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TRAVELS IN THE NORTH.*
THERE is one portion of Europe which has been treated in somewhat a discourteous fashion by travelling authors: we allude to the small territory of Lapland. In vain may we search through Mr. Murray's broadsheet, or Mr. Bentley's literary announcements; we find there any quantity of books giving us more or less interesting accounts of all the quarters of the world, but nought about Lapland. It is our pleasing task to efface this blot from the literary escutcheon, by introducing the readers of the New Monthly to the very pleasant pages of Castrén, a Swedish gentleman, who has traversed Lapland and Siberia in his search for traditionary and archæological matter."
On the present journey, M. Castrén started with another learned Swede, of the name of Lönnrot, from the town of Kenie, and they set out at the commencement of the month of November on a water-excursion up the river of the same name. Contrary to their expectation, the winter was remarkably mild, and they were soon compelled to leave their boats, in consequence of the masses of floating ice impeding their progress. After a very tedious journey of nearly a fortnight, chiefly accomplished on foot, they arrived at Salla, whence they had originally intended to make excursions into Russian Lapmark, as no traveller had before examined this country linguistically or ethnographically, and a rich harvest might naturally be expected. The Lapps of the village of Akkala formed the principal object of interest to them, as the Finnish peasants and fishermen had informed them, that these Lapps kept themselves entirely estranged from Russians and other nations, and retained their language and customs in their primitive purity. An unexpected incident, however, frustrated their plans. They found the people of Salla to be crafty and avaricious, and by no means inclined to lead them through the deserts separating Akkala from Salla, and nearly 140 versts in extent, for any moderate amount. They were compelled to wait the course of events patiently in Salla, and, as they had anticipated, some Akkala-Lapps came to Salla in a few days, in order to dispose of their wares, whence they would return home with empty sleighs. Our travellers were, however, completely taken in by the cunning of the Sallites. They met the Lapps some distance on the road, and induced them to return home without seeing the strangers, by persuading them that they were emissaries sent to preach the Gospel to them, and force them to alter their habits. Castrén and his companion were so disgusted, that they gave up their meditated journey, and proceeded in the first instance to Enare. They, consequently, quitted Salla at the commencement of December, in sledges, along the icy bed of a little stream, which, however, was so covered with water, that the travellers were continually wet through. They at length reached the little farm of Korwanen, about half-way to Enare, where they were blocked up by a most terrific storm for twelve days and nights. Here they experienced some of the special comforts of travelling in Lapland. The chimney was so large that, after every time they had a fire kindled, some one was obliged to climb on the roof and stop the orifice with hay. The sun had disappeared, and the atmosphere was so thick and gloomy, that they were obliged to burn candles in the daytime. As soon as the weather cleared up a little, people thronged in from east and west, all bound, like themselves, for the church of Enare. On the day before Christmas eve, they, at length, started once again. It would have been only reasonable for all to leave at the same moment, but the new arrivers cleverly waited till the next day, in order to take advantage of the track that would be made for them over the terrific Sombio rocks. Our travellers were, however, nothing daunted, but, trusting to their famous reindeer and sledges, they started in company with three Finns and two Lapps. Our author takes the opportunity, while telling how his brains were nearly knocked out by coming in contact with a tree, to instruct us in the proper management of a sledge :
* Matthias Alexander Castrén's “ Reisen im Norden," aus dem Schwedischen übersetzt von Heinrich Helms. Williams and Norgate.
My reindeer took it suddenly in his head to leave the track, and run with all his strength against a birch-tree, with which I came in such unpleasant contact, that the blood streamed from my nose and mouth. Though this did not put me in the best of tempers, I was obliged to laugh, when Lönnrot expressed a hope that my nose could still be saved, however badly it had been treated. As it is naturally everybody's wish to protect this part of his person as much as possible, I determined on not exposing it to any hazard in future. This precaution may be usually taken, that is, if you like to leave your legs in the lurch, and employ them more especially in guiding the oscillating movements of the sledge. Still, in that case, you must take care not to plant your heel firmly on the ground, for fear of breaking your leg; the latter must be placed one on each side, with your knees well pressed in, and the feet must be used to prevent the sledge from running up against trees and rocks. This theory is certainly simple, but the practice is difficult, as the reindeer gives you very little time for reflection at the moment when it is most required, and that is in going down hill. He often races over the rocks, at such speed that the objects around cannot be distinguished, 'even if you have the courage to keep your eyes open and have them filled with the quantity of snow the reindeer continually kicks up behind him. It is an advisable scheme to upset the sledge where the snow lies deep, for the back part sinks in the snow and immediately checks the reindeer's career; but on the hills and rocks this cannot be practised, because the snow is continually swept away by the violent winds.... The best plan, however, is to let the reindeer do as he likes, and you reach the level ground in tolerable safety.
