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my room, locked the door, and fervently ejaculated, 66 All's well that ends well! Here's to the ladies of Helsingfors ! But if ever you catch me in such a scrape again, my name's not Browne!"
ABO-FINLAND. I was strongly inclined to spend several weeks in Helsingfors. The bathing is delightful, and the manners and customs of the people are primitive and interesting. My adventure on the sea-shore, as I soon discovered, was nothing uncommon. I mentioned the matter to my landlady—a Finnish woman of very sociable manners, who spoke a little English. I asked her if it was customary for the ladies to dispense with bathing-dresses. She said they generally wore something when they bathed in public, but beyond the limits of the regular bath-houses, at the end of the Botanical Gardens, they seldom troubled themselves about matters of that kind; in fact, they preferred going in without any obstruction, because “they could swim so much better.”
Having procured my passport at the Bureau of the Police, I took passage in a Swedish steamer bound for Abo and Stockholm. Next morning by daylight the steamer arrived from St. Petersburg. I went on board, and in a few hours more the fortifications of Sweaborg were dim in the distance.
The accommodations on board the Swedish steamers are excellent. I took passage in the second cabin, for the sake of economy, and found every thing as clean and comfortable as I could desire. The waiters are polite and attentive, the fare is good, and the company quiet and respectable. The difference in this respect is very striking between first and second class passengers on board of American and Swedish steamers. In the latter there is no rowdyism-no incivility from officers or serv
ants; and, so far as the passengers are concerned, I could not perceive that they were debarred from any of the privileges enjoyed by passengers of the first class. They had the entire range of the vessel, and were treated with the same respect and consideration shown to others who possessed the means of indulgence in a little more style. I have been particularly pleased with this trait in the management of public conveyances throughout Europe. In Sweden and Norway it is especially characteristic. The commonest deck-passenger on board a Swedish or Norwegian steamer is treated with courtesy. Indeed, I have seen instances of care and tenderness toward the poorer classes, whose circumstances compelled them to travel in this way, that I regret to say would excite astonishment in our own democratic country. I can scarcely understand why it is that the captain and officers of a steam-ship on our side of the water consider it their duty to harass passengers who do not pay the highest price with all sorts of vexatious restrictions, and to render their condition as uncomfortable as possible. To be overbearing, insolent, and ungentlemanly seems to be the only aim of these important functionaries, and, so far as my experience goes, they succeed so well in this respect that if they do not actually prove themselves brutes and blackguards during the passage, they are usually rewarded for their forbearance, on reaching the port of destination, by a card of thanks. I have seen no such insolence on the part of officers and slavishness on that of passengers on board of any Swedish or Norwegian steamer, as I have often seen on the Panama and California coast steamers. Yet cards of thanks are not common in Europe. In fact, they would be regarded as a reflection upon the officers rather than an evidence of complimentary appreciation.
