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centrely the Island of sequence of this there the
as well as at a later period, mostly directed towards the east. Swedish Vikings, or pirates, harried and established themselves upon the coasts of Finland and of the countries now belonging to Russia ; and a tribe of them, the Varæger, even made themselves there the reigning people. Partly in consequence of this, Sweden—and particularly the Island of Gothland, or Gulland-became the centre of the active trade which in ancient times (that is, from the eigthth to the twelfth century,) was carried on, through Russia, between Scandinavia and the countries around the Black and Caspian Seas, as well as Arabia.
The Swedes, however, do not appear very prominently either in ancient times or in the early part of the middle ages. They were prevented from playing any considerable part in the distant lands towards the West by the sanguinary intestine disputes which took place between them and the Goths; and it was not till the fifteenth century, and after these disputes were adjusted, that they could appear upon the theatre of the world as a nation. The Swedish Charleses and Gustavuses, by means of the sword, subsequently caused the Swedish name to be feared and honoured; not, however, at sea, but on land, on the plains of Russia, Poland, and Germany. Gustavus Adolphus, in the Thirty Years' War, after the disaster of the DanishNorwegian king Christian IV., powerfully contributed to uphold Lutheranism, and by that means to establish liberty of conscience for Germany and the rest of Europe.
It was, then, principally at sea that the Danes and Norwegians formerly won a name in the history of the world, whilst the Swedes obtained theirs on land. Indeed, the peculiar nature and situation of the different Scandinavian countries must have necessarily caused the strength and courage which were the common attributes of the Scandinavian race, to be exerted from the first in different directions. Sweden, which towards the west is separated from Denmark only by the Sound and Cattegat, is in like manner towards the east separated from the vast plains
of northern Europe by a confined and narrow sea. When, therefore, the thirst of glory and conquest urged the Swedish warriors from their homes, it was only necessary for them to cross over to the opposite shores, or at most to sail along the coasts of the Baltic. In Sweden, forests, valleys, and rivers, are the most prominent natural features, whilst the sea is but a subordinate one. It is scarcely to be expected that such a country should produce good seamen. But in Denmark and Norway the case is altogether different.
Denmark is surrounded on all sides by the sea, which has indented the land with numberless bays and firths, and cut it up into small portions. Nor is it washed only by a confined sea like the Baltic, but also by the more open German Ocean. From the earliest times, therefore, necessity obliged the Dane to put to sea in order to keep up his connections with his friends on the surrounding coasts and islands. Subsequently—when commerce, and more especially when military honour, required it—he was compelled to learn how to navigate the open sea, to struggle with the foaming waves and rapid currents, and to defy the surf-which is still the constant terror of seamen-on the coasts of north and west Jutland.
Thus the Dane early became a bold and daring Viking, and the Norwegian distinguished himself in the same manner. Norway turns. her broad and rocky bosom towards the ocean. Her wild and broken coasts, split into deep fiords, or gulfs, bear witness to the neverceasing and violent attacks of the Atlantic. Towards the east, Norway is separated from Sweden by rocks, forests, and large desert plains. The interior of thc country is partly filled with mountains and immense forests, which anciently were still more extensive. The valleys alone, along the banks of rivers, are productive, and capable of cultivation. The greater part of the inhabitants settled therefore originally on the fiords, or in the neighbourhood of the sea, where the pasture land was neither so overgrown with wood, nor so sequestered as in the interior, and where also the sea air rendered the climate considerably milder. The weather, however, was variable enough, and the products of the earth being, partly on that account, but scanty, fishing and the chase became important sources of maintenance for the continually-increasing population. The forests supplied them with abundance of timber, the soil was rich in iron; nor were the people wanting in a daring and enterprising spirit. Ships were soon built, capable not only of navigating the fiords, but of venturing beyond their mouths. The first voyages were coasting ones, but subsequently they were extended from the southern part of Norway to the Danish and Swedish shores.
The Norwegian, who had now become skilled in navigating his ship through the mountain waves of the Atlantic and the far more dangerous surfs on the rocks of Norway, no longer dreaded the open sea. When the population had increased to such an extent that the Norwegian rocks could barely afford it a sufficient maintenance; when the reports concerning the rich lands beyond the sea, and their defenceless condition, promised at once renown and booty; and when, lastly, Harald Haarfager's conquests threatened the Norwegians with the loss of their freedom
—then thousands of vessels shot out from the fiords of Norway, and steered dauntlessly for the neighbouring western islands. A northern life, and the severe winter's cold, had not only braced the body of the Viking to endure all kinds of hardships, and given him strength to wield the sword with effect; it had also steeled his courage, and taught him fearlessly to face all manner of danger. The clear starry firmament of the North enabled him to observe the course and relative situation of the stars, which were then the only compass by which he steered his ship towards foreign and unknown shores.
Norway must naturally be better calculated to form hardy persevering sailors than Denmark. With the exception of
inhabit their shores. The Mediterranean, surrounded by rich and fruitful, but enervating, countries, has not shown itself capable of producing such seamen as the Baltic, where the climate is more severe, and the gifts of Nature incomparably more sparing. Spain and Portugal, it is true, have a great extent of coast towards the Atlantic, which may almost be compared with the west coast of Norway. But both those countries possess a fruitful soil and a glorious southern climate. Their inhabitants were not, like the Northmen of old, forced to visit foreign shores in order to procure subsistence, and to struggle continually with a raw and severe climate. They preferred to stay at home and enjoy the blessings of their own country; and thus the calm energy and the proud self-reliance which are engendered by a ceaseless struggle with an ungrateful soil and climate, and which are indispensable to a hardy seaman, were not developed in them as in the Norwegians and other inhabitants of the North. This may have been one of the causes why the Spaniards and Portuguese were unable to retain, in later times, their mastery over the new world. They were displaced by the English, a northern seafaring people, who were more at home on the sea.
It was the same quiet energy which, even amid the excitement of passion, so strongly distinguished the northern from the southern races. The inhabitant of the South was more governed, as he now is, by his passions. A torrent of words, an animated play of the features, or even perhaps a violent assault, betrayed the fire that raged within him. The northern man, on the contrary, was of few words. His anger was under the dominion of his cooler reason, and he was capable of concealing the emotions of his soul. But he had a good memory. Years would pass before he revenged himself; and he felt a sort of pleasure in making his preparations, and waiting for the proper opportunity. The revenge of blood, therefore, took place in the cold North, as well as in the fiery South ; but