OSCAR II. ascended the throne at a moment when universal peace was restored after the great conflict between France and Germany, and when an age of commercial prosperity for Sweden seemed to have begun. King Oscar had received the same superior education as his older brothers, is as brilliantly gifted as they were and of a more scholarly mind. As a writer on scientific subjects, a poet and an orator, Oscar H. had distinguished himself before his succession to the throne. The new king offered the best of securities for a sound administration in his thorough and versatile knowledge, wide experience in public affairs, and rich and harmonious endowment. Oscar H. still did not find it easy to gain the love and admiration of the Swedish people, of which he is so eminently worthy. He was the successor of one of the most popular of rulers that the country ever saw, but King Oscar has lived to see his own popularity almost outrival that of his predecessor. King Oscar is, at seventy, a handsome, spirited gentleman, with that dignity which age, rare attainments, high intelligence and a noble soul grant their common possessor. This the most learned and popular mon arch of Europe is of a tall, commanding figure, six feet three inches in height, of a handsome, expressive face, with cheeks of a ruddy color and mild blue eyes.
Oscar II. has shown great discernment in his arrangement of dynastic matters. Himself married to the fervently religious Princess Sophie of Nassau, the king has married his oldest son, Crown Prince Gustavus Adolphus, to Princess Victoria of Bade, a granddaughter of Emperor William I. of Germany, and a great-granddaughter of Gustavus IV. of Sweden. His third son, Prince Charles, duke of West Gothland, is married to Princess Ingeborg of Denmark, a granddaughter of Charles XV. of Sweden. These unions are well calculated to accentuate the increasing political, commercial and cultural intimacy with Germany, the Scandinavian policy of his predecessor and the desire of King Oscar to see the descendants of the old royal line of Sweden as heirs to the crown. In giving his consent to the marriage of his second son, Prince Oscar (Bernadotte), to Lady Ebba Munck, of the Swedish nobility, King Oscar has given evidence of the fact that he is not a match-maker regardless of the feelings of the parties involved. Prince Oscar, formerly Duke of Gothland, upon renouncing his share of inheritance to the two thrones, was allowed to marry the choice of his heart. King Oscar has tried to heal the wounds of the past by opening the vaults of the church of Riddarholm to the sarcophagi of Gustavus IV. and his son, and by giving Queen Carola of Saxony, the only living granddaughter of the former, repeated proofs of esteem and considerate distinction.
King Oscar with his crowns had received as an inheritance two important problems to be solvedthe reorganization of the Swedish army and the settlement of the difficulties in the relations between the two states of the Union.
The latter has not yet found a satisfactory solution, al-though the king has devoted to it his most strenuous attention and the best of his efforts, in honest application to his royal motto : “The Weal of the Brother Nations ”
The reorganization of the Swedish army was not effected until after twenty years of parliamentary struggle. The road of a compromise policy which was opened in 1867 was followed up at the Riksdag of 1873, in all the long chain of years royal army bills being repeatedly rejected. In 1885 the government and Riksdag agreed on a remission of thirty per cent of the military taxes of landowners in exchange for new regulations for the militia compulsory service. In 1887 the Riksdag sanctioned the total abolition of the “indelta,” or cantoned troops, as far as the navy was concerned, which was the first step toward the reorganization of the navy, and the same year the militia law of 1885 went into effect.
The old Landtmanna, or agrarian party, in 1888 gave place to a new protectionistic party. A contested election of twenty-two members from Stockholm gave a sudden majority to the protectionists, O. R. Themptander, the able minister of state, resigning. The army bill did not fare well at first. In spite of the fact that the Landtmanna party was brushed aside, the old enemies of an army re-form, the landowners, nobles and peasants alike, still being strong enough to successfully oppose it. The Riksdag of 1888 passed a grain tariff, which went into effect February 14th of the same year, enforcing several other points of a protective tariff system.
