History of Sweden:
Period Of Political Grandeur - Queen Christine
Period Of Political Grandeur - Charles X And Charles Xi
Period Of Political Grandeur - Charles Xii
Period Of Liberty - The Aristocratic Republic
Gustavian Period - Gustavus Iii And Gustavus Iv
The Constitutional Monarchy - Charles Xiii And The Early Bernadottes
Parliamentary Refor - Charles Xv
Progress And Prosperity - Oscar Ii
Read More Articles About: History of Sweden
The Constitutional Monarchy - Charles XIII And The Early Bernadottes
( Originally Published 1899 )
CHARLES XIII. succeeded his nephew. He was chosen king after a new constitution had been formulated and accepted by the Riksdag of 1809. Charles XIII. was one of the most unsympathetic of Swedish kings, but his reign marks a new period in Swedish history, commencing the era of constitutional government. The new constitution to which the king subscribed was not a radical document; it only reduced the power of the king. Hans Jaerta, one of the nobles who had renounced their privileges and been active in the conspiracy against Gustavus IV., was the leading spirit of the constitutional committee and was appointed secretary of state in the new cabinet. Urgent appeals of the peasant Estate to reduce or abolish the privileges of the upper classes were of no avail, no reform of state or society yet being made, A proposition by Count von Platen to introduce a compulsory militia defence was voted down. This Riksdag, which lasted for a year, gave fuller liberties to the press, which at once used it to voice the popular dissatisfaction with the state of affairs. It was necessary to select an heir to the throne, as the old king was childless, Prince Christian August of Augustenborg being chosen, much in opposition to the nobles, who wanted the son of Gustavus IV.
The prince of Augustenborg, who was Danish governor general of Norway, accepted, and was adopted by the king, changing his name to Charles August. He was a plain, resolute and active man, unattractive in appearance, but of a kind and noble character. Beloved by the lower classes, who had effected his selection, he was treated coldly by the Gustavian aristocrats and by Queen Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte (Princess of Oldenburg), who all favored the selection of young Gustavus, the son of exiled Gustavus IV. Reports of attempts to poison the heir-apparent were in circulation even before he arrived in Sweden. Prince Charles August himself often said that he thought he would die young by some stroke of paralysis, but he paid no attention to the warnings given him. During a parade of troops at Qvidinge, in Scania, he was suddenly seen to lose consciousness and dropped dead from his horse. Peculiarities in the investigation of the corpse, led by his physician, caused a second post-mortem examination, in which the celebrated chemist Berzelius took part. The report seemed in favor of the supposition that the death was caused by poison. The indignation of the populace knew no bounds. The friends of the government tried to coin political money by insinuating that the Gustavians, particularly Count Axel von Fersen the Younger and his sister, Countess Piper, were the responsible parties. At the burial of the dead prince the mob of Stockholm perpetrated one of the most hideous murders of a man who was without doubt innocent, When Count Fersen, in the capacity of marshal of the realm, was to open the procession, he was warned not to do so, but in pride and sense of duty resolved to meet his fate. Approaching the church of Riddarholm, his carriage was pelted with stones, Fersen himself seeking shelter in various places, but being pursued by the mob and killed. Fersen had sought protection in a body of troops, whose officers commanded them to turn him over to the mob. Thus perished a man who, with Curt von Stedingk, had received the order of Cincinnatus from the hands of George Washington, and who once was so near saving Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette from their cruel fate. Fersen's brother was saved only by mere chance and his sister by a flight in disguise. The mob now was resolved to attack Countess Piper, who was thought to be at the castle, and the queen herself. But the authorities, who had brought shame on themselves by their unwillingness to save Fersen, interfered, directing a few shots of cannon against the mob, dispersing it and killing many (June 10, 1810).
Sweden was once more without an heir-apparent to the throne. Frederic, the brother of Charles August, was favored by the king. Frederic VI. of Denmark was a candidate, but the old national hatred against the Danes was still too strong to make his selection possible. A count of Oldenburg was also mentioned by some. The Gustavians, to whom Adlercreutz belonged, dared not openly push their candidate of the old royal line. The patriotic noble-men in power were anxious to see some great general chosen, regardless of a royal pedigree, who could recapture Finland. King Charles sent two emissaries to Napoleon to notify him of the death of Charles August and the selection of his brother. Then one of the most original and daring schemes ever attempted on such a line was carried through by Count Otto Mrner, one of the emissaries. On his own responsibility, he inquired- of Marshal Bernadotte, one of Napoleon's ablest generals, if he would consent to become heir-apparent to the Swedish throne. Bernadotte consented, and the consent of Napoleon was obtained through the Swedish ambassador in Paris. Upon his re-turn, Mrner was ordered to leave the capital by the minister of state, who blamed him for his unauthorized action. But from Upsala Mrner led an eager agitation, with the result that the Riksdag of CErebro selected Bernadotte, who was represented by a secret emissary. Thus the two generals who, at the abdication of Gustavus IV., were, one in Norway, the other in Denmark, with troops ready to attack Sweden, both within one year were chosen to succeed Charles XIII.
Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte was born at Pau, in South France, in 1764. The son of a lawyer, he worked himself up in the army and was by the Revolution enabled to reach the high military stations for which his eminent genius had destined him. Next to Napoleon the ablest of French generals, he opposed the imperial tendencies of the latter, but was later repeatedly used by the emperor to fulfil important duties as a warrior diplomatist and statesman, receiving the rank of a marshal of France and the title of Prince of Ponte Corvo. Related by marriage, the two were never on terms of intimacy, and the Swedish politicians who thought to please the emperor, and gain a strong point with him by the selection of Bernadotte, were mistaken. Bernadotte joined the Lutheran church at Elsinore and landed in Sweden October 20, 1810. By his impressive appearance, his amiability and his genius, he soon won all hearts. As he never acquired the Swedish language, and as his superior ability as a statesman and warrior was not always comprehended, he suffered often through misunderstandings by his new countrymen, who never ceased to admire his eminent genius. Prince Charles, or Charles Johann, as he called himself henceforward, was of a commanding presence and had an interesting face, surrounded by black curly hair. His fascinating ways and winning disposition held captive the admiration even of his political opponents. Prince Charles refused to submit to the undue influence with which Napoleon tried to fetter him, and always carried high and with patriotic independence the interests of his adopted country.
Napoleon soon found reason to be offended with Sweden. Through the peace of Paris, Sweden had agreed to close its harbors to England, but in Gothenburg, which town had suffered destruction by fire and was recently rebuilt, a lively traffic was secretly carried on, connecting England with Northern Europe and enriching Gothenburg. Napoleon was enraged and forced Sweden to declare war on England, which power, realizing the circumstances, did not open any hostilities, and allowed the commercial traffic to continue, although more secretly. Prince Charles, who from the start exerted a strong influence upon the govern-ment, effected an approach to Russia and England to save the dignity of Sweden, much to Napoleon's dismay. He also put the army in a satisfactory condition by recruiting. This caused a revolt in Scania, which was subdued with severity. The Riksdag of 1812 passed a law for the establishment of a compulsory militia, all men between twenty-one and twenty-five years old being registered in classes according to age and instructed in military tactics and discipline.
Napoleon tried by various methods to subdue and humiliate the independence of his Swedish ally, which, when fruitless, led him to acts of hostility. Prince Charles made peace with England and an alliance with Russia, who promised 20,000 men to assist in the conquest of Norway. When Napoleon and Alexander of Russia commenced war against each other, popular opinion in Sweden sided with the former, but Prince Charles, who knew in detail the nature of Napoleon's power and its lack of a solid foundation, tried to make his views clear. He met Alexander personally, agreeing with him on plans of mutual action, at Abo in 1812. After Napoleon's unsuccessful march against Russia, Swedish opinions changed and Bernadotte had free hands to follow up his policy. England formed an alliance with Sweden, agreeing to support the conquest of Norway and ceding the island of Guadeloupe (later sold to France by Sweden). In 1813, 25,000 Swedish troops were sent to Germany, joining the continental allies, who, divided in three armies, were to attack Napoleon, according to plans mostly mapped out by Prince Charles of Sweden. The latter was to command the Northern army of 100,000 men, Swedes, Prussians, Russians and English, but his position was a difficult one, for his superior tactics were misunderstood by his subordinates and by Blucher, the valiant but headstrong commander of 50,000 Prussians, who formed the Silesian army. But through the battles of Grossbeeren (August 23d), Dennewitz (September 6th), and Leipsic (October 16-19), the eminence of Bernadotte's genius was fully brought out, his leadership and the Swedish troops taking honorable part in each. Napoleon and his armies were defeated and pursued by the allies. The monarchs voted a resolution of thanks to Prince Charles, who, with his army, marched northward to carry out the ultimate object of his policy, the conquest of Norway, the plans of which had been made by Count Platen and handed him before he ever left Paris.
Denmark had declared war on Sweden and sided with Napoleon. By turning against Denmark the former Marshal Bernadotte saved himself from the necessity of making an attack on the country of his birth. Lubeck surrendered, the Danes were defeated at Bornhoeved, Kiel and Glucksburg were captured, and the whole of Holstein occupied. An armistice was agreed to. Denmark offered the diocese of Drontheim, but Prince Charles was resolved to expel Den-mark from the Scandinavian Peninsula. January 14, 1814, peace was made at Kiel, Denmark ceding to Sweden the whole of Norway, except Iceland and Fero Islands, and receiving Swedish Pomerania and the island of Rugen in compensation.
