23 AUGUST 1856, Page 17

THE OXONIAN IN NORWAY. * ALTHOUGH the Reverend Frederick Metcalfe's excursions

in Nor- way refer to more than one visit, there is sufficient continuity in the narrative to impart unity of theme ; at the same time, his several excursions give more fulness and variety than could have been derived from one tour. There is also more knowledge of the country and the people than a single trip could have supplied. His main routes were a carriole journey from Christiania to Ber- gen, and a steam voyage thence along the coast as far as steam extends, which is beyond the North Cape. These more common lines are varied by frequent inland trips or pretty extensive tours, as well as by an expedition to the Russian frontier, where the traveller collected some political and geographical information.

i By an oversight strange in a power so informed and acute as Rus- sia is described to be, the settlement of the frontier of Finmark was drawn fifty miles too far to the East. All the harbours of Russia are ice-bound for a considerable part of the year, while the sea to the Westward is always free. The author had reached Wads5, the last port of the steamer, and had started for the fron- tier to fish and look about him.

"Leaving the North coast of the fjord, which is low, and contains no good harbours, we were soon shaping our course to the Eastward with a gentle breeze. Though it was night, numerous boats were rocking on the water, engaged in taking the voracious coal-fish ; while, near at hand, might be seen the white jets spouted upon high by the gambolling whales, and glis- tening in the beams of the sun. On our quarter lay the South coast of the fjord, which, unlike the North, is very high land. From a distance, it ap- pears to be a continued ridge of mountains, with here and there peaks rising from the general level ; but by the aid of our glasses, we found it was in- dented by several creeks, or fjords, penetrating far into the land.

"Owing to the immense depth of these inlets which cleave the coast, and the Tropical current which has been before alluded to, ice is a thing un- known in these recesses. Whereas? fifty. miles East of this, just where the Jacobs-elv marks the Russian frontier, by a curious caprice of Nature every corner is encumbered with thick-ribbedice for a great portion of the Tear. By a diplomatic bungle, inconceivable in so crafty a people as the Russians, when the mooted question of the boundary was settled by the treaty of 1826, this appears to have been overlooked. Had Russia been sufficiently aware of these circumstances, she would most likely have preferred keeping

i the boundary question in all its former uncertainty ; and her anxiety to re- cover the opportunity that had been so unguardedly lost was soon apparent.

" The night air was rather cool ; and it was with no little zest that we discussed the contents of a preserved-meat-box, which had been judiciously stowed away in a comeatable place in the boat by one of the party. A. small glass of finkel, which followed, served as a vehicle for drinking con- fusion to the heir of Norway.' [The Czar takes that title.] Somewhat exhilarated by the dram, one of the party addressed David the coxswain.

" Well, David, I am sorry for you. It's a bad job, no doubt. But I suppose, by this time next year, all you fellows will be pressed to serve in the Russian navy.' " Will we, though ? Gamle Norge is not going to be taken so easily. Look at Vardohus.'

" Vardohus ! Bladder ! 1. e. stuff and nonsense; a mere landmark !'

" But tell me, where is that snug little harbour that Russia has such a liking for ? What do you call it—Bogfjord '

" Oh,.. is it is ! Don't you see that high land in the middle ; that is Skagero. To the left of it s the Bogfjord, and on its right the Bug6- fjord.'

" Yes' it is even so. I pray you mark this spot well, reader. This is the spot that the Czar Nicholas so much coveted, for the arrondissement, so to say, of his dominions. It was only just this remote harbour, and its bar- ren shores.

Si angulus ille proximus accedat qui mine denormat agelliumis.' And yet this harbour might soon have been made a naval station and fort- ress of the first class, to which Sebastopol would have been insignificant in comparison. And then it would not have been, like the Crimea, three thousand miles from our shores ; indeed, we are afraid to say in how few days a steam fleet leaving this might effect a descent on Scotland. Besides which, it might have come at any time—even in mid-winter."

• The Oxonian in Norway ; or Notes of Excursions in that Country in 1854-1855. By the Reverend Frederick Metcalfe, M. d., Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. In two volumes. Published by Hurst and Blackett. The Russian Consul-General at Christiania had been making a diplomatic tour to the North, to conciliate the people and pick up what information he could. Mr. Metcalfe was his fellow pas- senger part of the way, and he thus describes the Russian diplo- matist.

" The steamer arrived punctual to its time ; and I found mv Mends and impedimenta on board. The Russian Consul-General having doubtless sa- tisfied himself how the ground lay up in the North, and drawn up the heads of a report to the Czar his master, was now returning to Christiania. So neatly and trimly was he dressed, so silken and polite his air, that some Norwegians on board were evidently enamoured of his company. Look at those Tromso merchants, how they are toadying him. " Will Herr General-Consul like to do this ? Will not Herr General- Consul have the goodness to walk down-stairs to dinner before me ?' and so forth.

" One sturdy Norwegian, a Mr. —, who is well known to Englishmen on the Alten for his daring and independence, was disgusted beyond mea- sure at the way in which his countrymen were kissing the rod. " It is about that unpleasant matter of the boundaries between Russia and us that the Czar's emissary has been up to IS adso said Mr. —, in- dignantly. : his object is just to feel the people's pulses about a change of rulers. And he will doubtless report to his master how courteous and at- tentive they are, and how glad they will be of the change. 'Why don't these shopkeepers maintain a dignified reserve, and show that their eyes arb-

open ? I fear, sir,' he conclud this scene will give you a poor notion of our Scandinavian love of independence. But don't judge of the whole na- tion by these men. They think it is for their interest to stand well with Russia, as a great part of their business is with that country ; and so they don't care how servilely they wag the tail.' " Nor was my respect for the Muscovite exquisite increased on hearing that he had complained to the Captain of the slovenliness of those English- men.

