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selves on board a yacht, was ready to take grew denser, the pines became more imus up the Göta Elf against stream. Here posing, and the hills seemed to draw closer the river has not yet joined the sea on its in around us. When we reached Troll. journey from the great Lake Venern, after hättan the sun had already set, but the leaping the Trollhättan, and it is much wonderful northern twilight did but soften narrower than below Gothenburg, where the contours of the distant hills, leaving an its waters mingle with ocean. Immedi. opal glow which, as late as ten o'clock, ately upon leaving the town the charm of made it possible to read a letter in the the journey began to grow.
Trollhättan means the “roarOn either bank were verdant meadowsing wizard," and the falls fully justify the with contented cows placidly browsing. mythic title. On the top of a steep hill Here and there, from surrounding clumps just above our landing-place lies the vilof feathery birch and larch, peeped forth lage of the same name, overlooking that some substantial homestead, built of tim- part of the river which flows from Lake ber of course; the dwelling-house painted Venern towards the fall. Here the stream deep red, relieved by a border of white runs placidly enough, winding past mossy round the window-frames; the wooden banks, with graceful weeping silver shingled roofs tarred and weather-stained birches moistening the tips of their leaves to a sombre blue.
in the current. But near to the hotel the The groups of buildings, thus set in bed narrows suddenly; a little farther on three shades of vivid green, from meadow, the river leaps down among large boulders birch, and larch, made delightful harmo- in a curved volume of deep green water, nies of color. They occurred perhaps too which at once is churned into a wealth of rarely, however, the farther Gothenburg bubbling foam. Leaping the rocks again was left behind, and presently the sense and again, it rushes downward on a sharp of being in a large country where space declivity for nearly half a mile. was not yet cramped, and where there was On one side of the cataract the cliff a breadth and vastness that one generally rises high and steep, clothed with closeimagines exists only on the other side of set files of sombre pine-trees, enlivened the Atlantic or at the Antipodes, was here and there with patches of birch. On borne in upon one. We glided by saw the village side the hill descends gradually mills, either sunk in a dell or hollow on with the falls, and on its top a row of deepthe river's edge, or near a lock, the water red buildings seems almost to overhang the of their mill-ponds supplied by the Elf, torrent. These are merely prosaic ironand falling with full force over the huge works, saw-mills, and other factories that revolving wheels. In adjacent reservoirs use the energy of the fall as motive power; vere men with long poles with hooks, sort- but, being built of timber, colored to the ing the pine logs, which, after an adven- universal red tint, their solid outlines do turous and independent course across not clash with, but even lend to the picgreat lakes and down streams, arrive here turesque. From one of these factories an from far away inland. Frequently our iron bridge is thrown across; and, standsteamer would slacken, and peasants (the ing on this, one best realizes the mighty men almost invariably provided with a power of this seething volume, flowing leathern apron, the most distinctive feature incessantly and with giddy velocity beof their dress hereabouts) would come neath one's feet. The noise is deafening, alongside in their boats to fetch sacks of and one wonders unconsciously why this flour and sundry groceries, or a bundle of rush does not finally empty all the lakes children and a wife; or we passed by oth in Sweden. Above, where the fall beers ashore waiting for the ferry with cart gins, from time to time a log floats unconand horses, their figures reflected in the cernedly to the brink, when suddenly down limpid water. In the distance were vil- it is hurled into the fuming cauldron be. lage spires, and, as a background, an in- low, disappearing, reappearing, end up, to terminable line of bald grey hills with be again and repeatedly Aung forward, scanty patches of moss on their hoary only recovering equilibrium when finally tops. Formerly their ridges were thickly reaching less turbulent waters below. covered with pine woods; but, being so The huge trunks cut in midwinter and sent easy of access, these forests were the first adrift in spring to continue their eventful to fall before the constantly growing de- journey, each bear a distinctive mark. At mand from abroad.
