Mr. Andrews to Mr. Fish.
Stockholm, September 4, 1873. (Received September 26.)
Sir: In regard to the coronation of the King and Queen of Norway, at Trondhjem, on the 18th of July, I would state that the ceremonies were substantially the same as at Stockholm, with the exception of the oath taking, and passed off in a fine manner.
The city of Trondhjem, the old home of Norwegian rulers, has a population of twenty thousand; is compactly and well built, with regular, wide, well-paved streets, and ample sidewalks of smooth stone, and has picturesque surroundings.
I arrived there with my family on the 15th of July, and as the King and Queen were expected the same evening, the city was already wearing a holiday appearance, the main streets being thronged with well-dressed people, the principal dwellings and shops decorated with garlands, and great numbers of flags also being displayed from houses and the vessels.
Among the distinguished visitors to the coronation were Prince Alfred, of England, and Prince Waldemar, of Denmark—the latter a lad in common sailor’s dress—severally escorted to Trondhjem by a squadron of war vessels. Russia and Denmark sent special envoys besides their regular diplomatic representatives. Germany sent a squadron under the command of an admiral; and last, but not least, were the deputations from the Norwegian Storthing and the Swedish Ricksdag, and from the cabinet councils of both states.[Page 1068]
The presence of three thousand good-appearing Norwegian soldiers made the event more imposing.
Their Majesties gave a dinner to several hundred guests on the day of the coronation. On the following Sunday evening the city gave a grand ball and supper in honor of the event. A similar entertainment was given by the King the following Tuesday evening; and it was at the latter I first learned that the King had just conferred the new office of minister of state and president of the Norwegian cabinet, with title of excellency, on Mr. Frederick Stang, who for a long time has been at the head of the cabinet, with the title of councillor of state.
Another series of festivities, in honor of the occasion, took place in Christiania during the first week in August, and what was most noticeable with regard to them was the presence of the Prince Imperial of the German Empire.
Considering the avowed sympathy of Norwegians and Swedes for the French in the late war, it is the more to be remarked that this visit of Prince Frederick at Christiania, and subsequently at Stockholm, has left a quite favorable impression both in Norway and in Sweden.
Some American citizens, travelers, were present at the coronation, and I was authorized, in case they had remained in the city, to have them attend the King’s ball.
Previous to the coronation His Majesty made an extensive tour to the extreme north part of Norway. Leaving Stockholm in June, he proceeded up the Baltic to Hudiksvall; thence across Sweden, via Ostersund to Levanger, where he embarked on a steam-frigate and went to the North Cape, touching at Strömsö and other points. He met with cordial receptions. Many of his short speeches on the occasions were published, and were much commended for their good taste. Considering how extensively Norwegians are engaged in all branches of the fisheries, it was a somewhat happy incident that His Majesty’s vessel during the trip captured a whale.
As many Americans are now in the habit every summer of traveling in Norway to view the scenery, it may perhaps be useful if I put down a few facts as to the experience of myself and family in our late trip.
We went from here to Sundsvall, on the east coast of Sweden, by steamer; thence by carriage—a four-seated landau, lighter than the ordinary Swedish, and procured here for the purpose—via Östersund and Levanger, Norway, to Trondhjem; thence south by rail, a couple of hours, to Stören, and by carriage over the Dovre Mountains, 126 English miles; thence through Lesje and Romsdal to Veblangsnaess, 74 miles; thence by steamer to Molde; thence by steamer to Bergen, occupying twenty-fours hours; thence by steamer, half a day, to Bolstadören; thence by carriage and row-boat, via Vossvangen, to Gadvaugen, 50 miles; thence by steamer, through Nersfjord, nine hours, to Laerdal; thence by carriage over the Fille range, through the Valders, to Randsfjord, 126 miles; thence by steamer to Hadelund’s Glass-Works, five hours; thence by carriage, via Hönefoss and Ringe Rike, to Christiania, 42 miles; thence by rail to Stockholm.
