tom great credit for his sentiments. "Well, you must look
me out a man, too. This will not be so very difficult, as I
speak the language pretty well for a foreigner."

In fact, Birger had been practising the language a good
deal already, and not a little to the Captain's envy, by making
fierce love to the daughter of the house ; an amusement with
which guardsmen, Swedish as well as English, do occasionally
beguile their leisure moments ; and, to the Captain's infinite
disgust, Marie did not seem to lend by any means an unfa-
vourable ear to his soft speeches.

" Oh," said Ullitz, " we shall have no difficulty whatever
in finding a man ; if there is anything these people love
better than gain, it is pleasure, and here we have both com-
bined. My only difficulty lies in making the selection. I
have reckoned that each of the highborn gentlemen will want
a boatman besides his own man ; but I have engaged these
only for the trip to Wigeland, as you will no doubt like to
change them there for men who are acquainted with the
upper river ; but you can keep them if you like, they will be
but too happy to go."

"All right, then, we will start to-morrow afternoon, and
get as far as Oxea before we sleep. The morning, I suppose,
must be devoted to hearing Tom's report from the Custom-
house, making our selections for the trip, arranging our heavy
ba^agfe that we are to leave here, and seeing that our outfit
is all right. I like to make a short journey the first day,
in order that if anything is forgotten, it may be sent back

" Not at all a bad general maxim," said the Captain : " and
now to bed j for the broad daylight is already putting out the
blaze even of Madame Ullitz's candles."

"With all my heart," said the Parson, " it is high time ;"
and rising from his seat and going round to where Madame
Ullitz sat, he took her hand, and bowing low, said, " Takfor
mad" — thanks for the meal.

"Yel de bekomme," said the lady, — well may it agree
with you.

In this ceremony he was followed by the whole party,

60 "GO TO BED, TOM."

who, shortly after separating, sought their respective sleeping-

The beds were queer concerns, certainly : beautifully clean,
and fragrant with all manner of wild herbs ; but as unlike
the English notion of a bed (which in that country is always
associated with ideas of a recumbent position), as is well pos-
sible. A thick, straw mattress, shaped like a wedge, occu-
pied the upper half. Upon this were placed two enormous
pillows, fringed with lace. The rest of the bed was simply a
feather-bed placed on the ticking, and so much lower, that
the sleeper takes his rest almost in a sitting position. The
whole, including the quilt, was stuffed luxuriously, not with
feathers, but with the very best eider-down j for Madame
Ullitz, in her maiden days, had been at least as celebrated a
beauty as her daughter was now, and unnumbered had been
the offerings of eider-down made by her hosts of admirers,
who had braved wind and wave to procure for her that most
acceptable of all presents to a Norwegian girl — at once the
record of her past triumphs, and the glory of her future home.
The jnudent traveller in Norwegian territories will always
do well, if he has the chance, to choose for his residence the
house of a ci-devant beauty.

Little, however, did the travellers reck of mattress or
feather-bed, Madame Ullitz'spast conquests, or her daughter's
present bright eyes — a sea- voyage, four or five restless nights,
a long day's work, and a plentiful supper at the end of it,
equalize all those things ; and, though the sun was shining
brightly through the shutterless and curtainless windows,
five minutes had not elapsed before it was indifferent to them
whether they had sunk to rest on eider-down or poplar
leaves ; or whether their beds had been strewed for them by
the fair hands of the bright-eyed Marie, or by those of the
two lumps of girls who had assisted at the grand supper.




"Foresight is needful
To the iar traveller :
Each place seems home to him :
Least errs the cautious."


"And now for work," said the Parson, as, somewhat late
on the following morning they rose from a breakfast as sub-
stantial and plentiful as had been the supper of the night
before. The ordinary meals of a Norwegian are, in fact,
three good substantial dinners per diem, with their propor-
tionate quantity of strong drink : one at nine or ten, which
they call " Frokost" ; one at two or three, which is termed
" Middagsmad" ; and one in the evening, called " Afton."
But, whatever they call them, the fare is precisely the same
in all ; the same preliminary glass of brandy, the same very
substantial hot joints, the same quantity of sweetmeats, and,
at Christiansand at all events, the same liberal supply of
fish. Tea and coffee are not seen at any of them, but gene-
rally form an excuse for supernumerary meals an hour or so
after the grand ones.

The strangers were not yet acclimated ; they lounged over
their morning's meal as if the recollections of their yesterday's
supper were yet green in their memories. Not so the natives.
No one would suppose that they had supped at all — they ate
as if they had been fasting for a week.

All things, however, come to an end, — even a Norwegian's
breakfast ; and the Parson stood in the porch receiving
English Tom's report from the custom-house, and cataloguing
the packages as they arrived. These included two dogs ; one


a very handsome brindled bay retriever, called "Grog,"
belonging to the Captain ; the other an extremely accom-
plished poaching setter, his own friend and constant com-
panion. These, wild with joy at their newly regained
liberty and restoration to their respective masters, from whose
society they had been separated during the whole voyage,
were grievously discomposing the economy of Madame
Ullitz's well-ordered house.

A small assortment of necessaries was packed in deal
covered baskets or boxes, — for they looked as much like the
one as the other. This manufacture is peculiar to the
country, and is equally cheap and convenient. These, with
the rods, guns, ammunition, and boat furniture, including the
sails which were to form tents on the occasion, together with
Madame Ullitz's liberal supply of provisions (among which
the ro kovringer were not forgotten), were arranged in the
porch, and one by one were transferred by the boatmen to
the bridge quay, where the boats were lying. The weightier
articles were consigned to the keeping of Ullitz, and were
lodged in his ample store rooms.

" Now, Captain," said the Parson, as they stood on the
bank of the noble river, " do you take a spare boat and a
couple of hands, and pull as far as the first rapids ; let Torkel
be one of them, and he will show you the place. There is on
the left bank of the river, a sort of rude boat canal, which is
not always passable. If we can contrive to get through it,
we will sleep at Oxea to-night : but, if the boats require to
be hauled over land, we must be satisfied with that for one
day's work, return here to sleep, and carry our things over
land to-morrow morning. It will take me a couple of hours,
at the least, to fit these things, but I shall be ready for you
by the time you return. And, to tell you the truth," he
added, in a whisper, " I wish you could take Birger with
you. He is doing nothing but laugh and joke ; and he
makes the men so idle, that I shall get on twice as well
without him. Set him to harl for salmon — anything, to get
rid of him. It will be of use, too ; for if he meet with any-
thing down here we may be sure that Wigeland is alive
with fish. You will see a reef of rocks on the right bank, a


quarter of a mile above tlie town : it is not a bad throw —
set him to work there."

Birger was delighted at the idea, and, as the Parson would
spare none of the boats or boatmen, he took a small praam
that belonged to one of the men, and prepared to accompany
the Captain on his expedition.

Birger certainly was no fisherman : he could but just
throw a clumsy fly, and had never caught a salmon in his
life, or seen one, except at table : but harling is a science
open to the meanest capacity. It is the manner in which
cockney sportsmen catch their salmon in the Tweed, and
consists of traversing and re-traversing the width of the river,
with a rod and twenty yards of line hanging out of the stern
of the boat. The fly thus quarters the water backwards and
forwards without any exertion of the fisherman, and even the
salmon that seizes it effectually hooks itselt before the rod
can be taken in hand. On the Tweed, the fisherman has
actually nothing to do, but to pay his boatmen, who, by
choosing their own course, perform the very little science
which this operation requires. In the present case, Birger,
having to manage his own boat, was far more the artificer of
his own fortune ; but his success depended on his skill, not
as a fisherman, but as a boatman — an accomplishment in
which no Northman is deficient, — rather than on his science
and dexterity as a fisherman.

As soon as the exploring party had left, the Parson, with
his lieutenant and interpreter, Tom, and the remaining three
boatmen, addressed himself seriously to work. Every Norse-
man is a carpenter ; indeed, every Norseman may be set
down as a Jack-of-all-trades ; and under Tom's interpretership
they very soon began to understand what was wanted.

TJnder the starboard gunnel of each, boat, and close to the
right-hand of the sitter, were screwed two copper brackets
lor the gun, protected by a short curtain of waterproof. On
the opposite side was a sort of shelf or ledge for the spare
rods ; and in the stern-sheets a locker for books, reels, pow-
der-flasks, odds and ends, and, above all, any little store of
brandy that they had, — an article which it was very dangerous
indeed to have loose in the boat.


