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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/128

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he ascribed to it certain pains in his back from which he suffered.

He participated eagerly in physical sports, was expert in Swedish gymnastics, was one of the best shots, the best leaper, and the champion wrestler in his regiment, and was famed as an athlete, skater, and swimmer. Mr. E. H. Stoughton, formerly minister to Russia, is said to have surprised him once at sixty years of age standing on his head, to prove that he had not lost his agility. He was a man of unbounded benevolence, and never refused the petitions of those who came to him in need.

While his literary works were not numerous, Captain Ericsson was a writer of force and ability, with imaginative faculties that might have been developed under cultivation. In his youth, and while engaged in his surveying work, he sometimes, he says, “wrote poetry to the wonderful and enchanting midnight light of Norrland. Connoisseurs often doubted that it came from the second lieutenant and surveyor among the mountains.” His communications to the periodical press on the subjects in which he was interested were clear and vigorous, and always acceptable.

He was a man of intense patriotism, which he manifested equally toward his native land, although he never returned to it, and the United States, the country of his adoption. In his studies and inventions he had always in view the protection of Sweden against the aggressive stronger powers; and he gave the fruits of them ungrudgingly to the United States—not always insisting upon his reward as persistently as he had a right to do, and too often not receiving it, or receiving it at the expense of delay and trouble not creditable to our Government. His gifts to Sweden, after he became prosperous, were numerous and bountiful, and included contributions for the relief of sufferers from famine and from a fire at Carlstad, and for a benevolent fund for the aged miners and miners' widows of his native province; a subscription to the Royal Library of Stockholm; the guns for the first Swedish monitor; and a gunboat for coast defense. In 1867 the miners of his native region erected in front of the house in which he was born, at their own expense, a large granite monument, bearing the inscription, in Swedish, “John Ericsson was born here in 1803.”

We are very largely indebted for the detail of the facts concerning Captain Ericsson's inventions to the excellent biographical articles concerning him by Mr. William C. Church, which were published in Scribner's Magazine in 1890.