Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Finland
FINLAND (Finnish Suomi, or Suomenmaa, the Swampy Region, of which Finland—Fen Land—is said to be a Swedish translation), a grand-duchy forming an administrative division or government of Russia, lies between 59° 48′ and 70° 6′ N. lat., and 20° 29′ and 32° 47′ E. long. It is bounded on the N. by Norway, on the E. by the governments of Archangel and Olonetz, on the S. by the Gulf of Finland, and on the W. by the Gulf of Bothnia. Its greatest length is 717 miles, greatest breadth 378 miles, the average breadth being about 185 miles; the area is 144,221 square miles. The surface is a labyrinthine mixture of land and water; and the sea-coast, especially in the south and south-west, presents the same succession of fiords and rocky headlands that characterizes the coasts of Norway and Sweden. The fiords of Finland, however, seldom exceed a few miles in extent. The coast is studded with innumerable small islands and rocks called skår; some of these islands, as those of Sveaborg, have been converted into fortresses of great strength. The intricate archipelago of islets and granite and limestone rocks in the Bothnian gulf renders the navigation extremely dangerous. The lakes occupy about 12 per cent. of the area, the marshes 20 per cent., so that Finland is more abundantly supplied with water than any other country in the world. The land appears to have been formerly a sea-bed, which was gradually elevated and is still rising at the rate of about 3.4 feet on the Gulf of Bothnia, and 1.9 feet on the Gulf of Finland in a hundred years. The surface consists of primitive rocks, as gneiss, porphyritic and synetic granite, diorite, gabbro, and hyperesthene, and of formations allied to the older metamorphic and the Cambrian. Neither fossils nor coal have been found. Geologists suppose that the land, a low table-land, continuous along its north-western and southern borders with two low and flat border-ridges, was long ago covered with an immense ice-sheet, which, creeping from Scandinavia, crossed the Gulf of Bothnia, traversed southern Finland in a direction south by east, crossed the Gulf of Finland, and crept further on in the Baltic provinces. The numberless striæ, the positions and directions of which exclude any suspicion of their having been traced by floating ice, the striation on the islands of the shallow gulfs, together with that of the Onega basin, the Neva valley, and the Baltic provinces, the uninterrupted sheet of till, i.e., of a true unstratified and unwashed morainic deposit covering Finland, the numberless moraines parallel to the glacial striæ, and hundreds of other evidences seem to settle the existence of such an ice-sheet beyond doubt. As to traces of marine formations, there are none above a level of about 100 or 120 feet; only lacustrine deposits cover the till above this level.
The greater portion of the interior is, as has been said,
a vast table-land, averaging in height from 350 to 400
feet, and interspersed wi
ll hills of no great elevation.
Heights of considerable elevation are found only in the
most northerly part, where the highest summit, Haldefjåll
(Lappish Haldischok), rises to 4124 feet in the north-west
on the Norwegian border. Other single mountains reach
from 2000 to 3000 feet, and the higher ridges 1000 feet.
The land falls towards the south. The principal central
ridge Maanselkå, (i.e., land-ridge), about 1300 feet high,
the watershed between the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of
Bothnia, forms the boundary between Russia and Finland
from 68° to 64° N. lat., running thence under the name of
Suomen-selkå (i.e., Finland-ridge) towards the south-west as
far as the Gulf of Bothnia, 62° N. lat. Several spurs run
off from this ridge towards the south, forming watersheds,
but rising little above the general level of the table-land.
The largest plain lies on the narrow middle part of the
Gulf of Bothnia.
By the above-mentioned ridges Finland is divided into five great basins. In the south-eastern basin, besides Lake Ladoga on the border, lies Lake Saima, along with 120 larger and several thousand smaller lakes, discharging by the river Wuoksen into Lake Ladoga; in the middle or southern basin is Lake Påijåne, discharging by the river Kymmene into the Gulf of Finland; in the south-west basin the waters unite near the town of Tammerfors in tha little lake Pyhåjårvi, and discharge by the river Kumo into the Bothnian Gulf; in the north-west is the Ulea basin, with an outflow by the rivers Uleå, Kemi, and Torneå into the same gulf; the north basin contains Lake Enare (nearly 1000 square miles), covered with ice for ten months in the year, and sending its waters into the Arctic Ocean. The rivers are full of rapids, and rarely navigable, but serve for floating down large quantities of timber from the extensive woods of the interior, and also furnish motive power for many mills. The lakes are united by canals.
