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WITH EXCURSIONS IN
NORWAY AND DENMARK.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
203. b. 54.
The busy month of October has come; all seems changing in Stockholm life, and indeed all is changing, I believe, in Swedish life throughout this land.
The bustle here almost bewilders me. The preparations for winter might lead one to imagine the town was in danger of a siege. Blockaded it certainly will be, but only by ice and snow. What an endless roll and racket of carts and carriages beneath my windows! They unfortunately overlook the narrow thoroughfare to the small vessels that carry wood and provisions from the interior to the capital. And now all imports
are being hurried in, and all exports are hurried off. Hurry-scurry dash the rough, primitivelooking carts along; their wild-looking drivers, reminding me constantly of Irish ones, standing up when they are empty, with the long cord-reins held in their hands, but with their heads almost always turned in the contrary direction to that their horses are taking.
Foot passengers may take care of themselves; the case is different with them here from what it is in Russia, neither law nor sentiment appears to be in their favour. Industry must go on is the word, and as the sequence of the axiom, carts must drive helter-skelter as they like.
During the twenty-four hours there is not more than four of anything like repose. My old hostess sits in her window and looks up in my complaining face, and says,
“Do you hear a noise ? I sit here all day and hear none."
Let no one, I say, come to Stockholm in the autumn. In summer its charming environs and lovely views may well occupy long and pleasant days; but now my beautiful sails, and delightful land and water excursions, must end. The Dahlkuller are laying up their boats; and coming round
to our doors with a child cradled up in a leathern pouch on their backs, to sell their hair rings and bracelets and chains; made so beautifully that no one can imagine the great thick fingers of those immensely strong, active, and hard-working women can have manufactured such delicate things. Now most of them will go off to their homes in Dalarne; or, as we foolishly call the province, Dalecarlia. Some will stay to pick up a hardly-gained and precarious existence in Stockholm. This is not thought so well for the young; but, alas ! in spring the weak and famished figures that may be seen coming from the remote or famine-stricken districts, make one cease to wonder that a people, who so love their forest and mountain huts, leave them for the ungenial life of the capital where they can earn their daily bread.
And this October month, which we are apt to think so peculiarly in character with our own old England, which we associate with old memories of nut-brown ale, with weather as cheerful and bright as the faces of its ruddy-cheeked farmers; with brown and yellow woods, stubble fields, blackberry hedges and nutting groves — this October month this year in the capital of Sweden is most horrible. The Swedes tell me it is only this year it is so: they are dissatisfied with it,