Wednesday, August 29, 2012

He certainly was not born in Finland

That Tycho when writing of the religion distinguished by pomp and splendour which was soon to disappear was thinking of the Roman Catholic persuasion is beyond a doubt, and it is curious that the book in which we read this, though printed in Denmark, should eventually come to be published at Prague (where the religious war which he foretold raged furiously less than twenty years after his death) and was dedicated to the Roman Emperor! But it is more curious still that some of his other predictions seem to be fulfilled in the person of Gustavus Adolphus, the greatest champion of Protestantism in the seventeenth century. He was born in 1594 (only two years after the influence of the star should begin to be felt), and his glory was greatest in the year in which he fell, 1632, the very year mentioned by Tycho. He certainly was not born in Finland (for it is Finland and not the adjoining part of Russia which is indicated by 16° east of Uraniborg and 62° Latitude), but in Stockholm; but Finland was still a province of Sweden, and the yellow Finnish regiments were conspicuous for their bravery on many a blood-stained battlefield in Germany.

Tycho Brahe: a picture of scientific life and work in the sixteenth century (1890) by John Louis Emil Dreyer

Finns are nothing else than a fabulous transmogrification of those Norse "sea-dogs,"

Repeated investigations have gradually brought me to the conviction that the Finn or Seal stories contain a combination of the mermaid myth with a strong historical element—that the Finns are nothing else than a fabulous transmogrification of those Norse "sea-dogs," who from eld have penetrated into the islands round Scotland, into Scotland itself, as well as into Ireland. "Old sea-dog" is even now a favourite expression for a weather-beaten, storm-tossed skipper—a perfect seal among the wild waves.

The assertion of a "higher" origin of still living persons from Finns ... would thus explain itself as a wildly legendary remembrance of the descent from the blood of Germanic conquerors. The "skin" wherewith the Finns change themselves magically into sea-beings I hold to be their armour, or coat of mail. Perhaps that coat itself was often made of seal-skin, and then covered with metal rings, or scales, as we see it in Norman pictures; for instance, on the Bayeux tapestry. The designation of Norwegian and Danish conquerors, in Old Irish history, as "scaly monsters," certainly fits in with this hypothesis.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Library at Åbo

The museum and library of Abo in Finland have been involved in the dreadful calamity which has lately befallen that town, which was destroyed by fire. The British public have subscribed nearly £900 for the relief of the inhabitants. An effort is now making in this country to restore the library. We subjoin the following extract of a circular letter from Mr. Bowring:

"When I visited Finland a few years ago, the university of Abo was in a most prosperous and improving condition. It had many distinguished professors, and was the seat and the source of the civilization of the whole country. A literary journal was established there, and almost all the works published in Finland issued from the press of Abo. Attached to the university were a valuable museum of natural history, extensive philosophical apparatus, and a library consisting of more than thirty thousand volumes, rich in records, and unpublished manuscripts relating to the history of Finland and Sweden. With the exception of about eight hundred volumes, of which not more than two hundred form perfect works, the whole of this interesting collection perished in the flames; and the circumstances were so much the more distressing, as the library funds had been wholly exhausted, and even anticipated for years, in order to gain possession of works which were then obtainable, and which were deemed of great importance to the establishment. In a country like Finland, so little visited, so far removed from the attention and sympathy of the civilized world, the destruction of the only large public library is a calamity, the greatness and extent of which can hardly be estimated here.

"I have been addressed by some valuable Finnish friends on the subject, and have been requested to ascertain whether many of the literary and scientific individuals of our country would not probably contribute their own writings or those of others, to repair the dreadful loss with which Finland has been visited. And I have ventured to say, that I feel persuaded numbers would be found cheerfully to assist in the re-formation of their library. The inhabitants of Finland are almost universally poor, but as universally desirous of instruction; and of late many men have appeared among them, who have done no inconsiderable services to science, philosophy, and the belleslettres. So much have even the Finnish peasants been touched by the destruction of the Abo library, that in some places where money is little known, they have subscribed the produce of their farms towards its restoration: and among them the villagers of Wichtis sent fifty barrels of rye; the University of Dorpat has contributed 394 scientific works, besides many philosophical instruments and collections in natural history. One liberal Russian bookseller (Mr. Hartmann, of Riga) has presented books to the value of 5,357 silver rubles, or nearly £800 sterling. His townsman, Mr. German, sent 193 volumes. Dr. Hassar, of Petersburg, 995; and Professor Storch (whose works on political economy are so well known), 269. Many other useful and generous donations have been received; and I confidently trust that examples so honourable will find many imitators here. Messrs. George Cowie and Co., of No. 31, Poultry, have kindly undertaken to receive and forward any works, instruments, &c, which may be liberally given to the Abo University Library. I shall be most happy to communicate any particulars I possess; and if information be desired from the spot, the venerable Archbishop of Finland, Dr. Tengstrom, or M. John Julin, will, I am sure, be most happy to furnish it.—John Bowring."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Under their coarse exterior they had loyal hearts

On the day of the revolt the present Emperor, Alexander II., was a boy of something less than eight years of age. It was ascertained that the Imperial Guards of the palace were in the conspiracy, and so, early in the morning, they were marched away and a battalion of soldiers of the line from Finland was substituted. Rough in appearance and uncouth in manner, they formed a marked contrast to the elegant Guards whom they replaced. But under their coarse exterior they had loyal hearts, and as Nicholas looked upon them he felt that they could be trusted.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In Finland gymnastics are practised on lines that exhibit national peculiarities

The value of gymnastics both for curing defects, and still more for promoting health and the development of normal physique, is recognized even more clearly on the continent of Europe than in Great Britain. In Germany the government not only controls the practice of gymnastics but makes it compulsory for every child and adult to undergo a prescribed amount of such physical training. In France also, physical training by gymnastics is under state control; in Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Russia, systems more or less distinct enjoy a wide popularity; and in Finland gymnastics are practised on lines that exhibit national peculiarities. The Finns introduce an exceptional degree of variety into their exercises as well as into the appliances devised to assist them; women are scarcely less expert than men in the performance of them; and the enthusiasm with which the system is supported produces the most beneficial results in the physique of the people.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Two Russian commissars, and the president of Finland.

"Go to hell!" exclaimed Admiral Winston. The lieutenant hesitated a moment, then bent and spoke in the Leopard's ear. The big coolie bared his stained teeth in a snarl, spoke quickly, angrily. Ward smiled thinly, straightened, and interpreted the Leopard's words with vicious vindictiveness. "The emperor says that he is sparing you now only because of your rank. He likes to collect ex-generals, ex-kings, ex-dukes and ex-admirals of the countries he conquers. He keeps them in small steel cages, where they cannot stand up, but must remain perpetually in a crouching position. He has eleven such cages on board one of the ships in the harbor. In those cages he has a Manchukuan emperor, two Russian commissars, and the president of Finland. He instructs me to tell you that you are to join that noble collection of his. After a while, you will forget all about your pride, and beg for something to eat every day when the keeper comes around with food!"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

We have gained a foothold in Finland

I am pleased to report that in Great Britain we continue to do some baptizing. During my administration in that land a little new ground, or rather ground that had been worked years ago and been abandoned, has been opened up in various places. We have gained a foothold in Finland, and a few have been baptized in that land. Brother Fjelsted sent some native Elders into that section of country. Some men that were inspired with zeal, and who were humble, and who were ready to meet any trial and difficulty that might come in their way, succeeded in opening a little door. Seed has been sown.

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...