Letters Written During A Short Residence In Sweden, Norway, And Denmark
This archive contains 27 texts, with 52,188 words or 302,106 characters.
Private business and cares have frequently so absorbed me as to prevent my obtaining all the information during this journey which the novelty of the scenes would have afforded, had my attention been continually awake to inquiry. This insensibility to present objects I have often had occasion to lament since I have been preparing these letters for the press; but, as a person of any thought naturally considers the history of a strange country to contrast the former with the present state of its manners, a conviction of the increasing knowledge and happiness of the kingdoms I passed through was perpetually the result of my comparative reflections. The poverty of the poor in Sweden renders the civilization very partial, and slavery has... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
There is a pretty little French theater at Altona, and the actors are much superior to those I saw at Copenhagen. The theaters at Hamburg are not open yet, but will very shortly, when the shutting of the gates at seven o’clock forces the citizens to quit their country houses. But, respecting Hamburg, I shall not be able to obtain much more information, as I have determined to sail with the first fair wind for England. The presence of the French army would have rendered my intended tour through Germany, in my way to Switzerland, almost impracticable, had not the advancing season obliged me to alter my plan. Besides, though Switzerland is the country which for several years I have been particularly desirous to visit,... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
My lodgings at Altona are tolerably comfortable, though not in any proportion to the price I pay; but, owing to the present circumstances, all the necessaries of life are here extravagantly dear. Considering it as a temporary residence, the chief inconvenience of which I am inclined to complain is the rough streets that must be passed before Marguerite and the child can reach a level road. The views of the Elbe in the vicinity of the town are pleasant, particularly as the prospects here afford so little variety. I attempted to descend, and walk close to the water’s edge; but there was no path; and the smell of glue, hanging to dry, an extensive manufactory of which is carried on close to the beach, I found extremely disa... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
I might have spared myself the disagreeable feelings I experienced the first night of my arrival at Hamburg, leaving the open air to be shut up in noise and dirt, had I gone immediately to Altona, where a lodging had been prepared for me by a gentleman from whom I received many civilities during my journey. I wished to have traveled in company with him from Copenhagen, because I found him intelligent and friendly, but business obliged him to hurry forward, and I wrote to him on the subject of accommodations as soon as I was informed of the difficulties I might have to encounter to house myself and brat. It is but a short and pleasant walk from Hamburg to Altona, under the shade of several rows of trees, and this walk is the more agr... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
I arrived at Corsoer the night after I quitted Copenhagen, purposing to take my passage across the Great Belt the next morning, though the weather was rather boisterous. It is about four-and-twenty miles but as both I and my little girl are never attacked by sea-sickness—though who can avoid ennui?—I enter a boat with the same indifference as I change horses; and as for danger, come when it may, I dread it not sufficiently to have any anticipating fears. The road from Copenhagen was very good, through an open, flat country that had little to recommend it to notice excepting the cultivation, which gratified my heart more than my eye. I took a barge with a German baron who was hastening back from a tour into Denmark, alar... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
I have seen Count Bernstorff; and his conversation confirms me in the opinion I had previously formed of him; I mean, since my arrival at Copenhagen. He is a worthy man, a little vain of his virtue à la Necker; and more anxious not to do wrong, that is to avoid blame, than desirous of doing good; especially if any particular good demands a change. Prudence, in short, seems to be the basis of his character; and, from the tenor of the Government, I should think inclining to that cautious circumspection which treads on the heels of timidity. He has considerable information, and some finesse; or he could not be a Minister. Determined not to risk his popularity, for he is tenderly careful of his reputation, he wil... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
