Livet i Bohuslän 1795 sett med utländska ögon

Hur levde min farfars farfars farfar, rusthållare Hans Hansson i Högås? Eller min farfars farfars morfar, Sven Olsson i Kungsviken på Orust? Och alla andra i släkten som levde runt 1800?

De flesta bodde trångt och fattigt. Ett ryggåsstuga med stuga och en kammare var det vanliga, just inte större än en friggebod. Det vet man från brandstoden som bestämde vad häradsbönderna skulle bidra med om det brann. Ett sjuttiotal timmer, 3,6 meter långa, ett antal lika långa brädor till golv och väggfasta bord, bänkar och sängar. Dessutom sparrar, brädor, näver och torv till taket. Samt små fönster under nock och tackbrätte för det var lågt till taket där lammen gärna betade. Stugan värmdes av spisen, en öppen gruva, och bakugnen där det gräddades rågbröd vid några enstaka tillfällen under åren. Några byggde ett enkelhus med ett rum till och kanske dessutom ett kallt skjul bredvid. Men det var ändå trångt, 5-10 barn i livet var inte ovanligt.

 

Inspirerade av Rousseau och drömmen om ett nytt Arkadien for ett antal utlänningar genom Bohuslän på väg till och från Norge. I dessa prisas naturens skönhet men också armodet i landskapet, värre än på andra håll. Som här 1795 någonstans längs Bohuslän i Mary Wollstonecrafts berömda bok Letter written in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. (Wikipedia.): 

 The day before, my attention had frequently been attracted by the wild beauties of the country we passed through. The rocks which tossed their fantastic heads so high were often covered with pines and firs, varied in the most picturesque manner.  Little woods filled up the recesses when forests did not darken the scene, and valleys and glens, cleared of the trees, displayed a dazzling verdure which contrasted with the gloom of the shading pines.  The eye stole into many a covert where tranquillity seemed to have taken up her abode, and the number of little lakes that continually presented themselves added to the peaceful composure of the scenery.  The little cultivation which appeared did not break the enchantment, nor did castles rear their turrets aloft to crush the cottages, and prove that man is more savage than the natives of the woods.  I heard of the bears but never saw them stalk forth, which I was sorry for; I wished to have seen one in its wild state.  In the winter, I am told, they sometimes catch a stray cow, which is a heavy loss to the owner.

The farms are small.  Indeed most of the houses we saw on the road indicated poverty, or rather that the people could just live.  Towards the frontiers they grew worse and worse in their appearance, as if not willing to put sterility itself out of countenance.  No gardens smiled round the habitations, not a potato or cabbage to eat with the fish drying on a stick near the door.  A little grain here and there appeared, the long stalks of which you might almost reckon.  The day was gloomy when we passed over this rejected spot, the wind bleak, and winter seemed to be contending with nature, faintly struggling to change the season.  Surely, thought I, if the sun ever shines here it cannot warm these stones; moss only cleaves to them, partaking of their hardness, and nothing like vegetable life appears to cheer with hope the heart.

 

Denna resekildringars reseskildring inspirerade många i den romatiska samtiden, som poeterna Wordsworth och Coleridge. Eller för akademiker som Robet Taylor Malthus och Edward Daniel Clarke med boken Travels. För Mary samtidigt en inre resa, dumpad som hon var av sin älskare Georg Imlay under franska revolutionen. Deras gemensamma baby var med på resan vilket märks i denna ordmålning från Uddevallatrakten: 

The women and children were cutting off branches from the beech, birch, oak, &c, and leaving them to dry. This way of helping out their fodder injures the trees. But the winters are so long that the poor cannot afford to lay in a sufficient stock of hay. By such means they just keep life in the poor cows, for little milk can be expected when they are so miserably fed.

It was Saturday, and the evening was uncommonly serene. In the villages I everywhere saw preparations for Sunday; and I passed by a little car loaded with rye, that presented, for the pencil and heart, the sweetest picture of a harvest home I had ever beheld. A little girl was mounted a- straddle on a shaggy horse, brandishing a stick over its head; the father was walking at the side of the car with a child in his arms, who must have come to meet him with tottering steps; the little creature was stretching out its arms to cling round his neck; and a boy, just above petticoats, was labouring hard with a fork behind to keep the sheaves from falling. My eyes followed them to the cottage, and an involuntary sigh whispered to my heart that I envied the mother, much as I dislike cooking, who was preparing their pottage.

I was returning to my babe, who may never experience a father’s care or tenderness. The bosom that nurtured her heaved with a pang at the thought which only an unhappy mother could feel.

