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An Account of Denmark - Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor 
An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor, Edited and with an Introduction by Justin Champion (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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An Account of Denmark
It was in the Year 1692.
Pauci prudentiâ, honesta ab deterioribus,
utilia ab noxiis discernunt;
plures aliorum eventis docentur.
Tacitus, lib. 4 Ann.1
Vincit amor patriae.
The Third Edition Corrected.
Printed for Timothy Goodwin, at
the Queen’s Head against St. Dunstan’s
Church in Fleetstreet. 1694.
Health and Liberty are without dispute the greatest natural Blessings Mankind is capable of enjoying; I say natural, because the contrary states are purely accidental, and arise from Nature debauched, depraved or enforced. Yet these Blessings are seldom sufficiently valued whilst enjoy’d; like the daily advantages of the Sun and Air, they seem scarce regarded because so common, by those that are in possession of them.
But as an Italian that passes a Winter in Groenland, will soon be convinc’d through his want of the kind Influences of that glorious Planet, how much Misery he endures, in comparison of those who dwell in his Native Country, so he that knows by Experience the trouble of a languishing Sickness, or the loss of his Liberty, will presently begin to have a right esteem of that which formerly he scarce thought worth his notice.
This Experience is either what a Man learns by that which befalls himself, or by making Observations on the condition of other People. The first is the common guide to the generality of Mankind, who are not apt to look beyond themselves, unless with St. Thomas they feel as well as see, they will not believe. Thus in the instance of bodily Health, we find those that have been always accustom’d to it, have scarce any Notion of the Misery of the contrary state, and therefore are careless in shunning those Excesses which might bring Diseases upon them; the sad Examples seen every day of miserable sick Debauchées, being not sufficient to deter others from lewdness. But the second sort of Experience is the Instructress of wise Men: For the Prudent will not fail to benefit themselves by the Accidents that befall others, both in their Health and Liberty, by avoiding the occasions of them: And this is one of the great Advantages of Society, that not only the Assistance, but even the Misfortunes of others, may be of use to us.
Want of Liberty is a Disease in any Society or Body Politick, like want of Health in a particular Person; and as the best way to understand the nature of any Distemper aright, is to consider it in several Patients, since the same Disease may proceed from different causes, so the disorders in Society are best perceived by observing the Nature and Effects of them in our several Neighbours: Wherefore Travel seems as necessary to one who desires to be useful to his Country, as practising upon other Mens Distempers is to make an able Physician. For although a Man may see too frequently the Misery of such as are depriv’d of Health without quitting his own Country, yet (thanks to Providence) he must go out of these Kingdoms who would know experimentally the want of Publick Liberty. He that Travels into a Climate infected with this Disease (and he can find few that are not) does not only see, but in some measure feel the Grievances occasioned by it in the several Inconveniencies of living, in some proportion with the Natives; so as to relish better upon his return (which we suppose depends upon his choice) the freedom and ease of his own home Constitution; and may make good use of this Experience without having paid too dear for it. But a Man cannot transmigrate himself for a while into a distemper’d Body as he may Travel into an Enslaved Country, with equal facility of getting rid of each of them again.
Thus ’tis a great, yet rare advantage to learn rightly how to prize Health without the expense of being Sick, but one may easily and cheaply grow sensible of the true value of Liberty by Travelling into such Countries for a Season as do not enjoy it.
And this can be done by no Nation in the World so commodiously as the English: The affluence of their Fortunes and Easiness in their private Affairs are evidently greater than those of other People of Europe; so that generally speaking, none are in a condition to spend more freely, or may propose to reap greater benefit by Travel, and yet none have practised it less.
In other Countries some Princes and Men of the first quality may have Purses strong enough to bear the expense, but few of the middling sort venture upon it; and those are commonly either Military Men, who have other designs in view than the knowledge of the World; or the Unfortunate, who chuse it as a diversion or a refuge, and who have their Heads too full of their own Miseries, to be at leisure to make their Observations on others. And besides, we often see the like Arbitrary Practices at home (they having been always train’d up in Servitude) do so far vitiate their Reason, as to put them out of a capacity of judging aright; for ’tis not only possible, but very usual, that People may be so season’d to and hardened in Slavery, as not only to have lost the very Taste of Liberty, but even to love the contrary State: as Men over-run with the Spleen take pleasure in their Distemper.
But in England there are very many Gentlemen, whose Estates will afford them either to travel in Person, or to send abroad such of their Sons for four or five Years as have the most solid Judgments, in which time they may acquire such Manners, and make such Observations as shall render them useful to their Country; and thereby advance their private Fortunes, more than what is saved by keeping them at home would amount to.
The Method which has been generally follow’d by us in sending young Gentlemen to Travel can hardly answer any of these ends: on the contrary it has hitherto been so mischievous, that ’tis well travelling has been so little in fashion. We send them abroad Children, and bring them home great Boys, and the returns they make for the Expenses laid out by their Parents, are suitable to their Age. That of the Languages is the very best, but the most common is an affected Foppishness, or a filthy Disease, for which they sometimes exchange their Religion: Besides, the Pageantry, Luxury, and Licentiousness of the more Arbitrary Courts have bribed them into an Opinion of that very Form of Government: Like Idiots, who part with their Bread for a glittering piece of Tinsel, they prefer gilded Slavery to coarse domestick Liberty, and exclaim against their old fashion’d Country-men, who will not reform their Constitution according to the new foreign Mode. But the Travelling recommended here is that of Men, who set out so well stock’d with the Knowledge of their own Country, as to be able to compare it with others, whereby they may both supply it where they find it wanting, and set a true value on it where it excels. With this help such Travellers could not fail of becoming serviceable to the Publick, in contributing daily towards the bettering of our Constitution, though without doubt it be already one of the best in the World.
For it were as fond to imagine we need not go abroad, and learn of others, because we have perhaps better Laws and Customs already than Foreigners, as it were not to Trade abroad, because we dwell in one of the plentifullest Parts of the World. But as our Merchants bring every day from barren Countries many useful things, which our own good one does not produce; so if the same care were taken to supply us with exact Accounts of the Constitutions, Manners, and Condition of other Nations, we might without doubt find out many things for our purpose, which now our mere Ignorance keeps us from being sensible that we want. The Athenians, Spartans, and Romans did not think themselves too wise to follow this Method, they were at great Expense to procure the Laws of other Nations, thereby to improve their own: and we know they throve by it, since few Governments are so ill constituted, as not to have some good Customs. We find admirable Regulations in Denmark, and we read of others among the Savage Americans fit to serve for Models to the most civilized Europeans.
But although the Constitution of our Government were too perfect already to receive any Improvement, yet the best Methods conducing to the peaceable Conservation of its present Form, are well worth every Englishman’s enquiry; neither are these so easily to be found in this Age, which were judged so difficult, (if not altogether impracticable) by the greatest of Politicians in his time.3 ’Tis true, the Wisdom of our Ancestors, or their good Fortune, has hitherto made these our Kingdoms an Exception to his general Maxim; yet we all know how many grievous Tempests (which as often threatened Shipwrack) this Vessel of our Commonwealth has undergone. The perpetual Contests between the Kings and the People (whilst those endeavour’d to acquire a greater Power than was legally due, and these to preserve or recover their just Liberties) have been the contending Billows that have kept it afloat; so that all we pretended to by the late Revolution (bought with so great Expense, yet not too dearly paid for) was to be as we were, and that every one should have his own again; the effecting of which may be called a piece of good Luck, and that’s the best can be said of it. But must frequent Blood-lettings be indispensibly necessary to preserve our Constitution? Is it not possible for us to render vain and untrue that Sarcasm of Foreigners, who object to us that our English Kings have either too little Power, or too much, and that therefore we must expect no settled or lasting Peace? Shall we for ever retain the ill Character they give us of the most mutable and inconstant Nation of the World? Which however we do not deserve, no more than England does that of Regnum Diabolorum,4 so common in unconsidering Foreigners Mouths? Methinks a Method to preserve our Commonwealth in its legal State of Freedom, without the necessity of a Civil War once or twice every Age, were a benefit worth searching for, though we went to the furthest Corners of the World in quest of it.
Besides the Knowledge of the present State of our Neighbour Nations (which is best acquired by Travel) is more incumbent on the Gentlemen of England than any others; since they make so considerable a part of our Government in Parliament, where foreign Business comes frequently under Consideration, and at present more than ever.
’Tis none of the smallest Advantages which his Majesty has procured us by his accession to the Crown, that we make a greater Figure in the World than formerly; we have more foreign Alliances, are become the Head of more than a Protestant League, and have a right to intermeddle in the Affairs of Europe, beyond what we ever pretended to in any of the preceding Reigns: For ’tis a true, though but a Melancholy Reflexion, that our late Kings half undid us, and bred us up as narrow spirited as they could, made us consider our selves as proscribed from the World; in every sense toto divisos orbe Britannos.5 And indeed they had withdrawn us from the World so long till the World had almost overlooked us; we seldom were permitted to cast an Eye farther than France or Holland, and then too we were carefully watched: But at present Matters are otherwise; we have a Prince that has raised us to our natural Station, the Eyes of most parts of the World are now upon us, and take their Measures from our Councels: We find every day occasion to inform our selves of the Strength and Interests of the several Princes of Europe. And perhaps one great reason why we live up no better to the mighty Post we are advanced to, nor maintain our Character in it with great Reputation, is because our Education has been below it, and we have been too much lock’d up at home, when we should have been acquainting our selves with the Affairs of the World abroad.
We have lately bought the Experience of this Truth too dear, not to be now sensible of it. ’Tis not very long ago since nothing was more generally believed (even by Men of the best sense) than that the Power of England was so unquestionably establish’d at Sea, that no Force could possibly shake it, that the English Valour and Manner of Fighting was so far beyond all others, that nothing was more desirable than a French War. Should any one have been so regardless of his Reputation, as at that time to have represented the French an overmatch for the united Forces of England and Holland; or have said that we should live to see our selves insulted on our own Coasts, and our Trade indanger’d by them, that we should be in Apprehensions every Year of an Invasion and a French Conquest; such a venturesome Man must have expected to have pass’d for a very Traveller, or at best for an ill-natur’d or unthinking Person, who little consider’d what the irresistible Force of an English Arm was; But our late Experience has reclaim’d us from these Mistakes; our Fathers and Grandfathers told us indeed these things when they were true, when our Yeomanry and Commonalty were every day exercised in drawing the Longbow and handling the Brown-bill, with other Weapons then in use, wherein we excell’d all the World; but we have liv’d upon the Credit of those Times too long, and superciliously neglected our formidable Neighbour and Enemy, whilst he was improving his Strength, and we through the Encouragement, and by design of our late Rulers were enervating our own.
The Ecclesiasticks of most Religions, who are allow’d to understand and prosecute their own Interests best of any People, though they be generally Persons whose Function obliges them to a sedentary and studious Course of Life, have not omitted to draw such Advantages from Travel as conduce to their Honour and Profit. These Men, whose conversing with Books makes them know more than others, have yet found their Account in sending some of the most judicious of their Members and Fraternities to fetch home Knowledge and Experience from the remotest parts of the World. The College De propaganda fide was establish’d under pretence indeed of serving Religion, but we know the Founders of it are no farther slaves to Religion than ’twill be serviceable to them, neither was it so much through zeal for Conversions, as to increase their Revenues, and learn Foreign Policies in Church and State Affairs. The Jesuits have brought several Maxims, as well as Sums, from as far off as China and Japan, thereby improving their Knowledge, so as to outwit their Friends at home, and by following their Example in this, I am sure we can run no hazard, at least of passing for Fools. These Men (whose firm adherence to the most exquisite Tyranny is manifest by their indefatigable endeavours in behalf of the French King’s Interests, as formerly of the House of Austria’s, whilst it was in its height) have by these Arts ingrossed to themselves the Education of the Youth in all Popish Countries. The Lutheran Priests (who have an entire dependence on their Kings and Princes) are intrusted with the like in those Countries which observe the Confession of Augsburg. They also send abroad some of their hopefullest young Students, several of which may be met with at Oxford, Cambridge, and Paris: The use they make of Travel being not only to improve their Knowledge in Sciences, but to learn fit Methods to please their Sovereigns at the expense of the People’s Liberties. Now in former Ages, whilst the Ecclesiasticks were both ignorant and scandalously wicked, they were not esteemed by the Laity, and consequently had not so much power to do mischief: But since that through a Reformation of Manners, and Knowledge of the World, they have recover’d credit, and that the restored Learning of Europe is principally lodg’d among them, they have gained a much greater influence both on the Opinions and Practices of their Disciples, and promoted a pernicious Doctrine with all the success they themselves could desire. But the same Travel will afford the best Antidote for this Poison, and teach a Gentleman, who makes right use of it, by what steps Slavery has within these last 200 Years crept upon Europe, most of the Protestant, as well as Popish Countries having in a manner quite lost the precious Jewel, Liberty. This cannot be attributed to any more probable cause than the enslaving the Spirits of the People, as a preparative to that of their Bodies; for since those Foreign Princes think it their Interest that Subjects should obey without Reserve, and all Priests, who depend upon the Prince, are for their own sakes obliged to promote what he esteems his Interest; ’tis plain, the Education of Youth, on which is laid the very Foundation Stones of the publick Liberty, has been of late years committed to the sole management of such as make it their business to undermine it; and must needs do so, unless they will be false to their Fortunes, and make the Character of Priest give place to that of true Patriot.
’Tis confest that in their Schools and Universities, excellent Rules for attaining Languages and Sciences are made use of with greater success than any heretofore: Those Youths especially, who have been bred among the Jesuits, are justly remarked to excel others of equal Parts instructed elsewhere: But still this is only a training up in the knowledge of Words and Languages, whereof there is seldom any occasion, as if the Pupils were intended to be made School-masters; whilst the weightier Matters of true Learning, whereof one has occasion every hour; such as good Principles, Morals, the improvement of Reason, the love of Justice, the value of Liberty, the duty owing to one’s Country and the Laws, are either quite omitted, or slightly passed over. Indeed they forget not to recommend frequently to them what they call the Queen of all Virtues, viz. Submission to Superiors, and an entire blind Obedience to Authority, without instructing them in the due measures of it, rather teaching them that ’tis without all bounds: Thus the Spirits of Men are from the beginning inured to Subjection, and deprived of the right Notion of a generous and legal Freedom, which few among them (so hardly are the prejudices of Education shaken off) grow sensible of, till they become of some Age and Maturity, or have unlearn’d by good Company and Travel those dangerous passive Doctrines they suck’d in at the Schools and Universities. But most have the Misfortune to carry these slavish Opinions with them to their Graves.
Had these Countries, whilst they were free, committed the Government of their Youth to Philosophers instead of Priests, they had in all probability preserv’d themselves from the Yoak of Bondage to this day, whereas now they not only endure it, but approve of it likewise: tantum relligio potuit.6
The Greeks and Romans instituted their Academies to quite another purpose, the whole Education of their Youth tended to make them as useful to the Society they lived in as possible. There they were train’d up to Exercise and Labour, to accustom them to an active Life: No Vice was more infamous than Sloth, nor any Man more contemptible than him that was too lazy to do all the Good he could; the Lectures of their Philosophers served to quicken them up to this. They recommended above all things the Duty to their Country, the preservation of the Laws and the publick Liberty; subservient to which they preach’d up Moral Virtues, such as Fortitude, Temperance, Justice, a contempt of Death, etc. Sometimes they made use of pious Cheats, as Elysian Fields, and an Assurance of Future Happiness, if they died in the Cause of their Country; and even deceived their Hearers into Greatness: Hence proceeded all those Noble Characters wherewith their Histories are so stock’d: Hence it was that their Philosophers were deservedly look’d upon as Supports of the State, they had their dependence wholly upon it; and as they could have no Interest distinct from it, they laid out themselves towards the advancing and promoting the good of it, insomuch that we find the very good Fortune of their Commonwealths often lasted no longer than they did. The managers of our modern Education have not been quite so publick Spirited, for it has been, as I have shewn, for the most part in the hands of Men who have a distinct Interest from the publick; therefore ’tis not to be wondered at, if like the rest of the World, they have been byassed by it, and directed their principal Designs towards the advancing their own Fortunes.
Good Learning as well as Travel is a great Antidote against the Plague of Tyranny. The Books that are left us of the Ancients (from whence, as from Fountains, we draw all that we are now Masters of) are full of Doctrines, Sentences, and Examples exhorting to the Conservation or Recovery of the publick Liberty, which was once valued above Life. The Heroes there celebrated are for the most part such as had destroyed or expelled Tyrants; and though Brutus be generally declaimed against by modern School-boys, he was then esteemed the true Pattern and Model of exact Virtue. Such was Cato of Utica, with others of like stamp. The more any person is conversant with good Books, the more shall he find the practices of these Great Men in this particular founded upon Reason, Justice, and Truth; and unanimously approv’d of by most of the succeeding Wise-men which the World has produc’d.
But instead of Books which inform the Judgment, those are commonly read in the Schools abroad, wherein an Elegancy of Latin and Greek Style is more sought after than the matter contained in them: So that such as treat a little boldly of publick Liberty occur to the reading of few, and those grown Men, rather through Chance or their Curiosity, than the recommendation of their Instructors.
’Twas not to learn Foreign Languages that the Graecian and Roman Youths went for so long together to the Academies and Lectures of their Philosophers. ’Twas not then, as now with us, when the Character of a Scholar is to be Skilled in Words; when one who is well versed in the dark Terms and Subtilties of the Schools passes for a profound Philosopher, by which we seem so far to have perverted the Notion of Learning, that a Man may be reputed a most extraordinary Scholar, and at the same time be the most useless Thing in the World; much less was it to learn their own Mother Tongues, the Greek and Latin, which we hunt after so eagerly for many Years together, (not as being the Vehicles of good Sense, but as if they had some intrinsick Virtue). ’Twas to learn how and when to speak pertinently, how to act like a Man to subdue the Passions, to be publick Spirited, to despise Death, Torments, and Reproach, Riches and the Smiles of Princes, as well as their Frowns, if they stood between them and their Duty. This manner of Education produced Men of another stamp than appears now upon the Theatre of the World; such as we are scarce worthy to mention, and must never hope to imitate, till the like manner of Institution grows again into Reputation; which in Enslaved Countries ’tis never likely to do, as long as the Ecclesiasticks, who have an opposite Interest, keep not only the Education of Youth, but the Consciences of old Men in their Hands.
To serve by-ends, and because Priests thought they should find their own account in it, they calculated those unintelligible Doctrines of Passive Obedience and Jus Divinum; that the People ought to pay an absolute Obedience to a limited Government; fall down and worship the work of their own Hands, as if it dropt from Heaven; together with other as profitable Doctrines, which no doubt many are by this time ashamed of, tho’ they think it below them to condescend so far as to confess themselves to have been in the wrong. For this Notion of Jus Divinum of Kings and Princes was never known in these Northern Parts of the World till these latter Ages of Slavery: Even in the Eastern Countries, though they adore their Kings as Gods, yet they never fancied they received their Right to Reign immediately from Heaven. The single Example in Scripture so much insisted on, viz. the Reign of Saul over the Jews, and Samuel’s Description of what a King would be, not what he lawfully might be; proves either nothing at all, or the contrary to what some would have it; for besides that there are many Relations of Fact in the Old Testament, not condemned there, which it would not be only inconvenient, but sinful for us to imitate: Whoever peruses the whole Story of Saul and his Successor, will therein find more substantial Arguments against the Jus Divinum and Non Resistance, than for it: But we shall leave this, both as being too large an Argument for the compass of a Preface, and as being already fully handled by more able Pens.
All Europe was in a manner a free Country till very lately insomuch that the Europeans were, and still are, distinguish’d in the Eastern Parts of the World by the name of Franks. In the beginning small Territories, or Congregations of People, chose valiant and wise Men to be their Captains or Judges, and as often Deposed them upon Mis-management. These Captains (doing their Duty well and faithfully) were the Originals of all our Kings and Princes, which at first, and for a long time were every where Elective. According to their own Warlike Temper, or that of the People which they govern’d, they (upon the Score of Revenge, Ambition, or being over-thronged with Multitudes at home) encroached upon their Neighbours; till from petty Principalities their Countries waxed to mighty Kingdoms. Spain alone consisting of twelve or thirteen till t’other day, and one part of our Island of no less than seven: Each of these was at first made through an Union of many petty Lordships. Italy from several small Commonwealths was at length swallowed up by the Emperors, Popes, Kings of Spain, Dukes of Florence, and other lesser Tyrants. Yet ’tis to be remark’d that the ancient State of Europe is best preserved in Italy even to this day, notwithstanding the Encroachments which have been there made on the People’s Liberties; of which one Reason may be, that the Republicks, which are more in number and quality in that Spot of Ground than in all Europe besides, keep their Ecclesiasticks within their due bounds, and make use of that natural Wit which Providence and a happy Climate has given them, to curb those, who if they had Power would curb all the World.
Every one ought to know how great the Rights of the People were very lately in the Elective Kingdoms of Sweden and Denmark; how Germany was freer than any other part of Europe, till at length ’twas Lorded by Captains, who (in process of time grew Princes and Electors) and by Bishops with Temporal Authority, who may thank Charles the Great (a very bigotted Prince) for their double Sword of Flesh and Spirit.
If it be objected, that Princes have acquired a Right to be absolute and arbitrary where the Subjects have given up their Liberties, there are some in the World who venture to answer, That no People in their right Wits, (that is) not guided by Fear or Tumult, can be supposed to confer an absolute Dominion, or to give away the Freedom of themselves and their Posterity for all Generations; that such a Donation ought to be esteemed of no greater validity than the Gift of an Estate by a Child or a Madman from his lawful Successor; that the People can no more part with their legal Liberties, than Kings can alienate their Crowns: That nothing which even the Representative Body of the People does, which shall afterwards tend to the detriment of the Universality can then be obligatory, because many things good and profitable at the time of making those Laws may be the quite contrary afterwards, and as soon as any Law grows apparently mischievous to the whole Body that made it, or their Successors, it ought by them to be repealed, and would certainly be so in Countries where frequent free Assemblies of the States are in use. That if these Assemblies be hindered, or corrupted by sinister Practices, the obliging quality of such a Law determines of it self through its own nature, it being supposed that the true Representatives of the People would have annull’d it, had they been permitted to meet and act freely: That the Acts of one general Parliament, though a free one, are not perpetually obliging, since that as well as particular Persons is liable to mistakes; but the Acts of an eternal Succession of Parliaments, who make, confirm, change, or repeal Laws at their pleasure.
These are hard Sayings in the Opinion of many; but thus much we are sure of, whoever goes about to destroy or diminish the Right of the People in the disposal of the Crown, at the same time subverts their Majesty’s Title to it. ’Tis therefore seasonable now or never to assert both; notwithstanding the prevarication of those who dare act under and receive benefit by this Revolution which they contributed nothing to, but which the People through God’s Assistance procured for themselves; yet will not dive into the Merits of the Cause, nor own the Lawfulness of the Fact; but either cautiously avoid the Argument, or if it comes cross their way, mumble it as tenderly as the Ass did the Thistle, which caused the Philosopher to laugh, who never did it in his Life but that once; so this manner of Behaviour would move both the Laughter and Indignation of all understanding Persons, Lovers of their Countries legal Liberties, for none are forced to fall under greater Absurdities, or to make more terrible Blunders in Divinity, Politicks, and good Sense, than such as would fain reconcile present Interest to their old beloved Maxims: res est ridicula & nimis jocosa.7 But Heaven be praised, the Nation is almost freed from the gross Error of that slavish Doctrine, in spite of the Endeavours of such as would keep it alive, like hot Embers cover’d over with Ashes, ready to be blown up again into a flame upon the first occasion.
In Russia and Muscovy the Government is as Tyrannical as in any of the more Eastern Monarchies. The Priests there have very much contributed both to make and keep it so. To the end that the People may be kept in the requisite Temper of Obedience, none are permitted to Travel upon pain of Death, except such as have special License, which are exceeding few; neither are any Gentlemen of those Countries to be met with abroad, but publick Ministers and their Retinue: The Cause of this severe Prohibition is, lest such Travellers should see the Liberty of other Nations, and be tempted to covet the like for themselves at home, which might occasion Innovations in the State. The same reason which induces Tyrants to prohibit Travelling, should encourage the People of free Countries to practice it, in order to learn the Methods of preserving that which once lost is very difficultly recover’d; for Tyranny usually steals upon a State by degrees, and is (as a wise Man said) like a hectick Fever, which at first is easie to be cured, but hardly can be known; after ’tis thoroughly known it becomes almost incurable. Now travel best of all other Methods discovers (at least expense) the Symptoms of this pernicious Disease, as well as its dismal Effects when grown to a head; and ’tis certainly of greater Importance to understand how to preserve a sound Constitution, than how to repair a crazed one, though this also be a beneficial piece of Knowledge.
In our own Universities, which are without controversy the best in the World, whether we consider their Revenues, their Buildings, or their Learning, there are travelling Fellowships establish’d; which in a Country where the Clergy’s Interest is not distinct from that of the Laity, is so far from being prejudicial to the legal Liberties of the People, that it tends to the Conservation of them; for such worthy Men as are employ’d abroad, may bring home generous Notions of Liberty, and make admirable Remarks on the contrary State; which being inculcated from the Pulpit, and enforced by the learned Arguments of able Divines, must needs overthrow those servile Opinions, which of late have been too much back’d by God’s Authority, almost to the ruin of a Free People.
I do not hereby mean to reflect on the Order which generally has the government of our Youth; we have had the Experience of many among them who have given proof of a freer Education and useful Learning: And without question the chief Posts of the Gown of both kinds were never better fill’d than at present. I only lament the ill Contrivance of their Constitution, for while Interest draws one way, and Honesty another, when a Man may make his Fortune by forgetting his Duty to his Country, but shall always stick at Mark while he serves it; ’tis scarcely to be hoped Men should hold out against such Temptations, unless they be more gifted with Honesty than the generality of Mankind are. And since they continue still upon the same bottom, it must be expected the same, or other as mischievous Doctrines will every day be broach’d: whereas if they were once set upon the same foot the Philosophers of old were, if Honesty and the Duty to their Country were made their private Interest, and the way to thrive; we should soon see them shift hands, and the Spirit of those Philosophers revive again in them.
The Constitution of our Universities, as to Learning, seems as unfortunately regulated as it is to Politicks. We receive the directions of our Studies there, from Statutes made by those who understood nothing of the Matter, who had a quite different Notion and Taste of Learning from what the World has at present: It seems as ridiculous to take Patterns for the gentile Learning of this Age from the old fashion’d Learning of the Times wherein the University Statutes were compiled, as it would be for one who would appear well dress’d at Court, to make his Cloaths after the Mode in Henry the VIII’s day: But ’tis of infinitely worse consequence; for the Prejudices and wrong Notions, the stiffness and positiveness in Opinion, the litigiousness and wrangling, all which the old Philosophy breeds, besides the narrow Spiritedness, and not enduring of Contradiction, which are generally contracted by a Monastick Life, require a great deal of time to get rid of, and until they be filed off by Conversation in the World abroad, a Man’s Learning does but render him more useless and unfit for Society.
I dare appeal to common Experience, whether those excellent Men that of late Years have been preferred in our Church (than which Set of Divines England scarce ever knew a better) be not for the most part such as have been very conversant with the World; and if they have not all travell’d out of this Kingdom, have at least spent the best part of their days in this Epitome of the World, the City of London, where they have learnt Christian Liberty as well as other Christian Virtues. The great difference between these and others of narrow Opiniastre Tempers caus’d by their Monk-like Education is discernable by every Body, and puts it out of all doubt, that such who have seen most, of what Profession soever they be, prove the most honest and virtuous Men, and fittest for Humane Society: these embrace better Notions relating to the Publick, weigh Opinions before they adhere to them, have a larger Stock of Charity, a clearer Manner of distinguishing between Just and Unjust, understand better the Laws of our own Land, as well as the Privileges and Frailties of Human Nature; And all this in a degree far excelling the most zealous learned religious Person who has been brought up in his Cell, and is therefore what we call a Bigot, stiff in an Opinion, merely because he has been used to it, and is ashamed to be thought capable of being deceived.
