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Mr. Laing justly remarks in his preface. " The future historian will probably rapidly producing in the social condition complain that the English travellers of of the lower and middle classes of every the present generation, while they lavish country, the circumstances in their anthe highest talents on descriptions of cient institutions, laws, and governments, personal feelings or adventures, of ro- which are retarding or accelerating the mantic natural scenery, of striking objects progress of these classes to a condition of in the sciences or fine arts, have left few higher moral and physical well-being, of the more humble facts or observations, are objects particularly deserving the atfrom which he can appreciate and de- tention of the traveller. * * * In Nor. scribe the advance of society in different way and Sweden, such inquiries are countries, towards a higher condition of peculiarly interesting at the present morals, laws, good government, physical period, because these two nations, al. well-being, and civilisation. Yet the though the furthest_removed from the calm which we have been enjoying for agitation of the French Revolution, nearly a quarter of a century, after that have, by a singular chance, been affected storm of the French Revolution which by it more permanently, and one of them shook the world, is perhaps the most im- more beneficially, than any others in portant period that has occurred in the Europe. Norway received a new and lihistory of the human race.
beral constitution, and has started with it may be said, have been granted to man the freshness of youth;--a. during this period,-new intellectual tion, as it were, called suddenly into life power, by the general diffusion of know- from among the slumbering feudal popuIedge through the press,-new physical lations of the North. Sweden received a power, by the general application of new dynasty, and slumbers on amidst ansteam to machinery and movement. The cient institutions, and social arrangements changes which these mighty agencies are of darker ages,” &c.
Of Sweden, it is true, as Mr. Laing observes, that none of the secondary European powers have acted such brilliant and important parts in modern history, as the Swedish monarchs. Gustavus Vasa, Gustavus Adolphus, Charles XII. live in the memory of all nations. If the highest achievement with the smallest means be the test of military genius, the Vasa race have not been equalled by any commanders even in our times ;* but Sweden has not, like Norway, an heroic age in her history, connecting her earliest exploits with the fate of other countries. The Swedish small kings plundered at home, and became, like the nobility of Poland, a power of which the strongest party disposed of the Crown, and ruled the country amidst perpetual factions, tumult, and bloodshed. The Swedish historian Geyer, one of the most acute and philosophic of modern bistorians, observes, that the history of the Swedish nation is the history of its kings. He might have added, that the history of its kings is often but the history of the factions and intrigues of a nobility governing in reality from behind the throne : and of whose power, the kings, with few exceptions, have, down to the present age, been either the puppets or the victims. The present position of Sweden among the European powers is extraordinary. By the loss of their foreign provinces of Finland and Pomerania, she is severed from the main land of Europe, and its political affairs ; and by the singular chance which has seated upon her throne a new line of monarchs not connected by family alliances with any other royal dynasty, she stands politically insulated even more than physically. What has been, or ever will be, the result of this curious political position ?
The author of the Answer to Mr. Laing's statement appears to be a person who has resided for some time in Sweden, and who possesses a considerable acquaintance with the feelings and character of the people,
* Such also is the decided opinion of Col. Mitchell in his eloquent and interesting life of Wallenstein ; of the military talents of Gustavus Adolphus, he speaks in the very highest terms, and considers the art of war, as embodied in modern tactics, to have originated with him, and been perfected by him.-Rev.
and the institutions of the country. His political opinions are directly opposed to those of Mr. Laing, and he has remarked on some of his statements with much apparent exactness and justice. Mr. Laing attributed the low moral state of the Swedish nation to its feudal institutions, and the pernicious influence of its nobility. Of the charge of being uneducated, as far as statistical tables go in evidence, the author of the Remarks has liberated them ; and he adds that, so far from the nobility holding trade and industry beneath their dignity, several of the first commercial houses in Stockholm have members of this class at the head of their establishments, and the greater proportion of iron manufactories, founderies, and mines, are not only the property of members of the nobility, but personally superintended by them: while, in addition to their scientific and commercial occupations, they embrace generally in youth the profession of arms, not forgetful of those victorious banners which have in the palmy days of their country's greatness floated over the Vistula, the Danube, and the Rhine.
