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Lecture by Victor Granlund (1831-1898), archivist of the National Archives, at the annual meeting of the Swedish Antiquities Society in Växjö, June 2, 1870.
I request a moment's attention for an object of archaeology which is far less noticed among us than it deserves. If it is not wholly overlooked by the lover of antiquity, it is at least generally overlooked in its importance. This is the Swedish proverb.
Our old proverbs and sayings, the best of a grey past, short, powerful and pithy, are not seldom even despised by the educated, but contain a treasure of great value, not only to the archaeologist, but also to the cultural historian, to the social politician, to the connoisseur of art and to the poet.
They are, in fact, the first and simplest fruit of an original poetry, which has arisen and lived on the lips of the people, precious remembrances of old, even ancient, poetry; but remembrances which are becoming fewer and fewer every day. They are an old national heritage, passed down from generation to generation, and as well worthy to be hidden as other ancestral goods, which are well cared for and looked after.
The didactic or epic antiquities, the folk-songs, the collections of ancient lyric poetry, and the prosaic folktales have long since been the object of the undivided efforts of scholars and collectors; but the proverbs, in part similar to the above, have hitherto found in our country rather few collectors and no processors. They have generally been regarded as too worthless, as trifles of life, to be bothered with bending down and collecting them. They are daily being more and more displaced by the ever more general knowledge of books, by customs and habits, and by the lively intercourse which intervenes so transformingly in many circumstances.
The new age, in its haste, soon tramples them, like many other things, into the dust, and what of them is forgotten is lost forever, if not in time taken care of. It is therefore high time for every friend of ancient memories and white sports to hear what still remains in this field.
In Norway, Denmark, Germany and France, very important collections have been made in this respect in recent decades. We, on the other hand, except for a few insignificant booklets, have nothing younger than GRUBB's great Penu proverbialewhich is now nearly 200 years old, a collection which, for its time, was nevertheless superior to what most other countries were then able to achieve.
The chronicles and fairy tales speak of the most important external events, battles and changes of princes, wars and rebellions, plagues and famines, etc.; but how our ancestors thought and spoke, their outlook on life and their peculiar perception of this and that, and the particular way in which thought, depending on the peculiar nature and character of the ancestors and of language, chose a figurative expression, we see best in bed and proverb. There this peculiarity is better illustrated than it could be drawn and determined by definitions. We have in them tangible, irrefutable evidence of the innermost thoughts of the ancients, their prejudices, habits, customs, &c.; and it need not be said that the keys which open to us access to such valuable knowledge, well deserve, as the saying goes, to be hanged by the belt.
Proverbs, it is true, do not always have a higher value; some are of insignificant content, and owe their origin to the availability of a rhyme for the proposition they have sought to express. Nor can they be considered as containing a complete collection of ancient life-experience; a good many of them have long been forgotten; and, moreover, only a part of this life-experience could be put into proverbial form. Nevertheless, what is still preserved in this form contains a preserved valuable remnant of the teachings, most important observations, and experience of the ancients, put into a form so clear and convenient for the oral transmission from generation to generation, that no better can hardly be devised.
This treasure shows a great diversity in its content. Some of the proverbs are gnomic, containing rules of manners and wisdom. Some have indeed wished to separate these from the proverbs, and to call them thought, but on rather arbitrary and untenable grounds; and the boundary where the proverbs should end and the thought begin would be quite impossible to determine. In my opinion, they belong together. Another part consists of folk-pigrams, often rather unpolished, but apt and odd, cheerful and wise remarks. Another large part of our oldest and best proverbs contains remarks on natural conditions, which were applied to social and moral life. The wittiest thus usually have a figurative meaning. When there was no printed art, the great book of nature was studied diligently and the lessons learned from it applied to other conditions. The meaning thus often becomes ambiguous or even ambiguous, and approaches the riddle which was likewise much beloved by the ancients. But usually the old proverbs, with all their ingenuity, are simple, and for this very reason they have been able to have the same value and validity for all classes of society. Nor does the image, the simile, exclude simplicity, even if it sometimes calls for reflection, for the profound contemplation which distinguished the ancient, non-book-learners. It is an old proposition that the truly great is always simple, and it should be carefully noted that from ancient times, the age of simplicity and frivolity, we have some of the finest, most profound poetry we possess, such as the poetic Edda. And someone has rightly reminded us that this simplicity should be a lesson for our time, that simplicity in speech and writing is always a great virtue for all those who have to do with the general public.