Lawyers, whose manner of Breeding is much abroad in the World, and who are used to promiscuous Conversation, have been observed in most places to be great Favourers of Liberty, because their knowledge of ancient Practice, and the just Title which the People have to their Privileges (which they meet with every where in their course of Reading) makes them less scrupulous of committing what some Divines miscall a Sin in those that endeavour to preserve or recover them; the Oversights of some few Gentlemen of this honourable Profession are therefore the less excusable; for I must confess, among other things, that Motto, A Deo Rex, à Rege Lex,8 wherein the Divine Right of the impious Will of a Tyrant is as strongly asserted as could be in the compass of a Ring, has occasioned frequent Reflections, not much in favour of those that made use of it.
Thus I have touch’d upon the Manner of Education necessary to the beginning and finishing a Gentleman, who is to be useful to his Country, which I suppose ought to be the principal end of it. And I can’t but believe, if in our Schools our Youth were bred up to understand the Meaning of the Authors they are made to read, as well as the Syntax of the Words. If there were as much care taken to inculcate the good Maxims, and recommend the noble Characters the old Historians are so full of, as there is to hammer into their Heads the true Grammar of them, and the fineness of the Phrase: If in our Universities a proportionable Care were taken to furnish them with noble and generous Learning: If after this they were duly informed in the Laws and Affairs of their own Country, trained up in good Conversation and useful Knowledge at home, and then sent abroad when their Heads began to be well settled, when the heat of Youth was worn off, and their Judgments ripe enough to make Observation: I say, I cannot but believe that with this manner of Institution a very moderate Understanding might do wonders, and the coming home fully instructed in the Constitutions of other Governments, would make a Man but the more resolute to maintain his own.
For the advantage of a free Government above its contrary needs no other help to make it appear, than only to be exposed to a considerate View with it: The difference may be seen written in the very Faces of the several People, as well as in their manner of Living; and when we find nothing but Misery in the fruitfullest Countries subject to Arbitrary Power, but always a Face of plenty and Chearfulness in Countries naturally unfruitful, which have preserv’d their Liberties, there is no further room left for Argument, and one cannot be long in determining which is most eligible. This Observation is so obvious that ’tis hard for any that Travels not to make it; therefore ’tis a sufficient reason why all our Gentry should go abroad. An English Man should be shewn the Misery of the enslaved Parts of the World, to make him in Love with the Happiness of his own Country; as the Spartans exposed their drunken Servants to their Children, to make them in love with Sobriety.
But the more polish’d and delicious Countries of France, Spain, or Italy, are not the places where this Observation may be made to greatest advantage; the Manner of Living, Goodness of the Air and Diet, the Magnificence of the Buildings, Pleasantness of the Gardens, pompous Equipage of some great Persons, dazzle the Eyes of most Travellers, and cast a disguise upon the Slavery of those Parts; and as they render this Evil more supportable to the Natives, so they almost quite hide it from the view of a Cursory Traveller, amusing him too much from considering the Calamities which accompany so much Splendour, and so many Natural Blessings: or from reflecting how much more happy the Condition of the People would be with better usage. But in the Northern Kingdoms and Provinces there appears little or nothing to divert the Mind from contemplating Slavery in its own Colours, without any of its Ornaments. And since, for that reason, few of our Gentlemen find temptation enough to Travel into those Parts, and we have hardly any tolerable Relation of them extant, though we have frequent occasions of being concerned with them, I thought it might be of use to publish the following Account of Denmark, which I took care to be informed of upon the place with the greatest Exactness possible, and have related fairly and impartially, which may save the Curious the labour and expense of that Voyage.
That Kingdom has often had the Misfortune to be govern’d by French Counsels. At the time when Mr. Algernon Sydney was Ambassador at that Court, Monsieur Terlon, the French Ambassador, had the Confidence to tear out of the Book of Motto’s in the King’s Library, this Verse, which Mr. Sydney (according to the liberty allowed to all noble Strangers) had written in it: manus haec inimica tyrannis Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem.9 Though Monsieur Terlon understood not a word of Latin, he was told by others the Meaning of that Sentence, which he considered as a Libel upon the French Government, and upon such as was then a setting up in Denmark by French Assistance, or Example.
To conclude; A considering English Traveller will find by experience, that at present nothing is so generally studied by the Sovereign Princes of the World, as the Arts of War, and the keeping of their own Countries in the desired Subjection. The Arts of Peace, whereby the Encrease and Prosperity of their Subjects might be promoted, being either intirely neglected or faintly prosecuted; he will further be convinced what great reason he has to bless Providence for his being born, and continuing yet a Freeman: He will find that the securing this inestimable Blessing to himself, and transmitting it to late Posterity, is a Duty he owes to his Country; the right performance of which does in a great measure depend upon a good Education of our Youth, and the Preservation of our Constitution upon its true and natural Basis, The Original Contract. All other Foundations being false, nonsensical, and rotten; derogatory to the present Government, and absolutely destructive to the legal Liberties of the English Nation. Salus populi suprema lex esto.10
Of the Territories belonging to the King of Denmark, and their Situation
If we consider the Extent of the King of Denmark’s Dominions, he may with Justice be reckoned among the greatest Princes of Europe; but if we have regard to the importance and value of them, he may be put in Balance with the King of Portugal, and possibly be found lighter.
His Style is King of Denmark and Norway, of the Goths and Vandals, Duke of Sleswick and Holstein, Stormar, and Ditmarsh; Earl in Oldenburg and Delmenhorst; all which Countries he actually possesses either in whole or in part: so that except that of the Goths and Vandals, which Title both he and the King of Sweden use, and which the Crown of Denmark has retained ever since it was Master of Sweden (as we in England do that of France) all the rest are substantial and not empty Titles.
My design is to acquaint you with the present State of these Countries, and to offer nothing but what I have either Collected from sensible grave Persons, or what my own Knowledge and Experience has confirm’d to be Truth.
Since the late Wars between that famous Captain Charles Gustavus of Sweden, and Frederic the Third, which ended in a Peace Anno 1660 Denmark has been forced to sit down with the loss of all its Territories which lay on the other side of the Baltick Sea; Schonen, Halland, and Bleking remaining to the Swedes, notwithstanding frequent Struggles to recover them. These three (especially Schonen) were the best Provinces belonging to Denmark, and therefore are still looked upon with a very envious Eye by the Danes: And for this very reason ’tis reported, that the Windows of Cronenburgh Castle, whose Prospect lay towards Schonen, were wall’d up, that so hateful an Object might not cause continual heart-burnings.
Denmark therefore, as it is thus clipp’d, is at present bounded on all sides with the Sea, except one small Neck of Land, where it joins to Holstein; the German Ocean washes it on the West and North-west; the entrance into the Baltick, called the Categate on the North, and North-East; the Baltick on the East; and the River Eyder on the South; which having its source very near the East Sea, takes his course Westward, and falls into the Ocean at Toningen, a strong Town of the Duke of Holstein Gottorp’s: So that if a Channel were made of about three Danish Miles from that River to Kiel, ’twould be a perfect Island. I include in this Account the Dutchy of Sleswick as part of Denmark, but not the Dutchy of Holstein; because the former was a Fief of that Crown, the latter of the Empire.
All Denmark therefore comprehending its Islands, as I have thus bounded it, lies in length between the degrees of 54gr. 45min. and 58gr. 15min. North Latitude, the breadth not being proportionable; and may at a large Computation be reckoned to amount to the bigness of two thirds of the Kingdom of Ireland.
Norway, which lies North from Denmark, and is separated from it by that Sea which is usually called the Categate, is a vast and barren Country, full of Mountains and Fir trees; it reaches from 59 to 71 degrees of North Latitude; but is very narrow in respect to its length. It is bounded on the West and North by the Ocean, on the East by Sweden and the Territories belonging to it; on the South by the Sea lying between it and Denmark. The Sea is so deep about it, that there is no Anchorage for Ships; and therefore its Coasts are accounted the most dangerous of any in Europe to run with in the Night, or in a Storm; on which if you chance to be driven, there is no scaping, the Shoar being all along high Rocks, at the very foot of which one may find 200 Fathom Water.
Holstein, which includes Ditmarsh and Stormar, is bounded by the Dutchy of Sleswick on the North, the Dutchy of Saxe Lawenburg on the South-East, the River Elbe on the South-West, the rest of it is washed by the Ocean and Baltick Sea. It lies between the 54th and 55th degrees of North Latitude.
Oldenburg and Delmenhorst are two Counties in Germany that lye together, detached from all the rest of the King of Denmark’s Countries; the two Rivers, Elb and Weser, and the Dutchy of Bremen, interposing between them and Holstein. They are bounded on the North-East by the Weser, on the West by East-Friesland and the County of Embden, on the South by part of the Bishoprick of Munster. They are a small Territory of about 35 English Miles in Diameter; the middle of which is in the Latitude of 53 degrees and a half.
The rest of the King of Denmark’s Territories not mentioned in the enumeration of his Titles, are the Islands of Feroe, and Iceland in the Northern Ocean. St. Thomas, one of the Caribbee Islands in the West-Indies. A Fort upon the Coast of Guinea, call’d Christiansburg; and another in the East-Indies, call’d Tranquebar. He has likewise a Toll at Elfleet upon the River Weser.
Thus much may serve in general touching the Dominions of that King, which have this great inconveniency, that they are mightily disjoined and separated from each other; it being certain, that a State which is confined by many Principalities is weak, exposed to many dangers, and requires a more than ordinary Expense, as well as Prudence, to preserve it entire: And it is to this principally that the Conquests which the Swedes have gained upon them may be ascribed.
Of Denmark in particular, and the Island of Zealand
This being the most considerable, and in value four parts in five of all the Territories belonging to the Crown of Denmark, I shall give a more particular account of it than of the rest. Others, I know, have given us the Genealogies and Succession of its Kings, ancient Names, Inhabitants, Conquests, etc. my business is only to inform how it stands at this day, and to enter no further into the former History, or the Geography of the Country, than is necessary to the understanding the present State of it.
Denmark then, properly so called, consists of many Islands in the Baltick Sea, and of that part of the Continent which is now called Jutland: The Dutchy of Sleswick, which I reckoned in the former Chapter as part of it, shall be treated of by it self, because it is divided between the King and the Duke of Holstein Gottorp; whereas these above-mentioned are wholly the King’s. Jutland is the biggest and most fertile Country, but the Islands are more considerable in regard of their Situation, especially Zealand; because Copenhagen, the Chief City of Denmark, is seated in it, and the famous passage of the Sound is bordered by its Shoar, where, on the narrowest part the Town of Elsinor stands: wherefore I shall begin with a description of them, and first of Zealand.
It is almost of a Circular Figure, and contains about 180 English Miles in Circumference; I cannot commend its Fertility, there being no Bread corn growing in any part of it except Rye, which indeed is in good quantity, and whereof most of their Bread is made. There are few Meadows in it, and yet there is no want of good Hay: Most of their Grass, which is short and sweet, grows by the sides of their Corn Fields, or in some scattered spots of Marish Grounds. It has no Rivers, nor above half a score Brooks that are able to turn a Mill; to supply this, there is a great number of fine Lakes sufficiently stored with Fish. The Air is but indifferent, especially in and near Copenhagen; which is occasioned by the frequent Fogs and low Situation; yet Colds of the Lungs are very rare here; this I attribute to the pureness of their firing, which is Beechwood, the only sort of Timber trees which abound in this Island. About one fourth part of it is Forest, lying open for the King’s Hunting and his Game, such as Staggs, Wild-Boars, Roe-Bucks, etc. these are such Sacred things that no Body dares touch them, though they find them in whole Herds destroying their Corn, to the infinite yearly damage of the poor Peasants.
The Face of the Land is pleasant in many places, abounding with little Hills, Woods and Lakes in a very agreeable diversity. For Sea-Ports, that most excellent one belonging to Copenhagen must make amends for the want of them, not only in this, but many other of the Islands; there being few others, that I know of, capable of harbouring a Vessel of 200 Tuns.
Neither is this a sensible want, because there are no Commodities in this Island for Exportation: In good years, that is, wet ones (for the Soil being altogether Sandy, requires frequent Rains, even thus far North) there may be some overplus of Rye; and I have been told, that about forty years ago, ten or twelve Dutch Flyboats found yearly their Lading at Kiog, a pretty flourishing Town at that time, within twenty English Miles of Copenhagen; but of late they seem to be well satisfied if the Product of the Isle maintains in this sort of Grain the Inhabitants of it: Not that the numbers of these are increased, but Husbandry is not so much encouraged now as when the Taxes of the poor Country People were less frequent and grievous.
The Cattle here are generally small and lean; kept within doors seven or eight Months in the Year; where their Feeding is partly Hay, partly Brewers Grains, Roots, Weeds, and such Trash as their Owners can provide for them. In Summer time their Beef is sweet and juicy; but Wether Mutton was a rare thing till of late; nor is it common now, they being not used to Geld their Sheep; and therefore ’twas usually eaten while it was Lamb.
The feeding of the Commonalty generally throughout all Denmark is very mean; the Burgers and Citizens sustaining themselves with Ryebread, Salt-flesh, Stock-fish, Bacon, and very bad Cheese; insomuch that the Inspectors of our Markets in England, who use to destroy or send to the Prisons all such Victuals as are not judged wholsom, would (if they found them no better provided than at Copenhagen) go near to empty the Markets, and leave little to either Buyer or Seller. The Peasants live on Roots, white Meats, and Rye-bread; seldom tasting fresh Fish, and scarce ever Flesh, unless on some extraordinary Festivals, as on St. Martin’s Eve, when each Family in Denmark, without fail, makes merry with a roasted Goose at Supper.
Here, and in all Denmark, are but two Seasons of the Year, Winter and Summer; those two other more agreeable ones of Spring and Autumn not being commonly known; the Spring never, and the Autumn seldom; you immediately leap from extremity of Heat to extremity of Cold; and so on the contrary, when Winter is over, from Cold to Heat. During the three Months of June, July, and August, the Heat is much more intense than in England, and very sultry in the Nights, but ’tis a gloomy Heat, and People generally perceive some interposition of thick Vapours between them and the Sun. In Copenhagen, during these three Months, they are constantly troubled with the Plague of Flies, which they endeavour to destroy by a poisoned Water; upon the laying of which in their Kitchins and Chambers, I have seen whole Bushels of dead Flies swept together in one Room.
The Baltick Sea near this City is very ill stored with good Fish; neither did I ever know any Sea-Town of that Consequence worse served with it: Whether it be that the Sea wants its requisite saltiness, (being rather to be esteemed brackish than salt) or that the People are not industrious enough to take them; but I rather believe the former.
The principal things of this Island, and indeed of all Denmark, are the City of Copenhagen, and the Passage of the Sound. I will begin with the City, the rather because when I have done with that I have little more to say of any other in the King of Denmark’s Dominions; there being no other belonging to him much better than our Town of St. Albans.
Copenhagen is no ancient City, nor a very large one; it approaches in bigness nearest to Bristol of any of our English Cities; but it increases in Buildings every day, notwithstanding the many discouragements it lies under. The Fortifications of it enclose a great deal more Ground than is built upon; and many small Buildings, which upon a further increase of its Riches, will be pulled down. Its Situation for Trade is one of the best in the World, because of the excellency of its Port; so that without doubt, were Copenhagen a free City, it would be the Mart and Staple of all the Traffick of the Baltick. This Port is inclosed by the Bulwarks of the Town, the entrance into it being so narrow, that but one Ship can pass at a time; which entrance is every Night shut up with a strong Boom; the Citadel on one side, and a good Block-house well furnished with Cannon on the other, Commands the Mouth of it. Within this Haven rides the Navy Royal, every Ship having his place assigned to it; a wooden Gallery ranges round the whole Inclosure where the Fleet lies, laid over the Water in such manner, that all the Ships may be viewed near at hand as easily and commodiously as if they lay on dry Land. This Harbour is capacious enough to hold 500 Sail, where neither Wind nor Enemies can do them the least mischief. The Road without is very good and safe; being fenced from the Sea by a large Sand Bank, on the Points of which float always a couple of Buoys to direct all Ships that come in or go out. Here are no Tides to fear, but always a sufficient depth of Water. Sometimes indeed, according as the Winds blow in or out of the Baltick, there sets a Current; but ’tis not frequent, nor dangerous. To conclude, this Port may justly be reckoned in all respects one of the best in the whole World.
The Town is strong, being situated in a flat Marish Soil, not commanded by any height; the Air is bad by reason of the stink of the Channels which are cut through it. The Works of it are only of Earth and Sodds, yet raised according to the Rules of Modern Fortification, and in tolerable good Repair. The Buildings both in this City and elsewhere, are generally very mean, being Cagework, and having the Intervals between the Timbers filled up with Brick. ’Tis observable, that all the good Publick Buildings in it, such as the Change, Arsenal, Round-Steeple, etc. were built by King Christian the Fourth, the present King’s Grandfather, and a very brave, though not a Fortunate Prince; who did more with less Revenues than all the succeeding Princes; the Monarchy being at that time neither Hereditary nor Absolute. He used often to say, “That he knew the Purses of his Subjects would be always open for his and the Kingdoms just Occasions; and that he had rather they were his Cash-keepers than a High-Treasurer, who might abuse him.” Although the principal Decorations of this Town are owing to him, yet he either forgot or delay’d the Building of a Palace for himself and his Successors, and no Body has undertaken it since; though certainly in no Kingdom is there greater occasion; this King’s House of Residence being for Situation, Meanness, and Inconvenience the worst in the World; and as singular for badness as the Port is for goodness. Several of the Noblemen, as his High Excellency Guldenlieu, the great Admiral Juel, with others, being infinitely better lodged than the whole Royal Family: Yet to make amends for this, his Majesty has near him an excellent Stable of Horses; and handsome large Gardens, with a good Garden-House, called Rosenburg, some distance from the Palace, at the other end of the Town.
Of the Sound
This Passage or Streight called the Sound, or Ore-sound, which has so great a Reputation in these Northern Parts of the World, lies between this Island of Zealand and the firm Land of Schonen. On Denmark side, where it is narrowest, stands the Town of Elsinore, and the strong Fortress of Cronenburg; near which is a tolerable good Road for Ships. On Sweden side is the Town of Helsinburg with a demolished Castle, whereof only one old Tower remains, sufficient to hold half a dozen great Guns to repay the Salutes of Men of War which pass through.
Betwixt these two do pass and repass all Vessels that Trade into the Baltick; so that next that of Gibraltar, one may justly reckon this Streight the most important and frequented of any in Europe. The loss of Schonen, though it was considerable in regard of the largeness and fruitfulness of the Province, yet it was more so in respect to the Dominion of this great Passage; for although the Danes, by the Treaty of Peace, have expressly retained their Title to it, and receive Toll from all Ships that pass except Swedes, yet they do not esteem the Security of that Title so firm as they would wish; for being not Masters of the Land on both sides, they may have the Right, but not the Power to assert it upon occasion, and seem only to enjoy it at present according to their good Behaviour; their stronger Neighbour the Swede being able to make use of the first Opportunity given him to their Prejudice.
This Toll, being very considerable, and of late years occasioning many Disputes which are not yet determined, I thought it might not be amiss to set down in this place, what I have learnt of the Original and Nature of it, after having made as strict Enquiry as was possible from the most ancient, and most understanding Persons I could meet with.
The most rational Account then is, That it was at first laid by the Consent of the Traders into the Baltick, who were willing to allow a small matter for each Ship that passed, towards the maintaining of Lights on certain places of that Coast, for the better direction of Sailors in dark Nights: Hereupon this Passage of the Sound became the most practised; that other of the Great Belt being in a little time quite neglected; as well because of the great Conveniency of those Lights to the Shipping that passed in and out of the East-Sea, as because of an Agreement made that no Ships should pass the other way, to the end that all might pay their shares; it being unreasonable that such Ships should have the benefit of those Lights in dark or stormy Winter Nights, who avoided paying towards the maintaining of those Fires, by passing another way. Besides, if this manner of avoiding the Payment had been allowed, the Revenue would have been so insignificant, considering the small Sum which each Ship was to pay, that the Lights could not have been maintained by it; and the Danes were not willing to be at the Charge solely for the use and benefit of their own Trading Ships, in regard they were Masters of so few as made it not worth their while; the Lubeckers, Dantzickers, and Merchants of other Hanse Towns, being the greatest Traders at that time in the Northern Parts of Europe, by which they arrived to a great height of Power and Riches.
But there being no fixed Rule or Treaty whereby to be governed with regard to the different Bulk of the Ships belonging to so many several Nations, the Danes began in process of time to grow Arbitrary, and exacted more or less Sums, according to the strength or weakness of those they had to deal with, or according to their Friendship or Discontent with those Princes and States to whom the several Ships belonged: Therefore the Emperor Charles the Fifth, to ascertain this Toll, concluded a Treaty with the King of Denmark, which was signed at Spire on the Rhine, and was in behalf of his Subjects of the Seventeen Provinces of the Low Countries, who had great Traffick in the Baltick; and agreed that as a Toll-Custom in the Sound, every Ship of 200 Tuns and under, should pay two Rose Nobles at its Entrance or Return from the Baltick, and every Ship above 200 Tuns three Rose Nobles.
This Agreement remained in force till such time as the United Provinces shook off the Spanish Yoak, and then the Danes taking the advantage of those Wars, raised their Toll to an extravagant height, the troublesome Times not affording leisure to the Dutch to mind the redressing of such a Mischief.
However, about the Year 1600 they joined themselves with the City of Lubeck, in opposition to such an exorbitant Toll as was taken from both of them; so that from thenceforth the Dutch paid more or less, according as Fortune was favourable or adverse to them, but generally little.
Anno 1647 the first Treaty was made between Denmark and the United Provinces (as Sovereigns) for this Toll; and they were obliged to pay a certain Sum for each Ship; this Treaty was to last Forty years; after the expiration of which, if in the mean time no new Treaty were made, that of Spire was to be in force.
This Treaty of 1647 expired 1687; and the Danes agreed to make an interim Treaty, till such time as the many Differences between them and the Hollanders in this and other Matters could be adjusted at leisure, and concluded in a more lasting and solemn one.
This interim Treaty, which was but for Four years, expired in the Year 1691; so that no new Treaty being made and finished during that time, it is evident that only the ancient Treaty of Spire remains in force, and no other.
The English Treaties with Denmark are grounded on those between the Dutch and that Kingdom, and have reference to them; with a Covenant that we shall be treated tanquam gens amicissima;11 excepting always Sweden, whose Ships pay no Toll at all.
So that at present both the English and Dutch have occasion for new Treaties with Denmark in this and other Affairs of Trade, unless it be agreed by all Parties that the Treaty of Spire shall for so much remain in vigour hereafter.
From this short History of the Original of this Imposition it appears, how slightly grounded the King of Denmark’s Title is to this Right of exacting the Toll of the Sound; which from an easie Contribution which Merchants chose to pay for their own Convenience, and whereof the King of Denmark was only Treasurer or Trustee, to see it fairly laid out for the common use, is grown to be a heavy Imposition upon Trade, as well as a kind of servile acknowledgment of his Sovereignty of those Seas; and is purely owing to his taking an Advantage of the Difficulties of the Hollanders during their Wars with Spain, and the Connivance of King James the First in prejudice of the English; who favoured the Danes upon account of his Marriage to a Daughter of that Crown; upon whose two Examples all the lesser States were forced to submit. Nor can it be conceived how it could be otherwise brought about; since it is very well known, that the Passage of the Sound is not the only one to the Baltick Sea, there being two others called the Greater and Lesser Belts; and that of the Greater Belt so commodious and large, that during the late Wars the whole Dutch Fleet chose to pass through it, and continue in it for four or five Months together; and the Danish Strength at Sea never appeared yet so formidable as to be able to oblige the English and Dutch to choose, which Passage it pleased: Besides, the breadth of the Sound in the narrowest part is four English Miles over; and every where of a sufficient depth; so that his Castles could not Command the Channel when he was Master of both sides; much less now that he has but one. So that it is plain, this pretended Sovereignty is very precarious, being partly founded on a Breach of Trust, as well as the Carelessness of some of the Princes concerned in it, to the great Injury of Trade: And the Spaniards may, with as much right, lay claim to the Sovereignty of the Streights of Gibralter, where there is but one Passage; or the Swede, who is now Master of one of the Castles on the Sound, demand another Toll of all Ships, since both are better able to support their Claims.
For the further clearing of this Point, and to shew how it agrees with the Account I have already given, I have thought fit to insert in this place the Copy of a Letter from a very understanding Person, March 31. 1691.
The Duties or Customs in the Sound were of old times no more than a Rose Noble for each Ship, Loading included; but within these hundred Years, some say since King James of Scotland came to the Crown of England, and winked at it, the Kings of Denmark having the Lands on both sides the Passage, began to impose Taxes on the Merchandize, and raise higher those which were formerly on the Ships; which the Lubeckers, who were then powerful, refused to pay.
Anno 1640 the King caused a Book of Rates to be printed, whereof I have one, according to which a Ship of 100 Lasts, or 200 Tuns, (which is the same thing), did pay as followeth: For 100 Last of Salt to the East 300 Rix Dollars; for the Ship and petty Charges on the Salt 34 Rix Dollars, 24 Stivers; and for 100 Last of Rye from the East 150 R.D. for Ship and petty Charges, as above, 34 R.D. 24 Stivers. So that the Charges of a Ship of this Burden, with its Lading forward and backward was 519 Rix Dollars.
Hereupon the Hollanders made an Alliance with the Swedes, who Anno 1643 by the way of Germany invaded Denmark, and the Dutch lent them Ships; then the King Prints another Book of Rates more favourable, demanding for 100 Last of Spanish Salt 100 Rix Dollars, for 100 Last of Rye 75 R.D. Ships Charges in and out, as above, 69 R.D. the whole amounting to 244 R.D. But this was neither done time enough, nor the Rates lowered enough. The Hollanders, by their Treaty with Denmark of 1646 or thereabouts, brought them thus, The 100 Last of Salt to 50 Rix Dollars, 100 Last of Rye to 50 R.D. Ships, and other petty Charges, nothing: in all for each Ship 100 Rix Dollars. And by reason of this untimely heightening of their Customs it is, that the Kings of Denmark have lost so many Territories to the Swedes.
But to Answer your Demand more fully, it was in those days, that is, about the Year 1640, that the Customs of the Ore-Sound yielded per Annum from 240,000 Rix Dollars to 300,000 R.D. But since 1645 they have not at any time render’d above 150,000 R.D. nor ever so much, except in time of War with the Swedes, when all did pay without Exemption. During the last War, I remember it yielded but 143,000 Rix Dollars; but before that War, and since (the Swedish Ships freeing all Goods that are carried in them, and the Swedish Goods in Foreign Ships being also free by Treaty) it has not yielded above 80,000 Rix Dollars per Annum; and the last Year past it did not reach to full 70,000 Rix Dollars.
The Court of Denmark is not to be blamed therefore for being wonderful jealous of any Infraction of this their pretended Sovereignty, as People are most careful and suspicious in behalf of an Estate wherein their Title is weak, it being so much the Interest not only of the English and Dutch, but also of the Swede, to have it set right, both to encourage Trade to his own Country, and to lessen the Revenue of his Neighbour; neither can it be said, that the English and Dutch did ever entirely yield the Point; for though they agreed to pay a small Toll on Merchandize, yet no manner of searching or stopping is to be allowed, or has ever been. The Danes are now obliged to take the Master of the Vessel’s word for the quality and quantity of the Lading; and thought it prudence never to press this Point further, least we should grow angry, and make too narrow an Inspection both into their Original Right, and into their Ability to maintain it: For whilst we and the Dutch are content to pay this Toll, all the other petty Princes and States do it without Murmur, but if we once broke the Chain, they would shake off their part of it likewise.
Of the other Islands, and Jutland
The most considerable Islands next to that of Zealand, are, Funen or Fionia, Laland, Langland, Falstria, Mune, Samsoe, Arroe, Bornholm, and Amack; there are besides many other small ones of less note.
Funen is second to Zealand, whether its bigness or the goodness of its Soil be considered; it has plenty of Corn, Hogs, Lakes, and Woods; the chief Town of it is Odensee, a well-seated, and formerly a flourishing little City, but at present much fallen to decay. This Island produces nothing for the Merchant to export, except some few Horses, the Inhabitants usually consuming their own Commodities. This is a principal Government, called a Stifts Ampt. The present Governor is Mr. Winterfelt.
Laland is a small, but plentiful Island, producing all sorts of Corn in abundance, and particularly Wheat, wherewith it supplies the City of Copenhagen, and all other parts of Denmark, where it is a rarity. The Hollanders buy yearly, and ship off great quantities of Corn from hence. This likewise is a Stifts Ampt, having several of the lesser Islands under its Jurisdiction. The Governor of it is Mr. Geugh, who formerly had a Publick Character, and resided a long time in England.
Falstria, Langland, and Mune are fertile Islands; the two first Export yearly some Corn. Arroe and Alsen abound in Anise-seeds, which are much used to season their Meat, and mix with their Bread. Bornholm, Samsoe, with the other Islands, nourish Cattle, and afford Corn for the use of the Inhabitants. But Amack deserves to be particularly remembered; this little Island joins close to the City of Copenhagen, from which ’tis only separated by a small Arm of the Sea, which is passed over by a Draw-bridge, and exceeds in fruitfulness any spot of Ground in Denmark. This Land was given many Years ago to several Families of North Hollanders, who were planted there to make Butter and Cheese for the Court; the Descendants of whom retain to this day the Habit, Language, and Customs of their Predecessors, together with their Cleanliness and Industry; neither will they mix with the Danes, but intermarry with each other. They had formerly extraordinary Privileges granted to them, whereof some continue to this time, but others are retrenched; and by degrees it is to be feared they will be treated like the other Subjects.
This Island of Amack, through the Industry of these laborious People, is as it were the Kitchen-Garden of Copenhagen, and supplies its Markets plentifully with all sorts of Roots and Herbs; besides Butter, Milk, great quantities of Corn, and some Hay; whatever it produces being the best in its kind that is to be found in the whole Kingdom.
Jutland, part of the ancient Cimbrica Chersonesus, is the biggest part of the Kingdom of Denmark, and may amount to about two thirds of the whole. It is divided into four Stifts Ampts, or principal Governments. The present Governors are, the Count de Frize, the upper Mareschal Speckhan, Monsieur Edmund Schele, now Envoy Extraordinary to his Majesty from the King of Denmark, etc.
This is a plentiful Country, abounding more especially in Cattle; it wants good Sea-Ports towards the Ocean, notwithstanding which the Hollanders transport yearly great quantities of lean Cows and Oxen from hence to their more fertile Soil, where in a short time they grow so prodigiously fat, through better feeding, in the rich Grounds of Holland, that a vast Profit is made by this Traffick. The Horses and Swine of this Country are excellent, and in great numbers. It affords Corn in sufficient quantity for the use of its own People. The Land is more Fertile near the Sea-Coasts; the Inland being full of Heaths, Lakes, and Woods. In short, it is the best Country the King of Denmark is Master of, and appears to be least declining, because most remote from Copenhagen. Procul a Jove, Procul a Fulmine.12 It being observed, that in limited Monarchies and Commonwealths, a Neighbourhood to the Seat of the Government, is advantageous to the Subjects, whilst the distant Provinces are less thriving, and more liable to Oppression: but in Arbitrary and Tyrannical Kingdoms the quite contrary happens.
Of the Rest of the King of Denmark’s Countries
The Dutchy of Sleswick is in general a very good Country; its convenient Situation between two Seas, the Ocean and the Baltick, rendering it considerable for Trade, although the natural Commodities, fit for Exportation, are in no great quantity. Some Corn, Cattle, Horses, and Wood for Firing it affords to its Neighbours, over and above a sufficient store of each for its own Inhabitants. It is divided between the King and the Duke of Holstein. The principal Town which gives Name to the Dutchy, belongs to the Duke of Holstein, who resides near it in his Palace of Gottorp, one of the most delicious Seats that is to be seen in all the Northern Parts of Europe; nothing can be more Pleasant and Romantick than the Situation of this Castle. It stands in an Island, surrounded by a large Lake made by the River Sley, whose rising Banks are clothed with fine Woods, the Waters clear and full of Fish, carry Vessels of small Burden to and from the Baltick Sea, into which it empties it self. The Gardens are large, with great Cost and Art cut out of the declivity of a Hill on the other side the Lake, and are as well disposed and laid out with Fountains, Parterres, Walks, and Water-works as many of the most famous Villa’s in Italy. A noble large Park, or rather Forest, full of Deer, Wild-boars, and all sorts of Game, joins close to this Garden, cut through with pleasant Walks and Ridings.
This Residence of the Duke of Holstein suffered much during the Misfortunes of its Master; many of the Improvements being not only suffer’d to run to ruine and decay, but industriously and as some say, by order, pull’d down and destroyed; which at present, since the Reestablishment of the Duke, are repairing and restoring to their former Splendour. Among several other things of value, none had better luck than an admirable Library, being a choice Collection of Books which many Dukes of Holstein had of a long time been gathering; this escaped, and in the Year 1692 I saw it with the rest of the Rarities of this place in a good Condition, and tending to a better.
Holstein is divided among several of the Branches of that Family, all whose Descendants call themselves Dukes of Holstein; and according to the German Custom, (as well younger Brothers as elder) assume the Title and Quality of Princes: only the chief and estated Men of these several Branches are distinguished by the Additional Title of the Place of their Residence; as the Duke of Holstein Ploen, Holstein Sunderburg, Holstein Norburg, etc. the Cadets of each, contenting themselves with the bare Title of Princes, till they come to be Proprietors of Land; whose Denomination they may add to that of Duke. But the King of Denmark, (who is likewise Duke of Holstein) and the Duke of Holstein Gottorp, are possessed of the greatest part of it, and both hold it as a Fief of the Empire.
Here, as well as in Sleswick, the Jurisdictions and Interests of these two Princes are very much intermixed; so that the People scarce know whose Subjects to reckon themselves, since they often swear Allegiance, and pay Tribute to both. In some Towns and Balliages both the King and Duke elect the Yearly Magistrates, and divide the Revenue; in others they do this by turns: So that upon any Quarrel or Difference between these two Princes, the poor People are strangely divided, and in a most miserable Condition; their Inclination leading them to the Duke’s Interest, who being the weaker, finds it his Advantage to use them better; but their fear causing them to appear for the King as the stronger, though more Arbitrary.
This Country is very fruitful and pleasant; excellently well seated for Trade, lying between the two Seas, and having the advantage of the Neighbourhood of the River Elbe, and of Hamburg; which being a free City, and consequently a rich one, imparts a large share of its Blessings to the Territories of those Princes which lie any thing near it. This is apparent enough in the visible Prosperity of such Lands and People as are within a Day’s Journey or more of that City, above such as lie remote from its Influence. The Inhabitants of Holstein use to brag that it resembles England in its variety of Hills, Meadows, Woods, Rivers, and Cornfields; as also that we are beholding to them and their Neighbourhood for our Original; the People of those Parts called Angles, having planted, and at the same time given the Name of Anglia to our Island.
The Danes, when they travel abroad, choose to call themselves Holsteiners, thinking it more honourable to be born within the Confines of the Empire, than otherwise.
Stormar and Ditmarsh lie the nearest to the River Elbe, and are for the most part low and rich Countries, the Soil being fat, and in most places resembling Holland, as well in its Fertility as manner of Improvement. These Countries enjoy also the benefit of having Hamburg and the River near them, with the additional Advantage of the Ocean; though it sometimes proves too troublesome a Neighbour, and overflows great part of their lower Grounds, notwithstanding the Banks and Dyckes that are raised to keep it out.
’Tis to be noted as a great natural defect, that the King of Denmark has not in all his Dominions one Navigable River for Vessels of any considerable Burden (for I do not count the River Eyder as such) unless we reckon the Elbe, which is rather to be esteemed one of the Confines and Boundaries of his Territories, than any way belonging to him; yet he has often, and does even to this day, endeavour to set up and establish a Toll at Glucstadt, being not without hopes, that taking the advantage of the Necessity of the Empire, during this expensive War, he may engage it to consent to this Toll against all other Considerations: But the Neighbouring Princes, the English and Dutch, and above all the City of Hamburg, will hardly be brought over to comply with an Innovation so prejudicial to their Trade and Interests.
Oldenburg for the most part is a flat Marish Country; much exposed to the Inundations of the Ocean; the Banks which should keep it in its due Bounds, not being maintained in good repair. It abounds in Cattle, and has a good Breed of Horses, which are much sought after for Coaches, by reason of their Colour, which is a yellowish Cream Colour. They are generally wall-ey’d, and tender-hoof’d, not able to last long, or endure hard labour. The Town of Oldenburg is but a very indifferent one, and its Castle much out of Repair. Upon the Death of the late Prince Anthony, this County came to be annexed to the Crown of Denmark.
Delmenhorst is a more rising Ground, and pretty well wooded. Both these lye together, and the Inhabitants are used the more gently, by reason of their distance from his other Territories.
Of Norway little can be said; but that it is divided into two great Provinces, the Southern and Northern; whereof one small County, called Yempterland, formerly belonging to the King of Denmark, is now in the Possession of the Swedes. His High Excellency Guldenlieu (which is the Title usually given him by the Danes) is Vice-Roy, or as they call him Stadtholder of the whole. It is sub-divided into four Stifts Ampts, or Principal Governments; Viz. Dronthem, Bergen, Christiania, and Larwick. The Governors are young Guldenlieu, natural Son to the present King, and Monsieur Stocfleet late Envoy extraordinary from Denmark to Sweden, etc. It is a very barren Country, affording neither Corn nor Cattle sufficient for the subsistence of its Inhabitants, although they be not numerous in proportion to its vast extent. There are Silver Mines in it, but whether the working of them turns to account is a question.13 The Commodities which it yields fit for Exportation are Timber of all kinds, especially Fir, Stockfish, Masts for Ships, and Iron; of these it has a tolerable store; most of which the English and Dutch purchase yearly with ready Money: And herein Norway exceeds the other Dominions of the King of Denmark, that it affords Commodities for Exportation, which none of the rest do in any quantity. The Inhabitants are a hardy, laborious, and honest sort of People; they are esteemed by others, and esteem themselves much superior to the Danes, whom they call upbraidingly Jutes.
Iseland and Feroe are miserable Islands in the North Ocean; Corn will scarce grow in either of them, but they have good stocks of Cattle. No Trade is permitted them but with the Danes; the Inhabitants are great Players at Chess. It were worth some curious Mans enquiry how such a studious and difficult Game should get thus far Northward, and become so generally used.
The King of Denmark’s Factories in the East and West-Indies, and in Guinea are esteemed of very little worth and consideration; yet I have seen several East-India Ships return home to Copenhagen well laden with the Merchandize of those Countries; and there is an East-India Company lately set up, whereof most of the Men of Quality are Members and Adventurers: But whether the Lading of those Ships I mentioned were the lawful Product of Trade, or acquired by other means, will in time be worth the inquiry of those Kingdoms and States whose Interest it is to preserve in the Indians and Persians a good Opinion of the honesty and fair dealing of the Europeans.
And thus I have said as much as I think requisite touching the Situation, Extent, and Qualities of the Lands and Dominions belonging to the King of Denmark, which amounts in general to this, that they are very large, disjoined, and intermixt, producing but a moderate Plenty of Necessaries for the Inhabitants, but few Commodities for the Merchant, and no Manufactures, if we except a little Iron. Whether these Defects in Countries well situated and indifferent fertile be altogether natural or partly accidental, will better appear when I treat of the Form of the Government, and the present Condition, Customs, and Manners of the Natives; but because these last do in a manner depend upon, and are influenced by the former, I shall choose to begin with it.
Of Their Form of Government
The Ancient Form of Government here was the same which the Goths and Vandals established in most, if not all, Parts of Europe, whither they carried their Conquests, and which in England is retained to this day for the most part.14 ’Tis said of the Romans, That those Provinces which they Conquer’d were amply recompensed, for the loss of their Liberty, by being reduced from their Barbarity to Civility; by the Introduction of Arts, Learning, Commerce, and Politeness. I know not whether this manner of Arguing hath not more of Pomp than Truth in it; but with much greater reason may it be said that all Europe was beholding to these People for introducing or restoring a Constitution of Government far excelling all others that we know of in the World. ’Tis to the ancient Inhabitants of these Countries, with other neighbouring Provinces, that we owe the Original of Parliaments, formerly so common, but lost within this last Age in all Kingdoms but those of Poland, Great Britain, and Ireland.
Denmark therefore was till within these Two and Thirty years governed by a King chosen by the People of all sorts, even the Boors had their Voices, which King Waldemar the Third acknowledged in that memorable answer of his to the Popes Nuncio, who pretended to a great power over him. Naturam habemus à Deo, regnum à subditis, Divitias à parentibus, Religionem à Romana Ecclesia; quam si nobis invides, renuntiamus per praesentes.15 The Estates of the Realm being convened to that intent, were to Elect for their Prince such a Person as to them appeared Personable, Valiant, Just, Merciful, Affable, a Maintainer of the Laws, a Lover of the People, Prudent, and Adorned with all other Virtues fit for Government, and requisite for the great Trust reposed in him; yet with due regard had to the Family of the preceding Kings. If within that Line they found a Person thus qualified, or esteemed to be so, they thought it but a piece of just Gratitude to prefer him before any other to this high Dignity, and were pleased when they had reason to choose the Eldest Son of their former King, rather than any of the younger, as well because they had regard to Priority of Birth, when all other Virtues were equal, as because the greatness of his Paternal Estate might put him above the reach of Temptations to be covetous or dishonest, and in able him in some degree to support the Dignity of his Office. But if after such a Choice they found themselves mistaken, and that they had advanced a Cruel, Vitious, Tyrannical, Covetous, or Wasteful Person, they frequently Deposed him, oftentimes Banished, sometimes Destroyed him; and this either formally, by making him Answer before the Representative Body of the People; or if by ill Practices, such as making of Parties, levying of Soldiers, contracting of Alliances to support himself in opposition to the People’s Rights, he was grown too powerful to be legally contended with, they dispatched him without any more Ceremony the best way they could, and Elected presently a better Man in his room; sometimes the next of Kin to him, sometimes the Valiant Man that had exposed himself so far as to undertake the Expulsion or the killing of the Tyrant; at other times a private Person of a good Reputation, who possibly least dreamt of such an Advancement.
Frequent Meetings of the Estates was a part of the very Fundamental Constitution: In those Meetings all Matters relating to good Government were transacted; good Laws were enacted, all Affairs belonging to Peace or War, Alliances, disposal of great Offices, Contracts of Marriages for the Royal Family, etc. were debated. The imposing of Taxes, or demanding of Benevolences was purely accidental; no constant Tribute being ever paid, nor any Money levied on the People, unless either to maintain a necessary War with the advice and consent of the Nation, or now and then by way of Free-gift, to help to raise a Daughters Portion: the King’s ordinary Revenue at that time consisting only in the Rents of his Lands and Demesnes, in his Herds of Cattle, Forests, Services of Tenants in manuring and cultivating his Grounds, etc. Customs upon Merchandize being an Imposition of late crept into this part of the World; so that he lived like one of our Modern Noblemen, upon the Revenues of his own Estate, and eat not through the Sweat of his Subjects Brows.
His business was to see a due and impartial Administration of Justice executed according to the Laws; nay, often to sit and do it himself; to be watchful and vigilant for the welfare of his People, to Command in Person their Armies in time of War, to encourage Industry, Religion, Arts and Learning; and it was his Interest, as well as Duty, to keep fair with his Nobility and Gentry, and to be careful of the Plenty and Prosperity of his Commons.
This was the Ancient Form of Government in this Kingdom, which continued with very little variation (excepting that the Power of the Nobles encreased too much) till about Two and Thirty years ago, when at one instant the whole Face of Affairs was changed: So that the Kings have ever since been, and at present are, Absolute and Arbitrary; not the least remnant of Liberty remaining to the Subject; all Meetings of the Estates in Parliament intirely abolished, nay, the very Name of Estates and Liberty quite forgotten, as if there never had been any such thing; the very first and principal Article in the present Danish Law being, That the King has the Priviledge reserved to himself to explain the Law, nay, to alter and change it as he shall find good.16
It is easie for any considering Person to guess the Consequences of this, which are, frequent and arbitrary Taxes, and commonly very excessive ones, even in Times of Peace; little regard being had to the Occasion of them: So that the value of Estates in most parts of the Kingdom is fallen three Fourths. And it is worse near the Capital City under the Eye and Hand of the Government, than in remoter Provinces: Poverty in the Gentry, which necessarily causes extremity of Misery in the Peasants, Partiality in the distribution of Justice when Favourites are concerned; with many other Mischiefs which shall be hereafter more particularly mentioned; being the constant Effects of Arbitrary Rule in this and all other Countries wherein it has prevailed.
And because it is astonishing to consider how a free and rich People (for so they were formerly) should be persuaded intirely to part with their Liberties, I thought it very proper to give an account by what steps so great a Change and Revolution was brought about: The Particulars of which I have received not only from Eye-witnesses, but also from some of the principal Promoters and Actors in it.
The Manner How the Kingdom of Denmark Became Hereditary and Absolute
After the Conclusion of the Peace between the two Northern Crowns Anno 1660, some considerable care and time was necessary to redress the Disorders occasioned by so terrible a War. Denmark had been most violently shaken; and although the Fury of the Tempest was over, the Agitation caused by it still continued: The Army was not yet disbanded, nor could be for want of Money to discharge its Arrears; this caused frequent Insolencies in the Soldiers, with a further Oppression of the Burgers and poor Country People, who had been in a manner already ruined by the Miseries attending the War. The Nobility, though Lords and Masters, were full of Discontents, and the Clergy not in the condition they wished.
To redress all which Grievances, and reduce Affairs into some Order, by procuring Money for the Payment and Disbanding of the Army, the King thought fit to appoint a Meeting of the Three Estates at Copenhagen, viz. the Nobility, Commonalty, and Clergy; which accordingly followed about the beginning of October: After some few days Session (during which the Nobility, according to their usual practice debated how the Sums of Money requisite might with greatest ease and conveniency be levied upon the Commons, without the least intention of bearing any proportionable share themselves). Several Disputes arose, and many sharp Expressions passed between them and the Commons; on the one hand the Nobility were for maintaining their ancient Prerogative of paying nothing by way of Tax, but only by voluntary Contribution; and shewed themselves too stiff at a time when the Country was exhausted, and most of the remaining Riches lodged in their hands: They seemed to make use of this Occasion, not only to vindicate, but even to widen and enlarge their Privileges above the other two Estates, by laying Impositions on them at pleasure, which weight they themselves would not touch with one of their Fingers any further, than as they thought fitting. On the other hand, the Clergy for their late adherence to the interest of their Country, and the Burgers for the vigorous Defence of their City, thought they might justly pretend to new Merit, and be considered at least as good Subjects in a State, which they themselves had so valiantly defended. They remembered the great Promises made them when dangerous Enterprises were to be taken in hand, and how successfully they had executed them; thereby saving from a Foreign Yoak, not only the City of Copenhagen, but the whole Kingdom, the Royal Family, nay those very Nobles that now dealt so hardly with them: They judged it therefore reasonable, that the Sums of Money necessary should be levied proportionably, and that the Nobility who enjoyed all the Lands, should at least pay their share of the Taxes, since they had suffered less in the common Calamity, as well as done less to prevent the progress of it.
This manner of arguing was very displeasing to the Nobles, and begat much Heat and many bitter Replies on both sides: At length a principal Senator called Otto Craeg, stood up, and in great Anger told the President of the City, That the Commons neither understood nor considered the Privileges of the Nobility, who at all times had been exempted from Taxes, nor the true Condition of themselves, who were no other than Slaves; [the word in the Danish is unfree] so that their best way was to keep within their own Bounds, and acquiesce in such Measures as ancient Practice had warranted, and which they were resolved to maintain. This word Slaves put all the Burgers and Clergy in disorder, causing a loud Murmur in the Hall; which Nanson the President of the City of Copenhagen, and Speaker of the House of Commons, perceiving, and finding a fit occasion of putting in practice a Design before concerted (though but weakly) between him and the Bishop; in great Choler rose out of his Seat, and swore an Oath, That the Commons were no Slaves, nor would from thenceforth be called so by the Nobility, which they should soon prove to their cost: And thereupon breaking up the Assembly in disorder, and departing out of the Hall, was followed by all the Clergy and Burgers; the Nobles being left alone to consult among themselves at their leisure, after a little while adjourned to a private House near the Court. In the mean time the Commons, being provoked to the highest degree, and resolving to put their Threats in Execution, marched processionally by Couples, a Clergyman and a Commoner, from the great Hall or Parliament-House to the Brewers-Hall, which was the convenientest place they could pitch upon to sit apart from the Nobles, the Bishop of Copenhagen, and the President of the City leading them: It was there thought necessary to consider speedily of the most effectual Means to suppress the intolerable Pride of the Nobility, and how to mend their own Condition: After many Debates they concluded, That they should immediately wait upon the King, and offer him their Votes and Assistance to be absolute Monarch of the Realm, as also that the Crown should descend by inheritance to his Family, which hitherto had gone by Election. They promised themselves the King would have so great Obligations to them for this piece of Service, that he would grant and confirm such Privileges, as should put them above the degree of Slaves. They knew he had hitherto been curbed by the Nobility to a great Measure; and now saw their own force, being able (since they had Arms in their Hands, and the concurrence of the Soldiers) to perform what they undertook: At the worst, they supposed they should only change many Masters for one, and could better bear hardships from a King than from inferior Persons: Or if their Case were not better’d, at least they thought it some comfort to have more Company in it; besides the satisfaction of Revenge on those that had hitherto not only used them ill, but insulted over them so lately. They knew the King, and had seen him bear with an admirable Patience and Constancy all his Calamities; were persuaded that he was a Valiant Prince, who had often exposed his Person for the sake of the Publick, and therefore thought they could never do enough to shew their Gratitude; which is the usual Temper of the People upon any benefit received from their Prince. Scarce was this proposed but it was agreed to; and nothing but the unseasonableness of the time, (it being now near night) deferred the immediate Execution of it; but all the necessary Measures were taken against next Morning. The Clergy had a further drift in this Change of Government; for having been hitherto kept under by the Nobility, they forecasted to have no other Superior but the King, whose new Authority they engaged to maintain by the influence they had on the Consciences of the People; expecting with reason the like Favour and Protection from the King, together with an encrease of their Power; since he was in a great measure obliged to them for his own; and the benefits were likely to be mutual for the future, the one having the force, the other the tie of Religion in their Possession. Which Contract subsists to this very day, to the great advantage of both sides.
The Court all this while was not ignorant of what passed; there wanted no Spies nor Messengers to give notice of the Discontents of the Commons, Hannibal Seestede, a cunning Man, was prime Minister; and the Bishop or Superintendent Swan, with Nanson the Speaker of the House of Commons, were his Creatures: These had formerly in secret laid with him the Design, which was now upon the point of disclosing, though their hopes were hardly raised so high, as to promise themselves such mighty Success. The whole Night passed in Brigues and Messages, the Commons anger was to be kept up to the requisite height, and the Resolution they had taken the Night before not to be suffer’d to cool, but persisted in betimes next Morning. The Queen, a Woman of Intrigue and high Spirit, wrought strongly in it by all manner of ways, whilst the King, either through doubt of the Event, or sense of the Dishonesty and Crime of the Action, in procuring after such a manner the absolute Dominion of a free Country, could hardly be brought to comply with it. He declared that indeed he should be pleased the Sovereignty were entailed on his Family, provided it were done by Universal Consent; but to become Absolute and Arbitrary, was neither his desire, nor did he think it for the benefit of the Kingdom; that he was satisfied he should not make ill use of such an unlimited Authority; but no body knew what Successors he might have; that it was therefore dangerous both for them to give, and for him to receive such a Power as might be abused in future times to the utter ruin of the Nation. But these Reflections, whether they were real, or only pretences, whether caused by the Piety or Weakness of the King, were soon overruled by the more Ambitious and Masculine Spirit of the Queen, who desired him to sit still, and see how she and her Emissaries would work for him; told him, That the Plot was well laid, and had begun to operate prosperously; that he must not obstruct his own and his Families good Fortune; and in fine, so far prevailed on him, that he seemed with fear to consent to, and permit that which most think he very much desired: Having however by this shew of unwillingness, left open to himself a door of Reconciliation with his People, in case the business did not succeed.
All this while the Nobles either had none, or but small intimation of the Designs of the Commons, they had been used so long to slight and tyrannize over them, that they were not now sensible of any impending danger from thence, contemning their Threats as well as their Persons, and imagining they would have repented next day, and complied with all that should be demanded of them; but the Plot was deeper laid than they supposed; for not only the prime Minister, but some other Members of their own Body, who had Employments depending on the Court, were engaged in it. This inadvertency, with the want of requisite Courage upon occasion, brought upon them the Mischief on a sudden; so that except two or three who were more than ordinary doubtful of what might happen, and slipt out of Town that Night, the rest were altogether fearless of danger, till the very instant that the Evil was remediless.
Schack the Governor of the Town had been gained by the Court to favour the Design, which he performed effectually, though not with so servile an intention as others; for when the King, upon the first news of the Resolution of the Commons, did often openly promise that he would in Gratitude and Recompense declare them all Free as soon as it lay in his power, by the Gift they were about to make him; and the People were willing to trust the King’s goodness, and to depend on the performance of this Promise, encouraged thereunto by the Clergy, who alledged it a thing unbeseeming and dishonourable to require any other Security from the King than his bare Word; yet Schack urged vehemently that the Commons should insist to have this Promise under the King’s Hand, and make themselves sure of the Reward for so considerable a Present as they were going to make, whilst they had so fair an opportunity in their hands. But all his Instances were in vain; they were in the giving humour, and resolved to do it generously, trusting the King for the performance of his Word: A thing which they have since often, though too late repented of.
Next Morning the Nobles met in the Council-House, and the other two Estates in the Brewers-Hall; the Resolution of the Commons could not be kept so secret, but by this time some warm rumours of it had reached the Nobility; but scarce had they leisure to consider what was fittest to be done on that occasion, when they were informed that the Commons were marching towards them: For the Bishop and the President had so well performed their Parts, and urged the necessity of speedily executing what had been resolved the day before, that all time was judged lost which was not employed in putting it in practice; they immediately agreed to go to the Council-House, and there propound to the Nobility their design, desiring their Concurrence in such a necessary Work for the welfare of the Kingdom. They marched through the Streets with great Gravity, and Silence, by Couples, as before, whilst the Mobb by repeated Shouts applauded what they were going to do. And thus they came to the House where the Nobles were assembled, who had scarce warning sufficient to receive them.
The President Nanson made a short Harangue, setting forth that they had considered the state of the Nation, and that they found the only Remedy for the many Disorders which afflicted it, was to make the Crown Hereditary, and to give more Power to the King than hitherto he had enjoyed; that this Resolution was already taken by the Commons and Clergy, in which if the Nobility should think fitting to concur, they were ready to accompany them to the King, and make him a tender of an Hereditary and Sovereign Dominion; if not, that they were going themselves, and the matter should be done without them: That a speedy Resolution was necessary, for they had already sent word to the Court of their coming, and his Majesty expected them in the Hall of his Palace; therefore desired to be informed in few words what they resolved to do.
The suddenness of such a Proposition, and briskness in the manner of its delivery, caused a general astonishment in the Nobles; one might have seen those who but the day before carried it so proudly, in an instant fall to an excess of Complacency, and betray their Fear by their Speeches and Countenances, as they formerly had done their Arrogance. The Mischief no sooner appeared to them, but they saw it was unavoidable; there was no leisure allowed them to consult; and to deny their compliance, or even to delay it, was dangerous. To give up at once their beloved Power, and submit their Necks to a heavy Yoak, was an intolerable Grievance: But they saw they were no longer the Masters; the Commons were armed, the Army and Clergy against them; and they found now too late, that that which the day before they had considered only as the Effort of an unconstant giddy Multitude, was guided by wiser Heads, and supported by Encouragements from Court; nay possibly by some of their own Body: They suspected each other, and no Man knew whether his next Neighbour was not in the Plot against the Publick Liberty. It is easie to imagine what distracted thoughts afflicted them on a sudden; they were altogether un-prepared for such a dismal stroke: But some Answer must be given, and that speedily. Such a one as they had a mind to give, they durst not; for they were assembled in a Fortified Town, remote from their several Countries and Interests (where they had governed like so many Princes) in the power of those who could, and certainly would be revenged in case they proved refractory. The best way therefore was to seem to approve of what they could not hinder. They answer that the Proposition made to them by the Commons was not displeasing, but the manner of it wanted the requisite Formalities; that previous deliberation was necessary to an Affair of so great moment; that they could not but take it ill, a Resolution of such Consequence should be concluded on by the Commons without the least acquainting of the Nobility with it, who were the Chief Estate of the Realm: That they also aspired to the Honour of bearing their part in bestowing such a material Gift on the King and his Posterity, but desired that the Matter might be proceeded on with that gravity, and solemnity, which the nature of it required. That it was not fit such a weighty Transaction should have the appearance of a Tumult, and seemed forced rather than a free Choice. The Conclusion of all was, That they hoped the Commons would a little defer the putting in Execution their Design; and in the mean time consult with them, till the Affair were done orderly, and with unanimous Approbation, as well as to mutual Advantage.
This was with great vehemency by the President denied. He replied, These were Shifts only to gain time, that the Nobles might be in a Condition to frustrate the Intention of the Commons; that the Point was already agreed, and the Resolution taken; that they came not thither to consider, but to act; if the Nobles would join with them, they were ready; if not, they would do what was to be done alone; and doubted not but his Majesty would make his use of it.
During these Disputes the Nobility had privily sent some of their Body to Court to acquaint the King, that the Commons were now at their House, and had made them sudden Proposals, out of form, but such as they should rather concur with, than be averse to; that they were ready to join with them in offering an Hereditary Crown to his Majesty, and the Heirs Males of his Family for ever; which they hoped his Majesty would accept in good part: But desired to proceed in the usual Methods, which such weighty Affairs merited, viz. by Conferences and Deliberations, that it might appear rather an effect of their just Sentiments of his Majesty’s Valour and Conduct, than the sudden Motions of a Tumultuous Assembly.
The King, with a great deal of mildness, as if he had been wholly unconcerned and passive in the Case, replied; That he was obliged to them for their Designs in favour of Him, and the Royal Family; that he hoped what they were about would tend to the benefit of the Nation; but that a Crown intailed only on the Heirs Males could not be so acceptable to him, as if it were given without that Limitation; that the Government of Females had neither been a new thing at home, nor unprosperous in Neighbouring Countries: That they might consider of it, and since it was their Gift, he would not prescribe, but it could not be accepted by him unless it were more general.
In the mean time the Commons grew impatient, the Answer given them was not satisfactory, and the Nobles had not yet resolved on an entire Compliance, nor were ready to accompany them, because they had not yet an account of the Success of their Members sent to sound the Mind of the Court. The Clergy and Burgers therefore, led on by their Bishop and President, proceed without them to the Palace, and were met by the prime Minister, and conducted by him to the Hall of Audience, whither after some short time the King came to them. The Bishop makes a long Speech, setting forth the Praises of his Majesty, and the Cause of their waiting on him; concluding with an offer, in the name of themselves, the two most numerous, and if he pleased most powerful Estates, of an Hereditary and Absolute Dominion; together with the assistance of their Hands and Purses, in case any Body should go about to obstruct so necessary and laudable a Design for the good of the Country. The King told them in short, That he thanked them; and in case an Universal Consent established this good Desire of theirs, he would accept the Present they made him; but that the Concurrence of the Nobles was necessary; which he doubted not of in the least, when they had time to make the offer with the necessary Formalities: That he assured the Commons of his Royal Protection, and should not be unmindful of their Kindness, by easing them of their Grievances, and by encouraging Subjects who had behaved themselves so valiantly, and deserved so well from him. Concluding with his Advice to them to continue their Session till such time as Matters were brought to perfection, and he could receive their Gift with the Solemnity that was fitting: And thereupon dismissed them.
But the Nobles were all this while in a grievous distraction; they saw the Commons were gone to the King without them: Their Messengers brought News back that their Proposition of entailing the Crown on the Heirs Males, was not pleasing, because a greater Advantage was in prospect; that this offer was looked upon to proceed from Persons that would not have bestowed any thing, if they could have helped it. That it was thought they pretended to merit in giving only a part, when it was not in their power to hinder the taking the whole. In this irresolution they broke up; and since they were to meet again at Noon upon another Solemn Occasion, they resolved at that time to consider how to proceed in an Affair so delicate.
Monsieur Schele a Senator, and principal Man of the Country, was that Afternoon to be buried in great Pomp; his Body had lain some Months in State, and according to the Custom, was to be accompanied to its Interment by all the Nobility then in Town; this being a Parliament time was chosen for the Ceremony, because the Nobles were all together, and a magnificent Dinner was prepared, as is usual on the like occasions: In the height of their Entertainment an Officer comes into the Room, and whispers some of the principal Men that the City Gates were shut, and the Keys carried to Court: For the King having been informed by the Governor, that two or three had privily slipt out of Town the Night before, and being resolved that no more should Escape out of the Net, till he had done his business, had ordered the Governor that Morning to lock the Gates, and to let no Person in or out without special Order. The Governor sent one Bill, the Town Major, to put this in Execution; who as soon as he had done it, came to the House where they were met, and sat down at Table among the Senators. This dismal News of the Officer was presently whispered round the Company; who immediately applied themselves to him to know what the meaning was of such an unusual Proceeding at the time of a General Convention; They asked him what destiny was appointed them, whether they were there to be Massacred, or what else was to be done with them? The Town-Major calmly answered, That he believed there was no Danger towards them, that such violent Measures would not be taken by so gracious a King; though he had indeed given the Orders himself for the shutting the Gates; and that no Body was to stir out of Town without leave; but that this needed not disturb or hinder them from finishing the Work of the Day, and pursuing the Publick, as well as their Private Occasions. There wanted no more than this Confirmation from the Officer to overthrow all the Resolution, and Consultations of the Nobles; the dread of losing their Lives took away all thoughts of their Liberty. They immediately dispatched Messengers both to the Court, and the Commons, to give notice of their disposition to comply with what was formerly proposed; assuring them likewise, that they were ready to agree to all that should be asked of them.
But the King, who had began and played his Game so well hitherto, determined to pursue it to the utmost, and would not suffer the Gates to be opened, till the whole Ceremony of the Inauguration was concluded, and the Homage done in due form, and therefore ordered they should stay, till in the Face of the People, and the Army, they had sworn Fealty, and divested themselves of all Right, as well as Power, to cause any Disturbance, or Alteration for the future.
Three days time was requisite to prepare Matters for that fatal hour, wherein they were to make a formal Surrender of their Liberty; the Scaffolds were raised in the place before the Castle, and adorned with Tapestry; Orders were given for the Soldiery, and Burgers to appear in Arms under their respective Officers: And when all things were ready, on the 27th of October in the Morning, the King, Queen, and Royal Family mounted on a Theatre erected for that purpose, and being placed in Chairs of State under Canopies of Velvet, received publickly the Homage of all the Senators, Nobility, Clergy, and Commons; which was performed kneeling. The Oath, which they were obliged to take, was in these words:
I A. B. do Promise, and Declare, that I will be True, and Faithful to Your Majesty, as my most Gracious King and Lord, as also to Your Royal Family; that I will Endeavour, and Promote Your Majesties Interest in all things, and to the best of my Power defend you from all Danger, and Harm; and that I will faithfully serve Your Majesty as a Man of Honour, and an Hereditary Subject ought to do. So help me God, etc.17
This Oath they were all obliged to pronounce aloud, and some Men of Quality that were sick, or pretended to be so, were brought in Chairs. Among others one Gersdorf, a Principal Senator, who was the only Man that opened his Mouth in the behalf of their Expiring Liberties, saying, That he hoped, and trusted, that his Majesty designed nothing but the Good of his People, and not to govern them after the Turkish manner; but wished his Majesty’s Successors might follow the Example, which his Majesty would undoubtedly set them, and make use of that unlimited Power for the good, and not the harm of his Subjects. Not one of the rest spoke a word, or seemed to murmur in the least at what was done; and it is observable, that among so many Great Men, who a few days before seemed to have Spirits suitable to their Birth and Qualities, none had the Courage during those three last days, either by Remonstrance, or any other way, to oppose in any manner what was doing. And I have heard very intelligent Persons, who were at that time near the King, affirm, That had the Nobles shewed ever so little Courage in asserting their Privileges, the King would not have pursued his Point so far as to desire an Arbitrary Dominion: For he was in continual doubt, and dread of the Event, and began to waver very much in his Resolutions; so that their Liberties seem purely lost for want of some to appear for them.
From the Theatre, those that had done Homage, went to the Council-House, where the Nobles were called over by Name; and ordered to Subscribe the above-mentioned Declaration, which they all did.
Thus this great Affair was finished, and the Kingdom of Denmark in Four Days time changed from an Estate little differing from Aristocracy, to as absolute a Monarchy as any is at present in the World. The Commons have since experienced, that the little Finger of an Absolute Prince can be heavier than the Loins of many Nobles. The only comfort they have left them being to see their former Oppressors in almost as miserable a Condition as themselves; whilst all the Citizens of Copenhagen have by it obtained the insignificant Privilege of wearing Swords: So that at this day not a Cobler, or Barber stirs abroad without a Tilter at his side, let his Purse be never so empty. The Clergy, who always make sure Bargains, were the only Gainers in this Point; and are still much encouraged by the Court, as the Instruments that first promoted, and now keep the People in a due Temper of Slavery; the Passive Obedience Principle riding Triumphant in this unhappy Kingdom.
It was but Justice, that the Court should pay well the principal Contrivers of this great Revolution; and therefore notwithstanding the general want of Money, Hannibal Seestede had a Present of 200,000 Crowns. Swan the Superintendent, or Bishop, was made Archbishop, and had 30,000 Crowns. The President or Speaker Nanson, 20,000 Crowns. And to the People remained the Glory of having forged their own Chains, and the Advantage of Obeying without reserve. A happiness which I suppose no English Man will ever envy them.
The Condition, Customs, and Temper of the People
All these do so necessarily depend upon, and are influenced by the Nature and Change of Government, that ’tis easily imagined, the present Condition of these People of all Ranks must be most deplorable; at least it appears so to an English Man, who sees it, possibly more than to them that suffer it: For Slavery, like a sickly Constitution, grows in time so habitual, that it seems no Burden nor Disease; it creates a kind of laziness, and idle despondency, which puts Men beyond hopes and fears: It mortifies Ambition, Emulation, and other troublesome, as well as active qualities, which Liberty and Freedom beget; and instead of them affords only a dull kind of Pleasure of being careless and insensible.
In former Times, and even till the late Alteration in the Government, the Nobility or Gentry (for they are here the same thing) lived in great Affluence and Prosperity; their Country Seats were large and magnificent, their Hospitality extraordinary, because their Plenty was so too; they lived for the most part at home, and spent their Revenues among their Neighbours and Tenants, by whom they were considered, and respected as so many petty Princes. In times of Convention of the Estates, which ordinarily happened once a year, they met their King with Retinues almost as large as his; they frequently eat, and drank at the same Table with him, and in the debate of Publick Affairs, their Suffrages were of greatest weight, and usually carried the Point: For the Commons were willing in a great measure to be directed by them, because they much depended on them. In process of time this Excess of Power, as you have heard, made most of them grow insolent, which was the chief occasion of their fall, together with the loss of the Liberties of the whole Country. So that now they are sunk to a very low Condition, and diminish daily both in Number and Credit; their Estates scarce paying the Taxes imposed on them: Which makes them grind the Faces of their poor Tenants to get an Overplus for their own Subsistence. Nay, I have been assured by some Gentlemen of good Repute, who formerly were Masters of great Estates, that they have offered to make an absolute Surrender to the King of large Possessions in the Island of Zealand, rather than pay the Taxes; which offer, though pressed with earnestness, would by no means be accepted. And upon my further enquiry into the Reason of it, I have been informed, that Estates belonging to those Gentlemen, who made this offer, lying in other places, which had the good Fortune to be taxed less than the full value of the Income, were liable to pay the Taxes of any other Estate appertaining to the same Person, in case that other Estate were not able; so that some have been seen with a great deal of joy declaring that the King had been so gracious as to take their Estates from them.
Through these, and several other means, many of the ancient Families are fallen to decay; their Country Habitations, which were like Palaces, being ruinous, they are forced to live meanly, and obscurely in some corner of them: Unless it be their good Fortune to procure an Employment, Civil or Military, at Court, which is the thing they are most Ambitious of; it being indeed necessary to secure to their Families any tolerable Subsistence, or to afford them some shelter from the Exactions, and Injustices of the Collectors. The Civil Employments are in no great number, nor of great value; as they seldom are in a poor Country governed by an Army; so that few are provided for this way: The greatest part patiently enduring their Poverty at home; where, in a short time, their Spirits, as well as their Estates, grow so mean, that you would scarce believe them to be Gentlemen, either by Discourse or Garb.
Ancient Riches and Valour were the only Title to Nobility formerly in this Country; the Nobles and Gentry being, as I said before, the same thing. None took either their Degree, or Patents of Honour from the King: But of late years to supply the want of Riches, some few Titles of Baron or Count, and nothing higher, have been given to Favourites; who enjoy not the same Privileges by those Titles, as our Lords in England do, but content themselves with a few Airy insignificant ones, which distinguish them from the Common People; there are not many, even of this kind of Nobility, I believe fifteen or twenty are the most; these are such, who are most easie in their Fortunes, and are obliged (that they may preserve them) to keep in with the Court by all manner of ways; as indeed all are, who have a mind to live and eat Bread.
’Tis only this kind of Nobility with Titles, that have liberty to make a Will or Testament, and thereby to dispose of any Estate otherwise than as the Law has already determined, that it shall fall of course: Unless such Will be during the Life of the Testator, approved of and signed by the King; and then it shall be of force, and valid.
’Tis almost needless to mention that there is no buying, or selling of Land here; for where an Estate is a Charge, there will be few Buyers. Neither do I remember any one Alienation of Lands for Money, during all the time I stayed in that Country, except some Estates, which the Queen purchased; where she paid after the rate of 16000 Crowns for that which Thirty Years ago was valued at 60000 Crowns. There were indeed some Persons, who took Lands from the King in lieu of Money, which they had lent the Crown; and among these I remember to have heard of two, Monsieur Texera a rich Jew of Hamburg, and Monsieur Marseilles, a Dutch Merchant, who was formerly established at Copenhagen. These were forced to take Lands, or Nothing, for their Debts, which amounted to some Hundred Thousands of Crowns; yet did these Lands yield them so little Income, by reason of the Taxes imposed on them, though they were vast Tracts of fertile Ground, that they would willingly have parted with them (as I was informed) for one fifth part of their Principal.
However, in case it should happen that one who has a mind to transplant himself to another place, could find a Purchaser for his Estate, the Law is, That one third part of such Purchase-Money shall accrue to the King; and indeed if there were not such a severe Law against Alienations, it is possible most of the present Possessors would quit the Country the first Opportunity.
The King assumes to himself the Power of disposing of all Heirs and Heiresses of any Consideration, as it is practised in France: Not that there is any Law for it, but upon pain of his Displeasure; which here is too weighty to be born.
Military Employments are mightily coveted by the Native Gentry, almost as much as the Civil; and purely for the same reason that the Priest’s Office was among the Jews, viz. That they may eat a piece of Bread. For it is a sure way to find Soldiers (as long as there are Men in a Kingdom) to imitate the French King’s practice in this particular, make the Gentry poor, and render Traffick unprofitable or dishonourable, Men of Birth must live, and one half of the Nation, by giving up themselves to Slavery, will contribute their Assistance afterwards to put Chains upon the other.
Yet in Denmark the Natives are considered much less than Strangers, and are more out of the Road of Preferment, whether it be that the Court can better trust Strangers, whose Fortunes they make, than the Posterity of such whose Fortunes they have ruined: Or whether they think their very Parts and Courage to be diminished in proportion to their Estates and Liberty, (which appears to be plainly the case of their common People) or for what other reason; certain it is, that all sorts of Places, Civil and Military, are filled more by Foreigners than Gentlemen of the Country: And in their disposal of Offices it is remarkable, that such as are of ordinary Birth and Fortunes, are much sooner preferred than those of contrary qualities: So that here may be found several in the most profitable and honourable Employments who have formerly been Serving-men, and such like; and these prove the best Executors of the Will and Pleasure of Arbitrary Power, and therefore are caressed accordingly. There is one further advantage in the promotion of these kind of Men; that after they are grown rich by Extortion, and have sucked the Blood of the Poor, when Clamours grow loud against them, the Court can with ease squeeze these Leaches, laying all the blame of its own Oppression at their Doors; and this without the danger of causing the discontent of any of the Nobles, upon the score of Kindred or Alliance.
The difficulty of procuring a comfortable Subsistence, and the little security of enjoying what shall be acquired through Industry, is a great cause of Prodigality, not only in the Gentry, whose Condition is more easie, but also in the very Burgers and Peasants: they are sensible that they live but from Hand to Mouth, and therefore as soon as they get a little Money they spend it. They live to day as the Poet advises, not knowing but what they now have may be taken from them tomorrow. And therefore expensiveness in Coaches, Retinue, Clothes, etc. is no where more common, nor more extravagant in proportion to their Income, than in this Country. Parsimony is often, not only a cause, but a sign of Riches; the more a wealthy Man has, the more he endeavours to acquire, and to encrease his stock: But here the Courtier buys no Land, but remits his Money to the Bank of Amsterdam, or of Hamburgh; the Gentleman spends presently on himself and his Pleasures all that he can get, for fear he should have the Reputation of being Rich, and his Money be taken from him by Taxes, before he has eaten or drank for it; the Merchant and Burger do the like, and subsist purely upon Credit; there being very few of this sort in the King’s Dominions that can be called rich, or worth 100,000 Rix Dollars. The Peasant or Boor, as soon as he gets a Rix Dollar, lays it out in Brandy with all haste, lest his Landlord, whose Slave he is, should hear of it, and take it from him. Thus Torva leaena lupum sequitur, lupus ipse capellam.18 The Trading Towns and Villages, (if we except Copenhagen, whose Situation and Haven make it thrive a little in spite of ill usage) are all fallen to decay. Those Burroughs which formerly lent good Sums of Money to the Prince upon extraordinary Publick Occasions, and furnished the Hollanders yearly with ten or twelve great Fly-boats Lading of Corn, being now not in a condition to raise 100 Rix Dollars, or to Lade one small Ship of Rye; as may be instanced in Kiog, once a flourishing little Seaport-Town, twenty Miles from Copenhagen, which in King Christian the Fourth’s time raised for that King’s Service, in four and twenty hours time, 200,000 Rix Dollars; yet upon occasion of the last Poll Tax, I heard that the Collectors were forced to take from this and other Towns (in lieu of Money) old Feather beds, Bedsteads, Brass, Pewter, Wooden Chairs, etc. which they violently took from the Poor People, who were unable to pay, leaving them destitute of all manner of Necessaries for the use of Living.
Some Manufactures have been endeavoured to be introduced, not so much with a design of benefiting the Publick, as private Courtiers, and great Men who were the Undertakers, and expected to profit thereby: particularly that of Silks and Drinking glasses; but in a little time all came to nothing; it being a very sure Rule, that Trade will not be forced in a place where real Encouragements and Advantages are not to be found, and where Property is not secured; the very Credit of the Subject being as slender as his Riches are uncertain.
If this be the Case of the Gentleman and Burger, what can be expected to be that of the poor Peasant or Boor? In Zealand they are all as absolute Slaves as the Negroes are in Barbadoes, but with this difference, that their Fare is not so good. Neither they, nor their Posterity, to all Generations, can leave the Land to which they belong; the Gentlemen counting their Riches by their Stocks of Boors, as here with us by our Stocks of Cattle; and the more they have of these, the richer they are. In case of Purchase, they are sold as belonging to the Freehold, just as Timber-Trees are with us. There is no computing there by numbers of Acres, but by numbers of Boors, who, with all that belongs to them, appertain to the Proprietor of the Land. Yeomanry, which is the strength of England, is a state not known or heard of in Denmark; but these poor Drudges, after they have laboured with all their might to raise the King’s Taxes, must pay the Overplus of the Profit of the Lands, and their own Toil, to their Landlords, who are almost as poor as themselves. If any of these Wretches prove to be of a diligent and improving Temper, who endeavours to live a little better than his Fellows, and to that end has repaired his Farm-house, making it convenient, neat, or pleasant, it is forty to one but he is presently transplanted from thence to a naked and uncomfortable Habitation, to the end that his griping Landlord may get more Rent, by placing another on the Land that is thus improved: so that in some years ’tis likely there will be few or no Farm-Houses, when those already built are fallen through Age or Neglect.
Another Grievance is, the Quartering and paying of the Soldiers.19 Those that know what a vexatious thing it is (over and above the Charge) to be constantly plagued with insolent Inmates, who Lord it whereever they dwell, will soon allow this to be a Mischief scarce supportable.
And although this Country have a tendency to be extremely populous, the Women being exceeding fruitful, which is sufficiently proved by the vast Swarms that in former Ages, from these Northern parts, over-ran all Europe; yet at present it is but competently Peopled; vexation of Spirit, ill Diet, and Poverty, being great Obstructions to Procreation. Within Man’s Memory the Peasants lived very happily; there was scarce any Family of them that was not Owner of a large piece of Plate or two, besides Silver Spoons, Gold Rings, and other odd Knacks, which they are fond of to this day, (and whenever they have any Money, will lay it out in such-like things, because they dare not trust themselves with the keeping of Money, the inclination to spend it presently is so general) but now it is a great rarity to find in a Boor’s House any thing made of Silver; or indeed any other Utensil of Value, unless it be Feather-Beds, whereof there are better, and in greater plenty than in any place I ever saw; and which are made use of, not only to lye upon, but also to cover with instead of Blankets.
Among all the Hardships which are imposed on these poor Peasants, that which seemed to me one of the greatest, was the Obligation they lye under to furnish the King, Royal Family, and all their Attendants, their Baggage and Furniture, with Horses, and Travelling Wagons, whensoever he makes any Progress (which he often does either to Jutland or Holstein) or takes any lesser Journey in Zealand; nay, although it be only to his Country-Houses of Fredericksburg and Yagersburg. In these Cases all the Peasants that lye near the Road, or in that District, are summoned to attend with their Horses and Wagons at certain Stages, where they are to relieve each other; and this they often do, always at their own Charges for Man’s, and Horse-meat, for two or three days together, no regard being had to the Season of Harvest, (which is the usual travelling time) or to any other Conveniency of these poor Wretches. I have frequently seen them with hundreds of Wagons in a Company, attending the Arrival of the Court, bewailing their sad Condition; and as soon as the King came up, and his Coaches, with those of the other Persons of Quality, were fitted with six or eight Boors Horses each, (for they are little bigger than Calves) then every Lacquey seizes on his Boor and Wagon, for his own proper use; at which time, unless his Pleasure be in all things complied with, the poor trembling Peasant (who drives on, and takes all patiently, without replying one word) is so beaten and abused, that it has often moved my Pity and Indignation to see it. Neither is it only when the King himself travels, that the Boors are put to this trouble, but whenever he pleases to give his Warrant to any Person of Quality, or Officer, that has a Journey to make, they are obliged to this Service and Attendance.
Apoplexies and the Falling-Sickness are the Epidemical Distempers here; one shall hardly pass through the Streets of Copenhagen, without seeing one or two poor Creatures grovelling on the Ground in a Fit, and foaming at the Mouth, with a Circle of Gazers and Assistants about them: I know not what to impute this to, unless to the ill Diet of the Common sort, which is generally Salt-meats, Stock-fish, and such-like. Apoplexies among the better sort, often proceed either from excessive Drinking, or from Discontent; it being very usual here to have them die of a Slacht, as they call it, which is an Apoplexy, proceeding from Discontent and Trouble of Mind. But by way of amends for these ugly Distempers, there are few or none that are troubled with Coughs, Catarrhs, Consumptions, or such like Diseases of the Lungs; so that in the midst of Winter in the Churches, which are very much frequented, there is no noise to interrupt the Attention due to the Preacher. I am persuaded their warm Stoves, with the Plenty and Pureness of their Firing, (which is Beechwood) contributes as much to their freedom from these kinds of Maladies, as the grossness and unwholsomness of our Coals in London does to our being so universally troubled with them; notwithstanding the ingenious Sir William Petty be of another Opinion: for in all other respects of Air and Situation, we have much the advantage of them.
The Tables of the better sort are usually well furnished with Dishes, yet I cannot commend the Cheer; because the Flesh is generally lean, and (except the Beef and Veal) ill tasted, especially the tame Fowl, the fattening of which is an Art not known by above two or three, who have been taught it by an English Poulterer, lately set up at Copenhagen. Wether Mutton is very scarce, and seldom good. Wild Ducks hardly to be eaten; and Plovers never. Here are no wild Pheasants, Woodcocks, Rabbits, or Fallow Deer. Red Deer there are, but they are the King’s Game, and not to be bought for Money. The Hares are good, and the Bacon is excellent. Now and then you meet with a Cheureuil, or small Roe Buck in the Market, but it is generally lean. Sea-fish is scarce, and not good, but the River-fish makes amends, here being the best Carp, Perch, and Craw-fish that are to be found any where. One cannot expect extraordinary Fruits thus far North; yet the Gentry do not want such as are very tolerable, being extremely addicted to Gardening; and several of the Nobility being so curious, as to have Melons, Grapes, Peaches, and all sorts of Salads very early, and in great perfection. The Butter is very good, but the Cheese stark naught. In general, their way of Cookery would hardly be pleasing to an English Man.
They are much addicted to drinking; the Liquors that are most in vogue with Persons of Condition, are Rhenish Wine, Cherry Brandy, and all sorts of French Wine. The Men are fond of them, and the fair Sex does not refuse them. The poor People, who are able to indulge themselves, do it in bad Beer, and Danish Brandy, which is made of Barley.
The Gentlemen and Officers go very fine in their Dress after the French mode; but the Ladies Winter-dress is Danish, very becoming, and convenient. The Burgers, Servants, and even Peasants, are neat and cleanly; they love [a] change of ordinary white Linen, which is here made cheap; the Women-kind employing their leisure time in Spinning. All these People have a degree of Vanity; Pride and Poverty being often Companions to each other.
Their Marriages are usually preceded by Contracts, which will last sometimes three, four, or more years, before they proceed to a publick Wedding by the Minister; though often the young Couple grow better acquainted before these Formalities are dispatched. The Gentry give Portions with their Daughters; but the Burgers and Peasants, if they be able, give Cloaths, some Household stuff, and a great Wedding Dinner, but nothing else till they die.
Sumptuous Burials and Monuments are much in request with the Nobility; and it is usual to keep the Corps of a Person of Quality in a Vault, or the Chancel of some Church, for several Years together, till a fit opportunity to celebrate the Funeral. The poorer sort are buried in great thick Chests; and in the Towns, there are about a dozen of common Mourners belonging to each Parish, who are obliged to carry, and attend them to their Graves.
The Common People are mean spirited, not Warlike in their Tempers, as formerly; inclined to gross Cheating, and to suspect that others have a design to cheat them; therefore unwilling to go out of a road they have been accustomed to: insomuch that if you offer them great profit for a thing which they have not been used formerly to sell, they will refuse to part with it, as suspecting that you see an advantage in such a Purchase, which as yet is unknown to them, but which they hope to find out. I remember one instance: Seeing great Flocks of Green Geese in the Fields near the Town, I sent to buy some, but they being never used to sell, or eat Geese, in that Country, till they are big and old, it was not possible to persuade any body to part with one of them, though double the price of a big one were offered for each. They asked what we desired to buy them for? What we would do with them? etc., for they could not be persuaded, any one would be so foolish as to eat them whilst young, or little; after a Week, an old Woman, to whom Money had been offered for a dozen, came and brought four to sell, saying, That neither she, nor her Geese, had thriven since she had refused to sell them at a good price; for the Kite had the night before kill’d eight of her stock, and that now the remaining four were at my service. Thus the Superstition of this old Woman procured us the first Green Geese that I believe were ever eaten in Denmark; but after that they had taken notice that we fatted and killed them for eating, they furnisht us with them as often as desired. I would not omit this silly Story, because it gives a more lively Idea of the Temper of the Common People, than any Description I could make. In their Markets they will ask the same price for stinking Meat, as for fresh; for lean, as for fat, if it be of a kind. And the sure way not to obtain, is to seem to value, and to ask importunately, a thing which otherwise they themselves would desire should be done. This last Remark is not peculiar to the Common People only.
