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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Charles XII.

  • [King of Sweden; called the “Madman of the North;” born at Stockholm, June 27, 1682; succeeded Charles XI., 1697; opposed a league of the Northern powers; took Copenhagen; raised the siege of Narva against Peter the Great; invaded Poland and Saxony; marched upon Moscow, but was defeated at Pultowa, 1709; retreated to Turkey, and on his return through Germany was obliged to surrender Stralsund; killed at the siege of Frederickshall, during an invasion of Norway, Dec. 11, 1718.]
  • No matter: nothing resembles a man more than a king.

  • When a minister’s servant apologized for addressing him familiarly, not knowing he was the king, “but thinking it was only a man.”
  • Charles had several horses killed under him at the battle of Narva in 1700, where he defeated Peter the Great. As he was mounting a fresh one, he exclaimed, “These people seem disposed to give me exercise.” When asked what he thought of Alexander, whose life he was found reading when a child, “That I should like to resemble him,” was the precocious reply. It was suggested that the Macedonian lived but thirty-two years: “It is enough,” maintained Charles, “when one has conquered the world.” The Swede died at thirty-six. The anecdote may have suggested to Pope the conjunction of their names:—
  • “Heroes are much the same, the point’s agreed,
  • From Macedonia’s madman to the Swede.”
  • Essay on Man, IV. 219.