Etikettarkiv: Wallenberg

Little Baron

”Baron Axel has proposed and I believe, by God, that if he hadn’t stated it with such clarity, I would have considered it an unreasonable dream. Surely Little Baron must have been in a state of confusion if he was insane enough to try to conquer my unconquerable person with his insignificant external and internal qualities. Someone I would regard as my destiny should have his head differently furnished and his visage somewhat more agreeable.

Maybe he thought the Baron title would overshadow the deficiencies of the person who wears it, but pride and simplicity are two unpleasant personalities to have as companions through life, and I have found that these two qualities occupy a rather important place in Baron Axel’s character.

At the same time, he is basically an honest and humble man who I would not like to alienate, a man who has shown me so much friendship and done me great service. I would be really ungrateful if I did not value him. But that he would be stupid enough to take on the role of one of my suitors, I will never understand.

Today, the Baroness collected me in a hired carriage. We would hear ”The Barber [of Seville]” and were invited by Baron Axel. I am relieved that in my polite refusal of his proposal, the little baron is not annoyed with me and quite well it is, because true friends are scarce.” (Augusta’s Diary: Stockholm, 20 March 1851)

When I was a teenager, I just loved the way Augusta described her refusal of the baron’s proposal! Augusta was not swayed by titles or names. What she appreciated were men with whom she could have a serious discussion or debate.

Who was Baron Axel, aka Little Baron, or sometimes just The Little?

Little Baron is mentioned throughout Augusta’s diary, but he is never mentioned with his last name.

”The Little was also here and was perfectly himself: Extremely polite and prudent, impeccable in his expressions and his clothes, a little disdainful with regards to others, and perfectly satisfied with his own little neat person.” (Augusta’s Diary: Loddby, 14 April 1851)


”Last night at 8 o’clock,  Eva came up with the message that the whole yard was full of strange gentlemen. Such a notice produced countless exclamations of wonder from all of us, for Loddby is rarely honored by any visitation in general, and even less by visitations where the masters of creation constitute the plurality.

With surprise, I heard Baron Axel’s voice among those arriving. Mr. Lorichs from Gothenburg, Mr. Bååth, and Mr. Leopold made up the rest of the group. Baron Axel had arrived in Norrköping the evening before and was planning to return to Stockholm the following morning. We could not persuade them to dine with us, and they left after admiring our beautiful Loddby for a while and talking about various things.” (Augusta’s Diary: Loddby, 8 June 1851)

Could I find out who Baron Axel was by the fact that he had arrived in Norrköping by a steamer from Stockholm, and possibly together with any of the other gentlemen?

I turned to the digitized newspapers and searched for the announcement of passengers arriving from Stockholm in June 1851. And there it was: A notice of passengers that had arrived by the steamer Blixten from Stockholm on the 4th June 1851. There were 5 barons among the passengers: Baron Ehrenkrona with family, Baron Stjernstedt with family, Baron Sederström, Baron Ribbing, and Baron Hermelin. I could ignore the ones with family. Then I also detected the name of one of the gentlemen who had visited Augusta: Mr. Lorichs. He was listed next to Baron Ribbing.

Passengers arriving Norrköping from Stockholm on 4 June 1851.

Baron Axel Eric Ribbing af Zernava – A Good Candidate

Of course, the evidence is circumstantial, but Baron Ribbing seemed to be a good candidate. He was the son of the baroness who Augusta had boarded with when she studied in Stockholm.  He was born in 1817 at Stäringe in Södermanland.  When Baron Axel invited Augusta to see The Barber of Seville, it was Baroness Ribbing who fetched Augusta in her hired carriage. It all made sense. But was there more evidence?

Augusta’s Letter to André Oscar Wallenberg

Augusta was a good friend of André Oscar Wallenberg who later in life would found Stockholm’s first private bank and the Wallenberg business empire. Wallenberg would visit Augusta’s home, Loddby, and they kept up their friendship by correspondence. In one of her letters to Wallenberg, she mentions Little Baron Ribbing:

Loddby, 19 September 1850

Dear Wallenberg!

For Your last, rather interesting letter, I heartily thank you and should have answered you a long time ago if it had not been for the thousands of obstacles that came in the way and delayed my decision to send you a few lines and heartfelt greetings from your friends at Bråviken.

But I am forgetting that I have a visitor. I have placed Little Baron Ribbing in an open {?} and I must fulfill my duties as a hostess. Lejdenfrost sends his regards and we all ask You to soon be welcomed to Loddby,


Two weeks later, Augusta writes in her diary:

Baron Axel has been our guest for a longer period of time and notwithstanding he has quite small pretensions in terms of entertainment and is overall not a difficult guest, I still felt an indescribable relief over no longer having to keep company when he returned with [the steamer] Blixten to Stockholm. (Augusta’s Diary: Loddby, 5 October 1850)

I think the letter and Augusta’s diary entry prove that Little Baron is, in fact, Little Baron Axel Ribbing.

Baron Axel Eric Ribbing af Zernava (1817-1876)  (

What Happened to Baron Axel Ribbing?

Well, he didn’t marry Augusta. In fact, he didn’t marry at all.  He worked as a bookkeeper and auditor at the Royal Defense Department (Kongl. Landtförsvars-Departementet).  In 1870, he lived with his siblings at Clara Norra Kyrkogata 5 in Stockholm – right across from what is now Åhlens department store.

Baron Axel died on Christmas Eve, 1876. When his younger brother Fredrik died in 1882, the aristocratic family Ribbing af Zernava died out.

Ribbing af Zernava coat of arms.

Göta Canal: Day 1 – Lake Mälaren and Trosa

Having left Stockholm, we were now cruising on Lake Mälaren and taking a little detour to view Drottningholm, the UNESCO world heritage site and home of the royal family.