I do not see that they are good at imitating the Inventions of other Countries; and for inventing themselves, I believe none here, since the famous Tycho Brahe, ever pretended to it. Few or no Books are written, but what some of the Clergy compose of Religion. Not so much as a Song, or a Tune, was made, during three Years that I stayed there. Their Seasons of Jollity are very rare, and since the fatal Opera about four years ago, wherein many hundred Persons were burnt together in the old Queen’s House,20 they content themselves with running at the Goose on Shrove-Tuesdays, and taking their pleasure upon Sledds in the Winter, well wrapped up in Wool or Fur. A Divertisement much in request in this Court, and among all kinds of People. Perhaps it will be thought too nice here to remark, That no body presumes to go in a Sledd, till the King and Court has begun; That the King passes over a new Bridge the first. And that the Clocks of Copenhagen strike the hours after the Court Clock.
’Tis a difficult matter for Strangers to find conveniences of Lodging or Eating in Denmark; even in Copenhagen are few or no Lodgings to be Let in private Houses; and in the Taverns one must be content to Eat and Drink in a publick Room, into which any other Company may enter, and do the like at another Table; unless one pretends to higher matters than ordinary. The Language is very ungrateful, and not unlike the Irish in its whining complaining Tone. The King, great Men, Gentry, and many Burgers, make use of the High-Dutch in their ordinary Discourse, and of French to Strangers. I have heard several in high Employment, boast that they could not speak Danish. Yet very many of the Monosyllables in this Tongue are the same with the English; and without doubt we owe the Original of them to the Danes, and have retained them ever since they were Masters of our Country.
Of the Revenue
The Revenue of the King of Denmark arises from three Heads: First, The Taxes and Impositions of his own Subjects: Secondly, Customs paid by Foreigners: Thirdly, Rents of his own Estate, Crown Lands, and Confiscations. Each of these shall be treated of apart.
The Taxes paid by his own Subjects, are in some Cases fixed, and constant, in others arbitrary. When I distinguish between these two, it is not meant that the King’s Power is limited in any wise; but only that he chooses, in some Taxes, to follow Rules and Measures established by himself, in all others he varies often. Of the first sort are, First, The Customs, or Toll, for Import and Export: Secondly, The Excise, commonly called the Consumption; which is upon Tobacco, Wine, Salt, Grain, etc., and all Eatables and Drinkables brought into any Town of the King of Denmark’s Dominions to be spent. These are the great Taxes, and the last is severe enough. There are besides, of this kind, smaller Taxes; as that 3 dly upon Marriages, where every couple Marrying, pay so much for the Licence, according to their quality; this is pretty high, and comes in some Cases to a good number of Rix Dollars for a Licence. 4 thly, A Tax for marked Paper, whereon all Bonds, and Contracts, Copies of Judicial Proceedings, Grants, Passports, etc. must be written, otherwise they are invalid. And this is an uneasie Tax; there being of this kind of Paper, which amounts to several Rix Dollars a Sheet. Fifthly, Taxes for Brewing, Grinding, and other things, which shall be hereafter spoken of. But these, and such like, are certain; that is to say, every one knows how much he is to pay, according to an Ordnance at present in force; which however may be altered as the King pleases.
Of the second sort are Impositions upon Land; which is reckoned, not by Acres, but Farms; viz. so much for every proportion of Land that will bear the sowing of a Tun of hard Corn. Wheat and Rye are called hard Corn, and according to the Fertility of the Land, Seasonableness of the Year, Ability of the Landlord, each Farm is taxed higher or lower; but seldom too low.
Secondly, Poll-money, which is sometimes raised twice in a year, and is imposed according to the Substance of the Person taxed; which is guessed at, not fixed, as in other places, where all of a Rank pay equally.
Thirdly, Fortification-Tax, or Money raised for, or upon pretence of making Fortifications for the Defence of the Kingdom, etc.
Fourthly, Marriage-Tax, when a Daughter of Denmark is to be disposed of; whose Portion commonly is but 100,000 Crowns: but under this Name, occasion is taken to raise more.
Fifthly, Trade-money, wherein every Trades man is taxed for the liberty of exercising his Trade, according to the Gain which it is computed he makes by it: and he is moreover obliged to quarter Soldiers.
Sixthly, Ground-Rent for all Houses in Copenhagen, or any other Towns in Denmark; which are taxed by the King, when he pleases, according to the goodness of the House, the ability of the Possessor, or the greatness of the Sum he intends to levy at that time.
In Holstein and Sleswick the Lands are taxed by Ploughs; each Plough paying so much a Month.
To begin with those of the first sort, whereof the Rates are known and fixed; it would be convenient, in speaking of the Customs and Excise, to transcribe the whole Book of Rates, but I fear to be too tedious; however not to be wanting in any thing material, and to give a taste, whereby to guess at the rest; and measure Hercules by his Foot, some Particulars shall be set down, whereof to make a right Judgment, a due regard must be had always, not only to the Plenty and Scarcity of Money in a Country, but also to the goodness of a Commodity. For instance, when I speak of a fat Ox, it must not be imagined that we mean such as are usual in our English Markets; but rather such as we see come from Wales or Scotland. And so of other things in the Consumption Tax. And a Rix Dollar, considering the scarcity of Money, ought to be computed to go further than three crowns with us.
A Rix Dollar is something short of an English Crown in value; a Stiver is more than an English Penny. 48 Stivers make a Rix Dollar. One Lispound is the same with that we call a Stone. One Ship-pound is 20 Lispound. A Danish Ell is a third less than an English, or thereabouts.
There are publick Mills appointed and farmed to certain persons by the King, where all the Inhabitants of Copenhagen are bound to grind upon a Penalty, and to pay the Sums above-mentioned for grinding: it being not permitted to any private Person or Brewer to grind his own Mault, nor Baker his own Bread-corn.
I need say no more of the Tax for Marriage Licences, or that for the use of mark’d Paper in Bonds and Contracts, than has been already mention’d.
Those of the second sort, viz. Land-Tax, House-Tax, Poll-Money, and Fortification-Money, which are sometimes laid high, and sometimes low, can have no settled estimate made of them; however, I shall endeavour to compute them in the summing up the total of the Revenue, according to what they have yielded of late years, which was pretty high; and according to the utmost they can bear at present, or may probably for the future.
Some years ago, since the last War with Sweden, the King caused a Valuation and a Register to be made of all the Houses in the Cities and Burroughs within his Dominions, as likewise an admeasurement of all Lands in the Country, that he might the better proportion the Taxes he should have occasion to levy. These are now applotted and raised according to the very utmost of the Peoples Abilities; neither do I believe that in case of a War or other exigency, they could possibly bear a greater burden; for in the Country the Gentleman and Peasant are in a manner ruined; in the Cities and Burroughs, Houses pay yearly for Ground-Tax four per Cent. of the whole value that the Ground is rated at, if it were to be purchased; and this is estimated by Commissioners appointed for that purpose, according to the quantity of the Ground, or the conveniency of the Station: moreover, for every hundred Rix Dollars which the Ground of any House is rated at, the Inhabitants are obliged to quarter one Soldier. Thus a Rhenish-Wine Vintner at Copenhagen, and he none of the richest, has the Ground of his House valued at 900 Rix Dollars, he consequently pays 36 Rix Dollars yearly for Ground-tax, and quarters nine Soldiers upon the account of his House, and three more upon the account of his Trade. The like proportion is observ’d towards all others, with respect to their Houses and Trades.
Here is commonly one Poll-Tax at least every year; or if it chance to miss one year, it is usually doubled the next. The lowest Assessment is according to the following proportion, viz. a Burger esteemed worth eight or ten thousand Rix Dollars, pays for himself four Rix Dollars, for his Wife four Rix Dollars, for every Child two Rix Dollars, for every Servant one Rix Dollar, for every Horse one Rix Dollar. An ordinary Alehouse-keeper pays for himself one Rix Dollar, for his Wife one Rix Dollar, for every Child 24 Stivers, for every Servant 16 Stivers.
About two years ago there was a Poll-Tax higher than ordinary; and at that time this proportion was observed: One of the Farmers of the Customs paid for himself 24 Rix Dollars, for his Wife 16 Rix Dollars, for her Maid two Rix Dollars, for every other Servant one Rix Dollar. A Burger esteemed worth six or eight thousand Rix Dollars paid for himself six Rix Dollars, for his Wife four Rix Dollars, for every Child two Rix Dollars, for every Servant one Rix Dollar; and thus did others according to their several Abilities.
The Fortification Schatt is a Tax with a witness: in that which was levied in the Year 1691, these were the Rules for payment. All the King’s Servants paid 20 per Cent. of their yearly Salaries. All the Officers of the Army, beginning with Captains, and so upwards, 30 per Cent. of their Pay. (These used to be freed from former Taxes of this kind.) The Nobility and Gentry paid in proportion to their Rank and Estate. The highest, as Count Guldenlieu, etc., from seven hundred to one thousand Rix Dollars each. Burgers were taxed according to their supposed Abilities; the richer sort from one hundred to four hundred Rix Dollars, each; the middle sort of Merchants worth six or eight thousand Rix Dollars paid forty Rix Dollars; an Apothecary sixty eight Rix Dollars; a Vintner fifty five Rix Dollars; ordinary Burgers eight or ten Rix Dollars each: the poorer sort one or two Rix Dollars, and so forth. This sort of Tax has been accounted equal with another called the Kriegs Sture, imposed at the beginning of the War; and that amounted to near seven hundred thousand Rix Dollars in all. But ’tis most certain, the People are not now able to pay it as they were then, and consequently it will not be so much by a great deal.
When the King’s only Daughter was about to be married to the present Elector of Saxony, a Marriage-Tax was intended, and had certainly been levied in case the Marriage had gone forward: but the one, as well as the other, is now no more spoken of, though no Kingdom in Europe can boast of a more deserving Princess.
I suppose by this time an English Reader has taken a Surfeit of this Account of Taxes which the Subjects of Denmark do pay; but it ought to be a great Satisfaction to him to reflect, that through the Happiness of our Constitution, and the Prudence and Valour of our King, the People of this Nation, though enjoying ten times more natural and acquired Advantages than the Danes, which causes more than ten times their affluence; do not for all that pay towards the carrying on the most necessary and just War, the third part in proportion to what the King of Denmark’s Subjects do in time of a profound Peace: Pax servientibus gravior est quam liberis bellum.21
The second Head from whence proceeds a considerable Branch of this King’s Revenue, is the Customs or Toll paid by Foreigners. These pay something more for imported Goods than the Natives and Burgers, and more Anchorage-money in the Ports. The Danes, from their own Ports to their own Ports, paying four Stivers per Last; from Foreign Ports ten Stivers per Last, whereas Foreign Ships pay twelve Stivers. But that which is most considerable to the King, is the Toll paid by all Strangers (except the Swedes) that pass the Sound; and the Customs of Norway.
I have in another place given an ample Account of the Original and Progress of this Toll, together with the Copy of a Letter which makes a Computation of the present Revenue arising from thence; so that I shall not need to repeat what I formerly said; only in general, that it is much fallen from what it was in the time of the last War, when all that passed paid; it came then to about 143,000 Rix Dollars yearly. In the Years 1690, and 1691, it amounted not to much more than 65000 Rix Dollars, at which rate we may judge it likely to continue. This belongs to the King’s Privy Purse, and comes not under the Management of the Treasurer.
The Revenues of Norway arise chiefly from the Tenths of Timber and Tar, of Fish and Oil, and the Customs of the same; which being bought and exported by Foreign Merchants, the Sums that come from thence into the King’s Coffers are principally owing to them. It is true, there are Silver Mines, and Iron, and one of Copper, but these are of small value. The Excise, and the other Taxes of the Natives, are the same with those of Denmark; which these of Norway are better enabled to pay, because of their Foreign Trade; although this also is considerably diminished since their late Quarrel with the Dutch; who thereupon gave over their Traffick with them, and transferred it for some time to Sweden. These Differences have indeed been since adjusted, but it is a hard matter to reduce Trade thoroughly into the former Channel, when once it has taken another course. The Danes are of opinion, that neither the English nor Dutch can possibly want the Norway Trade for their Naval Stores: but if a right use were made of our Plantations in the West-Indies, they may chance to find themselves mistaken.
It may not be amiss to mention in this place, though it be something foreign to the Matter in hand; that just before the present War with France, the Trading Ships belonging to all the King of Denmark’s Dominions, were computed to amount to about four hundred, besides little Barks that bring Wood, etc. because the number of them had been lessened almost two thirds within thirty years. But at present, since the Trade of Europe has been in a manner carried on by the Neutral Princes, it cannot otherwise be, but that the number must be considerably increased within these four years; though as yet it comes not up to what it formerly did. To conclude with Norway, which is divided into the Southern and Northern Provinces. The whole Revenue from the first of these amounts yearly to between five and six hundred thousand Rix Dollars; and from the last to between two and three hundred thousand Rix Dollars; and so the Total may be communibus annis22 800,000 Rix Dollars.
The exactest Computation that I have known made of the English, Dutch and French Trades to these Parts in Times of Peace, ran thus: Of English there passed the Sound yearly, from two hundred Vessels to three hundred; of Dutch from one thousand to eleven hundred; of French from ten to twelve; and the like proportion to Norway. By which it is easily judged, that the Friendship and Trade of France ought to come in no competition with that of England and Holland; since the King of Denmark owes so large a share of his best Revenue to these last, and so little to the other.
The third and least considerable Branch of the Revenue arises from the Rents of the Crown Lands, and confiscated Estates. The latter are in the King’s hands, either upon account of forfeiture for Treason, and other Crimes, or by reason of Debt and Non-payment of Taxes; and it is to be supposed these will encrease every day in proportion to the Poverty of the Country; since, as I formerly said, many would be glad, rather to surrender their Estates to the King, than pay the Taxes imposed on them.
But notwithstanding this Addition of Lands, the King is so far from being the richer, that he is the poorer for it: for upon the King’s becoming possessor of any Man’s Estate, immediately the great pains and care ceases which was formerly taken to improve it, and make it yield as much as it could; and it becomes almost desolate, either through the negligence or little encouragement of the Tenants: generally it turns to Forrest, and contributes to his Diversion, though little to his Purse; and the Houses run to decay. So do the Royal Palaces, whereof there are a great many on the Crown Lands, few of them, except Fredericksburg, being in a Condition to be dwelt in. For which reason it is a hard matter to make a just Calculation what yearly Revenue these afford: and that which they do yield goes for the most part among the Courtiers, who have the Government of the King’s Houses, the Supervisorships of his Parks, Forests, and Farms, with the Services of his Boors, and Tenants. So that I believe we should rather over, than under reckon them, if we compute the clear yearly profit of these to amount to 200,000 Rix Dollars.
I endeavoured to know from an exact and understanding Person there, how much the running Cash of those Kingdoms might probably be: Whose Answer was in these Words: It is very difficult to make any rational Computation of the running Cash of these Kingdoms; but certainly it is but very little, and not near the hundredth part of that of England: for excepting a very few, none have any Cash by them; the Trading People, through whose hands it runs, being generally Men of no Substance, but indebted over Head and Ears to their Creditors at Amsterdam and Hamburg, it comes no sooner in, but it ispaid out. Moreover, the Cash of the Nation runs yearly out, by what the Officers of the Army, who are Foreigners, can clear; for all that they transport to other Countries: likewise by what divers of the Ministers of State can scrape together; since it is observed, that few or none of them purchase any Lands, but place their Money in the Banks of Amsterdam and Hamburg . Furthermore, by what the over-balance of Trade carries away; for this Country consumes more of Foreign Commodities, than its own Product can countervail. And all this makes me believe, that there is but an inconsiderable running Cash here; and very much of that which runs among the People is Brass-money, which is not worth any ones while to Export: Besides, the very Silver Coin has a great mixture of Brass in it.
From the whole I conclude, that there is a moral Impossibility all these Taxes and Impositions should continue. The weight of them is already so great, that the Natives have reason rather to wish for, than defend their Country from an Invader; because they have little or no Property to lose, and may probably thereby mend their Condition, when there is scarce a possibility of making it worse. There seems to be a great sense of this in the Court, and therefore an Army composed of Foreigners is depended on. Here follow the Particulars of the Revenue.
It must be observed, that the Poll-Tax, and the Fortification-Tax, are never both raised the same year; so that there must be deducted out of that Sum about 400,000 Rix Dollars in lieu of one of those Taxes; and then the Sum total of the whole Revenue of the King of Denmark will amount every year to about two Millions two hundred twenty two thousand Rix Dollars.
Of the Army, Fleet, and Fortresses
Having done with the Revenue, I come in the next place to shew how those Sums are expended: And it is certain, that the levying of them is not more grievous to the Subject than the Reason for which they are levied, viz. the Maintenance of a great standing Army: so that the People are Contributors to their own Misery; and their Purses are drain’d in order to their Slavery. Thus the King of France makes the rich Towns he takes be at the Charge of building Citadels to keep themselves in awe: and it is that Master of the Art of Reigning, as his Flatterers call him, that has instructed the Court of Denmark, as well as the other Princes and States of Europe, the pernicious Secret of making one part of the People, both the Bridle and Scourge of the other; which in time must needs end in a general Desolation.
The King of Denmark has been but too apt a Pupil to such a Master, and has endeavoured even to exceed his Original; which he finds to his cost at this day, in raising more Men than his Country can maintain. Soldiers are, through I know not what mistaken Policy, esteemed the Riches of the Northern Kings, and other German Princes; for when they make an estimate of each others Wealth, it is not by the usual and ancient manner of Computation, the Fertility or Extent of the Territory, the Traffick, Industry, Number, or Riches of the People; but by so many Horse and Foot. For the subsistence of which they are forced, after they have eaten up their own Subjects, to make use of a hundred cruel and unjust Shifts, to the Ruin of their Neighbours. And when they cannot accomplish such a destructive Project in the manner they wish, then they are constrained to foment Quarrels between more potent Princes, that they may have the opportunity of selling to one or other those Forces which themselves cannot possibly maintain: so that at present Soldiers are grown to be as saleable Ware, as Sheep or Oxen, and are as little concern’d when they are sold; for provided the Officers be rendered content by the Purchaser, in having liberty to plunder the laborious and honest Country People in their Marches, and a fat Winter-quarter, with Permission to defraud their own Men of their Pay: the common Soldier goes with no more sense than a Beast to the Slaughter; having no such Sentiment, as Love of Honour, Country, Religion, Liberty, or any thing more than mere fear of being hanged for a Deserter.
But this mischievous Custom of Princes esteeming Soldiers the only true Riches, was first begun and established by the French King, and is grown general by his Care to cultivate this Opinion in the Minds of the German Princes, whose poor Countries he foresees will be soon ruined by such a practice. This he principally aims at, and it has brought Matters to such a pass, that War and Destruction are grown absolutely necessary. For as all Men that lay up Wealth never think they have enough; so these that consider Soldiers as the only Riches, never cease enlarging their Number, till they are necessitated for their Subsistence, either to come to Blows with their Neighbours, or to create Animosities between other; wherein they have found the knack of being employed, and receiving Pay without interesting themselves in the Quarrel. Where this will end, God Almighty knows, and can only prevent the apparent Mischiefs threatened by it, viz. the universal Misery and Depopulation of Europe. For since this Practice is grown so general, none of these Kings or Princes, though endowed with a more peaceable Spirit and better Judgment than the rest, dares lead the Dance, and disarm, for fear of his Armed Neighbours, whose Necessities make them wait only for an opportunity to fall upon him that is worst provided to make Resistance: And this is none of the least Calamities which the French Tyranny has forced upon the World, having reduced all the Princes and Commonwealths of it to this hard choice; either to submit themselves to an intolerable Foreign Yoak, or maintain Vipers at home to gnaw their own Bowels.
But the Consequences of these unjust Practices have been more pernicious to Denmark, than to the French King that set the Example; the Toad may emulate the Ox, and swell, but he shall sooner burst, than equal him. The one goes on in a course of prosperous Tyranny; but the other through an ill Calculation of his own Strength, which is no way proportionable to his Ambition, never hitherto throve in any of his Attempts upon his Neighbours. Hamburg is yet a Free City, and the Duke of Holstein restored to his Possessions; whilst Schonen, Halland, Bleking, and Yempterland remain in the Possession of the Swedes; who in taking up Arms for their own Defence, have had the Fortune to revenge the Injury. And the Danes are constrained to acquiesce in the Loss of those their best Provinces, without any rational hopes of ever recovering them.
A List of the Horse and Foot in the Service of the King of Denmark, which belonged particularly to Denmark, Holstein, and Oldenburg.
Note, That by virtue of a Treaty concluded with the Emperor, there were sent lately into Hungary part of the fore-named Troops under the Command of Col. Rantzaw; Viz.
One Battalion of Lieutenant-General Schack’s Regiment.
One Battalion of Col. Pottcamer’s Regiment.
One Regiment of Horse taken from the former Colonel, and given to one Colonel Wyer.
Colonel Bee’s Regiment of Dragoons, which may be deducted from the Sum Total at the end.
These Reserves are such as receive no Pay in time of Peace, but are like our Militia, only they have Clothes given them once in two years; and are obliged to meet and Exercise every Sunday, if the Weather be fair.
A great Regiment of Foot before the Battalions were drawn out of them for the King of England’s Service, consisted of Nineteen Companies, and so it will be again when these Forces return to Denmark. In the Guards were a great many more.
The charge of one of these great Regiments of Foot amounts to 90,000 Rix Dollars a Year, thus;
The Remainder of the 90 thousand Rix Dollars runs up for the other Officers, Auditor, Quartermaster, Surgeon, Powder, Shot, and other necessary Expenses.
The Common Soldier receives but 17 Stivers a week; the rest goes for Bread, Quarters, and Cloaths, which they have once in three years from head to foot; and in the midst of those three years, Shoes, Stockins, Breeches, Shirt, and Cravat. ’Tis permitted to the Common Soldiers to work where they are quartered; but then during this permission, their Officers receive all the benefit of their pay. The Foot, both Officers and Soldiers, are for the most part Strangers of all Countries, whom Choice or Fortune brings thither; Germans, Poles, Courlanders, Dutch, Swedes, Scotch, Irish, and now and then an English Seaman, whom they make drunk after a long Voyage, and inveigle him by fair Promises, in that humour, to take some of the King’s Money. The Natives are, through their dispirited temper, thought very improper to make Soldiers; and besides, the Landlords, whose Slaves they are, can hinder them from entering into the King’s Service, and can remand them, if any should offer so to do; as has been frequently practised by them, to avoid Misery at home, and to exchange one Slavery for another.
The Officers of the Horse receive no more Pay in time of Peace, than those of the Foot. The Troopers, who are generally Natives, and none of the best Soldiers, are maintained every one by his Peasant, who is bound to give him and his Horse, Meat, Drink, House-room, etc. besides to the value of six shillings sterling a Month; half of which Money goes to his Colonel towards his mounting. The Dragoons are in somewhat a better condition, because they are not obliged to keep Horses, but in time of War; besides, in Holstein they have larger Pay than in Denmark.
In Norway the Forces cost but little, in comparison of what they do elsewhere; for besides the Pay of the Officers, and the Clothing of the Soldiers, not much Money is expended; each single Soldier having Free Quarter amongst the Boors. It is to be noted, that the Officers of this Army are, for the most part, fourteen or eighteen Months in Arrear of Pay; so that the best part of their Maintenance is out of the Common Soldier’s Subsistence Money.
The Names of the General Officers
Thus much shall suffice for the Land. I come now to speak of the Sea-Forces.
The Names of the Admirals, are
There are in Copenhagen 3000 Seamen kept in constant Pay, who go not to Sea unless in time of War, but have a certain small allowance of Money, with a constant weekly provision of Salt Flesh, Stock-fish, Meal, Grout, etc. given them out of the Publick Store-Houses, for the maintenance of themselves, and Families. They have moreover several Streets of small Houses, like Baraques, built regularly for them, by King Christian the Fourth, in one of the Out-skirts of Copenhagen within the Works; where they live Rent-free, and where they leave their Wives and Children when they go to Sea. Their business in time of Peace is to work on the Holm; which is a large Yard with Docks in it, to build Shipping, over-against the King’s Palace in Copenhagen. Here they are employed by turns in all laborious Works belonging to Ships, Guns, Anchors, Cables, drawing of Timber, etc. and so painful is this Toil esteemed, that Criminals of the highest kind are usually condemned to work on this Holm for a certain number of years, or during life, according to the nature of the Offence. Once a year generally, to find exercise for these, some of the Men of War are rigged and equipped with their Guns, etc. and drawn out of Port to sail up and down, between that and Elsignor, for three or four Weeks, or longer, according as the good Weather lasts. The pay of these Mariners in Money is but 8 Rix Dollars yearly for each; and as small as it is, it is so ill discharged, that they mutinied several times, of late years, for want of it, and even besieged the King in his Palace, till some signal Severity towards the principal Mutiniers quelled them. There is usually a year and a halfs Arrears owing to them, and often more; which is the better born, because of their weekly Allowance in Provision; although that be very scanty, especially to such as have many Children to feed.
The best Seamen belonging to the King of Denmark are the Norwegians; but most of these are in the Service of the Dutch, and have their Families established in Holland; from whence it is scarce likely they will ever return home, unless the Dutch use them worse, or the Danes better than hitherto they have done; for the Danish Sea-provision is generally very bad.
All the Officers of the Fleet are in constant Pay, as well in time of Peace as War, which makes them less given to plunder, than those who make use of the short time they are in Commission to enrich themselves as fast as they can.
This Fleet was never set to Sea thus equipped; but this is the Computation the Danes make of their Sea-Forces; and thus much they say in case of necessity they are able to perform.
Some of the biggest of these Ships draw more Water by five or six Foot at the Stern than at the Head, which denotes they are broken-backt; they are all generally lower Masted than ours, and seem more unwieldy. I believe them more proper for the Baltick than the Ocean; if we except some few of the Cruisers, and other Ships which Convoy their Merchant-men to France, Spain and Portugal.
Fortresses Belonging to the King of Denmark
On Bornholm, a Fertile Island in the Baltick Sea, nearest to Sweden of any of this King’s Dominions, are two Fastnesses; one an ancient Castle, the other a Citadel, according to the Modern manner of Fortification, which commands the best Road in the Island called Roena. It was finished in the Year 1689 and has good Bastions and Out-works.
Christian’s Oye, about seven English Miles North-west from Born-holm, being a number of little Islands which enclose a safe Harbour for thirty Sail; the largest Isle, in form of a Crescent, is well fortified. In the Island Mûne at Stege, a small Town, is an ancient Castle of little Defence, where there is a Garrison.
In Laland, all that looks like strength, is the Town of Naxkew, and an old Castle called Allholm; but they are of no great Defence.
In Zealand, first, the Town of Copenhagen is well fortified, but the Works are only Earth. Secondly, The Castle of Cronenberg near Elsignor, which is now near finishing, and is faced with Brick. It is an irregular, but good Fortification. Thirdly, Corsoer, a small Earthen Fortress over against Funen.
In Funen, the Town of Nyburg is pretty well fortified towards the Sea; but towards the Land the Works are out of repair.
In Holstein there is, first, Glucstadt, a well fortified Town upon the River Elb, which because of its Neighbourhood to Hamburg is kept in a good condition. Secondly, Cremp, a Town within three English Miles of the former, near the River Stoer, in no extraordinary repair. Thirdly, Hitlar Scance on an Island, twelve English Miles from Hamburg. Fourthly, Rendsburg, on the Borders between Holstein and Sleswick, and on the River Eyder; this Place is now enlarging, the Bulwarks and Outwarks are facing with Brick; it will be a Royal Fortification, and is the most considerable Place the King of Denmark has, both for Strength and Situation. Fifthly, Christian’s Prize, or Frederick’s Ort, (for it has two Names) situated at the entrance of the Haven of the City of Kiel on the Baltick. It is commanded by a Hill one hundred and twelve Roods North from it.
