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one of the foreign ministers absent from this curious assembly, for a domestic trial secluded him in the Embassy, which at other times was made the scene of hospitality and kindness. We left the house at six o'clock; the royal party were not expected till nine; but Swedish zeal in all cases of sight-seeing, especially in royal sights, is most enduring. The ball-room was more than half full when we got in. The ladies were all ranged in tiers, on benches placed round the walls of the room; the men stood in the centre. The separation both of sex and age is a general peculiarity of Swedish society; but in this case, the first part of the distinction only was preserved. Young and old ladies had to sit together; the men were obliged, whether they liked it or not, to stand grouped in a mass. As they always escape as soon as possible from the ladies' society, it was rather pleasant to feel that, for the sake of a seat, some of them would now be glad to come into it. But this was not allowed; and there we sat-awfully stupid, it must be confessed—for the space of nearly three hours of this mortal life.
Is the room filled, the confined and heated air became oppressive; my courage was giving way, when lo! at once I saw the throne, beneath the crimson canopy exactly opposite to me, was filling. King Oscar was standing before it, with his amiable smile and bow; the graceful Queen, her sweet young daughter, and three sons, Gustaf, Oscar, and Auguste, and to crown all, the dashing and splendid Crown Prince, the eldest of the charming family, and his young Dutch wife, all were there. The King and Queen used to dance at this ball with their good townspeople, but they have now abdicated in favour of their children, whose duty this night was no very easy one. The royal chamberlains were immediately sent about with invitations. The Queen, the granddaughter of graceful Josephine, with a pretty movement of her hand, laid her royal commands on her youthful sons, who instantly rose with submissive alacrity, unbuckled their sword-belts, and descended the throne steps to receive the citizen-partners allotted to them. The two young princesses set off a waltz with two portly merchants, and the usual furious dance instantly began. Down the entire length of that long room, round the centre group of standers, and up again. A lady falls under their feet, but the eye cannot take in the prostrate form before it sees it again circling away, half borne up in the strong arms that certainly must lighten the exertions of the fragile-looking creatures, who night after night, through the winter season, keep up this violent dancing. The black head of the handsome Crown-Prince looks soon as if he had come out of a vapour-bath, but he has only time to mop it up with a handkerchief, and set off in a whirl with a fat lady in black velvet. And his young wife, whose infant is little more than a month old, is dancing too, but more quietly, for her partner is a grave burgomaster. This ball, I suppose, is meant to be on the principle of liberty, equality, and fraternity; and, indeed, I suppose that principle is as much carried out at the ball of Stockholm as it is anywhere else. The humblest tradesman's wife or daughter says she has as good a chance of dancing with one of the Princes as any one else. So it may be, but somehow the chance does not come. "The eleven old men” of Stockholm-that is, I believe, the heads of the Corporation-settle all that.
After about two hours of most vehement exercise on the part of some of the assembly, of absolute stillness and wearisome dulness, as I
should call it, on the part of the rest—that is, of the half-withered and closely-packed wallflowers—the Royal guests (who had sustained their part admirably—the Queen in beating time and nodding her head, the King in bestowing grave smiles of approval) were invited to supper, and all the assembly partook of refreshments; ices, bishops (not mitred ones), and cakes being abundantly supplied. As soon as this was over, a curious progress was made by each of the royal guests, separately, round the room. It was commenced by the Crown Princess, instead of by the Queen. Why, I know not; unless a suspicion may arise that a retirement from actual duty at an annual Exchange Ball is contemplated by the reigning powers of Sweden. The Crown Princess Louise, conducted by her chamberlains, began the circuit of the room, along the avenue lately occupied by the dancers, and now left vacant between the centre group of male standers and the ladies sitting in rows against the wall. Every one now had as equal a chance of speaking to Royalty as they had before of dancing with Royalty ; but somehow the chances seemed to run all in the same line ; for whoever had danced with the Princes, the Princess stopped and spoke
to. The chamberlains informed her of the identity, or good-naturedly told her who was who among the eager aspirants for a word. The task of talking, bowing, and smiling was evidently no easy one to her Royal Highness. Her handkerchief rolled into a ball, and constantly applied to her face, together with an uneasy writhing of the person, seemed indicative of a still more anxious state of mind than that of the citizen ladies beforeher, who regarded her with that sort of expression which I have not seen any but a Swedish countenance to wear—an expression of what one must call pity, and yet of admiration, wonder and respect; they always wear it when looking at a bride, and generally when gazing at Royalty. Next came the Queen, in crimson velvet and tiara of diamonds; all smiles and graciousness—so very gracious, that it recalled to my mind what a very old lady told me a poor Swedish soldier, with a wooden leg, said of Bernadotte, his Majesty's father, when he gave him an addition to his pension at her request ;“Madame, His Majesty is insupportably good.” The Queen had a word for some, a bow and smile for all. Then the young Princess Eugenie made her rounds; affable, and desi