Norwegian boats are built like whale boats, with both ends
alike, which is not altogether a convenient build tor harling —
a mode of fishing, which, however much to be deprecated in
known rivers, is very useful, indeed almost indispensable, to
explorers. To remedy this, a ring and socket was fixed on
each quarter of the boat, in order to receive the butt ot the
rod, and to hold it in an upright position when the fishermen
should be otherwise engaged. Under the thwarts ot each
boat were strapped an axe, a handbill, a hammer, and a bag
of nails ; and several coils of birch rope were stowed forward.
Birch rope, which is a Swedish manufacture from the tough
roots of the birch tree, is peculiarly adapted to these pur-
poses, since it has the property of floating on the water,
which hempen ropes have not.

Upon the principle of " business first and pleasure after-
wards," so long as anything remained to be done, the Parson
had scarcely raised his eyes from his work, or thought of
anything else ; and so well and so ably had he been seconded,
that everything was completely fitted, provisions brought
down and stowed, and all ready for starting, a full half-hour
before the time specified. His friends were, however, still
absent ; and thus, having nothing to do, he left the men to
take care of the boats, and lounged across the beautiful
bridge that connects the town with the opposite shore.

The bridge of Christiansand may well be called beautiful ;
not, indeed, as a piece of architecture, for it is built, like
almost everything in the country, of wood, though with a
solidity that would put to shame many of our buildings of
far more durable materials. Its beauty lies in its situation,
spanning as it does with its eleven broad flat arches, the
clear swift stream of the Torjedahl. The depth was such
that ships of some burthen were lying on each side of the
bridge, the centre compartment of which was moveable ; but
so clear was the water, that the very foundations of the piers
could be seen as the Parson looked over the parapet ; and
among them a beautiful school of white trout, as clearly de-
fined as if they had been swimming in air, which, much to
his satisfaction, he discerned working their way up from the
sea. This sight was doubly satisfactory, for he had been


ominously shaking his head at the peculiar ultra-marine tint
oi the waters, — a sight in itself abundantly beautiful, as any
one who has seen the Rhone at Geneva can testify, but far
from welcome to the eyes of a fisherman, as indicating, be-
yond a doubt, the presence of melted snow.

The Parson had reached the last arch, and was sitting on
the parapet, on the look-out for the returning boats ; admiring
in the meanwhile the quiet little amphitheatre which forms
the last reach of the Torjedahl after its exit from its moun-
tain gorge, and scanning the quaint, old-fashioned town, with
its dark-red wooden houses, overtopped by its heavy cathe-
dral, on the tower of which the Lion of Norway, and the
Axe of St. Olaf, were glittering in the sun ; and occasionally
peering into the gabled sheds of its dockyard, from each of
which peeped out the bows of a gun-boat, — that formidable
flotilla which, during the late wars, had hung on our Baltic
trade like a swarm of musquitos, perpetually dispersed by our
cruisers, and as perpetually re-united on some different and
unexpected point. Beyond this was the island citadel, a
place of no strength, indeed, for the strength of Norway does
not lie in its fortifications, but a point of considerable beauty
in the eye of an artist. The whole of this picture to seaward
as well as to landward, was set in by a frame of miniature moun-
tains — not hills, nor anything like hills, but real fantastically
shaped mountains, with peaked heads, some of them showing
their bare rocks, with little splashes of mica slate sparkling
like diamonds, but most of them covered with dark fir to
their very summits, only shooting out occasionally a bare cliff,
so arid and so perpendicular that no tree could find root
on it.