King Oscar called an extraordinary, or special, session of the Riksdag, October 18, 1892, when royal propositions were offered and accepted. The land-tax was abolished and a new army bill passed. According to the stipulations of the latter, the bevioeringstid, or period of liability for every citizen to bear arms, was extended to embrace twenty years instead of twelve, viz., eight years in the first ban of the landtvaern, or militia, four years in the second ban, and eight years in the landstorm, or final levy. The first ban of militia is in time of war to form an integral part of the first fighting line, the second ban forming a reserve for the first fighting line. The final levy is to be called out for garrison duty exclusively, and for the defence of the country against foreign invasion. Six military districts have been established, five distributed along the entire coast of Sweden, the sixth inland in the western provinces to be a reserve ready to be used at the point and moment most needed. The reorganized army in active service is composed of vaerfvade, or enlisted troops, and indelta, or can-toned troops, the expenses also of the latter being paid by the government. The royal guards, chasseurs, hussars, artillery, and engineers are enlisted for two years up to eight. The militia troops are distributed among both the enlisted and the cantoned troops, the length of service with the colors being ninety days in time of peace. The infantry in which all the cantoned troops serve consist of twenty-six regiments and two battalions. The line is armed with Remingtons of 8.8 millimetres calibre. There are eight regiments of cavalry and six regiments and six batteries of field artillery, forty batteries in all, with 240 cannon. The effective of the active army, in 1896, was 1,953 officers, 571 employees, 1,779 non-commissioned officers, 1,641 musicians and 38,802 men, with 6,852 horses. The war effective is 272,994 men, besides 180,000 in the landstorm. The chief fortifications of Sweden are Carlscrona, on the south coast; two fortresses outside of Stockholm, viz., Vaxholm and Oscar Fredericsborg; and, in the interior, Carlsborg, near Lake Vetter. The navy comprises 4 turret ships, with 10 inch armor, armed each with 2 10-inch and 4 5.9 inch guns, and having a total displacement of 12,450 tons; 4 armor clad monitors, 9 armored gunboats, 3 corvettes, 9 first-class and 5 second-class gunboats., 2 torpedo cruisers, 7 first-class and 9 second-class torpedo boats, 5 torpedo launches, and 12 school ships. The navy is manned by 267 officers and about 4,500 sailors, not including conscripts to the number of 8,500 men. The entire cost of the de-fence of Sweden exceeds ten million dollars a year.
The movement for a reorganization of the defences has not been caused by any change in the policy of peace, which has faithfully been carried out by all the rulers of the Bernadotte dynasty. The ruler of Sweden and her people desire peace, but not as a gift of mercy from the great powers, but as a self-chosen right which can be effectively defended if necessary. The ever-increasing armament of the European powers has made a strengthening of the Swedish arms unavoidable, but the Swedish government was the first to announce its readiness to accept the invitation of Czar Nicholas H. of Russia to a conference for the discussion of a general reduction of the regular armies. Germany was made the pattern for the reorganization of the army and navy, the Swedish government having followed the German also in the treatment of the labor question, with schemes of accident and old-age insurance, accepted by the Riksdag.
King Oscar, at his succession to the throne, gave evidence of his desire to meet the reasonable demands of his Norwegian subjects. He sanctioned, in 1873, the abolition of the office of a governor-general of Norway, the govern-ment at Christiania to be presided over by a Norwegian minister of state. To the later Norwegian demands for a separate flag, consular service and ministry of foreign affairs, King Oscar has been unyielding. The flag question is of subordinate importance. King Oscar, in 1899, has refused to sanction the resolution of the Storthing, three times passed, for a flag without the mark of Union, for the reason that the flag with that mark was offered to Norway by his father, Oscar I., and gratefully accepted when the country had no colors at all, except the Swedish. The Swedish people will carry their old flag with the mark of Union, irrespective of any changes made in the Norwegian colors. More serious are the questions of consular and diplomatic service. In 1893, the Swedish government offered to compromise by establishing a common ministry of foreign affairs whose head might be indifferently a Swede or a Norwegian. This was rejected by the Norwegian Storthing. The same offer was made in 1837, when the dispute first arose, provided that the Norwegian troops should share the duty of the common defence of both kingdoms. The Swedish Riksdag of 1893 passed a resolution, in compliance with which King Oscar for a second time refused to sanction the bill of Norwegian consulates.