This route afforded a view of a part, but only a part, of the fine scenery of Norway. The highest mountains of Norway are said to be 8,000 feet high, but even those which are not so high are partly covered with snow. Soon after leaving Östersund, in the middle of Sweden, one begins to see mountains covered partly with great patches of snow. Probably the best view from the road of distant, lofty snow-covered peaks, was had in crossing the Dovre range. What seems most impressive about the scenery is the steepness of the mountain-sides, their apparent closeness [Page 1069] to the traveler as he passes along the road, and the numerous wonderful cascades which drop in silvery sprays from their rocky summits; to which may be added, the effect of the rivers, which, either as beautiful rapids or roaring torrents, are generally closely followed by the roads. The most striking scenery of this sort is in the Remsdal, the Nersdal, and the Laerdal. The prevailing scenery is, however, by no means of a sterile or very wild character; on the contrary, while the lower slopes of most of the mountains are cultivated, and their sides, even to their tops, fairly covered with spruce or pine, there is also a great deal of pasturage, and one sees flocks of cattle, sheep, or goats at very high points. On most of the shores of the fiords and lakes cultivated fields, carefully fenced, extend from a quarter of a mile to two English miles up the slopes, though sometimes there is only room for quaint little triangular patches. In many places the extensive view of cultivated fields on lake shores is delightful. Of course there are many localities with extensive areas of arable soil.
The roads were everywhere excellent, being in many places cut out of solid rock, and nowhere so steep but the carriage could safely descend with the aid of a drag to one wheel, though we frequently found it prudent to walk both down and up hills.
The system of travel requires a few words of explanation, the charges being in some cases constructive. On all the public roads of Norway—and it is the same in Sweden—there are “stations” with hotel accommodations at an average distance from each other of ten English miles, and, as a general rule, the rooms and beds are tidy, the food consisting of fresh mutton, salmon trout, wheat or rye bread, eggs, milk, butter, coffee, the latter invariably being unadulterated and well prepared. The cluttered farm-yard surroundings of the stations, however, lessen their attractiveness as summer-resorts. The station-master is required to furnish the traveler with horses, and, if he should want it, a “carriole” or gig, or even a cart for baggage. If the station-master has not horses enough on hand, he sends out to the neighboring peasant-farmers, who are required to furnish one or more according to their supply. If the traveler has previously sent a written notice to the station at least three hours before the time the horse or horses are wanted, they must be ready at that time. If he has not sent notice he is liable to wait for them two hours, or even more. If a traveler takes a gig, he drives himself, and the boy who is to return with the horse from the next station sits behind. The carrioles or gigs usually furnished at stations are without springs and very jolty. If the traveler has his own carriage, it is necessary also to have his own harness. With a covered carriage with three grown persons and one hundred pounds of baggage, drawn by two horses, the carriage belonging to the traveler, the station-master has the right to charge for four horses. The charges vary according as to whether the station is in or near the city, or in the country. In the country the charge is one and a half marks, 33 cents United States gold, per horse for a Norwegian mile, which is equal to 6¾ English miles.
With a two-horse carriage, as above mentioned, the charge would be for four horses, viz, $1 32 for one Norwegian mile. A small sum is also expected to be paid to the driver. Drivers and horses are changed at each station. It is said the peasantry complain that this system of travel is burdensome on them. It is apparent that in some respects it is a convenience to travelers, yet it is not without many annoyances. If one travels in a gig, driving himself, he can regulate somewhat his speed, but otherwise the speed is dependent, on the whim of the driver furnished [Page 1070] by the station, and therefore varies much even where the roads are similar. It may happen, therefore, that if horses have been previously ordered, the traveler may find himself so delayed by a couple of stages unexpectedly slow driving as to lose his chance for the ordered horses, as they are not required to be kept for him over two and a half hours; and their detention is also to be paid for. The horses are merely large-sized ponies. It is not uncommon that the station-master or driver extorts illegal fees; or that the traveler is kept waiting an unreasonably long time for horses, with a view to the extortion of some additional sum or compel the procurement of lodgings or refreshments. With the best management one can seldom make over fifty English miles in a day, starting at six in the morning. Travelers complain that on alighting at a station they find half a dozen or more people standing about with an air of indifference, and that no authorized person comes forward to inquire their wants and assist them in getting a fresh start.
