Sunday, November 02, 2014

Some passages on Stockholm from The land of Thor (1867) by J. Ross Browne

Some passages on Stockholm from The land of Thor (1867) by J. Ross Browne

2014.10.31-IMG_2644The main part of the city, embracing the King s Palace, the Bourse, the Church of St. Nicholas, the Barracks and public buildings, is built upon an island fronting the Baltic on the one side and the Malar Lake on the other. This is the most populous and interesting part, though the streets are narrow and irregular, and the houses generally old and dilapidated, with dark, gloomy fronts, and a very fishy and primitive expression of countenance. (p. 253)


The general aspect of the citizens of Stockholm is that of extreme plainness and simplicity. I take them to be an honest, substantial, and reliable people, well educated and intelligent ; satisfied with themselves and the world, and proud of their country and its history. Politeness is a national characteristic. Every person, of high and low degree, upon entering a shop, takes off his hat, and remains with uncovered head while making his purchase. Gentlemen who meet on the street knock the tops of their "tiles" against their knees, and continue to bow at each other long after they have passed. In feature and general appearance the Swedes are handsomer than the southern races of Europe, and for that reason wear a nearer resemblance to the Americans. I saw several men in Stockholm who would not have done discredit to California, in point of fine faces and commanding figures. The Swedish ladies are proverbially beautiful. (pp. 254-55)

2014.10.31-IMG_2611We visited the Museum, where there is an interesting assortment of Scandinavian antiquities, and the palace, and some half a dozen other places, all of which came in the regular routine of sight-seeing; but the fact is, I am getting dreadfully tired of this systematic way of lionizing the cities of Europe. I turn pale at the sight of a museum, shudder at a church, feel weak in the knees at the bare thought of a picture-gallery, and as for antiquities, they make my flesh creep. Between you and myself, dear reader, I wouldn't give a sou-markee for all the old bones gathered up during the last eighteen centuries, unless to start a bone-mill and sell the dust at a remunerative profit. (pp. 260-61)

2014.11.01-IMG_2719If you expect any very lively or striking pictures of Stockholm from a tourist like myself, whose besetting trouble in life is a constitutional melancholy, I am afraid you will be disappointed. It is beyond doubt one of the most agreeable cities in the North, and, so far as public institutions are concerned, affords a fine field of research for the antiquarian and the naturalist. (p. 262)

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