National Geographic : 1930 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE terminated on May 17, 1814, when Nor way promulgated a liberal constitution and broke away from Denmark. The dynastic union with Sweden continued until 1905. Norway, politically progressive, came to regard the bond of common kingship as a clog, refused to live under the same dynastic roof with Sweden, and elected Prince Charles of Denmark King of Nor way under the name of Haakon VII. The Norwegian parliament (the Stor ting) may pass a bill over the King's veto. Without the age-long prestige and tradi tional prerogatives of the British King, the Norwegian monarch is little more than a dignified figurehead. It may be said that the President of the United States governs, but does not reign; the King of Norway reigns, but does not govern; finally, the President of France neither reigns nor governs. The Norwegians share with the Swiss the distinction of being the most democratic people in Eu rope. They are inflexibly independent. When it comes to interference with in dividual rights, they brook no nonsense.* For ages the prosperity of Norway has been connected with the water rather than the land. Since the turn of the century revenues from the land seem to be increas ing disproportionately over those from the water. In reality it is only a reassertion of the power of water over the destinies of the Norwegians. Within the last 15 or 20 years water has played a new and important role in the de velopment of the country. Cascades which tumble from snowy highland to the sea are doing for Norway what Alpine waterfalls are accomplishing for Italy. Both coun tries lack the prime requisite of modern in dustrialism, steam coal, but both are finding a substitute in the energy of falling water. The genius of men is transforming this energy into heat, light, and power, and loading it on slender wires for transport over long distances, where it serves to turn the wheels of industry, glow in a reading * See, also, "Norway and the Norwegians," by Maurice Francis Egan, Litt. D., in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for June, 1924. lamp, or operate a dentist's drill in a de fective tooth. Norway's potential hydro electric resources amount to some fifteen million horsepower for every twenty-four hours, of which about one and three quarter million horsepower have been de veloped. This country of small farmers and dispersed watermen is beginning to evince an inclination toward modern in dustrialism. Such concepts as success and happiness defy exact definition. Success, I suppose, means getting what you want and being satisfied with it after you get it. Success may thus be attained by wanting less as well as by getting more. The Norwe gians are people of simple wants. Luxu ries are less essential to their happiness than one might believe. One man's luxuries are another man's necessities. When mere animal wants are satisfied, tastes arise. Tastes in obedience to the collector's passion for the rare and unattainable spread out fanwise to infin ity. It is not enough for Lucullus to satisfy his hunger, but he must have a ra gout of nightingale tongues to pique his appetite. Trade couriers scour the jungles and wildernesses of the world to satisfy the insatiable wants of fastidious man: sturgeon roe from the Volga River; strange orchids from the upper reaches of the Amazon; rare perfumes from secluded valleys in the Balkan Mountains. Hell is the vision of unfulfilled desire. All these give point to Ruskin's bitter epigram about the goading dissatisfactions of sophisticated people-whatever they have, to get more; wherever they are, to go somewhere else. The Norwegians, hard-bitten, semi-am phibious, turn to the sea to eke out a living which the inhospitable land denies, but are satisfied with that living after they have earned it. They are of the Ulysses breed that ever, with a welcome frolic, takes the thunder and the sunshine; and this fact, aside from their qualities of good citizen ship, is one of the reasons why so many thousands of them have migrated to, set tled, and flourished in the United States.