( Originally Published 1881 )
UPSALA is a town dear to Sweden, not only on account of its great antiquity; but because it has been for centuries its great seat of learning. -Upsala is essentially a university town, it has a population of about 16,000, the river Fyrisn 'flows-through it, and the streets are wide, and paved 'with cobble-stones. The University dates from 1249, and its revival un-der Gustaf Adolf, from 1613. In order to be admitted, the student has to pass a successful examination at one of the elementarskolor (high school): Formerly the examination was held in Upsala. The medical course occupies from five to seven years, and that of philosophy and law from four to five years. No -man in Sweden can' be a clergyman, a lawyer, or a doctor unless he has graduated at Upsala or Lund, the-two universities of Sweden. ` The Rector of the University, who is changed every year, is chosen from among the professors. The students are divided into nations, according to the provinces or lans to which they belong; each nation has a building or suite of rooms of its own, used as a place of meeting for the members, and a library--the young men lodging in different parts of the town. They lead the joyous life of the students of Germany, with this difference, that the custom of duelling is unknown.
As the visitor wanders amidst the tombs and along the shady and flowery walks of the beautifully kept cemetery, he sees a huge structure of granite, somewhat rough, but massive and imposing, which belongs to the nations of the University, and marks the resting-places of students who have died in Upsala.
The great men who have come from Upsala are the witnesses to the well-earned celebrity of that institution, and many of its professors have a world-wide reputation. Among the interesting buildings is the Carolina Rediviva. The library of the University contains some 200,000 volumes and about 8000 manuscripts, some of which are exceedingly valuable. Biblical students will find in this collection a Bible with marginal notes by Luther and Melanchthon, the " Codex Argenteus," a copy of the Four Gospels written in letters of silver, and many other valuable and ancient books. The cathedral is well worth a visit, if only for the sake of standing before the tomb of Gustavus Vasa, who lies buried there by the side of his two queens. Many Swedish heroes and great men are also interred there.
At a short distance from the town is old Upsala. Not far from its church are three large mounds, called Kungshügar (King heights). There is another one, called Tingshog (Ting height), where, in heathen times, kings harangued the multitude. The old church is but a short distance away, and it was here that the great temple for the worship of Thor, Odin, and Freya was established in Scandinavia. A sacred wood covered the country, and human sacrifices were made to the gods. Two of the tumuli have been examined, and in one the bones of a woman, in an urn, and those of a small dog, were found.
Large numbers of tumuli are scattered around this venerable place of pagan worship. Old Upsala church is one of the most ancient in Sweden. It is built of stone, and possesses a queer offering shrine, wherein the pious in Catholic times deposited their gifts.
The university town, on my arrival, presented a very animated appearance ; the people were dressed in their holiday attire. This unusual commotion was on account of the ceremonies attendant upon the award of degrees to students who had passed a successful examination. Hundreds of graduates thronged the streets; they were easily recognized by the regulation white cap, with a black velvet band, decorated with a small blue-and-yellow rosette in the centre, symbolic of the Swedish flag. The sidewalks were crowded by young ladies, who had come for the occasion, and it was evident that many persons would be unable to find accommodation. I was told that this would probably be the last of the triennial exhibitions, for the authorities had objected to them, as being too expensive for the students.
In the afternoon the students assembled to greet the Chanellor of the University, who had just arrived from Stock-solid; they sung in chorus with such magnificent voices that [ did not wonder that those they had sent to the Paris Exhibition had won the first prize. An immense crowd, from all grades of society, followed them to the house of the chancelllor, where they sang a superb student's song and chorus with wonderful precision and perfect accord.' They pride them-selves upon their singing, and take great pains in rehearsing together. The song being ended, the chancellor appeared and made a brief speech ; after which the students, instead of dispersing, continued to sing, walking through the streets until they came to the residence of one of their favorite professors, who that year, I think, was Rector of the University, and who had graduated fifty years before. The same crowd still folllowed them. They sang another chorus, and, after again walking through the streets for awhile, finally dispersed.
The first and the two following nights there was hardly any sleep for me. There were in my hotel, fortunately or unfortunately, some young ladies — the sisters, cousins, or sweet-hearts of students —and I did not get a wink of sleep until three o'clock in the morning. Students, in groups of four to eight, came in succession, and sang their beautiful melodies under the windows, in compliment to the fair ones. One band had hardly left when another took its place, and fine voices rang out melodiously in the silence of the night. There was no peace for the Swedish beauties; each had to place a lighted candle in her window, to show that she was awake and heard the serenade 'given in her honor. This old and pretty custom seemed to be enjoyed by the students, and the girls evidently liked it. The following are two specimens of the songs I heard
SKYMNINGEN (THE TWILIGHT).
Hear how still the wind whispers,
THE ROSE IN THE NORTHERN FOREST.
Alone in the wild forest
Stay not in those wild forests,
The day after my arrival I witnessed the graduation ceremonies. At 9.30 A.M. the old graduates of the University met, and marched in procession to the cathedral. They had come from every part of the country to do honor to their alma ma-ter; and among their number were governors of provinces, noblemen, officers in uniform, judges, lawyers, merchants, farmers, and white-headed men bent with age. Those who were not in uniform were arrayed in full evening dress, with high silk hats-for the Swede is precise, and even formal, on gala occasions. In deference to the custom of the place I had put on a dress-coat, but unfortunately I had no high hat with me, and therefore wore a Panama hat. When I joined the procession I felt quite uncomfortable ; but it could not be helped, and so, two by two, we marched to the cathedral, the sense crowd in the streets looking at us, and now and then, )y voice or gesture, showing that they recognized some of the great men of the country in the ranks. The students, in tress-coats, followed the procession of their elders, and all entered the old brick pile which constitutes the cathedral of Upsala.
The large building was crowded to suffocation, almost entirely by ladies, who were tastefully but simply dressed ac-cording to Swedish custom ; the variegated colors of their attire added to the interest of the scene. The body of the church was reserved for the students, all of whom wore their white caps. One of the student - ushers, whose badge was a red scarf, kindly took charge of me, and gave me a good seat. In front of the altar was a large body of collegians, all in evening dress, who were the musicians of the occasion, Near them was a brilliant cluster of young ladies, one of whom, a distinguished soloist, was a Norwegian. A platform, from which the degrees were to be given, was occupied by the Chancellor and Faculty of the University ; while in front were venerable men who had graduated half a century before. All classes were mingled in the crowd : the flicka, with her handkerchief over her head, was there by the side of the grand dame.
The ceremonies began with a grand chorus by the young ladies, in which a few male voices blended; this lasted about half an hour. Then, after a short pause, the rector delivered a speech in Latin, occupying about twenty-five minutes, but receiving little attention ; this was a part of the programme required by custom. At the conclusion of the address he placed upon his own head a crown of oak leaves. This seemed to be the signal for a peal of four guns, the echoes of which reverberated among the arches of the old cathedral. Then the grand chorus again burst forth in a superb strain, singing a song composed by one of the students. As the name of each graduate was called, and the crown of laurel was placed upon his head, the booming of a cannon was heard ; he then received his diploma. After this ceremony there was more singing, and then two of the graduates, Primus and Secundus, ascended the platform and delivered the valedictory in Latin.
As I looked at the crowd around me, ][ thought I could recognize, by their beaming faces, the fathers, mothers, sisters and sweethearts of the scholars who had passed the ordeal Some of the young men had just been married, and others were about to be. Years of study had been rewarded on this day and the graduates, who were the heroes of the hour, walked through the streets with their crowns on their heads. Their joyful student-life was over; the time for parting had come ; but their dear Upsala and alma mater: were never to be for-gotten. The alumni had come from every part of Sweden, and their white caps would soon be seen in the far North, among the mountains of Lapland, in Swedish Finland, and in every province of the kingdom.
At three o'clock precisely on that day I found myself in the Linnaean Hall, with 304 other guests, eating the smorgâs to gain an appetite for dinner. When the doors leading to the banqueting hall were opened, the abundance of plants gave the apartment almost the appearance of a garden; the effect was very striking.
The dishes were well cooked, and the attendance was excellent—both of which surprised me, on account of the great number of guests. As the dinner advanced the more lively the company became, and there was a continual drinking of. toasts between friends at dessert; the health of the king was proposed and drank, but without any speech-making, and several other toasts were duly honored. Then came a general moving to and fro, for the wine had made every heart merry. From the porch we looked into the Botanic Garden, where several thousand persons had gathered in a beautiful avenue facing the building. The assembly was composed of ladies, pupils, and the populace.
Coffee was then served, and immense bowls of Swedish punch were provided for the whole orderly body, ad libitum. The Archbishop of Upsala, the Chancellor, and the Rector of the University were put by force on chairs and carried through the throng on the shoulders of the students, amidst cheers and general merriment. The old became young again: there were , no distinctions of rank; professors and students walked about arm-in-arm. I lost my friends in the crowd, and stood astonished at the scene of tumultuous joy : evidently the punch was beginning to tell. Close to me, in the great throng, was a gentleman dressed in full uniform, who inquired in an exceedingly pleasant manner, and in perfect English, if my name was Du Chaffin, and then introduced himself as Count Hamilton, Governor of the Lin of Upsala. He invited me to visit him the next day at his residence in the slott, or ancient palace.
The festivities of the day ended with a grand ball (Promotionsbalen) in one of the halls of the Carolina Rediviva, which contains the superb library of the University. I was surprised at the selection of the place, for it seemed a reckless act to ex-pose that fine collection to such a risk. More than two thou-sand wax candles were burning, and the hall was tastefully arranged with a little fountain at one end, of the room sending up jets of water and helping to cool the atmosphere of the overcrowded hall. Everybody was in evening. dress, and the young ladies mustered in full force from every part of the country; Swedish beauties were there, as numerous as violets in.-the grass. I admired the simplicity of their attire; white muslin dresses, trimmed with ribbons of different colors, pre-dominated, and the hair was arranged simply but tastefully. The hall was so crowded that those who desired to dance could hardly find room. Many applications for admission had been refused for want of accommodation. I met one American to whom I was not a stranger; he had been a student at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, when I lectured there. His journey to Sweden had been undertaken for the purpose of studying the history of the country.
The following day I went to the old castle, where I was received with great kindness by the governor, the countess, and all the members of their family, and found a company of distinguished guests, who had come to attend the graduation ceremonies. Every one spoke English ; the governor, the countess, and their eldest daughter speaking it exceedingly well; in fact, nearly all present had a good command of the English, French, and German languages. In a short time I felt at home, as is always the case where tact, culture, and pleas-ant manners lend their charms. When the time for leaving came, I reluctantly bade farewell to those who had received me so kindly.
The Swedish branch of the house of Hamilton, represented by the Governor of Upsala, is descended from Claudius, Baron of Paisley, one of the sons of James, fourth Duke of Chatellherault. The sons of Malcolm, Archbishop of Cassel, entered the Swedish army under Gustavus Adolphus in 1624, and distinguished themselves greatly, and were allowed by the sovereign,as a recognition of their services, to take the baronial title of their grandfathers in Scotland. They are highly honored and respected in Sweden. The Countess of Hamilton is the daughter of the illustrious Swedish historian, Geijer.
A part only of the old castle is occupied by the governor. It presents a very imposing appearance, and commands an extensive view. Some of the walls of this enormous brick structure are twelve feet in thickness. Scenes of centuries gone by come vividly before the student of history when he visits the pile. The murder of Nils Sture and others, by the crazy and blood-thirsty Erik, marking an era of bloodshed and murder in Sweden, is one of these historical memories.
The students' concert was given the next day. The balllroom had been transformed in a few hours into a concert-room, and the same students who were the ushers at the ball were again on duty. They certainly tried. to do all they could to entertain those who came to Upsala. As at the ball, the room was far too small to accommodate all who wished to hear, for the finest voices of the University had been chosen for this occasion. The audience was almost entirely composed of ladies, the gentlemen having given way, so that there would be more room, for this was the crowning entertainment of the festival. The first piece on the programme was the song, "Hor oss, Svea" (Hear us, Sweden), which was followed by "The Solvirkning" (The Sun's Effects), by Kjerulf, and " The Brudefrd i Hardanger" (The Bridal Journey by Hardanger), both Norwegian songs. The audience was apparently cold ; but the last-named piece was received with enthusiastic applause.
A dinner at the castle ended the festivities of my pleasant visit. Many of the English and American authors had been read by the guests, and the conversation was of America, England, Sweden, Europe, and of writers, thinkers, scientific men, travel and travellers, and other topics. After this we went out to the terrace, and had a magnificent view of the plain be-low, fresh and green with the tints of spring, with wild-flowers in bloom. Immortelles were abundant, and many were gathered and made into a wreath by the two young ladies of the house, and they crowned me with it in the presence of the company—an unexpected and undeserved compliment. The youngest daughter, a charming and modest young girl of thirteen, with fair hair, blue eyes, and a delicate complexion, gave me a little bouquet of forget-me-nots and immortelles, which I immediately placed in my button-hole, to the intense delight of her childlike nature. I have kept the wreath and the flowers as mementos of a delightful visit, and sometimes I wonder if that pleasant family still remembers me.