Eleven days of weariness on board a vessel not intended for the accommodation of passengers have so exhausted my spirits, to say nothing of the other causes, with which you are already sufficiently acquainted, that it is with some difficulty I adhere to my determination of giving you my observations, as I travel through new scenes, whilst warmed with the impression they have made on me. The captain, as I mentioned to you, promised to put me on shore at Arendall or Gothenburg in his way to Elsineur, but contrary winds obliged us to pass both places during the night. In the morning, however, after we had lost sight of the entrance of the latter bay, the vessel was becalmed; and the captain, to oblige me, hanging out a signal for a pil... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
I left Tonsberg yesterday, the 22nd of August. It is only twelve or thirteen English miles to Moss, through a country less wild than any tract I had hitherto passed over in Norway. It was often beautiful, but seldom afforded those grand views which fill rather than soothe the mind. We glided along the meadows and through the woods, with sunbeams playing around us; and, though no castles adorned the prospects, a greater number of comfortable farms met my eyes during this ride than I have ever seen, in the same space, even in the most cultivated part of England; and the very appearance of the cottages of the laborers sprinkled amid them excluded all those gloomy ideas inspired by the contemplation of poverty. The hay was still ... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
The population of Sweden has been estimated from two millions and a half to three millions; a small number for such an immense tract of country, of which only so much is cultivated—and that in the simplest manner—as is absolutely requisite to supply the necessaries of life; and near the seashore, whence herrings are easily procured, there scarcely appears a vestige of cultivation. The scattered huts that stand shivering on the naked rocks, braving the pitiless elements, are formed of logs of wood rudely hewn; and so little pains are taken with the craggy foundation that nothing hike a pathway points out the door. Gathered into himself by the cold, lowering his visage to avoid the cutting blast, is it surprising that the ... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
I left Portoer, the little haven I mentioned, soon after I finished my last letter. The sea was rough, and I perceived that our pilot was right not to venture farther during a hazy night. We had agreed to pay four dollars for a boat from Helgeraac. I mention the sum, because they would demand twice as much from a stranger. I was obliged to pay fifteen for the one I hired at Stromstad. When we were ready to set out, our boatman offered to return a dollar and let us go in one of the boats of the place, the pilot who lived there being better acquainted with the coast. He only demanded a dollar and a half, which was reasonable. I found him a civil and rather intelligent man; he was in the American serv... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
I left East Rusoer the day before yesterday. The weather was very fine; but so calm that we loitered on the water near fourteen hours, only to make about six and twenty miles. It seemed to me a sort of emancipation when we landed at Helgeraac. The confinement which everywhere struck me whilst sojourning among the rocks, made me hail the earth as a land of promise; and the situation shone with fresh luster from the contrast—from appearing to be a free abode. He...
I have already informed you that there are only two noblemen who have estates of any magnitude in Norway. One of these has a house near Tonsberg, at which he has not resided for some years, having been at court, or on embassies. He is now the Danish Ambassador in London. The house is pleasantly situated, and the grounds about it fine; but their neglected appearance plainly tells that there is nobody at home. A stupid kind of sadness, to my eye, always reigns in a hu...
Business having obliged me to go a few miles out of town this morning I was surprised at meeting a crowd of people of every description, and inquiring the cause of a servant, who spoke French, I was informed that a man had been executed two hours before, and the body afterwards burnt. I could not help looking with horror around—the fields lost their verdure—and I turned with disgust from the well-dressed women who were returning with their children from this sight. Wh...
I was unwilling to leave Gothenburg without visiting Trolhættæ. I wished not only to see the cascade, but to observe the progress of the stupendous attempt to form a canal through the rocks, to the extent of an English mile and a half. This work is carried on by a company, who employ daily nine hundred men; five years was the time mentioned in the proposals addressed to the public as necessary for the completion. A much more considerable sum than the plan requ...
Mary Wollstonecraft was born on the 27th of April, 1759. Her father—a quick-tempered and unsettled man, capable of beating wife, or child, or dog—was the son of a manufacturer who made money in Spitalfields, when Spitalfields was prosperous. Her mother was a rigorous Irishwoman, of the Dixons of Ballyshannon. Edward John Wollstonecraft—of whose children, besides Mary, the second child, three sons and two daughters lived to be men and women—in course ...