- " ' Really one of them had a hole in his coat,'—no wonder, after a week or two spent in the solitudes of Lapland,—' and his hat (a wide-awake) was not at all comme it Taut. Positively he felt a difficulty- in sitting down at dinner with such people. And then one of them had some poison; (aisenic, he understood,) with which he was smearing those filthy bird-skins. It was dangerous. It was shocking.' " There might be too much of the spirit of Hotspur's fop in " Herr General Consul," but many Englishmen abroad do affect airs of slovenliness, and seem to delight in making themselves " figures of fun."

"Between excess and famine lies a mean ; Plain, but not sordid—though not splendid, clean."

There are some passages of slightness in The Oxonian in Nor- way, and the author has rather a tendency to make the most of things ; but it is by far the best book of general travels. that we have met with on this section of Scandinavia. Part of the excel- lence arises from the length of time devoted to the subject and the pursuits of the author. A persevering angler, ho penetrated. fiord, lake, and river ; a plucky sportsman, he dumb mountains and threaded marsh and forest in search of game. These excur- sions took him where strangers have rarely or never been, amid scenery of magnificence or beauty, but to which no mere love of the picturesque would carry a man, on account of the toils and hardships he must undergo. These pursuits, too, forced him into connexion with the peasantry and farmers, with whom a know- .ledge of the language enabled the traveller to make himself at home. His Oxford character gave him a standing in more civilized places—towns, and steamers—which his cloth, his country, and his talking Latin, did not diminish. Mr. Metcalfe, however, penetrated beyond Norway amongst the Laps and the Fins. Here is an interview with the Russian Laplanders, men of stouter build than the Swedish Laplanders, when the traveller went to fish the frontier river.

"Most of them had aquiline noses. Their dress was a long loose surtont. The women had a head-dress of a conical shape. There WAS something of a very Oriental cast about their looks. They were mostly dark-featured, and their limbs were supple and active. Great was the wonderment, and loud and shrill the vociferation, which hailed our arrival among these uncanny-look- ing creatures. A fishig-rod and reel were clearly instruments as strange

to them as a cross-bow would be to a modern artilleryman. .

" When our men explained to them, in an unintelligible jargon, that we were going to catch salmon with the fly, they laughed discordantly, and at the same time shook their heads incredulously. Selecting a hole Just below a large stone in the rapid, I threw my fly into it. None but one careless of the consequences would perhaps have ventured to risk his tackle in such a spot. If I hooked a fish, where on earth was I to land him ? and if he went down stream, which of course he would, how, in the name of all the fisher- men from Isaac Walton downwards, could I ever manage to follow him without breaking my legs, if not my neck ? The torrent was crowded with

great stones, so was the bank. •

" At the first throw I hooked a salmon. He hesitated for a moment or two, and then shot into a hole a few yards below. Reader, who art accustomed to the smooth sward that lines the Lentwardine or Wye, with a quiet, business- like fellow who carries your landing-net, picture to yourself .your humble servant standing among a group of savages, frantic with eagerness and de- light, and screaming m unison with the roaring waters. Standing, did I say ? See me now jumping from stone to stone, expecting every moment to break my rod and line if not my bones. Yet on I hurried, like Mazeppa's horse, with the unearthly Laps hard upon my heels. Luckily, I was shod in comargos, which, from having no soles, are admirably adapted for such work, the foot taking much better hold than our shooting-boots with their stiff hobnailed soles. Being dressed with a mixture of tar and oil, they are very easy to the foot. Fortunately, I escaped uninjured ; and what is more, bagged my fish."

Extent and variety of exploration are not of much use without qualities to profit by the opportunities they offer. These quali- ties Mr. Metcalfe possesses. He has an eye for the beauties of scenery and the peculiarities of men. He has also an easy, off-hand, and lively English style. His own mind partakes of that combination of qualities whioh distinguishes the best modern university men—a union of the scholar, the gentleman, and the- man of the world, with a sort of anti-humbug freedom, which some readers may perhaps think is for a clergyman pushed a shade too far. The sketches of the towns and solitary merchant-houses along the coast, as well as of the citizen class and the steam-boat

passengers, are lively, agreeable, and characteristic. Nor does the traveller confine himself to manners, adventures, Russia versus Norway, or the outward forms of things. He touches upon more solid matters,--the fisheries, for example ; from which we take a passage on the profits of cod-liver-oil.

" Cod-liver oil costs, on the spot, from five to six dollars the barrel of one hundred and twenty pots. A wine-bottle holds about three-fourths of a pot. So that in round numbers, at the highest price it costs about one dulling the imperial gallon. By comparing this price with that of Dr. Jongh's brown cod-liver oil,' which professes to come from the Luffodena, we can form some idea of the profit made by somebody. It costs nine shillings per quart imperial. No wonder,. then, that he can pay several thousands a year in advertisements. Is it true that Dr. Jongh is only another name for Professor Holloway ? "

The tendency to diffusion or writing over-much is a drawback. In other respects the reader will find The Oxonian in Norway a very agreeable companion ; and even the diffusion is merely a little exuberance of chat. He will be taken among scenery of the most impressive kind for wild magnificence, overwhelming desolation, or soft peculiar beauty, and feel some of its freshness in the de- scriptions of his companion. He will travel through regions of the bear, the wild rein-deer, and the elk, (though he may not see much of them,) and where wild-fowl are drugs. He will also be introduced to a very primitive state of society, in which there ex- ists a strong spirit of freedom coupled with an almost super- stitious subordination to established. custom ; a state of much sim- plicity in household economy, and of small wealth, coupled with a good deal of intelligence, mental activity, and good manners ; in short, a modified picture of Old. England in its ancestral home.