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And thus braced up for a storm, we heaved and struggled over Wettern; with its waves lashing over us, with the wind howling, and not a ray of light entering the saloon, where, after all, it was found there had been a place vacant, though not one of the lady passengers had departed from the non-interference system by mentioning it when the ill-tempered Flika of the Stockholm chose to be silent.
And so leaving myself asleep in the cabin on stormy Wettern, in the autumn of 1851, I return to myself just at the moment when we are passing Motala, in the bright Midsummer time, when nature was so fair to me, and all else so very dark.
And Motala is famous for its iron works, and has become almost dear from the kindness of the interesting family whose charming mansion overlooks the canal, along whose pleasant banks the boat is passing. Mr. Fraser, a Scotsman, and the father of the present occupants, was the original designer of these great works. The celebrated Admiral Platen, the constructor of the canal, whose grave is in the immediate neighbourhood, induced Mr. Fraser to try his skill, first, in clearing the bed of the river, by means of a machine he had constructed. I visited this place again, and shall return to it on paper also; this is only a note in passing.
And so, in midsummer-time, we passed that pretty lake, named Boren, gemmed with green islets and rocks, and came to Roxen, where there are eleven locks to be passed, for the canal is here descending a hill 70 feet above the level of the lake: this eanal is called the West Göta.
The passage of the locks give time to the travellers to visit old Wreta-kloster, as the conventual church of Wreta is still called. It is an interesting place, but sadly deformed, as all the old Swedish churches are, by being protestantized in a most ungainly manner, and filled with boxes and galleries in all directions. The chapels and their tombs still remain as they were. Among these the one dedicated to the noble house of Douglas—the last seion of which still lingers in the soil to which it was transplanted in the warlike times of Gustavus Adolphus—is naturally the most interesting to us. The "Bloody Heart” is displayed on the emblazoned arms. The last deceased member of that noble family rests without the church, but just beside the door. I looked at the plain tomb, and somehow the idea that it looked as if doing penance there came across my fancy. Tombs may signify a history—a decline and fall. And on that midsummer day, I sat alone in a field whose rising ground gave me the view I wished_wood and water stretched away in sunlight and beauty further than I could see; and drawing back my gaze, I looked immediately around and felt that nature was beautiful and art was admirable. The chain of locks is divided into two sections; seven being in one, and four detached. Their length is thus apparently increased in the distance, which prevents their distinctness from being observed. They look like one continuous dark staircase, mounting the face of the hill, whose green summit was on a level with the poor little steamboat standing there, with its nose just peeping over the upper barrier. There is a little green nook at the bottom of that hill where I sat, and a flat stone on the brink of Roxen lake whereon I stood. And then all was bright externally!
In an adjoining meadow the midsummer pole was dressed with green branches and flowers, and the people were dancing round it; for midsummer, or St. John's Eve, is kept in Sweden as merry May-day used to be kept when old England had some young life.
This is the spot, of the whole water journey, the most impressed on my memory. Why? That question need not be answered. The tall towers of Linköping rose to view on the opposite bank, and at Norsholm, near to this, was the estate of that faithful old ecclesiastical hero, its bishop, Hans Brask, who so long resisted the encroachments of the great Gustavus Vasa, and whom the Swedes call a robber; but whose honest, brave, and faithful adherence to what he believed was truth, I astonish them by admiring.
The coast of the Baltic, which we pursue a long way before coming to sweet Mälaren, is most curious: it ought to be seen in a map to give one any idea of it. Such a curious and interesting place, which bears no affinity to any notion we have of the sea, is called Skäregord in Swedish, which means a crowd of rocky islands, larger and smaller, bare and fir-wooded, through which the channel is marked out by poles and sticks, and sometimes by whitening the half sunken rocks. The passage is slow and cautious, but, to me, pleasing. We pass over a Vik, or arm of the Baltic, amid scenery which scarcely lets one believe the water is that of the salt sea.
Another watering-place of Sweden is reached, the water-drinking Södertelje; a pretty place, and a very narrow canal; the latter supposed to be the successor of one originally cut by the celebrated Viking Olof, the pirate and saint of Norway.
Then we round a fine promontory, and we are in the Mälar-my dearly-loved Mälar! There is King Erik's hat; the iron hat set up on that rock which mariners, in old time, used to petition for a fair wind, because St. Erik, they say, could make a fair wind by simply waving his hat; and it is only in these hardened times that captains and crews have ceased even to bow to it in passing.
And at that midsummer time we entered Lake Mälar- beautiful Mälar! The waters were clear as crystal, sparkling as diamonds; the wooded islets were all doubly seen, reflected, reversed beneath the lake, which was broken by our keel only. Beautiful Mälar! I have grown more intimate with you now; many a time have I been with you since ; in summer time and winter time have I sailed, or walked over your waters, and have not decided in which way I liked you best. In either extreme, most decidedly, rather than midway--not in autumn, nor in spring. There are one hundred and fourteen islands, large and small, in its course of seventy