图书图片
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

The higher orders of the Swedes are highly cultivated, well informed, and accomplished. In consequence of every parish having a public school, almost every peasant can read, and many of the sons of the peasants are sent from these schools to the colleges at Upsala.

As I was strolling through the streets of Stockholm, just after our return from Upsala, I met with an occurrence which clearly established that an innate sentiment of submission to the laws will better ensure the safe custody of their violator than guards and gaolers; and it is admitted, that the Swedes are more under the influence of such an impulse than any

other people. Turning a corner, I was overtaken by a raw flaxen-headed countryman, who, as it afterwards proved, had never been in the city before, driving, in a little country cart, a very robust merry looking fellow, whose hands were fastened by a large clumsy pair of handcuffs, and one leg chained to some little slips of wood which composed part of the body of the vehicle. Both driver and culprit had, it appeared, indulged themselves with a few snaps on the road, and were neither of them very sober nor sorrowful. The prisoner, who, from his superior size and strength, might, I am satisfied, have easily knocked down the rustic with the iron round his hands, if he had been so disposed, and effected his escape

with little or no difficulty, sat at his ease, amusing himself with now and then pinching his conductor, which was always followed by a

AA

178

PRISON AT STOCKHOLM.

joke, and a mutual hearty laugh. In this way they jogged on through the city, the thief shewing his driver the road to the gaol, as merrily as if he had been going to the house of festivity. I saw several prisoners passed from one town to another, under similar circumstances of apparent insecurity. They all appeared to be too unconcerned, if not cheerful, to be secured by the trammels of conscience, which is said to be sometimes capable of holding a ruffian by a hair.

Upon visiting the principal prison, the rooms appeared to me to be too small and close, were much too crowded with prisoners, and the healthy and the sick were confined together. The prisoners were not compelled to work as in Copenhagen, to which circumstance, and the preceding causes, their sallow looks may be attributable: they are permitted to take the air only for a short time in the court-yard twice in the day. I was shocked to see a bar of iron, as long and as thick as a great kitchen poker, rivetted to each man's leg, and which, to enable him to move, he was obliged to preserve in a horizontal position, by a cord fastened to the end of it, and suspended from his waist. To load a prisoner with irons of any other weight or shape than what are necessary for security, is a reflection upon the justice, humanity, and policy of the government that permits it. The women were confined in a separate division of the building : they were not ironed, but their cells were too close and crowded; and they were also permitted to live in

SWEDISH WASHERWOMEN.

179

indolence. I must confess, when I reflected upon

the enlightened benevolence of the Swedish nation, I was surprised to see how little this place appeared to have shared in its solicitude, and most cordially do I hope that the time is not distant, when these miserable wretches will be rendered more comfortable, and less burthensome to the state.

The watchmen of Stockholm, like their brethren of Copenhagen, cry

the hour most lustily, and sing anthems almost all night, to the no little annoyance of foreigners who have been accustomed to confine their devotions to the day. These important personages of the night perambulate the town with a curious weapon like a pitch-fork, each side of the fork having a spring barb, used in securing a running thief by the leg. The use of it requires some skill and practice, and constitutes no inconsiderable part of the valuable art and mysteryof thiefcatching

Before I quit this charming city, I cannot help paying a compliment to a deserving and meritorious part of its female inhabitants, I mean the washerwomen, which I am sure all lovers of clean linen will re-echo. It is refreshing to see them enter one's room with the greatest propreté, with their baskets filled with linen as white as the driven snows of Lapland, and lay it out upon the table with that look and movement of conscious, but decent pride, which every creature feels who has

[blocks in formation]

reason to be in good humour with her own works: their bills are surprisingly moderate. Perhaps when the merits of these ladies are more widely known, luxury delighting in whatever is foreign, may seek their aid, and the winds of heaven may waft into Swedish harbours vessels freighted with foul linen from English shores.

We found the French comedy tolerably well attended : the interior of the theatre is small, and of an oblong shape, meanly decorated, and badly lighted: the royal-box is in the centre of the front, the whole of which it occupies. The performers were respectable, and receive

very

liberal encouragement from the public: the scenery was tolerable. The embellishments of this theatre suffer from the prodigal bounty which has been lavished upon the

opera.

As the time fixed for our departure was rapidly advancing, to enable us to pass through Russia, we were obliged to furnish ourselves with a passport from the Governor of Stockholm, for which we paid eight rix-dollars and a half, and another passport

from the Russian minister, resident at the Swedish court, which cost two rix-dollars; and as it is attended with the least trouble and expence to cross the gulf of Bothnia to Abo, by proceeding from Stockholm up the Baltic, we hired half a packet, the other half being engaged, for fifteen rix-dollars. The distance from Stockholm to Abo is about three

INDECORUM OF A LITTLE DOG.

181

hundred and fifteen English miles. The vessels, which are hired upon these occasions, are single-masted, and resemble a shallop with a raised deck, and a pink or sharp stern, which is much lower than the fore part, and is frequently under water : they cannot live long in rough weather.

On the day of our departure we dined with one of the most amiable and hospitable men in Stockholm. Few respectable Englishmen can pass through this capital, without knowing and consequently esteeming him; I allude to M. Winnerquist the banker.

From his house I once more ran up to the church of St. Catherine, at the top of Mount Moses, to take my last farewell of this enchanting city, which, warmed by a brilliant sun-tint, lay beautifully expanded below me.

Having laid in our provisions,—and let me recommend the traveller to secure a good quantity of bread, for none can be procured till he reaches Abo,—we proceeded to the quay, where our vessel lay in front of the palace: here, whilst I was waiting on shore the operation of hoisting the mainsail, a little trait of national character occurred, which did not fail to set me off in good humour. The walls of the casement story of the royal castle, and of the garden on this side, are of granite, vast, enormously thick and long, and cannot be taken by sap. A tradesman passed with a little dog trudging after him : the animal, it is to be presumed, had not had experience enough

« 上一页继续 »