Proverbs speaks of life's happiness and misery, sorrow and joy, wealth and poverty, honour and shame, ugliness and ugliness, strength and weakness, greatness and smallness. They comfort and lament, mock and praise, joke and speak with poignant seriousness. And when they do not use figurative language, they say everything plainly and freely, and call everything by its proper name.
It would be too much to quote all the various definitions which one or another foreign writer (for we have no Swedes who have dealt with this) has made of the proverbs, beginning with 30 the old ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM, who says of them: "paræmia est celebre dictum scita quapiam novitate insigne" or: the proverb is a well-known or commonly used proposition expressed in a familiar form, and an old English writer (JAC. HOWEL), who says that the proverb shall have "sense, brevity and salt" (meaning, brevity and salt). Combining brevity with completeness, the proverb may best be defined as: a pithy sentence, a lesson or phrase of experience, expressed in few words and set in a certain melodious style, so as to be easily learned and remembered, and which has lived or lives on the lips of the people. A good proverb thus has both a remarkable meaning and a melodious rhythmic form. In general, the lessons they contain are spiced with a certain naive humour, which is well expressed by this proverb:
Allvar and the vulture coincide well,
which might conveniently be placed as a motto over any collection of proverbs. For scarcely anything else so well and sensibly describes both the peculiarity of the Nordic proverbs and the temperament of the Nordic people. The harmless joke, the fine irony, the odd biting satire, the ingenious form, and the "on the nail" accuracy of meaning and expression, together with the often profound seriousness, give the proverbs their character. In this they "fall together". Seriousness is often hidden under the cloak of jokes, and truth under that of playful wit.
Nordbon loved alliterations or alphabet, both in proverb and song, and the former are sometimes borrowings from old songs or have passed into song. The same consonant would, in fact, recur two or three times at the beginning of the most important words, or vowels, but preferably different ones, either at the beginning or within the words, could do the same service as two or three equal initial consonants. For example.
Never they die over death.
The grass grows which is fenced.
Old synd makes new scame.
God gives birth bin and björnar (friends and enemies).
Högt in hor are hala stairs.
Scomb and sbe followed.
Stora thing stoffee begins smeasurements.
Rarely ryct without rot.
The aldrig does hela does sällan väl.
Sometimes the movement was divided into two sections, each with its own alliteration, such as:
It shall vAachen vmacaw, which gods shall gsore (l. win).
Fon words and flovely are better than msteam and mlovely.
When dyears dömer, sheep sthank you scomb (the innocent may suffer).
Sometimes the literal rhymes or alliterations, as well as winding around each other, e.g.
Mto gör mans geration.
When äthe world is god, is allting godt.
Where snar that tand sone that tala.
Sjelevenve rifvas ulfva, då de ej hafva kalfva.
Often there is treefafterendis andhe rifven cloak.
Sometimes there are both literal rhymes and final rhymes - full rhymes or half-rhymes - in which case the form of the proverb may be considered the most perfect, or at least the most artistic. Thus the proverb taken from the Konunga and Höfdinga Board:
The with synd comes with sorg forgoes to;
The rightful estate with the honour beis; - and these :
Countrysense seder, countrysense honor.
Periat lasting, lasta sparse.
Hand hand washing, stone stone smoothing,
Good pay heavy work eases.
The bland bcountry trot blir äten of pigs;
The bland bcountry gold blir lagder in shrine;
and the beautiful:
Gwool prof in glfate, vånneprof i nfate.
Often both the letter rhyme and the final rhyme are missing even in the older ones; but where the former is present, one can be fairly sure of their age.
A fairly large number of the proverbs contain direct rules of conduct, and it is easy to prove the assertion that hardly any country from its pagan antiquity has any more excellent gnomic poetry, wisdom of life in song and proverb, than that of the Scandinavian peoples. As the old songs are not now in question, I must forego the satisfaction of gathering from their rich store of wisdom proofs of this assumption. Instead, a few such rules, drawn from the proverbs, may be given at the outset, and we shall find more in the following.
Act each, let otherwise go.
Children should crawl until they can walk.
He who does not know how to obey cannot bid.
The dear one will have a sweet sound.
He that soundeth his corn in an evil mill, shall have it evil ground.
It shall tilt as the door flattens.
Whoever touches the joint will have unclean hands.