In Jutland, first Fredericia, a very well fortified Town, being a Pass over the Little Belt. Secondly, Hall, a small Fortress on the North-side the Entrance of the River that leads to Alburg. Thirdly, at Flatstrand, twenty English Miles South of the Scagen Point, is a Schance and a small Fort for the Defence of the Haven.
To the Southward of the North Cape of Lapland is a Fort of six Bastions, called Wardhuys. And in Norway there is, first, Drontheim, guarded to the Sea by a strong Castle, called Monkholm, (where Monsieur Griffenfelt is at present kept close Prisoner) and to the Land by a strong Citadel. Secondly, Bergen, a very strong Place towards the Sea, and environed with high Mountains, which make it inaccessible by Land; ’twas here the Dutch East-India Ships sheltered themselves, when the English Fleet, under the Command of the Earl of Sandwich, attacked them unsuccessfully. The Danes had passed their word, that they would deliver them up; but some seasonable Presents which the Hollanders made at Court, prevailed so far, as to make them break it; which occasioned the Hollanders Safety, and our Disgrace. Fourthly, Christiania, the Capital of Norway; it has a strong Citadel. Fifthly, Larwick, a slight Fortification. Sixthly, Fred-erickstadt, a place which has good Works, but built on a bad Foundation. Seventhly, Wingar Castle, a Pass on the Borders of Norway. Eighthly, Frederick’s-hall, a place well fortified, but much commanded by a Hill one hundred Rood from it. Ninthly, a Fort at Fleckero, near the Town of Christiansandt.
In the East-Indies the King has a small Fortress called Tranquebar, on the Coast of Coromandel: In Guiney another called Christiansburg; and a third in the Island of St. Thomas in the West-Indies, which commands the only good Port in all those Parts, wherein Ships take shelter during the Season of the Hurricanes.
One may easily judge that such an Army and Fleet, with so many Fortresses, cannot be maintained as they ought, without a very great Purse. The former Chapter gives a just account of the Revenue; and the Military Expenses may be guessed at by this: There is over and above all these, the Charge of the Civil List, the maintenance of the Court, King’s Children, Publick Ministers, etc. Whether the Income bears proportion to all these Expenses, and would be sufficient without the assistance of Foreign Money, is left to the determination of such as are skill’d in Calculating.
Of the Court
Under this Head I comprehend the King, Queen, Royal Family, Ministers of State, Knights of the Order of the Elephant, and of Dannebrug, with other principal Officers belonging to the Court.
The present King of Denmark, Christian the Fifth, is but of a moderate stature, rather lean than corpulent, yet well proportioned, and strongly built; his Complexion is Sanguin, he wears a black Perriwig; the Lines of the lower part of his Face are not unlike those of King Charles the Second; his Constitution has been very robust, capable to endure, and loving to undergo all manner of fatigue; until that within these few years, having had some fits of the Gout, he thought it better to dispense with Exercises which might disturb his Ease; especially there being less need in time of Peace of his taking such pains as he easily could, and yet would do, were there occasion. He began the six and fortieth year of his Age the fifteenth of April 1692. His Habit is usually modest, but gentile; he seldom appears at Court times with either Hat or Gloves, though always (after the German fashion) with a good Sword girt close to his side.
As to his qualities, he is a Prince of singular affability and good nature; temperate if you consider the humour of that Country; being neither luxurious in his Meat or Drink, and of late years very seldom making any Debauch. His Amours have not been many, and in those he has continued very constant. He is Religious as a Prince ought to be, without doting on his Clergy, though they seem to adore him; in his own temper a lover of Justice and Moderation; but often over-ruled by those about him, to whom he leaves the whole management of Affairs; because he neither loves, nor has a Genius for business. He speaks little, unless to his Ministers, and immediate Servants; yet he gives all opportunity and encouragement to others to entertain him; as it were emboldening them by a gracious Smile, and advancing towards them. He is Master of three Languages besides his own, the High and Low Dutch, and the French, using them with great ease upon occasion. He was not bred up to any sort of Learning, yet takes a particular delight in Geography; and is never better pleased than when an exact Chart of any Country, or Delineation of any Fortress is brought to him: his Genius for the War inclining him to love Fortification. He is of a clear undoubted Personal Courage, as has been often demonstrated in the late Wars with Sweden: but eases himself of the greatest part of the Conduct, which he leaves to his Generals, not relying on his own Judgment either in occasions of Action or Negotiations; though ’tis probable the greatness of his Courage in the one, and the sincerity of his Intentions in the other, would produce better effects, did he trust himself more, and others less. In fine, he is a very mild, and gracious Prince, beloved rather than reverenced by his People; who are sensible that the present Form of Government, concurring with a King of a severe temper, would be altogether intolerable. His Motto under his Arms and Cypher is, Pietate & Justitia;25 and his Subjects do really believe the preservation of these to be his true Inclinations; and that all hardships that fall upon them, have their rise from the Ministry. Therefore they complain of his permitting, rather than his acting, and attribute all the Evils they endure, to the easiness of his Temper, and unhappiness of their present Constitution; which is not redressed by any Advantages derived from his Education.
The Queen, Charlotta Amelia, is a Princess that deserves to be mentioned with all honour, even though she were not of that high Quality. She is fair, and well shap’d; her Complexion being a mixture of Flegmatick and Sanguin; and although she be in the forty first year of her Age, continues still handsome; her Carriage is very engaging, affable, and free; her great Accomplishments secure to her the Hearts of her Subjects, notwithstanding her differing from them in Religion, and stop the mouths of the bigoted Lutherans, which would be apt enough to exclaim against her, did not a most unreproachable Life set her above Malice. They have made several Attempts to wound the Calvinist Religion through her sides; but she has hitherto frustrated them all, and preserved not only her self, but the little French Protestant Church (lately founded in Copenhagen by her Bounty, and subsisting through her Protection) from all the Assaults made against it by Persons in Power. And this she does the more effectually, through a prudent compliance with the King in matters indifferent, going frequently with him to the Lutheran Service and Sermons: thereby not only shewing the charitable and good Opinion she has of the Publick established Worship, but getting a greater freedom of going every Afternoon to hear the French Ministers in her own Church. She is the common Refuge of distressed People, who never fail of their account in approaching her. Neither is Access to her difficult; she often prevents those that have need, and does good before she be sought unto. In short, she is Sister to the present Landgrave of Hesse Cassel; worthy of such a Brother, and the illustrious Stock from whence she proceeds.
The King of Denmark has five Children; four Princes and one Princess. Prince Frederick the eldest, who is also called the Prince Royal, is about twenty years old; it were to be wished his Education had been more conformable to his quality; for his former Governor being somewhat pedantick, had infused a little stiffness and formality into the Pupil, which People that judge by outward Appearances, are apt to misconstrue Pride; but doubtless his Travels have reformed that ill habit. Prince Christian, the second Son, is about eighteen years of Age, of a more lively and affable temper than his elder Brother, as well as taller, and of a more robust Constitution; much addicted to Hunting, and riding the great Horse; he longs for nothing more than to see and shew himself to the World. Prince Charles, the third Son, is about nine years old, and Prince William, the Fourth, about six. The former is a very forward hopeful Youth; the latter does not yet stir out of the Nursery, so that no Judgment can be made of him.
The Princess [Sophia Hedwig] is about sixteen, a very beautiful sweet tempered and well-educated Lady; she was contracted to the present Elector of Saxony her own Cousin Germain; but the Match was afterwards broken off.
The King has besides these, two Natural Sons by Mrs. Mote, a Citizen’s Daughter of Copenhagen, whom he had made Countess of Samsoe (an Island which he has given to her) he sends her moreover, as it is confidently reported 1000 Rix Dollars every Saturday Night. The young Gentlemen, her Sons, are very handsome and hopeful. The eldest is in the Service of France, where he has a Regiment of Horse, and is called young Guldenlieu, to distinguish him from the Elder, who is Viceroy of Norway; the King gives him the Revenue of the Post-Office. This Appellation of Guldenlieu is appropriated to the Bastard Sons of the Kings; I know not whether it began with the present Viceroy of Norway, or not; but it is likely to continue hereafter, and a young Guldenlieu will become as necessary an Ornament to the Court, as an Heir of the Crown.
The second of the King’s Sons, by the Countess of Samsoe, is designed for the Sea; and to that end has been sent several Voyages in a Man of War under the Direction of a trusty Person, in order to fit him to be one day Admiral-General.
His high Excellency, Count Guldenlieu, Viceroy of Norway, and Natural Brother to the King, will be more properly mentioned here, as one of the Royal Family, than when we come to speak of the Ministers; for though he be one of them, yet he cares not to embark himself deep in the Publick Affairs, having formerly, in some Occurrences, burnt his Fingers; he thinks it wisdom rather to enjoy his Divertisements, and the favour of the King, which he now firmly possesses. His Father, King Frederick, loved him so well, that he once thought of making him King of Norway; which has been remembered to his prejudice, and obliges him to carry himself with great care, under a Government so Arbitrary as this is. He is about fifty six years of Age, has been one of the handsomest, and continues one of the finest Gentlemen that Denmark has produced: having to his Natural Accomplishments, added all the advantages of Travel, and Knowledge of the World. He is a Man of Pleasure, and understands it in all its Refinements; his Palace, his Gardens, his Entertainment, manner of accosting, etc., excelling by many degrees any thing that can be found elsewhere in that Kingdom. He was formerly Ambassador Extraordinary from King Frederick his Father to King Charles the Second, who shewed such a particular esteem for him, that he made him the Partner of his Pleasures. And this is returned by so deep a sense of that King’s Kindness, that he scarce ever mentions his Name without great concern. He speaks a little English, and is very obliging to any Person that belongs to this Country, in gratitude for the great Civilities he received here.
The King of Denmark’s Court, as to Pomp and Magnificence, can hardly be called a Royal one; the Luxury and Extravagance of the more Southern Courts of Europe having not reached thus far North, no more than their Riches. It is true indeed, since their good correspondence with France, their Manners are somewhat refined above what they formerly were; they affect French Modes, French Servants, and French Officers in the Army; whereof they have one Lieutenant General, and one Major General, who have quitted France for fighting Duels there. And this is either really true, or at least the pretence of such as seek Service in Foreign Countries on purpose to do the business of France, whose interest they always cultivate industriously, though they seem never so much in disgrace with their Prince.
In this Court no Ensigns of Majesty appear; let the occasion be never so solemn, except such as are Military, all those which a standing Army can afford, such as Horse and Foot Guards, Trabands, which answer our Beef-eaters, Kettle-Drums, and Trumpets, etc. are there in perfection, and used every day as much as in a Camp: but Badges of Peace, viz. Sword of State, Heralds, Maces, Chancellor’s Purse, etc. are not known.
The King sits down to Dinner with his Queen, Children, Relations, prime ministers, and General Officers of the Army, till the round Table be filled. The Court Mareschal invites whom he thinks fit to eat with the King, speaking sometimes to one, sometimes to another, till all have had their turns in that honour. A Page in Livery says Grace before and after Meat, for no Chaplain appears either here, or in any other of the Protestant Courts abroad, but in the Pulpit. There is a plentiful Table; but the Meat dressed after their own manner. The King’s particular Diet every day, is a Loin of roasted Veal, and his Drink Rhenish-Wine; whereof a silver Beakerfull stands at every one’s Plate, which generally serves for the whole Meal. The Attendants are one or two Gentlemen, and the rest Livery Servants. No Ceremony of the Knee is used to the King. The Kettle Drums and Trumpets, which are ranged in a large place before the Palace, proclaim aloud the very Minute when he sits down to Table. Sunday is his Fasting day, and by his Example, is so to many of the Courtiers.
Court times, wherein those that have business, may most easily have Audience, are an hour before Dinner constantly, and sometimes before Supper. At such times the King’s Children, Domestick and Foreign Ministers, Officers of the Army, and Household, appear in the Anti-chamber and Bedchamber: these compose the Court, and seldom amount to above the number of twenty or thirty. Few or no Gentlemen, that have not Employments, are seen at Court, or in Copenhagen, for Reasons formerly given.
The Officers of the Household are, The Marshal, who regulates the Affairs of the Family, and gives the King notice when Dinner or Supper is ready. The Comptroller of the Kitchen, who places the Dishes of Meat upon the Table, and is likewise Master of the Ordnance. The Master of the Horse, who looks after the King’s Stables, and Studs of Mares, whereof the King has very many, and very good, especially those of one Breed particular to him, which are light Iron-Grey, with black Heads, Tails, and Mains. But one forms a nearer Idea of the Grandeur and Revenue belonging to these several Offices, by imagining them like the same in the Families of some of our English Noblemen, rather than of those belonging to Whitehall. The Master of the Ceremonies is obliged by his Employment to be a constant Attender at Court.
But the principal Favourite of the King is Monsieur Knute, a Mecklenburger, and only Gentleman of the Bedchamber. He has been bred up all along with the King, as his Confident and Companion in his Pleasures; is a civil well-natur’d Gentleman, speaks no Language but his own, and loves least of all the French; meddles rarely with publick business, yet when he undertakes any thing with the King, seldom fails of Success. There are several Grooms of the Bedchamber subordinate to him. And the Queen has many Gentlemen, Sons of Persons of the best Quality, which are Attendants upon her, and eight Maids of Honour.
The King’s Ministers are, first, Monsieur de Guldenlieu, who has the precedence at the Council-Board, and in all other Commissions where he is employed with the rest; but business, as I intimated before, being not his Talent, or at least not his Choice, it is rather out of respect to his quality, than otherwise, that he is reckoned among them.
Secondly, Count Raventlau, Great Master of the Game, which is the Employment of greatest Profit in the King’s Gift, after the Viceroyship of Norway: he is a Native of Holstein, and is lookt upon as Prime Minister; therefore all Foreign Ministers address themselves to him. He takes it not ill to be stiled so; though he seems upon some occasions modestly to decline it. He is very affable civil, and of easy access; a Man of Pleasure, and an admirer of the fair Sex, as well as Monsieur de Guldenlieu: his Parts and Learning are of a moderate size; though of late, through a more diligent application to business he be much improved; so that he seems to fill worthily enough the Post wherein his Master has placed him. He is about Three and forty years of Age, his Complexion fair, and his Constitution robust; his Inclinations were but indifferent towards the French (as being convinced that the low Ebb of his Country’s Prosperity, and his Master’s Honour, were in a great measure owing to their Counsels and Practices) till within this year or two, that private Interest has reconciled him to that Court: the benefit of the French Traffick, during this War (wherein he is deeply concerned, as well by several Ships of his own, as by giving Protection to others that manage that Trade) has made him think that it is his Master’s Advantage, as well as his, to keep firm Friendship with France. On the other hand, the English obstructing that Traffick, by taking and confiscating several Ships wherein he was concern’d, seem to have quite lost his favour. Yet after all, ’tis believed, if he could procure the same, or equivalent Advantages for himself and his Master, his Inclinations would more willingly lead him to accept of them from England than France; but the unhappy Circumstances of this present Conjuncture do render that matter scarce possible.
Thirdly, Baron Juel, younger Brother to the Admiral General, and a Dane by Birth, about sixty years old; he is very corpulent, and of a flegmatick Complexion; more easy in his Fortunes than any about Court, which is in part owing to his remarkable parsimonious temper. The Danes look on him as one of the cunningest men among them, who under the disguise of a seeming Simplicity covers a great deal of Craft. His words are very few and smooth, and his behaviour Civil. It is thought that he sees with regret the Misery his Country is reduced to, as being one of the Stock of old Nobility, who have suffered by the change of the Constitution: yet his Advice cannot be wanted, where there is such a scarcity of good Heads; and therefore he is employed in all difficult Affairs, which he manages with great dexterity and success.
Fourthly, Monsieur Ehrenschild, a German by birth, and formerly Secretary to Monsieur Terlon the French Ambassador at this Court, which makes him French in his Inclinations to this day. The King enobled him, and gave him the Name of Ehrenschild, instead of that of Beerman, by which he was formerly known. He is about 65 years old, of a weakly constitution, and therefore most commonly resides at Hamburg, under pretence that the Air is necessary for his Health; but in reality to manage the King’s Affairs with that Town; wherein is constantly maintained a Faction, which must have Life kept in it by the Residence of a Minister of Quality. Moreover, that City being conveniently seated for the Correspondence with all Germany, from whence a nearer inspection may be made into the proceedings of the neighbouring Princes, as well as the management of the French Traffick during this War; it is thought necessary to keep an able Man there: this Monsieur Ehrenschild has been bred a Scholar after the German way, and is well skill’d in negotiating; wherein he has been constantly employed since he first entered into business. He is esteemed a Cunning man, but has no great reputation of Integrity; he affects to find out difficulties, and is excellently skill’d in prolonging a business. The Foreign Ministers call him by the Name of Pater difficultatum,26 and say that he has a peculiar knack in finding nodum in scirpo.27 Therefore they care not for Treating with him, because he values Argumentation, and seeks Sophisms rather than Truth, or the Decision of the Matter. You can never bring him to say such a thing is, though it be as clear as the Sun; but cela peut êstre:28 thereby leaving always a Hole open to creep out at. He hoards up all his Money, or puts it in the Banks of Hamburg and Amsterdam, having small prospect of a future happy establishment for his Family in Denmark. And this is the common Maxim of all the most intelligent Heads in that Kingdom, as appears by their making few or no Purchases.
Fifthly, Monsieur Plessen, a Gentleman of Mecklenburg, and formerly the Manager of Prince George’s Revenue in Denmark. He is now the Ober-Rent Master, or Comptroller of the Finances, in the room of Monsieur Branat, lately removed from that Employment. The State of the Finances and Expenses were very much embroiled, and the King some Millions of Crowns in Debt when he undertook the difficult Task of setting things right; which it is generally thought he will accomplish as far as they are capable: and ’twas high time to set seriously about redressing Affairs, for the King’s Credit both at Hamburg, and every where else, was in a manner absolutely lost, through the ill Payment of all Assignments. He is about Six and forty years old, of a Melancholy Complexion, and weakly Constitution; is esteemed to have a good Judgment, and to understand the World; though his Distempers make him sometimes particular in his Humour. He speaks four or five Languages, and English among the rest. His Inclinations seem to be rather English than French; as well on the account of his Dependence on Prince George, as because he is convinced ’tis more the Interest of his Master to be well with England and Holland, than with France. He appears to be disinterested, and is very easy in his Fortunes, which consist most in ready Money. In short, he is a Man of Business, and seems to be more downright in his manner of dealing than many of the rest.
These Five compose the King’s whole Privy Council. Four of them are constantly at Court, and the fifth at Hamburg; by the weekly Advices of whom the others do for the most part regulate all their Deliberations.
The King in this Council determines all Affairs; deliberates of Peace or War, of Alliances, and other Treaties; of Taxes, Fortifications, Trade, etc. without the intervention of any other Person, unless it be the Secretaries of State; who are yet esteemed here rather as Ministerial Officers and Assistants, than principal Counsellors. There are four of these Secretaries that are not Secretaries of State, in the sense that ours in England are, that is to say, Prime Ministers; but carry the Pen, and have the management of the business relating to their several Provinces; the first is the Secretary for the Affairs of Denmark, and is at present Monsieur [. . .].29 The second for the Affairs of Norway, is Monsieur Mote, Brother to the King’s Mistress the Countess of Samsoe. The third for Foreign Affairs, is Monsieur Jessen; and the fourth, who is Secretary at War, is Monsieur Harboe. When any thing which concerns the Province of any of these is debated at Council, the Secretary it belongs to is to be present; but Monsieur Jessen never misses, because there is always business relating to Foreign Affairs; and the usual times of the sitting of the Council being after the Posts come in, his Employment is to read all the Letters, and to make Remarks on them. This renders his Office more considerable than that of the other Secretaries, and makes him enter into the Secrets of the Cabinet, which pass for the most part through his sole management. He has also liberty to speak his Sentiments; and because he has been bred a Latin Scholar, that, as well as his Employment, entitles him to the penning of all Treaties with Foreign Ministers. Therefore he is constantly one of the Commissioners appointed to treat with them; and to whom they are to have recourse almost as necessarily as to the Prime Minister, who suffers himself to be in a great measure guided by this Secretary. He is about forty, of a civil behaviour and humility, even to affectation; speaks four or five Languages very well, and very much; whereby he sometimes gives advantages to those that have business with him. He has but a moderate reputation for Sincerity, or Parts; yet so much used to the Road of Publick Affairs, that he cannot be wanted, because they have no fitter Man to put in his place. He is Son-in-Law to Monsieur Ehrenschild, by whom he is much governed, and of the same Inclinations as to France. This Affinity is a great support to his Fortune, as long as that old Gentleman lives; and his diligence in his Employment, (if there were nothing else) will secure to him his Post and his Princes Favour; provided always that he keep fair with the Prime Minister, (as at present he does) and act in concert with him.
The ordinary Diversions of the Court are Progresses, which are made once a year at least, to Sleswick, or Holstein, either to make a review of some Troops, or to see the Fortifications at Rendsburg; besides smaller Journeys to Laland, and elsewhere, up and down the Country. These are of no Expense to the Treasury, because the travelling Wagons and Horses are found by the Boors, who are also to pay their Personal Attendance, and be ready for all necessary Services. During five or six Weeks every Summer, the Court removes to Jagersburg, a small Hunting-House, situated upon a little Lake within four English Miles of Copenhagen, and not far from the Sea: and for five or six Weeks more it resides at Fredericksburg, the chief Country Palace of the Kings of Denmark, about twenty English Miles from Copenhagen, began by Christian the Fourth, and finished by this King’s Father, Frederick the Third: this is that House which the Danes boast so much of, and tell wonders of the quantity of Money it cost in building. It is seated in the midst of a Lake, the Foundations of it being laid in the Water, which probably occasioned the greatest part of the Expense; you pass into it over several Draw Bridges. This watery Situation in so moist and cold a Country, cannot be approved by the Critical in Seats, especially when the rising Grounds about this Lake (which are clothed with fine Woods) afforded much better places both for health and prospect: but it is the humour of all this Kingdom, to build in the midst of Lakes; which I suppose was at first practised upon the score of Security. This Palace, notwithstanding the great cost they talk of, is far from being magnificent, or well contrived; for the Rooms are low, the Apartments ill disposed, the fine Chapel much too long in proportion to its breadth, and has a Gallery over it, which has one of the worst contrived Entrances that can be imagined. In fine, it falls far short of many of our Noblemen’s Country-Houses in England; yet is esteemed by the Danes as a None-such. There is indeed a fine Park about it, well filled with Red Deer; having large Ponds, high Trees in great quantity, a good Bathing-House, and other Country Embellishments; so that it is by far to be preferred to all the rest of the King’s Houses, which except these two last mentioned, are for the most part out of repair: that of the Fortress of Cronenburg near Elsignor, and of Coldingen in Jutland, with others, being scarce habitable even during one Fortnight in the Summer Quarter.
At Fredericksburg the Court spends most of its time in Stag-hunting, for there are few Fallow-Deer in Denmark; during which Sport the King allows great freedom to his Domesticks and Ministers, who commonly do all accompany him where ever he goes; insomuch that he seems to lay aside all Majesty, and the Formalities of it for that Season; they eat and drink together, the latter sometimes to Excess, after a hard days hunting; when as soon as Dinner is done, they adjourn to the Wine-Cellar. About five or six in the Afternoon the Hunting-Assizes are solemnly held in the great Court before the Palace, the Stag is drawn into the midst of it by the Huntsmen, who are all cloathed in Red, having their great Brass Hunting-horns about their Necks; and ’tis there broken up with great Ceremony, whilst the Hounds attend with much Noise and Impatience. One that is likeliest to give a good Gratuity to the Huntsmen, is invited to take Essay, and presented with the Deer’s foot. Then Proclamation is made, if any can inform the King (who is both Supreme Judge and Executioner) of any Transgression against the known Laws of Hunting that day committed, let him stand forth and accuse; the accused is generally found guilty; and then two of the Gentlemen lead him to the Stag, and make him kneel down between the Horns, turning down his Head with his Buttocks up, and remove the Skirts of his Coat, which might intercept the blows; then comes his Majesty, and with a small long Wand gives the Offender some Lashes on his Posteriors, whilst in the mean time the Huntsmen with their Brass Horns, and the Dogs with their loud Openings, proclaim the King’s Justice, and the Criminal’s Punishment. The whole Scene affording Diversion to the Queen, Ladies, and other Spectators, who are always assisting, and stand in a Circle about the Place of Execution. This is as often repeated as there happen to be Delinquents; who as soon as the Chastisement is over, rise up and make their Obeisance, “proudly boasting Of their magnificent Rib-roasting.”30 After all is done, the Hounds are permitted to fall to, and eat the Deer.
At another season Swan-hunting is the Royal Pastime; the wild Swans haunt a certain small Island not far from Copenhagen, and breed there; about the time that the Young ones are near as big as the Old, before their Feathers are grown long enough to fly, the King with the Queen, Ladies, and others of the Court, go to the killing of them; the Foreign Ministers are usually invited to take part in this sport: every Person of Condition has a Pinnace allotted to him, and when they come near the haunt, they surround the place, and inclose a great multitude of young Swans, which they destroy with Guns till they have killed some thousands. What is killed by the whole Company is brought to the Court, which challenges the Feathers and Down of these Birds, the Flesh of them being good for nothing.
On Shrove-Tuesdays the King, Queen, Royal Family, Home and Foreign Ministers, and all the other Persons abovementioned, that usually compose the Court, cloath themselves in the habit of the North-Holland Boors, with great Trunk-hose, short Doublets, and large blue Thrum-Caps; the Ladies in blue Petticoats, and odd Head-dresses, etc. Thus accoutred they get up in their Wagons, a Man before and a Woman behind, which they drive themselves, and go to a Country Village called Amak, about three English miles from Town; there they dance to Bagpipes, and squeaking Fiddles, and have a Country Dinner, which they eat out of Earthen and Wooden Platters, with wooden Spoons, etc. and having passed the day in these Divertisements, where all are equal, and little regard had to Majesty, or other Quality: at Night they drive in like manner home again; and are entertained at a Comedy and Magnificent Supper by the Viceroy Guldenlieu, spending the Remainder of the Night in Dancing in the same Habits, which they put not off all that day.
Every Winter, as soon as the Snow is firm enough to bear, the Danes take great delight in going in Sleds. The King and Court first giving the Example, and making several Tours about the Town in great Pomp, with Kettle-Drums and Trumpets; the Horses which draw the Sleds being richly adorned with Trappings, and Harness full of small Bells, to give warning to such as stand in the way. After the Court has been abroad, the Burgers and others trot about the Streets all night, wrapt up in their Fur Gowns, with each his Female in the Sled with him; and this they esteem a great and pleasant Pastime.
In travelling to Fredericksburg, Jagersburg, and many other places from Copenhagen, there are two Highways; one the common Road, which is usually bad; the other the King’s Highway, very fair and even, peculiar to the Court, and such as it has a mind to favour in bestowing on them a Key to open the several Gates that are upon it.
In this Chapter of the Court, it will not be improper to take notice that there are in Denmark two Orders of Knighthood, viz. that of the Elephant, and that of Dannebrug; the former is very honourable, and the Companions of it are of the highest Quality, or extraordinary Merit. Their Badge is an Elephant with a Castle on its back, set with Diamonds, and hung on a watered Sky-coloured Ribband, worn as the George is in England. The later is the honorary Reward of inferior Gentlemen or Noblemen: their Badge is a white Ribband with red Edges, worn over the contrary shoulder with a small Cross of Diamonds hung to it, and an Embroidery on the Breast of their Coats like a Star, in which is the Motto, Pietate & Justitia. They say that the Order of the Elephant was instituted about Two hundred and ten years ago by King Christian the First, at the Wedding of his Son.
A List of the Present Companions of It Follows
They pretend that the Order of Dannebrug is more Ancient, and recount many Fables of its Original, viz. That one King Dan saw a white Cross with red Edges, descend from Heaven, and thereupon instituted the Order, and gave it this compound Name, from Dan and Brug, which signifies Painting. The Knights of this Order are almost as common here, as Baronets with us, and therefore I omit their Names.