So intently was the Parson gazing on the scene, that it
was some time before he caught sight of Birger's praam,
which was rapidly approaching the place w T here he was sitting,
and some time longer before he made out the very uncom-
fortable position in which his friend was placed. Birger,
dexterous enough in the management of a boat, even that
most ticklish of boats, the Norwegian praam — a dexterity
which any one will appreciate who has ever attempted the
navigation of a Welsh coracle, or can picture to liimsell what



it is to be at sea in a washing-tub — had proved an apt scholar
in the science of harling ; and the Captain, having seen him
make two or three traverses without upsetting his boat or
entangling his flies, had proceeded on his mission and left him
to his own devices. The boat was hardly out of sight when
a heavy fish rose at the fly. Birger seized his rod, as he had
been directed, but in his agitation forgot to secure his pad-
dles, both of which dropped overboard, and, unseen and un-
heeded, set out on an independent cruise of their own, — and
thus the salmon, of course, had it all his own way. It so
happened that he headed to seaward, and the light praam
oflering very little resistance, and the stream, which was
sweeping stilly and steadily at the rate of three or four miles
an hour, forwarding him on his way, there was every proba-
bility of his reaching it.

No sooner had the Parson realised the true state of things,
than he rushed across the bridge for his boat ; but the bridge
was by no means a short one, and the Parson was at the
farthest end ; and long before he reached it, salmon, Birger,
praam, and all had disappeared under one of the centre

The boatmen had, of course, lounged away from the quay,
probably to the nearest brandy shop ; but the Parson sprang
into a boat, cut the painter, seized the paddles, and shoved
off furiously into the stream.

Fortunately, this had been seen by the Captain, who was
at that moment returning ; and he, though of course perfectly
unaware what was the matter, changed his course, and dashed
through the nearest arch, in pursuit.

By this time the praam was fairly at sea ; but the boats
were nearing her fast, and the Captain, having the advantage
of oars, passed the Parson's boat, and then, checking his
speed, lest he should capsize the friend he meant to aid,
grappled the praam with his boat-hook, and, winding his
own boat at the same time, towed her quietly and. steadily
to a little sandy beach. Upon this, both he and Birger
landed. The latter, whose arms were aching as only a
salmon-fisher's arms can ache, was glad enough to transfer
his rod to the Captain.


Tlie Parson calling in vain for a gaff, which implement in
the hurry had been left in one of the other boats, threw him-
self into the water, which there was not much over his knees.
But the salmon, seeing his enemies on every side, collected
his energies afresh, as that gallant fish will do, and rattled
off fifty yards of line into the deep blue sea before the Captain
could turn him. He had, however, a practised hand to deal
with. Slowly and carefully did the Captain reel him up,
guiding him to the spot a little above where the Parson was
standing as still and motionless as the rocks around him.
There was as yet a considerable current, arising from the
flow of the liver, and the Captain, taking advantage of this,
let the fish tail down quietly and inch by inch, to where the
Parson was standing motionless and stooping so that his
hands were already under water. Slowly, and without effort,
the fish came nearer and nearer, till at last, griping firmly
with both hands the thin part just above the insertion of the
tail, the Parson, half -lifting the fish from the water, dragged
him to land, and, despite his struggles, threw him gasping on
the snow-white beach.

"Well done, Birger !" said the Captain, laying his rod
against a rock, and running down, steelyard in hand ;
" there is the first fish of the season, and you are the

" Hurrah," said Birger, admiring his own handiwork, — for
the steelyard had given a full two-and-twenty pounds, — " this
is the first salmon I ever caught in my life ; and upon my
word, when I had him, I thought I had got hold of Loki

" And upon my word," said the Parson, " it looked as if
Loki had got hold of you ; I thought he was taking you off
to his own realms. If we had not come up, you would have
been by this time half way to the Midgard Serpent !"*

* According to ancient Scandinavian mythology, the earth, which is
flat and surrounded by water, is continually guarded by Jormangard
the Sea Serpent, the daughter of Loki ; who is so large that she en-
circles the whole earth, holding her tail in her mouth. She is sometimes
called the Midgard Serpent ; — Midgard meaning middle guard halfway
between the earth and the realms of the Hrimthursar, or Frost Giants,
which is her post.

F 2


" Well," said Birger, " it took all the (Esir together to
land the aboriginal salmon ; and, I must say, Thor himself
could not have handled him better than you did."

" What is your story ?" said the Captain ; " sit down there
and tell it us. You will lose no time," he added — for Birger,
having once tasted blood, looked very much as if he wished
to be at work again — " you will lose no time, I tell you, for
I must crimp this fish for our dinners. Who can tell if we "
are to catch another to-day 1 Parson, lend me your crimping-
knife ; I left mine in the boat."