The climate of Finland is severe, but generally healthy. The mean yearly temperature in the north is 27.5° Fahr.; at Helsingfors, 38.7°. The average annual rainfall is 20 inches.
Immense forests cover one-half of the area of the country, reaching on the north as far as Lake Enare. They consist chiefly of pine, spruce fir, and birch, the oak growing wild only in the south, where also are found apples, pears, and cherries. Rye is cultivated as far as the Arctic Circle, barley mostly in the north to Lake Enare, oats as far as 65° N. lat., wheat but little and only in the south, buckwheat and flax to 64° N. lat., hemp to 66°, and potatoes everywhere. The flora includes 1080 phanerogams and 1800 cryptogams. Of wild animals the bear, wolf, fox, ermine, hare, and squirrel are the most common, with the lynx, elk, rein-deer; and seals in the sea and in Lakes Ladoga and Saima. Among birds, arc the woodcock, moorcock, black cock, white ptarmigan, partridge, swan, goose, duck. The fish include the salmon, perch, pike, and other common kinds.
The population in 1875 was 1,912,647, divided among the various provinces as follows:
The yearly increase of the population is at the rate of 1.05 per cent.; the density is one person to 148.6 acres. The population of the 35 towns was, in 1875, 148,355, or 7.7 per cent. of the whole. Of the population 98 per cent. belong to the Lutheran Church, somewhat less than 2 per cent. to the Greco-Russian Church, while Roman Catholics and Jews together number only about 1230; in 1870 there were 86 Mahometans. Of the whole population, 85 per cent. are Finns proper, 14 per cent. are Swedish-speaking farmers and peasants, chiefly in the governments of Nyland, Åbo, and Wasa, on the coasts and islands; Russians number about 6000, besides the military, mostly in the towns; Germans 1200, in Helsingfors and Wiborg; gipsies about 1000; and, to the furthest north, Lapps 600. Agriculture occupies about 80 per cent. of the population; trade, shipping, and manufactures, 7 per cent.; the professions, 1.5 per cent.; military, 1 per cent. The proportion of men to women is 1000 to 1056. The average number of illegitimate births is 7 per cent. The mean duration of life is 37 years, being 35.6 among men and 38.4 among women. The epidemic diseases are typhus, nervous fever, and, in dry summers, diarrhœa. Of the deaths 3 per cent., or 1179 (1874), were violent. Nearly 7000 are whole or half blind. There is some emigration to Russia and the north of Norway, and thence to the United States, chiefly to Michigan.
The chief occupation is agriculture, for which the soil in the south-west and on the coast of Wasa is best adapted. Modern methods of agriculture are found only in the south, the hoe being the principal implement in the east. The area under cultivation is about 2,000,000 acres, of which 700,000 are occupied with rye, 300,000 with barley, 240,000 with oats, and 600,000 are fallow. Sometimes, especially in the north, the night-frosts destroy the crops, and then meal has to be largely imported from Russia. There are ten agricultural schools, two of which are of a higher class. Of the land 35 million acres belong to the crown, 6 millions to the upper classes, and 50 millions to the peasantry. Serfdom never existed in the country.
Of the exports about one-half is timber, though the forests are much thinned by fires, uprooting, and extravagance. Of the land under wood (64 per cent.) 39 per cent. belongs to the crown, under the superintendence of forest-masters, there being one school of forestry. In 1876 there were upwards of 200 saw-mills, tho export amounting to 41,536,169 cubic feet—planks, boards, battens, &c., besides 7,432,617 cubic feet of round timber.
Cattle-breeding is successful on account of the many natural meadows, the good pasturage, and abundance of water. Government gives premiums for riding and draught horses, and for improvement in the breeds of horses and cattle. The value of butter and other dairy produce exported in 1875 amounted to nearly £800,000; of horses 250,000, horned cattle 100,000, sheep 900,000, swine 190,000, and rein-deer 60,000 were exported.
The herring fishery is of some importance, while the rivers yield considerable quantities of salmon, and the lakes white-fish (Coregonus albus). The export of fish in 1876 was valued at over £100,000.
Granite, marble, felspar, and quartz are quarried to the north of Lake Ladoga, and porphyry on the island of Hogland. There is also an extensive granite quarry at Pytterlahti near Fredrikshamn. Iron-mining and smelting are important industries. In 1876 68,000 tons of iron ore were raised; 21 iron-works turned out 26,000 tons of cast-iron. Besides this, 13 refining works turned out 16,000 tons of bar-iron. The iron exports in 1874 amounted to 19,230 tons, and the imports were 47,270 tons, half of which consisted of ore; while in 1876 the iron export amounted to only 12,000, and the import to 31,000 tons. Copper and tin are found, and in Lapland a little gold. Lime is obtained nearly everywhere.
Finland has about 420 manufactories of various kinds, giving employment to about 11,000 workpeople. The principal articles manufactured are metal goods, cotton goods, woollen cloth, paper, candles, soap, tobacco, sugar, brandy, beer, leather. The whole production is valued at £1,480,000.
The value of the whole exports in 1876 amounted to £3,948,200, timber representing about one-half, cattle one-seventh, grain about 1 per cent., iron and steel goods about 7 per cent., woven goods 7 per cent., paper 2½ per cent., fish and game nearly 3 per cent., tar 3½ per cent., butter, &c., 21 per cent. The imports were valued at £5,541,710; of this 15 per cent, represented woven goods, grain 17½ per cent., iron and steel 8½ per cent., coffee 7 per cent., sugar 6 per cent., cotton 4½ per cent, tobacco 2½ per cent., salt 2 per cent., wine and spirits 3½ per cent. In 1876 the exports showed an increase in timber, tar, butter, grain, and hides, and a falling off in woollen goods and iron. In the import list a falling off took place in all articles except cotton, petroleum, and coffee. In 1876 the custom-house receipts were £424,603, showing a falling off of about one-tenth as compared with 1875. In the imports Russia holds the first place, Germany being second, Great Britain third, and Norway and Sweden fourth. Russia also comes first in the export list, Great Britain second, and Germany and Norway and Sweden respectively third and fourth. The shipping that entered the various ports numbered 9364 vessels of all kinds, of 1,314,999 registered tons; 9220 vessels of 1,310,679 tons cleared the ports. The Finnish merchant shipping in 1875 numbered 1900 vessels of more than 18½ tons (280,000 tons in all); 125 of these (7103 tons) were steamers. A considerable amount of shipbuilding is carried on on the west coast.
The total length of the state railways is 524 miles, which, with a private railway of 21 miles, connect the capital Helsingfors with Åbo, Hangö, Tammerfors, Tavastehus, Borgå, Wiborg, and St Petersburg. The longest canal is that known as the Saima canal, 37 miles long, connecting Lake Saima with the Gulf of Finland; besides this there are several smaller canals rendering navigation practicable between several of the lakes. The telegraph, under Russian management, connects nearly all the towns of the country.
The education of Finland is carried on in one university (Helsingfors), 14 lyceums and realschulen, one polytechnic, two industrial, six navigation, one cadet, two superior and eight inferior agricultural, two trade schools, besides two schools for the blind, and four for deaf and dumb. These include both state and private schools. For popular instruction there are three normal seminaries and 448 primary schools, most of them Finnish, 67 being Swedish, 5 mixed Finnish and Swedish, and 2 Russian. Besides these there seem to be a number of peripatetic teachers who teach many that do not attend school. In 1875 24 publishers issued 154 books, which had a sale of a million and a quarter copies. There are 55 journals of various kinds, one-half being Finnish.