The diametrically opposite views which are held in regard to the relations of Sweden and Norway are, to a great extent, caused by a misconception of the nature of the Union. In lack of a Union parliament, it has by many been considered to be only a personal union of two countries under the same king. Such is not the case. It is true that the two countries are both free and independent states and that the king is the only visible bond between them, according to the Act of Union, but the Union is nevertheless an actual and not a personal one. If it was only personal, the king could at will, or when forced to do so, resign his power in one of the countries and continue his reign in the other. The Act of Union cannot be changed except upon a resolution, enacted in both of the respective diets, and with the sanction of the king in behalf of the Union. A change can be made at the same Swedish Riksdag at which it is pro-posed, at the Norwegian Storthing not until the next regular session. As a consequence the Union cannot be dissolved by the representatives of either country alone, and the king cannot dissolve it by exercising any power of his own. The king cannot abdicate one throne without abdicating the other, for the first paragraph of the Act of Union stipulates that the two countries shall be indissolubly and irrevocably united under the rule of the same king. No abdication can be granted, except by common consent of the two diets in joint session. When the two thrones are empty, without an heir-apparent, a new king shall be elected by the two diets in common. What underlies the Norwegian claims of a separate foreign ministry is, besides to own an out-ward sign of the country’s independence, a desire for a closer constitutional control of diplomatic affairs. From the Swedish side the desirability of a Union parliament and a greater authority for the Union government has been expressed. The Swedes have been found unwilling to grant any change of the constitution of the Union, except the right be added for the Union government to dispose of the military forces of both countries, in equal proportion, for the common defence. King Oscar’s standpoint in the Unionist conflict has contributed much to increase his popularity in Sweden, where his firm refusal to sanction any measure which would cause a weakening to the Union has been received with the highest approval.
A committee to review the relations of the Union and propose a revision of its charter was appointed in 1897, but failed to accomplish anything, the views of the Swedish and Norwegian members differing too radically in their opinions. It is to be hoped that the ultimate solution of the unionist conflict, whensoever it come or whatsoever it be, will bring the two countries of the Scandinavian peninsula closer together, without any great sacrifice on either side, least of all of their independence.
During the more than eighty years of peace which Sweden has enjoyed under the rule of the Bernadotte dynasty, she has developed her constitutional liberty and her material prosperity in a high degree. The dreams of glory by conquest belong to days gone by, but in the fields of peace-able industries she has attained a greatness which the world begins to realize. At the expositions of Paris in 1867, 1878 and 1889, of Vienna in 1873, of Philadelphia in 1876 and of Chicago in 1893, Swedish industry and art have taken part with honor in the international competition. The railways of Sweden have incessantly spun a more and more extended network of steel over the country, opening connections for enterprises in new districts and furthering commerce and industrial art in a wide measure. Oscar II. is an enthusiastic friend of railway improvements, the state having built and acquired a quite considerable length of road at his initiative. The length of Swedish railways, in 1896, was 6,145 miles, of which 2,283 miles belonged to the state, compared to a total of 1,089 miles of Norwegian railways.
The post-office, which was made a government department by Axel Oxenstierna, in 1636, annually transmits 130 million letters and parcels. The telegraph lines have not reached a very high state of development; still there are 14,600 miles of telegraph. The telephone has made much more progress, far surpassing that of any other country in Europe. The total length of the connections exceeds 40,000 miles, and the number of apparatus is more than 25,000. Stockholm makes the widest use of the telephone of any city in the world, with her 300,000 inhabitants having a telephone for every thirty. Sweden has developed into a commercial country of no inconsiderable rank, notwithstanding her isolated position. Exports and imports each exceed yearly in value $100,000,000, the imports being 344,290,000 kronor and the exports 311,434,000 kronor in value, in 1895, a Swedish krona, being about twenty-eight cents. The commercial value of the foreign trade amounts to thirty-nine dollars in yearly average for each inhabitant of Sweden, which is about as much as in France. The imports chiefly consist of coal, coffee, salt, cotton and wool, while the exports are timber products, about forty per cent of the whole, iron and steel, the best in the world, machinery, butter, cattle, matches, etc. The inland navigation and commerce are very lively. The state finances are in a prosperous condition. The budget of 1898 showed total receipts of 120,086,000 kronor, of which 14, 229, 000 was surplus from proceeding budgets.
Thanks to the well equipped and regulated system of instruction, the general education has been so highly advanced that Sweden, in this respect, holds the very front rank among the nations. Besides the national universities of Upsala and Lund and the state medical college of Stock-holm, city universities at Stockholm and Gothenburg have been recently founded which are quickly developing. All study at the universities consists of post-graduate work, there being about thirty colleges in various parts of the country which lead their pupils as far as the demands requisite for entering the universities. The Swedish university courses are of unexcelled thoroughness and completeness. The so-called Peasant High Schools are peculiar to Scandinavia, having originated in Denmark. There are twenty-five such high schools in Sweden, which give to young men and women of the peasant class a higher education than is available in the common schools, of which latter there are 10,702, with 692,360 pupils and 13,797 teachers.
Scientific research progresses with energy and success, and Sweden possesses to-day a great number of eminent scholars, even if the epoch of men of universal genius appears to be a thing of the past there as elsewhere. Swedish scientists have opened closer relations with their co-workers in all parts of the world. The energy of King Oscar has brought about several congresses of science at Stockholm. In the natural sciences, Sweden still holds an honored place, in physics offering two great names, Eric Edlund and A. J. Angstrm, the latter celebrated for his work on the solar spectrum, which forms the basis for the spectral analysis. Death has claimed these men and also J. A. H. Gyldén, an eminent astronomer; J. G. Agardh, C. W. Blomstrand, H. O. Nathorst, J. E. Rydquist, able botanist, chemist, agriculturist, and philologist, respectively; Pontus Wilmer, the most remarkable of the disciples of the philosopher Bostrm, and Victor Rydberg, the philosophical poet, novelist and polyhistor.
Among the most noteworthy of living Swedish scholars are Adolph Norén, Axel Koch and Esaias Tegnér, Junior, philologists; Hans Hildebrand and Oscar Montelius, archesologists; P. Fahlbeck, Nils and Magnus Hjer, Martin Weibull, Ernest Carlson, historians; A. M. Mittag-Leffler, mathematician; Hugo Hildebrandsson, meteorologist; E. A. H. Key, E. O. T. Westerlund, Anton Wetterstrand, F. J. Biornstrm, T. F. Hartelius, Curt Wallis, prominent in various branches of medical science.
King Oscar with fervent interest and unfailing liberality has encouraged various scientific explorations, and has had the satisfaction to see the greatest geographical discoveries of the century successfully made by Swedes, the circumnavigation of Asia and Europe, and the discovery of the Northeast Passage by Baron N. A. E. Nordenskiold, and the exploration of Central Asia by Sven Hedin, which has forever settled the learned disputes of ages. A third expedition, the most daring of scientific exploits ever attempted, still keeps the world in suspense as to its final outcome. July 11, 1897, S. A. Andrée, a scientifically experienced aeronaut, with two companions, Nils Strindberg and Knut Fraenkel, started in a balloon constructed for the purpose, and with provisions for three years, from an island of Spitzbergen, with the purpose of reaching the, North Pole. The daring aeronauts have not been heard from since their departure, but authorities like Baron Nordenskiold have expressed the best of hopes that they may have reached Franz Joseph’s Land in safety, whence they might regain settled regions.’ S. A. Andrée belongs to a class of men, the Swedish engineers, who have won distinction for their ability, and on whom the examples set by Christopher Polhem and John Ericsson have had a stimulating influence. There are among them two inventors of the very first rank, who belong to the reign of Oscar II., Alfred Nobel (d. 1896), the inventor of dynamite, and Gustavus de Laval, the Swedish Edison. The latter is world-famous for his separator and other inventions, which have revolutionized the dairy industry. Alfred Nobel, the disciple of John Ericsson, has not only the glory of having invented one of the most useful helpers of mechanic and industrial progress, but also that of having set aside his vast fortune, amounting to something like $12,500,000, for public purposes. The money is so invested as to constitute a fund the interest of which shall be applied to five equal annual prizes, to be awarded for the most important discovery or improvement in chemistry, physics or medicine, for the work in literature highest in the ideal sense, and to the one who shall have acted most and best for the fraternity of nations, the suppression or reduction of standing armies, and the constitution and propagation of peace congresses. The first prize, physics and chemistry, shall be awarded by the Academy of Science of Sweden; that for physiology and medicine by the Carolin Institute of Stockholm; the literary prize by the Swedish Academy; and that for the propagation of peace by a commission of five members elected by the Norwegian Storthing. He especially directed that in distributing these prizes no consideration of nationality shall prevail, so that he who is most worthy of it shall receive the reward, whether he be Scandinavian or not. It seems that the sum of each of the five annual prizes thus instituted will amount to $75,000. The inventor of dynamite was deeply interested in all that was done to promote peace by congresses and societies. He always considered that by improving war material, and thus increasing the dangers of war, he was contributing his share toward the pacification of the world. Alfred Nobel has, by the manner in which the Norwegian Storthing is made an active party in the disposition of his will, indicated his view upon the Union of Sweden and Norway and his hopes for a peaceful solution of their conflicts.