various stages on the rivers men are staBy imperceptible degrees the character tioned who intercept, sort, and retain of the landscape changed from pastoral to those intended for their particular mill, sylvan. The copses of birch and larch | sending the remainder onward till ulti
mately they reach their destination; but Soon the stream widened into a broad it is generally not until after midsummer, expanse, bordered alternately with rich when the hay is safely stacked, that the arable land, pastures, or dense forests, and peasant finds time to visit the mill and dotted with islets covered with copsesettle accounts. Here he goes straight to wood; then again narrowing to a channel, the sorter's office, where the clerk, having it led to a fresh lake. Every moment consulted his books and reckoned up how frightened teal and duck rose on the wing many logs of this particular brand have and passed overhead. We saw large vilreached them, takes a piece of chalk and iages, with substantial, well-to-do houses jots down the sum total on his client's surrounding the church, and frequently back. The latter ambles contentedly off glimpses were caught of the gables and to the head offices — sometimes at the high roof of some pretentious mansion other end of the town where he receives standing in its own grounds, with extenhis money, and by the aid of a clothes. sive farm buildings at its back. The brush the account is acquitted. Whether estates in this part of the country are very the Swedish chancellor of the exchequer fine, some of them with as much as forty can enforce the affixture of a receipt stamp thousand acres of forest. In one of the in these cases I have been unable satis- lakes an isolated church, perched on the factorily to ascertain.
brink of a steep hill, was faithfully reOur steamer had passed into a canal by flected, even to the golden cross on its the side of the fall, where, through a suc. spire, in the placid blue beneath. Later cession of locks, she was gradually raised it was my privilege, one Sunday, to witto the level of the river above; an opera- ness the congregation, in smart attire, artion that occupies the whole night, which riving from all sides of the lake in fouris wisely spent by travellers at the adja- oared boats to attend divine service here. cent and comfortable hotel. This canal is On week-days, returning in the evening a fine piece of engineering work, com- from their labor, they accompany the menced in 1793 and finished in the begin- measured stroke of their oars with song, ning of this century. At Venersborg, the and their voices, floating across the water, capital of Vermland, an old-fashioned, are caught up and melodiously echoed quaint little country town, the Lake Ve- against the close-set ranks of pines. nern opens out broad and wide. This is Otherwise the most striking characteristic the largest inland sea in Sweden, and con- of these tracts is the prevailing stillness. nected with Stockholm through a succes. The rumble of wheels and cracking of sion of lakes and canals. Our course lay whips are seldom heard, the waterway beto the left side, which necessitated a ing greatly preferred for the carting of hay change of steamer, and though our new from the meadows, etc., or as a route to boat was somewhat sinailer than the one the nearest town. The deep aisles of the we quitted, it was equally commodious, forest are silent. No birds chirp and equally clean, white-painted, and well ar- twitter between the needles of the pine ranged. The lake is large enough to allow boughs, only now and again the gentle of losing sight of land when in the centre, ripple of a brook, scattering itself over and it can be rough, which, however, in rocks that seem soft as velvet from their summer time is rare. Following the thick covering of moss, falls on the ear, or western coast for some distance, we en- a few dry twigs crackle for a moment as a tered the river Sefle. Through the heart fox slips through the bank into its hole: of Vermland, and away over the frontier, j these are the only sounds in spring. The nearly to Kongsvinger in Norway, a string early morning, before sunrise, however, is of romantic lakes is opened up by means an exception. Then the capercailzie of this watercourse. The entrance is gives forth his curious notes, that most through a lock so narrow that our crew, resemble the sound of wine poured from standing by the bulwark, were able com- a long-necked bottle; the woodcock and fortably to put a leg over on to the quay blackcock flutter in the open spaces, and and, by a judicious push, aid the steamer the squirrel mounts hastily to the top of through. Here is the town of Sefle, the tree to watch the figure of man creepwhich, to judge from several three-storied, ing stealthily on his prey. The croak of white-painted buildings, should be of some the “ hoodies ” a large crow – is heard importance; for in this part of the world near a glade and round the clearings. white paint seemed to indicate a higher Jackdaws are plentiful, growing, bold near level of refinement, the picturesque red the houses, and still managing joyfully to being mainly confined to rural home- secrete an occasional spoon. steads.