The czar of Russia is grand-duke of Finland, the external affairs of both countries being the same. So far as internal administration is concerned, Finland is an independent state. The constitution dates from 1772-1789, and is based besides upon the pledge of the czar Alexander I. in 1809 (when Swedish Finland was annexed), renewed by his successors, and upon the decree of the diet of date 1869. The czar decides as to war and peace, and as to treaties, has the right of pardon, appoints the officials of the country, who, however, must be natives, and is the last appeal in law. The government of the country and the administration of justice are carried on by the Imperial Senate for Finland, consisting of eighteen members appointed by the czar, under the presidency of the governor-general of Finland. The particular affairs on which the czar has to decree are laid before him by the state secretary for Finland. The legislative function is exercised by the czar and diet or landtag (Seim), without the consent of which no law can be either ordained or repealed, no new taxes imposed, or soldiers levied. The diet is called together every five years, and consists of the representatives of the nobility, clergy, citizens, and peasantry. The nobility are represented by the heads of the noble families admitted into the House of Nobles; the other deputies are elected, the bishops being admitted on account of their office. The official language is Swedish. For administrative purposes Finland is divided into eight låns or governments, the names of which are given above. An older division was the districts of Finland proper, Åland, Sata-Kunta, Nyland, Tavastland, Karelen, Savolaks, Osterbotten, and Lapland. The låns are divided into harads or districts, and these into parishes or communes, of which there are 480, and which have the management of their own internal affairs. The administration of the law lies in the first place with the senate, in the second place with the high courts established in Åbo, Nikolaistad, Wasa, and Wiborg, and finally with the district courts in the country and the municipal courts in the towns. The established religion is that of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, under the archbishop of Åbo and the bishops of Borgå and Kuopio. There is an ecclesiastical assembly or convocation every ten years, with thirty-four clerical and fifty lay representatives. There is complete religious freedom for other bodies. The Greco-Russian parishes are under the metropolitan in St Petersburg.
The public income of the country in 1877 was £1,267,732, and the expenditure £1,267,738, while on January 1, 1878, the debt was £2,462,470. Besides the national bank of Finland, there are two private banks, thirty-nine savings banks, and three fire insurance establishments. The military force of Finland consists of one battalion of riflemen. The Finnish coinage consists of a markka or silver mark of 100 penni, equal to about 9½ d. In 1878 a new gold coinage was issued, consisting of two pieces of 20 and 10 francs or markka respectively. The Finnish mile is equal to 10 versts or 6.64 English miles. The fathom of 3 ells of 2 Finnish feet is equal to 1.9483 English yards. The tunland contains 1.21983 acres. The “ship-pound” contains 374.85 ℔ avoirdupois, the Finnish ℔ being equal to 0.93713 ℔ avoirdupois; the ton is equal to 4.5395 bushels, the last to 1.86 ton register, the “can” to .57645 imperial gallon.
History.—It was probably at end of the 7th or beginning of the 8th century that the Finns took possession of what is now Finland, though it was only when Christianity was introduced, about 1157, that they were brought into contact with civilized Europe. They probably found the Lapps in possession of the country. The early Finlanders do not seem to have had any governmental organization, but to have lived in separate communities and villages independent of each other. Their mythology consisted in the deification of the forces of nature, as “Ukko,” the god of the air, “Tapio,” god of the forests, “Ahti,” the god of water, &c. These early Finlanders seem to have been both brave and troublesome to their neighbours, and their repeated attacks on the coast of Sweden drew the attention of the kings of that country. King Eric IX. (St Eric), accompanied by the bishop of Upsala, Henry (an Englishman, it is said), and at the head of a considerable army, invaded the country in 1157, when the people were conquered and baptized. King Eric left Bishop Henry with his priests and some soldiers behind to confirm the conquest and complete the conversion. After a time he was killed, canonized, and as St Henry became the patron saint of Finland. As Sweden had to attend to her own affairs, Finland was gradually reverting to independence and paganism, when in 1209 