”Of the walks within the city, Brühl’ s Terrace is remarkable. On one side, a high staircase with several landings leads up to the terrace; on the other side, the terrace is divided into several smaller terraces, one under the other. Here is an extremely beautiful view and in one of the large and lush boulevards, you will find an elegant restaurant.” [ Augusta’s Diary, Dresden, 9 July 1847]
Yes, Brühl’s Terrace was famous – it was nicknamed ”The Balcony of Europe”. The terrace was built in the 16th century as part of Dresden’s fortification. It got its name from Count Heinrich von Brühl, a powerful minister who built his palace and gardens on the terrace. The original Brühl’s Terrace was destroyed in the 1945 bombing of Dresden; the terrace of today was built to resemble the original terrace.
When the steamship traffic on the Elbe took off in the 1840s, the ships moored just below the terrace. You could embark on a beautiful river journey that would take you almost all the way to Prague, that is, it would take you from Dresden to Obříství and from there, you would have to travel the rest of the way by horse and carriage. Even today, the Elbe steamships dock below the terrace.
Sophia von Knorring, a Swedish writer who in 1846 traveled down the Elbe onboard the steamship Bohemia, described Brühl’s Terrace in rather poetic terms:
”At 5 am, we were riding in a good carriage from Hotel de Saxe on our way down to Bohemia. We were saying our farewell to the stately, lovely Dresden, where Brühl’ s Terrace stretched us a hand in a friendly farewell, because under its vertical walls, we boarded the steamship and spent a good half hour swaying on the Elbe before all the passengers had arrived, had stowed themselves and their things, and the machine had started; but at the stroke of 6, we departed …”
Another contemporary Swedish writer, Wilhelm von Braun, left Dresden in 1844 and made the following observations:
Following Hotel Stadt Berlin’s porter who carried my bag, I hurried to the nearby Elbe Bridge at the foot of Brühl’ s Terrace, and to the steamship Bohemia, with which I intended to take a trip to Tetschen – as far as you can get by boat – and then continue the journey over Töplitz to Prague, the Austrian Empire’s Moscow.
When the bell tolled six, the machine started and the steamship Bohemia, flat as a bread trough in the face of Elbe’s shallow water, slowly moved away from this magnificent terrace, formerly a threatening fortress wall, now a peaceful walkway from the height of which I have so often enjoyed the most beautiful view of the Elbe and its densely populated mountainous shores and of its always crowded, 1400 ft long and with 17 arches built bridge [Augustus Bridge], where they walk, not as on Norrbro in Stockholm – pushing, squeezing, and butting into each other – but sensibly and always stepping to the right when wanting to pass each other on the bridge.
But what about the elegant restaurant Augusta mentioned? Nobody described any restaurants.
Handbook for Travellers on The Continent, published 1858 in London, describes the cafés on Brühl’s Terrace as follows:
Cafés: Those on the Brühl’ s Terrace, especially the Café Reale and the Belvedere, are much frequented in summer. The Café Reale has two wings; that nearest the bridge is for ladies, in which smoking is prohibited; on the opposite side it is allowed. Smoking is allowed on the ground floor at the Belvedere, but not in the supper room upstairs. Very fair instrumental music may often be heard at the Belvedere in summer evenings.
Belvedere was built in 1842, so it was quite new when Augusta visited. It was a beautiful building with large windows. Besides being used as a restaurant, it also housed two ballrooms, a drawing room, and a gallery. It was destroyed in the 1945 bombing of Dresden. Currently, there are plans to reconstruct it.
Café Reale was built in 1843. Its architecture was inspired by Greek temples. It had several salons and it also allowed guests to dine outside. It became very popular due to its Italian pastry chef, Torniamenti. In 1886, the café was demolished to make space for the new Academy of Arts.
Who knows what restaurant Augusta visited? If Augusta had lived today, she probably would have taken a picture of her dish; maybe she had an ice cream – a glace, with a wafer – and shared it on Instagram with hashtags #CafeBelvedere or #CafeReale.
Kerstin and I visited Brühl’s Terrace and looked out over the Elbe and the moored steamboats. We walked down the wide staircase where a brass orchestra was entertaining flâneurs and tourists alike.
As there were no restaurants on the terrace, we went to Vapiano and raised our glasses of rose wine in honor of Kazuo Ishiguro, who had just received the Nobel Prize in literature.
På somrarna på 60-talet i Sörmland brukade jag hämta hennes post och leverera till hennes stuga nere vid sjön. (Det var på den vinden jag tio år senare provade Augustas sidenklänning!)
Mina sidentyger som väntar…
Diaries are different. They are kept to document memories in real time. They are not like letters. Letters are written to let someone know what you have experienced. Diaries are for yourself; letters are for other people.
When I read Augusta’s diary, I am sometimes surprised at what she doesn’t describe or discuss. On 10 March 1851, she went to the Royal Theatre (housed in Gustaf IIIs Opera House) in Stockholm and saw a play. She didn’t write anything about the performance; of more importance was the fact that a count escorted her home.
Stockholm, March 1851
”Since Saturday evening I am here in Stockholm, our Swedish Paris, the dance-hungry’s Eldorado.”
”Monday morning I went to visit Ribbingens and Bohemans. They were overly astonished to see me so unexpectedly in the Capital City, and in the evening we saw the great opera, “A Tale of the Queen of Navarre.” There I met Count Figge Schwerin, who escorted me home and was quite himself, much disposed to let his lady alone carry on the conversation and himself look like he was sleepwalking.”
So what could I find out about the performance she saw?
It took me less than an hour to get some tidbits about it!
I first searched the Swedish Royal Opera’s archives. They have all performances listed back to 1773. All I had to do was to search on the date Augusta visited the theatre. There it was: “A tale of the Queen of Navarre – A Comedy in 5 Acts”. I found that the opening night was the 3 March and they gave 7 performances. The poster for the play showed the actors and the prices for the tickets.
Augusta was 23 years old. If I were to pick one actor that she could have written about, who would it be? The roles in this play included:
Males: King of Spain, King of France, Spanish Minister, French Count, and 3 Not-So-Important Guys.
Females: Sister of the King of Spain, Sister of the King of France, and the Fiancé of the King of Spain.
I am sure all the kings and the count would have been fascinating, but the fiancé of the King – Isabelle of Portugal – would probably be the one a 23-year-old would have found most interesting.
So I picked her.
The role was played by a Mademoiselle Jacobson. She was the only young, unmarried woman in the play. Who was she?
Elise Jacobson has a whole Wikipedia page under the name Elise Hwasser. In short, she was 20 years old when she played the role of the royal fiancé. She was not yet famous but she was part of the circles of the Swedish Crown Prince Charles (later King Charles XV), and rumored to have had a short affair with him.
Another friend of the Crown Prince was Daniel Hwasser. They had become friends as students in Uppsala. Daniel was a great tenor. Their friendship resulted in Daniel getting a position as director of the Royal Theatre. It is rumored that the Crown Prince advised Elise to marry Daniel. Regardless, Daniel and Elise married in 1858. She became one of the leading female actresses in Stockholm and had a life-long career. She and her husband spent their summers at Ulriksdal where they socialized with the Royal Family.
Of course, when Augusta saw the play, Elise was not yet famous and maybe she was not interesting enough to write about. On the other hand, Count Figge Schwerin, who accompanied Augusta home from the theater, might have been very interesting. Unfortunately, we still don’t know who he was. One possible candidate is Fredrik Bogislaus (Fritz) von Schwerin, who was born 18 July 1825 in Norrköping and, according to the census records, was residing in Stockholm.
Anlända till ort och ställe valde vi en backe derifrån vi bäst skulle kunna se ballonen och råkade der i sällskap med Kronprinsessan, Prinsessan Eugenie, Prins August, hvilka till fots kommit från Rosendahl, Kronprinsen till häst och en hel mängd hofdamer och cavaljerer, alla inpackade bland den öfriga folkmassan och med ögonen följande den allt högre stigande luftseglarn. Sedan vi hos Davidsons intagit en kopp the och undvikit en störtskur åkte vi hem i Omnibus.
Åter till Strängnäs
1853 hade de gift sig, Adolf och Augusta, i Kvillinge kyrka, Augustas hemförsamling utanför Norrköping. (Edit 2020, De gifte sig i Morups prästgård i Halland!)
Adolf hade fått arbete på Strängnäs högre allmänna läroverk och 1853 flyttade de nygifta paret så till Strängnäs. I Strängnäs stadsförsamling hittar jag dem under ”gården no 105” Men var låg den? Efter mycket sökande på nätet, där jag först hittade en karta från 1700-talet, där gården 105 låg alldeles utanför kyrkan. Lustigt nog är det precis där som Gustaf Lejdenfrosts grav ligger. (Gustaf var Augustas svåger) Nu blev jag väldigt förbryllad, varför begravdes han där?
Kyrkans kor war rikt klädd med blommor och löf. Före wigseln, som förrättades af domprosten Th. Strömberg,
avsjöngs psalmen No 33 och efter wigseln ps. No 337 med orgelackompagnement. Under utgående från kyrkan spelades festmarsch på messingsinstrumenter och orgel. Brudskaran tågade sedan till bröllopsgården hos brudens fader herr expeditionssekreteraren Nordwall.
På aftonen war bal å stadens hotell. Dagen derpå avreste de nygifta jemte brudtärnor m. fl.
med ångaren Maria till Stockholm och skulle fest gifwas för dem å Hasselbacken.