CHARLES OF SWEDEN, THE BOY CONQUEROR
(Known as King Charles the Twelfth of Sweden)
 IN an old, old palace on the rocky height of the Slottsbacke, or Palace Hill, in the northern quarter of the
beautiful city of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, there lived, just two hundred years ago, a bright young
prince. His father was a stern and daring warrior-king—a man who had been a fighter from his earliest
boyhood; who at fourteen had been present in four pitched battles with the Danes; and who, while yet scarce
twelve years old, had charged the Danish line at the head of his guards and shot down the stout Danish
colonel, who could not resist the spry young warrior; his mother was a sweet-faced Danish princess, a loving
and gentle lady, who scarce ever heard a kind word from her stern-faced husband, and
 whose whole life was bound up in her precious little prince.
And this little Carolus, Karl, or Charles, dearly loved his tender mother. From her he learned lessons of
truth and nobleness that even through all his stormy and wandering life never forsook him. Often while he had
swung gently to and fro in his quaint, carved, and uncomfortable-looking cradle, had she crooned above him the
old saga-songs that told of valor and dauntless courage and all the
 stern virtues that made up the heroes of those same old saga-songs. Many a time she had trotted the little
fellow on her knee to the music of the ancient nursery rhyme that has a place in all lands and languages, from
the steppes of Siberia to the homes of New York and San Francisco:
"Ride along, ride a cock-horse,
His mane is dapple-gray;
Ride along, ride a cock-horse,
Little boy, ride away.
Where shall the little boy ride to?
To the king's court to woo"—
and so forth, and so forth, and so forth—in different phrases but with the same idea, as many and many a
girl and boy can remember. And she had told him over and over again the saga-stories and fairy tales that
every Scandinavian boy and girl, from prince to peasant, knows so well—of Frithiof and Ingeborg, and the
good King Rene; and about the Stone Giant and his wife Guru; and how the Bishop's cattle were turned into
mice; and about the dwarfs, and trolls, and nixies, and beautiful mermaids and stromkarls. And she told him
also many a story of brave and daring deeds, of noble and knightly lives, and how his ancestors, from the
great Gustavus, and, before, from the still greater Gustavus Vasa, had been kings of Sweden, and had made the
name of that northern land a power in all the courts of Europe.
Little Prince Charles was as brave as he was gentle and jolly, and as hardy as he was brave. At five years old
he killed his first fox; at seven he could manage his horse
 like a young centaur; and at twelve he had his first successful bear hunt. He was as obstinate as he was
hardy; he steadily refused to learn Latin or French—the languages of the court—until he heard that
the kings of Denmark and Poland understood them, and then he speedily mastered them.
His lady-mother's death, when he was scarce twelve years old, was a great sadness, and nearly caused his own
death, but, recovering his health, he accompanied his father on hunting parties and military expeditions, and
daily grew stronger and hardier than ever.
In April, 1697, when the Prince was not yet fifteen, King Charles the Eleventh, his stern-faced father,
suddenly died, and the boy king succeeded to the throne as absolute lord of "Sweden and Finland, of Livonia,
Carelia, Ingria, Wismar, Wibourg, the islands of Rugen and Oesel, of Pomerania, and the duchies of Bremen and
Verdun,"—one of the finest possessions to which a young king ever succeeded, and representing what is
now Sweden, Western Russia, and a large part of Northern Germany.
A certain amount of restraint is best for us all. As the just restraints of the law are best for men and
women, so the proper restraints of home are best for boys and girls. A lad from whom all restraining
influences are suddenly withdrawn—who can have his own way unmolested,—stands in the greatest
danger of wrecking his life, The temptations of power have been the cause of very much of the world's sadness
and misery. And this
 temptation came to this boy king of Sweden, called in his fifteenth year to supreme sway over a large realm of
loyal subjects. Freed from the severity of his stern father's discipline, he found himself responsible to no
one—absolutely his own master. And he did what too many of us, I fear, would have done, in his
position—he determined to have a jolly good time, come what might; and he had it—in his way.
