Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/83

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of all, so that it might justly be said that the most arbitrary monarch never exercised a more unbounded sway over his vassals than Gustavus possessed from the voluntary affection of his free-born subjects. In a word he was a sovereign who was esteemed by foreigners no less than by his own people, by contemporaries as well as by posterity, one of the wisest and best that ever adorned a throne.[1]

We shall see later how closely he was reproduced in his grandson Gustavus Adolphus the Great.

The father of this founder of the house was Eric Johnson, who is described as an insignificant little man with a violent and uncontrollable temper.[2] The other ancestors are 'obscure' and, as far as known, were without special gifts of any sort. So Gustavus Vasa must be considered a new variation or a 'sport' in biological terminology. How this genius was transmitted we shall see in the subsequent history of the house.

Of the nine children available for our study, we have very complete accounts concerning five. These are Eric, John, Charles, Magnus and Cecelia. The others did not distinguish themselves in any way as far as known. Of these five, all but one, Charles, were violent or eccentric or both. The mother of all but Eric, Margaret Lejonhufond, was a gentle, beautiful and tactful princess[3] with whom Gustavus lived very happily. Therefore, since the grandfather, Eric, was violent and cruel, and since insanity appeared in Eric and Magnus, the children of both marriages of Gustavus, it seems fair to assume that the lack of mental balance was hereditary, and on the male side. Whatever may have been its origin, the neurosis was a family trait and eccentricities of one sort or another will be found in several of the descendants.

Eric, the eldest son and next king, was suspicious, gloomy and cruel; and finally becoming insane was obliged to abdicate.[4] He was nevertheless extremely learned, having a profound acquaintance with the classics and all the sciences of his day, especially the occult branches.

John, the second son, was both passionate and weak.

His tender conscience, though it did not prevent him poisoning his father, Eric, yet induced him to pay a most scrupulous obedience to the ridiculous penance ordered by the pope for commission of the murder. His temper hasty, his disposition selfish, with strong instinctive attachments, so that in domestic life he oscillated between the extreme of indulgence and severity. . . he at last grew to be afraid of his own shadow.[5]

Magnus became insane. Cecelia, his sister, brought disgrace on the family even in her youth. Later she went to England with her

  1. Coxe, 'Travels in Russia, Sweden and Denmark,' IV., 132-134.
  2. Geijer, 'History of Sweden,' I., 97.
  3. Geijer, I., 127.
  4. Coxe, 'Travels,' IV., 126, and 'Ency. Brit.,' 8th ed.
  5. Coxe, Op. cit., IV., 247.