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custom in Sweden for the stranger to pay the first visit ?
Without doubt. Who ever heard of anything else ?” Another laugh. “ The English they are so-yes, I know that !! I applied to another
person for information, and was told that such was the case. Cards must be sent by the last comer, and if this be neglected on coming to a country residence, the neighbours understand that society is not desired. Previous to this time, when told that any persons wished to make my acquaintance, I merely expressed my thanks, and expected a visit. The acquaintance consequently was not made, as the visit was expected from me.
The Swedes are generally desirous of making the acquaintance of foreigners, but in many cases the mere fact of a presentation is enough. Two faults in the national character are apparent, even to a stranger-vanity and fickleness.
Lady L. has taken me to drive in my favourite Djurgord. The constant rain, the horrible pavement, and gloomy streets of Stockholm at this season, had rendered me captious and discontented. In such circumstances I believe many visitors have set forth to the world the result of impressions
which were the result of accidents merely; without waiting to see if such impressions would ever bear the stamp of time, or be effaced or modified by changes in their individual positions, or in the circumstances that tended to produce them.
It is wonderful to myself now to observe what a good effect was produced on my temper by this drive, and how much more amicably I was disposed towards Swedish titles, Swedish diet, and Swedish ways in general.
The day was the brightest and loveliest which any October month could produce. The carriage stopped to let me admire the charming view on the bridge leading to the royal park. But when we entered on the beautifully kept broad avenue in that park, a cry of irrepressible delight burst from my lips. I was to see my favourite Djurgord in a new aspect. I had often admired it when dressed in the rich livery of summer, with its varied shades of green—the birch and beech and oak and pines and never-changing fir-but now I saw it in a gorgeous costume, and one most singularly beautiful.
The broad leaves of the immense chestnut trees, that on each side bordered the long carriage drive, seemed wrought in gold; there was no
tincture of decay, no sere and yellow leaf. The sun was bright and
unlike a northern autumn day, and the aspect of vegetation was such as I never had seen in England or elsewhere. The most vivid summer green was mingled with the brightest, purest gold-not yellow, not brown; nothing sickly, faded-looking was to be seen. On one tree green and gold seemed both the natural colours; some leaves, or branches, being as bright in green as others were in gold. Its magnificent neighbour seemed carved in gold, and beside it was one with every leaf in the strongly contrasted hue of summer.
There was scarcely any fallen leaves; the snow often beats them green from the trees; and, through the mass of green and golden foliage, the dark firs rose changeless up, towering so very high above their own beloved rocks.
It was unlike the brown and yellow woods of England, which in autumn bring such pleasing sadness to the mind. A beautiful glory seemed to have fallen on the stately trees, the torrents of rain, the cold, dreary winds that had swept over them, had left them changed, indeed, in aspect, but firm, unfallen, more glorious than beforelike the suffering, tried, yet stedfast soul of the
Christian, giving signs of the strife, but unyielding beneath it.
And shem-that meek and gentle and self-denied lady, who sat by my side that day-even then wearing on to her heavenly home-did she not verify the image ? How near she was to that home, I did not then consider. She has reached it now.
Rosendal was deserted; the Crown Prince and his young wife, to whose occupation it is given by their royal father, have left it, and taken up their winter abode in the great palace of Stockholm, where it is hoped that another young heir to the throne will shortly make his appearance.
Prayers for the happy issue of this event have long been put up in the churches, and the people begin to think it is time they should see their result. As the Salique Law has been in force since the time of that singular little anomaly, Queen Christina, a son, of course, is wished for by all loyal Swedes; and some of extra loyalty, say there will be two. We are kept in constant expectation; whenever a gun is fired, and that so long as the water is open is pretty constantly,) my hostess moves her cap from her ear, and sits ready to count; for if a prince is born into this troublesome world, the fact will be announced by a
discharge of one hundred and ninety-two guns ; if a princess, her entré will be greeted by half that number. Yet the Swedes are a very polite people.
I had just gone to my bed that night, when the right sound came at last. I began to count, and counted ninety-two guns.
"A princess ! ” said I to myself, and prepared to repose; but presently began the guns again, and again there was ninety-two. “ Two princesses !” I said to myself, and thought that was enough for even Swedish loyalty. But, lo! a third ninety-two. I jumped up, "Three princesses !” I cried, and, running to the door, called out, “How many children are there ?"
“Only one princess,” said my hostess, in a tone of disappointment; "they are firing from three stations."
I withdrew, thinking that not many private ladies would like such concussions as these, which were enough almost to shake the solid walls of the palace of Stockholm. And so there is only a little lady! What disappointments our sex cause in the world! *
* This written in 1851. Since then, the one hundred and ninety-two guns have also been fired for the birth of a prince.