Fininsh-born Swedish Novelist and Feminist
Fininsh-born Swedish Novelist and Feminist
The scenery was wild, and of an imposing grandeur. The sun shone upon the mass of cloud, and wind chased the misty shadows amongst the mountains. All around, in an immense circle, glaciers and snow-clad mountain-peaks gleamed forth from amongst the clouds. Before me rose a lofty mountain, shaped like a cupola, the top of which was covered with a black cloud, whilst the lower part was lighted up by bright sunshine. It was the peak of the Simplon. Troops of misty shapes were chased round it by the wind, as in a wild sweep, whilst they strove to reach the top, which seemed in its turn to reject them. The black cloud lay threateningly above, and the white, misty spectres careered around like the unhappy and unsettled souls in the Hell of Dante. Still increasing in number, they ascended from the depth below; still more and more wildly were they chased round the ice-clad mountain--clad as in tatters of ice--into the dazzling sunshine beneath the black forbidding cloud. Masses of water were hurled down from the neighbouring glaciers with thundering din. There is danger here from avalanches during spring and autumn, and for that reason strong stone galleries are built in many parts of the road to serve as a shelter for people and for carriages. Avalanches and torrents are hurled down over the arched roofs and into the abyss on the other side. Even now masses of ice hang threateningly upon the heights to the left along the road; but these will dissolve in foaming rivers, which will find their outlets in deep clefts of the mountain, over which the road is carried, or they are conveyed away by means of strongly constructed gutters over the roofs of the stone galleries. One of these streams is hurled down with a force and a din which is deafening. The whole of this scene was so wild and so magnificent that it thrilled me at once with terror and joy. The sun gleamed through all as with lightning-flashes, and as if in combat with the demons of nature.
They stand in nature like the prophets of the Old Testament, or, more correctly speaking, like the old wise men and teachers of the pagan world, and point us to a greatness high above that in which we, the children of the valleys and the plains, have our being. For these pyramids are not the pleasantest things upon earth, they are not the fragrance of the flowers, not the singing of the birds, not the changing life of the seasons. Imperishable in their eternal place, they are moved alone by the sun. The sun alone causes them to glow or become pale, and to paint for us images of life or of death. But they alone receive its earliest beams in the morning, and retain its light in the evening long after it has departed from us. It is in their bosoms that spring feeds the great rivers which fertilize the earth, foster the life of cities, and extend themselves, beautifying, benefiting, even to the smallest blades of grass.
The great duty of life is not to give pain; and the most acute reasoner cannot find an excuse for one who voluntarily wounds the heart of a fellow-creature. Even for their own sakes, people should show kindness and regard to their dependants. They are often better served in trifles, in proportion as they are rather feared than loved: but how small is this gain compared with the loss sustained in all the weightier affairs of life! Then the faithful servant shows himself at once as a friend, while one who serves from fear shows himself an enemy.
I cannot understand the importance which certain people set upon outward beauty or plainness. I am of opinion that all true education, such at least as has a religious foundation, must infuse a noble calm, a wholesome coldness, an indifference, or whatever people may call it, towards such-like outward gifts, or the want of them. And who has not experienced of how little consequence they are in fact for the weal or woe of life? Who has not experienced, how, on nearer acquaintance, plainness becomes beautified, and beauty loses its charm, exactly according to the quality of the heart and mind? And from this cause am I of opinion that the want of outward beauty never disquiets a noble nature or will be regarded as a misfortune. It never can prevent people from being amiable and beloved in the highest degree; and we have daily proof of this.
There are words which sever hearts more than sharp swords; there are words the point of which sting the heart through the course of a whole life.
People have generally three epochs in their confidence in man. In the first they believe him to be everything that is good, and they are lavish with their friendship and confidence. In the next, they have had experience, which has smitten down their confidence, and they; then have to be careful not to mistrust every one, and to put the worst construction upon everything. Later in life, they learn that the greater number of men have much; more good in them than bad, and that even when there is cause to blame, there is more reason to pity than condemn; and then a spirit of confidence again awakens within them.