Norway. united with Denmark ever since the days of Queen Margaret, in a relation of more or less neglected conditions, during which her original independence was lost, had of late not been satisfied to remain under Danish supremacy. The governing class of officeholders was to a great extent of Danish origin and tendencies, and the patriotism of the population at large dates from a later period. Among the more cultured classes the revolution in France and close relations with England had fostered a desire for political independence. The Danes made use of this fact in order to try to maintain the relation with Denmark in some way. The Danish crown prince, Christian Frederic, was in 1813 made governor-general of Nor-way. He was a mail of some brilliant gifts, but without any great ability. By journeys in the country he acquired popularity and adherents. In February, 1814, a meeting was held- at Eidsvold by men of prominence, who declared the prince regent. May 17th a constitution was adopted and Christian Frederic elected king of Norway. His courteous offer of extending his rule to Sweden was there met by derision. After a triumphal return to Stock-holm, Prince Bernadotte gathered his forces and attacked Norway both by land and sea, the aged King Charles XIII. having command of the navy. An army of 20,000 Swedes entered Norway under command of Von Essen, who captured the fortifications at Svinesund. The navy took possession of the islands in the archipelago outside of Fredericstad, which town was captured, with the fortress Kongsten, 100 cannon and considerable stores of weapons and provisions. The Norwegian army of 30,000 men was located in various places with the central body of troops at Moss. The plan of Prince Charles was to enclose it from all sides. A smaller Swedish force of 3,000 men was repulsed by the Norwegians in two conflicts at Lier and Medskog, celebrated by the latter as important victories. In the mean-time the Swedish army proceeded northward and the fleet penetrated to the bay of Christiania. The plan to enclose the Norwegian army at Moss was being carried into effect in order to finish the war by one single battle, when negotiations for peace were begun.
Prince Charles was anxious to have the conflict brought to a rapid close because he feared that the powers, envious of Sweden's good fortune and dissatisfied with the refusal of Prince Charles to join in an attack on France, might take unfavorable decisions at the approaching congress of Vienna. Prompted by these reasons, and perhaps influenced by his experience of revolutionary movements, Prince Charles offered to sanction Norway's constitution only with such changes as were necessary for a union with Sweden, besides demanding the abdication and speedy departure of Christian Frederic. On these terms peace was made at the convention of Moss, August 14, 1814. At the first meeting of the Norwegian Storthing, or Diet, the terms of peace were sanctioned and Charles XIII. chosen king of Norway. At the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, treaties were signed between Sweden and Prussia and between Den-mark and Prussia, according to which Swedish Pomerania and Rugen were ceded to Prussia on the payment of about $2,000,000, and the duchy of Lauenburg ceded to Denmark. In the relation between Sweden and Norway no change was made, and Denmark lost all hope of the restitution of the latter country.
The great moderation shown by Prince Charles in the acquisition of Norway has been criticised in various ways, but none of the arguments used against it have them-selves been able to bear a critical test. The idea of uniting the two countries as independent states was older in Sweden than the very constitution of Norway which Prince Charles accepted. It was the idea of the leading men in Sweden who had dethroned Gustavus IV. in 1809. The Scandinavian Union is not the best imaginable, has brought Sweden no added power or security, and has placed her king in a difficult position. The only bond of union is the king, the two countries each having their constitution, diet and cabinet. There is only one department in common, the one of which the Swedish minister of foreign affairs is the head and which settles all relations with other countries for both Sweden and Norway. Three members of the Norwegian inet are residents of Stockholm, to prepare affairs pertaining to the Norwegian administration and to partake in affairs involving both countries. These stipulations are made by the Act of Union, accepted in 1815 by the Diets of both countries. According to the Norwegian constitution, the king can use no greater force than 3,000 men out-side the Norwegian boundary, except with the special con-sent of the Diet. Thus Sweden cannot in case of war expect any solid support from her sister country. The loose connections of the Union did not become apparent during the reigns of Charles XIII. and his successor, and the powers of Europe were not aware of them. Thus the Union served its purpose as offering a solid front of unity and strength to the powers who were dividing and redividing almost every territory on the map of Europe.
Charles XIII. died in February, 1818, at the age of seventy, and his talented queen followed him a few months later.