Swedish literature, after the period of dilettantism and epigones, has, during the reign of Oscar II., twice been rejuvenated and continues its development on broadened paths and with a wider scope. The eighties were characterized by a strong realistic movement, which went far in daring truth of description and brought problems of a social, religious and political nature under discussion in works of a novelistic or dramatic form. In naturalism, it never went to the extremes of the other Scandinavian literature. The movement was to a great extent brought on by Norwegian and Danish influence, and soon subsided for want of solid and fascinating art to maintain it. The Swedish champion of this movement, although without the restrictions of any school, was August Strindberg, a genius of extraordinary endowment. Through the versatility and power of his talent, he created new forms for the Swedish drama, novel, short story and essay. In his battle against reactionary conservatism he went too far;, an excitable nature, led into extremes, but he has had the manly courage to confess and regret his mistakes. Strindberg, who is an able historian, ethnographer, naturalist and sinologue, is the most versatile and prolific of contemporary writers. In the wide scope of his genius and originality of his methods, Strindberg is one of the most remarkable dramatists that ever lived. His autobiographical works are of supreme importance, both to the students of literature and psychology. Among his masterpieces are “Master Olof,” the great historic drama of his youth, “Swedish Fates and Adventures,” and “Utopia Realized,” two series of short stories, and “The Father,” a modern drama of unsurpassed tragic grandeur.
Several women took an active part in the literary discussion of social problems, with more or less justice considered as the champions of women’s rights. Among these Anne Charlotte Leffler, duchessa di Cajanello, in spite of her premature death, developed into a novelist of merit who will be placed side by side with Bremer, Knorring and Carlén.
The golden lyres of Romanticism were silenced and the epigones were hushed by the sarcasms of Realism. Count Snoilsky and Victor Rydberg were the only poets of the earlier period who sang with inspiration and were listened to. After the realistic movement of the eighties came a romantic reaction with new lyrics and new novelists, who avoided the ruthlessness of the realists, but had profited by their merits. This new movement cannot be called a school, for it is marked by its great versatility of subjects and great elasticity of treatment. If the definition of realistic art be “a piece of nature seen through a temperament,” that of the new movement may be “an artistic temperament attuned to pieces of nature,” a sensitive and supple talent which has an almost unlimited capacity to tell every story just in the vein its particular subject demands. Pre-eminent in this movement stand Ola Hansson, Selma Lagerloef, Verner von Heidenstam, Gustaf of Geijerstam, Peter Hallstrm, Thor Hedberg, Oscar Levertin, all fine novelists, almost all good poets, and Geijerstam, an able dramatist. One of the most interesting and supremely gifted poets Sweden has ever had is Gustaf Froeding, who generally excels, sometimes abuses, his remarkable versatility in finding a true lyric expression for the very widest range of subjects. Sigurd Hedenstierna is the most popular humorist, witty in his sketches, but impossible as a. novelist. The greatest humorists are August Strindberg and Gustaf Froeding. Contemporary Sweden has very few and no great literary critics, but some good literary historians in Henric Schueck, Karl Warburg and Oscar Levertin. She has a number of able journalists, most distinguished among whom is their Nestor, S. A. Hedlund, of Gothenburg, a fiery but dignified champion of a liberal govern-ment, religious tolerance, social evolution and cultural progress.