The following Ordinance for Rank and Precedency was published in Danish and French, Anno 1680. But most of the Offices therein marked * are now vacant.
An Ordinance for Rank and Precedency in the Kingdom of Denmark.31
It must be observed that when several Persons in Office are named together, and are not distinguished by a separate Figure, they take place among themselves according to the Date of their Commissions.
The King’s Ministers who hold Offices that are not mentioned in this Ordinance, shall keep the same Rank they have hitherto enjoyed; and those to whom the King has given, or shall give, the Title of Privy Counsellors, shall have the same Rank as if they were really and effectually such.
They who actually exercise an Office, shall have the Precedency before such as have only the Title of it, and do not officiate.
They whom the King dispenses with from exercising their Offices, shall yet keep the same Rank they had when they actually exercised them; and if any one takes another Office of an inferior Rank to that he had, he shall nevertheless hold the Rank of the former.
The Precedency with respect to Women shall be thus: After the Countesses follow the Governesses, and Ladies of the Bedchamber, and of the Court, while they are in Waiting: Next come the Wives of Privy-Counsellors, and of such as have the same Rank with them: Afterwards the Baronesses, and other Wives, according to the Rank of their Husbands when living, and also after their Deaths while they continue Widows.
The Noblesse [Nobility and Gentry] who have no Offices, and the Captains of the Horse and Foot, and other Persons ecclesiastical and secular, shall hold among themselves the same Rank they did formerly.
To these Regulations all Persons are to conform, on pain of forfeiting the Royal Favour. And if, contrary to all Expectation, any one should, of his own Authority, act or do any thing contrary to this Ordinance, he shall immediately, after being convicted of such Crime, pay a Fine of One thousand Rix-Dollars; and moreover be prosecuted by the King’s Attorney-General, as a Transgressor of His Majesty’s Royal Orders.
Given at Copenhagen, December 31, 1680.
The Disposition and Inclinations of the King of Denmark towards his Neighbours
The Kingdoms and States which border upon the King of Denmark, are towards the North and Northeast, the Territories belonging to Sweden; towards the South, the Duke of Holstein’s part of Sleswick and Holstein, the City of Hamburg, and the Dutchy of Bremen. Towards the West and Southwest, England, and Scotland; which are separated from them by the main Ocean. Towards the South-east the Dukedoms of Saxe Lawenburg, of Mecklenburg and of Lunenburg. The Dominions of Brandenburgh, etc. lye also this way not far distant from them.
Between the King of Denmark, and most of these Neighbours, it may be said in general, that there always is a reciprocal Jealousy and Distrust, which often breaks out into open Hostilities; with those nearer more frequently, with the remoter more seldom, according as the occasions of quarrel or revenge do happen.32
The interposition of a vast Ocean has hitherto kept the Danes in pretty good terms with England and Scotland, and the Trade they have with those Kingdoms is very considerable to them; their Maritime Forces are in no measure sufficient to cope with us and others concern’d, otherwise they have had a good mind to challenge the sole right of the Groenland Whale-fishing; as pretending that Country to be a discovery of theirs, and therefore to belong to them.
Since the present Wars with France, and our strict Union with the Hollanders, they have shown themselves extreme jealous of our Greatness at Sea, fearing lest we should ingross and command the whole Trade of the World; and therefore have favoured France on all occasions, as much as they durst, furnishing it with Naval Stores, and other Commodities which it wants. And for this reason (notwithstanding their scarcity of Money) they will hardly be persuaded either to lend or sell any more Forces to the Confederates. Neither is it to be doubted, but that as well to keep the balance of the Sea Power even, as to secure the liberty of their Commerce, which brings them in great Gains, they will leave no Stone unturned to do us a Mischief, in order to humble us to such a degree as may put them out of fears, that we shall give law to the Ocean. To this end they have entered into stricter Alliances with Sweden of late, for a mutual Vindication of open Commerce, than the natural Animosities between those Northern Crowns did seem to admit of; but the present apparent necessity of restraining within Bounds our growing united Power at Sea, works more prevalently with them both, than the ancient hatred which they retain for each other; and which may break out again, as soon as they are out of fear of us.33
For Sweden is the most powerful, most dreaded, and nearest Neighbour of Denmark; the Territories of that King lye as it were at the Gates of Copenhagen, the Capital City, and may be seen from the very Bedchamber of this King, ever since the Danes lost three of their best Provinces on the other side the Baltick; so that as well the Resentment of past Injuries, as the dread of future Mischiefs from the greatness of Sweden on the one side; the consciousness of being violent possessors of another’s Right, the certainty of their being hated and envied for those Acquisitions, the fear of losing them in case Denmark grow powerful on the other, are unsur-mountable Obstacles to any firm Friendship between these two Crowns. The ancient Quarrel, like a Wound ill healed, is but skinned over, and festers at the bottom, although our equally disobliging them in the interruption of their Traffick, has made a greater step towards their mutual Reconciliation, than was thought to be practicable. But whenever we please to caress the one at the expense of the other, this seeming Knot will discover the weakness of its contexture, and probably dissolve of it self.
Neither is the Alliance by the King of Sweden’s having married the other’s Sister,34 of any moment towards a good Correspondence, but rather the contrary. The King of Sweden, though a very virtuous Prince, shews coldness and indifference enough (upon this account, as it is thought) towards his Queen, who is a very accomplished Princess; and either has, or thinks he has reason to avoid a further Matrimonial Tye with the Dane: therefore he chose rather to Contract his only Daughter with the young Prince of Holstein Gottorp, whose Estates are in a manner wasted and ruined, than with the Prince Royal of Denmark; for having but one Son, in case of whose death this Daughter would be Heiress of his Crown, he thinks it not prudence to leave it to so near a hazard and probability, that the Dane may be one day Master of both Kingdoms.
Upon the Foundation of this mutual Jealousy, are built the Friendships and Enmities which each of them (but especially Denmark) have with most of their other Neighbours, and the rest of the German Princes. And upon this account it is principally that the Animosity is so great between this Crown and the Princes of Lunenburg;35 with whom, on the contrary, the Swede has always kept a good Correspondence, that upon occasion of any Attack made on his Territories in the Circle of Lower Saxony, or in Pomerania, (which are looked upon by the rest of the German Princes with an evil Eye) he may secure to himself the Assistance of that powerful Family against the Dane or Brandenburger; therefore the neighbourhood of the Lunenburg Princes will always be grievous to, and suspected by Denmark, which will obstruct by all means it can, the Accessions either of Territories or Honours to that Family. So that it is not to be supposed that the Dane will quietly sit down with the Duke of Zell’s thrusting himself into the possession of the Dutchy of Saxe Lawenburg, which borders immediately upon Holstein; nor with the determination of the Imperial Diet in favour of the Ninth Electorate conferred on the Duke of Hannover. On the other hand it is thought that the Swede, in order to the further curbing of Denmark, will uphold the Lunenburg Family in its Acquisitions; in the matter of the Electorate openly and aboveboard; in the other of Saxe Lawenburg secretly, because of the invalidity of the Title of that Family to that Dutchy; which seems to be no longer good than it can be maintained by force or connivance.
The Princes of Lunenburg have also hitherto seconded the Swedes Intentions, in being the Guardians of Hamburg,36 upon which City the King of Denmark casts a longing Look, and has made frequent Attempts. His pretensions to it as part of his Dutchy of Holstein, are none of the weakest, but his Arms and Councils in order to the Reduction of it under his Power, have been unsuccessful. He encourages his new Town of Altena (which is built close under its Walls) as a Rival, and which one day may be a curb to it. And in truth, this rich City has great reason to be jealous of such a Neighbour, whose chiefest Ambition is to destroy its Liberty, and render himself its Master. But the Duke of Zell (whose Territories lye next) has always some Forces posted near enough to prevent the King of Denmark’s Designs upon it; therefore this City pays a great deal of respect to those Princes, whom it looks on as its best Protectors. With the other German Princes it keeps also as good a Correspondence as possible; and they on their part shew an affection to the Liberty of that City, the Reduction of which, under the Power of the Danes, would be extremely inconvenient to them, as well upon the score of the Trade of great part of Germany, whereof it is the Seat and Principal Mart by its convenient Situation on the River Elb; as upon the score of the great Addition such a Conquest would make to the Power of the Danes; who are usually ill Neighbours when they are weak, but would be insupportable were their Force proportionable to their Inclinations.
Nor would the Brandenburgers37 wish that this City, or the Town of Lubeck, should have any Master, but would endeavour to their utmost to frustrate Attempts upon them, and yet the Elector of Brandenburg is esteemed the firmest Ally the King of Denmark has; for their common interest to prevent the Greatness of the Swedes, (whereof they are equally jealous and fearful) unites these two Princes stronger than any tie of Blood could do. The Ducal Prussia, and that part of Pomerania which belongs to Brandenburg, lies open to the Swedes; and the least transport of Forces from Sweden to Germany side of the Baltick gives a terrible Alarm to all the Neighbours. They cannot forget the strange Successes of Gustavus Adolphus, nor the Encroachments of Sweden in the late Wars; neither can they be otherwise persuaded, but that there is always impending danger of the like Attempts from the same Nation, abounding in Soldiers, and ruled by a frugal, diligent, and active young King. So that, as I said before, their common danger makes them strangely concur in this design of keeping the Swede within his due Bounds, although in other matters some disagreement may happen between them; as may be more particularly instanced in the Affair of St. Thomas’s Island, and in the Branden-Burgers endeavours to force the Dane to a Restitution of the Duke of Holstein Gottorp to his Country; which was so happily accomplished by his Majesty of Great Britain, the very first year of his Exaltation to the Throne.
The Duke of Holstein Gottorp (whom I have purposely mentioned last of those Princes that confine with Denmark, that I may have an opportunity to speak more amply concerning his Case) is nearly related to the King of Denmark, both by Consanguinity and Affinity. They are of the same Family of Oldenburg; the Ancestor of the present Duke refused the Kingdom of Denmark, in favour of the Ancestor of the King; whom he recommended to the Peoples Election. This Duke is married to the King’s Sister, by whom he has Issue a very hopeful Prince; his Territories are intermixt both in Sleswick and Holstein with the King’s, but much to his disquiet and inconvenience; for Ambition knows no bounds, especially when joined with Power sufficient to oppress a weak Opponent. The King thought it for his Interest (and that is esteemed reason enough with most Princes) to be Master of the whole Country; which the Duke being sensible of, and convinced that the first convenient opportunity would be taken to dispossess him, to secure himself, cultivated as strong a Friendship as he could with the King of Sweden his Brother in-Law, and one who upon many accounts was bound to hinder the Greatness of the Danes. Yet this Confederacy reached no farther, nor was ever intended to be made use of by the Duke otherwise than as a Defensive Guard, the Reputation whereof might possibly shelter him from Oppression. For the Duke was of himself much too weak to oppose the King, and the Succours of the Swede too far distant to frustrate a sudden Attempt, to which he lay constantly exposed. But in regard that at long run this Alliance would stand him in greatest stead (as he has found by Experience) it was always most carefully cherished and maintained on the Duke’s part, and no less on the King’s, who did, and ever will think it of great advantage to him to uphold the Duke of Holstein in his lawful Rights; and no less detrimental to his Enemy; this Duke being the severest Thorn in the Foot of the King of Denmark, and the greatest Mortification to him that can possibly be imagined; who now of a near Kinsman and Brother, by his ill usage has made an utter Enemy, that (notwithstanding the present Composure of Differences) can neither trust him, nor be trusted by him. For the better understanding of which it will not be amiss in another Chapter to give a short account of the Proceedings in that whole Matter.
The manner of dispossessing, and restoring the Duke of Holstein Gottorp
The Affairs between the King and Duke being on the terms abovementioned, that is to say, Ambition and Reason of State guiding the Designs of one Party, Fear and Weakness of the other, Hatred and Distrust of both; there seemed to be wanting nothing but a fair Opportunity to put in practice what had been long projected by the Danes, which at length happened in the year 1675.
Among other Differences which remained to be adjusted between the King and Duke, the Succession to the Counties of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst was the greatest; this was at length left to the determination of the Imperial Court; but whilst it was under debate there, several meetings between the Ministers of Denmark and those of Gottorp were appointed, in order to an amicable composure of this and all other Quarrels; which Meetings were principally sought after by the King, with all the seeming desires of Amity, and Appearances of Friendship imaginable, the better to lull the Duke into Security, and a Persuasion of the Sincerity of his Intentions. Sometimes an Equivalent for the sole possession of those Counties was proposed and hearkened to, and the whole Matter seemed to want nothing but fair drawing up, and the Ratification. At other times fresh Disputes arose touching the Taxes of the Dukedoms of Sleswick and Holstein, whereof the King challenged the greater part to himself, in proportion to the share of Forces which he maintained for Defence of the Country. On the other side, the Duke insisted on it, that the Taxes ought equally to be divided; and if the King kept up more Troops than were necessary, that did not any way prejudice his right to an equal share of the Revenues, especially since the King’s undertakings were managed neither with any previous Communication with, or consent of the Duke; nor were agreed unto by the States of the Dukedom, both which by ancient Treaties ought to have been done. But this Ball was either kept up, or let fall, according to the Circumstances of Affairs abroad, which the Danes had a watchful Eye upon, at the same time that they treated with the Duke.
For the Swedes having taken the part of France against the Empire, were at this time engaged in a War with the Elector of Brandenburg. And the Danes who had long since resolved to break with Sweden, thought no time so proper as this to revenge their ancient Quarrel, and to regain their lost Provinces. But looking upon the Duke of Holstein as a Friend to Sweden, and a main Obstacle to their Intentions, they durst not march their Army out of the Country, till they had so ordered Matters as to apprehend no danger from him.
A deep Dissimulation was necessary to the carrying on this Design upon the Swedes and House of Gottorp; and was made use of with so much Address, that the Swedish Ambassador, who was then residing at Copenhagen, and negotiating a Marriage for the King his Master with the Daughter of Denmark, was caressed in an extraordinary manner, and treated with the greatest Demonstrations of Friendship possible: And at the same time the Prime Minister of Denmark wrote most obligingly to the Duke’s Resident then at Hamburg, That he was ready to meet him half way, and would join endeavours with him to adjust all Differences, and establish a firm Correspondence between their Masters, which he said he desired above all things. He added moreover, that when willing Minds met together about the Composure of Differences, a few hours would put an end to that which had been transacting many years; and therefore conjured him to meet him. The King also did often declare himself to this purpose to the Duke’s Ministers, That he would acknowledge, as a great Obligation conferred on him, the furthering an Accommodation between him and the Duke.
’Tis the Custom of the King of Denmark to make once a Year a Voyage into Holstein, where he assembles and takes a review of his Troops. This is done not only upon the score of Diversion, and to see that the Forces be in good Condition; but also to use the neighbouring Princes and Hamburgh to such a practice; that when they see it performed several years without any ill Consequence, or Attempts upon them, they may take the less Umbrage, and be less upon their Guard, whenever he should have any real Design. About this time the King was beginning such a Journey, in order to put his Projects in Execution; and to lull the Duke into a deeper Security, writes to him very kind Letters, desiring him not to be concerned at it, since he had no other end in it than formerly in the like Voyages, unless it were to put a final determination to all Differences between them to their mutual satisfaction. The Duke was so pleased by these Assurances under the King’s Hand, that he went in Person to meet his Majesty, accompanied by his Brother the Bishop of Lubeck, and many others of the Nobility; and afterwards treated him very splendidly at a House of his upon the Road near his Residence of Gottorp; the King then caressing him, and desiring him earnestly to come and see him at Rendsburg (a fortified Town about fourteen English miles from thence) near which the Rendezvous of the Troops was appointed. Towards the conclusion of this Feast several large Healths were drank to the future good Agreement, with so much appearing Sincerity, that the good Duke thought he had no reason to doubt the reality of it; but ordered his Chief Minister to wait upon the King and his Ministers at Rendsburg; where they so far accommodated all Matters, that the whole Affair was supposed near its Conclusion.
Upon this the Duke sends three of his chief Counsellors, impowered by a special Commission, to treat and conclude at Rendsburg; with whom three of the King’s Council met, and conferred. The business of the Conference was principally about the Exchange of other Lands for the Counties of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst; but in it the King’s Commissioners took occasion to renew the Debate about the division of the Taxes, whereof, as I have said before, the King challenged the greater part: This did a little surprize and displease the Duke’s Commissioners, who thought it foreign to the matter in hand, and would not hearken to Proposals of that nature.
At the very same time, and during this Conference, the King’s Prime Minister wrote to the Duke’s, That he thought it necessary for both Princes, that the Duke of Gottorp would please to come to Rendsburg to the King, who was ready to conclude a Treaty; because the Presence of so near a Relation would contribute more than any thing else to a Friendly Composure of all these matters. And the Duke, as well upon the account of the former Invitation, as upon this fresh one, withal to shew his forwardness towards a Peace, resolves upon the Visit; first sending a Gentleman to acquaint the King with his intention, and desiring his permission to come and wait upon him. The King’s Answer was, That he should be heartily welcome, and his Chief Minister also, whom he desired to bring along with him. Thus the Duke being fully persuaded that all was meant honourably, on the 25th of June began his Journey, accompanied by his Minister and other Nobility, and arrived at Rendsburg; where he was welcomed by a discharge of all the Cannon of that Fortress, and other demonstrations of Joy.
The next day, being the 26th of June 1675, a fatal one to that unfortunate Prince and his Family, an Express arrives with Letters of the great Defeat given the Swedes by the Brandenburgers at Fehr Berlin: this was what the Danes wished and waited for; but could scarce promise themselves it should succeed so fully according to their expectations, or nick the time so justly as it did. They thought Heaven it self concurred with their Intentions; and not to be wanting on their parts, immediately give orders to shut the Town Gates, to call a Council of War, to send their Soldiers up and down, and seize all the Duke’s Towns and Fortresses. These Orders were as suddenly executed: the Duke’s Troop of Guards were disarmed, himself confined a Prisoner to his Apartment; his Dinner, which he thought to have eaten with the King, was brought in to him by Officers and Soldiers, who watched him so narrowly that he could not stir; the poor Duke exclaiming in the mean while, and complaining that he was ill used; that he was a Sovereign Prince of the Empire, independent of any other Power; that he was a near Kinsman, a Brother-in-Law, nay, an invited Guest of the Kings; that all the Laws of Justice, of Blood, of Friendship and Hospitality were violated by this Action, wherein the King had broken his Parole, and the Sanctuary of his own House. But all this was in vain; the Duke had no Remedy prescribed to him, but Patience; the Blow which was begun, must be followed, and more Evils must succeed that which had already happened.
For the Duke being thus seized, his Ministers were presently sent for, and told, That now there was an end of all Treating, that the King was Master, and would act as such: To which purpose he would take possession of the Duke’s whole Country, and put Garrisons into all the strong Places which he thought proper to secure to himself, because he had an intention to lead his Army elsewhere against the Swedes; that the Inclinations of the House of Gottorp were always malevolent towards the King, and by him considered as such; however if the Duke would fairly and freely renounce his Right to the Lands in question, the King might, at the Duke’s request, be prevailed upon to give him an hundred and fifty thousand Rix Dollars at Copenhagen for it.
Notwithstanding the Extremity the Duke was reduced to, he could not be brought to consent to such a severe Condition; but offered, since Matters could be no better, that the King without prejudice to his Right, should have the Taxes so much contested, in the manner he desired; that his Majesty should put one half of the Garrison into the strong Town of Tonningen, provided that all therein did take the Oaths of Allegiance to both Princes, till such time as the Exigencies of Affairs would permit the entire Restoration of it to its former Master: That if the King would dispose of his Country solely, the Duke must yield to force, but hoped his Right should be reserved entire, and desired that his Residence and Habitation of Gottorp, which was neither by Nature nor Art strong enough to be formidable, might be left free to him: Lastly, That the King would grant him and his liberty to dispose of themselves as they thought fit.
The Danes Answer was, That these Offers and Demands were no other than Trifles; That the King would proceed to the Execution of his own Will and Pleasure by Force and Arms; that neither the Duke, nor any of his, should ever be restored to their Liberty till he had signed an Instrument there ready drawn up, to order the Commander of Tonningen to Surrender it to the King; which the Duke at last, through despair of his Life, was forced to consent to; and accordingly that Fortress, with all its Cannon and Stores, was delivered up to the Officer sent by the King for that purpose.
Things being brought to this pass, the Duke was removed to his own House at Gottorp. His Dutchess, who had been all this while at Copenhagen, and as it was thought consented to all the Injustices acted against her Husband and Family, was restored to him; but he was in effect a Prisoner still; for Guards were placed at all the Avenues, every day some new severe Conditions were proposed to him, and Articles offered him which he was forced to sign: one of which was a Renunciation of his Supream and Independent Right over the Dukedom of Sleswick. Being at last quite tired with so many Violences, not knowing where they might end, he began to think of his Escape: so that one day taking the Advantage of his Dutchesses being sent for again by her Mother, the Queen Dowager of Denmark, he pretended to accompany her part of the way; and by the means of some trusty Servants, had re-lays of Horses placed in convenient stations. After a few hours travelling with her, he took his leave of her, and pretending to hunt, set Spurs to his Horse, and rid away as fast as he could towards Hamburg.
The Allarm was presently given of the Duke’s flight, and many Horse-men were dispatched after him, which he being aware of, took not the direct Road, but went about by Kiel; so that, after a narrow escape, he arrived safely where he designed. This mightily vexed the King, who used all means to get him out of that City, because Hamburg being so populous a Town, the fame of the Barbarity exercised against him flew from thence all over Europe. But the Duke had been taught by former Misfortunes not to trust his Enemy; and as soon as he got to Hamburg, solemnly protested against the validity of all that he had been constrained to agree to, whilst he was in Durance; yet withal declared, That he was as ready as ever to come to an amicable Composure of Differences with the King, to prevent the ruin of his Subjects, and other Mischiefs; provided the King would redress some of the greatest Grievances. This Proposition was so little regarded, that instead of hearkening to it, the King ordered the Fortress of Toningen to be demolished, the Dukedom of Sleswick to be sequestred, the Magistrates and People to be absolved from their Allegiance to the Duke, and obliged to an Oath of Fidelity to the King; all the Revenues of the Duke to be brought into his Treasury; Garrisons to be continued in the Duke’s Forts and Mansion-house, and unless the Duke came to accept of the King’s terms in relation to that Fief, that it should for ever be annexed to the Crown of Denmark.
For the more speedy publication of these new Orders, Proclamations were made and affixed to that effect in all the Towns of the Dukedom. The Duke on his part publishing others in opposition to this Usurpation, together with a Solemn Protestation against all that had been done; concluding with a Command to the States of the Dukedom, and the rest of his Subjects, to continue firm in their Loyalty and Obedience to their Natural Prince.
But the King, who was resolved no longer to keep any Measures with him, nor to preserve that Country in any tolerable condition which he knew not how long he might enjoy, exacted vast Contributions from the poor Subjects, to the value of many Millions of Gold, and to the ruin of as flourishing a Province as any in the Circle of Lower Saxony; thereby disabling the Duke’s Subjects from contributing any thing towards the Subsistence of their Master; who continued all this while at Hamburg in a state little befitting his high Quality; whilst he sent his Son abroad to raise the Compassion, and implore the Assistance of all the Neighbouring German Princes; on which Errand I had the Fortune to meet him at the Courts of Hannover and Wolfenbuttel. He made also strong Application to the Crown of England, as Guarantee of the Northern Peace, and caused a full Representation of his disconsolate Condition to be printed in English, which contains at large most of the Particulars above-mentioned; but all in vain: the Duke continued a Sufferer notwithstanding his many Appeals to those who ought to have interested themselves in his behalf: until such time as the King of Sweden began in earnest to take his Cause in hand. This King having at last brought the Affairs of his own Kingdom into such a Posture as permitted him to resent the Injuries done to his near Relation, threatened the Dane with a War in case he delayed Restitution; and to this effect, in the Year 1689 set a Fleet to Sea, with intention to second his Threats by Blows; which he might the better then do, because the chief Support of the Danes in their Injustice, (the French King) was at that time attacked by the Forces of the Confederates; and England, by the Accession of his present Majesty to that Crown, was become a principal Party in so just a War. So that France was likely to have its Hands full at home. Besides, his Majesty of Great Britain being become Guarantee of the Northern Peace, thought himself obliged in honour to maintain it; and in order to that end, gave such Instructions to his Envoy Extraordinary, then going to the Danish Court, as might induce it to comply with Justice, and prevent that Effusion of Blood which was threatened. These Remonstrances had their due weight with the King of Denmark; who at last yielded to the necessity of his Circumstances, and to the Solicitations of the Elector of Brandenburg, who pressed among the rest the Restoration of the Duke, and had sent his Ministers to the Congress for the Accommodation, to propose a Project to that end; not so much out of kindness to the Family of Gottorp, as for fear the Swedish Arms should by any just occasion be brought over the Baltick; the event of which might be fatal to all the Neighbourhood, and to the Brandenburgers in particular. Thus the Danes, with reluctancy, consented at last to give up what they had unjustly detained above thirteen years from its right Owner, after having raised vast Sums of Money from the Country: for the Duke’s part of the Dutchy of Sleswick only, had about 28,000 Ploughs in it, each of which were taxed to pay four Crowns a Month: besides innumerable other Extortions, which filled the Purses of the Ministers of Denmark, who shared the Revenues among them. The Swedish and Danish Fleets had been about a Fortnight at Sea, but no Action had happened between them. After the Accommodation was published, and the Duke restored, (yet without any reparation of Damages past) the two Fleets returned to their several Ports, and the Duke to his Habitation of Gottorp, which he found in a desolate Condition, compared to what he left it in. The Dutch had a principal Hand in the Conclusion of this Agreement, by the means of Myn Heer Heemskirk their Minister; and his Majesty of Great Britain a large share of the Glory of redressing a Wrong, which through so many years possession pleaded a kind of Prescription to warrant it; the very first half year of his Reign vindicating the Honour of the Crown of England, which was engaged as Guarantee; and securing the Peace of the North, in order to the procuring the Assistance of one, or both of those Princes, towards the humbling the common Enemy. This he effectually did; for the Danes immediately afterwards, sent by Treaty seven thousand Soldiers, which are yet in his Majesty’s Pay; and the Swedes remain at liberty to continue such of their Troops in the Dutch Service as formerly were stipulated for, and which (had a War broken out) they might have been forced to recall.
The Interests of Denmark in relation to other Princes
In treating of the Interests of the King of Denmark in relation to other Princes or States which do not confine upon his Dominions, and of his Affections towards them, it will not be necessary to observe strictly the order and rank which those Princes hold in the World, I shall therefore take them as they come indifferently.
With the Emperor the King of Denmark is obliged to keep always a good outward Correspondence, he being himself a Prince of the Empire, as Duke of Holstein; and the Emperor having it often in his Power to do him several Kindnesses or dis-kindnesses. The King has a great desire to establish a Toll at Glucstadt upon the River Elb; and although the Emperor’s consent would not absolutely secure the business for him, there being many other Princes, together with all those who are concerned in the Trade of Hamburg that would obstruct it: yet it would strike a great stroke, and must always be a necessary Preliminary. He keeps therefore very fair with his Imperial Majesty, and when pressed by the Ministers, sends (for valuable considerations) some Troops to serve in Hungary against the Turks; notwithstanding which he is inwardly troubled at the Power of the House of Austria, and the Increase of its Dominions; being jealous, as most of the other German Princes are, that the Greatness of that Family may one day turn to the detriment of the Liberty of Germany: and therefore is not displeased at the Successes of the French, or of the Turks. He has been heard to complain of the neglect which the Imperial Court shows of him, and its partiality for the Swedes; this occasioned the Emperour’s sending a Minister lately to Reside at Copenhagen, as well as at Stockholm; since which he seems to be better satisfied. But at the bottom it is to be supposed, that the Dane is no true Friend of the Emperor’s; because he thinks his Imperial Majesty favours some Interests opposite to his, in conniving at the Lunenburgers forcible possession of the Dukedom of Saxe-Lawenburg, and bestowing the Electoral Dignity on that Family; the confirmation of which the King of Denmark opposes with all his Power.
