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With them nothing mortal has the least association. Time has invested them with a hallowed and mystic aspect; the green waves have washed them in their coral bed; and after ages of ablution in a tempestuous ocean, the ordeal of a central fire has completed their purification. The bones, and the integuments, and the meanest products of animal life have thus become sainted relics, which the most sensitive may handle, and the most delicate may praise.
Thus ennobled in its character, the natural theology of animal remains appeals forcibly to the mind, even when we consider these remains only as insulated structures dislodged from the interior of the earth; but when we view them in reference to the physical history of the globe, and consider them as the individual beings of that series of creations which the Almighty has successively extinguished, and successively renewed, they acquire an importance above that of all other objects of secular enquiry. The celestial creations, imposing though they be in magnitude, do not equal them in interest. It is only with life and its associationswith life that has been-and with life that is to be, that human sympathies are indissolubly enchained. It is beside the grave alone, or when bending over its victims, that man thinks wisely and feels righteously. When ranging, therefore, among the cemeteries of primeval death, the extinction and the renewal of life are continually pressed upon his notice. Among the prostrate relics of a once breathing world, he reads the lesson of his own mortality; and in the new forms of being which have marked the commencement of every succeeding cycle, he recognises the life-giving hand by which the elements of his own mouldered frame are to be purified and recombined.
ART. II. Journal of a Residence in Norway during the years 1834, 1835, and 1836; made with a view to Inquire into the Moral and Political Economy of that Country, and the Condition of its Inhabitants. By SAMUEL LAING, Esq. London; Longman. 1836.
IT T is now nearly-three-and-twenty years since public attention was directed towards Norway, by circumstances exciting a lively and general interest. The forcible transference of that country from the Crown of Denmark to that of Sweden, was the last occurrence which gave rise amongst us to any lengthened discussion respecting the fate and fortunes of its people. Since
that transaction-the character of which we exposed at the time, and which, though aided by the then existing British Ministry, in defiance of every principle of international law, has had a more favourable result than could have been expected-the Norwegians have been steadily consolidating the remarkably free constitution to which the events of that period gave birth; and advancing in wealth and prosperity, notwithstanding the restrictions we continue to place on the most important article of their commercerestrictions no less detrimental to our own general interests than to theirs.
Neither the picturesque beauty of their country, nor their peculiar institutions, seem to divert towards them any great portion of that tide of travellers which is annually directed southward, almost with the regularity of a law of nature. Occasionally, indeed, a more philosophic observer, turning from the refinements of the south to scenes less visited, and a state of society, the basis of whose structure is totally different from that of any other European nation, reminds us, that between the central mountain chain of the Scandinavian peninsula, and the indented coasts which front the northern ocean, there is a people dwelling in rich valleys, and on bold mountains, by the side of broad rivers and still and deep lakes and inlets, and whose ancestors hold a conspicuous place in the early history of our own country;-from whose ancient institutions one at least that we most value in our own is derived; *—whose annals are chiefly marked by noble struggles in support of national independence;-the hardy virtues of whose honest, frank, and generous character are tempered by the refining influence of the possession of property, and a generally diffused prosperity; and who live under laws, in the modelling of which the spirit of feudalism has had no share, and under a constitution almost as purely democratic as that of America.
We are indebted to Mr Laing for much interesting information on the political and social condition of this people. Attracted to that country by the peculiarities it presents, he has made himself well acquainted with it by a residence there of nearly two years. He mixed freely with all classes, and identified himself with their interests, by hiring and managing a farm for twelve months. The spot he selected was in the fertile valley of Værdal; in a latitude nearly four degrees farther north than the northermost point of our island. It is thickly inhabited by the Bonder, or small proprietors-a class which forms one of the chief characteristics of Norway. Throughout
* Trial by Jury.
his work he displays an enlarged sympathy with the various conditions of man, combined with no slight practical knowledge of the details of common life; and when with this is united a power of observing with intelligence, and correctly appreciating. the effects of a form of polity, and of social arrangements so different from those with which we are most conversant, it is plain that a value is given to his book far exceeding that usually possessed by the class to which it belongs. Facts and incidents illustrating the character and mode of life of this singular people, and descriptions of the bold and beautiful scenery amidst which they dwell, are thrown together with little attention, indeed, to order, but perhaps with as much connexion as is usually found in books of travels. They are such as cannot fail to excite the attention of the political philosopher; whilst the general reader will find himself repaid by no inconsiderable portion of information and amusement. In addition to the sources of more general interest —the peculiarities of a northern climate, the attractions of scenery, the productions of nature, and the course of domestic lifea condition of society is brought under review entirely different in original structure, and in results, from that of those countries whose institutions have received their impress from the feudal institutions. From the first dawn of its history to the present day, a remarkable degree of practical freedom has been preserved, under various modifications of government. For a thousand years the law of succession to property has been that of equal partition among the children, yet without producing minute subdivision. The population consists chiefly of a class of small proprietors living on their estates in comfort and independence— estimable for the possession of intelligence, habits of civilisation, moral and manly virtues, polite and easy manners, kind and benevolent dispositions-and willingly acknowledging the distinctions which naturally flow from superior cultivation and refinement. Crime is rare, and the sentence of loss of honour,' is the penalty which the peasant holds in the greatest dread. Most of the strong contrasts, and other causes of irritation, which disturb other nations, are unknown. A church establishment, watchful to preserve the affections of the people, does not provoke dissent. The elective franchise is safely intrusted to the great body of the people; the majority of whom possess landed property, and are raised by it in their own estimation, and in the scale of social beings. There is no titled aristocracy, yet no lack of decent refinement. The Second Chamber is composed of a section of the First. The Executive has only a suspensive veto; and liberty is secured by a free press and trial by jury.
