NORWAY is full of picturesque scenery, and were it not for the shortness of its summers, the country would be no mean rival to Switzerland in the homage received from travelers. The long coast, is everywhere indented by fiords, or deep, narrow inlets from the sea, many of which, reach into the land for many miles. These fiords, which are usually bordered either by hills or precipitous cliffs and rocks, varying from one thousand to four thousand feet in height, so intersect and cut up the country that the interior is best reached by water.

The voyage up the coast gives a view of much grand and beautiful scenery. The shore is studded with innumerable islands of all sizes, varying from a few yards in diameter to several miles; and among these the steamer makes its way with difficulty. Sometimes the channel is as narrow as a river, and again it spreads out into a mighty lake; and the ever-varying forms of the islands, the fiords, and the mountains, are constantly opening new and magnificent prospects to the view. As we go northward, the scenery becomes more wild and grand. The islands are often high and broken, rising like towers and pyramids from the water, and grouped together in strange confusion. Between these jagged pinnacles may be seen the hills of the mainland, while in the background stretches the high snowy tableland. The Seven Sisters, seven majestic peaks, four thousand feet high, seated closely side by side, with their nightcaps of gray fog and their feet in the water, are spoken of as one of the most majestic sights of the coast.

But bleak and desolate as the coast appears, the back country has its fertile districts,—its pasture-grounds and forests, its corn lands and pleasant homes, of which the traveler sees nothing; and he might therefore gain a wrong impression of Norway unless he sailed up some of the narrow fiords into the heart of the country. So tranquil is the water of these inland fiords that they seem like long narrow lakes. The scenery from the shores is varying,—now wild and grand, and now beautiful and tranquil as a picture. Here are precipitous, wooded shores, gashed with sudden ravines; there rocky peaks, with cliffs of dark red rock, over which rush foaming torrents from the snows melting on the summit, into the fiord below.

And ever and anon the voyager gets a view, through the openings, of green fields and red farmhouses. Occasionally, too, a sloping hillside or sunny valley finds its way down to the edge of the fiord, and opens up a pleasant picture indeed,—a little village with its snug-built houses and church-spire (for scarcely a village in Norway is without a church), fields of grass and barley, and farm-houses, and goats and cows grazing on the rocky slopes. Sometimes, too, villages look down from the top of the cliffs, which stretch back into land that is tillable, though not so fertile as that of the valleys.

If the traveler tires of the water, he may leave the fiord at some of the villages along the shore, and proceed by land until he is again stopped by another fiord.  He travels overland in a cariole, the national Norwegian vehicle, which is some like the American sulky, and carries but one person. It has usually no springs, however, and the rider gets the benefit of all the spring of the road.

This cariole he usually takes with him, but he has to depend on the country through which he passes, for horses. The farmers along the way are obliged by law to furnish horses and guides for a stipulated sum per mile to send travelers from one "post-station" to another. These stations are usually from ten to fifteen miles apart, according to the roughness of the way and the distance between the fiords. Sometimes it is necessary to wait several hours at the stations for horses to be brought from a neighboring farm. This gives the traveler a good chance to study the customs of the country people, as well as an opportunity of cultivating his patience.

Passing through Norway during the short summer, -and, seeing the beautiful scenery, the snug little homes, the men and women working gaily in the fields, one might think it a very romantic place to live in. But the long, cold winter, which there covers so great a portion of the year, tells a very different story. The soil is generally rocky and sterile; and the people have to toil very hard for what little they have. The women and children take fully their share of the rough, hard work, and a woman laden with a great sheaf of wheat or a huge bundle of sticks for fire wood, is no uncommon sight. The summer is so short that but few kinds of produce can be raised, and were it not for the abundance of fish which the lakes, streams, and fiords furnish, many must suffer for food during the long winter. The life of the farmers in the more secluded districts must be very lonely in winter. The farms are confined to the small patches of more fruitful land along the fiords and at the foot of the mountains; and being frequently many miles from neighbors, the stormy winter cuts off all communication between them.

The native Norwegian is openhearted, truthful, and hospitable, and loves his country devotedly.

A Bible is found in almost every hut, and there seems to be generally a profound and sincere respect for it. Public education is well cared for, even among the poorer classes. There is an elementary school in every village, and where the people are thinly scattered, the schoolmaster goes from farm to farm, so that all may have the benefit of his instruction.

The Norwegian people are very fond of music and poetry; and the songs and stories, or sagas, in which the old scalds, or poets, of the North-land have preserved the deeds and exploits of their Viking forefathers, are handed down from generation to generation.



"And then the blue-eyed Norseman told


A saga of the days of old.


`There is,' said he, 'a wondrous book

Of legends in the old Norse tongue,

Of the dead kings of Norroway,—

Legends that once were told or sung

In many a smoky fire-side nook,

By wandering saga-man, or scald.'




"And in each pause the story made,

Upon his violin he played,

As an appropriate interlude,

Fragments of old Norwegian tunes,

That bound in one the separate runes,

And held the mind in perfect mood."



The principal cities of Norway are Christiana, the capital and largest city, on the southern coast, and Bergen and Dronthiem, on the western.

Dronthiem, the oldest of these cities, and once the capital of Norway, is the cradle of ancient Norwegian history and the residence of a long line of kings. It was founded by king Olaf I. who in the tenth century destroyed the pagan temples

and undertook to introduce Christianity into Norway by force. As the saga runs:—



"Olaf, the king, one summer morn,

Blew a blast on his bugle-horn,

Sending his signal through the land of Dronthiem.




"And king Olaf cried, command

This land to be a Christian land;

Here is my bishop, who the folk baptizeth.'


* * * * * *



"So all the Dronthiem land became A Christian land in name and fame, In the old gods no more believing and trusting." Bergen is described as a prosperous looking town on the slope of a long green hill crowned with woods; and with its large square houses and suburban cottages and gardens, reminds the traveler of a Swiss town. Christiana has a pleasant situation at the head of the beautiful fiord of Christiana. The ancient citadel of Akershus, perched upon a rock, commands the approach to the city, fine old linden trees rising above its white walls and tiled roofs. The principal street of the city is the broad Carl Johansgade, which leads directly to the imposing white marble front of the Royal Palace. The environs of the city are said to be remarkably beautiful. From the quiet basin of the fiord the land rises gradually on all sides, dotted with smiling country-seats and farm-houses, while beyond rise the dark evergreen forests to the summits of the mountains in the distance. And with this glimpse of its capital, we must bid goodbye to Norway.





E. B. G.