There are European cities whose rich collections of art are a constant attraction to tourists, causing a flow of money that would not otherwise come So the mountain scenery of Norway is a mine of wealth to that country, and, with some improvements in the system of travel, probably a thousand tourists might each summer be attracted where now are but a few hundred. If it were my province I would suggest that the law as to fees, and the rights and obligations both of travelers and station-masters, be printed in the English, German, and French languages, as well as the Norwegian, and a copy in each language be kept at each station; that the time required to travel each way between stations be prescribed, and printed in schedule form, and that through inspectors or otherwise the laws in respect to travel and stationsbe more rigidly enforced. At the present time the station-masters have everything too much in their own way, and are too much tempted to practice imposition on foreigners unacquainted with their language, greatly to the injury of the honest Norwegian character.
For a general notice of Norway it may be said that its climate, owing to the Gulf stream, is mild. The mean temperature at Christiania is 42° Fahr.; at Bergen, where there is much rain, 46° 7ʹ; at Trondhjem 40°. The harbors of the two last-mentioned cities, as well as of Molde, do not freeze in the winter. At the latter place, which is in latitude of about 63°, and where there are some beautiful villas of Christiansund merchants, I noticed some larch-trees that were two feet in diameter; also an European oak of large size. English cherries were ripening there in the latter part of July, and numerous thrifty apples-trees were loaded with fruit the size of English walnuts. The crops of rye, barley, oats, potatoes, and hay were in good condition.
The population of Norway is almost a million and a half. It is the healthiest country in Europe, its rate of mortality being only 18 per year per thousand inhabitants. In 1865 there was one-third of an acre of cultivated land in proportion to each inhabitant; but there remain great tracts which by drainage and clearing can be reclaimed to agriculture, and the dairy industry especially is capable of extensive development as savings and capital shall increase. There are 131,780 farms cultivated by their owners, and over 15,000 farms cultivated by tenants. The annual value of field-crops, exclusive of the hay-crop, which is the largest, is 16,000,000 specie dollars—a specie dollar being equal to $1.06 United States gold. The value of the fisheries is 14,000,000 of specie a year. The value of imports into Norway is 26,000,000 of specie annually, and of exports 20,000,000 of specie. Considerable American pork, cotton, tobacco, and mineral-oil are imported in Norway, though the trade for the most part is indirect. I would remark here that as apples are worth $7 a barrel at [Page 1071] Bergen, it would seem that the experiment should be tried of importing apples from the United States by means of the new line of steamers between New York and Bergen. The commercial marine of Norway is over 1,000,000 tons, consisting of 7,000 vessels and 50,000 seamen, giving her rank in this industry as the third state in Europe and next after France. She has 5,000 miles of telegraph-lines, and upward of 400 (English) miles of railway. Additional railways are in progress, and will be completed in course of three or four years, viz, the road between Trondhjem and the Swedish boundary, to connect with Sundsvall; between Christiania and Trondhjem; and between Christiania and Frederickshold. A German company has lately failed in obtaining concessions and guarantees from the government for a railway over the mountains connecting Bergen with Christiania.
The number of horses in Norway in 1865 was 144,900; of horned cattle, 945,600; of sheep and goats, 1,992,400; of swine, 91,900; of reindeers, 101,800.
The public revenue for the last fiscal year, 1872, was 7,325,000 specie dollars. The expenses were 5,520,000 specie dollars. The receipts exceeded the estimates by 480,000 specie dollars.
The public debt, principally contracted for railways which the state owns, is eight and a half million specie dollars, interest for a part at 4 and for the balance 4½ per cent. The bonds were originally disposed of at 97½ per cent., and are now worth 99 per cent.
The amount annually paid for public schools, derived principally from local taxation, is about 1,000,000 specie dollars. Something over that sum is annually spent for the army. The amount appropriated for the royal family is 130,000 specie dollars a year.
Christiania, the capital, is a pretty and rapidly growing city of seventy thousand inhabitants.
While there I visited, in company with the United States consul, Mr. Gode, one of the common public schools. The building was new, finely situated, spacious, and well furnished, and the children, belonging to the industrial classes, were without exception tidily dressed and exceedingly well appearing. I also visited the cell-prison, which, in size and appearance, much resembles the new jail in Boston.
Bergen is a city of forty thousand inhabitants, and constantly increasing in commercial importance. As I hope soon to be able to furnish the Department with further facts in regard to Norway, in a report which I expect to prepare on the condition of the industrial classes, I will merely remark in concluding that the country appears to be fully awake to modern ideas of culture and progress.
I have, &c.,