Get leave to work
In this world, ‘tis the best you get at all;
For God, in cursing, gives us better gifts
Than men in benediction. God says “sweet
For foreheads;” men say “crowns;” and so we are crowned.
Ay, gashed by some tormenting circle of steel
Which snaps with a secret spring. Get work; get work;
Be sure ‘tis better than what you work to get.
C’est un ordre des dieux qui jamals ne se rompt
De nous vendre un peu cher les grands biens qu’lls nous font. —Corneille
Wie sich Verdienst und Gluck verketten
Das fallt den Thoren niemals ein. —Geothe
He that holds fast the golden mean,
And lives contentedly between
The little and the great,
Feels not the wants that pinch the poor,
Nor plagues that haunt the rich man’s door,
Embittering all his state.
Nil sine mango
Vita labore debit mortalibus. —Horace
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay. —Deserted Billage
Aucun chemin de fleurs ne conduit a la gloire. —La Fontaine
In the north beyond the Elbe all is ice and darkness; the air is misty vapor and the soil is snow; the North Wind holds rule, and no man can live therein. But far beyond the North Wind dwell the Hyperboreans, in a warm, fertile land, fruitful under sunny skies; in plenty, and in peace with gods and men they live, without pain or sickness, without care of husbandry; and should any wish to die they have but to drop themselves from a cliff into the sea. So would a Greek have written on the history of Scandinavia three thousand years ago.
Some 350 years before Christ there lived at Massilia, which we now call Marseilles, a Greek navigator and geographer named Pytheas, who after voyaging to Britain, whither he went to ascertain whence Phoenicians obtained the tin and amber which they could not find at home, sailed away northward until he came to the island of Thule, where amber was thrown up by the sea so plentifully that the natives used it for fuel. And a little further on he found a land where grain was raised for bread, and was threshed in a covered building because of the snow, and because moreover the sun did not always shine. Berries grew there, which they used for food, and of the honey of the bees they made a pleasant drink. These and other like things related Pytheas on his return, if Strabo may be believed.
In the time of Alfred the Great came to England two men of Scandinavia, Wulfstan and Ohthere, and so greatly was the king interested in what they said that he wrote it down, and prefixed it to his Latin history of Orosius. Even in Italy were sometimes tall, powerful, blue-eyed, and yellow-haired strangers, whom the Romans called Cimbri, and who entered battle on horseback, fighting with unflinching bravery amid loud guttural shouts the Roman soldiers who were seldom able to break through the chain of shields.
Then strings of amber beads by some means found their way to Rome and became the fashion; and when men set forth northward to find out whence these baubles came, the Romans began to learn something of the Scandinavians and of their country.
For themselves the North- men claim to be of German origin, that is to say Goths; but the Goths were not first upon the Baltic; they found there, when they came, the Cimbri and others, who were driven into the yet colder and more barren regions now known as Lapland and Finland. However this may have been, it is well known that these Northmen early became restless wanderers, swarming southward like locusts to settle on some pleasant food producing spot, plundering without scruple whomsoever they met, hiding in vik, or bay, whence they darted out upon the unwary passerby; and so they came to be called vikingar, or Vikings.
From the name, Denmark, signifying a darkly-wooded land, it is safe to conclude that this part of the country was once covered with somber forests. We learn of Denmark's early history from the tales, hor sagas handed down from generation to generation by Danish skalds, more reliable perhaps than those of the Swedes and Norwegians, because the former were collected and recorded in Latin, by one Saxo, in the twelfth century, afterward being put into modern Danish.
Saxo says that after many petty sovereigns came one called Frode the Peaceful, peaceful, perhaps, but not until he had conquered 220 foreign kings and taken possession of the country between Russia and the Rhine. It was a golden age in Denmark, owing it was said to the birth of Christ at that time; neither want nor wickedness were known, and the golden chains and armlets which were used as money, links or pieces being broken off as required, could be left upon the wayside in safety. Another famous king was Stoerkodder, son of a giant, and so large and strong that no one could contend with him. He held his court at Leire, and his fame attracted thither all the great skalds and Vikings of the day. In the eighth century was fought within sight of East Gotland the great naval battle of Bravalla, in which Odin appeared for the last time to man. The battle was fought by the Danish king. Harald Hildetand, and the Swedish king, Sigurd Ring, the fleet of the former stretching entirely across the sound, and that of the latter numbering 2,500 ships. In the north nobles only were counted among the slain in battle, and of these the Swedes lost 12,000 and the Danes 30,000, Harald being of the number.
Not long after this came Scandinavian feudalism, when the whole country was broken into small independencies under the rulership of the Vikings, who carried more and more into distant parts piracies on the high sea and robberies, butcheries, and burnings on land.
Christianity was offered them; but they declined it, preferring to bring of their spoils every yuletide, or every spring, costly gifts to Odin; silver, gold, and precious stones, and the rich stuffs of southern and eastern countries, the king of Leire being always chief of the twelve high priests officiating. In due time came the internal broils which thinned the Viking aristocracy, and centralized governments, the first king of all Denmark being Gorm the Old, who with Siegfried and other of his associates and followers made inroads into France and even besieged Paris, Gorm's queen, Thyra, ruling in his absence. Later England was invaded by Cnut the Great, known abroad as Canute, who conquered Norway in 1030 and died in 1035 at the age of 36, sovereign of six countries,—Eng land, Scotland and Cumberland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. During all these centuries kingdoms were created and crowns bartered, the Scandinavian country forming sometimes one and sometimes several monarchies. Magnus the Good of Norway gave to his people their first written laws, and ruled Denmark as well as Norway for a period of five years. Father of the Swedish kings, as well as of those of the Danes, was Odin, to whom a temple was built on the site of ancient Sigtuna. Norway likewise claimed Odin as the founder of their nation, all the royal houses of Scandinavia being thus united in ties of holiest kinship.
It is not easy to trace the several histories of the various Scandinavian powers, with their pontiff-kings and other mythological personages; the heroes of Denmark and Sweden are so intermingled in their exploits, that it is sometimes difficult to say even to which nation they belong. It was while the Swedes were looking toward Russia and fighting Slavs and Finns, and the Danes were prowling about the coasts of England and penetrating France, that the Norwegians, with that absorbing love of adventure which makes a play of danger, struck out boldly into the ocean and found Iceland, Greenland, and America. What a prize was here for some Scandinavian Ferdinand Charles or Philip!
Cursed of the gods, the discoverers said, was Iceland, a place inhabited by horrible giants, living in caves and forever fighting each other with stones burning in liquid fire,—a report not likely to attract settlers. But hotter still became the bleak land of Norway to certain outlawed sea-rovers who could find rest neither at home nor abroad; so with a carved image of Thor the Viking Thorolf builds a temple in Iceland, and divides the island into districts, and a republic is formed, a republic of robbers, before ever the Dutch or American republics were thought of; and now the story told is that the climate is delightful, the soil fertile, with milk from every plant and butter from every twig.
Then Erik the Red discovers Greenland, and his son Leif takes thither monks and builds churches. Wherever men go the powers above must be propitiated. Erik knows better than to baptize his country with a bad name; so because it sounds better than ice and snow he calls it Greenland, though it may be a region more dreary even than Iceland. America is found by Biarne, an Icelander cruising about in search of a lost father; informed thereof, Leif visits Vinland den Gode, or the present Rhode Island. Besides these modest but daring adventures, the voyage of Columbus amid the trumpet blasts of Europe was but a bit of southern pageantry!