“Mr. Laing (he says) talks of the ex- tive to the wealth of a country,--that of treme poverty of the Swedish nobility, Sweden being of course infinitely supewho, he pretends' are with very few ex- rior to that of Great Britain. The nobi. ceptions living from civil or military em- lity of Sweden possesses a very great ployment, or on their farms, in obscurity number of country residences and chaor poverty. Let us examine whether this teaux, which, if not comparable perhaps to charge deserves more credit than the those in England, fully rival those of the other. Official documents, of incontestible west of Europe, and often surpass them. veracity, show that the Swedish nobility Thus surrounded by their sincerely devoted possess not less than one fourth of the tenants, or peasants, they live not in the whole landed property of Sweden, includ- luxury of the British aristocracy, but with ing the
very finest and most fertile estates. all the ease and comfort which renders a It owns, besides this landed property, country residence agreeable. They do not more than half the mines, smelting works, devote themselves exclusively to the pleaand forests of the country ; large pro
sures of the chase, but are occupied with portion of the most considerable buildings the improvement of their estates, the ad. of the metropolis; much property in ca- vance of agricultural knowledge, and the pital, and property of various denomina. care of their mines, smelting establishtions. Even deducting these landed pos. ments, and forges, whose produce, consessions of the nobility, its debts, mort. veyed to Sheffield and Birmingham, is afgages and allotments, (which in many terwards transmitted to all parts of the instances belong to the junior branches of globe in that beautiful shape of manufacits families,) there would still remain in tured steel into which British industry its possession above one fifth of the gene- knows howtochangeit. The Swedish gentry ral property of Sweden ; and we ask Mr. exercise on their estates a most cordial Laing to state where the country in Eu. hospitality to every visitor, of which Mr. rope is, whose nobility in fair proportion Laing might have partaken, if he had had can boast of such a fortune ? The nobi. the good sense to get acquainted with this lity of England, the most aristocratical respectable class by himself, and not country in Europe, does not possess pro- through the medium of his radical friends perty to the amount of more than at Christiana, which is about the same 100,000,0001, which does not correspond as to look to a Chartist meeting at Birto more than one 36th part of the total mingham for correct notions on the property of the country, estimated at English nobility. It is at these delightful 3,680,000,0007.* while the Swedish no. country seats that the Swedish nobility bility possesses the fourth part of the exercise those domestic virtues and pious property of its country, and adding even religious feelings which might serve as an the fortunes of the gentry of England to example to many, and which ensures to that of the nobility, the proportion would them the esteem and affection of their still remain in favour of the Swedish ; countrymen." but in such cases all calculations are rela
Although the author of this pamphlet repudiates the notion that the low state of morality among the people in Sweden is at all owing to the
Ricardo estimates the whole property of Great Britain at 3,000,000,0001. and according to G. R. Porter's Tables of 1833, the property of the empire is estimated at 3,660,000,0001, and the gross income at not less than 514,000,0001.
pernicious influence of the aristocracy, he owns, at the same time, that, though the state of morality is far from being so low as Mr. Laing would have it believed, yet it is not so high as might be expected from a people so well educated and religious as the Swedish are. The author then gives his solution of the problein, which is to be found in the almost illimited democracy of the constitution.
" It is (he says) from this progress of state of things accrues from the aristocratic democracy in Sweden,--and particularly organization of the country, or whether from the influence acquired by the order it is not, on the contrary, the rising asof peasants in the legislation of the cendancy of democracy, which has thus country,—that a principle of misunder. effected the decline of the morality of the stood liberty has sprung up, which in. people? It becomes curious to examine volves the most fatal consequences for whether the same results have not occurthe morality of the nation. Acting upon red in England, corroborating thereby the this principle, the order of peasants insist decline of morality by the increase of that every body has the right to distil democracy. The progress of immorality his own brandy as well as he has the right has several other causes in Sweden, more to make his own soup,' forgetting that the or less of a democratical character, viz. maintenance of social order imperiously the greater division of landed property requires the sacrifice of personal rights to than was the case before, which produces the general welfare. The assumed prin- misery, and misery crime ; and the bad ciple of liberty has been so much more state of the prisons, where no classificadetrimental to the Swedish people as the tion is introduced, and where, therefore, order of peasants has applied it, in the people confined for the slightest offences manner generally adopted by democracy are mingled with inveterate criminals, when it obtains the upper hand, with all which tends to harden and demoralize the kinds of injustice against the rights of former. We invariably notice that the other citizens, and has in the last diet greater number of offences committed in obtained the privilege of paying for its Sweden are the deeds of the same persons, home-distilled brandy even less excise than -of those, who, their term of confinement the very small duty imposed upon the being expired, are discharged from prison proprietors of other estates for their own without any honest means of existence. distillations; by which means a distilling In this respect the system of transportaof brandy has been introduced in nearly tion adopted by Great Britain offers great every peasant's dwelling,—the number of advantages, which we fear have not been those officially known amounting to no sufficiently appreciated. It may be true less than 121,000, of which 120,000 be- that transportation interferes with emi. long to the peasantry. Thus has been gration, and that it ought not to apply to produced the fatal result mentioned by the fertile and magnificent country of Mr. Laing, viz. that the consumption of Australia : but Great Britain possesses so brandy, which in 1786 amounted only to many islands, and can dispose of so many 5,400,000 kanns for the joint population points in the Pacific, and other parts of of Sweden and Finland, has increased now the globe, that the system itself ought not to 22,000,000 kanns for the population of to be abandoned. We admit that the Sweden alone. Under such circumstances punishment of solitary confinement and it will not be wonderful if the moral state of hard labour in the houses of correction of the rural population of Sweden should is far more severe than that of transportdecline by degrees from the constant use ation ; but it must be considered that it is of a liquor so strong as the common not the fear of punishment, more or less Swedish brandy (generally 6° above proof), severe, which arrests the committal of a and which, being fabricated at home, is crime, for the malefactor is always in within the constant and immediate reach hopes of escaping detection, and the conof the peasant. His welfare must suffer sequences of his act. The evil which will from this pernicious abuse in every point result to Great Britain from abolishing or of view :-consuming more than his means diminishing transportation will be, that allowed, it must lead him to moral and the criminals, after the expiration of their physical degradation, and to oeconomical respective terms of imprisonment, will be ruin.
turned loose upon society, which now is “ We admit these facts with perfect the case with but a very small proportion candour, but we beg to put the question of those transported for less than life.'** whether, as Mr. Laing insinuates, this
Ste In the year 1835 there were no less than 3625 convicted and sentenced to transportation for various periods, of which only 402 were actually transported, the sentences of the remainder having been commuted.
With regard to the material prosperity of the country,--the finances, the great artery of the social body, are in Sweden in the most flourishing condition. The annual income of the country exceeds considerably its expenditure ; there is no national debt, and the country is less taxed than any other in Europe, even less than the United States of America. The annual savings of Sweden have enabled her to expend since the peace of 1814 a sum of above 15,000,000 rix-dollars for the construction of canals, clearing of rivers, erection of piers, and for improving the state of defence of her seaports. Sweden has a national bank, under the exclusive management of deputies elected by the States-General ; a bank exchanging on demand (and at a rate fixed once for all by the States-General) -has notes for gold or silver-its circulation of paper amounting to 30,000,000 rixdollars, while its vaults contain the value of 20,000,000 rix-dollars, in gold and silver, and that of 25,000,000 in securities, showing thus an overplus of 15,000,000. Sweden's manufacturing industry has doubled within the last ten years ; her agriculture has made great progress, and she is now independent of other countries for her supply of grain. The population of Sweden has increased, so as to make it now equal to what it was at the time when Finland was joined with her. Sweden possesses a well organized and disciplined army, and a respectable navy, which carries more than 2500 heavy guns on board her vessels.
Of the prosperity of Norway there can be no difference of opinion, though those who have visited the country, or considered the subject, are not agreed about the causes. Mr. Laing looks to the great division of property and the legislative form of its government. The author of the pamphlet considers that it depends on her union with Sweden.