My destination reached, I was put
ashore at a small private landing-stage. I cutting the Gordian knot. When a casual Having proceeded up a broad birch-tree acquaintanceship has ripened into genial avenue two miles long, and through a gar- sympathy or mutual respect, your Swedish den, I stood before an imposing white friend at once proposes “a brotherhood.” mansion with a tall pointed roof. The This is a distinct social ordeal, the initiawide-open hall doors showed me a spa- tion to which demands a special rite. The cious ante-room, but it was impossible to man who has requested the honor of bediscover either bell or knocker, and no coming your brother provides you with a one appeared. Within, an open door to glass of wine filled to the brim, he himself the right disclosed a study, or smoking: holding another; both rise, each linking room, with guns and several sets of elks' the right arm of each; looking one anantlers on the walls ; to the left, through other boldly in the eyes and pronouncing another open door, a billiard-table was the words Skal bror /* the beakers are visible, and in front a flight of carpeted emptied. Henceforth you are expected to stairs led to the floor above. But no liv, use the pronoun “thou,” and you take ing being was anywhere to be seen. Have your stand on the footing of relationship. ing coughed and given other similar signs Among the reminiscences of this visit to of an embarrassed presence, I was about to Vermland is an evening when I acquired mount the stairs, when a large brown dog no less than six new and stalwart brothsuddenly showed himself, and, coming up ers. On the subject of ancienne politesse, to me, placed a damp nose confidingly in ! should mention, by the way, that there my hand, bringing forward a pair of shorn is a well-known Swedish gentleman who and pointed ears, wagging a stumpy tail, always gives precedence to his own son, and looking up with an expression that because “ he has one ancestor more than plainly said: “Yes, you see, they cut my his father.” ears, but I don't mind now." Having ac- The national character is anything but cepted this new acquaintance, I came to gloomy or morose, and social gatherings the conclusion that my best course would and festivities abound. The people, both be to follow wherever he might lead; and high and low, always find happy excuses as presently he returned to the garden, I for dancing, singing, skating, and sledg. did likewise. He appeared flattered, wag, ing, managing in some way or other to ging the stumpy tail emphatically, and make existence cheerful. A fine voice is then, turning sharply round the corner of as common property as are dark eyes in a shubbery, revealed to me three young Spain, and with the better classes it is ladies in an arbor, one with a book, one generally well trained. The peasants' embroidering, and one leaning back, try- dress is not particularly curious, though ing hard to balance a flower on the tip of an occasional red petticoat may help to a very pretty little nose. At the sight of bring color into the fields; their rich folk. a stranger there were signs of perturba- lore and quaint legends, however, are full tion, which sensibly increased when they of mystic charm, and are still told, and lisfound themselves addressed in a strange tened to, with awe. Thus, in the house tongue. At that moment, however, my where I was a guest, there had been somehost appeared, and, amidst much laughter where about the sixteenth century a cerand in excellent English, made me cor- tain dame, a widow owning the estate, dially welcome.
who was renowned far and wide for her All through Sweden social intercourse miserly temper and cruelty. Amongst is encumbered with much ceremonious many other things she had one day, in a etiquette, particularly among the landed fit of anger, pushed a poor kitchen wench gentry. The three Scandinavian tongues into a cauldron of boiling water. Enteremploy the two personal pronouns “thou "ing her great drawing-room immediately
you; " the first familiarly, the sec- after this deed, the irate dame was some. ond when speaking to a mere acquaint- what surprised to find there, awaiting her,
But a well-bred Swedish gentleman a gentleman, grave and decorous, dressed addressing a stranger will always, with in rich black velvet with finest lace rufold-fashioned courtesy, substitute the files, but having a rather fiercely upturned
, equivalent for “ Monsieur," regardless of moustache. “Madame,” he said, bowing harrowing repetitions, and where a title courteously, “right warmly have I adis demanded, even under the difficulties mired the charm of your character, the of rapid speech, it is never for a moment delicate execution of your slightest whim. omitted. As such politeness, however, in May it be permitted a humble adorer to the end becomes both monotonous and wearisome, they have a practical way of
* Your health, brother.