From there, we passed the island of Ekerö where Augusta spent a memorable Saturday in June, 1851 with three famous Swedish politicians and leaders: Gustaf Lallerstedt, A. Oscar Wallenberg, and August Sohlman.

”The Saturday after my arrival we were invited by Lallerstedt to his property, Stafsund. At 8 o’clock in the morning, we traveled by the steamboat Westmanland, whose captain was a heartily nice fellow. In the middle of Mälaren, we were met by, and transferred to, another boat.

The day was cloudy, but the weather in general was impeccable.

The corps de logis at Stafsund is made of stone, built during the time of Charles XII. The innumerable rooms are dark and gloomy and furnished in an unpleasant, old-fashioned way.

The surroundings are indescribably beautiful and offer the most diverse views of Mälaren. It is all so beautiful; we spent a rather enjoyable day outdoors and were treated to a grand dinner consisting of six dishes of food and a variety of wines. In the evening, when we were to return to Stockholm by steamboat, we were late and had to ride in a hay wagon back to Kungsholmen. With us were Wallenberg and a Master Sohlman, who is a member of Bore and who was unreasonably enthusiastic regarding Denmark, where he had joined the Danes in their fight [against the German separatists in the war of 1848].”

Back to Juno. We were now heading towards Södertälje, where we would enter the largest lock in all of the Nordic countries. This lock would lead us back to the Baltic Sea. The first lock was built here between 1806 and 1809, enabling ships from Lake Mälaren to reach the Baltic Sea through this route.

The next stop, and first excursion, was in the little town of Trosa.


Unfortunately, it had started to rain. Instead of parasols, Kerstin and I dug out umbrellas from our carpet bags and braved the ever increasing rain. But, of course, we had to experience walking in rain in our long dresses and silk bonnets! The little, old, wood houses lining the canal through Trosa makes for a picturesque walk and we convinced ourselves that this kind of weather was great for photography. It was not great for our fabric shoes and neither for the hems of our dresses.

We certainly made sure not to be late getting back to Juno (didn’t want to risk having to ride in a hay wagon to Juno’s next stop).

Back again on Juno, we had to change into the next set of dresses we had brought, and hung all the wet clothes to dry in our little cabin. As it was time for dinner, we just followed the advice: “Tradition has it that the guests change to something a bit more elegant for dinner.” The dinner, by the way, was in line with Augusta’s description – it was grand!

After dinner, the rain subsided and the clouds were dissipating. Now the cruise was taking us through the archipelago south of Trosa, stunning with sparse vegetation and smooth cliffs illuminated by the setting sun. In contrast, the hazy lights of the industrial buildings in Oxelösund – discernible in the distance – painted a surreal picture.

Evening lights
Evening lights

And soon, it was dark; sea and sky were merging into a dark blue color. Time for bed. We got our bunk beds ready but left the cabin door ajar so we could still see the dark blue sky between our swaying, wet dresses.

Dresses drying
Dresses drying

Day 1 had been spectacular!

Stockholm, March 12, 1851

Contemporary watercolor of Stockholm by Fritz von Dardel

Since Saturday evening I am here in Stockholm, our Swedish Paris, the dance-hungry’s Eldorado. Our journey here was miserable; unfavorable road conditions for the sleigh and grey, chilly weather. We ate bad food and slept miserably in cold, unpleasant lodgings, chatted with drunk coachmen, drank mulled wine, and finally arrived frozen and exhausted to our nice and beautiful Stockholm where we took in at Hotel Norrköping on Stora Nygatan. The day after our arrival, we waded through deep dirt to get to our friends on Kungsholmen where we became heartily received, had a pleasant evening, and dreamed us back to winter evenings at Krusenhof.

The view of Riddarholmen and the Old Town as seen from Kungsholmen. Augusta would have walked across the bridge; however, it was still March, so the lakes would have been frozen and the trees would have been bare.

Tante and Nanna have a small, sunny, and agreeable dwelling in the midst of a garden that extends right down to the lakeshore. In the summer, this little place might be a real paradise with flowers and light, fresh air and the view of Lake Mälaren’s blue surface, lush islands, and beaches to soothe the eyes, and glorious views of Riddarholmen and Södermalm and all the steamers that from different directions are rushing to their common goal at Riddarholmen’s quay.

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.

Mother and I were visiting Ribbingens today where, marvelously, Baron Fredrik happened to keep company and was as decent and agreeable as he can be when he wants to. We departed early, for I had a premonition that Lieutenant Wahlfelt could get the idea to transport his insipid personality to Clara {where Ribbingens lived}, which definitely would not have been pleasant.

We have left Lejdenfrost in the care of Wallenberg and we now traverse to the island of the poppy-crowned god.


The family that Augusta visited at Kungsholmen was the family Hjort. The family had been Augusta’s closest neighbor and the children her best friends throughout childhood. In 1850, the family sold their estate, Krusenhof, and moved to Kungsholmen in Stockholm. The family members were Major Georg Leonard Hjort and his wife, Fredrika Elisabet Älf (referred to as Tante), and their children Aurora, Johanna (Nanna), Axel, and Erik.

Count Figge Schwerin is likely Fredrik Bogislaus (Fritz) von Schwerin who was born in Norrköping in 1825 (close in age to Augusta and from the same town). He was a captain in the army. Later in life, he became a banker, married, and had 2 daughters.

The family Ribbing and Boheman were good friends of the family.

Lejdenfrost was Augusta’s brother-in-law and benefactor.

The island of the poppy-crowned god is a poetic term for sleep – may be alluding to the effect of opium.