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Title: Peeps at many lands: Sweden
Author: Liddle, William, Liddle, Mrs.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peeps at many lands: Sweden" ***

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                      64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK

                      205 FLINDERS LANE, MELBOURNE

                      ST. MARTIN’S HOUSE, 70 BOND STREET, TORONTO

                      MACMILLAN BUILDING, BOMBAY
                      309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA



    [Illustration: A FLODA GIRL. _Anders Zorn._]











   Transcriber's Note: Author's spelling, though often incorrect
   has been maintained.


  CHAPTER                                           PAGE

     I. SWEDISH HISTORY                                1
    II. GOTHENBURG                                    10
   III. A SUMMER HOLIDAY AT MARSTRAND                 15
    IV. ACROSS SWEDEN BY WATER                        21
     V. STOCKHOLM--I.                                 26
    VI. STOCKHOLM--II.                                31
   VII. THE SWEDES AT WORK                            36
  VIII. THE SWEDES AT PLAY                            40
    IX. EDUCATION IN SWEDEN                           47
     X. DALECARLIA                                    52
    XI. CUSTOMS                                       57
  XIII. FAIRY-TALES                                   69
   XIV. JUL, OR CHRISTMAS                             75
    XV. MIDSUMMER                                     80
   XVI. SOME WELL-KNOWN SWEDES                        84



  A FLODA GIRL                         _Anders Zorn_      _frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE

  OUR COUNTRY                         _Otto Hesselbom_                 9

  A SWEDISH SHEPHERDESS               _Anders Zorn_                   16

    WEST COAST OF SWEDEN              _Oscar Hullgren_                25

    STOCKHOLM, MIDSUMMER, 1523        _Carl Larsson_                  32

  A SUMMER DAY IN NORTH SWEDEN        _Carl Johansson_                41

  A SKI-RUNNER                        _Hallström_                     48

    FROM MORA                         _Anders Zorn_                   57

  IN DAYS OF OLD                      _Ankarcrona_                    64

  A GIRL WITH “KICKER”                _Carl Larsson_                  73

  DANCE ON MIDSUMMER’S EVE            _Anders Zorn_                   80

  A GIRL FROM RÄTTVIK                       “             _on the cover_

  _Sketch-Map of Sweden on p. viii._

    [Illustration: SKETCH-MAP OF SWEDEN.]




In one of the most beautiful and romantic districts of Sweden there is
one of the oldest copper-mines in the world. It is situated at Falun
in Dalecarlia. About 400 years ago a young man might have been seen
looking into the open mine. He was full of thought and anxiety, for
was not his country in the hands of the Danish King, Christian II., a
cruel tyrant? and was not he himself being pursued and driven to seek
concealment, as he was a direct descendant of the ancient Kings of
Sweden? He had suffered much, but had never given up hope. He stood
there thinking of his country’s down-trodden condition, hopeful,
trustful, and resolute, resolving to deliver his native land from the
foreign yoke. He remembered how the miners had fought in days of old
for their country. He would rouse them so that they would do it again.
He donned the peasant costume, and became as one of themselves. He
worked alongside them in the mines, and soon became a great favourite
because of his bright, winning manner. He took every opportunity of
speaking to them of the subject that lay nearest to his heart--the
freedom of their native land. He told them of the massacre of many
nobles at Stockholm, of ladies of rank being thrown into the sea, of
boys being whipped to death, and of peasants hanged for the slightest
offence at the order of King Christian, the Nero of the North.

After working in the mine for some time, he was recognized. He then
took service with an old college friend, Anders Persson, of Rankhytta,
who sympathized with him, but was unable to help him. He sent him to
Squire Arendt Persson, who, eager to win the reward offered for
Gustavus Vasa’s capture, betrayed him to the Danish soldiers. Arendt’s
wife suspected treachery, and let the young man down with a towel from
a window in the loft to the snow-covered ground outside, where a
trusty servant was waiting with a sledge to convey him to a place of
safety. When Persson arrived next morning with soldiers, he found the
bird flown.

On another occasion he took refuge in a hut in the forest. The Danes
had so entirely encircled the district, that Gustavus seemed
completely in their power. A friend, however, hid him in a load of
straw, and proceeded towards Rättvik. They were surrounded by Danish
soldiers, who stopped the cart and roughly thrust their sharp pikes
into the straw. Gustavus was pierced in the side by a spear. The pain
was great, but he endured it without a groan. Satisfied he could not
be there, the soldiers rode on. Blood, however, was seen on the
ground. To account for this, the driver had cut his horse’s leg close
down to the hoof.

As soon as he recovered from this wound, he went with renewed vigour
and zeal from hut to hut, exhorting the people to rise and throw off
the Danish yoke. This led him into great difficulties and great
suffering. He was often in want of food, and afraid to ask shelter. At
one time he had scarcely a moment to conceal himself under a fallen
tree before a party of Danish soldiers galloped up.

At last he made his way to Dalecarlia, where he had made his first
venture. The Danish soldiers again got on his track. He rushed to the
house of a peasant, and found the wife at her spinning-wheel. When she
knew who he was, she put him into a dark cellar underneath the
kitchen-floor, and covered the trap-door with a large brewing vat.
The soldiers were baffled, and although they were strongly of opinion
that Gustavus was there, left without him, but not without having been
entertained by the good woman, who had never lost her presence of

Gustavus Vasa, after many trials and disappointments, seemed to think
that he must give up his scheme, and resolved to leave the country for
Norway. He was away in a lonely spot, and preparing to cross the
mountains, when he heard voices calling to him. He turned round, and
saw some Dalecarlians on skis, who had been sent by their companions
to recall him, as they had resolved to rise against the Danes under
his leadership. Gladly he agreed to their request, and returned to
Mora, where, on a Sunday after church, he addressed the men,
recounting the miseries and sufferings of the land under the Danes.
“He has a manly voice, and a winning tongue,” said an old man, “and
see the north wind blows. Let us attend to what he says.” The north
wind blowing was considered a good omen--a sign that God would be
gracious. Gustavus was soon chosen lord and chieftain over Dalecarlia,
and the whole realm of Sweden. After he had collected an army of
several hundred men, he marched to Falun, seized the property of the
Danish and German merchants, and distributed it among his men.
Infected by his enthusiasm and encouraged by his early success, the
Swedes assembled round his banner in large numbers. The Danes were
struck by their courage and hardihood. On one occasion a Danish
General asked how a large force of Swedes could be supported in so
wild a country. A Swede, hearing the remark, said that the
Dalecarlians were content to drink water, and, if need be, eat bread
made from the bark of a tree. Thereupon the Dane said: “A people who
eat wood and drink water, the devil himself cannot subdue,” much less
any other. The Swedes at first were poorly armed, but with bows and
arrows, axes, and clubs, used with an intense love of Gustavus and
country, they repeatedly defeated the Danes, who, after two years’
hard fighting, were driven out of Sweden. On Midsummer’s Eve, June 23,
1523, Gustavus made a triumphant entry into Stockholm as King. He
reigned for thirty years. His memory is fresh to-day in Sweden as the
liberator of the country from the Danish yoke.

Another name that is honoured by every true Swede, and by many who are
not Swedes, is Gustavus Adolphus I. He is chiefly and justly held in
honour because of what he did for the Protestant cause in Europe. The
Protestant Princes had lost heart, as they had suffered very much at
the hands of Generals Tilly and Wallenstein. Gustavus resolved to go
to the aid of the Princes. With only 13,000 Swedes he set sail, but as
soon as he reached Germany, large numbers of men joined his army.
Emperor Ferdinand, when he heard of his arrival, said: “Oh, we have
another little enemy come against us!” His courtiers replied with a
laugh, and said: “The Snow King will melt as he approaches the
southern sun.” He did not melt, but proved an iron King, as he drove
everyone before him. Soon he rallied the Protestant forces, and made
his power felt from the Polar Sea to the Alps.

The Emperor’s Generals found in him more than a match. He was cut off,
however, very early in life. He was with his devoted men before Lützen
preparing for a great battle. As usual, they prepared by worshipping
God. They sang the King’s hymn, “Fear not, little flock,” and then
engaged in prayer. The next day the King mounted his horse to lead his
army. When his officers saw him, he was without his armour. They urged
him to put it on. “God is my cuirass,” said the King, and galloped
into the thick of the fight. It was a desperate fight, and a critical
moment, when his riderless horse was seen rushing madly out of the
fray. Gustavus Adolphus was dead. He had died in the hour of victory.
He was not only a great man, but also a good man. He believed in God’s
willingness to help the right. “To pray often is almost to conquer,”
was a favourite saying of his.

Charles XII. was another warrior-King of Sweden, and was one of
Europe’s greatest and youngest of soldiers. At the age of fifteen,
when most boys are thinking of amusement, he ascended the throne of
Sweden after the death of his father, and a few months later took the
reins of government into his hand and placed himself at the head of
his army. He was possessed of great energy, very courageous--perhaps
oftentimes foolhardy--but too ambitious of winning glory. Within
twelve months, when he was only nineteen years of age, he had to
encounter Denmark, Russia, and Poland. He first so attacked Denmark
that the King had to sue for peace. On a November morning, with 8,000
Swedes, he attacked 50,000 Russians under the walls of Narva, and
inflicted on them a great defeat. He then dethroned the King of Poland
and put another in his place. His hatred of Russia was his downfall.
In 1708 he again invaded that country. He spent the winter in an
impoverished and hostile land, and when the Czar, Peter the Great,
with 70,000 men, attacked him, he had but 23,000 worn-out and
destitute men. He was defeated, and fled to Turkey, where he found a
refuge; but at the end of 1715 he returned to Sweden. Notwithstanding
his reverses, his passion for fighting led him to attack Norway in
1716 and 1718, when he was killed at Frederikshald at the early age of

He is one of the heroes of Sweden. He called upon his men to suffer
much, which they did willingly, as they were devoted to him, because
of his courage, his sympathy with them, and his ever-cheerful
countenance. He, however, exhausted the country, as the wars he
carried on drained her of her best blood, and emptied her treasury.
From this date Sweden was no longer one of the great military powers.
It was of Charles that Dr. Johnson wrote, in his “Vanity of Human
Wishes,” the celebrated lines:

    “His fall was destin’d to a barren strand,
    A petty fortress, and a dubious hand.
    He left the name at which the world grew pale
    To point a moral or adorn a tale.”

The last of this line of Kings was Charles XIII. He was an old,
infirm, and childless man when the question arose who should succeed
him. Napoleon Bonaparte was then carrying everything before him,
and among his Generals was one Bernadotte, who had risen from the
ranks, and proved himself to be one of the greatest powers in France
at that time. The Swedes chose him as Crown Prince, very much against
Napoleon’s wish, who, no doubt, did not desire to lose so able a
General, but at last, probably thinking that Bernadotte would help him
in his schemes, said, “Well, go! may our fates be fulfilled.”
Bernadotte soon after this took a leading part in Napoleon’s
overthrow, and in 1818 ascended the throne of Sweden as Charles XIV.
He reigned for twenty-six years, and proved a wise ruler. His
great-grandson is the present King.

    [Illustration: OUR COUNTRY. _Otto Hesselbom._]

The following is a list of Kings in our country contemporary with the
Swedish ones of whom a brief sketch has been given:


    Gustavus Vasa,     {Henry VIII., 1509-1547}    James V., 1513-1542
            1523-1560  {Edward VI.,  1547-1553}    Mary,     1542-1567
                          \                         /
    Gustavus Adolphus, {James I.,         1603-1625
            1611-1632  {Charles I.,       1625-1649

    Charles XII.,      {William and Mary, 1688-1702
            1697-1718  {Anne,             1702-1714
                       {George I.,        1714-1727

                       {George III.,      1760-1820
    Charles XIV.,      {George IV.,       1820-1830
            1818-1844  {William IV.,      1830-1837
                       {Victoria,         1837-1901



Sweden is a country that is not very well known, but is one that is
most interesting to visit, because of the kindliness of the people and
beauty of the scenery as well as many historical associations. As soon
as you have reached the little island of Winga, with its lighthouse,
you are led to think of those days, long, long ago, when the Goths
left these shores in their Viking ships, to sweep the seas and found
kingdoms, or of those days when Gustavus Adolphus gathered the young
able-bodied men of the country, that they might go with him to Germany
to fight for the faith he loved, while the old men and women were left
to till the land. In many places you come across beautiful castles
containing great treasures which Gustavus and his Generals brought
home from the war. These were days when the Swedes were known
everywhere as heroes in the battle-field. Now, you do not think of
them so much as a warlike nation, but as one peaceful and industrious,
seeking to win honour and renown in the more peaceful field of
science, industry, and art. The poet Tegner says:

    “We have conquered a world at the point of our sword,
    Let us now win the world by our song and our thought.”

The rough seas of the ocean are past. The calm waters of the Göta have
been entered. You have still some hours to journey before you reach
Gothenburg, the second city of Sweden. The steamer threads its way
through a crowd of rocky islands, very bare, barren, and desolate,
with scarcely any vegetation. Here and there can be seen a lonely
fisherman’s hut, painted red, and perhaps an occasional lighthouse. If
it be a Sunday afternoon or a holiday, there is plenty of life. There
in summer can be seen hundreds of men and women bathing in the water,
or basking in the open air on the banks of the river or on the
islands. Every now and then you meet steamers crowded with
pleasure-seekers, who are to spend the day at Marstrand, Lysekil, or
one of the numerous watering-places in this northern archipelago.
These islands, bare as they are, have a wonderful fascination. Spend a
short time on one of them, and you have a desire to repeat your visit.
There is the restfulness of the lonely island with the clear water
dashing upon the rocky shore. What glorious sunsets, as the sun sinks
into the ocean beyond Winga!

As the steamer wends her way up the river, among other places you pass
Styrso, with its baths, sea-bathing, and many fine villas built by
Gothenburg merchants, and Långedrag, another of the numerous
sea-resorts. Your curiosity is aroused by the sight of large tin cans,
similar in appearance to those that convey the milk from the farms to
the towns in our country. These are water-cans. They have no fresh
water suitable for drinking in many of the islands, so that it has to
be carried every day from a town. Now you come to Elfsborg, an
abandoned and dismantled fort situated on an island rock in the
channel. The church of Majorna looks down upon you from the top of a
cliff. Then, after you pass the ship-building yard and factories, you
arrive at the Harbour of Gothenburg, the fortress of the Göta.

The origin of all towns is interesting. How did Gothenburg come into
existence? It dates back from the time of Gustavus Adolphus, who
founded it in 1619. We are told that he came on a visit to this
neighbourhood to decide upon the site of a new city. As he stood on
the top of the Mountain Otterhällen, surrounded by his advisers and
officers, a small bird, chased by an eagle, flew to the feet of the
King for refuge. The King thought this was a message from heaven, and
there and then decided that the new city should be built at the foot
of the mountain. To keep the memory of the founder fresh, the
inhabitants have erected a statue of King Gustavus Adolphus in one of
the squares. It represents him with big boots, military cloak, hat
with feathers, and finger pointing out the site of the city.

The steamer has arrived earlier than was expected. You cannot leave
the ship, as your friends are coming for you. You need not remain on
board because you cannot speak Swedish. Nearly every intelligent
inhabitant of Gothenburg can converse fluently in English. Wait
patiently for a little and the captain will allow you to telephone to
your friends from the ship. Very many ships have the telephone. By the
time the custom-house officer has examined and chalked your luggage,
the telephone connection has been made. It saves one’s friends many a
long and weary wait for the uncertain arrival of a steamer.

Thus you are introduced to one of the striking features of Swedish
life. The telephone is universal. Every place of business, of course,
has one, but also every private house, every farm, and even the little
kiosks on the street can boast of a connection.

After landing, as you drive through the streets you are struck by the
Dutch appearance of the city. Canals intersect the streets. This is
because the first inhabitants were chiefly Dutch merchants, called
into the country by the King.

The city makes a splendid impression on one, as the streets are well
laid out and the houses well built.

How bright and fresh everything appears in the King’s Port Avenue or
the Allée, lined, as they both are, with rows of spreading trees and
stately buildings! These are the fashionable streets and favourite
promenades, where can be seen the youth and beauty of Gothenburg.

The visitor must also see a large public park--Slottskögen--where the
working-men, with their wives and children, listen to the music of the
band. Then there are the Botanic Gardens, which are also a

You should not miss the market where you buy your fish alive. Near by
is the fruit-market, where you see the old women behind their stalls
of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. One wonders how they move, they
are enveloped in so much clothing. There, too, can be seen the little
boat with its load of firewood. Near by are tables laden with sausages
and hams.



I must now give you an idea how a holiday is spent at the seaside in
Sweden. Early in the year the question is, Where shall we spend the
summer? Three whole months of liberty and sunshine--this is what every
boy and girl looks forward to in Sweden, as the public schools all
close on the last days of May, or first days of June, and do not
reopen till the first day of September.

This summer we decide to go to Marstrand, and I will try to give you
an idea how a day is spent there. On a fine morning in the first week
of June we board the pretty steamer _St. Erik_, and although we have
come early, we find it already crowded with families hurrying off to
the seaside, so great is the rush from town as soon as the schools are
closed. We have to sit wedged in between beds and perambulators, so
many and varied are the things it is necessary to take to a Swedish

After the steamer has threaded its course for about two hours between
the numerous rocks and islands, we suddenly get a glimpse of the tower
of Marstrand’s fortress, dominating the whole island, and overlooking
the stormy Kattegat, whose waves beat on its shores from all sides.
Then we steam up through a very narrow passage, cut in the rocks years
ago, to allow the gunboats of that day to retreat under the guns of
the fortress.

Many a time, as a child, I used to watch with anxiety the progress of
the steamer when in that narrow canal, as the boat almost touches the
cliffs on either side, and it needs great skill to pilot her through

Having passed through, we are in full view of Marstrand. What a
glamour rests over that sunny island to many a holiday-seeker!

But as your eyes gaze upon it, you look in vain for any handsome
buildings or hotels; what you see is a lot of nicely-built houses with
red tiled roofs, all clustered closely together at the foot of the
fortress, which is built on the highest hill of the island. A
prominent feature is the white church with its square tower. The town
was founded in 1220 by the Norwegian King Hakon Hakonson. During the
sixteenth century it rose into importance as one of the best herring
fisheries of the North, but in these days it depends almost entirely
on the support of its summer visitors. We have now arrived at
Marstrand quay, which is crowded with happy, chattering people,
everyone eager to welcome some friend; or it may be they have just
come down to watch the arrival of the steamer, this being one of the
excitements of the island.

    [Illustration: A SWEDISH SHEPHERDESS. _Anders Zorn._]

How delicious and soft the air is, full of the briny smell of the sea!
Excitement runs high amongst the young people, as they think of all
the delights of a summer at Marstrand, which are chiefly summed up in
the three words, bathing, sailing, and fishing. We soon get settled
into our home for the summer, a large, airy villa, standing in a shady
garden, not far from the battery, and having a fine view of the sea.

Our first fishing expedition is planned to take place the day after
our arrival. We are wakened early in the morning, between five and six
o’clock. With eagerness we jump out of bed, and as we mean business
and not only pleasure, we don an old serge skirt, as we know we shall
get many a soaking of salt water from the spray of the waves as well
as from the dripping fish. After a hurried breakfast we rush down to
the quay, where we find our faithful old skipper Anders in his large,
comfortable sailing-boat, waiting for us.

We sail right out into the open sea, where we drop anchor, and now the
sport begins. The fishing-lines are unwound, each line often having
about six hooks. These we bait with mussels. When luck is good, one
has not long to wait; we were soon all busy pulling up and letting
down our lines again as fast as we could, often getting two whiting or
plaice at a time.

What fun it is to feel the tug and pull of the fish, but after a
couple of hours we are ready to return home, feeling almost giddy with
the strong air and the rocking of the boat; but we have enjoyed the
morning immensely, and come back full of joy and spirits.

Another pleasure at Marstrand is the sailing. Along the quay
are moored several large boats with their white sails hoisted,
bearing various Northern names, such as _Thor_, _Balder_, _Gudrun_,
_Ingeborg_, etc.

One hires these boats by the hour; the favourite sail is to the
well-known “Paternoster” ledges, a group of rocky islets distant four
miles from Marstrand, in beautiful open sea. These islands are much
dreaded by sailors, and on Hamnskär, the largest of them, there is a
lighthouse, and below it is the light-keeper’s house, a low stone
building, the only human dwelling-place on the island. There are also
two little towers; one holds the fog-bell, and the other the windmill
which winds the clock which gives the warning to the vessels that
pass near those fatal rocks.

Often these pleasure sailings are extended for a whole day; the boats
are large and comfortable, and the skippers are skilful, reliable men.

On the one half of Marstrand the town is built. It looks very quaint
and old with its narrow, cobbled streets. There are two parks, one
named Paradicet (the Paradise). This used to be the favourite
meeting-place for the visitors, but lately the park which surrounds
the Society House is the rendezvous, and near it are the public

The sea-bathing house is built in a circle, and covers a good deal of
water, the depth of the water being about 3 feet. From the enclosure
there are doors that open out into the open sea for the more able
swimmers. Each bather has a small room to undress in, and all these
rooms lead out on to a gallery that runs entirely round the basin of
water, into which steps descend at convenient intervals.

There is always a teacher of swimming to give lessons to those who do
not know how to swim, and there are not many boys and girls in Sweden
who do not learn this accomplishment very early.

The climate of Marstrand is very mild and balmy. There is scarcely any
difference in the temperature between night and day; consequently,
the temperature of the sea is very even, and sea-bathing is enjoyed
till late in September.

For the sight-seer the fortress “Carlsten,” of Marstrand, is an object
of interest. It is still in a perfectly preserved condition. In some
places the walls are blasted out of the cliffs; in others built of
granite. From its high ramparts one gets a fine view of all the
surrounding islands and sea.

Marstrand itself is all grey rock, with a very few trees. A favourite
walk is round the island. At one place you pass between high cliffs, a
very narrow passage called the Needle’s Eye. The extreme point of the
island is called Tå Udden--the Cape of the Toe. This is a favourite
resort, as here you gaze right out on the sea, and when it is stormy
you see the grand spectacle of the waves dashing against the low



An interesting and comfortable way of reaching Stockholm from
Gothenburg is by canal. Between these two cities are many lakes,
including Vener, Vetter, Hjelmär, and Malar. These are so linked
together by canals, that they form a waterway across Sweden through
which fairly large passenger and cargo-boats can go from the North Sea
to the Baltic.

Travelling by canal-boat is, as a rule, tedious. It is interesting in
this case. The steamer passes through a country which has many towns,
churches, and castles that make you think of long, long ago, and also
many factories and workshops that speak of the present. You rarely
lose sight of vast expanses of water and great stretches of forest. In
the distance you can see a whitewashed parish church glistening in the
sun, here and there farmhouses and woodmen’s huts nestling among the
trees, and sometimes the castle where the nobleman of the district
lives. How comfortable is the steamer, ever fresh-looking with its
white paint, with its nice dining-room, clean and tidy cabins, food
beautifully cooked, and well served by smart waitresses. Both mind and
body have enough to make the time pass pleasantly.

To avoid the monotony of the first part of the journey, many join the
steamer at Gothenburg about midnight, and arrive at Trollhättan early
in the morning. After morning coffee with _kringlor_ (ring-twisted)
biscuits, you leave the steamer while it passes through the locks,
eleven in number, and walk along the shaded paths until you come to
the falls. They consist of a series of six rapids, and are noted not
on account of their heights, but because of the volume of water. They
are playing a large part in the industrial life of the country, and
are destined to do much more.

In a very short distance the steamer has ascended 144 feet, and once
more enters the Göta River, along which it travels until it enters
Lake Vener, the largest lake in Scandinavia. It is very picturesque
and beautiful, with many houses and villages on its banks. More than
thirty rivers run into it. You very often meet steamers and
sailing-vessels, and for their safety a great many lighthouses have
been erected. It is not till you have passed through this lake that
you enter the Göta Canal.

The canal owes its origin to a desire in the sixteenth century to
connect Lake Vener with the Baltic. It was not until 1808 that Baltzar
von Platen, with the assistance of the English engineer Telford,
staked out the course, and the work was completed in 1820 at a cost of
about £1,000,000. Very many soldiers were engaged on it. The whole
distance is about 125 miles, which is a long distance to travel by
canal steamer, especially as passing through locks is slow, but the
beauty and variety of the scenery, as well as the sights, ancient and
modern, always keep up the interest.

After entering the canal at Sjötorp, the steamer proceeds very slowly,
always ascending, until it reaches Lake Vetter, 308 feet above the
Baltic. Next morning, when you come on deck, you find that you have
entered the lake itself. Away to the south is Sweden’s greatest
fortress. You can see it in the distance with the tower surmounted by
the national flag. Lake Vetter is clear and blue and is beautiful to
look upon, but every mariner dreads it, as, without any warning,
violent storms arise. Sailing across in a south-easterly direction,
you come to a famous old town--Vadstena. How times have changed!
Before you rise the massive castle with its towers and spire. It was
built by Gustavus Vasa, who when fifty-eight years of age brought
here his third wife, Katarina Stenboch, who was only sixteen and a
very unwilling bride. The lake comes up to the walls and fills the
moat, which is used as a harbour.

There are here remains of two churches, which owed their origin, as
the town did, to a convent founded by S. Brigitta in the sixteenth
century. She was a splendid woman, and drew to her side ladies of
noble birth from many countries. Life was very strict in the convent,
no one could possess any wealth, no intercourse was allowed with old
friends except on rare occasions. Every nun was driven out at the
Reformation, and not much is left to tell of their having lived there,
but in the town many women make beautiful lace of the old patterns the
nuns used to work. Often on board the steamer a woman brings a
basketful to sell. The steamer re-enters the canal at Motala, where
there are very large engineering works, at which all the science of
modern times is employed in turning out all sorts of engines and
mechanical appliances.

When the steamer is entering Lake Roxen, we are again carried back to
the old days. Here is Vreta Closter, where of old kings were buried,
and here, too, can be seen several coffins in one of the chapels.
These contain the remains of members of the Douglas family, who fought
under Gustavus Adolphus. Their descendants have a high place among
Swedish nobility at the present day.

     _Oscar Hullgren._]

Lake Roxen is a beautiful sheet of clear crystal water, with steep,
rocky, and wooded shores on the one side, and fertile plains on the
other. There are many old ruins that command our attention.

On the last morning of our trip, we wake up to find ourselves among
those pretty islands that dot the Baltic Sea off the Swedish coast. We
have, however, to pass through the Sodertelie Canal, which is entered
at a village of that name. Of this you can make no mistake, for on
board come women and children with baskets full of ring-twisted
biscuits, which are known all over the world. At last we enter Lake
Malar, surely one of the most beautiful of lakes, and with a warm sun
and blue sky overhead, no one can but feel at peace and full of
happiness. Soon the spires of Stockholm are visible, and the canal
voyage is over when we moor at the Riddarholm quay.



There are many beautiful cities in the world, and among them should be
placed Stockholm, the Venice of the North. This is due not only to the
enterprise of the people, but also very largely to its situation. What
a lovely picture, or series of pictures, the traveller sees as he
approaches Stockholm from the sea. The steamer wends its way among
hundreds of small islands, covered with luxuriant verdure and foliage.
On each of these islands brightly painted wooden houses are seen,
surrounded by pretty gardens of flowers. These are the country
residences of Stockholm’s business men. Every such house has its
landing-stage, at which small but swift steamers call every morning
and evening, and it is a never-failing source of pleasure to see the
meetings and partings of father and family. The Swedes are very
demonstrative, and speed the parting guest with waving of handkerchief
until he is out of sight, although he may be returning in a few hours.

As the steamer passes through Lake Malar, towards Stockholm, the
interest ever increases, as on its shores you see towns and villages,
old castles and modern villas, farm and meadow alternating with
huge masses of rock, while ever and anon you meet steamers and
sailing-ships on their way to and from the sea. At last the towers and
spires of Stockholm are in sight.

The history of Stockholm is most interesting. There are many legends
that tell of the founding of the city. Here is one. In the twelfth
century some robbers, who came from the East, entered Lake Malar,
plundering and destroying the ancient city Sigtuna. The inhabitants
gathered together what was left them of their jewels, and having
placed them in a boat, made out of a log of wood (Swedish “stock”),
set it adrift on Lake Malar. Away down towards the Baltic it floated,
the despoiled ones following and wondering where it would find a
harbour. At last the log or stock landed at the island of Agne’s Näs.
Here the gods had decided their new home should be, and the “holm”
where the “stock” harboured was named Stockholm.

There is, however, more accurate information than this legend. In the
days when might was right, the Vikings made Lake Malar their
stronghold. Its great length, with its numerous arms, made a secure
anchorage for their ships. Thence they made forays in the Baltic. They
were often successful, but many a time were pursued in turn. To
prevent the entry of the pursuers, they built a fortress on the
central island which commands the entrance to the lake. This was in
the eleventh century. From this time Stockholm dates its origin.

Around the fortress they built houses for the Vikings and their
families. Alongside these were built houses and stores for traders and

By the middle of the twelfth century there were a considerable number
of people gathered together round the fortress for commerce and

There is one man honoured by the people of Stockholm as the founder of
the city. This was Birger Jarl, who was a King in all but name. He
built walls and towers round the houses on the largest island, gave it
the name and privileges of a city, and styled it the capital of
Sweden. As he was a man of great power and influence, many more people
were attracted to it. This city then took the place of Upsala, which
before had been the seat of government. Birger Jarl’s son, Waldemar,
completed the work of his father, and enclosed the three islands
within one large fortification. It soon became the centre of trade in
Sweden, but could not possibly increase much in area, as the rovers
did not encourage any building on the mainland, and would give no
protection to anyone who dwelt outside the city walls.

Stockholm had many ups and downs, and when Gustavus Vasa, the
Liberator of Sweden, entered the city on Midsummer’s Day, 1523, he
found it in ruins, and only 308 families left to form the population.
Under his care life became more secure, and from this time the
population gradually increased, until it became, as it is now, a very
large and thickly populated city.

Now the city has extended its boundaries north and south of the site
of the ancient fortress, and where it stood the Royal Palace now
stands, and commands the whole city, as its predecessor did of old. It
presents a very pleasing aspect, as the streets are very broad and the
squares very deep. There are many handsome public buildings and
private dwelling-houses. You see here what, in a marked degree, is a
special feature of Swedish towns, large areas planted with trees and
flowers, for the Stockholmers are very fond of what is beautiful in
nature. They are always, when opportunity affords, adding to their
planted spaces. Nearly one half of the area of the whole city is
utilized as parks and gardens. The city has a great many flower-shops,
and the flower-trade is one of the most thriving of all its trades.

In the summer, with the forest, which extends right up to the city
boundary, and the gardens and parks presenting a great wealth of
colour, a charming picture meets your eye.

Another feature of Stockholm is her waterways. Wherever you go, you
are continually getting a peep of them. Every street seems to lead to
a quay. Thus, while trams are numerous, little steamboats are seen in
great numbers. They take you quickly from one place to another, and
more directly than the tram. In winter, when the whole lake is frozen
over, they form a most direct means of communication between the
different parts of the city, as well as a large playground for those
who indulge in skating.



We have been reading about the rise of the city. Let us have a look at
some of the sights.

First of all we must visit the Royal Palace. It is a most imposing
building as it stands on a height overlooking a very deep square. It
is very large, as anyone can tell from the fact that when the late
King had his Jubilee in 1897, all the foreign princes with their
retinues were accommodated in it. The King and Queen and the Crown
Prince, when in Stockholm, live here.

Every Tuesday forenoon the King gives an audience to any of his
subjects who may desire it. If anyone has any grievance to complain
of, or any request to make, he can do it in private to the King.