Swedish literature has a long pedigree compared to Swedish art, which is hardly more than two centuries old. All the more remarkable, then, is its rapid growth and high degree of excellence. The first school of Swedish painters was founded by the German Ehrenstrahl, giving to Swedish art the cosmopolitan character it has preserved to this day, influenced by continental but chiefly French art. Swedish painters early attracted attention abroad. Gustavus Lund-berg, with a picture of Boucher and his wife, won the greatest success of the Salon of Paris, in 1743. Peter Adolphus Hall, “painter to the king and the children of France,” has been called the Van Dyck of the miniature painters. He resided in Paris up to the time of the revolution and took part in the storming of the Bastile. Alexander Roslin was, from the year 1760, installed in the Louvre as painter to the king and councillor of the French Academy. In 1771 he carried home a prize which the immortal Greuze could not capture, much to the dismay of Diderot, and died as the most famous and wealthy artist of the period. In a later period, Italy attracted many Swedish artists, and later still, in the sixties of the present century, the influence of Germany, especially of the Dusseldorf school, was strongly felt. John Frederic Hoeckert won the first prize of the Paris Exposition of 1855 with his large picture “Divine Service in the Lapmark.” When the glories of Hoeckert were almost forgotten at home, Edward Wahlberg, in the seventies, was ushered into celebrity as one of the greatest landscape painters of modern times, equally appreciated in Germany, as later in France, and new French laurels were won by Hugo Salmson, William von Gegerfelt and August Hagborg. Since then French influences have become solidly established, with a few important artists of the Munich school, like C. G. Hellquist and Julius Kronberg. The climax of artistic honors was reached by Nils Forsberg, whose picture, “The Death of a Hero,” carried home the first prize of the French Salon in 1888 (not an exposition medal), a distinction which no Swede and exceedingly few non-French artists ever won. The repeated successes which Swedish painters have won at expositions of Europe were more than duplicated by the enthusiastic approval granted it at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. The truth is that Sweden possesses a number of eminent painters in every branch of painting, except the marine, which has been but sparingly represented since the days of Marcus Larsson. The most famous among them are, besides those already mentioned, Richard Bergh, Oscar Biorck, Eva Bonnier, Gustavus Cederstroem, Prince Eugene, Eugene Jansson, Ernest Josephson, Nils Kreuger, Carl Larsson, Bruno Liljefors, Charles Nordstroem, Allan OEsterlind, Georg and Hanna Pauli, George von Rosen, Robert Thegerstrom, and A. L. Zorn. It has been said of the Swedish painters, by way of complaint, that they are not, as their brethren in Denmark and Norway, in any marked degree national. Swedish art has, for its characteristic boldness and superiority in modern technique, loftiness of purpose, great individuality of expression and depth of feeling. Be these characteristics national or cosmopolitan, the Swedish painters are certainly a great credit to their country. To King Oscar it must be in a high degree satisfactory to see the artistic tendencies of his family culminate in the works of his youngest son, Prince Eugene, who, being in the front line of the advance corps of art, paints, from dreamy, inner life, pictures which are the delight of artists and true connoisseurs.
The sculptors are less numerous, but the art of Serge], Fogelberg and Molin have found worthy perpetuators and innovators in Per Hasselberg, John Boerjesson, Frithiof Kjellberg, Alfred Nystroem, Christian Ericsson, Th. Lund-berg and Ingel Fallstedt. To the art of metal engraving on coins and medals Sweden has offered some works of the very highest value by J. E. Ericson, P. H. Lundgren, Lea Ahlborn and Adolphus Lindberg.
Architecture cannot boast of any continuous chain of brilliant development. Since the days of Nicodemus Tessin there have been few great architects until in very recent times, when architecture has received a sudden impetus which has made its progress and results as remarkable, or almost more so, than that of the other arts. To Helgo Zettervall a number of elaborate national works of construction and restoration have been intrusted and, as a rule, carried through in a meritorious manner, although sometimes giving occasion for serious criticism. An important influence was exerted by Frederic William Scholander, more by his teaching than. by his works. It is principally his pupils who in the last few decades have almost revolutionized the building methods and architectural aspect of the capital, and endowed Gothenburg and other towns with works of architectural distinction. Pre-eminent among modern architects are I. G. Clason, Gustavus Wickman, K. F. von Gegerfelt, Adrian Peterson, Hans Hedlund, Valfried Karlson, A. F. Anderberg, E. Lallerstedt. The Vasa, or Swedish Castle Renaissance, which with good effect has been reintroduced for monumental buildings, seems to lead architecture on to a wholesome national development, combining impressive outlines and solidity with elaboration and grace of interior decoration.
The foremost composers of orchestral music have been mentioned above. Sweden maintains her reputation as being the country of song through the ‘compositions by Hedenblad, Kcerling, Svedbom, Sjgren and Arlberg, while Sderman has brought the form of the ballad, based on national folk music, to the highest development. The royal opera of Stockholm recently moved into new and elegant quarters erected on the site of the old opera house built by Gustavus III. It possesses, in Caroline stberg, Mathilde Linden, Arvid OEdman, C. F. Lundquist and J. Elmblad, dramatic singers of high rank, while Sweden, in Louise Pyk, Mathilde Grabow Taube and Solomon Smith, owns concert singers of great eminence. The international firmament of song has two Swedish stars of considerable magnitude in Sigrid Arnoldsson-Fischhoff, a colorature songstress, and Ellen Nordgren.Gullbrandson, a Wagner singer. The greatest actor is Emil Hillberg, a noble creator of Ibsen and Strindberg rôles, while the country recently lost its ablest comedian in the death of Knut Almlf.
