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At length the strength of the wind seemed to drive the storm before it, for the thunder rolled away into distance, and was only faintly heard. After travelling through the woods for nearly an hour, during which the elements seemed to have returned to repose, the travellers, gradually ascending from the glen, found themselves upon the open brow of a mountain, with a wide valley extending in misty moonlight at their feet, and above, the blue sky trembling through the few thin clouds that lingered after the storm, and were sinking slowly to the verge of the horizon.
UPLAND FARMS OF THE NORWEGIANS.
Between Melhuus and Leir we were delighted with the beauties of the country; and especially with the elegance of a bridge, constructed of the trunks of fir-trees, of one arch; of which there are many in Norway, of surprising magnitude and boldness of design, cast across the most rapid cataracts. There is nothing in all Switzerland to surpass the grandeur of the prospects between Sognass and Hon": and if, in stating this circumstance, it should appear but as a repetition of former observations, it is because this kind of scenery, in the general survey of the globe, is by no means common: it is more prevalent in Europe than elsewhere, and most conspicuous in Switzerland, where "alps on alps arise.'' Consequently, the traveller who has enjoyed such VOL. III. X X
sights in Switzerland, when he finds any thing similar in other countries, cannot avoid making the comparison; being touched by a feeling of gladness at the recurrence of objects inspiring the utmost degree of sublimity, and affording, by their geological phenomena, something to gratify his curiosity respecting the original formation and structure of the earth.
The mercury in Farenheit's thermometer at Sognass, at noon, stood at 51°. We shall be careful to note the changes of temperature, by observations made at the same hour, during our passage of the Dovrefield.
The farms upon these mountains, as in the Passes of the Alps, rise one above the other, until they reach the clouds. Sometimes, as in our journey from Roraas to Tronyem, we saw clouds skirting the sides of a mountain, upon which there appeared villages high above the clouds. These mountains rise to the height of three thousand two hundred English feet; which is the elevation assigned by Von Buch to the mountains eastward of Melhuus. The earth below is formed into a series of tabular eminences, whose shapes are probably owing to the subjacent masses of clay slate. They appear like the artificial ramparts of a fortification; their tops and sloping sides being covered with verdure. Upon these green mounds farms are also stationed: the cattle belonging to each appeared in herds, grazing all the way down, and sometimes in places so steep, that we wondered how they could find a footing. We dined at Hoff; and, for the first time, tasted the old Norwegian cheese, called
gammel orse, or norske, of which the inhabitants are very fond. It resembles very excellent old Cheshire cheese, without any rankness. This kind of cheese is sometimes sent in presents to England; but the Norwegians themselves prize it so highly, that it is difficult to purchase any of it. The gammel orse is sometimes kept for ten years before it is brought to table. In making it they use butter-milk, mixed with yeast. We observed, upon the circular tray in which the bread was served, an inscription, in the Danish language, to the following effect:—" Eat your bread with thanks to God."
In going from Hoff to Birkager, we ascended a lofty and steep hill, and from the summit had a prospect of the Alps covered with snow. The horses were entire, and without shoes. Woollen caps, made of red worsted knit, are universally worn by the men; these are imported from Copenhagen. Almost every other part of the dress of the peasants is of their own manufacture: it is, in general, very neat and tight; and we considered it as superior to the common dress of our English labourers. Hoff stands in the middle of the valley of the Sogna: it is only one thousand and five feet above the level of the sea. In this road, fields of the finest verdure are seen among the trees, in the midst of which the birch appears with peculiar softness and beauty. The country produces rich crops of barley: the soil consists of a dark vegetable earth, and is very rich. Proceeding to Sundset, we descended into a wide and beautiful valley watered by the Oerkel. Hence, leaving the valley, we had a long, winding, and laborious ascent. The view below was in an eminent degree striking. The roads were stony, but our unshod stallions paced dauntlessly over them. Upon this ascent we found the Pyrola uniflora in seed. From the summit, the view below exhibits the grandest masses of rocks, descending perpendicularly towards the valley, forming precipices nearly a thousand feet high, with fir and birch trees sprouting from their crags and fissures: whole mountains rise in the most abrupt manner from the green pastures and corn-fields by the sides of the river, and, as they tower upwards, present upon their sides the noblest forests. High above the woods appear farm-houses and cultivated lands, and, at a still greater elevation, forests; then a fleecy rack of clouds; then upland farms and forests again; and in the upmost range, glittering in ether, snow-clad summits, of all else, except their icy mantle, denuded, bleak, and bare. As the view, after extending over all their tops and shining heights, descend amidst the aerial habitations of the upland farmers, it sees, with surprise, immense herds of cattle feeding at an elevation so extraordinary, that even the actual sight is scarcely to be credited. Every hanging meadow is pastured by cows and goats; the latter often browsing upon jutties so fearfully placed, that their destruction seems to be inevitable: below are heard the cheerful bleatings of the sheep, mingled, at intervals, with the tones of the herdsmen's trumpets resounding among the woods.
We changed horses at Breiden. The river, which we passed in a boat, to get to the inn, was equal in breadth to the Thames at Richmond. The rocky fells are here in fine shapes, and there are some pleasing meadows about the place. Between Breiden and Viig, the country becomes more open, and it is more inhabited; but throughout the Passage of the Dovrefield there is no want of inhabitants. The mountains are peopled from their bases quite to their summits; farm-houses being every where visible, standing on little sloping terraces, above precipices so naked that they exhibit scarcely a mark of any vegetable produce; excepting where the pine and the birch occasionally sprout from fissures in the rocks. In looking up these precipices, if a spot appear not absolutely perpendicular, there may be seen a goat, and sometimes even a cow, browsing in places where it seems to be impossible that they should move without being dashed to atoms. Indeed, it sometimes happens, that the latter is altogether unable to quit the place to which it has ventured; and, in such cases, a peasant is let down with ropes to the spot, who fastens them about the animal, and both are drawn up by herdsmen above. Journeying through Wales, the appearance of sheep feeding in mountain pastures is a pleasing but no unusual sight; and in Switzerland, the exhibition of farms stationed in alpine solitudes delights the traveller by the singularity and pleasantness of the prospect: but in Norway the impression is not that of pleasure —it is a mixed sensation of amazement and of terror. Dr. Clarke.