Imatges de pÓgina

was not practicable. It is difficult to convey an idea of the dreary aspect of this plateau, and its utter solitude. The soil covers only in patches the naked rock. Every hollow is a pool, or a morass. Trees are sprinkled over the surface; but they do not enliven the scene, being the dark, stern-looking pines, which appear almost like a piece of the rock from which they are growing. Many were standing with all their branches dead, stripped of the bark to make bread, and blanched by the weather, resembling white marble,-mere ghosts of trees. The bread is made of the inner rind next to the wood, taken off in flakes like a sheet of foolscap paper, and is steeped or washed in warm water to clear off its astringent principle. It is then hung across a rope to dry in the sun, and looks exactly like sheets of parchment. When dry it is pounded into small pieces, mixed with corn, and ground into meal on the hand-mill or quern. It is much more generally used than I supposed. There are districts in which the forests suffered very considerable damage in the years 1812 and 1814, when bad crops and the war, then raging, reduced many to bark bread. The extended cultivation of the potatoe since that period has probably placed the inhabitants of the lower country beyond the necessity of generally resorting to it; but the Fjelde bonder use it, more or less, every year. It is not very unpalatable, nor is there any good reason for supposing it unwholesome, if well prepared ; but it is very costly. The value of the tree, which is left to perish on its root, would buy a sack of flour, if the English market were open. They starve, and we shiver in our wretched dwellings, although each country has the means of relieving the other with advantage to itself; and all for the sake of supporting colonies, and other interests, which add little to the well-being of the people of Great Britain.

Towards night, we came to a considerable lake, about seven miles in length, called Væra, which is the source of the main branch of the river of Værdal. Seven families, tenants of my landlord, dwell on its borders. They are true Fjelde bonder. Corn, or even potatoes, cannot be raised here. In a patch of a few yards of potatoes planted on the bank the leaf was already yellow, touched by the frost, on the last days of July; and clothes laid on the grass all night were stiff with hoar frost in the morning. Woodcutting is even out of the reach of these Væra people, owing to the distance, and uncertainty of Aoating the trunks to the saw-mills. They live entirely by tending cattle, fishing in the lake, and in winter shooting game for sale. These appear not very productive occupations, yet are the people well off. Cheese and butter are products as saleable as corn; the extent of pasture, and of bog-land for hay, enables them to keep as many cattle, sheep, and goats, as they can manage. The house in which we passed the night was clean, with two rooms, wooden floors, glass windows, a cellar, and with cattle houses apart from the dwelling-house. For supper we had trout and milk; with butter that was

clean and excellent. Our beds were composed of birch leaves and branches, with reindeer skins for bed-clothes; and the chimney, for they had no stoves, contained a blazing crackling fire, by no means unpleasant even in July. The people were clad in their own coarse-manufactured cloth, but not in rags, and although we came unexpectedly,

, the house was clean, with no appearance of sluttishness or disorder. The rents of these people are very trifling, about six or seven shillings sterling; but I presume they had paid a sum at entry, and hold the farms for their own and their widows' lives, at a trifling yearly payment, which is the usual way of letting land in this quarter; and on the death of the father, the son takes a new lease, with consent of the widow, on similar terms.

Early in the morning we crossed the lake in a boat, to visit three or four of the seven families who are settled on the opposite shore. It struck me as a novelty to see a man sitting in a boat anchored in a lake and fishing, not as an amusement but a regular occupation. The trout in the Fjelde are in general about the size of a herring, and are excellent when fresh. The people salt or dry them for winter use, as an important object in their housekeeping. It is only on the borders of these lakes, and in the small dales and valleys in the Fjelde, that there is good pasturage for cattle. These are often very beautiful little tracts of grass land. But all the rest of the Fjelde, the bare unsheltered back of the country, is rock, partly covered with a thin scurf of moss and berry-bear

ing shrubs.

Heath is scarce; I have not seen half an acre of ground covered with heath. Every depression of ground that affords shelter is filled with a dark mass of forest; on the skirts of which are bogs, of which the grass is cut and stacked on the spot, until frost and snow make the ground stable, and the ways practicable for bringing it home. The principal employment of the Fjelde bonder is making and transporting this winter provision for the cattle.

A river runs into this lake from the east through a valley called Straadal, in which there is only one farm.

We walked to it, as, on account of bogs and blocks of stone, there is no access on horseback. The farmer had but lately settled on the spot, and was living in a newly erected hut. It was a mere cabin in size, the poorest hut I have seen in Norway ; but had its wooden floor, glass window, and chimney, and was quite clean. His cattle were much more magnificently lodged.

He was building a very large house for them, with a hay-loft over it, of logs of wood. The boundary between Sweden and Norway is within a hundred yards of this farm. It is marked by a broad avenue cut through the forest, and pillars of stone built within sight of each other. The Norwegians maintain their boundary with great jealousy. It is cleared of brush-wood, kept in order regularly, and its state reported to the Storthing.

On returning to the lake we recrossed it, and set off, leading our horses, and with a guide, to go over the mountain called Shjækker Hatte,

which is reckoned one of the highest on this part of the plateau of the Fjelde. The Fjelde is like that which we had passed over,-a dark, gloomy, pine-covered country, encumbered with masses of rock and swamps, and with many huge masses of snow in the hollows. We saw no living thing in the waste. The birds even appear to forsake it. Shjækker Hatte is 3,693 feet above the sea. The base all round is covered with a pine forest, the higher part with birch. The summit is bare rock; and many huge square masses, different from that on which they rest, are pitched, as if by accident, on the top of the ridges. These are of gneis, and the rock of the mountain itself is a compact clay or greywacke. The frame-work of the tents of the Laplanders,--three sticks tied together at the top like our gipsy tents,—was standing in the woods on many places, for this hill is a favourite winter ground with them. In summer they seek the highest and more northerly tracts of the Fjelde with their reindeer, to avoid insects. The mountain had many large masses of snow, which a traveller might dignify perhaps with the name of glaciers, as from and under them considerable streams run, and these are not altogether safe bridges to cross. The descent to the west from this hill is much more rapid than the rise from the eastward. In some parts, the slope on this side is almost perpendicular from the top to the bottom. This is the character of the whole Fjelde tract. It slopes gently towards the Baltic and the northeast, while its face towards the ocean side and the

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