After spending Christmas in Enare, our travellers set out on their long and dangerous journey to the Russian town of Kola ; and while stopping for the night in a hut, takes the opportunity of giving us the following account of the Enare Lapps :
As regards the domestic life of the Enare Lapps, civilisation has so far progressed that they possess houses, though they only make use of them in the winter. During the summer the fishermen lead a nomadising life, and remove from one hut to the other. When fishing is at an end, they retire to their huts, which are built in some solitary spot, where all they care for is good grazing ground for their reindeer, the requisite bush for their own support, and the necessary firewood. If any of these requirements fall off, they choose a new place of residence. Hence it is natural that the Lapp does not expend much time or trouble on the structure of his house. It is usually only large enough to shelter the members of his family and a few sheep, which latter lie under the beds. In the centre the hut is about the height of a tall
Nov.-VOL. XCIX. NO. CCCXCV.
man, but at the sides it is not possible to stand upright. The only articles of luxury are a few pieces of glass, which are inserted in the walls to act as windows. Tables and chairs are rarities, and even spoons are not universal. . . As for their food, it chiefly consists of fish, though in the winter the Lapp is not satisfied with this light food alone. He has one great meal in the course of the day, but at that he prefers to have meat; at other meals he satisfies himself with fish. Many Lapps also possess stores of bread, reindeer or sheep milk cheese, and dainties of the berry species. His meat he chiefly obtains by hunting wild reindeer, drawing on his own flock, or else purchasing from the mountain Lapps in the vicinity. The latter, it is true, are disinclined to part with their reindeer, as their herds are almost daily thinned by the wolves, who, to use the words of a mountain Lapp, “are as dangerous to the reindeer, as the devil is to man;" but brandy is a seductive, an all-powerful agent. When a traveller arrives in a mountain village, and, according to the custom of the country, offers his hosts a couple of glasses of schnaps, he receives plenty of roast reindeer meat, tongues, marrow-bones, &c., in return. It would be regarded as an insult if he did not accept them, but, as soon as he has done so, it is his duty to pay for them in brandy, according to the proverb,“ present for present.” If he neglect to do so, he will be very speedily reminded of his laches, and fresh presents, and treating continue, till the traveller has not a drop left. It may be easily seen what profit a calculating trader may make with the mountain Lapps.
Our travellers at last arrived at Kola, after many difficulties and privations, just before the Maslinitza, or Butter week, in Russia a season of joy and festivity, before the commencement of Lent. They were received in the most hospitable fashion, and found much that interested them. One of the most charming sights was a “ Montagne Russe," down which the ladies and gentlemen descended in little reindeer sledges; but the week is too soon at an end, and we will follow the author on a tour of inspection through the town, and see how the great people find themselves after the delights of the Maslinitza. Alas! the doctor is stretched out on his broad sofa, complaining of the oppressive atmosphere, and stating that he must protect himself against the scurvy-the Custom-house officer abuses the hard times, when an honest man cannot smoke his tobacco duty free
-the pedagogue, his friend, consoles him, and advises him to smoke away, for God forgives—the pedagogue himself is suffering from a troublesome rash-the Isprawnik is tormented with rheumatism--the Sasädatel displays his chest, which is covered with yellow spots—the Gorodnitz, the Capuchin monk, and many others, are tortured with headache --the ladies alone sit at home, and (may we say it) eat cabbage. Thus fatigue and exhaustion supervene on an abundance of delight.
Our travellers had originally intended to make Kola a sort of centre for their excursions into Russian Lapmark, and go thence, as soon as the sea was open, through Mesen, among the Samoiedes ; but news they received from Petersburg caused them to go in the first instance to Archangel, where they intended to study the Samoiedian language. Hence they could not give so much time as they desired to the Russian Lapps, and left many villages to the north of Kola unvisited, contenting themselves by staying a short while with the Lapps they found between Kola and Kandalaks. At the different post-stations there are always several Lapp families residing, and where they would have had many opportunities of studying the Russo-Lappish dialects, had not misfortune caused them to fall in with the Murmen, who afforded them no slight obstacles in their literary undertakings.
These Murmen are partly Russians, partly Karelians and Lapps, who move at the end of March to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and fish there during spring and summer. They even come from the neighbourhood of the Onega and Kem, and their march lies through Kandalaks and Imandra to Rasnavolok, a post-station eleven leagues to the south of Kola, where they divide into two branches. Those Murmen, who fish in the gulfs between Kola and the Norwegian frontier, continue their journey to Kola, and thence northwards ; the others, who fish between Kola and Svjatjoi-Nos, travel directly to their grounds, without touching at Kola. The whole seaboard, from the Norwegian frontier to Svjatjoi-Nos, is known by the appellation of the Murman Coast. The above-mentioned band consists chiefly of servants and daily labourers; their masters do not sail till June or July to fetch the fish. A few stop at the fisheries till the end of August, but others continue their voyage to Badsö, Hammerfest, and other Norwegian havens, taking meal, groats, tow, hemp, fish-oil, soap, and other goods with them, which they barter for tea, coffee, rum, fox skins, and other articles, which meet with a ready sale at home.