Charles XIV. Johann was fifty-four years of age when ascending the throne, but a man in his prime. To the dignity of the crown he brought a great personal influence, and his fame as a warrior, which spread throughout Europe. The firm diplomatic relations with Russia were continued, but approaches to England were also made. Charles XIV. gave close personal attention to the administration, being especially interested in the defence, finances, canals and roads. With his brilliant genius, quick temper and sense of superiority, the king sometimes reigned more alone and by his own decision than was considered advisable; but in the majority of cases he was influenced by the able men of his cabinetWetterstedt, Rosenblad, Skjldebrand, Cederstrom and Wirsén. An intimate friend of the king was Count Magnus Brahe, who, though not a member of the cabinet, influenced the government more than was thought compatible with its dignity. Count :Brahe, the head of one of the most distinguished of aristocratic families, used his great influence over the king mostly in a noble way, him-self being raised to the highest dignities of the state. He was blindly devoted to the king, followed him like a shadow, taking infinite care of him during his last illness, and dying only a few months after his royal friend.
One of the most remarkable works carried on during the reign of Charles XIV. was the Gotha Canal system, which was brought to completion. The old bishop Brask had spoken of a connection between the lakes of Venar and Vet-ter, and the great Oxenstierna thought of a canal between the North Sea and the Baltic across Sweden. Charles XII. had ordered Polhem to make a trafficable passage around the waterfalls of Trollhetta, which was done after new plans during the reign of Gustavus IV. During the Period of Liberty, Daniel Thunberg had made plans for the whole canal system. But Count Balzar von Platen was the man to make the great work a realized fact, devoting his whole life to it, conquering distrust, opposition and lack of funds. He spent six years in preliminary surveys before taking up the agitation for the realization of his plans. During the whole progress of the work, his efficient activity in looking after every detail could only be compared to his constant agitation in the Riksdag for the support of the immense enterprise and his scrupulous attention to the financial part of it. When the great canal was opposed as an unpatriotic scheme, endangering the defence of the country, Platen answered by completing plans for a colossal fortress in the heart of the canal system, which, when erected, became the strategic stronghold of Sweden, and was named Carlsborg. Platen died as governor-general of Norway, seeing his great life-work nearing completion. The Gotha Canal is the most remarkable of its kind in Europe, being 259 miles long, with 74 locks, many of which have been cut out of solid granite hills. It is of great value to commerce and affords a most picturesque scenic tour.
Charles XIV. met with a power in politics which, from the start not strong enough to carry away victory, ended by attaining its goal. It was the liberal opposition in the Riksdag, supported by a liberal press. Charles XIV., in his native country, had seen to what an infamy the abuse of liberal forms of government could lead, and he was sternly resolved to antagonize any movement which aimed to introduce more democratic principles in the handling of state affairs and in the remodelling of the system of representation. Charles XIV. was in a delicate personal position. He was the only one of the Napobonic marshals who preserved his throne after the fall of the emperor, and the strong continental reaction looked askance at this new man who wore one of the oldest crowns of Europe. But his great reputation as a warrior and statesman, and his persistent peace policy, ought to have been to him sufficient guarantees of the fidelity of his subjects. Charles XIV., in the agitation against the self-willed cabinet, saw an enmity against himself. By a network of secret detectives, the king tried to uncover conspiracies and plots which existed in his imagination only, or in that of those who were aware of his weakness and sought to gain personal favors by making use of it. The severity with which the press was censured and its members punished created a bitterness against the king personally, which ceased only during the few last years of his reign. With the new constitution a law establishing full liberty of public utterance in print was enacted, but a temporary restraint had been placed on this liberty, in 1812, on account of violent newspaper attacks upon Russia. The government still made use of this restraint, which caused many severe legal sentences and subsequent bitterness.
Among the press organs of that period the "Argus" and "Aftonbiadet" were the most conspicuous in their attacks upon the conservative government; Lars Hierta, one of the ablest of Swedish editorial writers, was the publisher of the latter. His paper was repeatedly confiscated. Anders Lindeberg was the publisher of "Stockholmsposten." In an agitation against the royal monopoly in theatrical affairs, Lindeberg threw out the accusation that the king, for purely economical reasons, opposed a reform in those matters. He was arraigned and a sentence of death passed upon him, which was commuted to three years' imprisonment. But Lindeberg refused to accept any clemency, declaring himself ready and resolved to die. The govern-ment, who dared not take his life, was in a delicate predicament, but saved itself and Lindeberg by announcing pardon of "political criminals," at the anniversary of the king's first arrival in Sweden. Jacob Crusenstolpe, a novelist and writer of note, was one of the intimate friends and supporters of the government, but turned liberal, attacking the king in a pamphlet. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, which created great commotion and a revolt in Stockholm, not subdued except after a bloody conflict with the troops (July, 1838). Crusenstolpe continued writing from his prison.
