Imágenes de página

daily martyrdom of their feelings, as well as health, under them.* What can be more selfish than for a man—the protector of the weaker sex—thus to inflict upon her a continued punishment, for the sake of a sordid gratification? For our own parts, we wonder that professed smokers ever obtain wives at all ; and it must be because the women are not previously aware of the extent of the evilz attached to the practice.

As to the habit of chewing, we believe it is confined in this country almost exclusively to the lowest class of operatives ; at least we have not known more than one person professing to be a gentleman who indulges in it, and he acquired the habit in America. In that country, where the consumption of tobacco is seven pounds per head, on the entire population, it is used in all modes, by all parties and all grades; and society there affords fine illustrations of the effects upon the manners of the people. A relative of ours wishing to hear the “Swedish Nightingale” (Jenny Lind) when she performed at New York, went to the theatre for the purpose and returned with a new silk dress completely spoiled with the stain of tobacco ejected with the saliva from the mouth, which flew about in all directions. Again, a clerical friend of ours, who paid a visit to the United States, about six years ago, was invited to attend a meeting of ministers in one of the Southern States. Fifteen ministers sat in a semicircle on the platform, behind the desk at which the speaker stood; and two large spittoons were placed in front of them. Each, as he rose to speak, took from his mouth a quid of tobacco, which he deposited in the spittoon ; and when he had finished his speech, took out his tobacco-box and replenished his mouth with a fresh supply! Another friend of ours was sitting before a fire at an hotel in New York, and an American gentleman was standing behind him. Presently, a mouthful of tobacco-juice flew close past the head of our friend into the fire, with the sharpness and precision of a ball from a Minié rifle. Unaccustomed to these kind of salutes, our friend suddenly turned his head, when the gentleman coolly remarked, “ Ah! I just cleared you, I guess."

We could multiply such instances tenfold, if necessary; and we have no doubt that an English smoker will feel as much disgust at them as ourselves. Let them know, however, that their own practice is quite as bad in kind, if not in degree. Both are gross departures from delicacy and cleanliness; and if we take into account the more advanced state of society here than in America, there is less excuse for the English smoker and his spittoon, than for the American chewer and his indiscriminate discharges of saliva ; both, however, must be fully aware, how utterly disagreeable such habits are to those who do not practise them, and, but for their selfishness, would cease thus to annoy and distress those who are not enslaved by them.

* Sir John Vanbrugh, in one of his plays, introduces “Sir John Brute," who, when remonstrated with for leaving his wife so much to herself, excuses himself on the plea that“her religion will keep her honest.” “And what will make her keep her religion ?”'_“Persecution, and, therefore, she shall have it.” “And how will you persecute her, Sir John ?"_" I'll plague her all day with illnature and tobacco."

There is still one important class of our countrymen to whom we have at present adverted only incidentally; but we should consider this paper very incomplete, if we did not make a more direct appeal to them on this subject: we refer to the clergy; and if there be a body of men on whom, above all others, it is incumbent, not only to avoid setting an example in the use of tobacco in any way, but to discountenance it in all its forms, it is that body to which is committed the Gospel message. Whether we consider this evil in its moral effect, as leading to a waste of time and money, and to habits of dissipation and intemperance, or to its social effects, in destroying the health and wasting the resources of those who use it, and abridging the comfort and damaging the purity of those who do not, there are no habits prevailing in society which call for more energetic remonstrance, both from the pulpit and the press, than those connected with the use of this weed.

Strange to say, so far from making any effort to put a stop to these practices, how many of them are found amongst the most devoted adherents of the pipe and the snuff-box, the latter of which seems to be considered as essential a part of the furniture of the study as the books or the inkstand. We cannot except the clergy from this censure (for such we intend it), and we tell those involved in it, plainly and fearlessly, that it is both inconsistent and vain for them to preach self-denial to their hearers, whilst they themselves are slaves to a practice leading to a waste of time and money and health, and to habits of intemperance. We do not charge them with the latter vice, for we believe they generally stop short of that evil ; but we do charge them with setting an example to men less strongly fortified than themselves by Christian principles, which, in numberless cases, has led to

so many evils.

CHRISTMAS-EVE IN SWEDEN. DECEMBER has come, and now one word meets me everywherethe word which a Swedish writer calls a magic one-Jul-afton. Do you know the meaning of that word, my friends? Well, it is the Swedish for Christmas Eve' Jul is the word for Christmas, and afton for evening; and Jul is pronounced exactly as our old term for the same happy season Yule. Now I am going to give you a full description of the famous Christmas-eve, and also of Christmas-morn in Sweden; and as every land, I believe, makes eating and drinking a component part of national festivity, or, as in England frequently, of national business, I shall begin with an account of the national dishes they have in this land of the North, as substitutes for the roast beef and plum-pudding of Old England. In connection, then, with Jul-afton, I always hear the word gröt made use of.

“What do you do on Jul-afton?" I asked a Swede. “We eat gröt,he answered in Swedish.

I asked the same question of a lady who spoke English very well.

“We eat gruel,” she answered in English, "you eat gruel, too, in England.”

“ Yes, I believe they do when sick, or, I think, when in prison ; but it is not our Christmas dish."

