THE CONSTITUTION OF NORWAY.
From Fraser's Magazine .
THE CONSTITUTION OF NORWAY.
Although the crowns of Norway and Sweden have been united for upwards of sixty years, although the interests of the two countries are almost identical and their religion the same, and although no new questions have arisen to give increased force to the still existing causes of the separation of feeling, Norwegians and Swedes are now as far from being fused into one nation as at any time during the long centuries when their armies were frequently opposed. The memory of the old conflicts still survives, and the national sentiment, stronger perhaps in Norway than in Sweden, steadily rejects the idea of any closer union than that which at present exists, and which does not permit either nation directly to influence the internal politics of the other. A jealousy of Sweden, springing from the repeated attempts at annexation, and, it may be, intensified by the earlier prosperity and greater natural wealth of the eastern half of the peninsula, still lingers in the minds of the Norwegians, but is at present of little weight in the intercourse between the two countries. This feeling would, however, at once become a living and active force, if a union of the countries, such as was effected between England and Scotland by the Treaty of Union, were proposed. No such proposal could be made at present with any prospect of success, nor, indeed, for many years to come is it likely to be made on the part of the Norwegians, while any proposal emanating from Sweden would be at once rejected. Meanwhile, notwithstanding the abatement of the former open jealousies, and the consequent growth and interchange of friendly feeling, the indirect influence of Sweden, which necessarily resulted from the union of the crowns, has had little effect in modifying the laws, customs, and usages to which the Norwegians are deeply and patriotically attached. The reasons for this strongly developed national feeling are not far to seek, and are, at least, as influential now as at any previous period of Norwegian history. It is not so easy to assign their relative position to the different causes which still tend to keep the Norsemen apart from their Swedish fellow-subjects, or to determine which of them are losing or are likely to lose their importance.
The first place, probably, should be given to the difference of language, a difference which strikes a foreigner as comparatively slight, but which is yet sufficient to place a great impediment in the way of a thorough amalgamation of the two peoples. The Norwegian and Swedish languages are, it is true, so nearly akin, that the educated classes of both countries understand one another with little difficulty; but, at the same time, so many peculiarities and distinctions exist, and each language has taken so much a bent of its own, that the literature of the one country does not circulate freely in the other. The literature of Sweden, too, rarely penetrates into the country districts, where the numerous dialects, the relics of centuries of isolation, and bearing more resemblance in their archaic forms to the ancient Icelandic than to the modern Swedish, shut off the peasants from the influence of Swedish literature, and confine them to the perusal of a few Norwegian works, principally on religious subjects. The writings of Swedish authors would, certainly, have been more read and would have produced more effect in gradually obliterating the difference of language, had it not been for the long connection of Norway with Denmark, which till the beginning of this century made the Norwegians almost wholly dependent upon Copenhagen for literature and science. As a first result of this connection, the written language of Norway is identical or almost identical with Danish, and in the next place, when a native literature appeared, as a matter of course, it formed itself to a large extent upon Danish models, though it after a time endeavored to work out a character of its own. The spoken language has always been somewhat nearer to the Swedish than the Danish language is. It is a common remark that a Norwegian can converse freely with Swedes and Danes, who find difficulty in understanding one another. Norwegian is, however, very much nearer Danish than Swedish, and the continual commercial as well as literary intercourse between the Norwegian towns and Copenhagen