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Sweden, is Laing. His apparently seem hard to get rid of. Swedes, the most learned in the law, will tell you that he made mistakes in his statistics; and others assure you that he only spent six weeks in the country, and knew nothing about it. This is the common verdict against all who find fault with Sweden or the Swedes. I was amused the other day with a French writer's laughable description of Swedish cookery, the irony of which one took for commendation, until it came out into open and broad ridicule. I brought the book to my patriotic hostess, who read it aloud to her young ladies, remarking at first, “How well he knows all! That is truly surprising. He describes so true and well. Yes, that is because we are so like the French."
The tone of the writer became more apparent; his words were plain at last. He had been desiring the French cooks to throw away their laurels, to cast them into the saucepans
of Sweden, and to go and learn the art of cookery there; but when this tone changed, the pleased countenance of the reader changed also—“Hah-ah-ah-yes! - he knows nothing of our country—nothing at all. That is all wrong, Madame," she said, closing
the book; “it is not likely that a Frenchman should learn our customs. He stopped at some poor tavern when he was here, and took all his ideas from that."
That such would be the general sentence pronounced against any writer who dispraised Sweden and the Swedes, I am very certain; but at the same time I must say that I never yet read a book written by an Englishman on Sweden, which did not show an utter ignorance of its society.
I feel that, to judge of society, one must depart a little from the conventional laws of Stockholm life; for small as society, is here, it is arbitrarily divided. While we find the higher circle very unlike what it is in London or Paris, we enjoy its amenities, and observe the natural amiability that so often appears through the encumbrances of artificial existence; but we know that it is not there we are to observe strong national characteristics, any more than it is in the lowest grade that we should look for the refinements of advanced civilization; therefore it is, perhaps, in that link which connects both, the middle classes, we shall find our best resting-point when wishing to form a judgment of either.
Thus, if a foreigner, by means perhaps of an introduction, falls into one class of native society, he will naturally come to a very erroneous notion of all, unless he works his way into the others : and this, in Sweden, is not easy. The Swedes are a strictly national people; they are not really fond of new acquaintances; curiosity, or vanity, may lead them to seek a presentation to a foreigner, if a person of notoriety, but that effected the acquaintance may go no further. Foreign artists are by no means so admired here as they are in London; and public singers or actors, with moderate Swedish voices, or talents, will be far greater popular favourites than foreign ones of superior powers. Society also being so much divided into classes, proves another obstacle to easy acquaintance with it as a whole. It is by no means easy for one who moves in the aristocratic circle to obtain friendly access to the houses of the plain citizens of Stockholm. The vanity, also, with which Swedish dispositions are so strongly imbued, operates unfavourably for the stranger's easy intercourse with domestic and social life. To ask a stranger to share share a family meal, is scarcely ever thought of; and, in general, unless a Stockholmer can give
you a feast, he will let you fast; so far as depends on his invitation.
Notwithstanding all this, I am sure that the strauger, who goes freely and familiarly among all classes of the people, high and low, rich and poor, who seems pleased with what he sees, and thankful for the attentions he meets with, will not have any just cause to accuse the Swedes of want of good-nature or hospitality.
Literary society can scarcely be said to exist in Stockholm-not as we usually understand the term. The few literary men here are, I am told, chiefly a class apart; associating among themselves, speaking their own language only, and living, perhaps, much as our Goldsmith, &c., used to do in old times in London.
I do not know if there are any blue stockings to be found here; I have not seen them. There are two well-known authoresses—but very different ones—one twice married, Emilie Carlen; the other still a single sister, Frederika Bremer.
Science has had some very eminent names to boast from Sweden. Not to go back to the old tale of Tycho Brahe and Celsius, &c., there is that of Berzelius, only just added to the list of the departed; and a living one, Professor Rezius
I introduce to you here as that of one of my most useful friends. The Professor has a celebrity which, I own, is the least pleasing of his many qualifications to my mind; I mean as an anatomist. His collection of skulls is frightfully interesting.
The delightful fashion of visiting in the evenings is general here. In the quieter circle, with which I am now associated, it is so very pleasant, that I find myself once more beginning to pity that much-prized domestic life of England that causes an evening visit to be deemed an intrusion on its hours of private bliss.
An English lady here told me she was at home every evening; but when I went I found I caused a surprise ; and on three several occasions I had a walk for nothing. The English do not do this sort of thing naturally. Among the Swedes an excuse is seldom made or invented. The servants either give a true answer, that the lady is not at home, or say that she cannot or does not receive that evening. If you are received, you leave hoods, cloaks, boots, or goloshes, in the outer apartment; enter, without ceremony; sit and converse for a little, and stay for tea or supper, or come away without either, as is mutually desirable. When I do not like to risk a cold walk in uncer