Here, then, exist in simultaneous action, most of those principles of government about which opinion is so much divided, and which are usually said to be utterly inconsistent with the security and well-being of society. Here the philosopher may study them in operation, and mark the good or evil with which they are accompanied not in a new but in an old nation-not where all is fluctuating, but where social institutions have been fixed for ages; not amidst the rudeness and violence, and insolence and precipitancy, which are said to be inseparable from democracy, but in conjunction with caution, firmness, and self-restraint,-with order and calmness, prosperity and progression. Here is freedom of the press without licentiousness; a very widely-extended right of suffrage, without the apprehension of the Government being hurried into devious courses by impulse and passion; a general abundance of the means of living, and but little poverty; cheerfulness, hospitality, kindliness of demeanour among all; a peasantry hardy and strong, respectful, and independent; no titled aristocracy, yet a general politeness and a due recognition of the claims of superiority, whether of wealth or intelligence; a respect for the laws, and a reverence for religion; a patriotic zeal for the institutions under which they live, and a wise and moderate firmness in maintaining them.
It is obvious that such a phenomenon in Europe as a Constitution thoroughly democratic,-one also which has now held on its course of independence and wisdom during more than twenty years, is not only an object of curiosity and interest, but deserves, in a philosophical point of view, the most attentive consideration. Men of all shades of opinion may naturally be anxious to know what is the mode of life, what the cast of thought, the habits, manners, customs, laws, of a people who seem to be able to master, with the easy skilfulness of complete familiarity, a state engine of such formidable power; and one whose irrepressible energies are supposed, on the least defect of management, inevitably to cause its own destruction, and that of all near it. The man who reposes in comfort only under the shelter of strong government, as it is called, whether in the form of aristocracy or pure autocracy, will search through it to discover the elements of terror and disorganization. He who indulges a hope that the great body of the people in a country may, by means of education and the possession of property, arrive at that degree of intelligence and self-command as to be able to exercise an influence over the management of their affairs, without endangering the rights of others, will fix a regardful eye on the state of society in Norway; in order to
see what is the result of the experiment, in one country at least of the Old World, as far as it has yet been tried. We will supply some materials for these various speculations, by giving Mr. Laing's succinct account of the structure of the Storthing, or Parliament, its powers and duties; of the electoral body and the mode of election.
"The Norwegian people enjoy a greater share of political liberty, have the framing and administering of their own laws more entirely in their own hands, than any European nation of the present times. I shall attempt to give a brief outline of their constitution. The Parliament, or Storthing, is elected and assembled once in three years, and sits for three months, or until the business is despatched. A special or extraordinary Storthing may be summoned in the interval, if extraordinary circumstances, as the death of the sovereign, war or peace, should require it, but its powers do not extend to any alteration in the laws or constitution. Each Storthing settles the taxes for the ensuing three years; enacts, repeals, or alters laws; opens loans on the credit of the state; fixes the appropriation and administration of the revenue; grants the fixed sums to be applied to the different branches of expenditure-the establishments of the king, the viceroy, or members of the royal family; revises all pay and pension lists, and all civil and clerical promotions, and makes such alterations as it deems proper in any interim grants made since the former. Storthing. It also regulates the currency, appoints five revisors, who shall every year examine all accounts of Government, and publish printed abstracts of them. There are laid before it verified copies of all treaties, and the minutes of all public departments, excepting those of the highest military command. The Storthing impeaches and tries before a division of its own body all ministers of state, judges, and also its own members. Besides these great and controlling powers, fixed by the ground-law, as it is called, passed and agreed to by the king and nation on the 17th May, 1814, the Storthing receives the oaths of the king on coming of age, or ascending the throne, or of any regents appointed during a minority; and in case of a failure of the royal line, it could proceed, as in 1814, to elect, in conjunction with Sweden, a new dynasty. This body, when elected, divides itself into two houses; the whole Storthing choosing from among its members oue-fourth, who constitute the Lagthing, or upper house; their functions resembling those of our House of Lords, deliberative, and judicial in cases of impeachment; the other threefourths constitute the Odelsthing, or House of Commons; and all proposed enactments must initiate in this division. A counsellor of state may, on the part of the executive, give in writing any proposals for new laws; but has no vote; and the initiative of laws is not vested in government alone, either in theory or practice.
In addition to these extensive legislative and controlling powers, the Storthing enjoys a right not known in any other European monarchy. After a bill has been passed in the Odelsthing, or lower house, it is sent to the Lagthing, or upper house, where it is deliberated upon, and passed, rejected, or sent back with amendments to the lower house, nearly as in our two houses of Parliament; it then requires the sanction of the king to become law. But if a bill has passed through both divi