The principal leaders of the opposition in the Riksdag were L. Boye, F. B. von Schwerin and C. H. Anckarsverd among the nobles, and Anders Danielsson among the peasants. This opposition criticised the government for negligence, extravagance and incompetency. Its policy was an entire reconstruction of the state, politically, socially and financially, on the basis of a constitutional government. The opposition commenced by establishing the right of free deliberations in the Riksdag. At the Riksdags of 1827 and 1828 the government was severely taken to task on account of the sale of ships to the Spanish insurgents in South America. The king was inclined to join England against Spain, but had to recede on account of pressure from Russia and the continental powers. The sales were partly annulled and the Swedish government experienced a considerable financial loss. Cederstrom was the responsible party, but upon his resignation his able successor Wirsén was able to cover up his tracks.
If Sweden was forced to change her policy in the South American affair she was found unyielding in the settlement of the boundary questions with Russia. This power was anxious to obtain a slice of the Norwegian Finnmark, with excellent ice-free harbors at the bay of Varanger. In the ultimate settlement with Russia, in 1826, a great territory was ceded, but not any of the important harbors.
In 1840 the opposition had waxed strong enough to effect one of its most desired reforms, the constitutional reconstruction of the cabinet. This body was made to consist of ten members, of whom seven were to be the heads of the various state departments, those of justice, foreign affairs, army, navy, civil service, finance and ecclesiastics.' As a consequence of this change in the constitution, several cabinet members resigned and were succeeded by men more in touch with the opposition.
The greatest of contemplated reforms was a new system of representation, but the opposition was not able to carry it through. At the first revolution of Gustavus III., Stedingk favored a reconstruction of the Riksdag after the model of the English parliament. Gustavus III. was afraid to cause complications by the introduction of such a novelty, but considered it gravely at the time of his second revolution. In 1830, the idea was taken up by the opposition, and Anckarsverd and the eminent lawyer Richert made up a plan for a new Diet, according to the plan of the Norwegian Storthing. This plan, with the idea of one chamber, instead of two, was repeatedly discussed at the Riksdag of 1840, but not adopted. This remarkable Riksdag, which lasted seventeen months, did considerable for the improvement of education and was ultimately dismissed by Charles XIV., in a speech of a conciliatory spirit, which went far toward restoring the old popularity of the king.
Charles XIV. died March 8, 1844, at the age of eighty-one. During the last years of his reign he received strong and repeated evidence of the love of his people, especially upon the occasion of his twenty-fifth anniversary as king of Sweden. "No one has made a career like mine," he said shortly before his death. He was a child of the revolutionary epoch, favored by its opportunities to receive a high station, without being sullied by any of its vices. If it be true that his position often was made difficult through lack of appreciation by his new subjects, it is not less true that he, through lack of intimacy with the Swedish language, national character and traditions, was unable to further the development of his new country, in the same degree as would a native provided with such rich endowment. The sun of Charles XIV., which rose in brilliancy, set in the glory of full appreciation.
The reign of Charles XIV. produced a new line of eminent scientists and was the golden age of Swedish literature. The remarkable genius of J. J. Berzelius remolded the science of chemistry, placing it on a basis where there are hardly any limits to its scope. Elias Fries devised a new system of botany. Sven Nilsson, a distinguished zoologist, also became the founder of a new science, comparative archæology. K. J. Schlyter edited a complete collection of the old provincial laws, a work of equal importance to philology and jurisprudence. P. H. Ling invented the Swedish system of gymnastics and founded the Central Institute of Gymnastics in Stockholm, where the Swedish massage or movement cure has won a scientific development worthy of its world-wide fame. E. G. Geijer, as a philosopher, was a noble follower of Hijer, while as a historian he is the greatest genius of his country. As a poet and composer Geijer is also noteworthy. Professor of history at Upsala, he was once accused of heterodoxy, but acquitted. His political career was remarkable. Geijer was a firm supporter of the government and conservative principles, until fifty-seven years of age, when he joined the opposition.
