The same thought has struck me, when I have entered the meeting- house of my respected friend, Dr. Price. I am surprised that the dissenters, who have not laid aside all the pomps and vanities of life, should imagine a noble pillar, or arch, unhallowed. Whilst men have senses, whatever soothes them lends wings to devotion; else why do the beauties of nature, where all that charm them are spread around with a lavish hand, force even the sorrowing heart to acknowledge that existence is a blessing? and this acknowledgment is the most sublime homage we can pay to the Deity.
The argument of convenience is absurd. Who would labour for wealth, if it were to procure nothing but conveniences. If we wish to render mankind moral from principle, we must, I am persuaded, give a greater scope to the enjoyments of the senses by blending taste with them. This has frequently occurred to me since I have been in the north, and observed that there sanguine characters always take refuge in drunkenness after the fire of youth is spent.
But I have flown from Norway. To go back to the wooden houses; farms constructed with logs, and even little villages, here erected in the same simple manner, have appeared to me very picturesque. In the more remote parts I had been particularly pleased with many cottages situated close to a brook, or bordering on a lake, with the whole farm contiguous. As the family increases, a little more land is cultivated; thus the country is obviously enriched by population. Formerly the farmers might more justly have been termed woodcutters. But now they find it necessary to spare the woods a little, and this change will be universally beneficial; for whilst they lived entirely by selling the trees they felled, they did not pay sufficient attention to husbandry; consequently, advanced very slowly in agricultural knowledge. Necessity will in future more and more spur them on; for the ground, cleared of wood, must be cultivated, or the farm loses its value; there is no waiting for food till another generation of pines be grown to maturity.
The people of property are very careful of their timber; and, rambling through a forest near Tonsberg, belonging to the Count, I have stopped to admire the appearance of some of the cottages inhabited by a woodman's family--a man employed to cut down the wood necessary for the household and the estate. A little lawn was cleared, on which several lofty trees were left which nature had grouped, whilst the encircling firs sported with wild grace. The dwelling was sheltered by the forest, noble pines spreading their branches over the roof; and before the door a cow, goat, nag, and children, seemed equally content with their lot; and if contentment be all we can attain, it is, perhaps, best secured by ignorance.
As I have been most delighted with the country parts of Norway, I was sorry to leave Christiania without going farther to the north, though the advancing season admonished me to depart, as well as the calls of business and affection.
June and July are the months to make a tour through Norway; for then the evenings and nights are the finest I have ever seen; but towards the middle or latter end of August the clouds begin to gather, and summer disappears almost before it has ripened the fruit of autumn-- even, as it were, slips from your embraces, whilst the satisfied senses seem to rest in enjoyment.
You will ask, perhaps, why I wished to go farther northward. Why? not only because the country, from all I can gather, is most romantic, abounding in forests and lakes, and the air pure, but I have heard much of the intelligence of the inhabitants, substantial farmers, who have none of that cunning to contaminate their simplicity, which displeased me so much in the conduct of the people on the sea coast. A man who has been detected in any dishonest act can no longer live among them. He is universally shunned, and shame becomes the severest punishment.
Such a contempt have they, in fact, for every species of fraud, that they will not allow the people on the western coast to be their countrymen; so much do they despise the arts for which those traders who live on the rocks are notorious.