Etikettarkiv: Göta Canal

On the Göta Canal aboard M/S Juno

How could a morning be more peaceful than this!

The boat jolted; where were we? I opened our cabin door – the chilly, early morning air was refreshing. I looked at my watch – 5 am; it was already light outside. On deck, a few fellow passengers were waving to early joggers along the canal. The city of Söderköping was waking up.

I could feel the boat slowly being lifted; we were obviously already inside the lock. One could hear the water rushing in between the two huge doors of the lock in front of M/S Juno’s bow.

Soon we were out of the lock and moving at a slow, pleasant pace, passing by lush green trees and meadows with grazing cows. A nightingale was singing with its characteristic clicks and calls.

Göta Canal
Göta Canal

Our dresses, damp from previous day’s walk in the rain, and hung to dry on each side of the cabin door, were swaying with the slow motions of the boat. Even the long, white stockings, wet and muddy from the walk, were slowly swaying over the window.

How could a morning be more peaceful that this!

And the last day of May was as lovely as it could ever be

How can a boat climb 18.8 meters up a hill? The marvel of the 7 connected locks of Carl Johan Staircase, finished in 1818, can only be truly appreciated aboard a boat like M/S Juno that just about fits within each lock.

Lock
Lock

It takes time for the boat to enter, wait for the water level to rise, and then exit the lock. And this process is repeated for each of the 7 locks. This gave our fellow passengers a chance to walk to the historical Wreta Abbey close by. Times have not changed – this is what Augusta and her fellow passengers also did on their Göta Canal trip in 1850:

We were in the neighborhood of Wreta Abbey and our company seemed determined to disembark. I was conversing with the two Frenchmen and we marched arm in arm to the newly restored Wreta Church, which we found open. My cavaliers began to tire me with their French so I resolutely took August’s arm and led the whole company back to the locks while singing “Rest by This Source” and “La Marseillaise”. When we arrived at the last lock, the steamer had not yet arrived so we sat down in the green grass and played games. Finally, our smoking abode arrived and cheerfully we boarded the boat.

Kerstin and I did not walk along the canal arm in arm with any cavaliers. But we did walk along the canal under blooming whitebeam trees  and hawthorn bushes, and we did sing Rest by This Source by Bellman. And our wide skirts swayed as we walked and our bonnets were catching the breeze and had to be tied tighter not to fall off.

And the last day of May was as lovely as it could ever be.

Table Etiquette and Food Aboard a Steamboat

Still Life: Corner of a Table, 1873, by Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904)
Still Life: Corner of a Table, 1873, by Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904)

Only 3 weeks until our Göta Canal cruise!  Now is the time to read up on Victorian table etiquette.

What food could you buy on a Swedish steamboat in 1850?

Augusta never described in her diary what she ate on her Göta Canal trips – did she and her family bring their own food or did they buy food on board? What food could you buy?

The Swedish author, Carl Jonas Love Almquist, in his classic novelSara Widebeck (Det går an), published in 1838, described the dilemma of choosing what to eat aboard a steamboat departing from Stockholm on Lake Malaren:

The family fathers had to “consider very attentively what they may venture to eat on board without becoming completely bankrupt…”  Also, there was the issue of food safety:  ”Many gentlemen here still had lingering memories of cholera.” But from the novel, one learns that, depending on social class and the ticket one bought, one could purchase food and drinks from a buffet downstairs, and coffee was provided even to people on deck.

So how will we be dining on our Göta Canal cruise?

It sounds pretty fantastic:

“ When it is time for lunch and dinner, the beautiful dining room is elegantly set with linen tablecloths and fresh flowers.”

“When the gong sounds, it’s time to sit at the table for a two-course lunch or a three-course dinner. Coffee is served in the afternoon, usually on deck, weather permitting.”

“Tradition has it that the guests change to something a bit more elegant for dinner. It does not have to be dark suit, smart casual wear is quite enough.”

M/S Juno dining room
M/S Juno dining room. M/S Juno is the world’s oldest registered cruising ship, launched in 1874.