When the King is in the country in the summer months, many of the
rooms can be seen by the public. They are, as one would expect, large
and beautifully decorated. To most people the Armoury and Royal Robe
Chamber are the most interesting, as there you can see so many relics
and robes which belonged to famous Kings and Queens of days gone by.
Here are the blood-stained shirt worn by Gustavus Adolphus when he
was killed at Lützen, and the uniform and hat worn by Charles XII.
when he was shot at Frederikshald.

During the Thirty Years’ War, a great many went from England and
Scotland to fight in the army of Gustavus Adolphus. You are reminded
of this when you look at the walls of the Riddarhus (House of Nobles),
which are covered with the coats of arms of the Swedish nobility.
Amongst them can be seen a very large number of English and Scotch
names. The nobles used to meet here as a chamber on the affairs of the
country. They no longer do so. There is still to be seen the Speaker’s
chair presented to Gustavus Vasa in 1527. It is made of ivory, and in
it several Bible scenes are inlaid with ebony.

We have seen that Sweden was at one time a great military power in
Europe. We notice this if we visit the Riddarholm Church. The interior
is adorned with 6,000 flags and trophies taken in war. This is the
burial-place of the Kings of Sweden.

Very many years ago, when Stockholm was built chiefly of wood, St.
Jacob’s Church was a kind of signal station. There used to be in its
tower a watchman, who would sing out the hours of night:

    “The hour is ten:
    God’s mighty hand
    Preserve our town
    From fire and brand:
    The hour is ten.”

If he saw any sign of fire, instead of his rhyme he sounded a rattle
as a warning.

     1532. _Carl Larsson._]

Things are now altering all over the country. Many old customs are
passing away. To remind the young Swede of the past, Dr. Hazelius
conceived the idea of a museum in which would be preserved old Swedish
costumes, furniture, and other things which speak of the past. This
has been arranged in a very large building. In connection with it
there is a large open-air museum called Skansen. It encloses about 40
acres. It is a Sweden in miniature.

Buildings have been brought from every part of Sweden. You can see
peasants, farms, and houses, summer houses of different centuries, and
a Lapp encampment, where real Lapps live during the summer. The
attendants are dressed in the old national costumes. On several days
of the week you can see the graceful national dances and games. There
are animals, wild and domestic, from all parts of Scandinavia, and
plants and flowers are well represented. It is a most interesting
place to visit, and gives a peep into the whole of Sweden.

Let us now visit the streets, and see something of the life of the
people. They live chiefly in flats, and the street-door is generally
shut. When the bell is rung, the porter, who is within, touches a
spring, which opens the door mechanically. There are lifts as well as
broad staircases to the different flats. The houses are heated in
winter by means of large porcelain stoves, in which wood is burned.
The wood is brought to the harbour in boats from the surrounding
districts, and some houses have a man whose daily rôle is to go to the
boat, buy the wood, cut it into pieces, and feed the stoves. Very
often he is a Dalecarlian, and wears his native costume.

There are many open-air markets. Let us visit the fish-market. Here
the fish is brought alive in tanks in the boats. We may see the owner
of the boat, as we pass along, lift up fish for our inspection. As a
rule, fish is sold alive.

The boys of this country are accustomed to see at railway-stations
automatic machines for the sale of chocolates and a few other small
things. In Sweden you find automatic restaurants. They require no
waiters. There is a large room with tables, and on each wall are
labels over different slots, such as “Tea,” “Coffee,” “Milk,” etc. You
put your coin in, and, putting your cup or tumbler under a tap, get
what you want. There are some restaurants that also supply a hot lunch
after the same manner. These are very popular, as they save time and

In the winter there are in the squares of Stockholm huge cisterns
containing hot milk, which is sold in the same automatic way.

The Swedes are very fond of music, and in their beautiful Opera-House
one can hear the finest concerts for a comparatively low price.

Altogether Stockholm is a most attractive city. The beauty of its
situation, combined with the culture and friendliness of its people,
are bound to awake our admiration.



Let us now have a peep at the Swede at work, for, although he is very
fond of pleasure, he is very hard-working and industrious, and is
taking a foremost place among the manufacturers of the world.

Although only about one-tenth of the country is under cultivation,
nearly one-half of the people are engaged in the fields. The people
are very much devoted to the land. In most cases the farmer owns the
farm, and, with the aid of his family, he is able to cultivate all his
ground. Farming has changed very much of late years. A great deal of
grain used to be grown, but nowadays more attention is being paid to
rearing horses and cattle, and dairying.

The farmers are very intelligent and well educated, and employ the
latest methods in their work. They have made the export of butter one
of their chief industries, and in most districts have erected
cooperative dairies. The carts go to the farms, collect the produce,
and take it to a central dairy, where the butter is made. This is
exported in large quantities, with eggs, to Denmark and Britain. They
employ the finest machinery, and have well-constructed dairies. Most
of their appliances are made in Sweden. In Stockholm they manufacture
a separator which is sent to every part of the world. It was invented
by a Swede--Gustaf de Laval--and separates the cream from the milk.

In some parts of Sweden farmers have to be very economical as well as
industrious. Sometimes you will see little yellow bundles hanging on
trees; these are birch twigs, and when they are thoroughly dried, they
are used as fodder for the sheep. In the Far North, the sun is not
sufficiently strong to make hay, so they erect poles which look like
fences, and as soon as the grass is cut, they hang it on these poles,
and allow it to remain until it is cured.

As you sail round the coast and call at the various ports, you see
great piles of timber, and ships from many countries loading planks;
also huge ponds full of logs, and close at hand sawmills cutting them.
You are here reminded that one of Sweden’s greatest industries is the
timber trade. You would expect this if you travel through the country,
for everywhere you see large forests, especially in the Norrland. More
than half of the country is covered with forest. This industry is
greatly helped by the many rivers. Men go up in the winter to these
forests to cut down the trees, which they haul over the snow, when it
is deep upon the ground, to the rivers. They have to make special
roads in the woods for this, and in the spring the logs are allowed to
float down the river to its mouth, where the sawmills are. Sometimes
they take months, sometimes they take years. Very few are lost. At
other times the logs are formed into huge rafts, which are kept in the
centre of the stream by men with long poles. They usually try to get
them done before the end of the summer, or they will need to return
the following year, as the rivers are usually frozen every winter. As
soon as they arrive at the river’s mouth, they are taken to the
sawmills, and cut into planks of various sizes.

What is done with all this timber? A large number of the thin, short
logs are sent to Britain to be props in the pits. Perhaps, when you
are travelling in the train, the sleepers on which the rails are laid
may have come from Sweden. A great deal of the timber is crushed into
pulp, and then used for the making of paper. The Swedes make doors and
windows for us. They even export wooden houses.

Another great industry is match-making. They do a wonderful thing in
this industry. A Swede invented a so-called “complete machine,” which
reduces the manual labour very much. The match material, which is
first cut by other machines, is placed into the “complete machine” at
one end, and comes out at the other ready made and packed in boxes,
without a workman having to touch them. A machine can turn out 40,000
boxes in eleven hours.

These are but a few of the occupations of the Swedes. Very many are
employed at iron and steel works. There are great ore-mines in the
North. Swedish steel is considered the best in the world, and is used
greatly in Sheffield for the well-known cutlery. Employment is found
for great numbers of men in granite quarries, in manufacturing
machinery, and in weaving cloth. Glass-works are numerous, and a great
deal of very fine cut glass is exported. It would take too long to
mention all the industries. Enough has been said to show that Sweden
is not a poor but a rich and progressive country. There is work for
all. The one drawback is the want of coal, which has all to be
imported, but the Swedes are trying to utilize the waterfalls, and
make them provide the power to drive machinery. When that is
accomplished they will be able to take a place in the front rank of
iron and steel-producing countries.



The Swedes are very fond of pleasure, and enter into all kinds of
indoor and outdoor games with great spirit. They have many similar to
ours, but there are some which our boys and girls might enjoy.

Blind-man’s buff is played in several ways. Here is one. The person
who has been blindfolded is placed in the middle of the room with a
cane in his hand, while all the company form a ring round him with
joined hands. The blind man points towards one in the ring. This one
must rise and put his mouth to one end of the cane, while the blind
man puts his to the other. They hold a conversation with one another
as if speaking through the telephone. The blind man guesses who has
been talking to him, and if successful, changes places with his

Sometimes the company sit on chairs in a circle. The blind man walks
round and round, and at last sits down in the lap of someone who, if
he guesses the name correctly, is blindfolded in turn. If not
correct, the one on whose lap he is sitting gives him a slap and
sends him on, but no words are spoken.

     [Illustration: A SUMMER DAY IN NORTH SWEDEN. _Carl Johansson._]

Still another game: it is called _Låna låna eld_. All the company
except one are again seated in a circle. Then the one standing walks
up to one of the company, and rapping on the ground with a cane, says:
“Låna, låna, eld” (Lend, lend fire). The other replies: “Gå till nästa
grannen” (Go to the next neighbour). He goes on doing this time after
time, and always getting the same reply. While he is doing this the
company are exchanging chairs with one another by rushing across the
room. The questioner has to watch his chance to get into a chair that
is vacant. The one deprived of the chair has then to get the cane and
go in search of fire.

The Swedes, like all Scandinavians, have a great love of dancing, and
very many of their games take the form of a simple dance. On a summer
evening you can see the villagers of all ages, men and women, boys and
girls, playing at dancing games on the village green to the
accompaniment of a fiddle or accordion. A very pretty picture they
present if they are, as often happens in Dalecarlia, dressed in their
bright native costume. While dancing they generally sing a description
of each movement as they perform it. One dance has been handed down
from time immemorial. It is named _Väfva Vadmal_ (Weaving Homespun).
No doubt it arose from the fact that the Swedish women used to weave
the cloth for all their clothes. The players imitate the weaving of
cloth at the old handloom. Some represent the bobbins; others the warp
and woof. In and out they go until they form a bale. Then they stand
still for a time, after which they reverse, unwind themselves, and
then disperse. This is a peculiarly Swedish game, and is enjoyed by
every rank of Swedish society.

There is another dancing game called _Skära Hafre_ (Reaping Oats). In
this they tell in word and gesture how the farmer sows the seed, cuts
the grain, binds it into sheaves, and threshes it.

Another favourite game is _Enke-leken_ (The Widower’s Game). This is
played in the open air, as a rule, by children and young people. They
stand in pairs, a boy and girl, in a long row, one pair behind the
other. There is an odd one who represents the widower. He stands in
front with his back to the rest, so that he cannot see them. When he
calls, “Enke-leken, enke-leken, sista paret ut” (The widower game,
last pair out), this pair separate and run forward in a wide circle.
The widower runs forward at the same time with a view to catching the
girl, but as he is not allowed to look backward, he does not know on
which side she may come. Very often the pair change places, and the
widower comes in contact with the boy instead of the girl. If he
succeed, however, in catching the girl, the other boy takes his place;
if not, he has to try again. The pair that has just been out join the
ranks at the front.

In all these games there is never seen any roughness, and the players
gain a great deal of health and pleasure in a very simple and natural

Then there are what one might call the manly sports. The Swedes have
ever excelled in these. The old Viking warriors are spoken of in the
old legends as being often engaged in feats of strength and skill with
the sword and javelin, bow and arrow, in jumping and wrestling, and
other favourite sports. They have handed down this trait to the
present generation. Nowadays the Swedes practise curling, football,
acquired from other countries, and a system of gymnastics invented by
a Swede, which is being used by nearly every nation in the world.

The summer sports are very much the same as found in other countries,
but it is in winter sports that most interest is taken.

There is the national sport of skating. The Swedes excel all others
in the rapidity and gracefulness of their skating. This is owing to
the large number of lakes and rivers, and the severe winters, when the
boys and girls have every opportunity of learning to skate. But see!
What are these boys going to do? They have a pair of skates and a
piece of canvas rolled upon poles. They are skate-sailors. They
stretch the canvas on the poles, and putting the cross-bar over the
shoulder, have a sail which enables them to go before the wind or tack
as they wish, just as the sailor does at sea. They can sometimes go at
the rate of forty miles an hour with great ease. They present a most
beautiful sight as the white sails flit here and there over the ice,
and gleam in the rays of the winter’s sun. Sometimes you see
ice-yachts gliding over the frozen water guided by a powerful rudder.

There is also tobogganing. Wherever there is a hill, you see a large
number of boys and girls enjoying themselves. Down the slope they come
at a rapid rate on a little sledge, which the owner guides with his
foot used as a rudder behind. Sometimes, in the public parks, there
are specially prepared ice-courses, which require great skill to ride
on, or the consequences may be serious.

The most popular and a very useful form of sport is skiing. The skis
are two long pieces of thin wood, which are fastened to the boots. By
means of these the peasant can travel very quickly from one farm to
another, when there is sufficient depth of snow. As a sport it is most
exhilarating, but it must be acquired when one is young. Hear those
shouts from the woods! Some young men and women have come from the
town. They have gone up the slope in a zigzag manner, and along the
crest of the hill. Now they are coming down, slowly at first, then
faster and faster. See how gracefully they glide with feet placed
closely together. They have ever to be on the lookout, for they have
often to sweep round a bush, bend under an overhanging branch, or jump
a precipice. Those who are able to ski can take many short cuts, as
they do not need to keep to the roads, but can often go to their
destination as the crow flies. The speed is very great. Very many of
the soldiers are trained regularly to go on skis.

A common form of sport is for ski-runners, gliding on their skis, to
be drawn along by a horse. They hold on to a rope attached to the
traces, and as there is little weight on the horse, a speed of ten
miles an hour can be kept up for long distances. Sometimes eight or
ten soldiers may be seen moving quickly along the road by means of
ropes attached to the saddle of a mounted soldier.

The Lapps are the best ski-runners in the world. They are all trained
from their very early days to travel by this means. A Lapp, under
favourable conditions, can travel 162 miles in twenty-four hours.



No children are more fortunate than the Swedish in education. They
have everything done to make their schooldays bright and happy, as
well as useful. Their teachers are highly educated, and are very much
respected, if they do not get large salaries. The school-house in
every town is a very important and conspicuous building.

Unless a child is very well educated at home, he must go to the public
school. He does not pay any fees. All education is free, even at the
University, but not everyone can go there. Only those who can pass a
very stiff examination are allowed to enter. The children go at the
age of seven and remain at school until they are fourteen. They get a
very thorough training in very much the same subjects as in our
schools. There are no holidays on Saturdays for Swedish children.
Thirty-six hours every week they must attend. When parents are found
to be careless so that their children are suffering, the State
sometimes takes the little ones to train and educate.

In the districts where the population is very scattered, a teacher
comes for four months in the year, and then proceeds to another
district. There is no district where education is not provided.

There are some features that may be of interest to a stranger. In many
of the schools there are splendid libraries. No doubt most of the
books are printed in Swedish, but there are also a large number in
English, French, and German. They are not there for appearance, but
are actually read, as the children begin at a very early age to learn
these languages. The Swedes are splendid linguists, and are very proud
of being able to speak English.

They are known all over the world as being very good gymnasts, and
every school has a completely equipped gymnasium. Very often the
instructor is a military officer. Their system is being universally
adopted, and many readers of this book will have learned the same
exercises as the Swedish boys and girls.

One of the most interesting features of school-life is the study of
nature. No doubt this is because one of the greatest botanists that
ever lived was a Swede--Linnæus. He devised the system of botany,
which is in use throughout the whole world. From a very early age
the children go out into the woods and collect plants, flowers, and
leaves of trees. They are taught not only the names of the different
plants, but also the science of botany. The result is that from
childhood they are taught to take an intelligent interest in nature,
and learn to love what is beautiful in gardens, field, and forest.

     [Illustration: GUNNAR HALLSTRÖM. MARS 1904 Björnö A SKI-RUNNER
     _Gunnar Hallström._]

The Swedes are also taught to be cleanly. Everywhere can be seen a
great many lakes, and in the bright summer days the children bathe and
learn to swim in them. In the winter this is impossible, as the cold
is very great and the lakes are frozen over. In some schools a large
room is set apart as a bathroom. There is no large bath or swimming
pond, but a very simple arrangement of a number of tubs in a circle. A
child goes into each. They wash and scrub one another. It is a method
for securing cleanliness easily carried out, and does not cost much.
The result is health. The children never look shabby. A Swedish mother
may be poor, but she takes a pride in seeing her children neat and

Nor does she forget to teach them politeness. Every boy is taught to
be very respectful to his elders. On the street he lifts his cap to
anyone he knows, whether he be rich or poor.

When the boy is fifteen, he may choose to go to a trade, or to a
higher school with a view to entering a learned profession.

At this age, if he intends to become a Government servant, lawyer,
doctor, or minister, he must be confirmed. This is a very important
step in his life. On the day of confirmation he is examined in the
church, and has publicly to answer questions. It is a great day for
him. He is now a man, and is very proud of being looked upon as such.

After he has been at the higher school for some years, and wishes to
enter the University, he must pass a very hard examination, and when
he learns that he has been successful, he is very happy and bright. He
comes out of the school wearing the white cap which all students have,
and decked with wreaths and flowers bestowed on him by doting parents
and admiring friends.

There are large Universities in Sweden both at Upsala and Lund. The
former is the larger and older of the two, but they are both well
known. The student has the same long and hard course as at school.
Very few students finish their course till they are between
twenty-five and thirty years of age, and up to this time, if they wish
to be successful, must be faithful to their study. There are no very
young doctors in Sweden. They generally do not begin to practise till
they are about twenty-eight years of age. Still, they find some time
for social life at the University towns. They enter into the gaiety of
the place, and are great favourites with the townspeople. The students
from each district or nation have a club-room for social gatherings.
They are very proud of their own district, and in processions march
together with a banner in front. They are very fond of singing. The
students of Upsala have a world-wide reputation, as at the Paris
Exhibition of 1897 they took the first prize when choirs from every
part of the world were competing.

The Swedes as a class are intelligent and polite, and are taking a
prominent part in the world’s affairs. We should expect this when we
know how well they are educated.



No one touring in Sweden should omit a visit to the province of
Dalecarlia. It is a most lovely district, inhabited by a people who
stick to their old customs and national dress. They are very proud and
manly, and have done a great deal for the freedom of their country.

The chief town is Falun, which is well known because of its copper
mine, said to be the oldest in Europe, as it has been worked more than
600 years. It is named the Treasury of Sweden. More than £5,000,000
worth of copper has been extracted. It was here Gustavus Vasa worked
when he was in hiding from the Danes, and got his men and money to
fight against them. The fumes from the works have spoiled the
vegetation in the neighbourhood; but travel in the train a short
distance, and you soon get a sight of what the Dalecarlians are very
proud of--Lake Siljan, the Eye of Dalecarlia. Down the slopes of the
mountain the train proceeds until it reaches Rättvik on the edge of
the lake. You seem in a new world, for you see young and old, men,
women, and children, going about in costumes similar to what their
grandfathers and grandmothers wore. In some parts of Sweden you see
people wearing these costumes on Sundays and gala-days, but in
Dalecarlia they wear them at church and at market. The men have a long
coat which extends below the knee, knee-breeches, white woollen
stockings, and shoes. On the head they wear a low-crowned felt hat.
From the neck there hangs a long leather apron. The women wear a skirt
of a blue colour with a green border. The bodice is of a dark colour,
and is only as high as a broad belt, laced together in front with
bright red ribbons, the eyelets being of silver. They have also a
white blouse. Round the neck is a red kerchief with a bright pattern,
fastened at the throat with an old-fashioned silver brooch. The apron
is dark, with transverse stripes of blue, red, yellow, and white. The
cap is a black, peaked one, with red trimming round it, and red
tassels hanging down. It is something in shape like a helmet. In
winter they wear a short jacket made of sheepskin. Their clothes-store
is a treasure-house.

In days gone by the sound of the shuttle used to be heard in every
Dalecarlian home, as the women used to spin and weave all the cloth
required for the clothes of the family. They now buy from the
merchant. The Dalecarlians are of a mechanical turn of mind. They make
watches and baskets, and the women do hair-work. The natives travel
over the country to sell their wares. The Rättvikians excel chiefly as
painters, and they cover the walls of their houses with paintings
instead of putting up hangings.

The traveller usually proceeds by steamer from Rättvik to Leksand,
where on a Sunday a most interesting sight is seen.

Looking across the lake, you see many large boats, driven through the
water by means of eight or ten pairs of oars. Each of them may contain
forty, sixty, or eighty men, women, and children. They present a very
picturesque appearance with their national costumes. They are very
similar to the Rättvikians, except that the women wear a tight-fitting
cap--that of the married women white, of the unmarried red. The little
boys are dressed in yellow-coloured clothes, and the little girls in
the same as their older sisters. They soon land and wend their way to
church through a beautiful avenue of trees. Here they are joined by
others, who have walked or driven in carts for perhaps ten miles. They
are regular church-goers. The church is not only a religious, but
also a social centre. Sunday is newspaper day. The gossip of the
whole district is then retailed. The men meet in crowds in the avenue,
and the women and children wander in the churchyard until the service
begins. It is like fairyland to see the bright costumes moving among
the luxuriant foliage on a Swedish summer day.