 

Bohuslänets landshövding Per Nyström avslöjade att egentliga syftet med Wollstonecrafts äventyrliga resa var att spåra upp Imlays försvunna fartyg och därmed återvinna hans gunst. Hon tog in hos en handelsman i Strömstad.

I hastened back to the house of a merchant, the little sovereign of the place, because he was by far the richest, though not the mayor. Here we were most hospitably received, and introduced to a very fine and numerous family.  I have before mentioned to you the lilies of the north, I might have added, water lilies, for the complexion of many, even of the young women, seem to be bleached on the bosom of snow.  But in this youthful circle the roses bloomed with all their wonted freshness, and I wondered from whence the fire was stolen which sparkled in their fine blue eyes. Here we slept; and I rose early in the morning to prepare for my little voyage to Norway. 

I grannsakpet fanns handlaren Rutger Smith i Strömstad, pappa till Emilie Flygare Carlen. Emilie föddes några år senare men som i likhet med andra författare tog hon nog intryck av Wollstonecraft alster. Hur rom helst har Rosen på Tistelön jämförts med Frankenstein, skriven Wollstonecrafts dotter Mary Shelley

Wollstonecraft stannar upp vid gästgiveriet i Kviström.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Om hon också besökt Svarteborg en mil norrut hade hon fått se en själsfrändes födelsegård. Likaväl som Wollstonecraft kan sägas vara Englands första feminist med boken Till försvar för kvinnans rättigheter kan Thomas Thorild betraktas som Sveriges motsvarighet med Om qvinnokönets naturliga höghet. Fast 1795 var Thorild redan landsförvisad till Tyskland för sina upproriska åsikters skull.

Även Wollstonecraft fick betala ett pris för sin radikalism. Imlay är kallsinnig och tillbaka i England räddas hon från ett självmordsförsök. Giftermålet med anarkistiske författaren illiam Godwin resulterar 1797 i födelsen av dottern Mary, men modern dör kort efter i barnsäng.

 

Läs Wollstonecrafts ordmålning från trakten nära Uddevalla:

I had six weeks before passed over the same ground; still it had sufficient novelty to attract my attention, and beguile, if not banish, the sorrow that had taken up its abode in my heart. How interesting are the varied beauties of Nature, and what peculiar charms characterise each season! The purple hue which the heath now assumed gave it a degree of richness that almost exceeded the lustre of the young green of spring, and harmonised exquisitely with the rays of the ripening corn.

The weather was uninterruptedly fine, and the people busy in the fields cutting down the corn, or binding up the sheaves, continually varied the prospect. The rocks, it is true, were unusually rugged and dreary; yet as the road runs for a considerable way by the side of a fine river, with extended pastures on the other side, the image of sterility was not the predominant object, though the cottages looked still more miserable, after having seen the Norwegian farms.

 

Jordbruket i Bohuslän var efterblivet. Mest äng, för de bördiga lerdalarna var sanka och tungplöjda. En mindre del odlades, helst där marken sluttade. Men ofta mättade inte skörden alla. Mjölken sinade när korna svalt. Norr om Udeevalla ser Mary: 

The women and children were cutting off branches from the beech, birch, oak, &c, and leaving them to dry.  This way of helping out their fodder injures the trees.  But the winters are so long that the poor cannot afford to lay in a sufficient stock of hay.  By such means they just keep life in the poor cows, for little milk can be expected when they are so miserably fed.

 

Mest bekymrar sig Wollstonecraft för barnen i Bohuslän

A mistaken tenderness, however, for their children, makes them even in summer load them with flannels, and having a sort of natural antipathy to cold water, the squalid appearance of the poor babes, not to speak of the noxious smell which flannel and rugs retain, seems a reply to a questionI had often asked—Why I did not see more children in the villages I passed through?  Indeed the children appear to be nipt in the bud, having neither the graces nor charms of their age.  And this, I am persuaded, is much more owing to the ignorance of the mothers than to the rudeness of the climate.  Rendered feeble by the continual perspiration they are kept in, whilst every pore is absorbing unwholesome moisture, they give them, even at the breast, brandy, salt fish, and every other crude substance which air and exercise enables the parent to digest.

 

Kan det bero på klimatet?

The severity of the long Swedish winter tends to render the people sluggish, for though this season has its peculiar pleasures, too much time is employed to guard against its inclemency.  Still as warm clothing is absolutely necessary, the women spin and the men weave, and by these exertions get a fence to keep out the cold.  I have rarely passed a knot of cottages without seeing cloth laid out to bleach, and when I entered, always found the women spinning or knitting.

 

Eller på skatterna? Gustaf III, som sköts tre år tidigare, bankruttade landet med krig och allmänt slöseri. Sjuttonhundratalets gyllene skimmer ersattes av den kulturella järnåldern under Gustaf Adolf.