He and his brother-in-law, the wild young Duke of Holstein, turned the town upside down. They snapped cherry
pits at the king's gray-bearded councillors, and smashed in the windows of the staid and scandalized burghers
of Stockholm. They played ball with the table dishes, and broke all the benches in the palace chapel. They
coursed hares through the council-chambers of the Parliament House, and ran furious races until they had
ruined several fine horses. They beheaded sheep in the palace till the floors ran with blood, and then pelted
the passers-by with sheep's heads. They spent the money in the royal treasury like water, and played so many
heedless and ruthless boy-tricks that the period of these months of folly was known, long after, as the
"Gottorp Fury," because the harum-scarum young brother-in-law, who was the ringleader in all these scrapes,
was Duke of Holstein-Gottorp.
But at last, even the people—serfs of this boy autocrat though they were—began to murmur, and when
one Sunday morning three clergymen preached from the text:
CHARLES THE TWELFTH, THE BOY-KING OF SWEDEN.
"FROM THIS TIME FORWARD
THAT SHALL BE MY MUSIC," HE SAID.
 "Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child," the young sovereign remembered the counsels of his good
mother and recalled the glories of his ancestors, saw how foolish and dangerous was all this reckless sport,
turned over a new leaf, became thoughtful and care-taking, and began his career of conquest with the best
victory of all—the conquest of himself!
But though he curbed his tendency to profitless and hurtful "skylarking," he had far too much of the Berserker
blood of his ancestors—those rough old vikings who "despised mail and helmet and went into battle
unharnessed"—to become altogether gentle in manners or occupation. He hated his fair skin, and sought in
every way to tan and roughen it, and to harden himself by exposure and neglect of personal comfort. Many a
night was passed by the boy on the bare floor, and for three nights in the cold Swedish December he slept in
the hay-loft of the palace stables, without undressing and with but a scanty covering.
So he grew to be a lad of seventeen, sturdy, strong, and hardy, and at the date of our story, in the year
1699, the greater part of his time was given up to military exercises and field sports, with but little
attention to debates in council or to the cares of state.
Among his chief enjoyments were the sham fights on land and water. Many a hard-fought battle was waged between
the boys and young men who made up his guards and crews, and who would be divided into two
 or more opposing parties, as the plan of battle required. This was rough and dangerous sport, and was attended
often with really serious results. But the participants were stout and sturdy Northern lads, used to hardships
and trained to physical endurance. They thought no more of these encounters than do the boys of to-day of the
crush of football and the hard hitting of the base-ball field, and blows were given and taken with equal good
nature and unconcern.
One raw day in the early fall of 1699, sturdy young Arvid Horn, a stout, blue-eyed Stockholm boy, stripped to
the waist, and with a gleam of fun in his eyes, stood upright in his little boat as it bobbed on the crest of
the choppy Maelar waves. He hailed the king's yacht.
"Holo; in the boat there! Stand for your lives!" he shouted, and leveled his long squirt-gun full at the
Swish! came the well-directed stream of water plump against the helmsman's face. Again and again it flew,
until dripping and sore he dropped the tiller and dashed down the companion-way calling loudly for help.
Help came speedily, and as the crew of the king's yacht manned the rail and leveled at their single assailant
the squirt-guns, which were the principal weapons of warfare used in these "make-believe" naval engagements,
the fun grew fast and furious; but none had so sure an aim or so strong an arm to send an unerring and
staggering stream as young Arvid Horn. One by one
 he drove them back, while as his boat drifted still nearer the yacht he made ready to spring to the
fore-chains and board his prize. But even before he could steady himself for the jump, another tall and
fair-haired Stockholm lad, darting out from the high cabin, rallied the defeated crew and bade them man the
pumps at once.
