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I kept the door open to let the blaze fall over the room, to remind me of an English hearth, and I wheeled round an easy chair before it, and put my feet on a footstool, and placed the lamp on a table near it, and took a book, and said to myself “Now I will fancy I am in England, and I will enjoy my quiet evening :” and just as I had so arranged myself, there came a tapping on the door outside, and it was opened ; and I heard some one ask for the "English Fruntimmer." I looked out through a little bit of my door, and saw sundry cloaks, and muffles, and goloshes coming off outside it; and then the door opened, and I saw a Swede (one who has been very active in advancing the industrial interests of his country) enter my English-arranged apartment. Herr Hjerta is known to England as well as to Sweden as one whose active exertions in the promotion of industry, have not only been beneficial to himself, but to his country people, especially to the poor and needy among them.
“I find from your note," he said, "that you wish to make yourself acquainted with what is going on in our poor country; it is very little in comparison with yours; but, since you are so
good as to take an interest in it, I shall be very happy to show you our factories, if you will do me the honour to come out to my house."
I never had any introduction or recommendation to this gentleman, and therefore his kindness pleased me the more. It was settled that he should come for me with a sledge at four o'clock the next afternoon. That afternoon came; clear, bright, beautiful, but intensely cold. A covered sledge, with a fine pair of horses, drove up to the door. An Englishman, myself, and Herr Hjerta set off together.
The scenery was charming. We drove by the heights of Södermaln, till we came to a place which I had last seen in all the rich and scarcely faded garniture of autumn, when I had come this way, chiefly by water, and sailed over the lovely Lake Necka. Now, how different, how vast, everything appeared! The clear atmosphere, the white uniform surface, made the distance appear so much greater. But where was the lake the clear, deep lake I had sailed over? The scenery looked like that around it; but we drove over a level surface, only broken by heaps of frozen snow; and at either side of this
white plain, the ground rose shelving up, and villages and cottages and pretty wooden houses were
"But where is the lake?" I asked. “You are on it," was the answer. “On it !” I cried, looking out of the window.
A pair of horses and a heavy sledge were driving over the lake, their bells tinkling pleasantly in the stilly air. But that was all safe; and we reached the end of our drive; and afterwards came to Herr Hjerta's handsome and comfortable house, and took coffee, and went out to see his manufactories. First we entered the silk factory: here there are both hand and steam looms, and though the Swedes have not as yet attained to perfection in the art of silk weaving, it is impossible not to wish well to the infant efforts, and to desire that the obstructions, which appear to exist in the way of their improvement, were removed. Herr Hjerta is foremost in the little band of his countrymen who have zealously striven to promote the manufacturing industry of Sweden.
He gives employment in various ways to, I think, five or six hundred persons, mostly women; I saw comparatively few men at work. The cheerful, happy, healthful look of most of these, especially the
young ones, struck me as being so unlike the over-worked, faded, almost hopeless expression one sees among a similar class, not in England alone, but in France, at Lyons and other great manufacturing towns. The silks are mostly of a very common and cheap description, but a species of damask made for furniture covering and hangings, is really good and handsome. The hand-loom weaving interested me; after the speed and clang of steam-machinery, one seemed to go back to a distant age on entering a room where a number of women were laboriously employed with the same sort of looms as they now constantly use in the country houses in Sweden. The introduction of power-looms, which is now taking place, will possibly deprive the poor industrious country people of one means of support; for the immensely strong linens and slight flannels, the weaving of which affords them employment during their long dreary winters, and which are carried about for sale, will soon be superseded here as they have been in England and Ireland. Sweden, however, appears to have other resources for its scanty population; agriculture is still in a backward state, and under the present system it is clear that manufactures have made little progress.
From the silk factories we had a charming walk to see a new branch of industry, which Herr Hjerta introduced to Sweden; the manufacture of what we call composite candles. I never can forget the sky-scene I saw on that evening! The red clear light, which the departure of the sun leaves on fine afternoons on this northern sky, had nearly faded away; the moon was rising curiously beautiful, and the horizon presented a most singular and interesting aspect. I was at first certain that it was at the sea I looked, whose light green surface seemed studded with rocks, encircled by a lighter coloured vapour : and through the various hues the moonlight was stealing and varying them more and more; the undulating, extensive, and picturesque landscape was one vast sheet of frozen snow; the path we trod, bordered by fine trees, ascended to a height, and below us lay the bed of the icy lake, on whose high banks leafless trees and little snug-looking red wooden houses were interspersed with masses of grotesquely shaped rocks, the forms of which, in their deep snowy covering, and in the clear yet shadowy light, looked more grotesque still.
So we came on to the lake again, and crossing a part of it on foot, entered the candle manufac