« AnteriorContinuar »
NATIONAL WELCOME-BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF STOCKHOLNA GREAT
GENIUS IN DECLINE-PAINTING-SHORT SKETCH OF GUSTAVUS III
-FEMALE STRATAGEM-THE PALACE-STATE BED-THE OPERAHOUSE-ASSASSINATION-FORGIVENESS-A HINT NOT INTENDED TO OFFEND.
IN the morning our slumbers were gently dispelled by music, which“ came o'er our ears like the sweet south.” According to the custom of the country, several musicians, I believe belonging to the military band, serenaded us at our chamber door, with some exquisite soft national airs, which induced us to rise. After breakfast we ascended an eminence of rock called Mount Moses, in the south suburb, from whence we beheld in a bird's eye view this singular and beautiful city, which appears to be a little larger than Bristol, is situated in 59 deg. 20 min. of northern latitude, and stands upon a small portion of two peninsulas and seven islands of grey granite, washed by a branch of the Baltic, the lake Mæler and the streams that flow from it. The palace, a large quadrangular building, uniting elegance to grandeur, rises from the centre of the city, which it commands in all directions. It will be more particularly described afterwards. The merchants' houses, which are in the south suburb, run parallel with the spacious quay, and front the ships which are moored close to it, are lofty, and in a graceful style of Italian architecture. Most of the buildings, rising amphitheatrically one above another, are either stone or brick stuccoed, of a white or light yellow colour, and the roofs are covered with dark or light brown tiles, and presents with the surrounding scenery of scattered half-covered rock, thin forests of fir, the lake, and the windings of the Baltic, a most romantic and enchanting prospect. The streets are very badly paved.
The reputation of Sergell the statuary speedily attracted us to his house, where we beheld his beautiful Cupid and Psyche, which he has determined shall not be sold, until that event shall have happened which stops and sanctifies the works of genius. These figures display the finest conceptions of feeling, grace, and elegance, and heartily did I rejoice to find it in that country, which I trust will never permit it to be removed. In a temporary building, we had also the gratification of seeing the colossal pedestrian statue of the late Gustavus III, in bronze, which had just been cast, and was then polishing : it is a present from the citizens of Stockholm, and will cost when finished, 40,0001. and is intended to commemorate the marine victory, obtained by that illustrious prince over the Russians, in 1790. The King, with a mild but intrepid countenance, which I was informed is a most faithful likeness of him, is represented holding a rudder in one hand, and extending an olive branch with the other: he is attired in the very graceful costume which he introduced, resembling that of the old Spanish, and the feet are sandalled. It is a noble work of art, and may, in all human probability, be considered as the last effort of its distinguished author: a pedestal of one solid block of porphyry is already raised near the palace, to receive it upon the quay, which in that part is formed into a crescent.
Sergell, so long and so justly celebrated, is rapidly descending into the vale of years, and although honoured and enriched, a inorbid melancholy, such as might arise from neglect and poverty, disrobes his graceful occupation of her attractions, and renders him disgusted with himself and with the world. It has been said, and very justly, that only extreme mental wretchedness can make a man indifferent to the applauses of his fellow-creatures : such is the forlorn case of the great but hapless-Sergell; the friends of his youth have no charm for him, the admiration of his countrymen and of foreigners no exhilaration. Visible only to his workmen, and that reluctantly, the illustrious artist is sinking into the melancholy misanthrope ; but when his hand shall no longer display its skill, taste will worship, and wealth will covet, the marble which it has touched, and time will enrol his name amongst the most favoured sons of Genius.
In painting, the two Martins, who are brothers, may be considered as reflecting considerable honour upon their country; one of them, I believe the youngest, has painted and engraved a series of views of Stockholm with great fidelity and beauty.
In the academy of sculpture and painting, raised by Adolphus Frederick, are some fine casts, said to be the first impressions of the only moulds ever permitted to be taken from the antiques at
Rome: they were given to Charles XI, by Louis XIV. There are also some casts from the bas-reliefs of Trajan's column. The children of tradesmen are gratuitously taught to draw in this in: stitution, that their minds may be furnished with impressions of taste in those trades which are susceptible of them. All the pupils furnish their own crayons and paper : out of the funds of the academy, a certain number are sent into foreign countries to improve themselves. The funds, unaided, would be inadequate to the object, but the munificence of public spirited individuals, which throughout Sweden is very great, has hitherto supplied the deficiency.
The academy of sciences was founded in 1739, and consists of one hundred members and foreign associates. Their researches, reputed to possess considerable learning and ability, are published every three months in the Swedish language. The cabinet of natural history is enriched with several rare collections, particularly with subjects which occurred in one of captain Cook's circumnavigations, deposited in the academy by Mr. Sparmann.
Most of the living artists of Sweden owe their elevation and consequent fame to the protective hand of the late king, Gustavus III, a prince, who, to the energies and capacities of an illustrious warrior, united all the refined elegances of the most accomplished gentleman : his active spirit knew no repose ; at one time the world beheld him amidst the most formidable difficulties and dangers, leading his fleets to glory in the boisterous billows of the Baltic ; at another time it marked him amidst the ruins of Italy, collecting with a sagacious eye, and profuse hand, the rich materials for ameliorating the taste and genius of his own country. What Frederic the Great was to Berlin, Gustavus the Third was to Stockholm : almost every object which embellishes this beautiful city arose from his patronage, frequently from his own de. signs, and will be durable monuments of that capacious and graceful mind, which, had not death arrested, would, in the profusion of its munificence, have impoverished the country which it adorned. This prince derived what hereditary talent he possessed from his mother Ulrica, who, by a capacious and highly cultivated mind, displayed that she was worthy of being the sister of Frederic the Great. Her marriage with Adolphus Frederic was the fruit of her own unassisted address, which, as it has some novelty, I shall relate: The court and senate of Sweden sent an ambassador incognito to Berlin, to watch and report upon the characters and dispositions of Frederic's two unmarried sisters, Ulrica and Amelia, the former of whom had the reputation of being very haughty, crafty, satirical and capricious; and the Swedish court had already pretty nearly determined in favour of Amelia, who was remarkable for the attraction of her person and the sweetness of her mind. The mission of the ambassador was soon buzzed abroad, and Amelia was overwhelmed with misery, on account of her insuperable objection to renounce the tenets of Calvin for those of Luther: in this state of wretchedness she implored the assistance of her sister's counsels to prevent an union so repugnant to her happiness. The wary Ulrica advised her to assume the most insolent and repulsive deportment to every one, in the presence of the Swedish ambassador, which advice she followed, whilst Ulrica put on all those amiable qualities which her sister had provisionally laid aside: every one, ignorant of the cause, was astonished at the change; the ambassador informed his court, that fame had completely mistaken the two sisters, and had actually reversed their reciprocal good and bad qualities. Ulrica was consequently preferred, and mounted the throne of Sweden, to the no little mortification of Amelia, who too late discovered the stratagem of her sister and her adviser.
A traveller will find much gratification in occasionally dining at the merchants' club, to which strangers are introduced by subscribers ; here we found the dinners excellent, and served up
in a handsome style at a very moderate expense; the apartments are elegant, consisting of a noble dinner-room, an anti-room, a billiard-room, and a reading-room where the foreign papers are taken in. The view from the rooms over the Mæler, upon the rocky cliffs, crowned with straggling parts of the suburbs, is very beautiful. There is another club superior to this in style and expense, but as the rooms were under repair, its meetings were suspended. One afternoon, as I was quitting the merchants' club to go to the church of Ridderholm, the quay in that quarter presented an uncommonly crowded appearance of gaiety and vi. vacity; the little canal which runs under the bridge leading to the church was covered with boats filled with garlands and small poles wreathed with flowers; the old and the young, the lame
and the vigorous, pressed eagerly forward to purchase these rural decorations, destined to honour the festival of St. John, which was to take place the following day.
The national religion of Sweden is Lutheran, but without jealousy it is pleased with seeing every man worship his God in his own way.
The palace is well worthy of notice: it is built of brick stuccoed, and stained of a light yellow, the four sides of which are visible to the different quarters of the city. This very elegant edifice was begun by Charles XI and finished by Gustavus III: it is composed of four stories, three large and one small; in the front are twenty-three noble windows; ten Doric columns support a like number of Ionic cariatides, surmounted by ten Corinthian pilasters; the roof is Italian. At either end of the grand entrance, which faces the north suburbs, is a bronze lion; the basement story is of granite, and the arch of the doors towards the quay are composed of rude masses of that rock; on this side there are parterres over two projecting galleries, and a garden; the chapel is very rich, and opposite to it is the hall for the meeting of the Estates, where the seats are amphitheatrically arranged; those of the nobles on the right of the throne, and those of the clergy, the bourgeois, and peasants on the left; there is a gallery round it, and the whole has a grand effect. As only the senators and their ladies have the privilege of entering the grand court in their carriage on court days, those who are not possessed of this rank are as much exposed in bad weather as the English ladies of fashion are when they pay their respects to their Majesties at St. James's, where many a fair one, enveloped in a mighty hoop, is frequently obliged to tack according to the wind. Not many years since, an erect stately duchess dowager, in endeavouring to reach her carriage, right in the wind's eye, was completely blown down.
I consider myself fortunate in seeing the King's museum immediately after the opening of several packages containing five hundred valuable paintings and antique statues from Italy, where they had been purchased about eleven years since, by Gustavus III, but owing to the French revolution and the wars which it engendered, were prevented from reaching the place of their destination before: they lay in great confusion, and some of them were much damaged. Among the antique statues were those of