The coast of Finland from Helsingfors to Abo abounds in small rocky islands, covered, for the most part, with a stunted growth of pine. The outline of the main land is extremely rugged and irregular, presenting a succession of promontories, bays, and inlets, weather-beaten cliffs of granite, and gloomy pine forests. No sign of habitation is to be seen during the entire voyage, with the exception of an occasional group of fishermen's huts or a custom-house station. The whole country has the appearance of an unbroken wilderness. The steamer plows her way, hour after hour, through the narrow and winding passages that lie between the islands—sometimes so close to the overhanging cliffs and rugged boulders of granite as almost to touch-and often apparently land-locked amid the maze of islands and promontories. While there is nothing grand or imposing in the scenery, the coast of Finland is certainly one of the most interesting portions of the world, in a geological point of view. The singular formation of the rocks, their rich and varied colors, and the strange manner in which Nature has grouped them together, afford an endless variety of interesting studies. The utter isolation of the inhabitants from the busy world, their rude and primitive mode of life, their simplicity, hardihood, and daring; the rigors of climate to which they are subject, and their strong attachment to their sea-girt homes and perilous pursuits, render the trip interesting to the general tourist, who, though not skilled in geology, may be supposed to possess, like myself, a fancy for gathering up odds and ends touching the condition of his fellow-beings. Petersburg. They live in small cabins, built of pine logs, rarely consisting of more than two rooms. Each family owns a small patch of ground, with an unlimited range of forest. A few cows or goats, a vegetable garden, and some chickens or ducks, constitute all they require for domestic use, and these are usually attended by the women and children during the absence of the men on their fishing expeditions. Education is at a low ebb among them, though the rudimental branches are not altogether neglected. They are a simple, hospitable, and kind-hearted people, ignorant and superstitious, yet by no means deficient in naturul capacity. No better sailors than the Finns are to be found in any part of the world, and there is scarcely a sea throughout the arctic regions which has not been visited by their vessels. Although the climate is rigorous during a considerable portion of the year, the Finns prefer it to any other in the world, and conscientiously believe the garden of Paradise must have been originally located in Finland. The lower classes are contented and happy, caring little for affairs of government, unless they bappen to be subjected to some peculiar or oppressive restraints. As the traveler approaches the Gulf of Bothnia, they assimilate very closely to the same classes in Sweden, and but little difference is perceptible either in their language or costume. The educated classes, such as the professional men, merchants, bankers, traders, etc., are as polished as most people throughout the North of Europe, and many of them are distinguished for their cultivated manners and general intelligence. Such of these as I conversed with on board the steamer impressed me very favorably. I found them liberal in their sentiments, and devoted admirers of our American institutions. Yet, strange to say, the only secessionist I met in the course of my wanderings in this region was a Finn. Hearing me speak English, he immediately opened a conversation on the subject of the revolutionary movement in the United States. He did not know what we were fighting for; thought the North was acting very badly; regarded the people of the South as an oppressed and persecuted race; believed in slavery ; considered the Lincoln government a perfect despotism, etc. In short, his views were a general epitome of the speeches, proclamations, and messages of the leading rebels throughout the South. I listened to him with great patience. He had an interesting family on board, all of whom spoke English ; and what struck me as peculiar, a species of negro English common in the Southern States. “Sir," said I, at length, “you surprise me! I had not expected to meet so strong an advocate of slayery and slave institutions in this latitude. Can it be possible that you are a Finn ?” “Yes, sir,” he answered, “ a genuine Finn—now on a visit to my native country after an absence of twenty-five years.” “Then you must have lived in the South ?” “Yes, sir; in Montgomery, Alabama. I have property there. It was getting pretty bad there for a family, and I thought I had better pay a visit to Finland while the war was going on.” This accounted for the peculiar sentiments of my fellow-traveler! He seemed to be a very nice old gentleman, and I was sorry to find him tinctured with the heresies of rebellion. Farther conversation with him satisfied me that if he could get his property out of Montgomery, and put it in Massachusetts, he would be a very respectable Union man. I don't think his heart was in the movement, though his pocket, doubtless, felt a considerable interest in it.
The people of this coast region are a hardy race, whose wild habits of life and isolation from the great outer world develop in them many striking and peculiar traits of character. During the long winters, when the bays, inlets, and harbors are blocked with ice, they become wood-choppers or lumbermen, and spend their time chief-.. ly in the forests. Upon the breaking up of winter they prepare their nets and fishing-gear, and, as soon as the season permits, set forth in their little smacks, and devote the principal part of the summer to catching and curing fish, for which they find a ready sale at the stations along the shore, frequented by traders from St.
The town of Abo, formerly the capital of Finlandnow a place of no great importance except as a customhouse and military station — is beautifully situated on the banks of a river called the Aurajoki, about three miles above its mouth. Vessels of medium draught, including the coasting steamers, have no difficulty in ascending as far as the bridge, where they lie alongside the wharves and receive or discharge freight. Those of larger draught usually anchor off the village of Boxholm, a picturesque gathering of red cottages, with