another bishop and missionary, Thomas (also an Englishman), arrived, and recommenced the work of St Henry. Bishop Thomas nearly succeeded in detaching Finland from Sweden, and forming it into a province subject only to the pope. The famous Birger Jarl undertook a crusade in Finland in 1249, compelling the Tavastians, one of the subdivisions of the Finlanders proper, to accept Christianity, and building a castle at Tavastehus. It was Torkel Knutson who conquered and connected the Karelian Finlanders in 1293, and built the strong castle of Wiborg. Almost continuous wars between Russia and Sweden were the result of the conquest of Finland by the latter. In 1323 it was settled that the river Rajajoki should be the boundary between Russia and the Swedish province. After the final conquest of the country by the Swedes, they spread among the Finlanders their civilization, gave them laws, accorded them the same civil rights as belonged to themselves, and introduced agriculture and other beneficial arts. The Reformed religion was introduced into Finland by Gustavus Vasa about 1528, and King John III. raised it to the dignity of a grand-duchy. The country suffered, sometimes deplorably, in most of the wars waged by Sweden, especially with Russia and Denmark. His predecessor having created an order of nobility, counts, barons, and nobles, Gustavus Adolphus in the beginning of the 17th century established the diet of Finland, composed of the four orders of the nobility, clergy, bourgeois, and peasants. Gustavus and his successor did much for Finland by founding schools and gymnasia, building churches, encouraging learning, and introducing printing. During the reign of Charles XI. (1692-1696) the country suffered terribly from famine and pestilence; in the diocese of Åbo alone 60,000 persons died in less than nine months. Finland has been visited at different periods since by these scourges; so late as 1848 whole villages were starved during a dreadful famine. Peter the Great cast an envious eye on Finland and tried to wrest it from Sweden; in 1710 he managed to obtain possession of the towns of Keksholm and Villmanstrand; and by 1716 all the country was in his power. Meantime the sufferings of the people had been great; thousands perished in the wars of Charles XII. By the peace of Nystad in 1721 the province of Wiborg, the eastern division of Finland, was finally ceded to Russia. But the country had been laid very low by war, pestilence, and famine, though it recovered itself with wonderful rapidity. In 1741 the Swedes made an effort to recover the ceded province, but through wretched management suffered disaster, and were compelled to capitulate in August 1742, ceding by the peace of Åbo, next year, the towns of Villmanstrand and Fredrikshamn. Nothing remarkable seems to have occurred till 1788, under Gustavus III., who began to reign in 1771, and who gave the Finlanders those fundamental laws by which they are still essentially governed. The country was divided into six governments, a second superior court of justice was founded at Wasa, many new towns were built, commerce nourished, and science and art were encouraged. Latin disappeared as the academic language, and Swedish was adopted. In 1788, however, war again broke out between Sweden and Russia, and was carried on for two years without much glory or gain to either party, the main aim of Gustavus being to recover the lost Finnish province. In 1808, under Gustavus IV., peace was again broken between the two countries, and the war ended by the cession in 1809 of the whole of Finland and the Aland Islands to Russia, which has ever since maintained her supremacy. The Finlanders themselves fought bravely against Russia, and it is said that bribery had not a little to do with the result. The emperor Alexander I. convoked the diet at Borgo in 1809, when he issued a manifesto undertaking to preserve the religion, laws, and liberties of the country. This pledge has been taken by his successors, and probably Finland is the freest and best governed part of the Russian empire. A senate was created and a governor-general named. The province of Wiborg was reunited to Finland in 1811, and Åbo remained the capital of the country till 1821, when the civil and military authorities were removed to Helsingfors, and the university in 1827. The diet, which had not met for 56 years, was convoked by Alexander II. at Helsingfors in 1863, and has met every five years since. Since 1860 Finland has been allowed the use of a coinage peculiar to itself. Under Alexander II. Finland has been on the whole prosperous and progressive. The use of the Finnish tongue is everywhere encouraged, though the upper classes mostly use Swedish, and the study of the Russian language was made compulsory in all the state schools in 1872.
