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men who have the means assemble in the month of January at the different stations. The fish are caught in nets and on long lines. Nets are becoming more in use every season. An outfit for this fishing consists of two boats, each manned by
This company have six or eight nets, each twenty fathoms in length when mounted or put to the back and side ropes, and thirty meshes deep. The mesh of the cod net is about six inches when stretched from knot to knot, and is made of three-ply hemp-thread barked. The nets have sinkers to carry them to the bottom, and light wood (cork being too expensive) as floaters on the back rope, to keep them in a perpendicular position; and the back ropes and ground ropes of each are fastened to the next, and the whole drift set as our herring nets, only with longer buoy-ropes, as the nets are set in from sixty to eighty fathoms. If the outfit is with long lines, the line consists of 1200 hooks, at five feet distance, consequently a thousand fathoms in length, with buoys and anchors; and the hooks, which are of tinned iron, are on hook-lines of about a fathom in length. The nets and lines are set at night, and taken up in the morning Each company has its own set, or ground, determined by marks on the shore. Line fishers have the inside, and net fishers the outside. Lines and nets must be set from land to seaward, not along the coast. Each station must have only so many fishing companies, that a line fishing company may have twenty-five fathoms, and a net fishing company twenty fathoms, clear of neighbours. There is a commander elected at each station by
the fishermen themselves; and the police and regulation, such as going out together to raise their lines and nets by signal, the prevention of night fishing, stealing, or encroachment on another company's ground, are entrusted to him; and, in concert with the commanders of the two nearest stations, he determines when the fishing shall begin and end. Government, besides these judicious regulations, which leave matters to the judgment of the fishermen themselves, has other absurd ones; such as fixing a particular day, before which the cured fish cannot be removed, and another after which they cannot remain. As the curing depends entirely on the weather, it would be altogether as wise to fix a day on which corn shall be cut down, ripe or not. It often happens that the fish are dry and cured before the 12th of June, being the day fixed, but just before it arrives wet weather begins, and they are destroyed ; at other times the fish are not in a state to be removed when by law they must be so. The object is to prevent the stealing of those under cure, which might take place if every man removed his fish when he pleased; but the remedy is as fatal to property as the disease.
Every twenty or thirty of the fishing companies have a yacht, or large tender, to bring out their provisions, nets, and lines, and to take the produce to market. The fish are cured as round or stock fish until April, after which they are split, salted, and carried to Dronthiem or other places to be dried on the rocks, like our Scotch dried cod. The stock-fish are merely gutted and hung up, two
together, across poles, which are provided by the owner of each station ; and they are dried without salt, in the wind.
In a medium year, 1827, there were 2916 boats fishing in eighty-three different stations, accompanied by 124 yachts or tenders, the number of men in all being 15,324. The produce was 16,456,620 fish, which would be about 8800 tons dried : there were also 21,530 barrels of cod oil, and 6000 of cod roe.
This important winter fishing ends in the middle of April, after which the seafaring peasantry in Finmark and Nordland fish for the Russians; the others return to their homes, and catch sethe (Gadus virens) or herrings. The herring fishery is not clogged with the absurd regulations of our Board, with regard to the size of the mesh of the net. In order to preserve the breed, and prevent the
young fish from being taken, our wise regulations oblige our fishermen to use nets with the mesh of an inch square. The consequence is that only full fish, just about to spawn, can be taken ;
; and in that state they are nowhere esteemed, and not marketable, if others containing neither roe nor melt, and not shotten but fat, can be procured. It is time that our government put an end to the absurd whims of the late George Rose and his fishery board, which have cost the country some millions of money.
preserve the race of herrings, if that were even a rational object for regulation, the way is not to kill the unspawned fish ; but, on the contrary, to spare them, and kill the young: not to kill the goose about to lay her
golden eggs, but her goslings. The Norwegians very wisely use nets of all sizes of mesh ; and take herrings of any size, at any time by day or night, as they can get them, leaving it to the fish curer to assort the sizes and kinds of fish to suit his customers, and leaving it to nature to replace the fish killed. By this wise and simple procedure, they have beat the Scotch herring curers out of the markets of the Baltic, as they deliver fish better assorted, and of better quality.
Besides these important general fisheries, there is in every creek of the Fiords, even at a hundred miles
up from the ocean, as at Steenkjær in the Dronthiem Fiord, abundance of cod, whiting, haddock, flounder, sea-bream, and herrings, caught for daily use and for sale by the seafaring peasantry.
The bonder, or agricultural peasantry, each the proprietor of his own farm, occupy the country from the shore side to the hill foot, and up every valley or glen, as far as corn will grow. This class is the kernel of the nation. They are in general fine athletic men, as their properties are not so large as to exempt them from work; but large enough to afford them and their households abundance, and even superfluity, of the best food. They farm, not to raise produce for sale so much as to grow every thing they eat, drink, and wear in their families. They build their own houses, make their own chairs, tables, ploughs, carts, harness, iron-work, basket-work, and wood-work; in short, except the window glass, cast-iron ware, and pottery, every thing about their houses and
furniture is of their own fabrication. There is not, probably, in Europe so great a population in so happy a condition as this Norwegian yeomanry. A body of small proprietors, each with his thirty or forty acres, scarcely exists elsewhere in Europe; or, if it can be found, it is under the shadow of some more imposing body of wealthy proprietors or commercial men. Here they are the highest in the nation. The population of the few towns is only reckoned about one-eleventh of the whole, and of that only a very small proportion can be called rich : too few to have any influence on the habits or way of thinking of the nation. The settlers in the newer states of America, and in our colonies, possess properties probably of about the same extent; but they have roads to make, lands to clear, houses to build, and the work that has been doing here for a thousand years to do, before they can be in the same condition. These Norwegian proprietors are in a happier condition than those in the older states of America, because they are not so much influenced by the spirit of gain. They farm their little estates, and consume the produce, without seeking to barter or sell, except what is necessary for paying their taxes and the few articles of luxury they consume.
There is no money-making spirit among them, and none of extravagance. They enjoy the comforts of excellent houses, as good and large as those of the wealthiest individuals, good furniture, bedding, linen, clothing, fuel, victuals and drink, all in abundance, and of their own providing; good