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and the brightness of heaven is shed over the paleness of her earthly course.
Ladies in Stockholm, who are more inspired by religious feeling, now band themselves together, much as they latterly have sought to do in England under the title of Sisters; but they take no peculiar title here, and wear no distinctive dress. They have formed houses of reception for the sick and indigent, and act as nursing sisters, I believe, themselves.
I cannot here relieve my own sadness and solitude by sharing those of others; but how delightful is the thought that there is no solitude where the communion of saints may not be possessed; no sadness which “the shadow of the Cross" cannot render lighter !
That December night passed away, and 1851 mingled with the years that were.
At six o'clock on the first morning of 1852, I looked out of my window; and then, having thought of the friends I had living in the only way that might do them good; and having thought of the friends who should never more wish me a happy year on earth, in prayer that I might so
follow their good example as finally with them to be a partaker of life everlasting; I prepared to go out to the church, the lights of which were gleaming in a long line at the bottom of Carl Tretons Torg.
It is now half-past six o'clock on New Year's morning. My cloak, and bonnet, and long boots are put on, and—tell it not in the streets of Stockholm–I steal out alone, quite unattended, even by a lantern or a servant! In three hours' time the sun, if we have any to-day, may be expected to appear, and daylight to expel the present gloom; but Stockholm is economical in oil, and the street lamps are not lighted when the moon is expected to shine. When her large beautiful orb hangs suspended in the clear atmosphere, I admire exceedingly the economical principle; but when the queen of night is unable to fulfil the engagements made for her by the almanac, it is rather awkward to find her deputies also absent from their posts. It was now dark, at least darker than northern nights usually are, for the sky was laden with snow clouds; the cold was the most intense I had yet felt; the keen
wind made it almost intolerable; but lanterns, carried by servants, were moving, with ladies, to morning song at the most fashionable church, the brilliant lights from which guided me onward, for behind the headless but snow-covered trees there gleamed long straight lines of light where all else was dark; the snow was knee-deep at the sides of the streets, but as hard as iron underfoot on the ground. The coachmen, or rather the sledge drivers, wrapped in fur, walked with folded hands and faces buried in their great capes, beside their patient, drooping, evidently frozen horses. The crowd at the church was already nearly as great as on Christmas morn, but the number of children was far less. The piercing cold made me anxious to get in; but when I effected an entrance, the icy feel of the floor I stood on seemed to penetrate throughout my whole frame. The floor was a wooden one, too, but the Swedish churches are never warmed; they say they cannot be warmed. I suppose the difficulty is merely one of cost. The consequence is, that, unless on great occasions, or when a pet preacher is to be heard, they are left nearly empty in winter.
One Swede told me his life was too valuable to be thrown away by going to church.
When I got in, the priest, as every clergyman of this Lutheran land is called, even when conversing with him, was in the pulpit. New Year's Day being a holiday, he was attired in the full and gorgeous robes worn on particular occasions. The dress differs little from that used by the clergy of the Roman Church, except that it is more splendid than we ordinarily see among the latter. The cope, of rich crimson velvet, is nearly covered by an immense gold cross, which, when the priest officiates at the altar with his back to the people, is seen extending from his neck nearly to his feet, and from shoulder to shoulder. The Church of Sweden, however, is exclusively and even bitterly Protestant; so much so, that a Swede is exiled for ever from his country if he forsakes that faith. But they retain many of the old practices and opinions, together with the new ones, which assimilate more nearly to those of Presbyterianism. A Swedish church-yard is generally covered with rows of crosses, often only of wood, for no one thinks of being buried without a cross on the tomb. But morning-song is over; and I shall stay no longer to make remarks on the Swedish Church, for, as that good man said, my life is too valuable to be thrown away.
I returned to my solitary New-Year's morning breakfast. Well! I should have felt the silence more if I had been at home! There are no voices here to cry, A happy new-year!—there would not be the same voices to
it there. On my table lay a very large thin letter, with a very large coronetted seal. I opened it, and found it bore this date, written by a Swede in the English language.—“One day, in the year of revolutions generally.” By which I guessed that I was to understand that the letter was written on the first day of the year, which was to be one of general revolution. The writer was a politician, of the Court, or conservative party. This was his prediction for the opening year of 1852. It was verified only as regarded himself, poor fellow !--for it proved one of the last of earthly revolution to him. I have heard that he was accidentally killed in a shocking manner.
That kind brief note began, “I am desolated, Madame.”—These words made me smile then; but another cycle of time has gone away, and I look at that note and smile at it no more.
New Year's-day is the season for ceremonial visiting in Sweden; St. Stephen's-day, as I mentioned in my last, is devoted to friendly, family,