A clumsy-looking fire-engine stood amidship, and the crew leaped to its pumps as directed, while the
new-corner, catching up a line of hose, sprang to the rail and sent a powerful stream of water straight
against the solitary rover.
"Repel boarders!" he cried, laughingly, and the sudden stream from the fire-engine's nozzle sent young Arvid
Horn staggering back into his boat.
But he rallied quickly, and with well-charged squirt-gun attacked the new defender of the yacht. The big
nozzle, however, was more than a match for the lesser squirt-gun, and the small boat speedily began to fill
under the constant deluge of water from the engine.
"Yield thee, yield thee, Arvid Horn; yield thee to our unconquerable nozzle," came the summons from the yacht;
"yield thee, or I will drown you out like a rat in a cheese-press!"
"Arvid Horn yields to no one," the plucky boy in the boat made answer, and with a parting shot and a laughing
"Farväl" he leaped from the sinking boat into the dancing Maelar water. Striking boldly out he
swam twice round the boat in sheer bravado, defying the enemy; now duck-
 ing to escape the pursuing stream, or now, while floating on his back, sending a return shot with telling
force against the men at the pump—for he still clung to his trusty squirt-gun.
The fair-faced lad in the yacht looked at the swimmer in evident admiration.
"Is it, then, hard to swim, Arvid Horn?" he inquired.
"Not if one is fearless," called back the floating boy.
"How; fearless?" exclaimed the lad on the yacht, hastily. "Do you perhaps think that I am afraid?"
"I said not so," replied young Arvid, coolly sending a full charge from his squirt-gun straight up in air.
"No; but you mean it—good faith, you mean it then," said the lad, and flinging off wig, cocked hat, and
long coat only, without an instant's hesitation, he, too, leaped into the Maelar lake.
There is nothing so cooling to courage or reckless enthusiasm as cold water—if one cannot swim. The boy
plunged and floundered, and, weighty with his boots and his clothing, soon sank from sight. As he came
spluttering to the surface again, "Help, help, Arvid," he called despairingly; "I am drowning!"
Arvid, who had swum away from his friend, thinking that he would follow after, heard the cry and caught a
still louder one from the yacht: "The king, the king is sinking!"
A few strokes brought him near to the over-confident diver, and clutching him by his shirt collar, he kept the
 lad's head above water until, after a long and laborious swim, he brought his kingly burden safe to
land—for the fair-haired and reckless young knight of the nozzle was none other than His Gracious
Majesty, Charles the Twelfth
"Truly it is one thing to be brave and another to be skilful," said the king, as he stood soaked and dripping
on the shore. "But for you, friend Arvid, I had almost gone."
"You are very wet, sire, and may take cold," said Arvid, "let us hasten at once to yonder house for warmth and
"Not so, Arvid; I do not fear the water—on land," said the king. "I am no such milksop as to need to dry
off before a kitchen fire. See, this is the better way; "and catching up a stout hazel-stick, he bade Arvid
stand on his guard. Nothing loth, Arvid Horn accepted the kingly challenge, and picking up a similar
hazel-stick, he rapped King Charles' weapon smartly, and the two boys went at each other "hammer and tongs" in
a lively bout at "single-stick."
They were soon thoroughly warmed up by this vigorous exercise, and forgot their recent bath and the king's
danger. It was a drawn battle, however, and, as they paused for breath, King Charles said: "Trust that to
drive away cold and ague, Arvid. Faith, 'tis a rare good sport.
"Could it be done on horseback, think you?" queried Arvid, always on the look-out for sensation.
 "And why not? 'Tis well thought," said the king. "Let us straight to the palace yard and try it for
But ere they reached the palace the idea had developed into still greater proportions.
The king's guards were summoned, and divided into two parties. Their horses were unsaddled, and, riding
"bareback" and armed with nothing but hazel-sticks, the two forces were pitted against each other in a great
cavalry duel of "single-stick."