The world of letters was divided in parties as bitterly opposed to each other as those of the political world. The old Gustavian school, of which Leopold remained the last representative, was attacked by the "New School," which, inspired by German Romanticism, was brimful of inspiration, imagination and feelings, but very little that was original, clear or national. Of this so-called "phosphoristic" school Atterbom was the distinguished leader. Stagnelius, a poet of rare attainments, but who died early, belongs in this group. The New School was in turn attacked by the "Gothic Society," a school of national Swedish Romanticism, which introduced a cult of the Old Northern spirit of individuality, terseness and power. Ling and Geijer were among the leading men of this school, whose enthusiasm for everything national had a lasting influence upon the research for, and gathering of, folk lore, songs, traditions, customs, and every trait of the popular culture of bygone days. In Franzén and Wallin, Sweden had two religious poets of the very first rank. More famous than any of these was Esaias Tegnér, the second great national poet of Sweden, whose "Frithiof's Saga" was destined to become the most celebrated literary work of all Europe in its day, appearing in a vast number of translations in a great number of languages. Tegnér was in sympathy with the old Gustavian school, but a member of the Gothic Society, and by his choice of subjects in harmony with the national school. There is a wonderful richness of sparkling life and wit in Tegnér's poems, but they are sometimes overladen by the vivid ornamental images in which they abound. Tegnér was a man of extremely broad and liberal views on every phase of human life and effort. He hated with the whole power of his fiery soul the mysticism, obscurantism and morbid sensualism of his age. He was the sworn enemy of the "Holy Alliance" and the reactionary powers in state, church and literature. In his chivalrous spirit and love of the great individuals, he became the admirer of Charles XIV., whose policy he therefore supported. Tegnér is not the one who in the grandeur and faultlessness of his creations has attained the very highest rank among Swedish poets, but is the greatest and most unbiased thinker among them, and has as such exerted a beneficial influence upon the national consciousness and cultural development. Tognér's judgment upon one of his Gustavian precursors may be repeated in his own case: "Perchance the greatest not as poet, but as genius."
Oscar I. was forty-five years of age at the death of his father. He was the only son of Charles XIV. and Queen Desideria, the latter a daughter of a French merchant by the name of Clary. Oscar was, in 1823, married to Princess Josephine of Leuchtenberg, a granddaughter of the French empress of the same name. It was a difficult position, the one held by the heir-apparent. Charles XIV. was jealous of his own power and popularity and suspected his son of being in sympathy with the opposition. The prince, distanced as far as possible from the affairs of state, devoted himself to the study of social and economic subjects. He gave a great deal of attention to the study of prisons and the care of prisoners, seeking by pamphlets to spread his sympathies for the latter and to improve their conditions. Oscar L was fondly devoted to the fine arts, himself a talented painter and composer. He did not possess his father's brilliant genius or power of personal influence, although an upright man of great talent and exceedingly prepossessing in appearance. Oscar was of a mild, sagacious disposition, who liked to go into detail and take time for investigation and decision. He was not a man of action, and lacked somewhat consistency in carrying out plans of a wider scope. Oscar I. had a little of the autocrat of the father in him and often acted on his own judgment, without taking the advice of his cabinet. Being the loyal, highly cultured and patriotic man that he was, he in various ways furthered the development of his country.
Few kings have ascended a throne under such enthusiasm and joyful aspirations on the part of the people as King Oscar I. Several important reforms were enacted at the Riksdag which met in 1844, and the king gave his sanction to them all. It was decided that the Riksdag should meet every third instead of every fifth year, the liberty of the press was augmented, and to women were given equal rights in the stipulations of inheritance and marriage. The last-mentioned reform was bitterly opposed by the nobles, who feared it would, to a great extent, annul their privileges. The law was passed by the three lower Estates, in spite of the nobles, and was sanctioned by the king. Oscar I. took great pains to have the industries freed from the restraint under which they had been suffering during the reign of his predecessor.
King Oscar surrounded himself with men of a more modern type than his father's advisers. They were in touch with the principles of the opposition, although far from radical, and more respected for their character than for their ability. The opposition, which had been so harsh during the administration of Charles XIV., was toned down considerably; but complaints were soon heard that the new government was neither consistent nor resolute in its liberal policy and that courtiers and young officers won an unduly rapid promotion. Soon an opposition of a new order was organized against the administration. The conservatives, finding that it leaned too much on the liberal principles, attacked it for this reason. A powerful conservative party at the Riksdag was organized, with Hartmansdorff as the leader among the nobles and Arch-bishop Wingard among the clergy. Attacked by liberals and conservatives alike, and not supported by either, the government was of an undecided and vacillating tenor.
The French revolution of 1848 influenced Swedish politics in several ways. The "friends of reform," viz., the party desiring a parliamentary reorganization, were incited by the republican tendencies. The masses of Stockholm on one occasion gave vent to their feelings by demonstrations which were of a menacing character. Great crowds collected outside the place where a "reform banquet" was held. There it was resolved to attack the houses of Hartmansdorff and several other leading conservatives. The owners placed themselves in safety, but the windows of the houses were broken by the mob, who also threw stones at the troops. The tumult was quenched, but not without bloodshed. The press was greatly agitated for a long time afterward, using language against the government that was by no means choice. The liberals in the Riksdag commenced to take an attitude as decided as the one held by the conservatives. From this time on King Oscar showed great coldness to the liberals, and surrounded himself with advisers more in harmony with the conservatives.
