« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
tincture of decay, no sere and yellow leaf. The sun was bright and warm, unlike a northern autumn day, and the aspect of vegetation was such as I never had seen in England or elsewhere. The most vivid summer green was mingled with the brightest, purest gold—not yellow, not brown; nothing sickly, faded-looking was to be seen. On one tree green and gold seemed both the natural colours; some leaves, or branches, being as bright in green as others were in gold. Its magnificent neighbour seemed carved in gold, and beside it was one with eveiy leaf in the strongly contrasted hue of summer.
There was scarcely any fallen leaves; the snow often beats them green from the trees; and, through the mass of green and golden foliage, the dark firs rose changeless up, towering so very high above their own beloved rocks.
It was unlike the brown and yellow woods of England, which in autumn bring such pleasing sadness to the mind. A beautiful glory seemed to have fallen on the stately trees, the- torrents of rain, the cold, dreary winds that had swept over them, had left them changed, indeed, in aspect, but firm, unfallen, more glorious than before— like the suffering, tried, yet stedfast soul of the Christian, giving signs of the strife, but unyielding beneath it.
And she—that meek and gentle and self-denied lady, who sat by my side that day—even then wearing on to her heavenly home—did she notverify the image? How near she was to that home, I did not then consider. She has reached it now.
Eosendal was deserted; the Crown Prince and his young wife, to whose occupation it is given by their royal father, have left it, and taken up their winter abode in the great palace of Stockholm, where it is hoped that another young heir to the throne will shortly make his appearance.
Prayers for the happy issue of this event have long been put up in the churches, and the people begin to think it is time they should see their result. As the Salique Law has been in force since the time of that singular little anomaly, Queen Christina, a son, of course, is wished for by all loyal Swedes; and some of extra loyalty, say there will be two. We are kept in constant expectation; whenever a'gun is fired, (and that so long as the water is open is pretty constantly,) my hostess moves her cap from her ear, and sits ready to count; for if a prince is born into this troublesome world, the fact will be announced by a discharge of one hundred and ninety-two guns; if a princess, her entre will be greeted by half that number. Yet the Swedes are a very polite people.
I had just gone to my bed that night, when the right sound came at last. I began to count, and counted ninety-two guns. "A princess!" said I to myself, and prepared to repose; but presently began the guns again, and again there was ninety-two. "Two princesses!'' I said to myself, and thought that was enough for even Swedish loyalty. But, lo! a third ninety-two. I jumped up, "Three princesses !" I cried, and, running to the door, called out, "How many children are there?"
"Only one princess," said my hostess, in a tone of disappointment; "they are firing from three stations."
I withdrew, thinking that not many private ladies would like such concussions as these, which were enough almost to shake the solid walls of the palace of Stockholm. And so there is only a little lady! What disappointments our sex cause in the world! *
* This written in 1851. Since then, the one hundred and ninety-two guns have also been fired for the birth of a prince.
And in the middle of the same night, all themembers of the royal family, the household, and the ministers of state, went to church to return thanks on the instant for the mercy vouchsafed. They had offered prayers, and they returned thanks. I was much struck by this observance; and though, alas! we cannot help feeling that the observation the literary Swede made concerning the nobility of Sweden, is too generally as applicable to its religion as to its nobility, there is something good and pleasing in this outward and visible recognition by the State of religious observances.
A gentleman, at whose house I dined the next day, answered to this remark of mine by saying, that such observances were form merely, a ceremony observed as a custom alone.
"But outward things are what we have to do with," I replied. "There is only One who can see that the inside of the cup and platter are not what the outside appear; therefore, as long as a ceremonial is in itself good, we have no right to complain that it is a ceremonial merely. Eather may we hope that if that which is seen be right, that which cannot be seen may be made right also."
"You may be correct," said my friend; "yet I cannot but feel that our religion is too much a lifeless form. It is a part of our Swedish education; we learn it as we learn anything else: you rarely, if ever, hear any one deny its truths— that indeed is not permitted; neither can we openly dissent from its prescribed and established forms and doctrines; but as to the practical, vivifying influence of Christianity in the heart and life, what can we say?"
I felt that I could say nothing; and I thought that he was more able to answer his own question than I was.
One of my occupations during this dreary month has been to watch the taking down of an old ricketty building, which stood with its back to my windows, behind the wall that bounds that large place called Carl Tretons Torg, or Charles the Thirteenth's square. This place in the olden time formed the royal gardens of Stockholm; it is now the only public promenade, though but little used as such, except as a foot thoroughfare. The wide space in the centre lies quite open and bare, broken only by the huge ugly statue of King Carl. At each side there is a broad walk bordered by small elm trees without heads; and at one of these walks is a sentry box, and a sentry to guard the statue.
VOL. II. D