King Charles commanded one side, and young Arvid Horn the other. At it they went, now one side and now the
other having the advantage, the two leaders fighting with especial vigor.
Arvid pressed the king closely, and both lads were full of the excitement of the fray when Charles, careless
of his aim and with his customary recklessness, brought his hazel-stick with a terrible thwack upon poor
Arvid's face. Now, Arvid Horn had a boil on his cheek, and if any of my boy readers know what a tender piece
of property a boil is, they will know that King Charles' hazel-stick was not a welcome poultice.
With a cry of pain Arvid fell fainting from his horse, and the cavalry battle at "single-stick" came to a
sudden stop. But the heat and the pain brought on so fierce a fever that the lad was soon as near to death's
door as his friend King Charles had been in the sea fight of the squirt-guns.
 The king was deeply concerned during young Arvid's illness, and when the lad at last recovered, he made him a
present of two thousand thalers, laughingly promising to repeat the prescription whenever Arvid was again
wounded at "single-stick." He was greatly pleased to have his friend with him once more, and, when Arvid was
strong enough to join in his vigorous sports again, one of the first things he proposed was a great bear-hunt
up among the snow-filled forests that skirted the Maelar Lake.
A day's ride from Stockholm, the hunting-lodge of the kings of Sweden lay upon the heavily drifted hill-slopes
just beyond the lake shore, and through the forests and marshes two hundred years ago the big brown bear of
Northern Europe, the noble elk, the now almost extinct auroch, or bison, and the great gray wolf roamed in
fierce and savage strength, affording exciting and dangerous sport for daring hunters.
And among these hunters none excelled young Charles of Sweden. Reckless in the face of danger, and brave as he
was reckless, he was ever on the alert for any novelty in the manner of hunting that should make the sport
even more dangerous and exciting. So young Arvid Horn was not surprised when the king said to him:
"I have a new way for hunting the bear, Arvid, and a rarely good one too."
"Of that I'll be bound, sire," young Arvid responded; "but—how may it be?"
"You shall know anon," King Charles replied; "but
 this much will I say: I do hold it but a coward's part to fight the poor brute with fire-arms. Give the fellow
a chance for his life, say I, and a fair fight in open field—and then let the best man win."
Here was a new idea. Not hunt the bear with musket, carbine, or wheel-lock? What then—did King Charles
reckon to have a wrestling bout or a turn at "single-stick" with the Jarl Bruin? So wondered
Arvid Horn, but he said nothing, waiting the king's own pleasure, as became a shrewd young courtier.
And soon enough he learned the boy-hunter's new manner of bear-hunting, when, on the very day of their arrival
at the Maelar lodge, they tracked a big brown bear beneath the great pines and spruces of the almost
bound-less forest, armed only with strong wooden pitchforks. Arvid was not at all anxious for this fighting at
close quarters, but when he saw King Charles boldly advance upon the growling bear, when he saw the great
brute rise on his hind legs and threaten to hug Sweden's monarch to death, he would have sprung forward to aid
his king. But a huntsman near at hand held him back.
"Wait," said the man; "let the 'little father' play his part."
And even as he spoke Arvid saw the king walk deliberately up to the towering bear, and, with a quick thrust of
his long-handled fork, catch the brute's neck between the pointed wooden prongs, and with a mighty shove,
force the bear backward in the snow.
 Then, answering his cry of "Holo, all!" the huntsmen sprang to his side, flung a stout net over the struggling
bear, and held it thus, a floundering prisoner, while the intrepid king coolly cut its throat with his sharp
Arvid learned to do this too in time, but it required some extra courage even for his steady young head and
One day when each of the lads had thus transfixed and killed his bear, and as, in high spirits, they were
returning to the hunting-lodge, a courserman dashed hurriedly across their path, recognized the king, and
reining in his horse, dismounted hastily, saluted, and handed the king a packet.
"From the council, sire," he said.
