Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I sold and gave away 250 Finnish Common Prayer Books

In the middle of Sept. 1828, two of my pious neighbors called on me. Our conversation was chiefly respecting an excellent young man and his wife, who wished to visit an island in the gulf of Finland, named Hogland. It contains about 600 inhabitants, but without a resident pastor or apothecary. The young man had been a theological student in a celebrated university, and his wife was the daughter of a physician, and possessed a good knowledge of medicine.

On the 29th of September — memorable day! — I was packing one of their boxes with medicine, apparel, tracts, and Bibles, when a poor woman from the suburbs called at my house, and the following conversation took place: "Can you read?" "Yes, I can read Finnish." I then put a Finnish Bible into her hands, which she appeared to read fluently. "Have you ever possessed a Bible?" "No, never." "Should you like to buy one?" "Oh yes, I should like it, but I have not money enough." "How much money have you?" "Alas! I have only one ruble." "Well, good woman, you shall have it for a ruble: take it." At this intelligence her eyes sparkled with joy. As she was going away, I requested her to publish it among her neighbors, and to inform them that they might also have a Bible for a ruble. She went immediately to the hay-market, which is the great resort of her countrymen, and there she gave publicity to the glad tidings she had heard, and as a proof of its certainty she exhibited the book. The effect was wonderful! The inteligence flew to all the surrounding villages, and, in the space of six weeks, we sold eight hundred Finnish Bibles.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Studies in the slums

I looked to where he pointed. On the wall, near the small looking-glass, hung a round cap with hanging fox's tail—such a cap as the half-bloods of our north-western forests wear, and the peasants of the European North as well.

Jan smiled as he saw my puzzled look. "It iss vy I say I vill tell it all," he went on in his grave, steady voice. "Ven I see dat it iss to see de North. For, see, it vas not alvays I am in de city. No. It iss true I am many years in Stockholm, but I am not Swede: I am Finn—yes, true Finn—and know my own tongue vell, and dat iss vat some Finns vill nefer do. I haf learn to read Swedish, for I must. Our own tongue iss not for us, but I learn it, and Brita dere, she know it too. Brita iss of Helsingfors, and I am of de country far out, but I come dere vid fur, for I hunt many months each year. Den I know Brita, and ve marry, and I must stay in de city, and I am strong; and first I am porter, but soon dey know I read and can be drusted, and it iss china dat I must put in boxes all day, and I know soon how to touch it so as it nefer break.

"But dere is not money. My Brita iss born, and little Jan, and I dink alvay, 'I must haf home vere dey may know more;' and all de days it iss America dat dey say iss home for all, and much money—so much no man can be hungry, and vork iss for all. Brita iss ready, and soon ve come, and all de children glad. Yes, dere are six, and good children dat lofe us, and I say efery day, 'Oh, my God, but you are so good! and my life lofes you, for so much good I haf.' Brita too iss happy. She vork hard, but ve do not care, and ve dink, 'Soon ve can rest a little, for it iss not so hard dere as here;' and ve sail to America.

Studies in the slums. IV Jan of the north in
Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 26, October, 1880

Frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland

 I never addressed myself, in the language of decency and friendship, to a woman, whether civilized or savage, without receiving a decent an...