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Confirmation is a guarantee for a certain amount of education, for no one is confirmed without being able to read and write, and undergoing a sufficiently strict examination by their priests. Confirmation is not optional but obligatory; and without a certificate of its performance persons cannot hold offices of state or government, cannot even be married; so that to find a person unconfirmed in Sweden is to find one abandoned, neglected, cast-away. The preparation for this rite is the most important and serious epoch in the moral history of young Swedes;
it is one to which perhaps each person recurs, more or less, in the subsequent changes of that history. “To read before the priest,” is the usual term given to the six inonths' preparation, during which the young candidates are instructed and examined by the clergy.
The stringency of the observance of this holy and beneficial rite, and the regulations connected with it, are worthy of admiration : the mode of its performance is far less so.
I attended two confirmations in Sweden, one in the most fashionable church in Stockholm, another in the old church of the Lübeckers, or the Cathedral
one, of Wisby, in the Island of Gothland.
In the former the office was performed by the priest of the parish ; in the latter by the Bishop of Gothland, who acted simply as the priest of that parish. I may be thought very hardened if I say that in each case the services had a very different effect upon me from that which they always produce upon Swedes of all ages and states of mind.
In addition to the prescribed service there was a long and tedious catechetical examination, for the satisfaction, I was informed, of the assembled spectators and friends. There was a great deal of crying, in which, when he came to the address to the candidates, the priest more quietly joined. The sound of sobbing and weeping had less effect on an English ear than it had on a Swedish nature; and in Gothland it assumed a character anything but pleasing, being of that species of emotion that is excited at Methodists' meetings.
But the most singular part of the matter was, that, after all, there was no Confirmation,—there was no imposition of hands! The candidates retained throughout the whole time the seats allotted to them, in the space before the altar : the whole matter seemed to me to end in nothing. The doctrine of "the layiwg on of hands" is, I
suppose, one of those which rest on a Biblical as well as on a Catholic basis; but the Church of Sweden, in omitting the essential part of the rite, rests, it appears, on her own basis alone.
The administration of this Rite, if we can use such terms in speaking of Swedish confirmation, is not restricted to the episcopal office; each parish priest confirms his flock; and even in this case favouritism is allowed to act, and, with consent obtained, young people may go to read before the priest who is most congenial to themselves or their parents.
Would not the most ardent young votary that ever started on a career of dissipation or vice, be checked, if not arrested, at its commencement, by seeing its termination represented in grey-haired
I do not mean this for the prelude to a homily, but for an illustration of my observations on the Frenchisms incorporated with the Swedish language; and I intend its moral to apply to ourselves rather than to the Swedes.
Poverty is often pleaded in excuse of crimes : doubtless it is the cause of many : for the destruction of the poor, says Solomon, is their poverty.
Therefore the Swedes, arguing on this ground, say they are excusable for all the parodies they have made of the French language, because their own is so poor they could not well read, or write, or speak, without helping themselves from their neighbour's property.
This is true; but the transformation of these terms of speech has a curious effect, both in look and sound; for, being twisted into Swedish on the phonetic principle, they are spelled as they are pronounced. Thus, Följetong, for feuilleton; Fotölj, for fauteuil; Salong, for Salon, and a crowd of others, tend to act as a warning to us against the corruption of two languages.
Sweden has another excuse besides its poverty of speech, for it has recently had a French King and a half; Carl Johan was the whole one, and spoke French only; Gustavus III., the great patron and promoter of literature and the arts, was the half-one. He loved all that was French; and some of his own curiously spelled, and strangely ungrammatical French writing, is preserved in the Upsala library. Grefve P. tells me that French is not nearly so general a part of Swedish school education as it was in his boyhood, when the time of Gustavus III. was not so