A bushel with a wait is not a handful of fish.
He does not go bad as can turn.
Every man's friend is every man's fool.
If you come to ulfva, howl like them.
Small tufts often tip over large loads.
Expect the best, but think of the worst.
These include, among others, those who urge wise restraint in their desires and aspirations, such as these:
Do not extend your foot further than the felling.
Little good is also to be highly valued.
What you cannot get is best to turn your back on;
and the paternal advice to the youth, who leaves home:
Be clean, be true, be not mean, and thou shalt be respected.
How highly the ancients valued knowledge and wisdom is shown by the words of Hávamal:
No better burden to carry on the road than knowledge;
and proverbs in a variety such as these:
Art and learning bring bread and glory.
Power and courage want to be accompanied by wisdom.
Learning increases manhood.
If you are rich enough.
How to tie your luck to the wheel.
Art wins power. Art does not ask for bread, is more than property, does not fish in vain, etc.
Eloquence praise appears likewise, as the art of speaking and keeping silent at the right time inculcated.
Better is mulakring (eloquent) than snutfager.
He who does not know how to keep silent does not know how to speak.
He who says what he wants is often told what he does not want.
Frontline makes post-selection.
Good words are better than gold.
Hide your tongue well, and you will hide your friend.
Myndig is not multilingual.
To speak is silver, to keep silent is gold.
Silence and thinking no man can offend.
Wisdom has long ears and a poor tongue.
To mercy and leniency of judgement mana proverbs such as these:
Thou art well acquainted with thy neighbour's sin, if thou wilt not know thine own.
The one who wants to punish me and mine,
he went first to his house and his;
he finds nothing wrong with himself,
come again and punish me.
In the proverbs the people's sense of justice is judged, and there is no vice that is not scourged in them, no virtue that is not exalted. Virtue generally praised in the following and the like:
Virtue makes noble.
Virtue overcomes vanity.
Virtue and manhood have full estate.
The wood of the yawn bears fruit.
Dygderik is more than rich.
Little power is about the honor no virtue follows.
Site boast and stortalighet, sjelfberöm and high-rise punished without mercy. For the Most High preach the proverbs:
All pride has a bad end.
Virtue and pride are not defiled.
He does not pretend to be the ear of the sow -
it is said of the despicable, who exalts himself. And of him who cannot bear his exaltation:
No rascal cut so sharply as the farmer, when he was lord; and: when the toad comes to rule, he knows no restraint.
Strong bones will carry good days.
Funny and inappropriate decorations and pral, under which, however, the crudeness always sticks out, is hostage in the language:
Close as a gate, there pigs crawl out and in.
Purging without modesty gets no praise.
Purgation without discipline is like rose without smell,
it is said; and that beauty, unfortunately, is sometimes no stranger to the falsehood, recalls a proverb which is already quoted as old towards the end of the 12th century:
Falsehood is often under fair hair.
an ornament, which our ancestors valued quite highly.
The boast humiliated by the proverbs:
Your own praise is wicked.
He strikes great nails of small iron.
He's rich at home, but doesn't know where he lives
Big words do not fill the sack.
Big words and saving hearts.
Great words and small power have the evil one brought together.
If a noble pride speaks against the often recurring in fairy tales:
Worse is spit than harm.
But there is also no lack of promise for the humble, such as this:
Humble service gets high pay.
Others warn of dangers of gravitye.g.
The higher the cold, the greater the fall.
Governing is shining servitude.
The flatterer and false met by the proverbs:
A heald has a silk tongue, but blag yarn behind.
A coloured lie is like the truth.
Cunning is seldom rewarded, for falsehood strikes its master on the neck; etc.
On the other hand truth and readiness, discipline, honor, honesty and sincerity in the beautiful proverbs:
Man's word man's honour
Rather from your earth than from your word.
But that in this respect, too, we have had a time of deep decay in certain classes, is shown by the plaintive language of the Middle Ages:
Deceit and betrayal are now the work of the country.
Gratitude is inculcated, among others, in the following :
Thankless deeds are always heavy,
Honor the tree you shade.
About the ungrateful is called:
Give birth to the cay, she'll give you scum for wages.
To patience under oppression and hardships maneuver among others these:
Never is the day so long, that not evening comes once.
Biting and suffering satisfies many a pang.
