With a slight variation on the famous verse, it can be said that it is from the North today that the example comes to us and an example of high bravery and male
firmness, more glorious in the splendour of humanity than a hundred victories tarnished by fire, stained by blood, splashed with horrors, because this one kneads strong and robust generations, while these ones gloomily reap all that is the eternal flower of nations, the youth of men, the intelligence of the crowds, to throw them pell-mell into the rotting mass grave.
While the peoples of Europe are content to watch the canker of alcoholism gnawing and withering away without feeling the courage to hunt down the murderous scourge as one hunts down an evil beast to the death, the Swede, practical and intelligent, has hemmed it in with the steel mesh of restrictive measures, of skilful prohibitions, forcing it to retreat and limit its ravages.
Had it only been for this social prophylaxis, Sweden would already have merited the praise of all those who think, with the moralist, that if the first duty of a man is to learn to control his passions, the first duty of a nation is to learn to govern itself in wisdom and virtue.
We must not look for anything mawkish or cute, prim or conventional in his exposition.
His temperament is not one of glitz and glamour, and he appears serious and purposeful in the section's deliberately austere and serious arrangement.
The draperies are blue and yellow, elegantly combining the brightness of these two favourite Swedish colours, and from five metres upwards, the pillars are topped by busts of eminent Swedish men, as if it had been intended that, after having been the nation's craftsmen, they should still protect it beyond death and that their effigies should consecrate the success of their work.
Here iron is king. The portico of the Uddeholm Steelworks, saw blades, car springs, proclaims it as soon as you enter and in front of you, sparkling and rigid, the axes of the Société de Huit stand in a panoply to give you the shivers. Axes, cleavers, picks, hoes, all the tools of a carver who is a master of his art.
Behind them, the Sandvicken Company has grouped together incredibly thin steel, gigantic cold-twisted tubes, saw blades of all sizes. And rolled up like a tie, a 24-metre long saw blade curves around the visitor, who is amazed at the flexibility and suppleness of this iron-toothed band that holds the world record.
A pyramid of choppers, coffee grinders and irons belongs to the Husqvarna Company. Here are the electric furnace steels, here are the skimmers of the Separator Company, which is perhaps the busiest in the world, and which shows them to us in order of power, in a line which attests to the fact that this country is concerned with social and agricultural matters, and where pasture, stockbreeding and dairy farming are valuable resources.
Sweden is industrial and agricultural, and she has been able to concentrate in her exhibition and present with skill the most interesting factors of her activity and property; this block of magnetite rolled at the bottom of a landscape reminds us of the possession of a mineral of which she has the exploitation, this calcium carbide which she possesses in abundance and which makes her master of the European market; These editions of luxurious books which easily bear comparison with those of Paris; these stout and pale-ale which do not fear English competition; these Jonkopings and Nuleau matches which, packed in small boxes, circulate even in the smallest village; these milky porcelains of Rorstrand so distinguished: Is this not a demonstration of a national fortune created by the development of the ungrateful domain conquered from the North and by the will of a race which refuses to be confined in the isolation to which nature seems to condemn it, in order to hold its place high in the procession of nations and does not want to be overtaken by any of them in the march towards progress.
The Special Committee, chaired by Mr. Maurice Braconier with his particular competence and authority, triumphed over all the difficulties with remarkable skill and ease.
Almost a century ago, a cadet from Gascony, Bernadotte, verified for himself Voltaire's line:
The first who was king was a happy soldier.
If he was above all a soldier whom destiny marked for the throne of Sweden, he had descendants who were the beloved and respected kings of a territory of 448,000 square kilometres bearing five million men, to whom they devoted such a profound cult that one could not say whether Sweden was not the true homeland of this Bernadotte whom the chance of birth incorporated into the armies of the first Empire.
©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle de Liège 1905