The Parson produced from his slip-pocket that formidable
weapon, called by our transatlantic brethren a bowie knife ;
and the Captain, having first put the fish out of his misery,
proceeded to prepare him scientifically for the toasting-

" Now, Birger, for the story. So much I know, that it is
something about diabolical agency. Loki, I believe, is the
Devil of Scandinavian mythology."

" Not exactly," said Birger ; " though we must admit that
he and his progeny, the Wolf Fenrir and the Midgard
Serpent, are the origin of evil, and will eventually cause the
destruction of the world. But Loki really was one of the
GSsir, or gods, and had sworn brotherhood with Odin himself ;
and thus, though he often played them mischievous tricks,
they seem to have associated with him, as one is in the habit
of doing with a disreputable brother-officer — not exactly
liking him, far less approving of his ways, but still consort-
ing with him, and permitting him to be a participator of
their exploits. At last, however, when he had gone so far
as to misguide poor blind Hodur, so as to make him kill
Baldur, they determined that this really was too bad. Bal-
dur was a general favourite ; everything good or beautiful,
either in this world or in Asgard, was called after him ; and
the unanimous vote was, that Loki should be brought to
"justice, and made to sutler for this. Loki, however, who
rather suspected that he had gone too far, himself, was no
where to be found. He had quitted Asgard in the form of
a mist, — whence, I presume, we derive the expression " to
mizzle," — and had betaken himself to the great fall called


Fruniingars Foss, where lie lived by catching salmon ; — for
Loki, it is said, was the first inventor of nets."

" I have not a doubt of it," said the Captain. " I always
did think that those stake nets must have been invented by
the Principle of Evil himself."

" Well, so it was, at all events," said Birger. " Odin,
however, one day, while sitting upon his Throne of Air,
Hlidsjalf, happened to fix his eye upon him — I say eye,
for you know Odin had but one, having left the other in
pledge at the Mimir Fountain. No sooner did he see
him, than he called to Heimdall, the celestial warder, to
blow his horn, and summon the gods to council at the Well
of Urdar.

" Loki, perceiving that something was suspected, burnt his
nets, and, changing himself into a salmon, took refuge under
the fall ; so that, when the gods arrived at Franangar, they
found nothing but the ashes of the nets. It so happened,
however, that the shape of the meshes was left perfect in the
white ash to which it was burnt, and the god Kvasir, who, I
presume, must be the god who presides over the detective
police of Heaven, saw what had happened, and set the gods
weaving nets after the pattern of the ashes.*

" When all was ready, they dragged the river ; but Loki
placed his head under a stone — as that clever fish, the salmon,
will do, — and the net slipped over his smooth, scaly back.
The (Esir felt him shoot through, and tried another cast,
weighting the net with a spare heap of new shields, which
the Yalkyrir had brought the day before from a battle-field,

* The god Kvasir, or Unerring Wisdom, was the joint offspring of
all the gods, and was created to aid their negociations with the Vanir.
His blood, sweetened by mead, forms the drink of Poetic Inspiration,
which was guarded by Gunlauth, the daughter of Thjassi, the chief of
the Frost Giants. Odin, who was her lover, prevailed on her to give
it up to him, and it is at present lodged in the heights of Asgard. That
Poetic Inspiration should be wisdom, sweetened by honey and guarded
by love, is in itself a beautiful allegory — and not less beautiful that it
should be won by the gods and lodged in Heaven ; — but the generation
of Kvasir involves a most curious anomaly, and that is, that the gods
should be able to create a being more intelligent than themselves,
- — unless, indeed, we interpret the allegory as implying that mutual
council is more unerring than the unaided intelligence of any individual.


in order to mend the roof of Valhalla. Loki, however, leaped
the net this time gallantly, and again took refuge under the

" This time the gods dragged down stream ; Thor wading
in the river behind the net. Thor did not mind wading ; he
was obliged to do that every day that he went to council, for
the bridge of Bifrost would not bear him. In the meanwhile

Online LibraryHenry [Garrett] 1804-1860 NewlandForest scenes in Norway and Sweden: being extracts from the journal of a fisherman → online text (page 6 of 36)