« PreviousContinue »
TOUR IN SWEDEN
COMPRISING OBSERVATIONS ON
THE MORAL, POLITICAL, AND ECONOMICAL STATE
THE SWEDISH NATION.
SAMUEL LAING, ESQ.
AUTHOR OF A JOURNAL OF RESIDENCE IN NORWAY."
LONGMAN, ORME, BROWN, GREEN, & LONGMANS,
THE future historian will probably complain that the English travellers of the present generation, while they lavish the highest talents on descriptions of personal feelings or adventures, of romantic natural scenery, of striking objects in the sciences or fine arts, have left few of the more humble facts or observations, from which he can appreciate and describe the advance of society, in different countries, towards a higher condition in morals, laws, good government, physical well-being, and civilisation. Yet the calm which we have been enjoying for nearly a quarter of a century, after that storm of the French revolution which shook the world, is perhaps the most important period that has occurred in the history of the human race. New powers, it may be said, have been granted to man during this period -new intellectual power, by the general diffusion of knowledge through the press - new physical power, by the general application of steam to machinery and movement. The changes which these mighty agencies are rapidly
producing in the social condition of the lower and middle classes of every country, the circumstances in their ancient institutions, laws, and governments, which are retarding or accelerating the progress of these classes to a condition of higher moral and physical well-being, are objects particularly deserving the attention of the traveller. This field of observation, so important to the political philosopher, is scarcely entered into even at home. It is perhaps too homely to attract to it talent in proportion to its importance. To collect ordinary facts of common occurrence in a country, and to draw from them obvious conclusions on the state of its inhabitants, is not a work. in which talent and genius are specially required,. from which much literary reputation can be gained. It is a field, however, in which the traveller, with the most ordinary intelligence and observation, may be eminently useful. In Norway and Sweden, such inquiries are peculiarly interesting at the present period, because these two nations, although the furthest removed from the agitation of the French revolution, have by a singular chance, been affected by it more permanently, and one of them more beneficially, than any others in Europe. Norway received a new and liberal constitution, and has started with the freshness of youth, tion, as it were, called suddenly into life from among the slumbering feudal populations of the
a new na