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THE SWEDISH BOY.
Twelve German miles from Carlstadt, which is situate on the north shore of the Wener Lake, in the kingdom of Sweden, there stood a little farm-house in the midst of a wood, which was inhabited by my father, a farmer of small property. There I was born, in the beginning of the present century. When I now sit in the midst of a Palmyrawood, or under the shady banana-trees, on which luxuriant creepers climb, or in a bushy thicket of fragrant oleanders, the creation certainly presents itself to me in a very different form and in much greater splendour than in my own poor country, where we were surrounded only by the pine, the fir, and the larch, and where bilberries and cranberries bore their silent testimony to
the moderate fecundity of the northern soil. Yet still I often feel a kind of home-ache after the solitude and simplicity of my native woods; and once, when beholding the Black Forest in Würtemberg, with its dark green fir-woods, its isolated farms, its fenced meadows, and its waving corn-fields and thatched cottages, my heart leaped within me, for I saw the picture of my native scenery, which is still ever dear to my heart. When I am desirous in the evening of enjoying free respiration in the open air, where, during the day, the heat is so fatal, and the great vampyre-bat, which measures four feet from one extremity of its leathern wings to the other, wheels its heavy and circling flight, where the owls chatter, and the disgusting muskrats come forth from their holes—it then seems to me as if an evening in a Swedish fir-wood, where squirrels nimbly climb the trees, and the deer steal timidly through the bushes, is more agreeable. No wonder that the remembrance of my native land, however much I experienced there of what was painful, still brings with it something pleasing to my feelings.
The first remarkable event in my life, which impressed itself on my memory, was the sight of our habitation becoming a prey to the flames, one dark winter's night. I was then about five years old. My father happened to be from home; my aged and helpless grandfather, my mother, a brother younger than myself, my little sister in the cradle, and myself, the first-born child of my parents, were the sole witnesses of this melancholy scene. My mother at first made every possible attempt to extinguish the fire, and carried much water to the roof herself; but, on seeing that all was in vain, she endeavoured to save at least as much as possible from the flames; and exerted herself to such a degree, in bringing out the furniture and utensils, that her health was irreparably destroyed, and she was obliged to spend many years on a sick-bed. Dwelling quite alone in the wood, there was no one who could come to our aid; and even though a distant neighbour might have seen the fire, yet before he could have hastened thither, it would have been too late. When my father returned, he found himself without a home. A little cottage was hastily built for us, until another house could be erected. The latter was, however, impossible during the winter; and we were obliged to remain in the narrow hut till the following summer.
By the building of the new house my parents became increasingly poor; and in consequence of my mother's continued sickness, everything was spent. My father was compelled to incur debts, to meet even our most urgent necessities; and because there were no means of earning anything, he was at length obliged, however much it pained him, to dispose of his farm, solely for the purpose of paying his debts. It is scarcely possible to form an idea of my father's painful situation, unless we have ourselves experienced something similar. He had to provide for five children and their sickly mother: house and land were sold, and the property all consumed.
My father understood joiner's work, as far as was necessary in the country, and endeavoured in this manner to support his family as well as he was able; but, notwithstanding all his efforts, our poverty increased. We
were obliged, in order that he might obtain work, to remove from place to place, and often suffered great distress. God, indeed, forgets none of his creatures. He, who every day provides for the birds of the air, without their sowing, reaping, or threshing, cannot deny a poor human being his food, though he may sometimes have to wait till evening for it. He, who has so much clothing in store, as to bestow it even upon the flowers of the field—and how elegantly and beautifully are some of them clothed !-will not suffer his children to be in want of needful apparel. And, in fact, we were permitted to experience many proofs of the goodness of God, although at that time, we knew not how to appreciate them properly. But whilst he frequently heaps up his gifts on the ungodly, he suffers those whom he is desirous of drawing nearer to himself, to be often so scantily supplied for a season, as if he had even forgotten them; and deprives them of all human aid, that they may seek his assistance the more exclusively. He hedges up their prospects on every side,