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The deputies of each house occupied front benches nearer to the throne; the graceful Queen and her charming young daughter came into the gallery; both were enveloped in white shawls, the latter wearing a wreath of white around her dark hair; with them came the always-present, lively little Dowager Queen, the widow of Carl Johan, in her constant white bonnet and plumes, and with her equally constant eyeglass : all, bowing, smiling, and looking so glad to see every one and everything, took their seats, after standing a short time to let the people see them. Then came a most glorious sight! three fine young princes—one son, Prince Oscar, was with the Fleet-came in in royal mantles, and with curious crowns on their heads, and took places at each side of the throne, looking exactly like the pictures in old story books, especially the splendid Crown Prince, whose black beard gave the finishing stroke to the picture.
Last of all came the King himself, in all his regal splendour; his mantle flowing behind, and displaying its golden richness as he ascended the steps. Oh! if the blind man had been in that Riks Sal!
And King Oscar sat on his throne, and there
came a Noble Deputy from the Riddarhus, and read a speech, or address from it, before him; then came a Clerical one and did the same; then a Burgher, wearing a broad green ribbon, as the badge of an order, over his shoulder; and last of all a Peasant. Then every one, royal people and others, rose up, and the King alone sat, and he read his speech, and told his Parliament what it had done; not quite so briefly as our Kings and Queens do: and he thanked it, and bade it good-bye.
And so the Parliament of Sweden was dismissed.
I set to work to learn what I could of Swedish, and found I could read it by a sort of instinct. I really could read it in a few days, without even taking a lesson; but speaking it is quite another thing, for people do not in Sweden talk like a book. The language is spoken quite differently from what it is written.
The society I was in was not the most useful for learning to speak. The Swedes who spoke English either profited by my society, or were so polite as to speak only in that language in my presence.
One of these English-speaking Swedes one evening pronounced a long eulogy on English
women, depicting most vividly their superiority in all respects over his own countrywomen.
“Why, then,” said a young woman, who was justly indignant at this, “why did you not get an English wife when you had so many offers, as you
“Oh! vanity, vanity !" I cried, fearing there would be a quarrel soon.
The Swede, however, pulled out his neck—just as a cab-horse does, sometimes, when the driver first takes the reins—and looking straight forward, as if seeing something no one else saw, replied to my exclamation, “It is the truth. I say nothing but what is the truth; it is no vanity.”
“The English ladies did offer then!" said the other.
“Well! no, not for themselves; oh, no! that would not go on; but their fathers, or guardians, or uncles did.”
“Oh! matters are settled in that way in some countries,” I said carelessly, wishing to have done with the subject. Not so the other speaker.
“But why did you not take one out of all the ladies offered to you ?" she persisted.
This good man, in speaking English, had the habit of putting h in words that began with s, say
ing shelf instead of self; and never could pronounce our shibboleth, the th. As he seemed considering his answer, I fancied he was pondering some of these difficulties of the English tongue; but at last he said, “I should be glad to get an English lady: oh! very glad indeed."
“Then why not take one of the many who offered ?" . “Well-I should like to get a fidgetty wife,” he made answer; "yes, my wife must be a little fidgetty.”
“A fidgetty wife !" I exclaimed, in amaze at the nature of his bachelor difficulties.
“Yes, Madam ; I am not very fidgetty myshelf, and I tink a fidgetty wife would shuit me."
"Well! if she were in a fidgetty humour, I think she might shoot you,” I replied, feeling that it would not be safe to trust me with weapons in such a case.
“Madam,” said the Swede, though I spoke very gravely, “do I speak your language right?”
“Oh! yes; but perhaps you do not know exactly what fidgetty means. If you go to England to look for a wife, it might be as well not to ask at once for a fidgetty one. What do you mean by the word in Swedish ?”
“I got it in the dictionary, Madam; yes, it is correct English, for I have a dictionary in two volumes, in which is every word that was ever spoken or written in the English tongue; and indeed whoever has that dictionary need have nothing more; you must buy it, Madam; it is English and Swedish, and will teach you the meaning of every word in your language.”
"And pray how does it translate 'fidgetty' into Swedish.”
He told me, and the translation was “lively, gay;"_that is, he told me the Swedish words, which mean these in English.
I got the dictionary afterwards to look at ; and certainly, if the good Swede had sought for all the qualities of his wife by the explanations given there of such terms in our language, he would have imported a singular specimen of English womanhood into his country. A fidgetty wife, instead of a lively one, would have been only one result of these mis-translations.
It is curious that there is no such thing as a tolerably correct English and Swedish dictionary. This work of two volumes amused me amazingly. What language the words were taken from, it was impossible for me in most cases to make out; and