12 DECEMBER 1885, Page 15


Timm is much to be said for the appearance just now of an illustrated book on Norway. It is surprising, when one considers the plenitude of recent works on the country, that so little has yet been done in the way of word-painting to set forth its many beauties of form and colour. The truth is that the ordinary traveller in Norway has in him much more of the sportsman than the artist. He is capable of writing an amusing book of adventure, in which the most is made of the hardships of a life up-country far from the centres of civilisation ; he dilates humorously on the horrors of the chip-like fladbrod, and worse still, perhaps, of the truncated bedstead ; but the loveliness of the mountain flora, the wondrous variety of willow, for example, the glories of lichen and shrub embrowned by the summer sun, are apt to escape his attention.

In the work before us an attempt is made to convey some impression of the peculiar scenery of Norway by means of pen and pencil. The author seems to be a gentleman who has been along the more frequented roads, having, of course, made the voyage to the North Cape. It is evident, too, that he has enjoyed his holiday or holidays in the country. He appreciates some of its peculiar attractions, the delightful sense of remote- ness from the wearing excitements of city life, and of contact with the fresh untainted,virtues of a primitive folk, and this is saying much. A true lover of Norway will forgive a great deal of slovenliness and some inaccuracy, if he only finds genuine appreciation. Mr. Lovett has caught something of the spirit of the landscape and of the people. In his accounts of his travels by land and sea, he tries to give his readers not the mere outer impression of the tourist, but the outcome of reflec- tion and sympathetic insight. Particularly pleasant are the descriptions of peasant ways, the festal church-goings, and yet more festal weddings.

And yet, much as one wants to like Mr. Lovett's book, its defects are too numerous and striking to allow of hearty appro- bation. The fact is that a glance at the volume tells the initiated that the author has only a very superficial knowledge of his subject. He knows nothing, so far as one can judge, of the country off the beaten track. He has probably never passed a night in a suer, if, indeed, one can be sure of his having aeon the inside of one, to judge from the following account of it :—" The enter is a rough wooden hut, where those who look after the cattle sleep and have their meals." (p. 181.) There is no account of any one of the many picturesque details of pastoral life. Has Mr. Lovett never felt the charm of that common wayside picture,—a whole peasant family, with the chubby pony, and low, sledge-like cart, busy at haymaking and hay-carrying, or of the sight of a troop of speckled cattle descending from the mountain-side in the quiet evening, to the strange musical call of the milkmaid, who knows every cow by name, and the best way to inveigle her into the dark stall ? One feels sure that if Mr. Lovett had seen and heard this and much besides, he would have felt its influence, and recorded his impressions. It is only fair to the author to say that he makes no pretence to an intimate acquaintance with Norway. In his Preface he writes somewhat naively :—" He (the author) has, however, the strong conviction, that in Norway, lovely and wonderful as the better known regions are, there must yet be in many parts waterfalls, lakes, and mountain views quite as beautiful as anything known to the ordinary traveller." Just so ; and, one may add, other things as well.

It may, of course, be said that Mr. Lovett only aims here at giving a glimpse or two of a country to those who are not able to visit it themselves, and that for this purpose he has seen enough. But the author has not confined himself to recording his individual impressions. He manages to pack in a good deal of general information about the country and its people; and spite of his protestation that he writes for stay-at-home readers,

• Norwegian Pictures. Drawn with Pen and Pencil, with a Map and 127 Illus- trations from Sketches and Photographs. By Richard Lovett, M.A. London : Religions Tract Society. 1885. and not for intending tourists, he now and then comes very near the rdle of the maker of guide-books. And the worst of it is that a good deal of this information is very loose, and some of it positively inaccurate. Some of these inaccuracies are on the surface. Mr. Lovett might, perhaps, have been expected to study enough Norse even in a short tour to save him from such blunders as " kronor " (for kroner), p. 90 and elsewhere ; " Veer saa gud," for "veer saa god," p. 102; and so forth. But these lingual errors are a light matter compared with others. It is nothing less than mischievous to write as he does (p. 101) that " long distances may be covered in a day " in the carriole. To do sixty-six miles in a day means hard driving; and as every traveller in Norway knows, this is the vice of the English novice. The fact is, that it is destructive of enjoyment in Norway to try to get over the ground rapidly ; this the Ameri- can knows, and consequently absents himself. Even apart from the risk of over-driving, a long day in a carriole is exceedingly fatiguing when one is pretty certain to get one or two with short stiff springs (not springless altogether, as the author has it). A more serious error still is the statement (p. 18) that the active sympathies of the Norwegians have been alienated to a great extent from their Church, and that they look on the Clergy mainly as a part of the machinery of government. A man ivho had seen much of the Norwegian pastor or of the home life of the people could never have written this. Taken with the rather gushing account of the Free Churches and their evangelistic work, this passage appears to savour a little of religious bigotry. Another error is the following :—" Almost all educated Norwe- gians speak it [English] fluently." (p. 98.) This may be roughly, but only very roughly, true of women, but it is quite untrue of men. One may meet on the road many educated Norwegians, e.g., students from the University of Christiania, who speak German well, but flounder hopelessly when they attempt English. As a last instance of inaccuracy, one may cite the following :— " Here [at Chriatiannind] •almost all the steamers 'plying between England and Norway call." (p. 172.) Is .the writer unaware that for three seasons now two steamers have plied from Hull to Bergen, not to speak of the other steamers that do not go near Christiansund ?

This may, perhaps, suffice to show that it is hazardous to attempt even a very slight account of a country with only a smattering of knowledge. Of the writer's literary qualifications there is not much to be said. In a general way he is clear and to the point, though he has an inconvenient way of introducing terms like "enter " and " stabbur " some time before he explains their meaning. There is just enough of warmth of imagination to infect the reader, and only rarely a straining after effect by vague exclamations respecting the indescribable wonders of the scenery (what is indescribable had, perhaps, be better left untouched), or a bit of sentimental commonplace, like the "one touch of nature " (p. 66) Apropos of Lapp mothers, as if the author had expected them to have less of the maternal instinct than a properly constituted hen.

The illustrations are, on the whole, well selected and well executed. Waterfalls abound ; but then Norway is one vast "Lauterbrannen." One of the two Stavekirker might have been omitted ; and a drawing of one of the ordinary churches, many of which are picturesque in themselves and gloriously placed, substituted. One would have liked, too, more aquatic scenes, and especially an illustration of the highly picturesque life of the fisher-folk to be seen about the quays of Bergen or Trondhjem. But one must be grateful for what is given, especially as the space has been so well utilised, no less than three drawings being placed on the outside of the front cover.