kiss the tips of your sweet fingers ?" The one's favorite and no one's enemy but his stranger here held out a bejewelled hand, own — made a tour on the Continent, and the lady foolishly put hers into it; the staying for some time in London and Paris next moment they were whirling together and enjoying himself amazingly, but rein the mazes of a wild waltz. Breathless, turning discovered that he had unfortushe begged to stop, but her cavalier was nately outrun his uncle's liberal allowance untiring and held her fast, dancing and to an extent he dared not confess. The dancing till her shoes wer worn from her old bachelor listened with grim pleasure bleeding feet. At last he flew through to the tales of society, sport, races, and the wall with his shrieking partner, but other gaieties abroad, but on pecuniary where they disappeared a hole remained matters he held views of his own, and his in the masonry, no bigger than a pea, it is nephew remained bashfully reticent with true; nevertheless, by no human skill regard to his difficulties, though these grew could it ever be closed. Thus runs the steadily more and more oppressive. It legend, and it is proved by the fact that would do these foreigners good to see even now, when modern art has invented what sport there is still in old Sweden!” all sorts of wall decorations, still there is his uncle had observed with a slight sense always a draft in that room !
of pride one day, and he added that he The tales about “trolls” and other thought his nephew might with advantage wicked imps should be heard in the forest have invited some of his foreign friends cabin, especially in the gloaming, when the for the elk-shooting, which in his forest gaunt old crone has a flickering pine knot had been left undisturbed for nearly a on the hearth. Her brow perpetually puck- quarter of a century. The young fellow ered, she relates her story with a manifest caught at the idea, and some six weeks unwillingness that in itself gives great later announced the expected arrival of force to the delivery; the flare from the some Englishmen for the elk season ; fire throws the rude rafters overhead into whereupon the old gentleman rubbed his weird, fitful prominence, illuminates the hands with great satisfaction, and swore scared faces of a couple of youngsters, he would show his boy's friends what who cower together in a corner near the Swedish hospitality was made of. His window, as the wind moans sadly in the nephew, however, received this enthusipines or makes a frantic rush at the door. asm gravely, talked a great deal about
Game of all sorts is plentiful in Verm- what was good form in the present day, land. The smaller streams are stocked and finally insisted that since neither his with trout, while the lakes swarm with uncle nor any of his neighbors understood teal and wild duck. In the forests are a word of English, the correct thing would blackcock, woodcock, capercailzie, and, be for him to take this opportunity to pay best of all, elk. For the latter, llowever, his annual visit to Stockholm. To this the close time extends over eleven months startling proposition the old gentleman at of the year, and only in September is it first demurred, but as he had never won lawful to shoot this big game. A peculiar renown as a shot, he ultimately consented breed of dogs which somewhat resembles to leave for town when once he had rethe Pomeranian spitz, but larger, stronger, ceived and installed his guests; upon this and with a rougher coat, is kept for this point he insisted. sport. They are trained to follow and On the day fixed for the arrival of the tease the elk’in mock combat, thus allow- expected visitors a gorgeous banquet was ing the hunter to approach his swift and laid for them, and some other guests wary quarry, which, even with this aid, invited in their honor in the great hall, often takes a day to stalk. Only a true and carriages with servants in dress liv. sportsman and steady shot can bring down eries were sent to meet the steamer. an elk, which must be hit in a vital spot, a Whether the four English sportsmen were dozen bullets elsewhere being merely a pleased or otherwise I know not, but confurther incentive for a gallant leap into the sidering that they had merely combined distance, where he is forever lost to his to hire this shooting through the Field, pursuer. This fact has caused many without even the remotest knowledge of Swedish sportsmen to discontinue the the name and position of the owner, they drives which formerly, occasioned merry must have felt considerably puzzled. I autumn gatherings at the country houses. was told that only one was able to sit Some years ago the owner of an estate down to dinner in a dress coat, the others here entertained a shooting-party under appearing promiscuously in tweeds and remarkable circuinstances. His nephew norfolks. The young schemer, who had and heir — a youngster who was every I conceived this daring plan for clearing his
