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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Author Visits the Lapland Alps
By Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778)
 
From the ‘Lachesis Lapponica’: Translation of Sir James Edward Smith: Date July 6

MY companion was a Laplander, who served me both as servant and interpreter. In the latter capacity his assistance was highly requisite, few persons being to be met with on these alps who are acquainted with the Swedish language; nor was I willing to trust myself alone among these wild people, who were ignorant for what purpose I came. I had already suffered much in the Lapland part of Umeå for want of knowing the language. Nor was my companion wanted less to assist me in carrying what was necessary; for I had sufficient incumbrances of my own, without being the bearer of our provisions into the bargain.  1
  On my first ascending these wild alps, I felt as if in a new world. Here were no forests to be seen; nothing but mountains upon mountains, larger and larger as I advance, all covered with snow. No road, no tracks, nor any signs of inhabitants were visible. The verdure of summer seemed to shun this frozen region, retiring into the deep valleys between the mountains. I saw very few birds, except some ptarmigans, which the Laplanders call Cheruna (Tetrao Lagopus), running with their young along the vales. The delightful season of spring, whose cheering influence on man and all living nature I had so lately experienced in the beginning of my journey, seemed an alien here. The declining sun never disappeared sufficiently to allow any cooling shade; and by climbing to the more elevated parts of these lofty mountains I could see it at midnight above the horizon. When I cast my eyes over the grass and herbage, there were few objects I had seen before, so that all nature was alike strange to me. I sat down to collect and describe these vegetable rarities, while the time passed unperceived away; and my interpreter was obliged to remind me that we had still five or six miles to go to the nearest Laplander, and that if we had a mind for any reindeer meat, we ought to bestir ourselves quickly. We therefore proceeded up and down the snowy hills; sometimes passing along their precipitous sides, which was the most difficult traveling of all, and for many a long way we walked over heaps of stones. About the evening of the following day we reached the nearest spot where any Laplander we met at that time settled. The man we met with gave me a very good reception, and furnished me with a couple of reindeer skins to sleep between. Immediately after my arrival, the herd, consisting of seven or eight hundred head of reindeer, came home. These were milked, and some of the milk was boiled for my entertainment; but it proved rather too rich for my stomach. My host furnished me with his own spoon, which he carried in his tobacco-bag. On my expressing a wish, through my interpreter, to have the spoon washed, my Lapland friend immediately complied, taking a mouthful of water and spitting it over the spoon.  2
  After having satisfied my hunger and refreshed myself with sleep, I steered my course directly southwest, towards the alps of Pitheå, proceeding from thence to the lofty icy mountains or main ridge of the country. A walk of scarcely above four or five miles further brought me to the western edge of this ridge; for I was desirous of examining that side of the mountains to see how it agreed with the eastern part. I had no sooner arrived at the icy mountains than a storm overtook me, accompanied by a shower of thin pieces of ice, which soon formed an icy crust over my own clothes and those of my conductor. The severity of the cold obliged me to borrow the gloves and lappmudd (coat of reindeer skin) from the man who accompanied me. But the weather proved more favorable as soon as we had crossed the summit of the ridge. From hence the verdant appearance of Norway, lying far beneath us, was very delightful. The whole country was perfectly green, and notwithstanding its vast extent, looked like a garden in miniature, for the tallest trees appeared not above a span high. As we began to descend the alps, it seemed as if we should soon arrive at the lower country; but our calculations were very inadequate to what we found its actual distance. At length, however, we reached the plains of which we had enjoyed so stupendous a prospect. Nothing could be more delightful to my feelings than this transition from all the severity of winter to the warmth and beauty of summer. The verdant herbage, the sweet-scented clover, the tall grass reaching up to my arms, the grateful flavor of the wild fruits, and the fine weather which welcomed me to the foot of the alps, seemed to refresh me both in mind and body.  3
