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Many of these poor girls are, unhappily, miserably paid; two, or at most three pounds a year being the rate of wages.
The best-looking get places at restaurants or inns. It is a painful subject, and I must leave it here. My own smart little attendant, when I alluded to it, said
Yes, that is true; the girls at Stockholm are not good. That is the reason why I came to take service here. Families do not like to take them.”
Ah Karin ! many of those poor girls may have come to Stockholm quite as confident in their own superior virtue and goodness as you now are !
An Irish gentleman married a nice young woman who was servant at a restaurant here; she has made him a good wife, as he has made her a happy one; and on meeting a countryman of hers lately, in England, she said to him,
“Ah! sir, God has been a good help to me.”
Those who forsake not God, God will not forsake, in any trial, any temptation, though the furnace be heated seven times more than it is wont to be heated for others.
The love of pleasure pervades all classes here; and what is singular is that it seems the same sort of thing in all; the channels in which it flows are
not so opposite as in London. Country excursions, with little repasts at the inns or restaurants ; dancing everywhere and on every occasion; the lesser theatres and the opera when it can be had; fancy balls, and, in a quieter way, what are called coffee drinkings--are among the chief amusements, and are eagerly followed by all. Family life in Sweden is more diversified than with us; the uniformity of our domestic evenings would be intolerable to people so addicted to amusement, especially as they are by no means a reading people. Every-day life here has perhaps a blending of the French and German, with a much stronger tendency to the latter. Their desire to resemble the French is rather an affectation than a reality; in frivolity and apparent levity they may sometimes appear to do so, but there is an essential seriousness in their character, and in their aspects, a heaviness, also, in general in their persons,
which render their hilarity entirely national, and by no means like French vivacity.
Thus some Frenchman tells of a Swede who went to Paris, and fell in love with his landlady, who objected to him on the score of his not being lively (vif) like her own countrymen. One day she was alarmed by a most terrible noise overhead
in the good Swede's room, and rushing there in fear that the floor would give way, she found all the chairs laid down in a row on the ground, and her lover leaping over them in rapid succession. That he had lost his senses the Frenchwoman was sure, but in answer to her terrified exclamation, he replied,
“I am making myself lively.”
I do not know whether a facility in obtaining diyorce renders married life more generally tranquil or not; it does not seem to render matrimony a less serious affair than it is with us. Men usually marry late in life, chiefly because they have not the means of marrying early.; it is by no means uncommon to hear a man of forty, or even more, speak of marriage as of what he might, some bright day, begin to think about. Women, on the contrary, marry young; that is to say, when they do marry, for unless they have money, or some other equally great attraction, they, like women elsewhere, often do not marry at all. The number of elderly Frökens—that is, noble old maids, is quite endless.
Divorce can be obtained on mutual agreement, but the king must sanction it. If tempers
do not agree; if one of a couple becomes mad, or commits a crime, a divorce is given without hesitation; if one half chooses to go away, and not let the other half know where it is for a whole year-provided it is not known to have gone to sea—the two who were made one can be made two again. In fact it would be almost worth while to be married in Sweden to prove how very easily one can be divorced. The rage for titles, which pervades all classes, and is one of the most ludicrous features of Swedish society, has some influence in matrimonial alliances. To marry a man with any sort of title is something; and the merchants and shopkeepers of the capital have not unfrequently injured themselves by giving their money with their daughters to some penniless officer or impoverished noble, whose debts have been confessed to, and paid by the much honoured father-in-law; to deceive whom by concealing debts would be deemed very bad.
The Swedish nobility is a strange sort of thing. I was talking of it the other day with a singular sort of being, a man of literature, who is, I believe, a favourite at Court. I remarked that the aristocracy of England was the first in the world.
“ It is not the first," he said ; “it is the only nobility in the world.”
I bowed, of course, well pleased, but said, “What, then, do you call the nobility of Sweden ?"
“The nobility of Sweden,” said he, “is a Lik.”
As he spoke a sort of English, only introducing the last word, I repeated this Swedish term, “lik,” which is pronounced leek.
“ A leek?” I said.
And so in three languages we seemed to reduce the nobility of Sweden to a dead body—a skeleton!
That it should be so large a class in so scanty a population is not surprising, when every son in a family takes the title, and transmits it again. With a few striking exceptions, it is the poorest class here; too proud to work, and too poor to live without working.
Nothing seems to astonish the good people about me so much as the notion of my not having a title. It is always the first thing to be ascertained before
you can venture to address any one. A good lady who had looked into an old English Peerage thought she had discovered mine, and