Изображения страниц

tainty, I send a message

before I

go to ask if the persons I mean to visit will be at home. And

now, even so short time as I have been here, what thanks do I owe to two, at least, of these pleasant friends for many, many pleasant hours: Fru Cederschiold and her most kind husband, and that aged lady of infinite talent, Ofverstinnan Ehrenström, who was maid-ofhonour to the Queen of the murdered Gustavus III., and whose memories are a volume of interest. How many a time, when weary or lonely, have I thrown on my cloak and stolen secretly out— careful lest any well-behaved Swede should know of such an escapade-and found my way, without a lantern, to one or the other; and have been refreshed and made very pleasant.

Then the table is always ready for me: the tea, and cold chopped-up hard eggs, and cold sliced meat and sausages, and afterwards nice preserve and cakes; and a hospitality and welcome and kindliness that is better than all.

Oh! miserable fact ! that a man, a Briton—I know not if English or Scotch, or what—could dwell in this land a whole year, and leave it, and write a volume, and breathe no word of thanks,

nor cast back one memory to a friend! Such has never been my case, although I have wandered far and dwelt among many people. That such may not be, here, my case, I thus early record two names which my memory will cherish when we meet no more; and many, many others might I add.

There is, strange to say, no banker in Stockholm. The chief mercantile house, that of Arfvedson, transacts money affairs for strangers. When I spoke of the literary men here, I ought to have made an exception with regard to this name; for one of the firm, the Consul for America, is a very pleasing writer of what is called historical novels, and a most agreeable and gentlemanlike friend and companion, speaking English like a native, and French also. Indeed, the whole family is one which it is a pleasure to be acquainted with, and of whose kindness, I am sure, English people of respectability must have cause to speak highly.

The general hour for dinner parties, except in the diplomatic circle, which is an hour later-is four o'clock; this is the royal time also. Dinner is served as in France and Germany, and as is

now common in England also : the table is ornamented with flowers, real or artificial. I was invited to a grand dinner given at a hotel, used sometimes for the purpose by persons who come to Stockholm occasionally, without forming an establishment there. The company was very large, the table naturally very long, and down the centre was a whole row of plants in pots : of course these served for many occasions of the kind. The dinner was splendid, with a vast profusion of the finest wines; it was given by a Scotch merchant resident, I think, in Gottenburg, and married to a Swede. There were few English present, for there are few in Stockholm ; but English was so generally spoken, that one might forget the fact.

As soon as the dinner was ended, each lady was, as usual, conducted by her cavalier to the handsome suite of rooms allotted to us. On relinquishing his arm, the pair on these occasions face each other, the lady makes a deep curtsey, and the man a deep bow, and then he generally retreats to the outer room, where, in all societies, the men in Sweden get together.

In Norway I have seen them smoke in this outer apartment. I have not seen this barbarism in

any society I have yet been in here. My tall


friend insists that Professor Longfellow is altogether wrong in saying the Swedes smoke in the sittingrooms, and even at table : but that they do the former I can aver, for often in the country have I practised the polite deceit of saying—or at least appearing to say—that it was not objectionable to

Smoking is, indeed, a truly detestable nuisance in Sweden. They tell me some of the ladies are guilty of committing it, even in high places : this is incredible ; and the Swedes do dearly love to tell stories. I wonder will they ever get up any about me: if not, I shall be the only English person I believe who escaped that honour. One good man here is called Min hustrus hundor my wife's dog—because the lady, as an excuse for living at home, declares that it is her duty to follow her husband, while the husband asserts that he is obliged to trot after her.

The domestic economy, and dealings of all English residents, seem to be a never-ending subject for these little tales; which become so current that you cannot mention a person's name who has resided here any time, without being asked if


have heard such or such a story. A general one is told of a gentleman who always went to market himself a thing no Swedish

one would do—and having met the king on his return, he was obliged to pull off his hat, out of which fell, or flew—I forget what—to the astonishment of Swedish Majesty, and to the infinite confusion of the Briton.

In fact I shall consider it a decided slight if they do not get up a story about me.

But I hope it will not be such a stupid one as this.

I have strangely rambled away from meals to stories, with an incidental reflection on smoking in passing

I meant to have told you that the whole time occupied in these great dinners is three hours : a dinner party here is quite a bona fide affair. You are asked to eat your dinner, and you get a most liberal one; but if the invitation does not include a special one for the evening also, you are expected to leave immediately after it. Coffee is usually served soon after leaving the table, and then the party breaks up; so that you go at four and come back at seven; having devoted the intermediate time chiefly to the work of eating. Of course, as in England, your pleasure or profit during depends on the person you sit beside ; therefore the moment of the distribution of partners is a very nervous one to me, for I have not yet lived

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »