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Behold us now in Norway; and I could not avoid feeling surprise at observing the difference in the manners of the inhabitants of the two sides of the river, for everything shows that the Norwegians are more industrious and more opulent. The Swedes (for neighbours are seldom the best friends) accuse the Norwegians of knavery, and they retaliate by bringing a charge of hypocrisy against the Swedes. [...]

The Norwegians appear to me a sensible, shrewd people, with little scientific knowledge, and still less taste for literature; but they are arriving at the epoch which precedes the introduction of the arts and sciences. [...]

On the subject of religion they are likewise becoming tolerant, at least, and perhaps have advanced a step further in free-thinking. One writer has ventured to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, and to question the necessity or utility of the Christian system, without being considered universally as a monster, which would have been the case a few years ago. They have translated many German works on education; and though they have not adopted any of their plans, it has become a subject of discussion. There are some grammar and free schools; but, from what I hear, not very good ones. All the children learn to read, write, and cast accounts, for the purposes of common life. They have no university; and nothing that deserves the name of science is taught; nor do individuals, by pursuing any branch of knowledge, excite a degree of curiosity which is the forerunner of improvement. Knowledge is not absolutely necessary to enable a considerable portion of the community to live; and, till it is, I fear it never becomes general. [...]

Here [at Moss] I met with an intelligent literary man, who was anxious to gather information from me relative to the past and present situation of France. The newspapers printed at Copenhagen, as well as those in England, give the most exaggerated accounts of their atrocities and distresses, but the former without any apparent comments or inferences. Still the Norwegians, though more connected with the English, speaking their language and copying their manners, wish well to the Republican cause, and follow with the most lively interest the successes of the French arms. So determined were they, in fact, to excuse everything, disgracing the struggle of freedom, by admitting the tyrant's plea, necessity, that I could hardly persuade them that Robespierre was a monster.

Dette er altså Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) i Letters Written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark (1796, bl.a. tilgjengelig på Gutenberg-prosjektet). Jo, trass i alle de materielle forskjellene, så er det mye som ennå ligner på mentalitetsplanet...
2007-09-23 11:21:45 GMT
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