The Overthrow of the “French System,” April 1764–January 1765
If foreign ministers looked upon Copenhagen as a social desert, they did not make similar complaints about Stockholm. There the trouble was not tedium, but rather the hectic pace of life and the high cost of living.1 By the middle of the eighteenth century Stockholm had grown to be a city of perhaps 70,000 inhabitants. For more than a century it had been expanding beyond the confines of the old town, huddled on the islands which separate the Mälar from the tidewater: to the north, and more recently to the south, extensive new urban areas had come into existence, climbing the steep banks of Söder and the rocky obstacle of Brunkeberg. Nature had endowed the place with charms to which Copenhagen could offer no competition: the romantically broken terrain, still almost unviolated by the leveling activities of the town planners, the scatter of islands and islets, the pines and the birches, water everywhere-stretching wide and blue to the west under the pale Swedish sunlight, pouring tumultuously in spring floods through Slussen and Norrströmmen, malodorously stagnant in Nybroviken during the dog days, icebound for many a mile in winter. It was still an acceptable poetic license for Carl Michael Bell-man to imagine Naiads in Brunnsviken. Despite the respectable size of its population, the open country still lay very close to the doors of its citizens, and was indeed plainly visible to most of them.
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