Meanwhile the Jarls and Hacos and Haralds and Magnuses and Cnuts and Olafs and Valdemars of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark continue to kill each other and make history. In the tenth century Harold Harfager, the Fairhaired, subdues and unites the petty potentates of Norway into one kingdom. And so it continues, dropping its nationality now and then, now a province of Sweden, or again of Denmark; then uniting with one or the other or both, until under Margaret of Denmark, the Semiramis of the north, was formed the union of Calmar; which was broken by Gustavus Vasa of Sweden in 1523. The Shetland and Orkney islands were given to Scotland upon the marriage of the daughter of Christian I with James III. Of all the Danish kings the one held in highest esteem in Norway was Christian IV, who spent much of his time there, and founded Christiania in 1624, and Christiansand in 1643. From this period Norway was treated less as a joint government than as a subjected province, until the reign of Frederick VI, who founded the University of Christiania in 1811, and manifested further interest in the welfare of the Norwegians. Then came Napoleon and played Norway against Sweden, and Denmark and the rest against Russia and England; and so the people and patches of God's earth were gambled away among men killers and masters.
To the indignation of the Norwegians, their country was declared the property of Charles XIII of Sweden, which brought forward Christian, crown prince of Denmark, and hostilities and further negotiations followed, until Norway and Sweden became united under King Oscar, whose son was crowned king as Charles XV in the cathedral of Drontheim in 1860.
Yet more confused by Norse legends and Odin dynasties is the early history of Sweden than that of Norway or Denmark. After centuries of wars with the Goths we find Swerker I succeeding Inge II as king of Svealand, or Swedeland, opposing which succession was Eric, whose claims were supported by the Goths. It was finally arranged that Eric should succeed Swerker, which made it tolerably certain that Swerker would die first; and after that the representatives of the two families were to reign alternately under the title of king of the Swedes and Goths all of which, was well arranged to bring about the troubles which followed. Stockholm was founded by Waldemar, son of Earl Birger, or Birger Jarl, who was chosen king in 1250. Then until came Magnus Ladulas, and civil broils and foreign crusades by his successors, Haco of Norway marries Margaret, daughter of Waldemar, king of Denmark and the three Scandinavian powers become for a time united.
After the long war which followed the revolt of Denmark and Norway, anarchy prevailed until 1520, when a leader was found in Gustavus Erikson, or Gustavus Vasa, whose father had been one of eighty prominent nobles hanged as traitors by Christian II of Denmark. Gustavus was successful in his opposition to Denmark, and at his death in 1560 he was succeeded by his sons Eric and John. Meanwhile Sigismund, son of John, had been chosen king of Poland, and upon the death of his father attempted, without success, to introduce the religion of Rome into Sweden. He was deposed in 1604, and his uncle Charles IX ruled wisely, until at his death in 1611 his son Gustavus Adolphus ascended the throne, and spent the twenty-one years of his reign in war with Russia, Poland, and Germany. Oxenstiern managing affairs during his absence, and also after his death in 1632 during the minority of his daughter Christina, who abdicated in 1654 in favor of Charles X.
War with the elector of Brandenburg and the peace of Fontainebleau gave advantage to the Swedes, so that when the bellicose Charles XII came into power, he was enabled to undertake the campaigns whose cost nearly ruined the country. On the death of Charles XIII in 1818, Bernadotte, prince of Ponte Corvo, ascended the throne of Sweden as Charles XIV, and thereafter rapid progress was made in commerce arts and manufactures, as well as in the moral and social condition of the people. He was succeeded by Oscar I, called the most accomplished prince in Europe. Upon the death of Oscar in 1859, the monarchy fell to his son Charles XV.
The wife of the first King Oscar was Josephine of Leuchtenburg, granddaughter of Josephine, empress of the French, bearing to the king four sons and a daughter. Scandinavian unity had been the desire of King Oscar's heart, and to that end he had endeavored to draw together from all parts statesmen, scientists, and literary men who were interested in the subject. Charles XV continued his father s policy in this respect, approving of more liberal institutions and encouraging industry and enterprise. A new form of government for Sweden and Norway was agreed upon in 1866, the Swedish diet to consist of two chambers, with annual sessions. At his death in 1872 Charles XV left one child, the princess Louisa, wife of the crown prince of Denmark; he was succeeded by his eldest brother who assumed rulership under the title of Oscar II of Sweden and Norway.
Little more need be given here of the history of Denmark. From the ill-reputed Christian II, grandson of the count of Oldenburg, the crown passed in 1523 to Frederic I, duke of Schleswig and Holstein, whose son, Christian III, by uniting these duchies to the crown and dividing the government among his brothers, brought subsequent trouble on the country. A great religious war befell the land in the seventeenth century, in which Christian IV took sides with the Protestants, but was defeated by Wallenstein. Then followed wars with Sweden, and other powers, all in the name of dull-witted monarchs, deluging the land with the best blood of its people for empty words regarding religion and rulership, with alternate battles and alliances, offensive and defensive, with Russia, Prussia, England, and the rest, until we run against the invincible Napoleon who has no intention of leaving out Scandinavia in his seizure of the rest of Europe. In the troubles which followed, Denmark lost such of the West India islands as belonged to her, but regained them in 1814. Then came further trading of sovereignties, the cession of Norway to Sweden in return for the cession of Pomerania to Denmark, to be finally given to Prussia in exchange for the duchy of Lauenburg and a certain amount of money. Further complications followed about matters of such stupendous importance to mankind as the succession of the several individuals claiming proprietorship over their fellows, until by a convention of the plenipotentiaries of northern European powers. Prince Christian, of the Sonderburg-Glucksburg line, was given the preference, greatly to the dissatisfaction of Schleswig and Holstein as well as of Denmark.
One condition after another was pressed on Denmark by Austria, Prussia, and the lesser German powers, until the alarums of war were once more sounded. Before their powerful foes the tide of battle was against the Danes. In order to save his government from utter destruction, Christian IX was forced to accept the terms offered by the peace of Vienna in 1864, which were made none the easier to bear by reason of the arbitrary assumptions of Prussia after the war with Austria in 1866. Nevertheless Denmark, rapidly recovered from her long periods of misfortune, and under the popular and constitutional rule of King Christian IX enjoys greater political freedom and intellectual and industrial progress than ever before.
Thus we see that although outside of the great pathways of the world's traffic, Scandinavia has exercised no small influence over the world's events, and would have exercised much more had her Markland and Vinland settlements been continued. Following the records, we find the Northmen prowling about the English coast as early as 787; they were defeated in 835 in a battle fought with Anglo-Saxon Egbert; Ethelred was defeated in 875 by the Danes, who thus became masters of Northumberland; four Danish kings ruled in England prior to the twelfth century; the Northmen had a king in Dublin in the ninth, and there were Scandinavian princes of Waterford and of Limerick. The Shetland isles and the Hebrides once belonged to the Northmen and Scotland was subject to their many visitations in and subsequent to the eighth century, the invaders being finally defeated by the army of the Scotch king, Duncan, under the leadership of Macbeth and Banquo. Then came their discoveries in America, second to none of the world’s great achievements. The Russian coasts were colonized by Scandinavians, Russia appearing frequently in the sagas under the names Ostrogardia and Gardarike, and in return the newcomers were honored by the natives with the title of Varangians, or sea-rovers, the word in the ancient Swedish signifying wolves. Ruric took Novgorod about 865, dividing the surrounding lands among his people, and founding a dynasty which gave Russia her rulers down to the seventeenth century. From the Novgorod colony two men made their way to the Black sea and the Bosphorus, and before the twelfth century the Byzantine emperor had among his bodyguard 700 sea-rovers from Kiev, Byzantine coins of 842-867 now in the Christiania museum being found by ploughmen in Norway. Indeed, there are few spots of earth which will not raise fighting men. We find the Vikings at various epochs disputing with people their possessions,—in the Meuse, in France, in Spain, even within the pillars of Hercules in the Mediterranean pirates’ nest. They sacked Utrecht and Antwerp, and devasted Friesland.
