Professor G. L. Kittredge spoke informally at the meeting of the Christian Association last evening, on the Heathen Scandinavian's Idea of a Man. He referred to the Scandinavian of the year 1000, about the date that Iceland was converted to Christianity. We are very apt to think of the man of that time as entirely different from the man of today; on careful study, however, we find the similarity of his nature to our own is really remarkable.
The relation of the heathen Scandinavian to his God was a sort of a commercial one; when he wanted something he sacrificed to his God and only then. This sort of belief became unsatisfactory to the people shortly before the dawn of Christianity, and a sort of atheism set in.
The Scandinavian did not conduct himself toward his state as an American does. He did for it only what he was forced to do. He exalted very high his duty to himself. His hand was always against his neighbor if it would be to his advantage. It is not strange that such a narrow way of looking at the world should produce an exaggerated self respect. With this went a great regard for personal strength and courage. If for any reason their qualities failed he had a regard for intellectual strength. He admired trickiness and cleverness reaching almost to dishonesty; in fact the clever lawyer was the man who had a great resource of tricky devices.
Contrary to common opinion, the Scandinavian was not especially bloodthirsty. It is true that he did rate human life low. His devotion to duty was strong and if he thought it his duty to kill several people he never hesitated to do it, although he had no admiration for wanton cruelty.