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“But Pingst. does not come until the end of May this year, and I must leave Stockholm before then."
“Why must that be ?":
“I must go to the Island of Gottland, and see the ruins of Wisby; and then I must make a grand tour all over Sweden; I must go up to Dalecarlia, and down to the south, for I want to have a summer in Sweden as well as a winter in Stockholm." Grefven opened his eyes, and smoothed his beard. “And pray, Madame, if one may ask, how do
you can travel so far?! We were speaking Swedish, and I replied, with a very bad pronunciation of that language, that I meant to buy a carriage. Now this word carriage, in Swedish, presents to me one of those niceties of pronunciation to which I never am able to fashion my lips. Grefven looked dark when I said, or attempted to say
it. “And pray where does Madame think she can buy that ?"
“Here, in Stockholm, undoubtedly."
“ Nay, I shall tell Madame, that is not to be done here."
“Not to be done! yes, I am sure it is to be
done. An Englishman told me I could buy that here, or hire one if I preferred."
“Yes, that is like an Englishman! The English think they can do all with their money, but I tell Madame that is not to be done in Sweden."
“What do you think I want to buy? tell me the word in English,” I wisely said, seeing there was some mistake.
“You said you would buy a friend,” he answered.
"A friend! No-a carriage ! ”
“I meant Vagn. That is because the words sound alike when I say them. But as you have put it into my head, I shall try if a friend is not to be hired as well as a carriage. I would not risk buying one, but as I shall require both when I start for my summer tour I shall hire one if I can.”
“No one will leave the capital till June," said Grefven, half conceding the point. This was true in the general; but as for me,
I was only waiting for the water to be. unbound; as soon as the Mälar was free, I should be free also.
The first of May, however, I wished to spend here.
It is a curious fact that there is, I believe, no country in Christendom where May-day is not celebrated. Here, in the cold north, the usages of Old England, in respect to it, are transferred to Midsummer's-eye-the feast of St. John; the feast of Balder in the old mythology; Balder, the Good, the god of innocence. But still May-day has its Swedish celebration also-and a curious one it is.
On the evening, not the morning, of the first of May, the King, Royal Family and household, the Minister of State, diplomatic corps, and all the world of Stockholm-high and low, young and old-make a grand procession round the Djurgord. The great people go in their handsomest carriages; the lesser people, attired in their gayest or best dresses, go in any way they
The approach of the first of May is thus another epoch of the year at which work-people have no time to do anything. The hope of getting a new. bonnet would be absurd, for, as every one must have new bonnets, no one has time to make them. Such seems to be the logic that is ever reproduced.
Fortunately, in adherence to the good old
fashion of our childhood, I had taken my brightest bonnet for Easter-day, and what had served for the greater festival was good enough for the lesser. But the first day of May in England, as observed
those in whose hearts the love of good, and old, and pleasant ways, has not been superseded either by worldly coldness, or lost in careless forgetfulness, is a double festival—a festival of earth reviving from death to gladness and beauty -a festival of the Church, who commemorates upon it two of her evangelists, who helped to spread over that earth a spiritual gladness, which has caused, and shall yet cause, her deserts to rejoice and blossom as the rose. But this Mayday--the festival of St. Philip and St. James—is, in Sweden, only observed by an annual, and, what is called, a now antiquated custom of a tour round the deer-park; because the Swedes strenuously deny that they now have anything to do with the saints, and are zealous in assuring me, they do not keep holidays as saints' days. *
* Twelve months have gone away since these words were written. A glad and beautiful May-day has burst out on England, after a cold and tedious spring. And, now, at five o'clock on this bright morning of our double festival, I am
And such a May-day as this was for the annual procession of the Royal Park in Stockholm! The cold was more bitter than any I had felt in winter; for a keen and strong north-east wind was blowing. going to hear the hymn sung from the top of the tower of Magdalen College, at old Oxford.
And then I see the first flowers of spring brought to adorn the house of God, where we go to give thanks for all the blessings of this life; to hear again the words that Philip spoke to Nathaniel; to wonder at the beautiful appropriateness of those which the Church has selected, from the words of St. James, as the epistle for this day when the earth is decking her bosom with the bright fair things which are the types of all we seek or love in our mortal day—“Let the brother of low degree rejoice that he is exalted; but the rich in that he is made low; because, as the flower of the grass
he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat than it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof faileth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth; so also shall the rich man fade
in his ways." The flowers are before us, and the lesson they teach is read in our ears. This May-day is even a treble festival; for it is Sunday, also, in the year 1853. And I hear a sermon preached on these words of St. James, and, while invited to rejoice in the gladness of nature, we are instructed amidst its evanescent joys, “more perfectly to know” (in the words of the Collect for the day) “Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth and the Life, that so we may steadfastly walk in the way that leadeth to life eternal,” whether that way leadeth through the brightness or the shadows of a transitory world.