"Norway cannot but prosper while it since the Union, an independent kingdom ; is covered by Sweden, like a shield, from has its own legislature-its own governthe only power which can have any inten- ment-its own laws, and its own finances, tion of attacking her (Russia) ; maintain- without a single functionary who is not a ing neither fleet nor army, and leaving to Norwegian. Such are the immense bene. Sweden all the weight of the common de- fits which Norway has derived from her fence. Norway cannot but prosper while union with Sweden. Her prosperity is, the expenses for her royalty do not amount then, the result of this Union, and not at to more than £20,000 a year (15,000 for all of a greater division of property than the King, and 5,000 for the Crown Prince, in Sweden—which is not the case; or of whose regal establishments are maintained the democratic form of her legislature, the in Sweden). Norway cannot but prosper popularity of which would suffer materially when the advantages granted to her in the if the Norwegian people were called upon markets of Sweden give her a profit in to make the sacrifices required everywhere the balance of trade of more than cent per else for the maintenance of national indecent, and deprive Sweden of a consider- pendence, which are now in great part able part of her foreign trade: as, for in. provided for by Sweden. Her democratic stance, in the trade with Great Britain, form of legislature would never have acwhere, of the average number of 1000 quired her actual popularity, if Norway had ships which arrive annually in the been obliged, like other free nations, to British ports from the Scandinavian pe- waste its blood and its treasures in the ninsula, and of which 700 were formerly attainment of this liberty. No! it has Swedes and 300 Norwegians, the propor- fallen to her like a gift from heaven. For tion is now 700 Norwegians and 300 many centuries a mere province, under Swedes. Norway, before the union, was the absolute although mild sway of the for 500 years a mere province of Denmark, Kings of Denmark, without ever making administered by Danish functionaries, and the least attempt at emancipation, Norby Danish laws; forced to send her sailors way awoke one day, and found herself to Denmark, and to build her ships for transformed into a free and independent the aid of Denmark ; having no constitu- kingdom, having obtained all kinds of tion, and being subject to the sway of the liberties—by whom, if not by the exertion absolute Kings of Denmark. Norway is, and by the sacrifices of Sweden ? All that Sweden wishes to secure from her union last German possession, Pomerania, the with Norway is the advantage of not being only remaining trophy of her great attacked at her back, as has always been Gustavus Adolphus : in hazarding for it the case in her former wars with Russia a dangerous war with the then colossal (see in 1778, and latterly in 1808); and power of Napoleon, and in obtaining this the expectation of such a security is, we so-called Union at the gates of Christiana, believe, not a very great pretension of with an army of 50,000 men, and not at Sweden, considering the sacrifices made the gates of Stockholm, where there is no by her for this Union-sacrifices consist- record in history of a foe ever having set ing not alone in the chances which she his foot. All that Sweden requires is, might fairly have had in 1812 and 1813 justice for what she has done to effect the to recover Finland, heretofore an integral Union so conducive to the happiness of part of the kingdom, and not a separate the Norwegian people.”' one like Norway ; but in giving up her
But there are other subjects besides these which are political, that have fallen within the scope of Mr. Laing's observation, and which will repay the reader's curiosity. His sketches of the Fins and Laplanders are of this description ; his remarks on the indeldta system in the army,-on the religious sect called the Læsere, something resembling our Methodistshis anecdotes of the reigning sovereign-his view of Stockholm--his scenic sketches of the country, are all of interest, althongh we are obliged to pass by them in silence ; but our antiquarian zeal forbids us not to linger for a short time on the shores of Gothland, to visit its remarkable capital of Wisby. Mr. Laing says,
“ This ancient city is the most extra- thirty or forty thousand persons, contains ordinary place in the north of Europe. It at present only four thousand two hundred is a city of the Middle Ages-existing and sixty-eight inhabitants, badly lodged, unbroken and unchanged, in a great mea- in little tenements, under edifices of great sure, to the present day; appears to cost and magnificence, which theformer in. have undergone less alteration from time, habitants reared with the superfluity of devastation, or improvement, than any their wealth. You scarcely see a human place of the same antiquity.—The ap- being moving in streets once crowded pearance from the sea of this mother of with the wealthiest merchants of all The Hanseatic cities is very striking, from countries.--Long before the Hans Towns the numerous remains of churches and were heard of, Wisby had been the great other ancient structures. I counted emporium of commerce in the north of thirty-five towers, spires, or prominent Europe ; the markets in which the proruins. On landing, the aspect is equally ductions even of the east, brought by novel. Ancient streets, well paved, cross caravans to Novogorod, and across the each other in all directions. The ruins Baltic, met the furs and metals of the of the churches are of very extraordinary north, and the buyers of the south of beauty and workmanship. The whole Europe.-Wisby was, in the tenth and city is surrounded by its ancient wall, eleventh centuries, one of the most importwith towers square, octagonal, and round, ant commercial cities in Europe.* Its meras they stood in the thirteenth century, cantile laws were regarded as the most perand with very little demolition. The wall fect, and they were transferred to France by is entire, and above thirty feet high for the Saint Louis, whose code of the Isle of greater part, and in no place demolished. Oleron was copied from the constitutions of Of forty-five towers upon it the greater Wisby, and these contain the principles of part are entire.--- The wall is built on maritime, mercantile, and internationallaw. rock stretching from the sea at one end Wisby had a population of twelve thouround the city to the sea at the other. sand burgesses, besides tradesmen, &c. in There appear marks both of an inner and the thirteenth century. The foreigners outer wall. This wall was built in 1288, in the eleventh century were so numerous and is, perhaps, the most entire specimen that each nation had its own church and of ancient fortification remaining in the house of assembly.-Judging from the north of Europe. This curious city, numerous ruins of costly structures, which might accommodate within its area the remains of her former magnificence,
* The establishment of the Hanseatic league took place in 1241.