Caution is a prominent feature of the Nordic national character, never the cowardly, but the thoughtful, parading with the courage to clock mandome; and he who once takes it upon himself to arrange our proverbs in a system, may include a long chapter in the verse, and in it he may place Odin's words of wisdom first:
Oklok man thinks all are friends who smile at him. To one you confide, not to another; the world knows what three know.
A fractional purchase is a repentance purchase.
Thou shalt not smoke with thy bailiff and thy priest.
If you go dancing, make sure who you shake hands with.
Hasty advice has regret in its wake.
Small grand often plays good eye.
One does not put out the ugly water before one has got it clean.
Forests have ears, lands have eyes, etc.
Others reminded of the danger of credulity, e.g.
Lofs visa is often qväden.
Sweet song fools fogel mång.
Sight is better than fiction.
Once fooled is no shame, it's worse when there are two.
But it is also called:
First you should doubt and then you should believe;
a witty reminder that prudent doubt would be a virtue, but not a partisan and obstinate perpetuation of doubts, after proof of their invalidity.
About that "appearances deceive" recalled several, such as:
Deep streams run silent.
Don't judge a dog by its hair.
The snake is often under flowering shrubs.
Often, scarlet heart (the most excellent) is under the cape of a whale.
Not all gold is glittering, not all ivory is white;
which last already in the 12th century was cited as an old proverb.
The old familiar language warns of the unreliability of friendship:
As my barrel flowed, I felt both woman and man;
When she turned again to flow, I felt neither man nor woman.
Many friends, when least crowded;
and a mark of change in a friendship pronounces the fine note:
Grey is between friends, when gifts count.
These sentences also testify to a true appreciation of the importance of friendship:
Better wounded by your friend than kissed by your enemy.
Better few friends safe than many who go to the back
A clear contrast between the folk song of the north and the south of the Baltic Sea show the song and the proverb of beverage science and fråsseri. The German praises and the Northman laughs at these vices, though the latter also sometimes speaks of "deceit in drinking"; but it is not moderation and restraint, but betrayed, as he rebukes. It is also almost the only Swedish proverb, which could be traced from older times and interpreted as a praise of drunkenness. The ancient Swedish folk poetry says:
No worse road food one has on the journey than drinking a lot. -
The heresy of forgetfulness rests on the intoxication.
Catch both of you, but drink to court.
The herdsmen know when to go home and then leave the bait;
but if you don't know the target of your stomach.
It shall live soberly as counsel shall direct.
He that will live long and well, let him eat and drink with reason.
Where the oil goes in, the fat goes out.
Drinkers become mutilators.
Dream and drunk man's words are equal
One shall feed, but not fatten.
Printing wise, sober is crazy.
Print in the evening like a bear, in the morning like a shot eagle.
Beer and wine often turn people into pigs.
A medieval proverb says well:
It is good to have plenty of food and many holidays;
but apparently only on the spit of the quiver and the relief.
In the genuine German folk-songs and proverbs, on the other hand, one may long search in vain for any praise of moderation and order, but instead one comes across everywhere lewd "schlemmerlieder," drunk in form and content, so that, if one were to judge by them alone, one would easily believe that the Germans were the lewdest people in the world. Drinking is portrayed as the best work, the clinking of glasses is the sweetest music, the deep cellar is praised as the mine from which gold is willingly brought forth, melted and ready from the ore-pit, and the fight with the cup is the noblest joust, in which the drunkest remains victorious as the winner.
An equal contrast takes place between the German and the Swedish proverbs about waste and thrift. The Swedish proverbs say:
Anything too round will make the mixture thin.
It is better to save from the brim than from the bottom.
He that saveth not the penny shall not have the penny.
He who sows money reaps poverty.
He has a hot belly that melts stone houses.
Destiny makes destiny.
Abundance makes famine.
The same is the case with the proverbs of poverty and wealth. The Swedish speak mainly about Satisfaction without envy, e.g.
It does not cry gold that gold does not own.
The millstone also grinds that lies beneath.
If nothing flows, nothing drips.
He is not poor who rules over his own.
If you don't have ship numbers, you have spoon numbers.
The hen lives by her collar as well as the bear by his prey.
Little (evil) is not good, until worse comes.
A little can be enough, and a lot - too little.
Small clouds also bring rain.
Much is the food in God's cellar.
Rich enough to be happy.
Wealth has heart, - or - makes worry.
A sad lament is well contained in these:
The words of the rich are the words of Solomon,
the poor speech gets no thanks.
When the rich man falls, every man gathers to his grave;
when the arm is removed, hardly one comes for the gate;
but such are not many. But if the contentment with the little is emphasized in the Swedish proverbs, one will search in vain among them for any praise of begging, which one finds on the contrary in an immense number of German and other foreign proverbs. The German collections swarm with cheerful, humorous and sentimental language and verses at the price of poverty and begging. Hardly on anything have the German people used more "spirit" and "wit" than on the praise of poverty and beggary. In excessive beggarly bliss they praise the house, which is empty on the outside and empty on the inside, one half of which belongs to the Jew and the other to the pawnbroker, whose only pets are all kinds of vermin, for even the rats have long since been driven away by hunger. When the mischief-maker rises, all the goods of the city move. He may have a money-chest, but he has lost the key. He is rich at home, but his goods are in the moon. At his wedding, poverty was the order of the day. Poverty is represented as the father of sharp heads and all arts; it has won all cities, it is good for many things, even against pawns; but wealth is represented as the mother of stupidity, and the best food is - "given gut". "Begging is an order," it is said, "in which some have become masters." "Many trades: begging the best." "The begging stick nourishes, the book stick consumes," etc. Begging is also called "the golden lazy craft".
In close connection with this praise of poverty and debauchery at the cup by German proverbs and, above all, by German folk poetry, stands the light-hearted humour, which therein equally often speaks; and this context is given in the words, "Der faulenz und der lüderli sind zwei gleiche bruderli." The bliss of begging and the bliss of idleness go hand in hand with each other. The labourer shall have one loaf, the lazy shall have two.
"He who rises early, vi el verthut;
"He who sleeps long is in God's keeping."
"Every farmer must have his rest,
God the Father in heaven rests himself to it."
Mrs. Ludelei does not spin, because she has no coat, and when she gets one, she does not spin at all.
The German peasant, like the common peasant, works in no great hurry, walking slowly to and from work. He also says: "Nur langsam voran! Eile mit weile! Schnell spiel übersieht viel."
Yet in the German collections there is no lack of proverbs which call for work and speak of its blessing.
Among our proverbs, on the other hand, the part that deals with work and the price of speed, a really well-filled horn of plenty, so to speak, and the example of beautiful and powerful language only makes one doubt the choice. A few examples from the crowd:
Work and toil are daily food and nourishment.
It shall do good as good wills to do.
Flit breaks mountains.
Speed wins all.
A fresh start - or a good start - is half the battle.
Where to find your successful blacksmith.
No one is crowned above.
Enjoy the wind, while it blows.
Opposite about the latitude:
Always the earth is frozen for lazy pigs.
The lazy man's prayer is rarely heard.
Later man is living dead.
Sloth is the eagle song of the wicked.
Rarely does a lying wolf get a lamb.
But the proverbs not only call hard for work, but also contain work ethic and workplace safety. So, for example, the old language:
The morning has gold in its mouth (= hand),
which is also found in Icelandic, and:
The first fogel gets the first grain.
The latecomer gets a bad seat.
Sometimes turn and sometimes run.
Wait does not come goods in purse.
About diversity it says:
He who has many irons in the fire gets something burnt.
The many handicrafts drifters become beggars eventually.
Fourteen offices fifteen accidents.
The Persistence importance is emphasised in the old translation of a well-known Latin phrase:
The drop nips the stone, more with time than with haste.
About the slow it says:
It suffers as it progresses.
It also comes forth as the oxen drive.
Slow weather also brings ships into port.
With fresh confidence in our own strength, our proverbs combine a devout trust in God's help. This is expressed most briefly and forcefully with the two words: Pray and workwhich should be placed at the head of every book on economics. Only in the firm trust in the only powerful and mighty Shepherd does the work receive its proper force. This old proposition was expressed by our ancestors in many ways, e.g.:
Diligent prayer does half the work.
God does give the ox, but not with a reins on the horns.
Help yourself, and God will help you.
Move hand and foot, and God will help you.
The many that must be bypassed may be replaced by the best of all working languages:
We will work as if we would live forever, and live as if we would die tomorrow.
