« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Church only giving her last service to those who have died in her communion, and accepted her former ministrations. What, then, can the Church of England say, in the presence of that of Sweden, in this one respect at least ? Nothing; but point to herself, her doctrines, and ritual; and say, “These are right, strict, and true; but the practice of those who profess to be my children is wrong. They have substituted a spurious charity for a strict obedience; a worldly expediency for a steadfast faith."
I am sure you will say I have written very stupidly, and not at all in my usual style; but remember, I am laid up with a nearly-broken limb, occupying myself with that most easilyfound employment-finding fault. So that whatever I have said that is either dull or erroneous, must be placed to the account of the awkward Englishman who let me drop out of the sledge; and I beg my good critics to be so kind as to do this.
I intended to stop with that last word; but I must add a few more about funeral and baptismal customs.
I could not at first understand good Herr L.,
when he complained to me, as widowers you know like to do, of all his sufferings for the death of his young wife. Such was his grief, he said, that he could scarcely endure to receive his company at the funeral.
« Receive?" I said.
“Yes, of course, that must be; we must have all our friends and entertain them.”
A short time afterwards, I had an opportunity of seeing the ceremonial that poor Herr L. complained of.
I was staying at La Croix's very excellent hotel on Brunkeborgs Torg, where I was asked to resign the large suite of handsome apartments I had the use of, as they were engaged for a funeral.
“A funeral ! has any one died in the house ?"
Nay, it was a rich citizen who was to have a great funeral, and his sons would receive at the hotel as they were more convenient. It was a mystery to me, and I watched its development. The rooms were festively adorned, precisely as for a ball, with plants and flowers and lights. The most varied and abundant refreshments were provided; soup, coffee, wine of all sorts; but the sort used, I believe, is the weak white German wine
used also at weddings; also bon-bons dressed up in second mourning, black and white; figures similarly arrayed, made of confectionary; ices, creams; in fact every nicety. Frue La Croix brought me into the room where all these good things were prepared, and showed me the trays of funeral bon-bons, and told me the guests would take some home to their children; and
gave me some,
which I have still, and made me drink a glass of sour wine; but, what was better, let me see the crowd of guests, who were eating, drinking, talking, or condoling, in the three adjoining rooms.
“But you have no meats,” I said, knowing that meat and fish are powerful auxiliaries to Swedish suppers.
“ Nay, this is not a supper,” she replied; "the friends will return here for that, but only four or five of them; they will now go to the church with the body."
And so they did; and the friends came back, and had such a supper as strongly reminded me of the complaints of a northman, Hamlet the Dane, that the funeral baked meats, prepared for his royal father, coldly furnished forth his mother's wedding feast.
This confectionary, though of course differently
formed, and not in second mourning, is also an accompaniment of christenings. The important rite of baptism is, unfortunately, performed most commonly in the houses. The font is too little used in Sweden, at least in Stockholm.
The number of sponsors is only limited by the pleasure of the parties. They are taken in equal numbers from each sex and each state; that is to say, an equal number of unmarried men and women, and an equal number of married ones. These are ranged in rows opposite to each other a single man and single woman for a pair. And here a little judicious management is thought likely to be useful, for these pairs are supposed to be coupled together in their office of sponsor, so as they may suitably be coupled in the succeeding office of holy matrimony. In consequence, to stand opposite to a godfather at the font, implies a degree of encouragement in case he should also be a lover. The lady of most importance bears the infant in her arms, and after the ceremony the confectionary is handed round. Each man presents a plate to his associated godmother whom he then kisses.
Nota Bene. A fair Swede peeps. over my shoulder, and says this church ceremony is altered now, for that she stood opposite to some one lately,
and they only bowed and curtsied to each other. But then, she adds, that certainly that ceremony was not well arranged; and that the sponsor who ought to have been her vis-a-vis, was placed opposite to an elderly Fröken, and only bowed to her also.'
Old fashions are undoubtedly dying out, even in Sweden; but such mistakes as my fair Swede alludes to might really introduce irregularity, at all events into this finishing part of its baptismal ceremonies. It is a pity, however, that anything light or ludicrous should be introduced in connection with that holy initiatory rite.
The succeeding rite of the Church Catholic, that of confirmation, is now one of the most important of that of Sweden: yet it has been, as a learned Swede informs me, only imported from England at a comparatively recent period since the Reformation. The pastor of the Swedish Chapel at London, having seen its use there, was the means of getting it to be adopted by his country; where it now holds a certainly remarkable position, both religiously and politically. The State makes, perhaps, a more powerful use of it than the Church; but in all things the Church seems to be here, more or less, the handmaid of the State.