Sweden of today offers an attractive picture of a country in a high degree cultured and prosperous, but no country or period is entitled to reap only benefits or enjoy undisturbed happiness. No progress is obtained without struggle and relapses, and a good must give way for something better. Beneath a surface generally smiling and serene formidable religious and social forces are in motion. The Swedish state church is divided into two camps, which resemble a high and a low church, out of which the whole may come forward strengthened and rejunevated. The various sects are not all satisfied with the degree of liberty they enjoy. A shallow materialistic movement of anti-religious tendencies, which styled itself Utilitarian, caused some sensation in the latter eighties and early nineties, more through the somewhat too severe manner in which it was suppressed than through any of its own merits. There are agitators for a separation of state and church who are opposed by some of the stanchest friends of a constitutional monarchy. A separation of educational and church affairs seems desirable. The yeomen have regained the predominant position in political life which was theirs in the time of the ancient Teutonic communities, using their power in a way which is not always beneficial to the other classes or the state at large. The great class of country population, which has been in vain striving to rise to the privileged class of landowners, if even on the smallest scale, have emigrated in vast numbers. The emigration, which has given America at least 1,200,000 inhabitants of Swedish birth or parentage, is one of the most astounding phenomena of the century. It has, to a large extent, subsided, but may be revived if the pressure for social improvement is found of no avail. The workingmen are resolved to gain a representation and are striving to attain the introduction of general suffrage. The weapons they use are principally strikes, but may also turn to wholesale emigration. In 1893 the advocates of universal suffrage arranged for the election of a convention by popular vote, the first Folksriksdag, which addressed an appeal to the legal Riksdag, to consider an amendment for the extension of the suffrage. The liberals and radicals are interested in this agitation, and brought out their full vote to the Folksriksdag. The conservative party ignores the whole movement, probably not wisely. The towns are seeking an extended representation and bitterly oppose the curtailment of the rights already enjoyed, fearing the reactionary tendencies of the conservatives, who have their strength in the large agrarian population Anarchism is something unknown in Sweden. The socialistic agitation, which is spreading among the classes without a political representation, is carried on without any great bitterness and entirely without lawless means.
Any practical or theoretical agitation for a republic there is none in Sweden, the population as a whole not finding salvation from the defects of government or society in any outward change of rule. Civil service is enforced to the letter, and the social pressure from above downward is of a nature caused by financial or educational supremacy only and would remain the same under republican rule. The Swedes are proud of their history and the long and unbroken chain of their political and social development. Their neighbors accuse them of having traces of the chauvinism of bygone days, but not altogether with justice. The national anthem of Sweden can be quoted in their justification. It speaks, in one instance, of the country as en-throned on memories of a glorious past when its name filled the world; but that name is the North, to whose grandeur and loveliness of nature the whole song is a panegyric. The name of Sweden is not even mentioned, a fact which does not point to a narrow or antiquated form of patriotism. There is in the nature of the Swedes a tendency to delight in the display of dignified luxury, which was known to Tacitus. The Swedes love to see the crown of one of the oldest states of Europe carried with dignity as an emblem of their ancient independence. The Swedish king has in reality less power than the President of the United States, but the Swedes have an inherited faculty of confidence and loyalty of which their king receives his full share. The Swedes become excellent citizens of a republic for that very reason : reverence for, and loyalty to, the institutions and historiai development of the country in which they dwell. Among the Scandinavian nationalities, the Swede has been characterized as the noble-man or aristocrat, on account of his love of luxury and the joys of life, his dignity, diplomatic talent and lyrico-rhetoric temperament. It is true that his dignity seldom forsakes the Swede; when it does, something of the soldier of the Thirty Years’ War comes to the surface. To her diplomatic talent, more than to her glorious victories, Sweden owes her superiority in size, prosperity and political importance, as compared to her Scandinavian neighbors.