After being much tormented by these Murmen, who were rough and uncourteous in their manners, our travellers at length arrived at Rikkataival, where they bade adieu to the Murmen, greatly vexed at having the purpose of their journey spoiled by this fortuitous obstacle. On their road to Sasheika our author met with the following little adventure:
A young, half-broken reindeer had been attached to my sledge. While I was sitting carelessly, regarding the Northern Lights, the animal began bounding backwards and forwards on either side of the road. It may be supposed that I tried to prevent the animal carrying on such tricks by a proper punishment, but, unfortunately, the rein was caught in one of the antlers. Through this the deer was driven quite wild, and his leaps only entangled the rope more and more. I rose at last to disentangle the rein; but the beast did not comprehend my well-meaning move, but bounded more furiously than ever. The end was still twisted round my arm, but I found myself in such proximity to the reindeer, that his movements began to grow quite insupportable. I was at length forced to go on without a bridle, as the animal commenced the offensive. With his sharp antlers pointed against my person, he would soon have put an end to me, had I not seized his horns with both hands, and held his head down. Naturally the reindeer was not pleased with this, and a struggle commenced, which would have had a poor end for me, had I not taken advantage of the right moment to spring back into the sledge. Even this experiment, however, was dangerous ; for on the great lake of Imandra, which was . traversed by many other sledge tracks, I might have easily gone astray, as I had no guiding rein. Still necessity compelled me to put up with it; and fortune was so favourable to me, that I caught up my companions in a short while.
Kem, the town to which our travellers were bound, is a place of no great importance, containing neither governor, nor bishop, nor other great gentlemen; but the chief curiosity is the seat of Raskolniks, who are what we may call the Pietists of Russia. They are zealous for the old, primitive, if not exactly apostolic doctrine ; spend most of their time in prayer, and are of opinion that divinity is as far removed from things terrestrial, as the earth's surface from the vault of heaven. To please God, consequently, a man must turn his back entirely on the world, con
temn hatred and persecution, and gain in that wise a martyr's crown in heaven. They bear, also, an especial animosity against all pleasure and amusement. The Raskolniks are so far tolerant, that they display as little wish to condemn as to convert; but they take great care not to have the slightest communion with those of a different faith. If parents and children are of a different belief, they do not eat at the same table or out of the same dish, and do not go into the bath-room at the same time with them.
Our travellers were forced to remain nearly a whole month in Kem, until they at length succeeded in continuing their journey on the 19th of May. They were forced to trust themselves to the stormy waves of the White Sea. They therefore determined, by the advice of the inhabitants of the town, on going across to the monastery of Solovezkoy, on an island about fifty versts from Kem, in the hope of getting a cast from there to Archangel. On their voyage, they were forced to leave their boat and betake themselves to the ice, in carts procured from the monastery.
When they arrived there, they found, to their great annoyance, that it was not possible to get across, as the lumps of ice prevented ships from sailing. This, with other causes, induced Dr. Lönnrot to give up all idea of visiting the Samoiedians, but our author adhered to his plan, and on the 27th of June, set sail in a large vessel to visit the Murman Coast. Unfortunately, however, he was attacked by a terrible illness, which, with a succession of violent storms, compelled him to land again at Simnija Gora, where he was left with his luggage on a desolate coast, his only neighbours being some fishermen, who lived at a distance of some eight versts. In his sickly condition, it took him half a day to traverse this distance, and then the firshermen had the inhumanity to refuse to fetch his luggage. He was obliged to carry it himself, which occupied him the whole of the night. After undergoing the misery of three nights spent in a wretched cabin, under a violent attack of fever, he tried to induce the fishermen to carry him to Kuja, a village about twenty-two versts distant, but they demanded 100 rubles banco for the job. As this sum far exceeded his resources, he had no other choice but to remain in the hut, from which an unexpected incident rescued him.
On returning to the hut after a solitary walk, he found two soldiers posted there, who roughly stated that they had been sent by the customs' officer at Kuja to examine his luggage. Our author submitted without a murmur, and gave them money in the bargain, in the hopes that they would carry him in their boat to Kuja. This did not at all suit the fishermen, who tried their best to ruin this plan, and opened their ears to the full extent, to listen to his discourse with the soldiers. The latter at first were very mistrustful, but, with the help of his passport, Castrén at length succeeded in proving to them that he was a Russian subject, and travelling as an officer of the crown. These arguments, and the circumstance that he was not only a “ well-born sir," but also in possession of as high a rank as the customs' officer, had the desired effect on the soldiers, and they gladly took him into their boat, and carried him for a moderate sum to Kuja. The customs' officer fortunately possessed some sudorifics, and with their assistance our traveller cured his fever, and set out again for Archangel, in a boat, manned by four soldiers, whom the
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