« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
extending his hand to an officer standing in the aisle.
He was followed by his far more dashing, and, at first sight, it would seem more haughty, sonthe hero of the day—the father of the babyPrince Carl, the Crown Prince of Sweden, who followed his father, “ towering in his pride of place," in his brilliant Hussar dress, his breast covered with decorations and gold ; bending his head slightly, without King Oscar's smile, and sometimes quickly glancing his rather haughty eye as if to see if there was anything really worth looking at. Then came a face which made me say,
" Who is that ?" An intelligent, an artistic face; but with something in it that made me predict for its owner
“ The doom Heaven gives its favourites-early death.” It was the first time I had seen that head and countenance near enough to notice them, and the impression I allude to was instantaneous.
“That,” said the person I addressed, “is Prince Gustaf, the second and best beloved of our princes. He is much beloved; but the people say Gustaf is a fated name-it is not lucky. And we are sorry he has it."
Not being able to understand what he meant, I demanded an explanation.
“All who have borne the name in the royal line of Sweden,” he said, “have died, or been unfortunate. Gustaf Adolf fell in battle; Gustaf III. was murdered; Gustaf IV. was dethroned and banished.”
"And yet all of the line of Gustaf Vasa,” said I to myself, smiling at the superstitution.*
Then came the young sailor, Prince Oscar; and the youngest prince, who was named Nicholas after his godfather, the Emperor of Russia, but the national hate rather than love to a neighbour, made the Swedes wish to change his name to August. Then there was a little pause.
And then the entry of more heralds, with varied-coloured high feathers, and pages and chamberlains, announced the advance of the Queen.
She came slowly along, dressed in a robe of crimson velvet, made very low in the neck, and with short sleeves; a tiara of diamonds on her
* Since this was written, a letter from a friend says, “You would have had a dull winter here, for Stockholm is plunged into mourning by the sudden death of the amiable Prince Gustaf."
head, and a circlet of the same on her neck. Tall and thin, with slightly bowed down head, and with a long narrow train held up by some of the troop of white-dressed ladies who followed her, the grand-daughter of the poor Empress Josephine came slowly on, bearing on her arms a cushion, on which lay a little white, downy-looking thing, slumbering in sweet unconciousness of all the trouble she caused to heralds, guards, chamberlains, diplomatists, and Stockholm in general.
The cushion was suspended by strings from the royal shoulders; yet her Majesty afterwards affirmed that when she laid down her burden after having held it during a ceremony of two hours' duration (for a long exhortation or homily follows the service), her arm dropped benumbed by the weight of her first grand-child. It seemed to me, indeed, a fat and fair Dutch infant; but the people say it is more like its father than its mother, and he is not the least like a Dutchman.
The Queen sometimes bowed her head, but never once raised her eyes from the slumbering face beneath them. The gentle Princess Eugenia, who is her father in a female form, came next; and the old dowager Queen, with her old ladies and her store of strange memories, went up to the
font of the Protestant land, whose religion her husband had accepted with its throne, while she shared the latter and kept her own faith also and saw now the devout Roman Catholic wife of her royal and Lutheran son hold her great grandchild at the font, and answer for it when baptised into the faith of Luther.
The Church of Sweden, however, though the font is at the altar, holds the true faith concerning baptism; yet it was curious to see so pious a Roman Catholic as the Queen is, bearing her grandchild to the baptismal font of a land in which her own religion is proscribed.
All the grand assembly departed nearly in the same order, except that, in going out, the Queen was attended by Prince Gustaf, who tenderly covered the baby's face with a handkerchief as they reached the cutting blast at the door. Now, in coming back, her Majesty smiled as she glanced up at the spectators, and down again on the still slumbering infant, as if to ask—“Is it not a beautiful baby ?” It would not accord with the fashions of Sweden that the
should show any interest in the affair, and he, indeed, appeared to be just the person who had none. Births are never announced in the Swedish papers, though deaths and marriages are.
The maids-of-honour, or ladies-in-waiting, came tripping down the aisle with a running step, very much occupied with what a bluff Englishman calls the “little tails of their dresses;" the train—which is a mark of the highest dignity in Sweden, because it is, with the addition of a droll little sleeve, the sole distinctive adjunct of Court costume—is still a very small affair, being made as scanty of material as a train can be, in width still more than in length. These trains were dropped, and gathered up; and when the foot of one fair lady came on the falling train of another there was a general stop, and then a pretty trip forward again. The elderly ladies in general wore comical little red velvet
younger had their heads covered with flowers. The Queen's train was held at full length, and that length was much admired by the spectators in the pews.
I think the ladies of Sweden, indeed I might say the women generally, appear to me to be formed on a very small scale. The upper classes, as seen in Stockholm, are in general delicate and inactive in aspect; their hands and feet are small; and while, even in a large assemblage, one seldom perceives anything like striking beauty, a goodliness of countenance, and something kindly and comely in aspect, are almost universally seen.