The proposition for a reorganization of the Riksdag, made in 1840, was not accepted, but a committee was appointed in 1848 to make a new proposition, which failed to please either government or Riksdag. The king then had a new proposition prepared, based upon general elections. The liberals did not think the royal proposition democratic enough and offered one of their own. Both of these were defeated at the Riksdag of 1850, thanks to the opposition of nobility and clergy. A third one was made by Hartmansdorff, but also failed to please, not being conservative enough for the nobles. Hartmansdorff aroused so much hatred among his fellow nobles that they refused to be seated on the same bench with him during the sessions. After a period of perfect isolation the old conservative leader was judged with greater leniency by his former followers. Shortly before his death, in 1856, he sent them the following greeting: "Ask the nobles not to stand up so long for their privileges, they will lose nothing by surrendering them." It seemed as if the interest for parliamentary reform had died out during the latter part of King Oscar's reign, but such was not the case; it only gathered force in the quiet, and the king was right when defining it as a "question which could never fall."
The influence of the revolution of 1848 also was felt in the foreign relations of Sweden. The German population of Holstein and Schleswig tried to sever their connections with Denmark in order to effect a union with Germany, Prussia taking upon herself to liberate said provinces. Denmark made various efforts to gain the active support of Sweden. The so-called "Scandinavism" was a good means to obtain this end. This movement, which aimed at the establishment of a closer union between the three Scandinavian countries, based upon the fact of the common origin of their inhabitants, had originated at the University of Copenhagen. The meetings of scientists and students, in 1842 and 1843, at Stockholm, had given growth to this movement, which was of a very high-strung nature, but, as far as the Danes were concerned, also of an egotistical motive. Charles XIV. had been averse to this "students' policy," but Oscar I. was sympathetically impressed by it. "Scandinavism" rose high in 1848, especially at the universities, and King Oscar sent a communication to the Prussian government to the effect that he was resolved to oppose any attack on the Danish isles. An army of 20,000 men was ordered to Scania to give weight to this statement. A smaller division of it was even for a time quartered in the island of Funen, The German troops which had invaded Jutland soon retired and hostilities ceased for some time, King Oscar effected an armistice of seven months, in August, 1848, As a result of the war between Denmark and Germany during the next few years an agreement followed, according to which Holstein and Schleswig would for some time remain under Danish supremacy.
King Oscar had, from the commencement of his reign, tried to meet all demands for reform made by his Norwegian subjects, who were anxious to demonstrate to the world the perfect independence of their country. The king himself took the initiative steps to give Norway a national flag of its own, the two countries up to the reign of Oscar having had one common official flag. He also instituted the Norwegian knightly order of St. Olaf in resemblance to the older Swedish orders of Seraphim, Vasa, etc., and gave permission to place the name of Norway before that of Sweden in the Norwegian royal title. For these reasons public opinion in Sweden expected Norwegian concessions in regard to the Act of Union, which seemed in need of revision. A committee of men from both countries was appointed to make the revision, but the Norwegian members opposed all measures involving any change, expressing themselves in such emphatic terms that it was found best to leave the deliberations of the committee unpublished. In 1854 the Norwegian Storthing decided to abolish the office of a governor-general. King Oscar refused to sanction this law, but allowed the office to remain vacant during the rest of his reign.
Intemperance had grown to be an evil from which the Swedish people greatly suffered since the reign of Gustavus III., when alcohol began to be produced in great quantities by the common people. The king encouraged the temperance movement, which was very fruitful in results. In 1853 the Riksdag abolished the free and unrestrained production of alcohol, which was changed into a regular industry and placed under heavy taxation. From 1855 onward, the principles of free trade were adopted for commerce and trade through the influence of J. A. Gripenstedt, the minister of finance, and seemed to have beneficial results in every branch of industrial and commercial activity. The state revenues were greatly increased and the surplus spent in improvements of the widest scope. The means of interior communications were vastly improved. In 1853 the net-work of the state electric telegraph began to spread and now embraces every part of the country. The agitation for the construction of railways had long been an active one. The first one constructed was a private railway between OErebro and Arboga. In 1854 the Riksdag decided on the construction of trunk lines in Southern Sweden, to be built and controlled by the state. The Riksdag of 1856 appropriated a sum of $5,000,000 for that purpose. The railways were rapidly and solidly built under the supervision of Baron Nils Ericsson, the highly talented brother of John Ericsson, the world-famous inventor of the propeller, the caloric engine, the steam hose and the "Monitor."