Gottfried was at the Scheldt and Rollo on the Seine. Bonn, Cologne, Metz, and other towns were sacked and burned, and after Charlemagne had gone they stabled their horses in his cathedral at Aix-la-Chapelle. In fact, it would be easier to tell where the Northmen had not been than to continue this catalogue further.
For cities and towns in Norway there are among others Christiania, the capital, Christiansand, Bergen, Stavanger, Drontheim, Frederikshald, and Drammen; in Sweden, Stockholm, Malmo, Christianstad, Carlscrona, Wexio, Jorkoping, Calmar, Linkoping, Holmstad, Mariestad, Wernersborg, Gothenburg, Upsal, Nykoping, Westeras, Orebro, Carlstad, Falun, Gefle, and Hernosand; in Denmark, Copenhagen is the only city containing more than 20,000 inhabitants.
The climate of the northern peninsula is less severe than from the latitude one might suppose, being tempered by the gulf stream bringing warm wind and water currents from the southwest. The east side is about two degrees colder than the west; the southern end differs little in climate from northern Germany. There are fiords on the western coast which are seldom frozen. In Denmark, owing to its low and almost insular position the air is humid, the cold being greatest in Jutland. The shores are rugged, with many islands broken off arms of the sea flanked by precipitous cliffs running far inward, and alternating with low sandy stretches. Here and in the interior mountains rise to a great height, and the swift-running streams are many. Sweden abounds in beautiful lakes, and has some elevated valleys and high plateaus. On the coast of Denmark there are also many fiords; parts of the west coast are dyked; the interior is a low almost unbroken plain, of alluvial soil, the eastern part of Jutland being covered with rich vegetable mould, while the north and western portions are sandy wastes. In the northwest the country is somewhat desolate, and tree-culture is encouraged by government.
A large part of northern Sweden is covered with pine and fir forests, furnishing large supplies of timber; the soil generally is not fertile, being largely of disintegrated rocks and containing too much silex. There are some arable and some pasture lands, but not of proportionately great extent. The interior has here and there a fine woodland growth of ash, willow, maple, and linden trees; in the southern part are oaks, beech, and elm. Fruit trees, unless it be the cherry, do not grow well; barley is generally cultivated, but wheat, oats, rye, beans, and peas are restricted mostly to the southern districts. Root crops are general, and tobacco is grown near Stockholm. Norway has good pasture lands, but the soil is light and sandy; the products are much the same as in Sweden, fruits being more abundant and barley chief among cereals. Denmark produces largely of wheat, barley, rye, oats, buckwheat, peas, beans, and potatoes, with other vegetables and some fruit. Tobacco is grown; likewise hops, rapeseed, hemp, and flax. There are broad pasture lands devoted to cattle and horses. As a rule the rivers and lakes, not to mention the sea, are well stocked with fish, and the forests with game.
Minerals are not plentiful in Denmark; the island of Bornholm has some abandoned coal mines, and salt is made in Holstein; fuller's earth potters and porcelain clays, and freestone are put to some use. The, metamorphic mountains of Sweden abound in metallic veins holding the, silver, lead, chief wealth of the country, copper, cobalt, zinc, and iron being common. The silver mines at Sala, in Westmanland have produced over 800,000 ounces a year. An inferior quality of coal is found near Helsingborg. The mountains of Norway also contain silver, nickel, cobalt, copper, and iron.
In manner the Norwegians are cold and reserved, but at heart kind and hospitable. They are frugal and honest, excellent sailors, and surpass both Swedes and Danes in industry and enterprise.
In the north are chiefly Laplanders, who, amid their herds of reindeer, live aloof from the southern folk, the latter engaging in stock-raising rather than in tillage. The large landholders are called proprietors; the smaller ones, who own their farms, are bonders. Agriculture is so ill understood and practiced that there is not raised enough grain for home consumption. The forests and mines remunerate labor, and the fisheries yield $5,000,000 annually. Two lines of packets are employed during the season carrying lobsters to London. There are a few cotton and paper factories but manufactures amount to little. Timber is largely exported, and some building stone; of which there is much yet remaining.
In Sweden, besides the old Scandinavian or Norse stock, which comprises the larger part of the population, there are the districts of Westerbotten and Norrbotten which are peopled chiefly by Finns and Lapps. The Swedes are of large, strong frame and florid complexion; the nobility, the clergy, burghers, and peasants are the classes into which they divide themselves. Of the first there are some 10,000, once wealthy, holding large landed estates, and though now poor, still holding useful labor—for themselves—in contempt. There are yet more of the clergy, whom with the others the laborers have to support. The burgher class, manufacturers and members of guilds, may be magistrates; the peasants are really the best to do of all, being industrious, prudent, and holding among them much property. Barley being plentiful and labor cheap, distilleries arose, some 86,000 of them it is said by 1835, but now only a few thousand, implying that of late years more water than whiskey is drunk. Yet, some other manufactures are increasing—iron steamer and engine works, lumber cloth and paper mills, cutlery glass and earthenware shops, besides the making silk stuffs, clocks, and watches. Education is in the hands of the clergy, who in their way dominate all classes.
Humanity in Denmark is in a mixed condition, five distinct races side by side inhabiting the land; in Jutland and Zealand the Danes; in Holstein, Lauenbnrg, and Schleswig, Germans; on the west coast and islands, Frieslanders; between Flensburg fiord and Sley, Angles; in Iceland and the Faroe islands, Norwegians. Somewhat more than half of the inhabitants speak Danish, and the remainder German. Their features are regular, eyes blue, hair light; they are good seamen, but more than half of them engage in agriculture. Manufactures are not of large amount, woolen, cotton, silk, and linen goods being chief, with some work in almost every other direction. The Danes make everything, but in limited quantities.
For so vast a sea-coast and so many fine harbors, there are few wharves or docks on the shores of Norway. The sea-kings were accustomed to land from small boats, or to wade ashore, and their descendants in this as in other things have through habit or indifference adhered to the old custom. Besides, wharves injure the boatman’s business, and boatmen must live. So I might continue, and easier tell what is not in Scandinavia than what is there. In the north of the peninsula summer nights are unknown, which is uncanny and inconvenient tor those unaccustomed to sleep in the daylight.
Tdrondhjem, where the Vikings used to land their spoils and enjoy their revels, was the ancient capital of Norway. There was a small town here, called Nidaros, old even in the tenth century, and on its site the present Tdrondhjem was built by Olaf Tryggveson, whose ancestor was Harald Haarfager.
After committing innumerable depredations all the way from Trondhjem to Constantinople, Olaf turned Christian, and casting out of the temple at Nidaros his old-time gods, Thor and Odin, he broke them in pieces, which seemed unkind treatment of the deities that had helped him out of so many perilous situations. Later, in place of the temple of Thor and Odin, Trondhjem had reared for him a great cathedral, and Olif the Heathen became Olaf the Holy, yet stealing and killing all the same; notwithstanding which he was sainted; over his grave a chapel was erected, and to his shrine pilgrims came and worshipped, for of such stuff are we mortals made. You may see today in one corner of the cathedral the very spot where St. Olaf was buried; it is now a well of healing waters, of which he who will may drink and live. Here in this great church the Carls and Christians and Oscars are crowned, and so become by almighty sanction masters of men. In the bay, not far from Trondhjem, is the fortified island of Munkholm, where Canute established a Benedictine monastery nearly 900 years ago, and where Christian V of Denmark once confined in one of the towers Count Griffenfeld, his minister of state, keeping him there a prisoner for eighteen years. Although there is more scenery than money in Norway, yet the burghers of Trondhjem are by no means poor; many of them indeed are wealthy, measuring wealth by contentment and the absence of wants.
Tromso, the metropolis of Finmark, or Norwegian Lapland, is said to be the largest town within the Arctic Circle, though its population is less than 10,000. It has a considerable shipping trade, exporting furs, fish oil, deerskins, and eider down. At the whaling station of Vadso, a company well furnished with capital conducts business on a large scale, having in its service several steamers carrying portable harpoon guns which may be fired from a whaleboat; and should a shot from one of these weapons prove ineffective, an explosive torpedo may be sent into the body of the whale when it rises to blow.
The northernmost town of the earth is Hammerfest, situated on a warm and well-protected bay, where live two or three thousand human beings as happy as those to be seen on London streets or Paris boulevards. I said warm, because except at the head of the fiords ice seldom forms on tide water, even during the eleven weeks of winter night; and this notwithstanding the fact that on a line of latitude thirty degrees south one may, not infrequently cross East river from New York to Brooklyn on the ice. There are at this hyperborean settlement several cod-liver oil factories which control a considerable business. There is also a large number of independent fishermen; but the wealth of the Lapp is chiefly in reindeer, some having in charge of hired men bands of several thousand, which are used not only as property but almost as money, being inherited, and passed on as marriage portions. It is a good thing to be rich, even a rich Laplander; for his smoky, filthy hut may be larger than his neighbor's, and hold his larger family his herders and servants, who are always members of the family, helping themselves in common with the master’s children, with fingers, sticks, bone spoons, or sheath knives from the great kettle filled with reindeer meat which hangs over the fire in the middle of the room, all dressing in deerskin coats and trousers, or skirts, all throwing themselves down to sleep on the same floor.
And is there after all so very much more of morality in the several classes inhabiting the Fifth avenues and the Champs Elysees of the world? The Lapps have hearts and can love; they have honesty and fidelity and virtue; thieving and conjugal infidelity are hardly known among them—that is stealing from each other, as in Wall Street. There is a place they call the Eden of Lapland, Bosekop, the most beautifully situated of any in Finmark, and of which little is said that might not compare favorably with the Euphrates Eden.
Though the interiors of the Lofoden islands are for the most part uninhabitable, fishermen occupy the shores, rich in their simple possessions and their contentment. To escape the taxations and impositions incident to urban life one may well give up some of its luxuries, or even its so-called refinements. The fishing station of Henningsvaer presents a busy scene during the season. Hither come craft of all sizes and patterns, schooners, sloops, and whaleboats, some to sell and some to buy. The water is white with them while on the shore the log houses are almost covered with barrels of cod livers, the ground being thickly strewn with cod's heads and refuse. The richest man in all this region is said to live here, having acquired a fortune of a quarter or half million of dollars through trading in fish. Another fishing station is Stamsund, where good cod-liver oil is made.
A small interior though somewhat famous town in Norway is Eidsvold, the birthplace of Norwegian liberty. A thousand years ago a wild democracy was here established, acknowledging as king Halvdan the Black, father of Harald Haarfager. Assemblies were held and laws made by ballot. The centuries passed by; from the dust of the earth sprang myriads of kings, and to the dust they returned. And still on the 11th of April, 1814, we find a convention at Eidsvold adopting a constitution and electing Prince Christian king of Norway.
One may ride by rail from Eidsvold to Christiania, the modern capital of Norway, and find there, at the head of one arm of the fiord which here runs in some 60 miles from the German ocean, a city full of bright, intelligent, industrious people. It was near this spot that once stood the ancient city of Osloe, founded in the eleventh century, and after the union with Denmark in 1380 becoming the capital of Norway, the place where James of Scotland married Anne of Denmark. When it was burned, in 1624, the present city of Christiania was built, having now within its precincts many rich and cultured people, occupying beautiful homes, with royal palace, royal park, parliament house, university, museum, and all the accompaniments of high civilization.
Stockholm is one of the many northern towns that resemble Venice. Standing on several islands, with little screw steamers darting between them like swallows, the fine docks, well-kept streets, extensive parks and gardens, and beautiful houses, are all significant of a modern progressive city. It was on the largest of Stockholm's islands that the imprisoned Finnish princess, Skiolfa, strangled with his own golden chain her captor, Ague, king of Sweden, and on the same spot, ten centuries afterward, Birger Jarl erected the stronghold from which grew the present city. Noticeable from any eminence are the towers of Storkirka, the Riddarhus, or House of Nobles, the Riddarholm cathedral, the turrets of the prison, the royal palace, and the blocks of tile-roofed dwellings.
On the island of Lofo one may see the royal residence and castle of Drottningholm, begun by Queen Hedvig Elenora of Holstein, widow of Charles X, and completed during the reign of her son Charles XI toward the end of the seventeenth century. The palace, an imposing pile standing near the water, was built by the Tessins, father and son. The grounds are well laid out, avenues of lindens diverging in every direction from the castle. In the garden, which is entered by steps from a terrace that stands amid lakes and fountains bordered by vases and statues in marble and bronze, is a theater de verdure, a unique structure of clipped trees in the form of a building, constructed under the direction of Gustavus III for the acting of French plays.
Amid the mazy walks of this garden, and half hidden by the trees, are a Swiss cottage, a hill and statue of Flora, a Kina slot, or Chinese castle filled with curiosities, which King Adolf Frederick presented to his queen Lovisa Ulrika, on her birthday; also a reproduction of a Canton village, near which steel and iron works were once carried on under the immediate superintendence of the king.
West of Lofo is the isle of Biorko, on the northern end of which are remains of the ancient birka. It is stated by Rimbert in his biography of Archbishop Ansgarius that this was an important and famous place, where dwelt many rich merchants with their treasures carefully stored. Once the deposed King Anund came upon them at the head of a band of Danes, whom he had induced to take service with him, and the merchants were glad to pay 2,000 pounds of silver to be left in peace.
The town of Strengnas contains a fine cathedral, 300 feet in length, built in 1291, and where Charles IX and other notable men were buried. Then there is the chateau of Fiholm, not far away, which was once the property of Axel Oxenstjerna, minister of Gustavus Adolphus. Up the river, at Eskilstuna, is a large manufactory of arms and cutlery. A canal extends from the Arboga to Lake Hielmar. The town of Nora is the center of the iron fields of Pershytte, Dalkarlsberg, Striberg, and Klacka. The medieval town of Vesteras has a cathedral built in the twelfth century, 306 feet in length, and with a spire 320 feet high. Erik XIV is buried here.
Every government regards itself as the best; every army esteems itself the bravest; every religion considers itself the purest, and every aristocracy tries to believe itself the highest. In cases of relative nobility lapse of time entitles to precedence, and it matters less how than when our ancestors rose above the rabble and caught the trick of domination. My ancestor of remote degree may have gone to the crusades a slave and returned a wealthy officer; he may have been a bold Scandinavian sea-robber, or a crafty Italian cutthroat; or have he may have sold soap, slept in a brewery; he may have torn the raw flesh from the bone with his teeth or have fed on nuts and slept in trees. The ascendency once acquired and maintained, how it was accomplished matters little; we can plume ourselves on our superior The respectability just the same. Almighty himself does not disdain to accept from his votaries the spoils of victory.
Many of the present castles stand on the sites of former castles which met with destruction, showing severe treatment on the part of enemies. Such an one is Gripsholm which rises out of the foliage on a tongue of land near Mariefred, jutting out into the fiord. The first building dates from the fourteenth century and lasted about a hundred years; the present one was built by Gustaf Erikson Wasa I, who completed it in 1537, calling the four towers after his sons, Erik, Johan, Magnus, and Karl, the castle itself not bearing its modern name. Two large cannon, captured by Count Jacob de la Gardie at Ivanogorod in Russia in 1612, lie in the outer courtyard.
In the picture gallery are about 2,000 paintings, many of them valuable and important as representing long lines of sovereigns whose authenticated portraits nowhere else exist. Upon the death of Gustav Wasa the place fell to his son who afterward became Charles IX, and later to Bo Jonsson Gripsholm who gave it his name, and of whom more hereafter.
In the southern and central parts of the peninsula are some large landed estates with fine old castles and chateaus; entailed among the old families are many more of these estates, which have on them little to show of wealth and refinement. There are ancestral homes, for the most part of fourteenth century construction, which contain a riddarsal, or knight’s hall, lined with armor, and apartments on whose walls hang valuable art treasures by the old masters. In the Swedish province of Sodermanland are several fine stretches of scenery dotted with commanding castles and retired chateaus,—the De Greet family estate of Stora Sundby; the Bonde family entailed estate of Safstaholm, near Wingaker; and finest of all, Eriksberg, with its castle 200 years old, belonging to another branch of the Bonde family, the main part of stone, with wings for picture gallery, chapel, and library.
In a forest on the shore of the bay of Sko are the castle and cloister of Skokloster built in the thirteenth century. The latter was destroyed by fire, but the monastery church remains standing not far from the castle. Within are the fruits of many robberies, the pulpit, altar, and ornaments coming from Germany. In the chapel is the equestrian statue of Karl Gustaf Wrangel, general of Gustavus Adolphus, and on the walls are representations of his campaigns. Skokloster was given by Gustavus Adolphus to Wrangel, whose son built what was then the finest chateau in Sweden,—a beautiful structure of four stories in form of a square enclosing a court, the four towers by which it is flanked being equal to another story. The Wrangel coat of arms is over the principal entrance, while supporting the arch of the vestibule are eight marble pillars presented to the owner by Queen Christina. There are many rooms filled with portraits of famous fighting men, and in the collection of weapons, of which there are nearly 1,300, are firearms, crossbows, and swords ornamented with gems. A shield which belonged to Charles V is lure, brought by the Swedes from Prague when they sacked that city. Gilt skins and tapestry, presented by Louis XIV, adorn the walls of the grand apartments, not to mention Venetian mirrors, cabinets inlaid with precious stones, and specimens of rare china. Next to Gripsholm the finest collection of historical paintings is here, and Skokloster has also a library of 30,000 volumes.
A beautiful trip across Sweden can be made by the Gota canal, in the vicinity of which are some fine estates of the old families, as Oxenstierna, De la Gardie, Stine, Brahe, and Bonde, though not all of them are here at the present time. This canal, which connects the Baltic with the German ocean at Gothenburg is a fine example of engineering skill. It is not a continuous cut, but consists of ten sections, with locks of well-dressed stone, connecting seven lakes with rivers and bays so as to afford continuous navigation for vessels of moderate size.
It is some 300 feet above sea-level at its highest point; 259 miles in length, 10 feet deep, 48 feet in width at the bottom, widening to 88 above, and has 74 locks. Travel by a wateway like this is necessarily slow and restricted, in these days of rapid transit, but the canal is undoubtedly an important factor in the development of the country.
An interesting place, and with much of the grotesque is the old church of Osmo, not far from Sodertelge, where may be seen depictured the devil as he is. Passing toward the canal we come to Tullgarn, a royal chateau and summer residence. Entering the Slatbaken fiord, soon is seen to the southward, rising from the foliage, the ruined tower of Stegeborg. If there are fewer ruins in Scandinavia than in some other countries, it may be because the Vikings found it easier to take their castles from others than to build them; or the work of the spoiler here may have been more thorough than in England and Italy.
On the shores of Lake Roxen are the ruins of the castle of Stiernarp, where once lived Robert Douglas, the Scotch earl who served under Gustavus Adolphus in 1631. The Wreta church, near Berg, stands on the site of an old Benedictine monastery, which afterward belonged to the Bernardines, noted for its nuns. Here lie the bones of departed kings, Ragwald Knaphofde, Inge the Younger, and Valdemar Birgersson. Ekbyborna church is on Lake Boren, and nearby Ulfasa, the dwelling of the Folkunga family six or eight centuries ago. Motola, where are large machine-shops, is on Lake Vettern, near the mouth of the Gota canal, and twelve miles away to the north are the mineral springs of Medevi. A place celebrated in past times was the monastery of Vadstena, founded by St. Birgitta in 1383, and long in close communication with Florence and Rome. Though the monks were poor men's sons, women of high degree found refuge here from earthly sorrows, and kings and nobles craved for their final resting-place a corner in the church, and they were willing to pay for it; so that silver and gold flowed into the sanctuary, which became rich as well as famous. Two golden crowns, Queen Philippa gave, worth nearly 2,000 marks, as well as a golden tablet, a golden necklace, a golden girdle, and precious stones, worth 2,000 marks more. Two brothers of the Bielke family, Sten and Ture, gave in 1412 a silver shrine worth some $50,000, wherein to place the sacred bones of St. Birgitta; the record does not state how the money was stolen.
But it is on record that the nobles were very wealthy in those days. And why should they not be? They were strong lusty fellows; fighting was their greatest pleasure; Odin was ever ready to receive the spoils; the halls of Valhalla ever awaited their reception should they die in battle and to make successful raids on the rich southern cities was no difficult matter.
Thus while it was not Odin now, but Christ, and the later name for Valhalla was heaven, why should not the Northmen be liberal to the church? When Karl Knutsson gave a feast, the table was loaded with gold and silver ornaments and the food served on 1,400 silver plates. At this same Birgitta convent the devotees did not starve themselves; for the use of 25 monks and 160 nuns were annually provided 120 oxen, 300 sheep, 300 swine, 2,400 pounds of cheese, 30 barrels of butter, 200 bushels of barley, 1,200 bushels of malt, 100 bushels of wheat, and 500 bushels of rye, besides the poultry, fish, and game presented by rich and poor alike. It came to pass that King John III once wanted money; so he melted down the silver shrine presented by the Bielke brothers, giving the bones of Birgitta instead a red velvet casket, which was just as well or better than the one of unregenerate metal.
As an example of a rich medieval Scandinavian I will mention Bo Jonsson Grip, of Gripsholm, and other places, whose body lies interred in St. Birgitta church. Grip was a man of nerve, and he added to the great wealth which he inherited by innumerable ways and means of which the world is not wholly cognizant. Though not a king, he made war and levied tribute, as did kings and Vikings. He once even threatened the Hanseatic town of Dantzic, but accepted peace, for a consideration. He was a good man too, that is to say pious, a good Christian, building churches and giving liberally to the poor; for he believed that his success in fighting and robbing came as a reward for his patriotism and good deeds. He was thrifty; for when already the richest man in Sweden his first wife, Margaretha Poise, died pregnant, and being also very rich in her own right, he bethought himself how to obtain her money. Now the Swedish law was such that the husband of a dead wife could inherit only through the medium of a living child; wherefore Bo Jonsson had the body opened and the child shown alive. The clergy were shocked, and Bishop Nils, of Linkoping told Bo Jonsson that he had committed a great sin, and to appease the bishop he was compelled to give to the church eleven farms and 300 marks in money.
