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its myriads of great stars beneath the flood. And there, moored at the side of that water, in front of the noble palace, the tall, bare masts of ships, laid
up for the winter, look like leafless trees in the snowy scene and clear starlight. Everything is so clear, so distinct; all looks so large, so open, so white; the space one sees around is so great. The heights of Södor are studded with houses, climbing up them in a singular manner from the water's edge, till you mount, by a tremendous wooden staircase, a length that seems at all events equal to the height of St. Paul's, or wind round the carriage-way up that now unfashionable
quarter of the capital. And the long rows of sparkling windows are all glittering in light; house above house, light above light; up from the dark grouping of ships, and tall, sailless masts, and the first row of lights beyond them, up, and up, till a brighter blaze streams out at the summit from Mosebacken, or the Hill of Moses, by which reverend term is designated one of the many places of amusement for the Stockholmers. pass along the side of the palace, where the apartments of the Crown Prince seem in a blaze. The exotic plants in the windows are the only screen, and the sparkling chandeliers are for an instant
And so we
intercepted from our sight by a passing figure. There is the handsome youth himself, full of fun and frolic as usual; and his young wife, and the baby, and all the rest of them. The people of Sweden dearly love a glimpse of royalty, and they can have it very freely. We leave the water now,
and the water is the charm of Stockholm. We enter close, horribly-paved and usually dark and dirty streets. Now they are frozen and they are bright; all shops busy, all streets thronged; all people seem hastening eagerly homeward, yet still the throng is the same. We get to the Yule-market; it consists of booths, erected for the occasion, and filled mostly with plain and useful articles for simple households, and with a vast stock of religious and royal prints. I bought the whole of the handsome, amiable, and pleasing royal family of Sweden for about threepence English; and with them there was exhibited, naturally, the scene of that wonderful birth that was to be commemorated on the morrow.
A representation of “the holy child, Jesus”-as the beautiful expression of the little ones of Sweden usually is laid in the manger, is a favourite part of the ceremonies of Christmas Eve, especially among those who wish to combine with its plea
sures the religious instruction of children. This is sometimes represented in a room appropriated for the purpose ; and is calculated to impress a young
mind with some sacred ideas of a season too generally commemorated only in a worldly
In this market were many yule trees; but only the skeletons, as it were; a young fir tree set in a tub of earth, and left ready for dressing at home. There were also many yule candlesticks, little wooden chandeliers, covered with cut paper prettily ornamented, and holding about a dozen small tapers. These are for the children's tables, and are the children's delight. We went round and round, looking, examining, asking prices, but not buying. Nowhere was there incivility, urgency, or appearance of suspicion. The space occupied by this temporary market is small, and was densely crowded.
“What a good place this would be for London pickpockets,” I remarked. “Is that trade followed here."
“It has been known to happen,” my guide replied ; “but not on such an occasion as this. No; do not fear that any one would steal on JulAfton."
Indeed I had, even before this remark, thought more of the people than of the wares I saw in the yule market. The Swedes are the quietest people in public, or even out of doors, I ever yet saw; but here their quietness surpassed all I could have believed possible at such a season, and in such a scene.
Not only was there no boisterous or rude behaviour, no drunken or disorderly person to be seen, no policemen wending their way through the crowd, or appearing demurely unobservant of what was passing; but, while we felt the pressure of human bodies in the act of forcing our way or theirs, we scarcely heard a voice; I am sure we did not hear a laugh. My own seemed to electrify a few good people; in fact, if these persons, who were all of the lower orders, had assembled to buy mourning for a funeral, instead of presents for a festival, they could not have been more quiet and decorous; yet they were all hastening home to give vent to their hilarity—hilarity which, at home, is perhaps much greater than ours.
This outward appearance is to me the reat mystery of the nation; it may be the snow on the volcano, and it may be very delightful on public occasions, when contrasted with our
rude or indecorous behaviour; but how it is produced is the mystery. The Swedes, it is too well known, are the most unsober people in the world; next to Sweden comes religious Scotland, in the amount of ardent spirits consumed by the civilized race; yet, the number of drunken men seen in more sober England, would be fifty, at least, to one that would, I believe, be seen in Sweden. This evening I only saw one who had any appearance of being so. Nor is this the only mystery. They are not, statistics or other things say, a moral people, giving morality its common and limited acceptation; yet where, on this earth, is outward propriety more observed ? The streets of London would present more immorality in the space of one hour to a stranger, than those of Stockholm-and I have walked them at all hours—would present in perhaps half a year.
On this occasion, however, it really seemed to me as if this great Christian festival produced the effect it should do, in shedding forth a spirit of love, good-will, and generous feeling; no excitement, boisterous mirth, or selfish rudeness, such as we too often see in England on such occasions, were anywhere apparent. Now, then, must I hasten back, for my old Countess-house