- Project Runeberg -  Letters written during a short residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark /
120

(1889) [MARC] Author: Mary Wollstonecraft With: Henry Morley
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Adieu, for the present, I must take advantage of a
moment of fine weather to walk out and see the town.

At Christiania I met with that polite reception,
which rather characterises the progress of manners in
the world, than of any particular portion of it. The
first evening of my arrival I supped with some of the
most fashionable people of the place, and almost
imagined myself in a circle of English ladies, so much
did they resemble them in manners, dress, and even in
beauty; for the fairest of my countrywomen would not
have been sorry to rank with the Grand Bailiff’s lady.
There were several pretty girls present, but she
outshone them all, and, what interested me still more, I
could not avoid observing that in acquiring the easy
politeness which distinguishes people of quality, she
had preserved her Norwegian simplicity. There was,
in fact, a graceful timidity in her address, inexpressibly
charming. This surprised me a little, because her
husband was quite a Frenchman of the ancien régime,
or rather a courtier, the same kind of animal in every
country.

Here I saw the cloven foot of despotism. I boasted
to you that they had no viceroy in Norway, but these
Grand Bailiffs, particularly the superior one, who
resides at Christiania, are political monsters of the same
species. Needy sycophants are provided for by their
relations and connections at Copenhagen as at other
courts. And though the Norwegians are not in the
abject state of the Irish, yet this second-hand
government is still felt by their being deprived of several
natural advantages to benefit the domineering state.


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