Bo Jonsson was a mighty man and should have been king; but he was wise and preferred being riksdrots, or chancellor, for as such he could gather a greater harvest and with less accountability. But estimable as he was in all his ways, and very rich, Bo Jonsson had his little troubles as well as others. Once a fine young fellow whom he had taken to his heart, and educated, and knighted, bestowing on him great favors, and wealth, giving him Farla, a fine chateau, and other estates in Ostergotland,—this young man brought on him a serious fall from grace. Karl Niklasson was his name, a youth of noble blood and bearing, and although Bo Jonsson gave much he was richly rewarded for his giving, for Karl was brave and helped to swell the others coffers. Naturally, in due time Karl fell in love, for all the maidens round loved him; Margaretha was the name of the damsel he preferred, and her father was the nobleman, Lambert Eriksson of Kimstad, whose chateau Overlooked Lake Roxen. Seeing Margaretha one day, and wishing to possess her, Bo Jonsson sent Karl away, and on his return killed him at the high altar of the church; which grievous offence again brought him into trouble with the clergy, so that he had to give away many marks.—1,000 each to Upsala and Linkoping cathedrals, and 500 each to Strengnas, Vesteras, and Abo. And the more completely to restore his popularity and good name, he gave five marks to every church and parish and parish priest where he held property, and that was everywhere for many miles around.
Bo Jonsson died and was buried. Possessing much, he gave much. Being wise as well as wealthy, in death as in life he made it his business to look out for himself. Having been Swedish chancellor on earth, he would be still Bo Jonsson in heaven, a man spoken and thought well of by men and angels. His body lies entombed in the church of St. Birgitta, in the midst of good company, having for companions in death Gustaf Olofson Stenbock, Josse Erikson, Prince Magnus, and queens Philippa of England and Katarina, consort of Erik XIII.
It was in 1386 that Bo Jonsson Grip, of Gripsholm, died. After bequeathing to various persons and charities 57,500 ounces of silver, his ready money, he left as belonging to his estate lands, chateaus, and castles throughout the entire kingdom, extensive domains in Ostergotland, northern Smaland, and Jonkoping, with Ydre, Kind, and Tiust districts, and the castles of Stakeholm and Rumlaborg; Norrland and Ringstadholm castles; Forsholms castle, and the districts of Mark and Kind, of Vestergotland, and part of the Wennern shore; south-eastern Sodermanland, with Nykopings castle; Stockholm castle and south-eastern. Upland; part of Vestmanland including Dalarne and the mining regions; most of Calmarlan with Calmar castle; Raseborg, Korsholms, Aby, Viborg, and Tavastehus castles; and as if that were not enough, all Finland,—more of this world, I fear, than he found corresponding credit for in the world to which he went.
The ruined castles and monasteries of Scandinavia became as a rule so utterly ruined that it is a pleasure to meet with a fine edifice like Alvastra cloister, not far from Vadstena. Built about 1150, it was occupied for a time by Bernardine monks, and afterward by nuns. Although the remains of many kings rest here, a large part of the structure was carried away as material for building the castles of Visingsborg and Vadstena. Visingsborg castle, on the island of Visingso, was built in 1657 and burned in 1718. The church here is of stone, with ornamented portal, silver tablets on the walls, and statue of Pehr Brahe in the chancel.
Not a few of the farm-houses in Denmark are tastefully fashioned and elaborately ornamented. A cluster of farm buildings makes a pleasing picture, each being placed in position with careful regard to uniformity of plan. In the cities and towns the buildings are very substantial, though often quaint in design. On the island of Zealand, as well as elsewhere in this low-lying land with its moist climate, care is taken in the better class of structures that they be as warm and dry as possible, many being roofed with tiles. Roeskilde was once the king's residence and Episcopal seat of Denmark. It contained, besides the royal palaces, twenty-six churches with their cloisters, and here was all the pomp and magnificence, within and without, which was deemed requisite to sway the scepter of the Scandinavias. Canute the Great was master, though nothing now remains of his glory except for his cathedral, the finest in Denmark and containing the tombs of kings, among others that of Christian IV, with a statue by Thorwaldsen. Erected in the middle of the twelfth century, as was common with regard to medieval edifices in the north many additions and alterations have been made not, always to the improvement of architectural effect. The facade is of wrought stone, and the chancel spacious and lofty.
Zealand is filled with archaeological relics significant of mythological and pagan history, —tombs, runic stones, funeral piles, engraved rocks and the like.
The Kongens Nytorv, or new market, of Copenhagen serves as a point of separation between the commercial and aristocratic quarters. Houses of the seventeenth century stand on one side of the large square mansions, some might call them, and at all events belonging architecturally to the German renaissance. A more attractive square is the Amalienborg, surrounded by palaces, and containing an equestrian statue. A seventeenth century structure not far away is the Runde-kirk, erected by Steenwenkel, a pupil of Tycho Brahe, and an engineer as well as an astronomer, the style being what has been termed Jesuit architecture. On the top of the tower is a pyramidal structure, with an open path hollowed out of the tapering spire and leading to the top. Then there are the Frue-kirk and others, but none of special interest
Before the gloomy entrance to the courtyard of Christianborg, which is a cluster of palaces rather than a palace, stands Thorwaldsen’s sculptured Jupiter, with his Hercules on one side of the gate. In the court reception room known as the hall of the knights is Thorwaldsen’s frieze representing the expeditions of Alexander. Though small for a royal chateau, Rosenborg, in Rosenborg park, with space in front for military reviews, and a statue of Christian IV in the courtyard, is one of the most attractive residences in Copenhagen. Occupying one side of the Slotsholmsgade is the Exchange, with a spire of wood covered with lead, to which is given the form of four monsters, their heads resting on the four corners of the tower and their tails curling round the spire upward to the top.
In 1871 was erected outside the city of Copenhagen, near the Norrbro, at the end of the park, an exhibition building, rectangular in form, 492 by 295 feet, with a court in four compartments covered with glass. It would have been made entirely of glass, if glass could withstand the snow and wind; but as it was intended to be permanent, greater solidity was given to its construction, so that it is now considered the most important modern edifice in Denmark. The ancient quarter of Copenhagen is cramped by the useless ramparts which surround it; while in the new portion is ample space with much of beauty and convenience, with parks and gardens and broad avenues bordered by elegant homes.
The Thorwaldsen museum is a lengthy structure standing on one side of the Christianborg, its front ornamented with Etruscan paintings representing the life of the sculptor, while within are many of his works, and an extensive collection of northern antiquities. No less interesting is the Ethnographical museum, containing objects illustrative of the progress of civilization in all parts of the world.
In Elsinore's one large street, which runs parallel to the sea, stands an imposing town-hall, but the tomb of Hamlet and the weeping brook into which fell Ophelia are not visible. At the end of this street is the Kroonborg, or castle of the crown, erected by Frederick II for the purpose of enforcing payment from ships of sound dues, though regarded by engineers as ineffectual for the purpose, and practically of little value.
I will only further mention the very peculiar Kallstad church, near Vadstena, the middle part raised high above the front and rear; the manufactories of Jon- koping, where snuff, cigars, wallpaper, and chemicals are made; the rifle and sewing-machine factories of Husqvama; the ruins of the ancient castle of Nasbo, seen under the water on the island of Visingso, where relics of the iron age appear in the graves and about the grounds, and where lived and died the twelfth century king Karl VII, and also Erik X, Jahan I, and Magnus Ladulas.
In 1561 the island came into the possession of the Brahe family, who continued to be its owners until the fortified castle of Visinborg was completed in 1657. Then there are the fortifications of Carlsborg; the walls of an ancient castle eight feet thick on Lake Ymsen, where gold rings and chains have been found bearing date 1229; the mining district of Filipstad and others in the province of Vermland; the old wooden fourteenth century Scandinavian church of Rada, in Vermland, its unique interior embellished with odd scriptural paintings; the Karlstad iron and other factories; the elegant private residence at Hellekis; the chateau of Borstorp, the name of the builder, Baron Falkenberg, and the date, 1646, being visible in iron letters. There are also many medieval stone churches with rounded towers and pointed arches, containing carvings in wood and stone, baptismal fonts, pulpits, embroideries, shrines ornamented with chased silver or enameled copper, and the like, such as may be seen in Eriksberga church, in Vestergotland, and in the churches of Visingso, on the island of that name, Vafversunda in Ostergotland, and Husaby on the bay of Kinne.
Norrkoping, at the head of Braviken fiord, is the first manufacturing town not only in Sweden but in Scandinavia. Among the factories here established are sugar refineries, breweries, tanneries, machine-shops, iron-works, paper-mills, lithographing and printing establishments, and places for making chemicals, matches, hosiery, and starch. Some ten or twelve thousand persons are thus directly or indirectly employed; the latest and best machinery is used; honesty and fairness are characteristic of the Swedish employer, and cleanliness and thrift of the Swedish artisan. Near the Finspong iron-works, eighteen miles distant, is a castle built in 1668, and several beautiful parks. The Finspong iron and cannon works were established by the crown in the sixteenth century, sold to Louis de Greer in 1641, taken back by the state in the time of Charles XI, and afterward again turned over to a younger Louis de Greer, who controls with the shops 96,000 acres of land. The wealthy men of Norrkoping have beautiful homes in the suburbs, made picturesque by adjacent ridges of granite and groves of pine, fir, and birch. There are also excellent schools, a technological institute, library, and the rest; indeed, education is nowhere better conducted, being compulsory throughout the greater part of the peninsula.
A very old inland town is Linkoping, on the river Stangan, with a twelfth century cathedral and a castle considerably younger. In this vicinity is now the chateau of Lofsta, and further away are Sturefors, Saby, and Brokind. The copper-mines and smelting furnaces of Atvidaberg belong to the baron of Adelsward, who has some 60,000 acres of land in the vicinity. At Kalmar, where is a twelfth century castle, are some old ramparts in which the people take pride; in ancient times this was a great marketing place, and otherwise of importance. Hagby church is a curiosity; in style of architecture resembling a candle-extinguisher, the circular top, as the people claim, being of heathen origin. Voxtorp church, similar in style, is no less peculiar. The rich man of this vicinity is Mannerskantz, whose fine house, called Varnanas, was once the home of a jarl, then the property of Gustav Wasa, and later belonged to Axel Oxenstjerna.
The province of Bleking is famed for the beauty of its scenery and the beauty of its women. Hundreds of lakelets, luxuriant woods and fragrant flowers; thatch-roofed red houses; a sea and bare granite hills; whirling windmills, faithful dogs, farmers' carts, and rollicking children—let each one fill out the picture to his fancy. We have had enough of old castles and cathedrals of rich men's houses and dead men's sanctuaries for the present chapter; so we will pass by Karlskrona, with its fortifications, cannon balls, and dismantled battle ships; and likewise famed Johannishus, a beautiful suburban chateau; and the celebrated spa of Ronneby; Diupadal, where wood-pulp for paper is made; the church of Hoby, the burial ground of the Vikings; the chateaus of Lake Ifo, Christianstad, Rabelof; the chateaus of Istad, and many other interesting places and things.
And yet one more, Alboke, on the island of Oland, has many antiquities; ruins of the castle of Ismanstorp; an ancient church; ships of the Vikings, or of their ancestors, and graves containing Roman ornaments in gold and bronze. The old castle at Borgholm, on this island dates from 1280, and was occupied in 1312 by Waldemar of Sweden and his wife Ingeborg of Norway; afterward it was destroyed and rebuilt by King Johan in the sixteenth century. What a history have these old piles of stone, whether standing or scattered, these castles and cathedrals, what stories they could tell, each the story of itself, and together almost the story of a nation!
Here is a portion of one. Jarl Asbiorn was brave and treacherous; brave because he was a Northman, and treacherous because his hair was red. Jarl had a daughter so beautiful that the birds stopped singing as she passed by, and so haughty that everyone called her Proud Karin. Fourteen young girls she had for her maids, and one day, when they were out among the flowers, came suddenly upon them in his ship Harold, son of the Danish king, and Canute’s nephew. Listening to Karin’s voice as to the voice of an angel, Harold loved, and loving caught and carried her away, for so proud Karin delighted to be wooed. Prompted by Asbiorn, Harold excluded Canute from the kingdom; but enticed to return, Asbiorn slew him at the altar of St. Albans.
Miscellany—When Harold the Fairhaired had made himself king of Norway lie reinstated the earls who had favored him in their former possessions, permitting such of them as had a following of sixty warriors or more to retain one-third of the taxes collected. Of some of these, however, like all new-made monarchs, he was at times furiously jealous. His first victim was Thorolf, a brave and chivalrous noble, high in the king's favor. By inheritance and marriage Thorolf became exceedingly rich, lived in great state, and was known for his magnificent hospitality. On one occasion he gave a feast to the king, at which were 800 guests, and such was the splendor thereof, that into the king’s breast came envy and hatred as he sat in his high seat sullen and gloomy; and not long after Harold deprived Thorolf of his honors and emoluments and then treacherously slew him.
Riches poured in on Harold, and he learned to scatter his gold with a liberal hand, and yet in small things he was small, his retainers complaining that they had not enough to eat. Harold was succeeded by Erik Bloodaxe, and he by Haakon the Good, who ceased to tax the land and so could not maintain an army. The sea-coast was left to the defense of the inhabitants. This was in the tenth century, and meanwhile the king's sons and others went on Viking expeditions and brought home fame and much treasure. The earls of the Orkneys paid tribute, and revenue from the nose-tax came in with regularity. Many mistresses the earls maintained, and the tooth-gift was no mean contribution. The slave-market drove a fine business, and many Norse merchants became rich. Olaf Tryggvesson with a large Viking fleet appeared on the coast of England in 994, and was paid £10,000 by Ethelred II to go his way and leave the country in peace. Murder was quite in fashion, robbery brought wealth and renown, and war was the favorite occupation. Then came Christianity, recognizing Thor and Odin, not as good gods, it is true, but as evil deities. Rich and powerful was Sigrid the Haughty, mother of the Swedish King Olaf, and widow of King Erik the Victorious. Worried with wooers, she fired the hall in which they slept, saying. "I'll teach these little kind's to come hither on such an errand."
The heroic age continued, and the Vikings found Vinland. Then came to the front Olaf the Saint, and a bad saint too, gathering plunder in Sweden and fighting the Danes. Then the Scandinavian nations came nearer together, and morals improved; private murder went out of fashion, and the land-tax came in again. Christmas gifts from the peasant to the king were determined by law. Magnus the Good began his reign, and when he had ruled nine years, his rich but avaricious uncle, Harold Sigurdsson, demanded half the kingdom, and the records of king's quarrels, called history, continued.