I found, however, the lady was mistaken in interpreting the word gröt to mean gruel : it is simply boiled rice, eaten hot with cold milk and sugar. This dish is served in all Swedish houses at the great supper which is made on Christmas-eve, and the poor who cannot afford rice, use, in the country, corn instead. They soak the grain long in water, boil it till soft, and eat it with cold milk.

“I have eaten that in my young days,” said a gentleman to me, “and I assure you, madame, that goes on”—meaning, that is good enough.

The companion dish to gröt is Lut-fish—that is, stock-fish steeped in solution of potash, until decomposition begins. The smell is terrific, and I found it, alone, rather too much of a good thing for me; but the Swedes rejoice in this dish eaten with oilsauce, and it is even recommended by the doctors. In some cases, however, remedies may be worse than diseases. The supper of Jul-afton naturally forms a considerable item of its enjoyments to this supper-eating people : yet one must do the Swedes the justice to say that it is only as the accompaniment of the other and truer pleasures of that joy-bringing time. This evening is the great season for family meetings : that Swedish heart must be closed and dead indeed that does not open and kindle now to all kindly and affectionate feelings.

Curiously enough, it is Christmas-eve and not Christmas-day that is the national festival of Sweden. From the charming royal family in its noble palace, to the humblest dwellers in its wooden huts, Jul-afton is in some manner celebrated throughout the land. It is rather strange that this eve, appointed a fast in our church calendar, should be a feast here : all the joy, the family greetings, offerings, and feastings that take place in England and in Catholic lands, on “the happy morn,” are in this strictly Lutheran land transferred to the preceding eve, which, without any visibly religious association, is made the grand national and family festival.

As soon as the first of December strikes, the note of preparation for Jul-afton is heard. Now each fair hand is engaged in making Jul-klapper, which droll word simply means what we call Christmasboxes; and Christmas-boxes, in Sweden, form (truly a serious and rather mercantile adjunct of the season—a sort of friendly exchange of presents, rather than a gift of affection, since the interchange is expected to be either equal in value, or regulated by the amount of wealth on either side. Indeed, in great houses Jul-klapper must form a very considerable item of expenditure, Now, every face one meets has this word plainly stamped in its regards, every lip that opens is sure to utter the words Jul or, Jul-klap, before it closes.

Stockholm, December 24. Jul-afton has come ! It is five o'clock on Christmas-eve. I am alone in my apartment. The door of the great white porcelain stove is open, to let me see the flare of the few large logs within it, which remind me of the old yule log of merry England : that door is of brass, and it shines in the flare, and the tall white stove is white and pure as an ice pillar : the light falls over the bare but even and beautifully clean boards of the floor. I sit and think of an English home-a home for me no more. That thought must not come. I turn and look out of the window, my constant safety-valve. There, that remarkable winter scene of the north is perhaps more delightful to me than to the natives; so, while they enjoy themselves in other ways, I may have one advantage over them. To realize the sense of isolation one should be, for once at least, a stranger on such a day in such a place. What must be the solitary stranger's—the Swede's—feelings on Christmas-day in London! Far worse than mine are here.

I had resigned myself, and was looking at snow and ice, when

a very tall figure, wrapped in a great fur mantle, appears at the half-open folding door, just filling the space from top to bottom. Three very low bows are made, and then the figure advances, and three more bows are made; and then a voice speaks and says, “The church service that I promised to take madame to this Jul-afton is already over, but if she will come and see the Yulemarket now, I will come at six o'clock to take her to the Jul-atta, or Christmas morning song, to-morrow.”

It would be very rude and offensive to use the pronoun “you” in Sweden, so I knew myself to be the object addressed in the third person. Gladly do 1 spring away from my window contemplations; a fur cloak, and long boots, and wadded hood, are put hastily on, and the Swede and I go out together. The white ground, the clear air, the still crimson horizon, crimson with the reflection of the sun whose light has left us nearly four hours ago, for it is nearly dark here on the shortest day at two o'clock in the afternoon, the house-lights here, there, everywhere, up and down and round about, for no windows have blinds-all this has a cheering influence—and I forget my melancholy.

Though there is no gas in Stockholm, and though the dull oillamps suspended by cords stretched across the streets are not lighted when the moon shines, Stockholm on a winter night gives one the idea of a general illumination. Even the palace windows are only shaded by plants, and a thin muslin drapery is, at most, the blind that is used. The numerous windows of the high, and very broad, white houses, are all gleaming in light, for each floor is inhabited ; and up the rocky heights of the south suburb, there are, as my little Swedish attendant explains by the expressive motion of her hand,“ lights here, lights there, lights everywhere ;" and the hand mounts up a little, and sinks down a little, going from left to right, and right and left, so that you see the lights gleaming out from its motion. So I go forth, and, on Christmaseve, enjoy that curiously interesting and beautiful sight—a winter scene by night in the capital of Sweden.

We proceed through the finest part of the town, over the bridge called Norrbro ; the splendid palace is at its termination with its myriad lights ; the waters of Lake Mälar, that most exquisite, and now - except where this current is-frozen-up lake, force themselves through an icy channel, and, whirling under this bridge, cast themselves writhing and tumbling into the Baltic Sea, which lies precisely at the other side of the bridge, mingling fresh water with salt, and showing a decided state of activity, while around them on all sides the frost-king holds other waters under his

« AnteriorContinuar »