Up to this day the young king had taken but little interest in the affairs of state, save as he directed the
review or drill, leaving the matters of treaty and of state policy to his trusted councillors. He received
the courserman's despatch with evident unconcern, and read it carelessly. But his face changed as he read it a
second time; first clouding darkly, and then lighting up with the gleam of a new determination and purpose.
"What says Count Piper?" he exclaimed half aloud; "Holstein laid waste by Denmark, Gottorp Castle taken, and
the Duke a fugitive? And my council dares to temper and negotiate? Ack; so! Arvid Horn, we must
be in Stockholm ere nightfall."
 "But, sire, how can you?" exclaimed Arvid. "The roads are heavy with snow, and no horse could stand the strain
or hope to make the city ere morning."
"No horse!" cried King Charles; "then three shall do it. Hasten; bid Hord the equerry harness the triple team
to the strongest sledge, and be you ready to ride with me in a half hour's time. For we shall be in Stockholm
CARELESS OF THE ROADWAY, STRAIGHT FOR STOCKHOLM THEY HEADED.
And ere the half hour was up they were off. Careless of roadway, straight for Stockholm they headed, the
triple team of plunging Ukraine horses, driven abreast by the old equerry Hord, dashing down the slopes and
across the Maelar ice, narrowly escaping collision, overturn, and death. With many a plunge and many a
ducking, straight on they rode, and ere the Stockholm clocks had struck the hour of six, the city gates were
passed, and the spent and foaming steeds dashed panting into the great yard of the Parliament House.
The council was still in session, and the grave old councillors started to their feet in amazement at this
sudden apparition of the boy king, soiled and bespattered from head to foot, standing there in their midst.
"Gentlemen," he said, with earnestness and determination in his voice, "your despatch tells me of unfriendly
acts on the part of the king of Denmark against our brother and ally of Holstein-Gottorp. I am resolved never
to begin an unjust war, but never to finish an unjust one save with the destruction of mine enemies. My
reso-  lution is fixed. I will march and attack the first one who shall declare war; and when I shall have conquered
him, I hope to strike terror into the rest."
These were ringing and, seemingly, reckless words for a boy of seventeen, and we do not wonder that, as the
record states, "the old councillors, astonished at this declaration, looked at each other without daring to
answer." The speech seemed all the more reckless when they considered, as we may here, the coalition against
which the boy king spoke so confidently.
At that time—in the year 1699—the three neighbors of this young Swedish monarch were three kings
of powerful northern nations—Frederick the Fourth, King of Den-mark, Augustus, called the Strong, King
of Poland and Elector of Saxony, and Peter, afterward known as the Great, Czar of Russia. Tempted by the large
possessions of young King Charles, and thinking to take advantage of his youth, his inexperience, and his
presumed indifference, these three monarchs concocted a fine scheme by which Sweden was to be overrun,
conquered, and divided among the three members of this new copartnership of kings—from each of whom, or
from their predecessors, this boy king's ancestors had wrested many a fair domain and wealthy city.
But these three kings—as has many and many another plotter in history before and since—reckoned
without their host. They did not know the mettle that was in this grandnephew of the great Gustavus.
 Once aroused to action, he was ready to move before even his would-be conquerors, in those slow-going days,
imagined he had thought of resistance. Money and men were raised, the alliance of England and Holland were
secretly obtained, a council of defence was appointed to govern Sweden during the absence of the king, and on
the twenty-third of April, 1700, two months before his eighteenth birthday, King Charles bade his grandmother
and his sisters good-bye and left Stockholm for ever.
Even as he left the news came that another member in this firm of hostile kings, Augustus of Saxony and
Poland, had invaded Sweden's tributary province of Livonia on the Gulf of Finland. Not to be drawn aside from
his first object—the punishment of Denmark—Charles simply said: "We will make King Augustus go
back the way he came," and hurried on to join his army in Southern Sweden.
