Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/90

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

family, though gifted to a certain extent, carried ambition to madness and folly, and being finally deposed, supported himself by writing, together with a small pension. Since Charles XIII., the uncle of Gustavus IV. who succeeded him on the throne, adopted and made successor, Bernadotte, Napoleon's agent, we have now reached the close of our chapter on modern Sweden.

In the study of this country, from Gustavus Vasa to Gustavus III. Adolphus, we find throughout a most perfect confirmation of the theory of mental and moral heredity. We find that in selecting those who were to become the progenitors of the next generation, twice a choice of the best among them all in Charles IX. and Charles X., and the cause of this selection lay in the fact that their very merits brought to them the throne. In the union of Charles the Tenth's great son with the strongest part of Denmark's dynasty, we have still another point where the genius was not allowed to die. We find no more great names, only the petty Holsteins, until Gustavus III. Adolphus reclaims once more the glory of his ancestors, but this we find to be not the ancient genius but a fresh graft, and from the famous Hohenzollerns taken at the height of their intellectual eminence in the time of Frederick the Great.

In all this Swedish history the lives of these men and women can not be explained by environment. If we adopt this view, why did so many among them who must have had most abundant opportunities, fail entirely to exhibit any of these remarkable mental statures? The only serious failing on the moral side was their violent and ungovernable temper. Since there was also mental unbalance in the family, it seems fair to assume that these violent tempers were a manifestation of the neurosis, and not to be ascribed to their high and arbitrary position.

Also, relative to the moral qualities in this family, there does not seem to be any good reason from the standpoint of environment, why there should be such an absence of that dissolute and licentious type so continually found in Spain, France and Russia during these same centuries. But if we look at it from the standpoint of heredity, we can easily see why this is so, since it was neither there to any great extent in the earlier generations, nor was it in those who became the subsequent ancestors of the different male lines considered. It does not seem as if the example set to princes by their parents should be of more effect than general temptations such as come to all who have abundant means at their disposal; and we know too many examples both in royalty and out, where parental influence has sadly failed to inculcate such desirable lessons.