Изображения страниц

has a daughter to make dance. The tender anxieties connected with the last business are fully an equivalent for the excitement of the first. But, alas ! there is no provision made here for the poor ladies who are not in either category; they have nothing to do but to look on at this energetic dancing, till the eyes ache and the head grows dizzy. The amusement is not varied, and is exclusively for the benefit of the younger and gayer members of society. There is no resource. The noisy music of the orchestra is all you can hear; the whirling dancers, surrounded by papas and mammas and other lookers-on, are all you

You may sit in other rooms, certainly, and talk, if you can find any one to talk to; but the old men are at cards in an unapproachable apartment; the others, who do not dance, congregate by themselves in another.

There is no promenade, no music, no conversation—nothing, literally nothing, you can do but follow the excellent example of their Majesties of Sweden, who, knowing doubtless that this dancing tends much to the stability and strength of their kingdom, by contributing to unions among their subjects, sit with admirable patience and fortitude in their royal chairs, often looking at the

can see.

dancers from nine in the evening till two or three in the morning, excepting only from that period the time devoted to the work of supper-eating; for I think the Swedes may, with quite as much precision, be described as a nation of suppereaters, as the English were as one of shopkeepers.

The notion of coming away before supper appears to my hostess so semi-barbaric, that she is

nly assisted to a reason for my entertaining it by her son, who says the English do not eat suppers because they dine at night. This meal is always at eleven o'clock, and when there is a dull party, or nothing to follow it, the rush that is made from the house as soon as the supper is eaten, is really something like a significant hint to the entertainers. The society being not only small

, but also divided arbitrarily into classes, it follows that there is a great sameness in the company one meets, and the faces one sees, in each class; but by persons who, like myself, visit among all classes who will invite me—the King or any of his respectable subjects—a little more variety is attainable; although here, as well as at home, the tiresome custom prevails of just asking to meet you the

very persons you are meeting always, and can meet at any moment.

And when the reverse happens, they always say, with such a kindly commiserating tone—that it cannot be amusing to me to meet strangers :—just what I am here to do.

As there is a sameness in the company, there is also a very great sameness in the routine of spending time, even in those social parties which are not balls. There are some houses where one can spend an evening in an intellectual and pleasant manner; but these are few, and the great hindrance to anything of the kind seems to be the singular determination with which ages and sexes agree to separate in this country. The young people, to whom in the gay season all seems given up, are by themselves; the men rush into a separate room, and, if there is not dancing, sit at cards; and the "elderly ladies” are left to sit in state on the seat of honour, the sofa, and discuss a little matter of scandal, or confer on matters of other interest. For my part, what I enjoy most is the coming away from these winter parties, there is something so curious to a stranger in the scene and scenery.

Just come with me to one of these balls, for when


have been with me once you can fancy you have been with me for the last fifteen nights, during which I have most conscientiously gone out and come home again in the self-same manner, and spent the interval between going out and coming home in much the same way.

Klockan half to nine; Karin enters and says, Linquist is ready.” I come to the tambour, where stands Linquist and his lantern; he descends the cold staircase before me, holding the lantern so as to light my steps; if the stairs are very slippery, I take his arm. A covered sledge is at the door; he puts me in, mounts the box, and gives the orders. We enter a court, or stop at a door, where one or two hundred other vehicles are putting down their freights.

Linquist and his lantern approach me again: they conduct me up great stone stairs already marked by many feet, for every one who has mounted them has had a Linquist and a lantern. We enter a tambour, or cloak room, where many fair creatures in a chrysalis form are undergoing a transformation. Some have already cast off their swathings, and, starting out as full fledged butterflies, escape from the opposite door as I enter to submit myself to Linquist's operations, in the vain idea of coming out similarly beautified. Each fair

66 Ah! yes,


lady has her Linquist; and there is one young, pretty girl, leaning her back to the wall, while this indispensable footman is on his knees—how, think you, employed ?-well, he is pulling off her stockings ! Poor Fröken ! how shocked she was at my want of common decency in thinking of having a man to dress my hair ! says my hostess, “but it was only the woollen stockings you saw the man take off.”

Yes, certainly, that is true ;. for when the kneeling man had pulled off the worsted stockings, a pair of nice bloom-coloured silk ones appeared in their place. And there are a great many servants similarly engaged; and Linquist goes down on his knees and draws off my over boots-not stockings; and wants to put on my shoes, and takes off my cloak, and arranges my costume, and inquires from the servants of the house the hour of return; and then I disappear by one door and he by another.

There are no announcements, no names shouted from servant to servant; I go on in ignorance of where to come to. The host, glittering with orders, benevolence, and amity to all comers, receives me in the outer apartment, and—I speak of

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »