Зображення сторінки

but on the contrary, flies from them, and takes to the woods. It was worst for the poor infant he was dragging with him; as wolves during the night might fall upon the little traveller as well as on him. When the moon rose the Laplanders set off, giving attention to each side of the tract, in case any trace could be seen of the course of the reindeer on leaving it, but for the first ten miles there was no appearance of any. At last they found the trace upon the lake Navijaur, just at the spot where the woman had fallen off from the sledge. The deer had gone off to a high wooded island in the lake, and then, towards morning, they found the deer and the child. The deer was going along eating what moss he could find, and the infant was singing to itself, quite happy, the simple monostrophic Lapland melodies, which, from being uniform natural sounds, the smallest infant catches readily. It was well bedded, fortunately, in a reindeer-skin, and so well laced in that it could not fall out, nor be frozen to death. In the morning, before I was ready to leave Kasker, they came back with the child, and the poor mother thanked me heartily for saving both its life and her own.

I was sorry for her, although probably the excessive use of brandy had occasioned her sleepiness. But still she was to be pitied, for she had been constrained to marry an ugly old man, although she was a young, smart, pretty girl,--for a mountain Laplander. It is altogether sorrowful, from beginning to end, with the marriages of these Laplanders. Inclination is never thought of, nor suitableness, but only the wealth of the suitor."

An important lesson to our missionary societies may be drawn from the present state of the Laplandic people. They are but a handful—but 8000 individuals. Their numbers, owing to their means of subsistence, can never have been considerably greater than at this day. Two enlightened Christian countries, Denmark and Sweden, with effective church establishments--with ministers, missionaries, catechists, schoolmasters in abundance--even in superabundance proportionally to the numbers to be instructed, with aid from government, and zealous co-operation from wealthy individuals and societies,-have now been, five hundred years at the least, engaged in converting this handful of wanderers living within the land, and, although wanderers, a people of a mild, docile character. What has been the success? Converted no doubt the Laplanders have been ; if by conversion be meant the abandonment of all idolatry and superstitious observances of any heathen and now forgotten worship. Christianised they have not been; if by Christianity be meant the comprehension by the human mind of the doctrines and truths of revelation. If Christianity consist in the observance of church ordinances, in the ceremonies of baptising the new-born babe, churching the recovered mother, Easter and Christmas offerings of cheeses and skins to the minister, dues at burials and baptisms and churchings and marriages, and a church attendance on Sundays inforced by penalties, and even by corporal punishments, then the Laplanders are the most exemplary christians in Europe. But all this is a sad mockery of the Christian religion. It is paganism under the name and guise and ceremonial of Christianity ;-and such in reality is the religion of every heathen tribe, or individual, whose minds have not been expanded by civilization to the capability of understanding Christian truths, as well as of practising Christian observances. Christianity, without that moral and intellectual culture of the human faculties which constitute civilization, and which is produced by the exercise and enjoyment of the useful arts in a civilized condition of society, is not worthy of the name, is idolatry,—is but the ceremonial of Christianity without the intelligence of Christian truth. Christianity is at once the parent and child of civilization. The civilization, the improvement of the means of subsistence, of the habits and social condition of the Laplanders have been altogether neglected. No solid basis for Christianity has been laid amongst them. The estimable pastor Stockfleth, minister of the parish of Kotokinjo, in Norwegian Lapland, is the first who has evinced the true spirit of the Christian missionary among the wandering Laplanders. He has thought it no degradation to eat, sleep, and pass days and weeks in their tents, living as they live, acquiring their language, teaching them what they are capable of understanding, and forming for their use a grammar and dictionary. He is now at Christiania, printing a translation of the bible into their tongue. Pastor Stockfleth on the Norwegian fjelde, and Petrus Læstadius and his brother, in whose house the Hon. A. Dillon appears to have rested, on the Swedish side, are the only ministers who have mingled so far with the Laplanders as to be able to preach to them in their own tongue. For five hundred years the miserable shift of preaching and catechising in an unknown language to a group of ignorant beings, one of the group as ignorant as his fellows, except in the use of two languages, interpreting sentence by sentence the discourse to the congregation, has been the only means used to Christianize the Laplanders. The great mistake has been, and still is, in not uniting civilization with the preaching of the gospel. It is in vain to offer instruction to the mind not capable of receiving it—not raised by the use and enjoyments of the arts, habits, and social relations of civilized life, to a state to comprehend the simplest combinations of ideas, far less the sublime doctrines of Christianity. This is a serious lesson to missionary associations. Civilization must accompany, and even precede, the missionary; or he is casting the seed in land not prepared for it, and will reap only thorns and weeds.

But we must not forget the Hon. A. Dillon, while rejoicing over the simple and far more instructive recitals of Petrus Læstadius. We are not of those critics who sneer at the manly enterprise, activity, good spirit and intelligence of the youth of this country, who spread themselves over Europe and America, every summer, and return to the native hive before winter, loaded with narratives of the sweets and sours of every land. The information they bring home may not always be worth the gathering ; but it is wax, if not honey; it is good for something—to all but buyers and booksellers, who most unreasonably want all honey and no wax. It is a far more laudable and manly employment of time, than wandering about the world without intellectual pursuit; and few of our gentlemen-authors of this class need be ashamed of their literary productions. The work before us consists of two distinct parts, not bound together by any nearer connexion than that there is a river in Macedon--and a river, moreover, in Monmouth,- that the same four letters of the alphabet are found at the end of the names, Iceland and Lapland,-and that the bookbinder has kindly lent his aid to unite in the indissoluble bonds of bibliopolic matrimony, as volumes first and second, two lovely mortals, the Icelander, and the Laplander, whom nothing has hitherto separated, but difference of race, difference of language, difference of civilization, the breadth of the northern ocean, and the want of an enterprising author like Mr. Dillon, to bring them, in all modesty, between the sheets of one common covering of calf. But the surly

critic must forbid the banns. The Icelander, his history, his language, his literature belong to European civilization, and are involved intimately with its early growth and diffusion. His poetical and historical Sögur contain the germs of the fictions and facts which form the history of Europe from the decline of the Roman power until the 12th century. His country exhibits the most sublime phænomena which the eye of science has an opportunity of contemplating in our hemisphere. The Laplander, on the other hand, is the human being in the lowest state of intellectual culture, wandering over a tableland of uniform structure and formation. The union of two such distinct countries and populations, into one subject of a literary work, is an union for which we are indebted to the bookbinder's glue and pasteboard, not to any natural, rational, or even accidental ties connecting the two. The honourable author, by attempting too much, accomplishes too little. From a residence of twelve months in a country so little accessible to ordinary travellers, and so full of interest as Iceland, we are entitled to expect something more than the ordinary account of the way of living in every fishing town in the north of Europe. Stornaway, Ullapool, Lerwick, or Stromness would afford a winter of storm and bad weather, out of doors ; stench, dirt, dried fish, salt meat, and discomfort, in doors,—quite similar to Reikavig: and what else do we learn of the honourable gentleman's residence in the Icelandic metropolis ? A visit to the Geyser springs,—which every shipmaster who has a few spare days at Reikavig rides over the country to see,-bounds the exploratory enterprise of this traveller, residing twelve months in a country as extensive almost as Ireland, and of which the interior, and the northern districts, and the extent of volcanic agency on its surface, are scarcely known. Our traveller exerts great energy to reach a place,--but this energy seems exhausted in the effort to reach it, and his travels end at the point where they should begin. Sir George Mackenzie, Dr. Holland, Dr. Henderson the missionary, and a dozen other travellers in our days, have given far more valuable and interesting descriptions of the country and people, far more important details in geological and statistical science, far more curious literary and historical information regarding the ancient Icelanders, than our

author. Of 240 parishes in Iceland, Mr. Dillon appears to have been in three only, during his twelve months' residence in that country.

To the other volume we have the same objection. The traveller's impetus in his reindeer sledge is so great in Lapland, that he cannot stop to see the Laplanders. We applaud the perseverance, the sound manly spirit which carries him through a journey of some thousands of miles, to attain his goal, the accomplishment of his enterprise; but we cannot laud the want of that spirit of observation in his progress, which the useful traveller ought to possess. The honourable traveller stops nowhere, inquires nowhere, reaches Allengaard on the north sea, from Haparanda on the Bothnian gulph, turns his sledge, after a few days' rest, and gallops back with the same relays of deer and horses—by the same roads—travelling night and day, all the way to Stockholm. We admire such powers of enduring fatigue, and so happy a talent for sleeping on the road; but the readers of such performances demand something more for their money, and it is our duty to support so reasonable a demand, -especially as no want of powers of observation, or of expression, prevent Mr. Dillon from ranking high among modern travellers, but merely the common mistake of supposing that to travel, means, in the literary as well as in the literal sense, to be carried over a great many miles, in a great many foreign countries, with the utmost speed; and that activity of body is equivalent to activity of mind. But “ a thousand miles in a thousand hours" is no accomplishment in Paternosterrow,-no feat in literature. Nine out of ten travel-writers are couriers, not travellers. They give us an account only of their own condition, progress and affairs, not of those of the people they profess to describe. Mr. Dillon seems capable of more intellectual work than that of a locomotive engine registering the distances it travels over. With more exertion of mind in his future journeyings, and less of body, he will attain more perfectly the object of the traveller-some knowledge of the country and people he visits.

Among the sins of omission, not of Mr. Dillon only, but of all travellers in Iceland, we feel sensibly at this moment, the want of any information, any views, either speculative or

« НазадПродовжити »