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old bones gathered up during the last eighteen centuries, unless to start a bone-mill and sell the dust at a remunerative profit.
After all, the more I saw of Stockholm the more the blues began to creep over me. It is depressingly slow in these far Northern cities; so slow, indeed, I don't wonder every thing has a mildewed and sepulchral aspect. The houses look like slimy tombs in a grave-in yard; the atmosphere, when the sun does not happen to shine—which is more than half the time—is dank and flat, and hangs upon one's spirits like a nightmare, crushing out by degrees the very germ of vitality. I am not surprised that paralysis and hip-disease are frightfully prevalent in Stockholm..
Give me California forever—the land of sunshine and progress. I have seen no country like it yet. When I think of old times there, a terrible home-sickness takes possession of me. So help me, friends and fellow-citizens, I'd sooner be a pack-mule in California with a raw back, and be owned by a Mexican greaser, employed week in and week out in carrying barrels of whisky over the Downieville trail, fed on three grains of barley per day, and turned out to browse on quartz rock and sagebushes every night-I'd rather be a miserable little burro, kicked and cuffed by a Mariposa Chinaman-I'd rather be a dog and bay the moon in the city of Oakland, or à toad and feed upon the vapors of a dungeon at San Quentin — I'd rather be a lamp-post on the corner of Montgomery Street, San Francisco, and be leaned against, and hugged, and kissed alternately by every loafer out of the Montgomery saloon - I'd rather be any of these than a human being compelled to live permanently in Europe, with a palace in every city, town, and village, and an income of fifty thousand dollars a day to defray expenses; so don't be surprised if I should turn up again one of these fine mornings on the Pacific coast. The only difficulty at present is - a collapse in the financial department.
WALKS ABOUT STOCKHOLM. If 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. Any enterprising gentleman who desires to improve his mind by the study of Puffendorf can here find the original. Linnæus, Berzelius, and others will materially assist him in grasping at the mysteries of animated creation; and if he be of a poetical turn, he can enjoy Belman in the unadulterated Scandinavian metre. For me, however, the public museums and libraries possessed only an external interest. I would gladly have devoted the remainder of my life to Scandinavian researches, but, having several other important matters to attend to, I was reluctantly forced to give up the idea. The main object at present was to escape from “an eternal lethargy of woe,” which seemed to grow worse and worse every day. I really had nothing particular to afflict me, yet I both felt and looked like “a man sore acquaint with grief.” Day after day I wandered about the streets in search of excitement. All in vain; such a luxury is unknown to strangers in Stockholm. I visited the fruitmarkets, jostled about among the simple and kind-hearted peasants, bought bunches of cherries and baskets of raspberries from the pretty peasant-girls, and then stood eating my way into their acquaintance, while they laughed, and talked, and wondered where in the world such a strange man came from, and when I told them I came from California they looked incredulous, baving probably never heard of such a country. Then I strolled down through the fish-market, where there were a great many queer fish exposed for sale by ancient and slimy old men and women, whose hands and aprons were covered with fish-scales, and whose faces had a very fishy expression. They offered me fish in every shape-skinned, gutted, chopped up, or whole, just as I pleased to buy them. One wrinkled old woman, with a voice much broken by shouting against the Gulf storms from high
rocks, or some such cause, called my attention to a mon• ster fish that must have weighed at least sixty pounds, and insisted upon letting me have it at a reduced price. I shook my head and smiled. In that smile I suppose the sagacious old fishwoman discovered the pliancy of my disposition, for she immediately commenced a wild harangue on the merits of the fish, scarcely a word of which I understood. Two or three times I started to leave, but each time she made a motion to detain me. The fact is, I was afraid she would get hold of me with her fishy hands, and was considerably embarrassed what to do. The price of the fish was reasonable enoughonly two marks (about forty cents); but I had no use for it, and did not like to carry it to my hotel. The worst of it was, the old woman thought the price was the only obstacle, and finally came down to a mark and a half. What was to be done ? From Billingsgate to Stockholm, it is notorious that a disappointed fishwoman is a very dangerous and uncertain foe to be encountered by any man, however brave. She began to get excited at the bare prospect of having taken so much trouble for nothing. Several of her friends began to gather round. A cold tremor ran through my frame. There seemed to be no possible way of evading the purchase without creating an unpleasant scene. To make an end of it, I bought the fish. With a bunch of grass wrapped around its tail, I made my way through the crowd. To be sure, I felt a little ashamed to be perambulating the streets
of a strange city with a big fish in my hand, yet I could not well throw it down on the sidewalk, and was afraid, if I offered it to some little boy, he might stick his tongue in his cheek, and ask me if I saw any thing green in the corner of his eye. The case was getting worse and worse every moment. People stopped and looked at me as I passed. My arm was getting tired. Fortunately, I was close to the quay. A happy thought struck me; I walked over to the water's edge and cast the fish into his native element. “Go,” said I, in the language of my uncle Toby; "there's room enough in the world for you and me.” What the by-standers thought of the act I. did not wait to see. It was enough that I was clear of a very unpleasant companion, though an ancient and fishlike odor remained with me for some time after. As for the fish, I doubt if he ever came to life; he must have been dead for several days when I bought him, judging by a taint upon my hands, which the best soap could not eradicate.
After this I rambled gloomily along the quays, and wondered what every body was waiting for. There were small vessels enough lying at the wharves, but every body on board seemed to be taking it easy. Cooks were lying asleep on the galleys; skippers were sitting on the poop, smoking socially with their crews; small boys, with red night-caps on their heads, were stretched out upon the hatchways, playing push-pin, and eating crusts of black bread; stevedores, with dusty sacks on their shoulders, were lounging about on the wharf, waiting for something in the way of trade to turn up; shabby citizens, who seemed to be out of profitable employment, were sitting on the loose timbers overlooking the water, bobbing for fish, and never catching any so far as I could perceive; and scattering crowds of idlers were strolling idly along like myself, in search of something particular to look at, but, failing to discover it, they looked about at things generally, and then strolled on to look at something else. I sighed at the stagnation of business, and
hoped it would never be my fate to be engaged in mercantile affairs in Stockholm. Before the Gotha Canal was completed this was a very brisk city; but since that period, Gottenburg, being more accessible, has monopolized much of the European trade. The principal trade of Stockholm now consists of exports of iron, and imports of sugar, coffee, and liquors. Throughout the interior the peasantry manufacture most of the articles required for their own use, such as clothing, implements of husbandry, etc., so that they are not large consumers of foreign commodities. Finding it very dull in town, I walked out in the suburbs, which are pretty and picturesque, though primitive enough to be a thousand miles from a commercial city. The houses are chiefly constructed of wood, painted yellow, with red roofs, and neatly or. namented with verandas; and the people have a quaint and simple look, as if they knew but little of the world, and did not care much to trouble their heads about the progress of events. Here as well as elsewhere, children continue to be born in great numbers, and groups of them were to be seen before every house playing in the mud just as little cotton-headed children play all over the world. I say cotton-headed, because these were of the blue-eyed, white-haired race who have a natural affinity for muddy places, and whose cheeks have a natural propensity to gather bloom and dirt at the same time.
I struck out on the high points of the Normalm, and on one of them discovered an old church, surrounded by trees, with benches conveniently placed beneath their • sbade for weary pedestrians. Here were family groups quietly enjoying the fresh air, the men smoking and drinking, while the women and girls economized time by knitting and sewing. I took a vacant seat and looked down over the city. Surely a prettier prospect could not exist upon earth. There lay the city of the sea outspread beneath, its irregular streets, quaint old houses and churches covering every available space; the numerous wooded islands in the vicinity dotted with villas;