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of young people, sometimes in a coal-sledge, drove round to the neighbouring houses. I was brought up amid dancing and music. Though indeed it might often be said that we went in worsted stockings—for I very well remember that I presented myself at the dancing-school in such, of my mother's own knitting-patched shoes, black satin breeches, made up for me after having belonged to another generation, and green home-spun jacket with steel buttons. Nevertheless, I became noinefficient dancer; and not much better attired, made my appearance, a few years afterwards, at a dance at the Whitsuntide fair. Neither was practice wanting. No sooner had the young people assembled, than my father arranged the dancing, in the autumn almost every evening, himself acting as master of the ceremonies; and his large venerable figure, sometimes participating in the pleasures of the young, stands at this moment before
eye. It was no soul-less enjoyment. I have seen the world, and I now look back with admiration on the real goodbreeding which existed in this rural circle ; but good old authors were held by us in universal esteem. No stain had yet dimmed the brightness of their glory. I had at this time heard as a child the excellent fables of Gyllenborg, Creutz's “Atis and Camilla," Oxenstjerna's “Skördar" and Dagen's “Stunder;" Kellgren's and Leopold's best pieces more than once read aloud, enjoyed and admired. An old friend of the family, who often visited us, was, on these occasion, the general reader. In the same way, I heard translations read from the works of Marmontel and the Tales of Madame Genlis. The more modern foreign languages were not wholly unknown to us; among the boys Greek and Latin, both at school and at home, took their usual place. My sisters and their young lady friends did not pretend to jabber the French tongue, but
they read the French authors. Later, the German was introduced, but not without opposition. But what could
. be done ? An elderly friend and relative, father to the daughters whose visits in our family belonged to its holidays, taught himself the language, and even, in a short time, advanced so far as to read us his own translations of Schiller's “Don Carlos.” I remember with what rapture I listened to him. He became afterwards my father-inlaw. He played also on the violoncello as no one else did in Sweden ; he was one of the most richly-gifted human beings whom I ever knew. Both I and my brother chose wives out of this circle of relatives and playmates, and we have not had occasion to regret having so done.
Shall I not still say a word about all the music which sounds back to me from my childhood ? Receive in thy grave my first gratitude, thou my good, old, half deaf, beloved aunt; whose affectionate zeal already, at six years old, placed my fingers on the keys of the piano and never grew weary, although, at the beginning, it suited my taste so little that, when the hour for practice came, I made my escape through the window. For what have I not to thank thee! What satisfaction can be greater than to communicate a noble art, a source of rich enjoyment for life! Have thanks, also, thou departed benefactor! to whom I owe, not merely my acquaintance with the poets of my adopted country, which works I so often heard from thy lips; but also for my first lessons in the science of music, which have not been fruitless ! Even now I seem to see thee driving down the long lane from church in thy grey hat and with a whole chest of music beside thee in the chaise
It was the delight of this extraordinary man's old age to arrange large pieces of music, so that they could be produced by only a few hands. For instance, that a
whole library of music should be performed upon two pianos, the only instruments which our house possessed. How many pieces have I not, during several years, played with him in this way, from Schobert and Boccherini to Haydn and Mozart ! Besides this, there were at this time several musical families in the province, into which he introduced me on his annual journeys. Youths thus, by means of music, formed bonds of friendship which endured through life. Two noble ladies have especially, at this time, a place in my grateful memory which shall not be effaced. Thus, at the age of sixteen, without having left my parental home, I was possessed of a real musical education. I also made attempts at composition without understanding its rules.
I now at once make a leap from the years of my youth to my first essay in authorship.
I was twenty years old, and came home from the Academy. It was determined that I should endeavour to obtain a situation as tutor in some high family. My before-mentioned fatherly friend, with whom in particular this plan originated, had passed some years of his earlier life in the great world. From it, however, and from his, at that time, brilliant prospects, he was called away by his father's loss of property, and also, as I believe, in consequence of an unhappy love affair. This good man wrote to one of the friends of his youth, recommending me in the highest manner. The reply of the great man was shown to me. He demanded to see something which I had done. My examination at the University had not been very advantageous to me; I was a youth without a degree. It was my first experience of the benefit of a name and reputation. I felt myself pointed at by the whole world. My whole being was in a tumult to get rid of this unexpected notoriety by the acquisition of a better name. Thus I seized my pen, and, resolving to compete for the prize of the Swedish Academy in 1803, I wrote the “Eulogy on the Memory of Sten Sture, the Elder.” Full of fear and with the greatest secrecy I went to the work. I did not even know, when the thought arose in my mind, what subject was given out for the prize. I might, however, ascertain that from the Post, and the “Country News,” which, after it had
gone its round in the parish, was left at the minister's house. One August evening, therefore, I set off thither full of anxiety, and desired, under some pretence or other, that the minister would allow me to see all the numbers of the newspaper which remained for the year. . He produced from an old cupboard, and from amongst fragments of cheese and bits of bread, a number of tattered newspapers more or less perfect ; fortunately, among them, was the one which I needed. On my way home I experienced for the first time what it was to travail in literary child-birth. The newspapers were exceedingly heavy in my pocket: my thoughts were, as it seemed, all afloat; I seemed to myself to be searching after them, whilst my feet during the walk on which I had set out late in the evening, struck against stocks and stones. I could not sleep.
The following day I got up, and, amid anguish and sighs, I began to read in “Dalin's History of Sweden,' which we had in the house, such portions as referred to my hero. This was my only source of information. Never had I read anything so crabbedly written, and yet out of this must be extracted the
finest essence of eloquence. There was a labour! Happy was it that the old Government-Administrator knew it not in his grave! After I had arranged my subject in my mind, there was no little difficulty in getting it on paper. My father
was very niggardly in this respect, and I am forced to confess that I obtained secretly and without his permission all the paper that I required. I hid my booty in an old empty clock-case; and there also “Sten Sture's Eulogy" was deposited sheet after sheet as it was written. It was not easy to preserve any secrecy in our house, where every
was accustomed to know each other's business. Nevertheless, I succeeded without taking any one into my confidence; and one fine evening, with trembling hand and beating heart, I dropped my work, fairly copied out and stitched together, wrapped up and sealed, for the last time into its dark concealment, from which it was the following morning to be sent by post to the heights of Parnassus.
It could not be entered at home in the post-book without exciting attention. I secretly possessed myself, therefore, after the old postman was gone away for the night, of the key of the post-bag, and rode alone early on the following morning across the river Klara, to the nearest post-town, and thus got my packet entered and sent off.
That autumn I spent at home. In the beginning of December, my eye caught a paragraph in the newspaper ; it was a request that the author of the “ Eulogy on Sten Sture, the Elder," bearing the motto “non civium ardor prava jubentium," etc., would make himself known to the secretaries of the Swedish Academy. My sister inquired from me why this advertisement made me turn so crimson. Unacquainted as I was with the forms of the Academy, I hardly knew whether the paragraph portended good or not. Between hope and fear, however, I replied to it.
Ι The following post-day brought me a letter from the Lord-Lieutenant Rosenstein, announcing to me with can-. dour and kindness, which his after behaviour to me confirmed, that the Swedish Academy had awarded its