The relations with Russia were not the best during the latter part of King Oscar's reign. The Russian claims on the harbors at the bay of Varanger were repeated in 1847, and when deliberations for a settlement were opened, in 1851, Russia showed a tendency to take possession of the desired places. In the conflict between Russia, on one hand, and Turkey, supported by England and France, on the other, Sweden sided with the latter, especially after Russia had failed to recognize an alliance of neutrality under arms formed by Sweden-Norway and Denmark. In 1855 Sweden entered an agreement with France, promising not to cede any territory to Russia in case of a conflict. In 1856 peace was made at Paris; the only favor won by Sweden was a pledge made by Russia not to fortify the archipelago of Aland.
King Oscar was a very hard worker and also fond of the pleasures of life. His health was injured through illness, in 1857, and he never recovered. The premature death of his second son, Prince Gustavus, a talented composer and highly popular, had a disastrous influence on him. King Oscar L died July 8, 1859, after a long illness, beloved by the two nations who, during his reign, had enjoyed the happiest epoch of their history.
Romanticism in literature had an important second blossom during the reign of King Oscar I. and his successor. With the exception of Runeberg and Almquist, it offers no name of the very first rank. But Runeberg, the Homer of the North, does not belong to Sweden alone, and Almquist, the only great Romanticist, had made his appearance during the preceding epoch. Charles John Ludvig Almquist was a genius of great versatility and exceptional endowment. He wrote with equal force in all branches of literature; besides the poet, dramatist and prosaist, being a good philologist and well versed in a number of practical pursuits. He anticipated the ideas of which George Sand became a champion, and wrote charming peasant idyls long before Auerbach and Bjrnson. His most important work is an ambiguous creation, conceived somewhat in the form of Boccaccio's "Decamerone," but much larger, and containing productions in every imaginable artistic form. It is called Toernrosens bok (The Book of the Wild Rose). Almquist has not, like Bellman and Tegner, crystallized the Swedish national character in a lyrical form, but he remains, in spite of glaring defects, the most versatile and supremely gifted genius of Swedish literature.
Nybom, Bttiger, Malmstrm, Sætherberg and Strand-berg were talented lyric poets of this epoch, Von Braun, Sturzen-Becker and Sehlstedt good humorists, while Brjesson, Blanche, Jelin, Dahlgren and Frans Hedberg wrote successfully for the stage. Swedish women were destined to win fame for themselves by bringing the novelistic form to a richer development; principal among whom were Fred-erica Bremer, Sophie von Knorring, Emilie Carlén and Sophie Schwartz, while the men Crusenstolpe, Sparre, Mellin, Ridderstad and Starbaeck cultivated the field of historical fiction, for which Swedish history offers such a wealth of appropriate subjects.
Swedish composers of note were becoming numerous, although the field in which they chiefly excel is the rather limited one of lyric song, the most spontaneous medium of expression for the lyrico-rhetoric Swedish temperament. As the composer of "lieder" or visor, Adolphus Lindblad, an intimate friend of Mendelssohn, occupies a revered place in the history of music. Close to him stand Crusell, Nordblom and Josephsson, while Hæffner, Otto Lindblad, one of the noblest composers in this line, Prince Gustavus and Vennerberg are famous principally for their part songs.
The cultivators of dramatic and orchestral composition have as yet been comparatively few. Chief among them is Bervald; further, Norman and Hallstrm. In a later contemporary epoch, Hallén, Aulin, Sjgren;, Stenhammar have considerably brightened this aspect of cultural development. Gunnar Vennerberg occupies an honored place as a poet, humorist and composer in one. There seems to be a deeply rooted tendency in the Swedish national temperament to unite the various branches of artistic creation, which would stamp it as romantic in its very essence if there did not run a vein of stunningly realistic portrayals through the works of such composite nature. In the art of Bellman this tendency has found its highest exponent. Bellman selected for his subjects the life of the lower middle classes in the Swedish capital of his day. His Fredman sings of the experiences of himself and his friends. Vennerberg has chosen the student's life at the University of Upsala as the subject of his duets between two students, "Gluntarne," in which are mirrored as faithfully, and sometimes as artistically, as by Bellman the humorous and pathetic scenes which have fascinated the poet and composer.
Swedish song for the first time acquired universal fame through Jenny Lind, who has had many successors, but no. peer as a dramatic singer. Contemporaneous with Jenny Lind were a number of highly talented histrionic artists, principal among whom were Lars Hjortsberg, Nils William Almif, Olof Ulric Torsslov, Emilie Hgquist and Carl Georg Dahlquist. The Swedish stage has set a good ex-ample for the preservation of the highest standards of the language, and in this line exerted a great cultural influence.