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“No one goes out on St. Stephen's-day in England, Madame. They have no holidays in England. We do not mind the saints' days here in Sweden, either. Nay, that we do not now do. But we have holidays. You do not mind the saints in England, no more than we do; but you have no holidays, either. We have holidays, but not for the saints."

I brought my Prayer-book, and showed her all the saints' days, and the service for them.

The old lady smiled from ear to ear, threw back her head, and looking at me with a face that spoke a whole library of ecclesiastical knowledge, replied

“Yes, yes, Madame, I know all that– I know it is there; but I know also that in England no one minds the Prayer-book !"

Then, in a lower tone, she relates to the lady beside her the source of her information, from which I gather that one of her many relations married an Englishwoman.

“But I was obliged to break through my national custom of seclusion on St. Stephen'sday,” I rejoined, “for I went to see a wedding, in the old-fashioned style.”

“Ja-so!” cried out half-a-dozen voices in

musical echo, and tones of surprise. And thus did I explain that I did not go out on St. Stephen’s-day in Sweden, merely because all the world there does so.

154

CHAPTER VIII.

The last day of the year. This day my heart must dwell with itself. How solemnly, at each returning midnight of the expiring year, sounds to our souls the warning words—the end of all things is at hand! But the bells in England that toll out the old, ring in the new; the voice that says the king is dead cries joyfully—long live the king! To-night there is solemnity, tomorrow there will be gratulations and joy.

In a few hours will—I was going to say dawn, but at least will commence, the first new year's day I ever spent in a foreign land alone. It was there my sister sent me, by post, the thoughts I

copy here.

Once! is a magic word

To wake a train of thought;
To bid the past survive again,

The present be forgot.

Once! tells us we were blest,

But turns that bliss to pain,
Recalls the friends we once possest,

The hopes we nursed in vain.

Once! tells us time has flown,

And much with it has fled.
Once ! speaks of all we've loved, or known,

The absent, changed, and dead !

Once ! bids us to be wise,

And earthly dreams renounce,
Since all that here can charm our eyes,

Has charmed, and cheated—Once!

The lines are simple; but so true. And the magic of the word “Once” would carry me I know not whither out of Sweden at all events.

Why is it that the past, and not the future, the mighty future, occupies our thoughts and hearts when this finishing epoch of our shortening course comes round with all its memories of other times and other scenes, to fill them with human sadness ?

And at this moment how much more importunate

is the memory of the past than the thought of the future!. When we spend the last night of the finishing year alone, at a distance from all we have loved, from the very places we have known, the heart is oppressed almost to anguish by the recollection that what has been, can be, for us, no

more.

At such a moment some sentiment once heard, some anecdote little thought of at the instant, often recurs to the mind and brings it relief. Such is now my case. I recollect a lady I lately met at the house of Professor Retzius.

She had lost all her relatives; she was alone; suffering in mind, body, and estate. Her health failed with her spirits, and she went to consult a doctor. What do you think was the doctor's prescription? Oh! that in England, in London, with its vast and heavy mass of sin, want, and misery, we had a few such prescriptions given and followed! The doctor advised his patient to go out among

the

poor, the afflicted, the sick, and to labour for the good of her fellow sufferers. She followed the prescription. Her countenance is now calm, her manner cheerful : she has used no other prescription, she consults no earthly doctor now; but the Good Physician is with her always,

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