  Here I found myself close to the sea-coast. I took up my abode at the house of a shipmaster, with whom I made an agreement to be taken in a boat, the following day, along the coast. I much wished to approach the celebrated whirlpool called the Maelstrom, but I could find nobody willing to venture near it.  4
  We set sail the next morning according to appointment; but the wind proved contrary, and the boatmen were after a while exhausted with rowing. Meantime I amused myself in examining various petrifactions, zoöphytes, and submarine plants of the Fucus tribe, which occupied every part of the coast. In the evening I arrived at the house of Mr. Rask, the pastor of Torfjorden, who gave me a kind reception.  5
  Next day we proceeded further on our voyage; but the contrary wind exhausted our patience, and we veered about, soon reaching the place from whence we had first set out, the wind being directly in our favor for that purpose.  6
  On the following morning I climbed one of the neighboring mountains, with the intention of measuring its height. While I was reposing in perfect tranquillity on the side of the hill, busied only in loosening a stone which I wanted to examine, I heard the report of a gun at a small distance below. I was too far off to receive any hurt, however, so thanks to Providence I escaped; but my alarm may be easily imagined. Perceiving the man who had fired the gun, I pursued him to a considerable distance to prevent his charging his piece a second time; and I determined never to go there again without some protection. I inquired who it could be that had made this unprovoked attack, but found it impossible to gain any information on the subject.  7
  On the 15th of July we set out on our return; and that whole day was employed in climbing the mountains again, to our no small fatigue and exhaustion, the ground we had to pass over being so extremely steep as well as lofty. When we reached the cold snowy mountains, indeed, we had sufficient opportunity to cool ourselves.  8
  From hence we turned our course towards the alps of Torneå, which were described to me as about forty miles distant. What I endured in the course of this journey is hardly to be described. How many weary steps was I obliged to take in order to climb the precipices that came in my way, and how excessive were my perspiration and fatigue! Nor were these the worst evils we had to encounter before we reached Caituma. Sometimes we were enveloped with clouds, so that we could not see before us; sometimes rivers impeded our progress, and obliged us either to choose a very circuitous path, or to wade naked through the cold snow-water. This fresh snow-water, however, proved a most welcome and salutary refreshment; for without it we should never have been able to encounter the excessive heat of the weather. Water was our only drink during this journey, but it never proved so refreshing as when we sucked it out of the melting snow.  9
  Having nearly reached the Lapland village of Caituma,—the inhabitants of which seemed perfectly wild, running away from their huts as soon as they perceived us approaching from a considerable distance,—I began to be tired of advancing further up into this inhospitable country. We had not at this time tasted bread for several days, the stock we had brought with us being entirely exhausted. The rich milk of the reindeer was too heavy to be eaten without bread…. I determined therefore to return towards Quickjock, which was forty miles from this spot. In the course of my journey thither, walking rather carelessly over the snow, without noticing a hole which the water had made, I fell through the icy crust into the deep snow. The interpreter and guide were totally unable to assist me, the cavity in which I lay being very steep, and so hollowed out by the water that it surrounded me like a wall. It was not in their power to reach me without a rope, which they luckily were able to procure to drag me out of the hole. I received a blow on my thigh in the fall, the effects of which I felt for a month afterwards. One of my guides had met with a similar accident but a week before.  10
  At length we arrived at Quickjock, after having been four weeks without tasting bread. Those who have not experienced the want of this essential support of life can scarcely imagine how hard it is to be deprived of it so long, even with a superfluity of all other kinds of food. I remained four days at Quickjock to recruit my strength, and afterwards descended the river again to Luleå. There being no boat to be had north of Purkijaur, we were obliged to construct a raft for ourselves. Our voyage was very perilous, for the wind and current both combined to overset us; so that it was not without the greatest exertion we saved ourselves: and it being night, nobody heard our cries for assistance.  11
  The next day I was conducted to the river of Calatz, to see the manner of fishing for pearls, and on the 30th of July arrived at Luleå.  12
 
 
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