Ethnology and Language.—The term Finns has a wider application than Finland, being, with its adjective Finnic or Finno-Ugric or Ugro-Finnic, the collective name of the westernmost branch of the great Uralo-Altaic family, dispersed throughout Finland, Lapland, the Baltic provinces (Esthonia, Livonia, Courland), parts of Russia proper (south of Lake Onega), both banks of middle Volga, Perm, Vologda, West Siberia (between the Ural Mountains and the Yenissei), and Hungary. It consists of five groups: (1) the Finns proper; (2) the Lapps; (3) the Permian Finns; (4) Volga Finns; (5) Ugrian Finns. (1) The first group comprises the Suomi or Suomelaisset, i.e., Fen-men, who occupy nearly all Finland except a portion on the Gulf of Bothnia, about Wasa, where Swedish is spoken; next, the Karelians, who extend from Russian Lapland south to the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga, and east to the White Sea and the shores of Lake Onega; thirdly, the Chudic, a Slav term often applied to the whole group, but now restricted to the Veps or northern Chud and the Votic or southern Chud, dwelling in scattered communities round the shores of Lake Onega; and lastly, the Baltic Finns, including the Este or Esthonian, occupying the greater part of the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland and the northern half of Livonia, and the Livonian or Krevinian occupying a small corner in the north-west of Courland. (2) The Lapps occupy the extreme north-west of Russia, and some parts of northern Sweden and Norway. (3) The Permian Finns comprise the Siryenians, occupying an extensive region between 60° N. lat. and the Arctic circle and 50° E. long. and the Ural Mountains, but mainly in the section of the government of Vologda; the Permian proper, formerly diffused throughout Perm, Viatka, Oufa, &c., now surviving in isolated communities mainly about the upper Kama; and the Votyak, occupying a relatively compact territory in Viatka as far north as Glazov on the river Tchepsa. (4) The Volga Finns include the Cheremissian on the left bank of the Volga, from a little west of Kazan to near Nijni-Novgorod; and the Mordvinian, divided into small communities on both banks of the Volga, about Simbirsk, Samara, Stavropol, and Tambov. (5) The Ugrian Finns include the Voguls, extending from the Ural Mountains east to near the river Obi and south to Tobolsk; the Ostyaks, from the Voguls east to the river Yenissei, between Turuchansk and Yenisseisk, and from the Arctic circle to 59° N. lat.; and the Magyars of Hungary. These five groups form one linguistic family, to which Samoyede is related. The richest and most highly cultivated languages of the family are the Suomi and Magyar. The dialects are all distinctly agglutinative forms of speech, with decided tendencies towards true inflexion, so much so that in many grammatical endings the essential difference between agglutination and inflexion becomes obscured. As in other Uralo-Altaic tongues, progressive vowel-harmony forms a characteristic feature of the Finnic group. Rask considered the Finnish language the most sonorous and harmonious of tongues. It is maintained by some that the Finnic languages represent the oldest forms among the Uralo-Altaic groups. There is strong evidence that the Finns, or a closely allied race, must have at one time, probably prehistoric, been spread over a considerable area of central if not of western Europe.
Originally nomads (hunters and fishers), all the Finnic people except the Lapps and Ostyaks have long yielded to the influence of civilization, and now everywhere lead settled lives as herdsmen, agriculturists, traders, &c. Physically the Finns are a strong, hardy race, of low stature, with almost round head, low forehead, flat features, prominent cheek bones, eyes mostly grey and oblique (inclining inwards), short and flat nose, protruding mouth, thick lips, neck very full and strong, so that the occiput seems flat and almost in a straight line with the nape; beard weak and sparse, hair no doubt originally black, but, owing to mixture with other races, now brown, red, and even fair; complexion also somewhat brown. The Finns are morally upright, hospitable, faithful, and submissive, with a keen sense of personal freedom and independence, but also somewhat stolid, revengeful, and indolent. Many of these physical and moral characteristics they have in common with the so-called “Mongolian” race, to which they are no doubt ethnically, if not also linguistically, related.
Literature.— Finland can boast of a varied literature more or less indigenous, the great monument of which is, however, the Kalewala, a sort of epic poem, which, until the present century, existed only in fragments in the memories and on the lips of the peasantry. A collection of these scattered songs was published in 1822 by Dr Zacharias Topelius, but it was not till 1835 that anything like a complete and systematically arranged collection was given to the world by Dr Elias Lönnrot. For years Dr Lönnrot wandered from place to place in the most remote districts, living with the peasantry, and taking down from their lips all that they knew of their popular songs. After unwearied diligence he was successful in collecting 12,000 lines. These he arranged as methodically as he could into thirty-two runes or cantos, which he published exactly as he heard them sung or chanted. Continuing his researches, Dr Lönnrot published in 1849 a new edition of 22,793 verses, in 50 runes. The importance of this indigenous epic, as it may be fairly styled, was at once