But if the work of the proverbs becomes glorious, then the snow the winnings, the unjust collection and greed sharply rebuked. The necessity of life is simply called bread, about which we also pray in the "Our Father". There is a deep meaning in the use of this modest expression "our bread" for all that we strive, work for, and this symbolism of bread implies a profound sermon on contentment. Greed, too, has received in the mouth of the people several rather ugly names and promises. Greed, say the proverbs, is dirty, begets blind children, is a bottomless pit, is always as barren as the water-cress. What is saved for our Lord the wicked takes away. To the covetous all things are fallen, but his soul is fallen. He is no good, but he is worst to himself. Poison Mitigation on the other hand, is exalted and praised.
Almsgiving diminishes nothing, churchgoing hinders nothing.
Always perish what you deny your friends.
Happy and poisonous wherever you are.
That our ancestors put piety and fear of God high, can be seen not only from several of the proverbs already quoted, but also from several others:
Prayer and faith get ox and cow.
Piety gets fuller bread.
Piety despises no one.
In a people so brave as our ancestors, so fond of danger and manly sport, one might expect that mandomens and fashion, the price of bards and battles would not be forgotten in proverb and song. In the former it is said, among other things:
The scared is drag armor on.
The brave always find a weapon.
Bold man has happiness in tow.
Dàdan and hwadhan come hwar ofegher. (From both the one and the other battle the brave one comes back.)
Healthy courage is good courage.
Good courage is half life.
The more one, the more happiness.
Shame is the beard of a man.
Courage in the bosom and strength in the arm are good companions.
From the healthy fashion and the male essence was joy in the lightning inseparable. Proverbs says:
Cheerful courage gives blood to Sundan.
Jokes in time are well worth suffering, etc.
Mannamodet in Värend showed itself, as is known, quite often in bloody fights, and it is characteristic enough what is told by a couple of authors, that when someone came from a feast, he was first asked, if the guests were good funny, and if they slogos. If they did not fight, the questioner usually said, "Shame on the feast!"
The love of freedom and justice, innate in the Northerner, is of course not lacking in proverbs either. "Freedom is the best thing that can be sought all around", said and sang the whole Swedish people with and after the venerable Bishop Thomas, from their innermost hearts. And in the universal "proverbs" it said:
The free are born, bondage is difficult.
Freedom heals all harm.
Freedom comes before money.
The unlawful attaches him unlawfully.
Will is not the law of the land.
In this way one could go through the list of all possible moral and social virtues, and always find among the proverbs some which directly or indirectly called for it - no one is forgotten.
The old ones conservatism pronounced in several proverbs :
You have to land liua as ther er sedher.
You shall follow the custom of the land or flee the land.
Strange clothes, strange plagues.
The new is good, the old is best.
New shoes are good, but the old ones sit best on the foot.
As for other living conditions, there are also education and marriage good rules in the proverbs:
Children do this in the village as well as at home won.
Better wood that bends than wood that breaks.
The agaless lives he dies without honor.
They shall chasten an evil child that it be good, and a good child that it be not evil.
Virtue and learning bring bread and honour.
It's good to be subservient to your wife.
About oral quickness, constipation and nastiness pronounced more bitter experience sentences:
Angry woman and sour eye, the older the more sour.
Onions, smoke and evil women make the farmer's eyes water.
One treats a wild animal tamely, but not an evil woman.
Easterly weather and quinquennial rains begin with storms and end with wet weather.
And if wife's instability said that
Female love is a commodity.
But for the scale to weigh reasonably well, the proverbs also have many beautiful statements to praise of women.
From wife good medicine.
Skillful woman makes man long life.
The bench is well swathed, on which good women sit, etc.
About a man who is "under the slipper" joked the proverbs:
He advises no more than to drive the dog out and go after it himself.
The household is not without a quail, where the cock cackles and the hen cackles.
About inappropriate marriages it says:
Different island make crooked furrows.
When old giga gets new strings, she squeaks along.
A good warning for peasants and food mothers lies in the language of thought:
Suspicious master makes unfaithful servants.
About plumphet and incompetence in manners say the proverbs jokingly:
He sends himself like a cow in knee pads, or: he fell with the door into the house.
About fine neighbouring unit testifies against the provision:
The sorrow that sleeps shall not be awakened.
Divination, dream, wizardry and superstition is also expressed in the proverbs, e.g.:
The one who sneezes hard gets good skepno.
Rarely did the sparrow get a good end view.
He who is in pain on Sunday is in pain for a long time;
Which, however, also refers to unhappy marriages, as marriages are usually contracted on Sundays.
