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Alas! for all my pleasant sledge-drives! for all my solitary walks over frozen lakes or untrodden snow-heaped paths! They both are over now! And it is so delightful to fancy that one goes
"Where human feet hath ne'er, or rarely been,"
That I have gone almost knee-deep in snow through the forests, in preference to following the beaten path that would have led me to the same spot. Is not this free-will, and the voluntary system completely carried out?
But now, alas! my walks, my drives, are over. That fine forest of Haga, with its great, grey, earthy-coloured "leaf-trees," bare, parched, forever-dead looking; and the mighty firs in their changeless green, rising over snow-piled rocks with one brown spot uncovered, and towering over the pure white surface spread beneath them—that forest is brightened now with this March sun that beams so strongly in my windows; but I. am not in it And my favourite, more public Djurgord, with its secluded nooks, its lovely views, the walk over the Baltic, and the romantic drives—that beautiful one especially round by "the Fisher's Hut" celebrated by the Burns of Sweden, the poet Bellman —this too is gone, and I am ready to add, so is my delight;—but no! to add that would be a sin.
Yet I feel very mournful when I remember that they are only gone to me; they are all there still, all just as they were, all offering still the enjoyment I can no longer partake. The sun shines strong upon them, the snow is highly heaped on " the untrodden ways;" the ice leads firmly to them; sledges glide by as usual; walkers, sliders, skaters, go on as they did—and I!—I cannot even go upon crutches!
The Swedes, whose exclamations are to ears polite—not to say religious—undoubtedly very amazing and shocking, say that the English exclamation is only—" 0 dear!"—and I know one who was for a snort time in England, and was smitten with a love and admiration of it, who told he would turn away any servant who did not learn to say, "0 dear!" instead of her native and truly shocking exclamations. I wish it was our only one that the good man had learned: but I will now say —0 dear! how very sad it is to be crippled up on a sofa, just able to take a pen in one's hand, because it has learned to find its way there as naturally as a cigar to Swedish lips—but-quite unable to use one's feet; unable to move without crying out— 0 dear! 0 dear!
I write, my sisters, to implore your commiseration and sympathy; though I sincerely hope that before you receive my request—about a fortnight's time—I may not require either. You will like to know what was the cause of this change, 'why-my drives, walks, and pleasant evenings are all suspended; and as it is a comfort and relief to relate one's griefs, I will tell you all about it.
It was a day of intense cold, in the latter part of February; the snow as it fell was frozen into icicles, which flew in the air with a singular appearance. The evening came, and I got the fire lighted in the great white porcelain stove, and I kept the door open to let the blaze fall over the room, to remind me of an English hearth, and I wheeled round an easy chair before it, and put my feet on a footstool, and placed the lamp on a table near it, and took a book, and said to myself— "Now I will fancy I am in England, and I will enjoy my quiet evening:" and just as I had so arranged myself, there came a tapping on the door outside, and it was opened; and I heard some one ask for the "English Eruntimmer." I looked out through a little bit of my door, and saw sundry cloaks, and muffles, and goloshes coming off outside it; and then the door opened, and I saw a Swede (one who has been very active in advancing the industrial interests of his country) enter my English-arranged apartment. Herr Hjerta is known to England as well as to Sweden as one whose active exertions in the promotion of industry, have not only been beneficial to himself, but to his country people, especially to the poor and needy among them.
"I find from your note," he said, "that you wish to make yourself acquainted with what is going on in our poor country; it is very little in comparison with yours; but, since you are so good as to take an interest in it, I shall be very happy to show you our factories, if you will do me the honour to come out to my house."
I never had any introduction or recommendation to this gentleman, and therefore his kindness pleased me the more. It was settled that he should come for me with a sledge at four o'clock the next afternoon. That afternoon came; clear, bright, beautiful, but intensely cold. A covered sledge, with a fine pair of horses, drove up to the door. An Englishman, myself, and Herr Hjerta set off together.
The scenery was charming. We drove by the heights of Sodermaln, till we came to a place which I had last seen in all the rich and scarcely faded garniture of autumn, when I had come this way, chiefly by water, and sailed over the lovely Lake Necka. Now, how different, how vast, everything appeared! The clear atmosphere, the white uniform surface, made the distance appear so much greater. But where was the lake—the clear, deep lake I had sailed over? The scenery looked like that around it; but we drove over a level surface, only broken by heaps of frozen snow; and at either side of this