Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/423

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417
PETER KALM'S "TRAVELS"
when our leader leaped over the hedge into the orchards, and gathered some agreeable fruit for us. But our astonishment was still greater when we saw that the people in the garden were so little concerned at it, as not even to look at us. But our companion told us, that the people here were not so exact in regard to a few fruits, as they were in other countries where the soil is not so fruitful in them. We afterwards found very frequently that the country people in Sweden and Finland guarded their turnips more carefully, than the people here do the most exquisite fruits.

Among the many customs of the people which Kalm noted are the following curious passages relating to marriage—

There is a great mixture of people of all sorts in these colonies, partly of such as are lately come over from Europe, and partly of such as have not yet any settled place of abode. Hence it frequently happens that when a clergyman has married such a couple, the bridegroom says he has no money at present, but would pay the fee at the first opportunity; however, he goes off with his wife, and the clergyman never gets his due. This proceeding has given occasion to a custom which is now common in Maryland. When the clergyman marries a very poor couple, he breaks off in the middle of the Liturgy, and cries out. Where is my fee? The man must then give the money, and the clergyman proceeds; but if the bridegroom has no money, the clergyman defers the marriage till another time, when the man is better provided. People of fortune, of whom the clergyman is sure to get his due, need not fear this disagreeable question, when they are married. . . . There is a very peculiar diverting custom here, in regard to marrying. When a man dies, and leaves his widow in great poverty, or so that she can not pay all the debts with what little she has left, and that, notwithstanding all that, there is a person who will marry her, she must be married in no other habit than her shift. By that means, she leaves to the creditors of the deceased husband her cloaths, and everything which they find in the house. But she is not obliged to pay them anything more, because she has left them all she was worth, even her cloaths, keeping only a shift to cover her, which the laws of the country cannot refuse her. As soon as she is married, and no longer belongs to the deceased husband, she puts on the cloaths which the second has given her. The Swedish clergymen here have often been obliged to marry a woman in a dress which is so little expensive, and so light.

There are various references in Kalm's book to the aboriginal inhabitants of the country, though at the time of his visit the Indians had retired from the immediate vicinity of the seaboard. "It is very possible," says Kalm, "for a person to have been at Philadelphia and other towns on the sea shore for half a year together, without so much as seeing an Indian." Most of Kalm's observations concerning the natives, their manners, customs and food, are at second hand, but may be regarded as fairly reliable, his information being obtained from the older Swedes, who, in the earlier days of the settlement, had been well acquainted with the Indian people that dwelt by the Delaware.

What pleases the reader most in Kalm's book, I think, is the general picture of the country and the local color which he gets from the scattered observations and descriptions throughout the pages. Naturally Kalm was much impressed with the extent of forest in this new