With this in mind, I decided to consult my new indispensable book on Victorian etiquette and politeness, and copy down the most important points to remember when dining aboard M/S Juno,

Table Etiquette for Ladies

The following quotes are cherry-picked from the chapters on Etiquette for the Guest and Table Etiquette:

  • When you take your seat, be careful that your chair does not stand upon the dress of the lady next to you, as she may not rise at the same instant that you do, and so you risk tearing her dress.
  • Sit gracefully at the table; neither so close as to make your movements awkward, not so far away as to drag your food over your dress before it reaches your mouth.
  • It is well to carry in your pocket a small pincushion, and, having unfolded your napkin, to pin it at the belt. You may do this quietly, without its being perceived, and you will thus really save your dress. If the napkin is merely laid open upon your lap, it will be very apt to slip down, if your dress is of silk or satin, and you risk the chance of appearing again in the drawing-room with the front of your dress soiled or greased.
  • Gloves and mittens are no longer worn at table, even at the largest dinner parties.
  • Never use an eye-glass, either to look at the persons around your or the articles upon the table.
  • Eat your soup quietly. To make any noise in eating it, is simply disgusting.
  • No lady should drink wine at dinner. Even if her head is strong enough to bear it, she will find her cheeks, soon after the indulgence, flushed, hot, and uncomfortable; and if the room is warm and the dinner a long one, she will probably pay the penalty of her folly, by having a headache all the evening.
  • Never take more than two vegetables; do not take a second plate of soup, pastry, or pudding. Indeed, it is best to accept but one plate of any article.
  • If you find a worm on opening a nut, or in any of the fruit, hand your plate quietly, and without remark, to the waiter, and request him to bring you a clean one.

Hmm, I don’t know how I will eat without my eye-glasses, without drinking wine, and only two vegetables. Sitting gracefully in my 1850s dress, and with my chair not standing on Kerstin’s dress, might also be challenging. Eating without gloves, no problem!

dinner party 1850
Dinner Party 1850

Augusta’s voyage on the Göta Canal – ”one of the most beautiful and pleasant trips one can make”

In July 1850, Augusta made a memorable voyage on the Göta Canal. The reasons for Augusta’s voyage was to wave goodbye to her brother August, who was to sail from Gothenburg to Cape Town on the brig Mimer.

And of course, Augusta provides a colorful eyewitness account of her voyage.

On the outbound trip to Gothenburg, onboard the steamer Götheborg, she spends a lot of time with a Mr Cassel (possibly Knut Cassel):

“A couple of loud and gesticulating Frenchmen were entertaining a young, blond, unremarkable man in straw hat.”

“The next day, I became acquainted with all passengers and were then told that the young man in the straw hat was named Cassel and was from the Capital. Furthermore, I came to realize that he was not so unagreeable as I had first thought.”

 “The conversable Mr Cassel, who to me appeared to be a big nobody, although with a sharp mind and an incomparable talent to constantly keep his mouth moving, kept me entertained during the voyage.”

On the return trip, onboard the steamer Thomas Tellford, it is the captain who gets most of Augusta’s attention:

“Our captain’s name was Krüger, a very polite and charming young man who fulfilled all the duties of a host on his steamer. He entertained me quite agreeable during the trip, which is also one of the most beautiful and pleasant trips one can make. Before we parted in Söderköping, we agreed to dance the first waltz together at the Innocence Ball in January; let us see if that happens or not.”

But no, Augusta did not waltz with Captain Krüger in January. She didn’t travel to Stockholm until March of  that year.

And who was the charming young Captain who got Augusta to describe the Göta Canal voyage as one of the most beautiful and pleasant trip one can make?

Captain Carl Henrik Kreuger

Carl Henrik Kreuger was born 1822. He passed the marine officer examination in 1838 (only 16 years old) and sailed with foreign merchant fleets and the British fleet before becoming a lieutenant in 1846. As a young marine officer, he worked on Swedish ships during the summers: postal ships on the Baltic Sea and canal steamers on the Göta Canal. And that is how Augusta met him in the summer of 1850. He later had a stellar military career and retired in 1885 as a rear admiral.

What Augusta most likely did not find out was that Carl Henrik’s father had an interesting life story as well. Johan Henrik Kreuger was an admiral, author, and inventor. In 1822, the same year that Carl Henrik was born, Johan Henrik was asked by the Swedish government to restore Sweden’s relations with Morocco. Sweden owed Morocco 20,000 piasters for protection against pirates along the Moroccan coast. To resolve the conflict with Sultan Mulay Suleiman, Johan Henrik sailed with a squadron to Morocco. His negotiations with the Sultan were very successful; he returned to Sweden with a personal letter from the Sultan stating that the debt was forgiven.

Advertisement in the newspaper Tidningen för Wenersborgs Stad och Län, 17 juli 1850 (KB)

Top image: Gotha Canal Inauguration 1832 By Zg097qji (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons