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I Do not know how the name of Upsala comes to be associated with all my recollections of childish lessons. I am sure I must have learnt a good deal about it in my first geographies, for I never remember a time when the name of Upsala was first heard.
I wonder if the little Swedes know anything of Oxford? Some of the great Swedes do not; for I had quite a controversy with a young Parson, who had just emanated from the university of TJpsala, and who claimed for it the first rank in the world.
His first thesis was, that it was the "most learned universitat i verlden." Failing to make good his point, his next was, that TJpsala was the "most ancient universitat i verlden;" and giving up this also, he took refuge in the discussion between Oxford and Upsala, in his strongest point of superiority, that it was the "most northernly universitat i verlden!"
It is no wonder, then, that I ardently desired to see this most learned, most ancient, and most northerly university in the world.
The weather had changed, and was now bitterly cold, wet, and dreary. Nevertheless, before the autumn expired, I resolved to visit Upsala; and, accompanied by a young woman, whom I took as companion, I set off by the steam boat on Lake Malar.
It was truly a miserable day, toward the latter end of September. The cold was such, that no amount of clothing seemed to me enough; and there, on board that boat, was a poor little Frenchwoman, the wife of a professor of Paris, without any sort of cloak or defence against it. I gave her part of mine, and made her put her feet at the open door of the fire-room. "We sat there and talked French. She told me her husband had come to Sweden in order to acquaint himself fully with its history, politics, past and present state in regard to government, agriculture, produce, manufactures, &c, &c.
How long had he been in Sweden? I asked.
Nearly six weeks, she answered. This seems, indeed, a favourite time for authors' visits.
"Then you have to reside here much, longer?" I added.
No, they were going back to France in a few days, had only that afternoon to see Upsala, and must return to Stockholm, by the same boat the next morning.
I listened wondering; and the Professor coming up, I was ready to exclaim, like poor Dr. Syntax and his spouse,
"Show me this golden road to fame!
What men can do, to be sure; six weeks to accomplish such a work! Alas! why am I not a professor? I might have manufactured half a book already on the manners and customs, the past history and future prospects, of the Swedish nation.
The whole passage on the lake to Upsala was very dreary. It is not at any time so interesting or beautiful here as it is in other parts. The prevalence of that drug in Swedish scenery, and, indeed, in Swedish ground, the fir and pine, and the nearly total absence of what are called here, curiously enough, leaf-trees—that is, all trees that bear leaves in summer and not in winter—.gives a monotonous and rather heavy air to the banks, which is only occasionally diversified by the appearance of such fine places as Skokloster. And if such be the case at all times, it may be supposed what it was on a dark, rainy, and bitterly cold day.
We landed, however, and got to a hotel, and were given an immense room, with a couple of sofas in it, which at night were opened, and the treasures they contained were taken out and laid upon them; and so your sofa is turned into your bed, and your sitting-room into your sleepingroom, with very little ado. And the evening was so wet that I stayed in the house, and tried to persuade myself I was in Upsala.
I had had a vision of that place—a vision that floated before me from the far-away days of childhood—a vision of curious, old, high-peaked, and age-blackened houses; of narrow streets, so narrow that the old houses almost met face to face; of some great old brick cathedral, speaking of Piety that had made Learning her handmaid; and a vast, dingy, old, curious-looking college of learning, with equally antique masters and reverend youths; of an out-of-the-world town, a seat of learning, where learning itself had grown musty and mouldy with the age of everything around its abode. And had not that young Herr Pastor strengthened this vision of my geography-learning days by the three points of his thesis—namely, that Upsala was the most learned universitat i verlden; 2. Upsala was the most ancient universat i verlden; 3. Upsala was the most northernly universitat i verlden.
I do think that the idea one might form of the most learned, most ancient, and most northerly university in the world agrees well with my vision of Upsala.
And, when I went out of the hotel on a sunshiny morning, I went about and about, and said, "Where is Upsala?" and my companion said, "You are in it;'' and I answered, "No, I am in a clean, modern, good-looking town, of new wooden houses, painted, or coloured, in all colours, chiefly red; the streets are wide,