By the third of August, 1700, King Charles had grown tired of waiting for his reserves and new recruits, and
so, with scarce six thousand men, he sailed away from Malmo—clear down at the most southerly point of
Sweden—across the Sound, and steered for the Danish coast not twenty-five miles away.
Young Arvid Horn, still the king's fast friend, and now one of his aids, following his leader, leaped into the
first of the small barges or row-boats that were to take the troops from the frigates to the Danish shore. His
young general and king, impatient at the slowness of the clumsy
 barges, while yet three hundred yards from shore, stood upright in the stern, drew his sword, and exclaimed:
"I am wearied with this pace. All you who are for Denmark follow me!" And then, sword in hand, he sprang over
into the sea.
Arvid Horn quickly followed his royal friend. The next moment generals and ministers, ambassadors and belaced
officials, with the troops that filled the boats, were wading waist-deep through the shallow water of the
Sound, struggling toward the Danish shore, and fully as enthusiastic as their hasty young leader and king.
The Danish musket-balls fell thick around them as the Danish troops sought from their trenches to repel the
"What strange whizzing noise is this in the air?" asked the young king, now for the first time in action.
"'T is the noise of the musket-balls they fire upon you," was the reply.
"Ack, say you so," said Charles; "good, good; from this time forward that shall be my music."
In the face of this "music" the shore was gained, the trenches were carried by fierce assault, and King
Charles' first battle was won. Two days later, Copenhagen submitted to its young conqueror, and King
Frederick, of Denmark, hastened to the defence of his capital, only to find it in the possession of the enemy,
and to sign a humiliating treaty of peace.
The boy conqueror's first campaign was over, and, as
 his biographer says, he had "at the age of eighteen begun and finished a war in less than six weeks."
Accepting nothing for himself from this conquest, he spared the land from which his dearly-remembered mother
had come, from the horrors of war and pillage which, in those days, were not only allowable but expected.
King Augustus, of Poland, seeing the short work made of his ally, the king of Denmark, by this boy king, whom
they had all regarded with so much contempt, deemed discretion to be the better part of valor and, as the lad
had prophesied, withdrew from Livonia, "going back by the way he came." Then the young conqueror, flushed with
his successes, turned his army against his third and greatest enemy, Czar Peter, of Russia, who, with over
eighty thousand men, was besieging the Swedish town of Narva.
A quaint old German-looking town, situated a few miles from the shores of the Gulf of Finland, in what is now
the Baltic provinces of Russia, and near to the site of the Czar's later capital of St. Petersburg, the
stout-walled town of Narva was the chief defence of Sweden on its eastern borders, and a stonghold which the
Russian monarch especially coveted for his own. Young Arvid Horn's uncle, the Count Horn, was in command of
the Swedish forces in the town, which, with a thousand men, he held for the young king, his master, against
all the host of the Czar Peter.
HIS THIRD AND GREATEST ENEMY, CZAR PETER OF RUSSIA.
The boy who had conquered Denmark in less than six
 weeks, and forced a humiliating peace from Poland, was not the lad to consider for a moment the question of
risk or of outnumbering forces. In the middle of November, when all that cold Northern land is locked in ice
and snow, he flung out the eagle-flag of Sweden to the Baltic blasts, and crossed to the instant relief of
Narva, with an army of barely twenty thousand men. Landing at Pernau with but a portion of his troops, he
pushed straight on, and with scarce eight thousand men, hurried forward to meet the enemy. With a courage as
daring as his valor was headlong he surprised and routed first one and then another advance detachment of the
Russian force, and soon
 twenty-five thousand demoralized and defeated men were retreating before him, into the Russian camp. In less
than two days all the Russian outposts were carried, and on the noon of the 30th of November, 1700, the boy
from Sweden appeared with his eight thousand victory-flushed though wearied troops before the fortified camp
of his enemy, and, without a moment's hesitation, ordered instant battle.
"Sire," said one of his chief officers, the General Stenbock, "do you comprehend the greatness of our danger?