When Olaf the Quiet came into power he cultivated the arts of peace; commerce flourished, and Vikings became merchants as - well as pirates. Even royalty did not disdain traff ic. Olaf the Saint, for instance, w as partner in a certain voyage with the merchant Gudleik Gerdske, and Harold Hardruler farmed out to his followers the trade with the Finns. Until this time the wealthiest lived but in a poor way,—coarse food, houses containing but one room, the beds closed off in alcoves, the bare earth for floor, and a hole in the roof for chimney. But this quiet Olaf introduced and encouraged luxury. An indolent youth, though avaricious withal, was Eystein, who came into the kingdom in 1142. Other monarchs followed; then civil war, and after a century of peace, although no great progress had been attained, four centuries of decline set in. Under Danish predominance the position of Norway was not pleasant. Fraud and favoritism attended commercial and political transactions, and while the populace remained poor, Vincent Lunge, Hannibal Schested, Hartvig Krummedike, and others acquired vast estates. Upon gaining the ascendency and holding Norway as a province, Denmark had rather the best of it for a time. When the country accepted the Lutheran religion, church property was confiscated by the crown and given to the king’s favorites. The catholic bishops were removed and the churches and monasteries plundered.
Among the Olympian deities the idea of wealth referred to things in the earth rather than to anything above it; hence Pluto, the god of Hades, was likewise the god of riches. In Norse mythology, the dwarfs, who dwelt in the heart of the hills, and whose father was Ivaldr, were custodians of the metals and precious skilled workers. Their voice was the stones, in which they were echo, and he who would find favor with them must offer a black goat or a black cock. They worked for Odin, and likewise made the hammer of Thor, which to the pagan Scandinavian was as the cross of Christ to the Christian. There were also heavenly treasures, the golden sunlight guarded by Fafnir. Among the Hindus the sun-god Savitar was golden-eyed and golden-tongued, and when at a sacrifice he cut off his hand, the priest replaced it with a golden one.
In Denmark, during the reign of Christian III, the worst depredations were committed by the nobles, over whom the king lost all control. The Old Danish nobility became wealthy as well as politically powerful, and when Frederick III became king of Denmark and Norway, he had no easy time of it. His son Christian V was a foolish spendthrift, whose course was modeled after that of Louis XIV of France. German became the court language, and to Germans were given lands and lucrative positions. Loyal subjects, Danes and Norwegians, were sold into foreign service, and the money squandered in dissipation.
The successor of this spendthrift, Frederick IV, whose reign began in 1699, was as shrewd as he was penurious and heartless. He went to war with Charles XII of Sweden, and gained nothing by it; Charles fought Norway, and gained as much. He sent Colonel Lowen, with 600 men, to demolish the silver mines at Kongsberg, but the colonel's command was destroyed instead. After Norway recovered independence, and the peasant party came into power, times were better. The Norwegian merchant marine became one of the largest in the world, and commerce and manufactures brought wealth to the nation. The clause in the constitution excluding the Jews was repealed in 1851. Telegraphs and railways bear witness to the increase of wealth and prosperity.
Mythology refers the origin of amber to the tears shed by the sisters of Phaethon upon receiving tidings of his death. Before it was known to be a resin, the inhabitants of the shores of the Baltic, where it was found at an early date, called it meerschaum, or sea-foam, supposing it to be the hardened froth of the waves, the world at large not knowing until later that the soft, soapy earth or mineral going by that name is found near the Caspian, and in places in Russia and Turkey.
In the days of King Frode, of Denmark, men carried their money in the form of gold and silver chains, and when a payment was made, the links were broken off as required.
In Weinhold’s Alt-Nordisches Leben it is written:—King Canute the Great sailed to England with 1000 great vessels; Knut Sveinson came to Norway with 1200 ships; Harold Gormson sailed from Denmark with 700 vessels; Eymundi made an expedition against Norway with 600 ships; and the Jombourg Vikings alone had 180.
The Plutus of Scandinavian mythology was Gulvigar, weigher of gold, who introduced the love of gain among men.
One of the Erics of Sweden was called Windy Cap, because by turning his cap he could bring the wind from any quarter he chose. The Laplanders used to sell wind to sailors one Bessie, Miller of Pomona, as late as 1814 driving quite a trade at sixpence a gust.
The Edda , compiled by Saemund Sigfusson, the Icelandic priest, surnamed the Wise, contained all the heroic and legendary lays extant at the end of the eleventh century.
We use gold now to make teeth, but Tycho Brahe, the Danish astronomer, replaced with a golden nose the one of flesh which he lost in a duel with Passberg.
While the beasts of Norway are small, stubby, and tough, the horses with short legs and bodies and thick neck and head, the cattle shriveled and the dogs mongrel, man is a somewhat noble animal, with fair hair and a large muscular frame.
The isolated city of Bergen, with its 50,000 inhabitants, is mother of the fishing industry and mistress of the surrounding stations. Little is known or talked there but fish; fish are meat and money; you may buy a herring’s worth of bread, or a salmon’s worth of raiment. The annual catch of 65,000,000 cod is worth $7,500,000.
In medieval times pirates would come up from the Mediterranean to ravage the coasts of Sweden and Norway, while the Vikings were prowling about southern seas usually with better results. In 1187 a number of pirate ships entered the Malar, destroyed the town of Sigtuna, and bore off the two large silver doors of the church. By some means these doors found their way to Novgorod, Russia, where they now adorn a church.
There are two institutions in Denmark worthy of notice, the Courts of Conciliation, and cloisters for noble women. Compromise courts are well known elsewhere; they reduce litigation by more than one half, and deliver thousands of honest useful men from the clutches of lawyers and law courts. The Danish cloisters are a kind of female assurance society. Upon the birth of a daughter, a Danish gentleman may deposit $2,000 with the cloister, the child to receive four percent per annum until death or marriage, when the money belongs to the cloister. But if the female remains single, she receives, under defined regulations, first $250, then $500, and finally $1,000 a year. These societies, if properly managed, generally prosper; instance those of Vallo, Vemmeltofle, Gisselfeld, Poeskilde, Odense, and Stovringgaard, founded from 1699 to 1737, and worth from 100,000 to 2,000,000 rix-dollars.
Brace quotes prices at Hammerfest in 1856; rent of good dwelling $60 to $80 a year; beef and mutton 6 cents a pound, milk 6 cents a quart; price of a cow $12 to $20, horse $100, reindeer $3, sheep $2, wages per day 42 to 63 cents without board.
Denmark is a great grain country, besides having fine pasture lands; indeed, to the products of the dairy is attached more value than to the produce of the land.
Denmark has 130 persons to the square mile; imports $75,000,000, exports $60,000,000.
Sweden has 30 inhabitants to the square mile; imports $100,000,000, exports $75,000,000.
Swedenborg, born at Stockholm in 1688, inherited his faith somewhat from his father. He was appointed in 1716 by Charles XII assessor in the Swedish college of mines.
Charles XII became king of Sweden when 15 years of age; at the age of 18 he had forced peace from Frederick of Denmark and had defeated the Russians at Narva; while the victory of Clissow made him master of Poland at the age of 21.
Norway has 18 persons to the square mile, being the most thinly populated country in Europe. Yet there is quite a commerce, $50,000,000 of imports and $40,000,000 of exports. Agricultural property worth $220,000,000 gives returns of $15,000,000.
One church on an average is destroyed by lightning every year in Scandinavia.