The road at first was very rocky and troublesome, but our driver was careful, and the horses accustomed to the frequent and sudden acclivities and descents; so that, not apprehending any danger, I played with my girl, whom I would not leave to Marguerite's care, on account of her timidity.
Stopping at a little inn to bait the horses, I saw the first countenance in Sweden that displeased me, though the man was better dressed than any one who had as yet fallen in my way. An altercation took place between him and my host, the purport of which I could not guess, excepting that I was the occasion of it, be it what it would. The sequel was his leaving the house angrily; and I was immediately informed that he was the custom-house officer. The professional had indeed effaced the national character, for, living as he did within these frank hospitable people, still only the exciseman appeared, the counterpart of some I had met with in England and France. I was unprovided with a passport, not having entered any great town. At Gothenburg I knew I could immediately obtain one, and only the trouble made me object to the searching my trunks. He blustered for money; but the lieutenant was determined to guard me, according to promise, from imposition.
To avoid being interrogated at the town-gate, and obliged to go in the rain to give an account of myself (merely a form) before we could get the refreshment we stood in need of, he requested us to descend--I might have said step--from our car, and walk into town.
I expected to have found a tolerable inn, but was ushered into a most comfortless one; and, because it was about five o'clock, three or four hours after their dining hour, I could not prevail on them to give me anything warm to eat.
The appearance of the accommodations obliged me to deliver one of my recommendatory letters, and the gentleman to whom it was addressed sent to look out for a lodging for me whilst I partook of his supper. As nothing passed at this supper to characterise the country, I shall here close my letter.
Gothenburg is a clean airy town, and, having been built by the Dutch, has canals running through each street; and in some of them there are rows of trees that would render it very pleasant were it not for the pavement, which is intolerably bad.
There are several rich commercial houses--Scotch, French, and Swedish; but the Scotch, I believe, have been the most successful. The commerce and commission business with France since the war has been very lucrative, and enriched the merchants I am afraid at the expense of the other inhabitants, by raising the price of the necessaries of life.
As all the men of consequence--I mean men of the largest fortune-- are merchants, their principal enjoyment is a relaxation from business at the table, which is spread at, I think, too early an hour (between one and two) for men who have letters to write and accounts to settle after paying due respect to the bottle.