recognized in Europe, and translations were made into Swedish, German, and French. A few specimens have also been translated into English by the late Professor A. Porter, of Yale College, and published at New York (1868). The best foreign editions are those of Castren in Swedish (1844), Leouzon le Duc in French (1845 and 1868), Schiefner in German (1852). The poem has besides given rise to a considerable amount of critical literature, which is worthy of the attention of the comparative mythologist. The poem is written in eight-syllabled trochaic verse, and an idea of its style may be obtained from Longfellow's Hiawatha, which is a pretty true imitation of the Finnish epic. Of the merits and importance of the poem Professor Max Müller, than whom there could be no better judge, speaks thus:—“From the mouths of the aged an epic poem has been collected, equalling the Iliad in length and completeness; nay—if we can forget for a moment all that we in our youth learned to call beautiful—not less beautiful. A Finn is not a Greek, and a Wainamoinen was not a Homer. But if the poet may take his colours from that nature by which he is surrounded, if he may depict the men with whom he lives, Kalewala possesses merits not dissimilar from those of the Iliad, and will claim its place as the fifth national epic of the world, side by side with the Ionian songs, with the Mahábhárata, the Shahnámeh, and the Nibelunge.” The Kalewala is concerned entirely with the mythology or folk-lore of the people. In the story there is a certain unity of plot, though the various parts are not perfectly homogeneous, and are evidently the product of different minds at different times, the various songs having evidently received additions in course of time. Indeed, it is probable that the origin of the songs must be sought for in a time when the various branches of the Finns were not so scattered as they are now, certainly before their conversion to Christianity, though in the conclusion there seem to be one or two allusions to Christian subjects. The poem takes its name from the three heroes of Kaleva, the land of plenty and happiness, Wåinåmöinen, Ilmarinen, and Lemmin-Kåinen; it is the struggles of these with Louhi, Hüse, Yorukahainen, and others from Pohjola, a land of the cold north, and from Luonela, the land of death, that are sung. The poem begins with the creation of the world, and after many varied events, ends in the triumph of Wåinåmöinen and his followers. At the time that Dr Lönnrot collected the Kalewala songs he also collected a considerable quantity of lyric poetry, which he published under the name of Kanteletar, from the name of the national instrument to which they are sung—Kantele, a species of harp with five strings. Of recent poets the most popular seems to be Paavo Korrhoinen, a peasant whose productions are characterized by sharp and biting sarcasm. His songs were published at Helsingfors in 1848. Other modern poets are Marteska, Kettunen, Ilahainen, Oksaselta. The Finns are strong in proverbs, Lönnrot having published a collection of upwards of 7000, with about 2000 charades, while considerable collections of legends and tales have been published.
The first book printed in Finnish was in the middle of the 16th century, and was probably the Abecedarium (1543) of Michael Agricola, bishop of Åbo. A translation of the New Testament by the same bishop appeared in 1548, at Stockholm. The whole Bible was not translated into Finnish till 1642. Even during last, but especially during the present century, there has been considerable literary activity in Finland, so that now books in almost every branch of research are found in the language, mainly translations or adaptations. We meet with, during the present century, a considerable number of names of poets and dramatists, no doubt very minor, as also painters, sculptors, and musical composers. At the Paris International Exhibition of 1878 several native Finnish painters and sculptors exhibited works which would do credit to any country; and both in the fine and applied arts Finland occupied a position thoroughly creditable. An important contribution to a history of Finnish literature is Krohn's Suomenkielinen runollisuns ruotsinvallan aikana (1862). Finland is wonderfully rich in periodicals of all kinds, the publications of the Finnish Societies of Literature and of Sciences and other learned bodies being specially valuable. The Finnish Literary Society has within the last few years published a new edition of the works of the father of Finnish history, Henry Gabriel Porthan (died 1804). A valuable handbook of Finnish history was published at Helsingfors in 1869-73, by Yrjö Koskinen, and has been translated into both Swedish and German. The author, however, is understood to be really a Swede, whose name is Georg Forsman, the above form being a Finnish translation. Other works on Finnish history have also appeared within the last four or five years. Some important works in Finnish geography have also appeared during the same period. In language we have Lönnrot's great Finnish-Swedish dictionary, now being published by the Finnish Literary Society. In this connexion the student may be glad to know of Dr Donner's Comparative Dictionary of the Finno-Ugric Languages (Helsingfors and Leipsic), in German. In other departments works of importance have not been infrequent during the present decade; most of them apparently are in Swedish. A valuable sketch of recent Finnish literature will be found in the Russische Revue (iv. Jahrgang, 4 and 6 Hefte). (J. S. K.)