The taxes before the reign of Charles XII. were inconsiderable.  Since then the burden has continually been growing heavier, and the price of provisions has proportionately increased—nay, the advantage accruing from the exportation of corn to France and rye to Germany will probably produce a scarcity in both Sweden and Norway, should not a peace put a stop to it this autumn, for speculations of various kinds have already almost doubled the price.

 

Varför detta förfall i Bohuslän? Sillen gick ju till fortfarande, mer 1794/95 än nånsin tidigare. Bönderna extraknäckte som vedsäljare och sillkörare. På vintern drog deras söner och döttrar till fiskelägena där de kunde tjäna fem gånger mer än som dräng eller piga. Så folk svalt nog inte i kustbandet vid denna tid så som kunde vara fallet när skörden slog fel inåt landet. 

Men det söps och horades, till prästernas förfäran inte minst. När de återvände hem spreds könssjukdomar. Mary fick en glimt av det uppsluppna livet när hon for söderut från Kviström.


 

Quitting Quistram I met a number of joyous groups, and though the evening was fresh many were stretched on the grass like weary cattle; and drunken men had fallen by the road-side. On a rock, under the shade of lofty trees, a large party of men and women had lighted a fire, cutting down fuel around to keep it alive all night. They were drinking, smoking, and laughing with all their might and main. I felt for the trees whose torn branches strewed the ground. Hapless nymphs! your haunts, I fear, were polluted by many an unhallowed flame, the casual burst of the moment!

 


 

De stora misären uppstod i Bohuslän först några år senare, omkring 1810, när sillen försvann för gott. Vilket Emilie Flygare Carlén målade med penseldrag som påminner om Wollstonecraft:

En dag bortföll emellertid glittret och glädjen. Festerna tystnade, öfvermodet sjönk, sillen, hvars ankomst och uthållande närvaro så länge spred lif och rörelse, försvann, och den epok, som efterträdde, bildade nya målningar af skärgården, målningar, der andra skarpa konturer framstodo: grämelsen, fattigdomen, öfverbefolkningen, lättjan och hungern. De stora husen till förädlingsverken nedrefvos, materialerna försåldes, patronerna flyttade bort, och herrar bokhållare, som syntes hafva varit de egentligen vinnande, etablerade landthandel på stränderna.

 

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Malthus resa

Fisket slog fel i Bohuslän 1799 och vintern samma år var kall så att det blev svår missväxt i hela riket. Trots spannmålsimporten svalt folk och det blev hungerkravaller. Året innan hade professorn och demografen Thomas Robert Malthus i An Essay on the Principle of Population beskrivit hur hungersnöd förr eller senare sätter stopp för befolkningstillväxten.

Sin teori fick Malthus stärkt när han 1799 for genom Halland och Bohuslän, I sin bok Travel diaries skriver han: ”The horses & cattle had not been in so bad a state for these last 50 years; and indeed we found the post horses looked very thin and misarable”. Hästar och bräckliga kärror kollapsade så Malthus fick gå bitvis på resan upp mot Norge, där han i likhet med andra resenärer konstaterade att folk hade det bättre ställt.

 

Malthus noterar hur bohsuläningarna bodde: ” The house was of timbers formed on firs almost whole, at least only i litte flettened, and seams stopped well with moss. This forms a wall av considerable thickness which looks as if it would be very dry & warm. Most of the houses in the part of Sweden are built in the same way. In general nothing further is done in the inside of the room; but the boards are left in their natural state. ”

 

Från Helsingborg till Trollhättan hade Malthus sällskap av sin professorskollega Edward Daniel Clarke. Nära Trollhättan konstaterar Clarke: ” We observed the interior af many cottages of the poor; but in this part of Sweden we never had the satisfaction to observe anything like comfort or cleanliness. In the respect they are certainly inferior the Danes. A close and filthy room, crowded with pale, swarthy, wretched-looking children, sprawling upon a dirty floor, in the midst of the most powerful stench, were the usual objects that presented themselves to our notice. ”

2 comments

  1. Daniel Rondslätt says:

    Hej. Översätt gärna citaten till svenska. Det är en dålig vana av nutida skribenter att överlåta översättningsarbetet åt läsarna.
    Dock är det en mycket intressant och upplysande läsning och det förtjänar större spridning av den här typen av texter.

  2. Ingemar Lindmark says:

    Hej Daniel

    Tack för kommentaren.

    Visst kan engelskan översättas. Boken finns dessutom på svenska. Men i mitt tycke tappar man i översättning lite av Wollstonecrafts fina språkhantering.

    Har mer av henne här: http://redviking.se/wp3/?page_id=2712

    Varm hälsning
    Ingemar Lindmark

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