Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/82

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Evidence from Sweden.

Gustavus Vasa to Charles XIII.

THE houses of Vasa, Palatine and Holstein, which held the throne of Sweden from 1527 to 1818, give us the names of 48 related persons in the direct family and cover a period of eleven generations. By including the ancestors to the third degree for each generation of children, we bring in 122 more names, and have in this total of 170 an abundant and interesting field for the study of heredity. These families of Sweden are full of eccentricities, abilities and weaknesses, and the tracing of these peculiarities will be the subject of this section of the work.

Gustavus I. Vasa, 1496-1560, the founder of the celebrated dynasty bearing his name, was a most remarkable and inspiring character. Of a noble though poor and uninfluential family, young Gustavus gave proof even in youth of that striking personality which was destined to deliver Sweden from the terrors of misrule and foreign control, and make his name ever cherished in the hearts of his countrymen. Even as a boy he 'played the king' and declared he would live to drive the Danes out of Sweden.

In 1517 Gustavus was captured by a Danish ship of war and imprisoned for a year in castle Kalloe in North Jutland. Having escaped from prison, he fled to the mountains of Dalencaride, where, after enduring great hardships, he at last succeeded in attaching to himself a powerful party, with which he marched towards Stockholm, which finally surrendered in 1524 after an obstinate defense. The throne of Sweden was now offered to him, but he at first refused. At last, after general solicitation with the interest of the welfare of his country at heart, he accepted and was crowned king in June, 1527.

Born in a private station and bred in the school of adversity, equally great in the public characters of a legislator, warrior and politician, he distinguished himself in every station of life, whether we consider his cool intrepidity and political foresight, his talents for legislation, his propensity to letters and encouragement of learning, his affability to the lowest ranks and his solid and enlightened piety. All his qualities set off by a majestic and graceful person and still further heightened by the most commanding eloquence, drew the esteem and admiration