Imatges de pÓgina
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or wandering Fins, but of those who possess reindeer in the Fjelde which they attend in summer, as the Norwegian women do their cattle in the seaters. In winter they have fixed habitations in the low country, and leave their reindeer to the care of one person with hired keepers ; thus two or three families keep their stocks together. It is a considerable step towards a more civilized state. Those who follow this life have either considerable property in reindeer, whence they obtain cheese, milk, venison, and skins to dispose of in the low country during the winter; or they beg there from house to house, having nothing in the Fjelde. This young woman came to sell me fur shoes and mittens, or rather to ask if I would order some for winter. I found she could use her needle, and do all kinds of female work fully as well as the servant girls here; and her dress altogether was of more value than theirs. They knew also that her friends were considered wealthy among the Laplanders, and had often seen her on her way to or from the Fjelde ; yet I observed they did not ask her to sit down. A Fin, as they call the Laplander in Norway, is looked upon with a sort of contempt, as an animal of a lower species ; and to eat, sit, or associate with one of them, would be disdained by the lowest. When I bade them prepare some coffee for my visitor, and made her sit down to it, they stared and tittered as an English girl would do if you told her to prepare tarts or a cake for your lapdog. The Norwegians, however, are never harsh or unkind to these Fins,

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in which I find there is a little superstition as well as charity. It is considered unlucky not to give them something to eat under your roof. The idea of witchcraft is not entirely worn out; and the bonder have

many

tales of the supernatural powers of the old Fjelde women.

I was considered very prudent in treating the Fin girl so kindly, as her relations might make things go well with me all winter.

During the autumn there was a great coming and going of these half-civilized Laplanders through the valley. They were preparing for the winter, bringing the women, children, and infirm relations, with what they had to sell, into the low country. When they found that I made them welcome, I was seldom a day without visitors. The ophthalmia seems very prevalent, almost every family having a blind person, especially among its elderly people, and many even of the children had lost the sight of an eye. I thought at first it might have been the effect of small-pox; but they had no scars of that disease, and I afterwards found several whose sight was in a decaying state. bably an hereditary malady in the race. The goitres and the cretinism of Switzerland are not known among them, nor among the Norwegians.

About the 20th of November, the snow lay deep. Winter had fully set in. Carioles and every thing on wheels were laid up. Sledges, and bells, and fur caps, and snow boots, were brought out. Every household for a month before had been salting, pickling, and making black-puddings, and saus

It is pro

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ages for winter provision. A party of nine Laplanders paid me a visit on their way from the Fjelde. . There were a father and mother, five children, and two pretty young women, all neighbours in their fixed abodes in the low country, who were going into their winter quarters. They had five reindeer for winter provision, which dragged their baggage, consisting of packs of deer-skins laid upon long slips of wood or snow-scates. The reindeer is harnessed by a single thong fastened to a collar, and passing between his legs. His ordinary load in a sledge, is nine vogs, or about three hundred weight; but for a short distance he will drag much more. As to the animal's speed and endurance, the Amtman Blom, who has published very interesting observations made during his residence as foged in Finmark and his journey in Lapland, takes the liberty of laughing a little at Captain Capel de Broke's account of travelling thirty Norwegian miles (above 210 English) in a day. The Amtman says, if the reader divides the number by three, makes a large deduction if the snow happens to be soft, when the reindeer makes very

little

progress, and a very large deduction if the journey is to be of more than one day, he will come nearer to the truth. The animal neither has, nor from its conformation can have, any considerable powers of endurance. The Amtman also laughs at the account of its alleged instinct of leaving the Fjelde once in the summer, and seeking the shore to take a single draught of sea-water, and then returning. The reindeer are taken to the coast, or to the

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success.

Fjelde, according to the judgment or fancy of the owner, without regard to season; and thousands never taste salt water. It is a different animal alto, gether which has this instinct for a single summer draught of sea water, and goes in flocks from the Custom-house stairs to Margate, per steamer, to gratify it.

Several attempts have been made to introduce reindeer into the Highlands of Scotland, but without

This is not owing to the want of food, for the animal eats grass and hay as well as moss. It lives on moss, because there is nothing else to live on in the Fjelde. Nor is it owing to its habits; for when domesticated it is considerably less wild, and wanders less than our black-faced sheep. It is much more tame, free from alarm or shyness at being touched or handled, than a West Highland cow. Reindeer have been brought to Scotland in good health, after being nine weeks on board the vessel. No animal very shy or wild could have borne the confinement. The cause of the failure, I suspect, is the nature of the hair and skin of the animal. The former does not throw off wet well, and even parts from the skin after

any

continuance of moisture. With our damp climate and wet ground, the animal would be drenched through the hair to the skin for weeks together, and would die of cold or rot, as our sheep often do in wet seasons. In Norway, the heavy rains occur in spring or autumn, at which seasons what is rain below is dry snow higher up in the Fjelde. Our highest hills do not afford in summer this kind of refuge from rain and damp to an animal whose coat keeps out any degree of cold, but will not stand continued moisture. In Iceland, the reindeer were introduced by the Danish government about the middle of the last century; but they are understood to have proved a nuisance instead of a benefit. They have not the wolf to check the tendency of their population to exceed the means of subsistence, and they have multiplied so as to devour the summer pastures on which the inhabitants depend for their cattle ; and having been allowed to run wild, they are of no use.

As I wanted a winter stock of fresh venison, I bargained for the fattest of the ox-deer. There were two females; and the others were castrated deer, very fat, with a breadth over the back and hips that would have graced a sheep of the Bakewell breed. They had all a quiet, domesticated look; and as compared to other deer, the muzzle appears not at all pointed, but broad, and resembling about the nostrils and lips that of a coarse

After much consultation among the women, who appeared much better merchants than the men, our bargain was settled at six dollars and a half for the fattest of the deer, a pair of winter mittens of reindeer-skin for an ort, two or three pairs of shoes of the same for half a dollar each ; and, over and above the money, a pot of brandy. One of the young women who had been several times before in the house presented me with a little whelp of the fine furred breed, which she had brought in her bosom, or rather above the girdle

small cow.

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