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As we followed the royal party out on the stairs that ascend to the chapel, and felt the keenly bitter blast that blew from the open vaults, or arches beneath, I marvelled how ladies who have such a fear of exposure to cold, could meet it with only evening dresses, or at most with their trains turned up on their bare necks; and I thought how English mammas and nurses would be alarmed at an eight-day-old infant being exposed to the same, and kept away from them so long, while presented for the holy rite which the Swedish Church also accounts “the laver of regeneration.”
The young royal Stockholmer made not the least clamour the entire time; appeared to behave with all the dignity due to her station, and I believe came home as safely to her fond and happy young mother as if she had not braved the icy cold of this November day in her native north.
Winter begins ! On the 16th of November comes the first snow I have seen. It really has been a strange delay. In Scotland, in Belgium, I believe even in England, snow had fallen. It was a long autumn, for the Swedes only call ice and snow winter. This sixteenth day was a miserable one-cold, wet, dark. A good old man, an old seaman, who styles himself the Courier of the British Embassy, told me that, in his youth, the winters here were quite different, and that he really believed the climate of his country was completely changing—that the summers were not so hot, nor the winters so cold. The same, however,
is said in other lands, even in England. In the evening, as I gazed despairingly from the window, the first flake of snow met my eye. Not the small-grained thing that snow usually appears when it commences with us; but large, pure feathers, fluttering in the murky air. Any change was desirable, and I went to bed, feeling glad that even these white feathers were flying about.
But, the next morning, what a scene met my view! “ Yes,” I cried, though no one heard
"it is not wonderful that in Sweden they like a good winter, that they abhor a bare one !!!
The day was bright; the snow of one night was as deep as that of a week in England would be. The last brick and timber of the old house had been lowered; the view was open, and Grefven was right—I was content.
The broad open place was deep in snow; the headless trees no longer seemed to be decapitated: the great bronze figure of King Carl still stood with its back to me, but he no longer looked so dark, heavy, and clumsy; for on his shoulders he wore an ermine cape, and on his head a snowy crown; and the four great lions which crouch around him, with their ribs as distinct as the ribs of Swedish animals generally are, had each a lump of snow in their open mouths, and each clutched a snow-ball in their enormous paws.
Here, at this early hour, only
“The sentry paced his lonely rounds ;”
but before long all the young life of Stockholm was awake, and abroad, and rolling and plunging in the snowy Place. Never before did I imagine there could be such life in Stockholm; for in public —that is to say, even in the streets—the children are so very quiet, and the boys seem to be their fathers in miniature. But now they were boys; the snow had given them life; and I need only look at Carl Tretons Torg to learn that Swedish spirits rise as the thermometer falls. All sorts of people were walking over it with double briskness, tracing countless paths over its depths; the boys, and even the dogs, lay down and rolled in it,
scarcely shaking it from them as they rose. I stood and laughed at the antics of both animals, who seemed alike to welcome it as an old, dear friend.
Towards evening I heard a soft jingle of bells ; I ran to the window, and saw a countryman driving in a sledge. We had had no snow since the night, but the traveller was one white mass : it had fallen heavily not fạr off.
And now came to me the most delightful relief; the horrid rattle of carts was heard no more; softly and quick went the sledges in their stead, and the tinkle of the bells, which the horses are bound to carry, was a pleasant exchange to both my head and ears.
. The touch of the cold on going out was something strange to me at first; it is so unlike English cold. There is something gigantic in this touch when it first is felt; so strong, so clear, so vigorous, this cold soon became pleasant to me; I enjoy it a thousand times more than the dark, damp weather which has passed.
My view has more than realised my Grefve's prediction; it is becoming my constant companion ; and, much as I am disappointed with my quarters in other respects, I am sure I shall never re
gret that I am here, since in no other locality in Stockholm could I have such a view as this. What can persons do who are only able to see into their opposite neighbours' windows, or who are immured in a court ? Through the day my prospect is animated; at night it is like the fairy tale descriptions of crystal regions, illuminated with myriads of lights.
At the extremity of the large open Place, or Torg, before my window, is the water which is the junction of the Mälar Lake with the Baltic Sea; the former sweeping in a strong current beneath Norrbro to cast itself into the latter. In that water a number of trading vessels are laid up for the winter, and their tall, slight masts and spars, closely ranged together, appear through the snowy scene like the bare trees of a forest. Above these appear the heights of Södor, now an unfashionable, but still very considerable part of the capital, up which the many-windowed houses climb in the most curious inequality ; while on the highest point stands that large building, or place of amusement, called Mosebacken, or the Hill of Moses, the view from which is one of the finest to be had in Stockholm, and the lights from which are a great additional, though unpaidfor, source of pleasure to me.