The fundamental laws of the kingdom of Sweden are : 1. The constitution of June 6, 1809; 2. The amended regulations for the formation of the Riksdag of June 22, 1866; 3. The law of royal succession of September 26, 1810; and on the liberty of the press of July 16, 1812. According to these statutes, the king must be a member of the Lutheran church, and have sworn fealty to the laws of the land. His person is inviolable. He has the right to declare war and make peace after consulting the state council. He nominates to all higher appointments, both military and civil; concludes foreign treaties, and has a right to preside in the supreme court of justice. The princes of the blood royal are excluded from all civil employments. The king possesses legislative power in matters of political administration, but in all other respects that power is exercised by the Riksdag, in concert with the sovereign, and every new law must have the assent of the crown. The right of imposing taxes is vested in the Riksdag. The executive power is in the hands of the king, who acts under the advice of a cabinet or state council, the head of which is the minister of state. It consists of ten members, seven of whom are ministerial heads of departments and three without departments. All the members of the cabinet are responsible for the acts of the government.
Eric Gustavus Bostrm is minister of state, holding office since 1891, after the protectionists had got into power and the compromise cabinets which followed were a thing of the past. The other ministers without departments, Baron A. L. E. Akerhielm and S. H. Wikblad, have remained in office since the days of compromise cabinets. The other members who have been in office from five to eight years are as follows: Count L. V. A. Douglas, minister of foreign affairs; P, S. L. Annerstedt, minister of justice; Baron A. E. Rappe, minister of war; J. C. E. Christerson, minister of marine; J. E. von Krusenstierna, minister of interior; Count H. Hansson Wachtmeister, minister of finance; G. F. Gilliam, minister of education and ecclesiastical affairs.
King Oscar II., in the jubilee year of 1897, which marked the completion of a quarter of a century of his reign, received innumerable proofs of the love of the two nations under his rule and of the high esteem in which he is held by the governments and citizens of foreign countries. The occasion was celebrated by a large and highly successful Scandinavian exposition at Stockholm in the summer, Russia, with Finland, also taking part, and by a series of festivities about September 21st, the date of his succession to the throne. King Oscar has always given sympathetic attention to the United States, especially to their citizens of Swedish birth. Several deputations from America called upon the king in the jubilee year. Among these was a male chorus of fifty-four members, belonging to the American Union of Swedish singers. The singers were invited to the royal castle and received and feasted by the aged monarch with cordial simplicity, in all royal splendor, with-out any of its pomp or ceremony. To the hearty songs of his unpretentious guests, King Oscar responded with one of the eloquent speeches for which he is so justly famous, assuring them that, although citizens of another land, they were still followed by the loving interest of their mother country and her monarch. When the singers intoned one of the songs by Prince Gustavus, the king joined them with his sonorous tenor voice, smilingly calling their attention to the fact that he had not forgotten his students’ songs. The anniversary of the seventieth birthday of Oscar II. was celebrated January 21, 1899, a slight gloom being cast over it on account of the temporary illness of the king. Oscar II. fully recovered after a few months of rest and recreation and bears every indication of attaining the same advanced age, with the same unimpaired activity, as his grandfather, which would mean another decade added to the era of undisturbed peace. Crown Prince Gustavus Adolphus, who is yet little known in Norway, enjoys great popularity in Sweden, where his harmonious, sagacious nature and resolute energy are highly respected.
The reign of Oscar II. in Sweden has been marked by reactionary movements in Church and State, but the king has been in such close contact with his people that they have recognized in him a sovereign who stands above the parties. The king has used the conservative elements of his country to strengthen her defences and to maintain the Union with Norway, which have been the great goals of his policy of peace. To sum up King Oscar’s standpoint in the Norwegian question, he is willing to grant Norway home rule in its fullest extent, but refuses to grant her separate control of foreign affairs, which he considers incompatible with the idea of the Union. In this standpoint King Oscar is backed by the convictions of the overwhelming majority of Swedes, who see in the dissolution of the Union a danger to Sweden, Norway, or both countries, of sharing the fate of unhappy Finland, which the civilized world is now deeply deploring. The danger which menaces the sons of Suomi has touched all Scandinavians to the quick, and it would seem that the new century shall witness a restoration of the Scandinavian policy. If the movement to bring this about meets with success, it is to be hoped that, from the start, it shall have rather the actual wants than the ideal rights of the independent Scandinavian states in view. From the point of view of citizens of the United States we cannot but sympathize with a movement which may establish a union of independent states into a realm of imperial government, less an emperor. Let there rather be two or three kings in the North, with one solid union government and a common and equal defence in case of war, than two or three foreign ministers with as many different policies and a divided and unequal defence.