Rattus Norvegicus

If they were swept away from the face of the earth, the Norwegians would leave behind them no monument of human skill, or labor, or intellect, to tell another generation that a great people had so long tenanted the wide extent of Scandinavia.

Dette ekteparet fra Veggli - ikke i slekt med Annspan - var blant de heldige, og kom seg unna dette ulykksalige landet til et bedre liv i Wisconsin. (Rootsweb)

Annspan stammer fra både Norge og Canada, og vår trofaste leser vil huske at Annspan nylig fant en heller lite flatterende beskrivelse av Nova Scotia-folk anno 1875.

Det måtte være bedre bidrag fra genpoolen på andre sida, tenkte Annspan, og lette etter beskrivelser av sterke, norske karaktertrekk, slik at det var mulig å kunne balansere sin skrøpelige personasje.

Men akk. Lenge før det fantes ufine, anonyme leserkommentarer på nett, fantes det selvsagt ufine, anonyme leserkommentarer på papir. Annspan kom ganske snart over følgende oppbyggelige tekst i Milwaukee Advertiser fra 1841:

CHARACTER OF THE NORWEGIANS
One of my chief objections to the Norwegian character is in a great measure connected with this very abundance of the commonest necessaries of life, which the owners of the land certainly can command. The comparative facility with which their sensual wants to a certain extent can be (…) paying too much attention to the body, too little to the mind. Eating and drinking are of infinitely too great importance in Norway; while intellectual pleasures seem very little regarded.

Den anonyme reiseskildrer er raus mot norske katedraler, heller frekk mot det norske folk, som ikke kunne lastes for at de ingen kulturell kapital hadde eller ville. Det var da danskenes skyld. Og svenskenes.

The power of reading is very general, through a compulsory system I shall shortly have occasion to allude to; but, except in the towns, where the newspapers afford the chief field for its excercise, little advantage seems to be made of it. In the country and during the summer at least, it is very rare to see any Norwegian, of any station, employed in reading; and the very scanty supply of books that a Norwegian house ever contains proves the fact. It is, no doubt, also dependent on this (…) or constant labor, that the Norwegians appear to have no peculiar sports of country amusements whatever. I never saw them engaged in any pastime; nor could I hear of any national game. When even they fish or shoot it is done entirely for the pot not for pleasure. This is not to be wondered at. It is easy to understand that after a week of such incessant toil as their position renders imperative, rest alone is a sufficient enjoyment; and the absence of exertion, with the sedentary relaxations of tobacco and spirits, all that the body requires. But how fares it with the mind under such a system? How can the intellectual energies be exerted and improved, elarged, exalted by that exertion; – How, in short can all that dignifies man above the beasts that eat, and fatten and perish, and that makes him partaker of a better and higher life than that of mere physical existence, be adequately promoted?

It is very possible, indeed probable, that during their long winters these northern people may both read and amuse themselves much more than they do during their brief summers. But it is impossible that their amusements even at that period as well as their general natural character should not be stamped with more or less of the unintellectual features impressed on them by the peculiarities of their daily life.

The necessity of providing for their daily existence makes them live only for the present, not for posterity. If they were swept away from the face of the earth, the Norwegians would leave behind them no monument of human skill, or labor, or intellect, to tell another generation that a great people had so long tenanted the wide extent of Scandinavia. Nature’s monuments would, indeed, still remain; Norway’s Fjelder and Fjords would still claim the homage of the admirer of the sublime and beautiful. But no work of public utility or ornament – it’s two or three cathedrals can scarcely be (…) an exception – no achievement in science or literature, wherewith the human mind of one period holds converse with the mind of all times, would exist to excite the regrets and admiration of the future wanderer on these shores. Not only the mighty empires of Egypt and Rome, but even the (…) states of Greece, have left records of their existence, which must endure as long as the arts are cultivated, or letters are preserved among men; whereas a single century of oblivion would obliterate all that the Norwegians have yet done for posterity. — Two Years in Norway

Annspan forstår mer av seg selv nå.

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