The church at Leksand is an imposing structure, in the shape of a
Greek cross, with a Russian ball-spire. It was built by some Swedes
who had been prisoners in Russia, and it holds about 5,000 people. The
sight is most impressive when it is crowded, men and women sitting
apart. The sermons must at one time have been longer or the people not
so devout, as in some country churches can be seen a relic of bygone
days in a long stick, with which an official, “the church awakener,”
used to poke anyone who fell asleep. When the service is over, the
horses are yoked, the boats pushed into the water, and the vast crowd
is soon scattered.

There is, however, one place of interest that must not be passed
over--Mora, a quiet little spot on the northern shore of Lake Siljan.
It was here that the standard of revolt against the Danes was raised
by the men of Mora under Gustavus Vasa. Near the church is the mound
where he made his famous speech that roused them to action. Dear to
the heart of the Swede is the national memorial at Mora. It is
situated about a mile from the village, and is a little square
building lit from the roof. In the middle of the stone floor is the
cellar in which Gustavus Vasa hid when the Danes were pursuing him.
The walls are covered with paintings of scenes in the life of the
patriot, and one of them represents what took place here. You see the
open trap-door, Gustavus Vasa descending into the cellar with an axe
in his hand, the woman lifting a tub to cover the trap, and through
the window you can see the Danes in the distance on horseback.

No one need be at a loss as to the meaning of any of the pictures. The
custodian has a description written in English, French, and German. He
usually succeeds in finding out the nationality of the visitor, and
gives him the proper copy.

It is with reluctance one leaves Dalecarlia, with its proud and
independent people, and its bright and smiling valleys.

     [Illustration: “BRASKULLA” _Anders Zorn._ (A PEASANT GIRL FROM



The Swedes are a most hospitable and kindly people, and enjoy
entertaining. They do not mask their feelings, for as soon as a
visitor arrives, he is made to feel at home with the words, “Välkommen
till oss” (Welcome to us).

If it should be about the hour for dinner, he will be invited to
partake with the family. If he be a foreigner, a surprise awaits him,
for, on entering the dining-room, instead of sitting down at once to
dinner, he is led up to a side-table. On this he sees bread, butter,
and cheese, and numerous small dishes with anchovies, smoked salmon,
caviare, and different kinds of meats, hot and cold, too numerous to
mention. This is called _smörgosbord_. He is expected to take a piece
of bread and butter and whatever of the other dishes he may feel
inclined for. This is considered an appetizer for the proper meal,
which no stranger must forget.

Then the company assembles round the dinnertable behind the chairs,
and a very nice custom is observed. One of the children, perhaps one
who can only lisp a prayer, asks God’s blessing on the food, at which
the gentlemen bow, and the ladies curtsey. After dinner there is
another beautiful custom, when the children go up to the parents, kiss
their hands, and say: “Tack för maten” (Thanks for food). If the guest
is present, he shakes hands with the host and hostess, at the same
time expressing his thanks for the meal.

Weddings in every country are always looked upon with interest, but a
Swedish country wedding is one especially interesting and picturesque.
It is an event which demands the attention of the district for several
days. A large number of people are invited. This means considerable
expense, but the heads of the several families invited make a
contribution of provisions.

If the wedding be in the church, the bride, with a silver crown on her
head and pearls round her neck, goes there on horseback. She is
escorted during the festivities by a number of musicians and young men
also mounted. The hats of the men are decorated with ribbons of bright
colours and with flowers. Some of them carry guns, which they
frequently fire, and this is supposed to be a reminiscence of those
days when a bride had to be protected from the attack of a hostile
clan. The rest of the company follow in carriages or on foot. At the
church there is a triumphal arch through which all pass. After the
ceremony is over, the procession returns to the bride’s home for the
rejoicings. Here again is a triumphal arch of green boughs. The young
men ride three times furiously round a maypole, while whips are
cracked and guns are fired.

Then comes a banquet, which usually lasts for three or four hours,
after which there come games and dancing, not for a few hours, but
often for three days and three nights, during which the festivities
continue without a break. Among the more wealthy they may last five or
six days. If the provisions are exhausted, the hostess introduces a
highly spiced rice-pudding. This information is understood, and soon,
after great cheering, the company separates. The feasting is not yet
over, as the young couple are expected to entertain all who have been

A pretty custom observed in some districts is “dancing the crown off
the head of the bride.” The bride is blindfolded. The maidens present
form a ring and dance round her, until she takes the crown off her
head and places it haphazard on the head of one of the girls. She on
whom this honour has been conferred will be the next to wear a crown
at her own wedding. The girl places it on the head of another, and so
on, till it has rested on the head of everyone.

If you enter a Swedish peasant’s home, you will see one or more long
poles attached to the roof. On these are strung a number of very thin
round discs. This is the rye bread, which is the only kind eaten by
the peasant, and is also found at the King’s table. The peasantry do
not eat much new bread. They only bake four times a year, and each
baking lasts for three months.

A very common dish in a Swedish peasant’s house is solid sour milk. It
is placed on the table in a wooden dish. After the housewife has added
some sugar, all sit round the table with wooden spoons, and each marks
out for himself what he considers his rightful share. After this they
all set to work, and do not move until the whole is eaten.

The Swedes are very fond of open-air life. They practically spend the
summer out of doors. Where you find a band, there is usually a large
crowd of men, women, and children, sitting at little tables drinking
their punch, beer, and coffee. The Swedes are very fond of family
life. The father, mother, and children usually go out together. On
Sunday afternoons and feast-days every town is a scene of gaiety. All
the inhabitants give themselves up to pleasure. There is no rowdyism,
but a great deal of enjoyment. The innate refinement of the Swede
checks any inclination there might be for anything rough or uncouth.
He shows this when he goes into a shop. Very many of those behind the
counters are young women. The Swede takes off his hat to them, and
wishes them “Good-morning” as pleasantly as he would to his greatest

One thing a Swede is never without, and that is his coffee. You may
not always get good tea, but you will always get good coffee. The
peasants will drink it as often as five times a day. They are also
fond of sugar. They have a strange custom of putting a piece of sugar
between the teeth, and sweetening the coffee as it passes through the
sugar into their mouths. They call this _dricka på bit_. They seem to
think they get more enjoyment from the sugar in this way than if it
were dissolved in the coffee.

There is one other custom that people in England would like to know
about. It is the festival of Santa Lucia. There are several stories as
to its origin. Some say that it refers to the shortest day, though it
falls on December 13. Lucia night, according to the peasants, is so
long that the ox from hunger bites the crib. “Lucia night is mortal
long,” said the cow. “It’s as good as two,” replied the ram. “That’s
true,” put in the goat; “it’s a pity it exists.” Some speak of a
beautiful virgin named Lucia, who was about to be married. She had
given all her dowry to the Christians because of their courage. When
her lover heard of this, he informed against her. She was condemned in
the end to death by burning. When the fire was placed around her, she
remained unhurt, and did not die until a sword was thrust into her

The day is observed in a very quaint fashion. At a very early hour in
the morning, perhaps as early as three or four, the sleeper is
awakened, to find a maiden dressed in white standing by the bedside.
Her hair is streaming down her back. On her head, which is encircled
with a wreath of green leaves, are a number of lighted tapers. In her
hands are a salver with coffee and cakes, which must be partaken of in
bed. After this, in some houses, all get out of bed and sit down to a
big feast. Afterwards they shoot a fish by the aid of a torch composed
of slips of dry and resinous wood.



“In the days of old,” says the saga, “a fair and beautiful island, low
and dim, floated on the sea by night, and the people beheld it as they
sailed to and fro; but each morning at sunrise it disappeared beneath
the waves, until the waning twilight had come again, when it would
rise and float over the surface of the Östersjön (Baltic) as before.”

No one dared to land upon it, though the belief was general that it
would become fixed if a fire was lighted there.

Thjelvar, with his men, finally landed in a little bay of the floating
island, and lighted a fire, and the island became stationary. The name
of this daring man, Thjelvar, means “the Industrious.”

Those with him seemed to be possessed with the same spirit, for in a
short time they were building ships and trading with every part of
Europe. They soon became wealthy, not only by fair means but also by
foul, as they did not hesitate to plunder whenever they had an
opportunity. Their forays led to reprisals. Their wealth excited envy.
They did not feel strong enough of themselves, and, as Sweden was the
nearest country, they proposed to put themselves under her protection,
and sent an ambassador to negotiate. When he arrived at Upsala, then
the capital of Sweden, the King and Queen were sitting at meat. He was
not received at once, nor even asked to sit down. After he had been
standing some time at the entrance, the King said: “What news from
Gothland?” “Nothing,” replied the ambassador, “except that a mare on
the island has foaled three colts at a birth.” “Ah,” said the King,
“what does the third colt do when the other two are sucking?” “He does
as I do,” replied the ambassador, “He stands and looks on.” Thereupon
the King laughed loudly, and invited the ambassador to share the meal.
In the end a treaty was arranged, and Gothland became a part of

This was in 890. In 1030 Olaf compelled the inhabitants of the island
to become Christian, and be baptized, but by this time a city had
sprung up where the heathens of old used to offer up sacrifices. This
city was named Visby, “the city of the place of sacrifice.” It is
situated on the west side of the island, and gradually rose in
importance, until it became the chief trading centre of Europe. There
was a great trade with Russia, and by means of the rivers of that
country the treasures of the East were brought to Visby. The fame and
the stories of her wealth and commerce spread far and wide. Soon
merchants came from all parts of Europe to share her wealth. Very many
of them removed their business entirely to Visby.

     [Illustration: IN DAYS OF OLD. _Ankarcrona._]

The wealth of the city was fabulous. The common saying was that the
merchants used to weigh their gold with 20 pound weights, and play
with choicest jewels. The women spun with silver distaffs. The pigs
ate out of silver troughs.

Their houses, of which many are remaining to this day, were narrow and
lofty, with their gable-ends to the streets. Their rooms were large
with high ceilings, and most beautifully decorated. In one house can
be seen a room with walls and roof completely covered with scenes from
the Bible. The doors in many cases were made of copper, and the
window-frames gilded.

The merchants lived most luxuriously, and were most exclusive in their
social life. No artisans, except bakers and goldsmiths, were allowed
to live within the city walls.

Their wealth and commerce gave them great authority, so that their
sea-laws were adopted by European countries generally. They form the
basis of the laws of the sea of the present day.

These were rough times, when might was right, and the inhabitants of
Visby had always to be prepared for an attack upon the city, for the
surrounding nations looked upon her wealth with an envious eye. One of
the sorest experiences she had to undergo was at the hand of King
Waldemar of Denmark. He defeated them in battle, tore down a part of
the walls, entered with his army in battle array, and, placing three
very large ale-vats in the square, commanded that these be filled with
gold and silver within three hours. This was done with remarkable
rapidity, and King Waldemar sailed with his gold and silver, as well
as much spoil from the churches. The booty, however, never reached
Denmark, as the vessels carrying it foundered in a storm. From this
hour Visby began to decline in importance, and is now known chiefly as
a summer resort and haunt of tourists who wish to learn something of
this medieval town.