The Muscovites outnumber us ten to one."
"What! then," said the intrepid young king, "do you imagine that with my eight thousand brave Swedes I shall
not be able to march over the bodies of eighty thousand Muscovites?" and then at the signal of two fusees and
the watchword, "With the help of God," he ordered his cannon to open on the Russian trenches, and through a
furious snow-storm charged straight upon the enemy.
Again valor and enthusiasm triumphed. The Russian line broke before the impetuosity of the Swedes, and, as one
chronicler says, "ran about like a herd of cattle"; the bridge across the river broke under the weight of
fugitives, panic followed, and when night fell the great Russian army of eighty thousand men surrendered as
prisoners of war to a boy of eighteen with but eight thousand tired soldiers at his back.
So the boy conqueror entered upon his career of victory.
 Space does not permit to detail his battles and his conquests. How he placed a new king on the throne of
Poland, kept Denmark in submission, held the hosts of Russia at bay, humbled Austria, and made his name, ere
yet he was twenty, at once a wonder and a terror in all the courts of Europe. How, at last, his ambition
getting the better of his discretion, he thought to be a modern Alexander, to make Europe Protestant, subdue
Rome, and carry his conquering eagles into Egypt and Turkey and Persia. How, by unwise measures and fool-hardy
endeavors, he lost all the fruits of his hundred victories and his nine years of conquest in the terrible
defeat by the Russians at Pultowa, which sent him an exile into Turkey, kept him there a prisoner of state for
over five years; and how, finally, when once again at the head of Swedish troops, instead of defending his own
homeland of Sweden, he invaded Norway in the depth of winter, and was killed, when but thirty-six, by a cannon
shot from the enemy's batteries at Frederickshall on the 11th of December, 1718.
Charles the Twelfth of Sweden was one of the most remarkable of the world's Historic Boys. Elevated to a
throne founded on despotic power and victorious memories, at an age when most lads regard themselves as the
especial salt of the earth, he found himself launched at once into a war with three powerful nations, only to
become in turn the conqueror of each. A singularly good boy, so far as the customary temptations of power and
high station are concerned—temperate, simple, and
 virtuous in tastes, dress, and habits,—he was, as one of his biographers has remarked, "the only one
among kings who had lived without a single frailty."
But this valorous boy, who had first bridled his own spirit, and then conquered the Northern world, "reared,"
as has been said, "under a father cold and stern, defectively educated, taught from childhood to value nothing
but military glory," could not withstand the temptation of success. An ambition to be somebody and to do
something is always a laudable one in boy or girl, until it supplants and overgrows the sweet, true, and manly
boy and girl nature, and makes us regardless of the comfort or the welfare of others. A desire to excel the
great conquerors of old, joined to an obstinacy as strong as his courage, caused young Charles of Sweden to
miss the golden opportunity, and instead of seeking to rule his own country wisely, sent him abroad a homeless
wanderer on a career of conquest, as romantic as it was, first, glorious, and at the last disastrous.
In the northern quarter of the beautiful city of Stockholm, surrounded by palaces and gardens, theatres,
statues, and fountains, stands Molin's striking statue of the boy conqueror, Charles the Twelfth of Sweden.
Guarded at the base by captured mortars, the outstretched hand and unsheathed sword seem to tell of conquests
to be won and victories to be achieved. But to the boy and girl of this age of peace and good fellowship, when
wars are averted rather than sought, and wise statesmanship
 looks rather to the healing than to the opening of the world's wounds, one cannot but feel how much grander,
nobler, and more helpful would have been the life of this young "Lion of the North," as his Turkish captors
called him, had it been devoted to deeds of gentleness and charity rather than of blood and sorrow, and how
much more enduring might have been his fame and his memory if he had been the lover and helper of his
uncultivated and civilization-needing people, rather than the valorous, ambitious, headstrong, and obstinate
Boy Conqueror of two centuries ago.
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