debts, kney well that his uncle would be Of Amiel's cultivation, refinement, and implacable should he discover the real high feeling, of his singular graces of truth about the strangers, and in his anx. spirit and character, there could be no iety that all might go smoothly, had pro- doubt. But the specimens of his work posed to send dress suits of his own to given by his critics left me hesitating. their respective rooms, but this offer was A poetess herself, Mademoiselle Berthe declined. The dinner, however, went off Vadier is much occupied with Amiel's well. ,
Completely unsuspecting, the old poetry, and quotes it abundantly. Even gentleman sat at the head of his table, Victor Hugo's poetry leaves me cold, I am beaming genially upon his guests, and so unhappy as not to be able to admire making pretty little speeches through the Olympio;" what am I to say, then, to intermediary of his nephew, the only Amiel's interpreter, who, very nervous, talked pro
Journée fusely. Luckily for this reckless young
Illuminée, ster, the Englishmen who had taken the
Riant soleil d'avril, shooting were not only young men, but
En quel songe also high-bred gentlemen, and their young
Se plonge host's usual charm of manner in the end
Mon cœur, et que veut-il ? worked wonders. Some years after the But M. Scherer and other critics, who do secret leaked out, and the outraged uncle not require us to admire Amiel's poetry, made a will cutting his nephew off with a maintain that in his journal he has left shilling. Thanks, however, to a bracing “a book which will not die,” a book declimate and a sturdy constitution he lived scribing a malady of which “the secret is long enough to tear up this instrument sublime and the expression wonderful ; and fold to his manly chest a young scape- marvel of “speculative intuition," a "psygrace who has since become an ornament chological experience of the utmost to his country.
value. M. Scherer and Mrs. Humphry Ward give Amiel's journal very decidedly the preference over the letters of an old friend of mine, Obermann. The quo
tations made from Amiel's journal by his From Macmillan's Magazine, critics failed, I say, to enable me quite to
understand this high praise. But I reIt is somewhat late to speak of Amiel, member the time when a new publication but I was late in reading him. Goethe by George Sand or by Sainte-Beuve was says that in seasons of cholera one should an event bringing to me a shock of pleas. read no books but such as are tonic, ure, and a French book capable of renewand certainly in the season of old age ing that sensation is seldom produced now. this precaution is as salutary as in sea. If Amiel's journal was of the high quality sons of cholera. From what I heard I alleged, what a pleasure to make acquaintcould clearly make out that Amiel's jour- ance with it, what a loss to miss it! In nal was not a tonic book; the extracts spite, therefore, of the unfitness of old age from it which here and there I fell in with to bear atonic influences, I at last read did not much please me; and for a good Amiel's journal, – read it carefully while I left the book unread.
through. Tonic it is not; but it is to be But what M. Edmond Scherer writes I read with profit, and shows, moreover, do not easily resist reading, and I found powers of great force and value, though that M. Scherer had prefixed to Amiel's not quite, I am inclined to think, in the journal a long and important introduc- exact line which his critics with one contion. This I read; and was not less sent indicate. charmed by the mitis sapientia, the under- In speaking of Amiel at present, after standing kindness and tenderness with so much has been written about him, I which the character of Amiel himself, may assume that the main outlines of his whom M. Scherer had knowo in youth, life are known to my readers; that they was handled, than interested by the criti- know him to have been born in 1821 and cism on the journal. Then I read Mrs. to have died in 1881, to have passed the Humphry Ward's interesting notice, and three or four best years of his youth at then for all biography is attractive, and the University of Berlin, and the remain. of Amiel's life and circumstances I had der of his life mostly at Geneva, as a proby this time become desirous of knowing fessor, first of asthetics, afterwards of
the “Etude Biographique ” of philosophy. They know that his publicaMademoiselle Berthe Vadier,
tions and lectures, during his lifetime,