Notwithstanding all their love of wealth, the inhabitants of Visby did
not seem to be stingy in giving to the Church, as no less than sixteen
churches were built. All still exist, but are in ruins except one, the
Cathedral or St. Mary’s Church which is quite complete. They are all
large buildings. In the great square can be seen the Church of St.
Catherine, which belonged to the abbey of a Franciscan Order. In the
nave are twelve pillars, not in a straight line. They make a lasting
impression on the visitor, they are so delicate in their tracery and
overgrown with the ivy and the vine. The roof of the chancel has
fallen, and now only the arches which unite the pillars to each other
and to the outer walls remain.

Not very far from here are seen two churches. They are called
_syskonkyrkorna_, or sister-churches, built side by side. They each
possess immense towers, which are supposed to have been fitted up at
one time for defence. If the story is true, the sisters did not love
one another; indeed, it is said that they hated one another so much
that they could not worship God in the same church, and each had to
have a separate place of worship built for herself.

The largest of all the churches is St. Nicholas. On the western gable
of it can be seen two twelve-leaved rosette-like bricks. They look
like windows. In the centre of each, tradition says, were set most
precious carbuncle stones, that shone in the dark like fire. These
served as guides to the sailors on the Baltic. Soldiers guarded them
night and day, and no one was allowed to approach them after sunset on
pain of death. King Waldemar, when he sacked Visby, removed the sacred
carbuncles. Over the spot where the ship that conveyed them went
down, a remarkable gleam is said to be seen. The Gothland fishermen
say that it is the radiance of the carbuncles now lying in the depths
of the sea.

Another remarkable feature of Visby is the city wall. It completely
encircles the city, and is the only example in Scandinavia that has
lasted to our time. It dates from early in the thirteenth century. It
was gradually made stronger by adding to its height and its thickness,
and also by building thirty-six towers, two to guard each gate. Many
of these have a name. The powder-tower was named Silfverhättan
(Silver-cap). Its shining roof is now replaced by dull tiles. One is
used as a prison, and is named “Cæsar.” Another is called Jungfru
Tornet (the Maiden’s Tower). It is said that a young girl betrayed
this city to King Waldemar. As a punishment she was built into the
wall of the tower. Near a gate on the south side of the city can be
seen a cross put up to the memory of the 1,800 men of Visby who were
killed when that King took the city. On it is an inscription in Latin,
still legible--“In the year 1361, the Tuesday after St. James’s day,
the Gothlanders fell before the gates of Visby by the hands of the
Danes. They lie buried here. Pray for them.”



I wonder how children would do without fairy-tales. Every country and
every age has these, and devours them eagerly, old as they are.
Perhaps it would be interesting to inquire how they arose. It is said
that a Queen saw her children looking very sad, although they had
everything that she could think of for their happiness. The truth was
they did not know what they wanted. She said, “If only I were a child
again, I would know what is the secret of a child’s happiness.” While
she was thinking a bird flew into her lap, but only for a moment. As
soon as it had gone, she saw a golden egg. “Perhaps,” she thought,
“this egg will contain what will give my children contentment, and
remove their sadness.” She broke the egg, and out came the wonderful
bird, Imagination, the Popular Tale. Now the children were happy and
bright. For the tale took them far away, but brought them home again
as soon as they desired. So it came about that not only children, but
those who are older in years, found a peculiar joy and happiness in
reading the story, provided they come in the spirit of the child. Here
is one well known to Swedish children:


Once upon a time there was a boy who watched goats in the forest. He
was alone, and one day had to pass a large dwelling. He had been
enjoying himself, shouting and singing, as boys will do when in the
woods, when suddenly he saw coming from the house a giant, of great
size and fierce to look upon. The giant was very angry because he had
been disturbed in his sleep, and the boy became so frightened that he
at once took to his heels, and never stopped running till he got home.
In the evening his mother had been making cheese, and he took a piece
that was newly made, and put it in his wallet. Next morning he had
again to pass the giant’s house. The giant, when he saw him, took up a
piece of stone, crushed it into atoms, let it fall upon the ground,
and said: “If you again disturb me with your noise, I will crush you
as I have crushed this stone.” The boy, who was by this time quite
bold, took up the cheese he had brought in his wallet, and squeezing
the whey out of it, said to the giant: “I will squeeze thee as I
squeeze the water out of this stone.” When the giant found out that
the boy was so strong, he went away in great fear and trembling to his

However, they soon met again, and then the boy suggested a trial of
strength. The test was who could throw an axe so high in the air that
it would never fall down again. The giant tried many times, but the
axe always fell down again. The boy began to mock him, saying: “I
thought you were a very strong man, but you are not. See how I can
throw the axe.” With that he took the axe and swinging it as if with
great force, very cleverly let it slide into the wallet on his back.
The giant did not see the trick, and, looking in vain for the axe
falling down again, thought the boy must be wonderfully strong.

The giant was so much impressed with the boy’s strength, that he asked
him to enter his service. The boy’s first duty was to assist with the
felling of a tree. “I will hold while you fell,” said the boy. But as
the boy was not tall enough to reach to the top of the trunk, the
giant bent it down to the level of the boy. As soon as the boy seized
it, the tree at once rebounded and carried the boy out of sight. In a
short time he came back lame, but saying nothing. “Why did you not
hold?” said the giant. “Would you be brave enough to make a jump like
that?” said the boy. “No,” replied the giant. “Well, then, if you are
so afraid you can hold and cut for yourself.”

Soon the giant had cut down the tree. How was it to be carried home?
It was arranged that the giant should carry the thin end, and the boy
the thick one. The giant went in front, and raised his end on his
shoulder. The boy behind called him to move it farther forward. Soon
the giant had it so balanced on his shoulder, that he had the whole
weight of it. After walking for some time, he shouted: “Are you not
tired yet?” The boy, who had seated himself on his end of the tree,
answered: “Certainly not.” When they arrived at the house, the giant
was quite worn out. “Are you not tired even yet?” said the giant. The
boy answered: “You must not think so little tires me. I could quite
easily have carried it myself.”

The giant was amazed, and wondered what he would try next. He
suggested they should thresh grain. “Let us do it very early in the
morning, before we get our breakfast,” said the boy. The giant agreed.
When they began the boy received a flail he could not lift, so he took
up a stick and beat the ground while the giant threshed. As they had
been working in the dark, the boy’s device had not been seen, and
to escape detection, when daylight was approaching, he suggested that
they should cease work for breakfast. “Yes,” said the giant, “it has
been very hard work.”

     [Illustration: A GIRL WITH “KICKER.” _Carl Larsson._]

Some time after the giant sent the boy to plough, and told him that
when the dog came, he was to loose the oxen, bring them home, and put
them in their stable. He brought them home, but as there was no
entrance, he did not know how to get them in. As he could not lift the
house like the giant, he made up his mind to kill the oxen, cut up
their carcases, and put them in in this way. On his return the giant
asked if he had put the oxen in the stall. “Yes,” said the boy, “I got
them in, although I divided them.”

The giant now began to think the boy was too dangerous to have in the
house, and, on the advice of his wife, resolved to put him to death
while he slept. The boy was suspicious that something was going to
happen, and when night came, put the churn in the bed, while he
himself hid behind the door. In came the giant; down came the club, so
that the cream from the churn bespattered all his face. “Ha, ha, ha! I
have struck him so that his brains have bespattered the wall,” said
the giant afterwards to his wife. The two now lay down to rest in
peace, believing they had rid themselves for ever of this terrible

What a surprise they got next morning, when the boy appeared as if
nothing had happened. “What,” said the giant, “art thou not dead? I
thought I had killed thee with my club.” The boy answered: “Now that
explains it. I had imagined that I felt a flea biting me in the

At the close of the day a large basin of porridge was placed between
them. “What do you say to our trying to see who will eat most?” said
the boy. The giant was quite willing. The boy was too cunning. He had
tied a large bag before his chest, and let large quantities of the
porridge fall into it. When the giant came to a standstill, he saw the
boy still continuing with as good an appetite as when he began. “How
can a little fellow like you eat so much?” said the giant. “Father, I
will soon show you. When I have eaten as much as I can, I do so, and
begin again.” He then ripped up the bag, and the porridge ran out. The
giant took up a knife in imitation of the boy, but was soon dead.

Then the boy gathered all the money he could get, and left by night.
So ends the story of the crafty boy and the stupid giant.



Jul is the great festival in Sweden. The festivities begin on
Christmas Eve--Julafton--and continue for thirteen days. Since early
autumn everyone has been sewing and embroidering beautiful presents.
Amongst young girls there is a custom that for one night before Jul
they should sit up the whole night and sew. This is looked forward to
as a special pleasure, and two or three friends are invited to join
the party.

A few days before Christmas the streets begin to be crowded, and young
and old throng the shops.

In the market-place you find stalls containing all sorts of
things--toys, clothing, and confectionery. Amongst the latter are
special ginger-cakes, shaped like different animals, especially pigs,
to commemorate the old boar that was sacrificed in heathen times.
These stalls are greatly patronized by the country people.

Rich and poor, during Jul, are anxious to be kind and liberal to their
family and friends, remembering each member with some token of their
thought and love. Even the animal world is not forgotten. Horses and
cows get a special feed in their stalls, and on every house in the
country, as well as many in the towns, you will see a pole erected, to
which is fixed a sheaf of unthreshed grain as a treat for small birds
that, in this hard season, have great difficulty in getting food.
There is a saying in Sweden that on the anniversary of the coming of
our Lord into the world all creatures should have cause to rejoice.

Within doors great preparations are being made. Servants are busy
cleaning and scrubbing everything that can be scrubbed. In the kitchen
a great amount of cooking is taking place, and six or seven different
kinds of bread have to be baked, as, in the country, each servant and
tenant are presented with a pile of special Jul-bread.

Jul at the present day, as in olden times, is a great festival with
the Swedish peasantry. They have a special reverence for this season.
No work that can be avoided will be done on this day.

“There is a belief which has existed for ages that, during Christmas,
there is a second of time when not only the sun itself, but everything
movable in creation, becomes stationary, and in consequence, at that
particular moment, which no one can foretell, if a person should be
occupied in any way, that which he is then about is sure to go

On Christmas Eve, to show good feeling in a practical way, it is
customary for the whole family to assemble in the kitchen, where a
large pot is boiling, containing ham and sausages highly spiced.
Mingling with the servants, you walk along plate in hand, and taking a
slice of Christmas-bread, you dip it in the boiling fat in the pot,
and eat together. This is called _doppa i grytan_ (to dip in the pot).