The chief occupations of the old Norse, battle, hunting and fished, have given rise to many proverbs besides those already mentioned, e.g.:
When the string is stiff, he breaks preferably.
Better one fogel in your hand than ten in the woods.
If you hunt two hares in a row, you often get none.
You don't take big fish in shallow water.
Price of the job and tadel occurs quite rarely in Swedish proverbs, as opposed to foreign ones.
The Swedish proverbs are likewise poor in local and provincial peculiarities, as well as in historical allusions. Some do preserve religious notions from the pagan period, from which Odin and Thor, goblins and giants still appear in the proverbs, as well as from the Middle Ages monks and monasteries, pilgrims and saints; but those still preserved are not many. Some recall the old statutes, the constitution of the state, etc. The memory of the peasants oppression under the lawless and violent regiments of the foreign princes and lords in the Middle Ages are preserved in a few, such as these:
Many are friends of the choir, the worst being the one who drives.
Now teams are at the end of the spear.
From small fish the pike becomes big.
When the will gets to play champion, the teams are biltog.
Woe to a woman the day she runs for a spear.
The old peasant feuds are mentioned in the following:
Better peasant peace than bourgeois war.
What great importance proverbs had in their time, even in legal respect, is best found by the old rules of judges and the national teams. The 16th of the Swedish judges' rules states that "allmennelige ordasederkas brukas för lagh." And the judges' rules themselves are to some old proverbs, which have passed into law, e.g.:
The ancient heir should have no choice.
No one may be a judge in his own right.
And the particularly beautiful rule, which is contained in our King's motto:
Land shall be built by law,
belongs to this class. Quite a large number of proverbs contain nicely said and nicely thought-out remarks, which cannot conveniently be attributed to any particular subject, e.g. the following:
He that is dead is alive.
It has few friends, who have many green graves.
No sorrow without a sister.
The clock has been dropped, when the overclock comes.
Small sorrows speak - great ones remain silent.
So is living as a farmer.
Thoughts do not come to things.
Other judgments, remarks and similes have their chief value by their humorous, often somewhat coarse-grained, always apt content, such as these:
Always dreaming about the trot.
Always the broken wheel creaks.
It hangs together like dry sand.
There is no hook to the pea tree.
The farmer complained: I get no more from the incense than the smoke - (about the dissatisfaction of ignorance and stupidity, which does not understand the finer pleasures).
As strong as a seven-year-old fox cub.
The girl's no is her yes.
The pot loaded the cauldron and said: 'See how black you are.
He has heard the bell, but does not know where she hangs (has a hum about).
Many wishes go into one long sack.
When the evil one preaches a sermon of passion, he is a bad believer.
When the load is overturned, you can see that it's badly run.
When the pigs are sheared (ad calendas græcas).
Ships that big must have sailed before, like a barge with gruel in it.
Some such humorous statements are quite ingenious and characteristic, such as containing an apparent contradiction, or two negations, which cancel each other out, whereby the meaning is thus expressed by a circuitous route, e.g.:
For unholy deeds, unborn children are fined.
The purse is empty, in which other people's money lie.
A special section of the proverbs are the so-called. ordstäfven, generally younger, and those who preferably at present recruit the proverb collections. They are denoted by the words "sa han" or "sa den or den". A few remain from the Middle Ages, among which the well-known, double alliterated:
'Brothers are poorest of all,' said the fox of the red dogs.
And of the younger ones:
"Oh, my God," said the man, who had travelled a mile.
Watch your feet, said the rooster who would dance with the horse.
It went as you see, said the lame to the blind.
It's coming up to Christmas, said the boy, who got rice on Christmas Eve.
It's the power that rules, said the boy, beating the cat.
'It is already a day too late,' said the widow, as the boy proposed to her at the grave-pool. (She had promised herself to the carpenter who made the coffin.)
There are many here, said the boy, looking into the air.
Much of the mouth and little of the wool, said the man who sheared the sow. The name shames no one, said the man, when they called him thief.
If, by these hints about the meaning of Swedish proverbs, I have succeeded in arousing the interest of some in their collection and arrangement, my purpose will have been achieved. Much could have been added, but time does not permit it.
And now, in conclusion, I may humbly thank you for the attention which has been paid to my modest lecture, and I only regret that the first half of the following proverb is not as applicable to it as the last half. It reads as follows:
That song is well sung, that is well heard.
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