Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/468

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whole community, is made unpopular by a charge extorted from the persons whose ready and voluntary acceptance of the service is the object desired. They argue that the state, as a whole, is bound to secure to all its citizens the opportunity of acquiring at least the elementary knowledge which is requisite for its security and general well-being, and that it is the function of the state to offer this instruction free of charge before it attempts to compel any individual to avail himself of it. They attribute the almost universal prevalence of primary instruction in their country to the existence of these free schools, and point to their wide popularity as sufficient evidence of the fallacy of the proposition, so often taken for granted in England, that the poor do not value education which is paid for out of the general taxation of the community.

Steamers leave Stockholm for Haparanda, at the head of the gulf of Bothnia, two or three times a week, calling on the way at the ports on the west coast. Against a head-wind these boats roll and pitch in an extremely provoking fashion; but, during the summer months, the voyage is generally a smooth one. The boats carry stores to the towns on the route, and bring back tar, which, with wood, and iron from the mines of the great Gellivara Company—now the sole property of an English merchant—constitute the chief trade of the gulf. The coast navigation is extremely intricate and difficult, the steamer winding its way for hours through the fiords and among innumerable rocky islets. On one occasion we bumped over a sunken rock, and, if one may judge by the composure of the captain, this must be no infrequent occurrence, though it smashed all the crockery laid out in the saloon and greatly alarmed the passengers. At night, and on the occasion of a fog, progress is impossible, and the steamer is brought-to and anchored till daylight or clear weather.

Our destination was Luleä, which is reached in about seventy-two hours from Stockholm, and is a town of some 2,000 inhabitants, situated at the mouth of the great river of the same name. The harbor, after the difficulties of the entrance are surmounted, is a fine one, and many English and other ships lie here, loading timber; it is floated down the river from the forests, and cut into planks or made up into frames for doors and windows at the saw-mills in the town and neighborhood.

The houses are almost entirely built of wood, and are in many cases shops and warehouses, as well as dwelling-houses, although there is little display of goods in the windows. There is a large school, attended by the youths from all the surrounding district, as well as by those resident in the town itself. Luleä is the seat of the government of the province of Norbotten, which includes the whole of Lapland, and has a population of 80,000, scattered over 1,932 square miles of country. The governor, who has no sinecure, being required to visit personally his immense district several times a year,