In the afternoon the older members of the family are engaged in
decorating the Christmas-tree, which is done in great secrecy from the
children. Bright golden and silver stars, coloured glass globes, and
confectionery are hung on the tree, as well as baskets made of
coloured paper, containing raisins and almonds. Then, to every branch
and twig, a taper is fastened. The national flag waves from the top,
and the other nations are represented by smaller flags fixed here and
there over the tree. When all is ready, and the many tapers on the
tree are lit, as well as the chandeliers and lamps in the room, the
great moment arrives for the children. When the door is opened, they
are almost dazzled by the sea of light, and in rapture they rush to
gaze at the beautiful tree, which rises from floor to ceiling, a mass
of light and beauty. Their attention is somewhat divided, as their
eyes are constantly turning to the door, as if they expected someone
to arrive. Before long the door opens, and a small, old man and woman
enter. These are the Christmas gnomes. The man has a long white beard
and a red cowl, and carries in his hand a bell, which he rings, and
the old woman carries a large basket containing parcels neatly tied up
and sealed, addressed to different persons, but with no name of the
givers. Often there are poetry and amusing rhymes written on the
parcels. The old woman hands the parcels to those to whom they are
addressed, much to the amusement of the whole company. There is much
guessing as to who the donor may be, and the excitement is tremendous
as the old pair vanish from the room to return with fresh supplies. At
last the children are sent off to the servants’ quarters, each
carrying a load of parcels for them. When the _Jul-klappan_ (Christmas
presents) have been duly admired, refreshments are brought in, such as
fruits and confects, and after this music and games are indulged in,
and later on all join hands and dance in a ring round the tree,
singing lustily. Between nine and ten the company sit down to a
Christmas supper. The first course is _lut_-fish, which is ling or
cod-fish, specially prepared weeks before in lime. When cooked and
ready, it is white and transparent, almost like a jelly. Seasoned with
pepper and salt, and eaten with potatoes and melted butter, it is
delicious. The next course is always pig in some form or other, either
head or ham. Then is produced a large fat goose. Last of all comes the
all-important rice-porridge, in which is hidden an almond, and whoever
gets it will be lucky for the next year. From the King’s palace to the
peasant’s hut you will find the very same kind of supper. However poor
people may be, they always find means for a small Christmas-tree.

On Christmas morning, before daybreak, crowds flock to church for
early service. In the country it is the custom for people to join
together and form a procession, each carrying a torch. This makes a
pretty sight, especially in hilly districts, when you are able to see
at the same time several processions wending their way to church. On
arriving there, all the torches are flung in a heap, which lights up
the churchyard. The church is brilliantly illuminated by hundreds of
candles, even the pews having their own candles. After the service is
over the people make a rush for home. You ask why? It is an old
superstition that he who arrives home first will reap his grain first.

The rest of the day is spent quietly in the home circle.



The festival of Midsummer, like that of Jul, has come down from old
heathen times, and next to Christmas is the greatest festival of the
year in Scandinavia.

On this day the sun is at the height of its grandeur, conquering
darkness. The night is the shortest in the year, just a glorious
twilight, which, in a few hours, is merged into dawn.

Summer and winter have each their special enjoyments for those who
know where to look for them. In Sweden, Midsummer Day is looked
forward to especially by the young people.

Great preparations are made in town and country. In the country the
houses have to undergo a special cleaning, and the rooms are decorated
with branches of trees and flowers. In Stockholm there is what is
called a “Leaf-market,” where not only boughs and flowers are exposed,
but also May-poles. In the harbour can be seen a large number of boats
laden with branches.

It is a wonderful sight you see on this day. The houses, both
inside and out, are decorated with green branches. Every train,
steamer, and vehicle is dressed in the same fashion, and even every
horse has its head ornamented with branches of leaves. Little children
all have bunches of flowers in their hands, and very often a small
May-pole, while older ones go out early in the morning to picnic, and
return for the dancing in the evening.

     [Illustration: DANCE ON MIDSUMMER’S EVE. _Anders Zorn._]

The centre of attraction is the May-pole, similar to what is found in
many English villages in the month of May, to celebrate the return of
spring; but the Swedish word _Maj_ does not in this instance refer to
the month May, it means green leaf.

What a bustle there has been to get this pole ready! It has to be
decorated. Early in the morning the young girls awaken with the birds,
and hurry into the woods to gather flowers and boughs of the silver
birch, to bind wreaths and garlands for the May-pole. The birch is the
queen of the forest in the summer, just as the dark, sombre fir is the
queen of the winter.

The raising of the pole is an important event in the day’s
proceedings, and amidst shouting and music it is put into position.
The people form themselves in a large ring round it, and to the sound
of the violin or accordion, they dance the whole night long. How
happy they look! They forget everything--all their troubles, and even
the old grandmother may be seen dancing in the ring with her little
grandchild of three years. By-and-by they sit down to supper, and one
might think the festivities were drawing to an end; but no! the meal
is no sooner over than the dancing is resumed and continued with more
or less energy through the night. No one ever seems to think of going
to bed.

There are a number of superstitions and customs in connection with
this festival.

On the hills in the neighbourhood of towns in North Sweden people
light fires at this season. These are but a reminiscence of the
“pyre,” built on consecrated hills by the old heathen priests, and
fired on Midsummer Eve in honour of the sun-god, the mild and
beautiful Balder. Nowadays these fires are not in honour of Balder,
but to prepare coffee. Many families do this. Each family has its own
fire. They put the coffee on the fire when the sun is setting, but, as
in these northern regions at this season of the year the sun takes
little rest, he has risen again before the coffee has boiled.

Sometimes people gather different kinds of flowers to make up into a
bouquet called a Midsummer _qvost_. Whoever does it, usually a young
girl, must go alone. If she should encounter anyone, she must only
answer by signs, and must not open her mouth under any circumstances
until she gets home again. She places the bouquet under her pillow,
and never fails to see in her dream her future lover.

This _qvost_ has many wonderful qualities. It is hung up in the
cattle-house, and if allowed to remain there protects the animals for
a whole year against the _troll_ (witches).

In some places a medicine is made from it, which will cure all



Carl Linnæus was the son of a poor clergyman, and was born at Råshult,
in the province of Småland, in 1707. His father wished him to become a
clergyman, but from infancy he showed a great love for flowers, and
made up his mind to study medicine. He was a student at Upsala, where
he underwent great privations, as his father allowed him only eight
pounds per year. He so persevered that he attracted the attention of
the professors, and was commissioned to study the plant-life of
Swedish Lapland.

Poverty drove him to Holland for his degree as doctor of medicine. He
found a friend there in a Dutch banker, Clifford, who enabled him to
publish many works, in one of which he made known his classification
of plants. At this time he visited London, and when walking on a
common near the City saw furze for the first time. He was so attracted
by the golden bloom of the flower that he fell down on his knees and
admired it. He tried in vain to cultivate it in Sweden. On his return
to Stockholm, he gained a reputation as a physician, but gave up his
profession to be professor of botany in the University where he had
studied. He attracted students from all parts, and gained a world-wide
reputation, his class increasing from five to hundreds. He was made a
noble, and when he died, aged seventy-one years, the King spoke from
the throne of his death as being a national calamity.

Another man of whom Sweden is justly proud is Baron Johan Jakob
Berzelius, one of the greatest of modern chemists. He is said to rank
next to Linnæus in science in Sweden. He introduced a set of symbols
on which those in use at the present day are based. The science of
chemistry owes a great deal to the accuracy and extent of his
researches. It is the wonder of many how he could accomplish so much
as he did. He had, like Linnæus, the gift of perseverance.

Another well-known Swede is Alfred Nobel, who was born in Stockholm in
1833, and died in 1896. When young, he went with his father to Russia
to help him in the manufacture of submarine mines and torpedoes. He
took out patents for a gasometer and for an apparatus for measuring
liquid. He will, however, always be remembered as the inventor of
dynamite. Many precious lives were lost in the process. It was finally
produced as dynamite gum in 1876. When one thinks of dynamite,
immediately there are brought to the mind war, with all its horrors,
and anarchism, with its bombs and nefarious practices; but it has been
one of the greatest aids to man in his engineering triumphs. By its
aid mountains have been tunnelled and rocks under the water more
easily removed.

To show how extensively it is being used, in 1870 the total world’s
output did not exceed eleven tons. At the present day it annual
tonnage is to be reckoned by the hundred thousand. Works for its
manufacture are all over the world.

Alfred Nobel left a large fortune, and so arranged that a large sum
should be set aside for five annual prizes of £8,000 each for men who
had distinguished themselves in science, literature, and the promotion
of peace. Men from all parts of the world can compete, and the awards
are made by a committee of Scandinavians.

Mention must be made of Baron Adolf Nordenskiold (1832-1907), who
reached the highest latitude in the Arctic region till then attained
by any ship, and in the _Vega_ spent two years accomplishing the
North-East Passage. Otto Nordenskiold, a nephew of Baron Adolf, also
sailed in the northern seas, and after two years’ exploration
discovered King Oscar Land; and Sven Hedin, who traversed the
countries of Central Asia, and brought to light the secrets of past

Sweden stands high in music and song. She has produced many gifted
musicians, but none greater than Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale.
She was born in Stockholm of very humble parentage. One day she, as a
child, was heard singing to her cat. The listener was so entranced
that she was the means of Jenny Lind being brought to the director of
the Royal Opera House, who saw the quality of her voice, and arranged
that she should be educated at Government expense. At the age of
eighteen she made her first appearance. Wherever she went she
captivated the people. She became the favourite of Stockholm, London,
Berlin, and New York. Only eleven years did she remain in opera, and
from religious convictions she resolved to confine herself to the
concert-room. She is known as a singer, but her generosity and
unselfishness will never be forgotten. In one tour in America her
share of the profits was £35,000. More than half of that she spent in
charity in her native land. In one year she raised £10,000 in England
to help deserving institutions.

Many touching anecdotes of her life are told, to show the character of
the woman. A young man was very ill in Copenhagen when Jenny Lind was
filling the city with excitement. His young wife was full of regrets
that her husband should not hear her. Jenny heard of the desire, and
went on a Sunday afternoon and charmed the two young people with her

As she was sitting one day on the sands, with her Bible on her knee,
and looking at the setting sun, a friend said to her: “Oh, how is it
that you ever came to abandon the stage at the very height of your
success?” “When every day,” was the quiet answer, “it made me think
less of _this_” (laying a finger on the Bible), “and nothing at all of
_that_” (pointing out to the sunset), “what else could I do?” The
spiritual was the supreme in her. She died a naturalized British
subject in her country-home in the Malvern Hills in 1887.


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