Hans Ludvig Forssell - Encyclopedia




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HANS LUDVIG FORSSELL (1843-1901), Swedish historian and political writer, the son of Adolf Forssell, a distinguished mathematician, was born at Gefle, where his father was professor, on 14th January 1843. At the age of sixteen he became a student in Upsala University, where he distinguished himself, and where, in 1866, having taken the degree of doctor, he was appointed reader in history. At the age of thirty, however, Forssell, who had already shown remarkable business capacity, was called to Stockholm, where he filled one important post after another in the Swedish civil service. In 1875 he was appointed head of the treasury, and in 1880 was transferred to the department of inland revenue, of which he continued to be president until the time of his death. In addition to the responsibilities which these offices devolved upon him, Forssell was constantly called to serve on royal commissions, and his political influence was immense. In spite of all these public duties, which he carried through with the utmost diligence, Forssell also found leisure for an abundant literary activity. Of his historical writings the most important were: The Administrative and Economical History of Sweden after Gustavus I. (1869-1875) and Sweden in 157r (1872). He was also for several years, in company with the poet Wirsen, editor of the Swedish Literary Review. He published two volumes of Studies and Criticisms (1875, 1888). In the year 1881, at the death of the historian Anders Fryxell, Forssell was elected to the vacant seat on the Swedish Academy. The energy of Forssell was so great, and he understood so little the economy of strength, that he unquestionably overtaxed his vital force. His death, however, which occurred with great suddenness on the 2nd of August 1901 while he was staying at San Bernardino in Switzerland, was wholly unexpected. There was little of the typical Swedish urbanity in Forssell's exterior manner, which was somewhat dry and abrupt. Like many able men who have from early life administered responsible public posts, there appeared a certain want of sympathy in his demands upon others. His views were distinct, and held with great firmness; for example, he was a free-trader, and his consistent opposition to what he called "the new system" had a considerable effect on Swedish policy. He was not exactly an attractive man, but he was a capable, upright and efficient public servant. In 1867 he married Miss Zulamith Eneroth, a daughter of the well-known pomologist of Upsala; she survived him, with two sons and two daughters. (E. G.)

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