With Poland the King of Denmark has at present little occasion either of Friendship or Enmity; there being but small Correspondence between them; yet he will rather chuse to keep that Crown his Friend, than otherwise; because it may one day stand him in stead against the Swedes: And for this reason it is that the Elector of Brandenburg, whose Interest in that particular is much the same with Denmark’s, maintains a good Correspondence, and Entertains a constant Minister at Warsaw. Besides, the Port of Dantzick is convenient for all that Trade in the Baltick, and the Danes bring Corn, as well as other Merchandize from thence. They keep likewise good Amity with the other Hans Towns.
The King is upon fair terms with the Duke of Courland, who has permitted him to raise Men in his Country, the Commander of which, one Poteamer, is Brother to that Duke’s prime Minister; and the Soldiers are the best able to live hardily, and to endure Fatigue of any in the World.
It is the Interest of Denmark to be well with the Dutch above all other Princes in Europe, because of the great Revenue it receives from their Traffick, and the Toll which they pay in the Sound: Because also in case of a quarrel with Sweden, or any other extremity, the King of Denmark is certain of the Assistance of the Hollanders; which is always sufficient and ready to protect him, as has been experienced in the former Wars between the Northern Crowns: for the Dutch will never suffer the Balance of the North to lean too much to one side, their Interest in the Trade of the Baltick being so considerable; but will take care to assist the weaker with proportionable Succours; which the conveniency of their Situation, and their Naval Force permits them to do with greater ease than any other. Notwithstanding all which Considerations, there are frequent Occasions of Quarrel between the Dutch and Danes; and the Friendship which the latter have for the former (especially since this War with France, and the Convention made with England for the Interruption of all Commerce with that Kingdom) is very weak and unstable; for besides that an Absolute Monarchy, for other Reasons, can never thoroughly love a Republick, the Danes are envious at the great Trade of the Dutch; and count it a Disparagement that Merchants, as they call them, should have it in their Power to give Law to a Crowned Head. However, at the bottom, Denmark would not be pleased that Holland should sink under the Force of its Enemies, but would use its best Endeavours to prevent it, though possibly not before Matters were reduced to so great an Extremity, as it might be beyond the Ability of the Danes to afford a timely Remedy.
The King of Denmark loves the Alliance of France, and keeps a stricter Correspondence with that Crown than with any other; though it be most certain that the Maxims which he has learnt from thence, and the Practices which followed those Maxims, have been the principal Occasion of that Kingdom’s present ill condition. But the King of France by fair Words, large Promises, and a little Money seasonably bestowed, has had the knack to amuse this Court, and to make it act as he pleases; notwithstanding the many Affronts, the ill Successes, and the universal Misery which through his means have attended it. The Emissaries of France are thick sown here; nothing pleases that is not according to the French Pattern, either in Dress, Military Discipline, or Politicks: and it is certain that a fitter could not be followed by any Arbitrary Prince, provided a due regard were had to the force and strength to perform in proportion to the Design undertaken. But the want of this Consideration has been fatal to Denmark; France had told this King, that Soldiers are the only true Riches of Princes, and this has made him raise more than he knows what to do with, unless he disturb his Neighbours; which generally he does for the Interests of France, though at last it turns to his loss. So that Denmark resembles in this point a Monster that is all Head and no Body, all Soldiers and no Subjects; and whenever a General Peace comes to be established in Europe, which shall set open Foreign Trade, and consequently spoil all the Advantages that his Country enjoys at present, I cannot see what will become of the Publick Affairs here; for the Soldiers when disbanded, being most of them Strangers, will return to their respective Homes; and the Revenues of these Kingdoms must sink extreamly through the want of People, and their Poverty. It seems therefore no less than madness for the least and poorest Kingdom of Europe to think of emulating with Success the richest, greatest, and the most populous, and to take its Measures from thence; as if there were no difference between King and King: So have I heard that the little Republick of St. Marino in Italy, which consists but of one small Town with the Mountain it stands upon, and is scarce taken notice of by Travellers, takes occasion to write to the Republick of Venice sometimes, and to stile it Our Sister, with as much Gravity and Pride, as if it equalled the other in Power. But the vanity of these poor Italians proceeds no farther than words, which does them no harm.
But the true Reasons which renders it the Interest of Denmark to keep well with France (and they are no weak ones) are first, because they look upon that Crown as the sole Balance against the Grandeur of the Emperour, and the House of Austria, whose Power, as I said before, is looked on by all the Princes of Germany with a very jealous Eye; the late Addition of the Crown of Hungary to it, with its other Conquests on that side from the Turks, the probability of the Spanish Dominions falling to some active Branch of it, and the remembrance what havock the Emperour Charles the Fifth, and his Successor, made among the German Princes, when possess’d of the like Advantages, makes the Danes as well as the others, reflect seriously upon what may happen hereafter, should France be reduced to too low an ebb: A second reason is, because they know no other Naval Force able to contest the intire Dominion of the Seas with the English and Dutch; and they are willing to keep the dispute about that Dominion undetermin’d between the French and us, that no Laws may be laid upon Traffick, but that they may reap their share of the Trade of the World; which they think would be but small, should that Point be once finally decided to our Advantage. A third Reason and the most forcible is, the Subsidies which the King of Denmark draws from time to time from France: a little ready money among a necessitous People, carrying irresistable Charms with it; And this has been the drift of the French Policy in advising that King to a greater Charge than he was able to bear, under pretence that they consulted his Honour and Grandeur, whereas they only consulted their own ends; being sure, after they had rendered him and his Country Poor, that they could buy him when they pleased. Yet whenever the French Treasure shall come so far to be exhausted, that a fairer bidder appears; this piece of Policy will not only fail the French, but turn to their disadvantage.
With the Kings of Spain and Portugal the Dane is in a state of indifferency. Their Dominions are so far asunder, and the business so little which they have with each other, that there happen few or no occasions, either of a Quarrel or Friendship between them. Yet the Danes have some small Trade for Salt and Wine with each of these Princes Subjects; and during this War make some benefit of their Neutrality, by transporting in their Ships the Effects of French, English, and Dutch from one Port to another. They have indeed some Pretensions on the Spaniard for Arrears of Subsidies owing to them ever since the Danes took the part of the Confederates against France in the former War; but they despair of obtaining them, unless some unforeseen Accident put them in a way of getting that Debt, the Accompts of which have hardly ever been adjusted between them.
With the late Elector of Saxony the King of Denmark kept a very good correspondence; the Elector having married one of the King’s Sisters, that Affinity produced as amicable effects as could be desired; inso-much that it begat a Resolution of a nearer Union of the two Families in a Match between the present Elector (then Prince) and the King’s only Daughter; this proceeded as far as a formal Contract, and the usual Marriage presents were Solemnly exchanged in order to Consummation; when on a sudden the old Elector died last year, as he was leading an Army towards the Rhine against the French, for the common cause of Europe; the Death of this Prince, among other Alterations, produced this, that his Successor the present Elector being thereby become at his own disposal, and having been formerly very much in love with another Lady, who is the present Electress; refused to compleat his Marriage with the Daughter of Denmark, and sent back the Presents which were given at the time of the Contract. This Action of his highly disgusted the King, Queen, and the whole Danish Court; however, there was no Remedy but patience; the Elector was too remote to fear any Effects of the Danes displeasure, and resolved to pursue his own Inclinations in the choice of a Wife, let the World say and do what it would. Accordingly he presently courted and married where he fancied; leaving the Danes to digest this Affront as well as they could; which they will scarce forget this great while. So that it is to be supposed the ancient Knot between the King and the Electoral Family of Saxe is hereby very much loosened; yet not so far as to proceed to any open Breach, the Elector’s Excuses for this Action having been received and accepted of as some sort of satisfaction.
With the Bishop of Munster, the King of Denmark lives in good Amity, by reason of his Neighbourhood to the Counties of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst; and for the most part has a Minister residing in that Court. The like Friendship is between him and the other Princes of Germany; particularly with the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, who is Brother to his Queen, and extreamly beloved by her.
The King of Denmark has one Brother, viz. Prince George, born 1653 and married to her Royal Highness the Princess Ann, Sister to her Majesty of England: And four Sisters, viz. Anna Sophia, the Widow of the late Elector of Saxony. Frederica Emilia, the Wife of the Duke of Holstein. Guillimetta Ernestina, Widow of the Palatine of the Rhine. Ulrica Eleonora Sabina, the Queen of Sweden.
Of the Laws, Courts of Justice, etc.
Some Naturalists observe, that there is no Plant or Insect, how venomous or mean soever, but is good for something towards the use of man if rightly applied: in like manner it may be said, That several useful Lessons may be learnt, conducing to the benefit of Mankind, from this Account of Denmark, provided things be taken by the right handle.
Hitherto we have indeed met with many things in it to be avoided, and little deserving imitation: but being now to speak of the Danish Laws, I must needs begin with this good Character of them in general, That for justice, Brevity, and perspicuity, they exceed all that I know in the World. They are grounded upon Equity, and are all contained in one Quarto Volume, written in the Language of the Country, with so much plainness, that no Man, who can write and read, is so ignorant, but he may presently understand his own Case, and plead it too if he pleases, without the Assistance of Counsel or Attorney.
Here is none of that Chicane to be found which destroys and raises so many great Estates in England; a very few Advocates do the business of all the Litigious Persons in these Kingdoms. Neither are their Fees arbitrary or exorbitant; no Suit of what importance soever hangs in suspence longer than one Year and a Month: since a Man may go through all the Courts, and have Execution done within that time, unless he be wanting to himself.
It may be replied to this, That the scarcity of Money may be the principal occasion of few Law-Suits and Lawyers. It is not denied, and perhaps a right sense of this was the first cause of so good a Regulation of Justice: for since the King was resolved to empty the Pockets of his Subjects, it was not for his advantage to permit others to do it, and share the Gains with him. However, thus much may with certainty be averred, That the like Regulation would not only agree with, but consummate the happiness of a rich Country; and this Instance of Denmark makes it evident that such a Regulation is practicable.
But to return to our purpose. In Denmark, in the ordinary Proceedings between Man and Man, there are three Courts, every one of which has power to give a definitive Sentence, and must either Acquit or Condemn. Yet there lies an Appeal from the lower to the higher; and if the inferior Judge has wilfully varied from the positive Law, the Party wronged has Damages given him, both from the Judge and his Adversary. Here is no removal of Actions from one Court to another, where the Parties may begin all again; but by way of ordinary procedure from the lower to the higher. The three Courts are these, first, In Cities and Towns the Byfoghts Court, to which in the Country does answer the Herredsfougds Court. Secondly, From thence lies an Appeal to the Landstag or general head Court for the Province. Thirdly, From thence to the Court called the Highright in Copenhagen, where the King himself sometimes sits in Person, and it is always composed of the prime Nobility of the Kingdom. The Judges in the two former Courts are constituted indeed by the King’s Letters Patents durante beneplacito;38 but are punishable for any misdemeanors committed, and condemned to make Reparation to the Party injured for any Injustice by them done. The City of Copenhagen has this particular Privilege, that the Sentences past in the Byfoghts Court, instead of passing through the Provincial Court, are tried by the Burgomaster and Common Council, and so proceed to the highest Court; which resembles so far our High Court of Chancery, that if any matter happen to fall in debate, for the decision of which there is not a positive Article to be found in the Law (which rarely happens) it is there determined by the King, or by the others present, who are as it were the Keepers of the King’s Conscience: and all this were very well, were it not that the first Article of the Law reserves to the King the Privilege of explaining or altering it at his pleasure.
In Matters relating to the Revenue, the Rent-Chamber in Denmark resembles our Court of Exchequer: which has also a Paymaster General belonging to it; and sometimes there is a Court composed of some Members of this Rent-Chamber, the Admiralty, and the Colledge of Commerce; before which lyes the Appeals of Merchants whose Goods happen to be seiz’d for not having paid the King’s Duties.
The Sentences passed in the inferior Courts are sometimes biassed and partial; but not often, for fear of the highest Court, where great regard is had to Justice; insomuch that I knew a Judge, who very hardly escaped being fined for a Sentence passed against an English Merchant; which Sentence was presently reversed.
Indeed, whilst Monsieur Griffinfeldt and Monsieur Wibbe were Chancellors, there were mutterings, that the High Court Sentences were not altogether up to the rigour of the Law; but this is very rare now, unless when a Courtier or Favourite is interested in such a Sentence; in which case, or in matters wherein the King is concerned, you are to expect little Justice, especially if it relate to Money.
The Salaries of the Judges are but small; they are paid out of the Exchequer, and do not consist in Fees. The Byfogd may have about one hundred Rix Dollars yearly; and he pays himself out of the Fines of Delinquents. In the Country the Herredsfogds have each of them the Rent that is due to the King for a Farm that stands rated at ten Tuns of Hard-corn; he has besides from the Plaintiff and Defendant for the Sentence he passes, ten Stivers from each. And the Byfogd or Judge in Cities and Towns, double as much. Moreover, the contesting Parties are bound to pay the Clerk so much a sheet for the Paper, in which is set down at large the whole proceeding, and the Allegations of each Party, whether they be Verbal or by Libel, and at the close of all the Sentence it self. At the Byfogds Court, and the Landstag, the Judge inserts the Law, and adds the Reasons upon which his Judgment is founded; but in the High Right no Reason is given at all, or but very seldom. And that no Clerk may have it in his power to pick any Man’s Pocket by filling up many Sheets of Paper, there are Limits set, beyond which no man is obliged to pay. Every one may plead his own Cause that pleases; however, it is the King’s Order that the Magistrates take care to have one or more Advocates (such as they approve of) who are to plead for the Poor, and for such as cannot plead for themselves: upon the whole matter, the Charges of the Law are very easie; since a complaint may go through the three Courts for fifty Rix Dollars, which is less than twelve pound Sterling; unless the Sum in question be very great, and more than ordinary Evidences to be written on Sealed Paper. These Laws are so equitable and expeditious, that they are extreamly commended by Merchants and Strangers, who have occasion to have recourse to them. Neither is the smallness of the Expense any Encouragement to those that love going to Law; for the Laws themselves provide effectually against this Mischief, and take away the very Root of Litigiousness: being so plain and clear, that a troublesome Person never finds his Account in promoting vexatious Suits, but meets with all the Disappointments one would wish him.
In Criminal Matters a great Severity of Justice is practised. You never hear of any Person guilty of the Crime of Treason against the King; the Government has rivetted it self so fast upon the Bottom it now stands, that no Body offers to wag so much as the Tongue against it. There are no Clippers or Coiners, no Robbers upon the High-way, nor House-breakers; which conveniency of Arbitrary Government, among the multitude of Mischiefs attending it, I have likewise observed in France; perhaps because those Princes, who are entire Masters of their Subjects Purses at pleasure, take more effectual care of them as of their own, and therefore use such means that none shall plunder or cheat their People, for the same reason that Folks kill Vermin in Dove-Houses, viz. that they may make the greater profit themselves. The most usual Capital Crimes are Manslaughter and Stealing: Execution is done upon Offenders by beheading them with a Sword at one stroke very dexterously; the Headsman, though infamous by his place, so that no Body will come into his Company, yet is commonly rich, having other advantagious Employments that no Body else dares undertake, viz. the emptying all the Necessary Houses, the removing all dead Dogs and Horses out of Houses and Stables, or from before Doors; for no Danish Servant will upon any terms set a hand to either of these Works, and the Executioner has his own Rates for these base Offices, which he performs by his under Servant, called the Racker.
The Advocates are not bred as with us in England in Publick Societies, such as Inns of Court or Chancery; neither take they any degrees of Barrister, Serjeant, or the like; but may take up the Calling as they please, according to their Inclinations or Abilities.
There are besides the three ordinary Courts before mentioned, Commissioners of the Admiralty, which they call the Admiralty-Court; wherein Affairs relating to the Sea are determined, such as Prizes, Wrecks, Disputes with Privateers, and the like.
There is likewise a Chancellary, which consists of a number of Clerks, who write and issue all the King’s Orders, give out Citations, transcribe Papers, make the Latin Projects of Treaties with Foreign Courts, according to the Directions they receive. In short, they are as it were under-Secretaries, and were formerly subject to the Government of one whom they called a Chancellor; but since Monsieur Wibbe’s death, that Employment has not been filled: neither does it resemble our Place of Chancellor in England. The Clerks of this Office have some small Salary from the King, and have moreover so much for every Citation to the High Court, and so much for every Order they issue, which they divide among them.
In Copenhagen there is a Publick Officer appointed, called the Polity Master, whose business is to keep good Orders in Affairs relating to the City; he is to see that the Merchants sell warrantable Merchandize, that they do not interfere in one another’s Trades; and to compose Differences on that account among them; that the Publick Buildings, Draw-bridges, and Canals be kept in repair; that the Streets be paved, cleansed, and free of the Incumbrances of Bulks and other Inconveniencies. That no prohibited Goods be brought in; that there be always plenty of Bread-Corn, and sold at a moderate Price; that the requisite Assistance in case of Fire be at hand. And indeed the Orders taken in this matter are very good; for there are select Companies appointed to watch and extinguish the Fire, no others daring to approach within a certain distance, lest under pretence of bringing help, they take the occasion to plunder. The Chimney-sweepers are bound to keep a Register of all Chimneys they sweep, that in case of any ill Accident, those by whose neglect or covetousness it happens, may be answerable for it. No Torches or Flambeaux are allowed to be carried in the Streets, by reason of the great quantities of Fir, Timber, and the constant high Winds which are here; instead of which all Persons, even the Court it self, make use of large round Lanthorns, carried at the end of long sticks. The Polity Master regulates also the price of Travelling in their open Wagons, and punishes such as exact more than the established rate, if they be complained of; also such as travel in the King’s particular Highway without permission; and such as make use of Guns and Fowling-Pieces, and bring in Venison, Fowl, and Hares by stealth, or in times when they are prohibited to be killed. He takes care also to prevent and suppress Riots and Disturbances of the Soldiers, who are not permitted to walk the Streets after the Tattoo has gone about; and in general of all other matters relating to order, quiet, and decency.
Among other good Regulations in Denmark, I look upon that of the Apothecaries to be none of the least commendable; for no man is permitted to exercise that Trade, unless he be appointed by the Colledge of Physicians, and confirmed by the King himself. There are but two allowed to the City of Copenhagen, and one to every other considerable Town. Their Shops and Drugs are carefully visited twice or thrice a year by the Magistrates, accompanied by the Doctors of Physick; and such Drugs as are either naught or old, are taken from them and flung away. The prices of all these Drugs are fixed, so that any Child may be sent to an Apothecaries Shop without hazard of being imposed upon; and nothing is sold that is not exceeding good, and at very moderate Rates. They sell all for ready Money, yet keep exact Books of what they sell, to whom, and by whose Prescription: so that the great Mischief of accidental or wilful Poysoning, so frequent in other Countries, is either quite avoided; or if practiced, easily discovered and punished.
The Government in the Country is managed, by dividing it into several Districts or Governments, called Stifts Ampts, whereof there are in all seven, of these, four are in Jutland, the other three in the Islands. Each of these is again subdivided into three lesser Jurisdictions, called Ampts. The Stifts-Ampts-man, or Governor of a County is commonly one of the best Quality and Fortune in that part of the Country; and this Charge answers to that of Lord Lieutenant of our Counties in England, or rather of Intendant in France. The Ampts-man, or under-Governor of a Hundred, or Balliage, is generally a Gentleman of lesser Fortune, who resides in the principal Town of his District, and takes care of all Matters relating to the Publick: as convenient quartering of Soldiers, providing for their March, collecting the King’s Revenues, giving orders to the Peasants when employed about Publick Works, or when the King travels. All this they do themselves, or by inferior Officers, like our Bailiffs and Constables. These Employments are for the most part given by the King during life, and are the principal Rewards of such as have well deserved: he that has served long and faithfully as a Foreign Minister, or in any other considerable Civil Post, is usually promoted upon a vacancy to be Stifts-Ampts-man of his Province; provided his Estate and Interest there be some way correspondent. The Grooms of the King’s Bed chamber, and other Officers of the Court, upon their Marriage, or retiring from Court, are gratified with an Ampt, and sent to live at home; provided they have served long, and be in any favour. The King pays to each of these a yearly Salary out of his Treasury; to a Stifts-Ampts man a thousand Crowns a year, to an Ampts-man four hundred Crowns. The principal Advantages they reap from these Employments, are these: First, That being more considered and favoured at Court than others, they escape better at the time of a Publick Tax, and can often find means to ease the Burthen off their own Lands by inhancing it upon others; neither will the Court willingly give ear to Complaints against them. Secondly, They are very much honoured and feared at home, and have the Privilege to domineer over the Peasants, and other their inferiors without control, unless they do it too grosly, and beyond measure.
Before I conclude this Chapter, I think it very pertinent to take notice, That in Denmark there are no Seditions, Mutinies, or Libels against the Government; but all the People either are or appear to be Lovers of their King, notwithstanding their ill Treatment, and the hardships they groan under. And I suppose one principal Reason of this to be the Equality of the Taxes, and the manner of Taxing. It is not to be imagined by those that see it not, what a comfort it is to the Sufferers to be ill used alike; for Poverty and Riches being only such in proportion; provided men be treated like their Neighbours, they grumble not; that which vexes the Oppressed in most Countries, (especially the Common People, who are more than ordinary envious) is to see their County, their Parish, or their House taxed more in proportion than their Neighbours: and they have reason to be discontented at this, for it brings real Poverty upon those that are over-taxed; it does not diminish the general Stock of the Subjects Money, which would keep all Commodities and Necessaries at equal and moderate Rates; but picks particular men’s Pockets, whilst it leaves others rich and able to profit by the Necessities of the Poor.
’Tis a certain sign of an ill Government where there are abundance of Laws; but ’tis no certain sign of a good one, where there are but a few, as is plain in the case of Denmark. However, this Blessing of few and good Laws, is like a Grain of Consolation to sweeten a World of Bitterness, and enables them to bear their other Hardships with more Ease and Patience.39
The State of Religion, of the Clergy, and Learning, etc.
When the Corruptions of the Roman Church grew so intolerable to many Nations in Europe, that an Universal Reformation became necessary, Denmark, among the rest of the Northern Countries (which had been less managed and more abused by the Priests than the Southern) shook off that yoke, and instead of the Roman-Catholick, embraced the Doctrine and Opinions of Martin Luther. King Frederick the First, about one hundred and fifty years since, brought these in, and established them so generally in his Dominions, that at this day there is no other Religion here professed than the Lutheran, if we will except the little Reformed French Church of Copenhagen, set up by the Queen, and one Popish Chapel at Glucstadt, permitted about ten years ago to a few Popish Families in those parts; which is the first that has been since the Reformation. This great Unity in belief in the North (for Sweden has it as well as Denmark) is owing to the Sincerity of those Princes that began the Reformation there: for it is likely they did it upon a pure religious account, and therefore went effectually to work in the Conversion of all their Subjects, using proper means for such a purpose; whereas in England, and elsewhere, Reasons of State and other Byends, had at least as great a share in it as Conviction of Conscience; so that the business was done by halves, through the unsettledness of our Princes in their Opinions, who encouraged or connived at a dissenting Party, according as their worldly Interests led them. The vast convenience to any Prince of having all his Subjects of one Opinion, is visible in Denmark; where there are no Factions nor Disputes about Religion, which usually have a great influence on any Government; but all are of one Mind, as to the way of Salvation, and as to the Duty they owe their Sovereign. This cuts off occasion of Rebellion and Mutiny from many, who otherwise would desire it, and seem to have reason enough, because of the heavy pressures they lye under. As long as the Priests are entirely dependant upon the Crown, and the People absolutely governed by the Priests in Matters of Conscience, as they are here, the Prince may be as Arbitrary as he pleases, without running any risque from his Subjects: in due consideration of which benefit, the Clergy are very much favoured, and have full scope given them to be as bigotted as they please; which indeed they are to a very great degree, having no common Charity for any that differ from them in Opinion, except the Church of England; and to that they are very kind, often saying, That there is no Essential Difference between it and theirs, and wishing that there were an union of them projected and perfected: wherein their Design is not so much to reduce our Ecclesiasticks to the low estate theirs are in, as to raise their own to the Splendour and Revenues of ours; which are the principal Virtues they admire in us. They have cast off the Opinions of Rome in the Supremacy of the Pope, and other Points; but they would retain the Grandeur belonging to that Church, and applaud us for doing both so dexterously: so that I am confident the business of Consubstantiation would make no difference, did Princes think it worth their while to promote this Union. On the other side, the Calvinist is hated by them as much as the Papist; and the reason they give is, because he is against absolute Monarchy, and has a resisting Principle.
Notwithstanding this Flattery of the Court, they are not admitted into civil Affairs, nor have any thing to do in the Government: neither are they encouraged to appear about Court, or on Publick Occasions; the Pulpit is their Province, and it is left free to them. Here they take a vast Liberty of Reprehending not only Vices, but particular persons of the highest quality, which no body takes notice of, as long as they keep to their own Trade. The common People admire them for this boldness, and the best Subsistence of the Priests in Cities and Towns being voluntary Benevolence, they take care to cultivate the good Opinion of the Mobb, whom they keep likewise in awe by the practice of Confession before they Administer the Sacrament, which every one that receives is obliged to undergo; and this they retain of the Romish Church, as well as Crucifixes, and other Ceremonies.
There are six Superintendants in Denmark, who take it very kindly to be called Bishops, and My Lord; viz. one in Zealand, one in Funen, and four in Jutland: There are also four in Norway. These have no Temporalities, keep no Ecclesiastical Courts, have no Cathedrals, with Prebends, Canons, Deans, Subdeans, etc. But are only primi inter pares;40 having the Rank above the inferior Clergy of their Province, and the inspection into their Doctrine and Manners. The Revenue of the Bishop of Copenhagen is about Two thousand Rix Dollars yearly; the other Bishops of Denmark have about Fifteen hundred Rix Dollars, and of Norway One thousand Rix Dollars; they are allowed to have two or three Parishes each; their Habit is common with that of the other Ministers, viz. A plaited black Gown, with short Sleeves, a large stiff Ruff about the Neck, and a Cap with Edges, like our Masters of Art, except that theirs is round, and the others square.
Most of them understand English, and draw the very best of their Divinity, as they confess themselves, out of English Books. Many of them have studied in Oxford, who are more valued than the others; they are very constant Preachers, and never read their Sermons, but pronounce them with a great deal of Action. Holy-days and Fast-days are observed as solemnly as Sundays; and in Copenhagen the City Gates are close shut during Sermon time, so that no body can go in or out. The Commonalty are great frequenters of the Churches, which are kept much more decently, cleanly, and better adorned than with us: so that they look almost as gaudy as the Popish Churches.
They are all great Lovers of Organs, and have many very good ones, with skilful Organists, who entertain the Congregation with Musick, during half an hour, either before or after Service.
Denmark has formerly produced very Learned Men, Such as the famous Mathematician Tycho Brahe, the Bartholines for Physick and Anatomy, Borichius, who died lately, and bequeathed a considerable Legacy to the University of Copenhagen. But at present Learning is there at a very low Ebb; yet Latin is more commonly spoken by the Clergy than with us. The Books that come out in Print are very few, and those only some dull Treatises of Controversy against the Papists and Calvinists. The Belles Lettres, or Gentile Learning are very much strangers here, and will hardly be introduced till a greater affluence among the Gentry makes way for them. It is said that Necessity is the Mother of Invention; which may be true in some degree, but I am sure too much Necessity depresses the Spirits, and destroys it quite; neither is there any Invention here, or tolerable Imitation of what is brought in to them by Strangers.
There is but one University, which is at Copenhagen, and that mean enough in all respects; neither the Building nor Revenues being comparable to those of the worst of our single Colledges. The Students wear black Cloaks, and live scattered about the Town, after the manner of those in Leyden. Some of the Professors live in the House. Every year on the King’s Birth day they have a kind of Act; the King honours them with his presence, and the Rector Magnificus harangues him with a Latin Speech, full of as fulsome Flattery, as if Louis le Grand were the Monarch to be entertained, and a fawning Jesuit the Orator. At certain Periods there are a few Danish Verses sung by the ordinary singing Boys to very indifferent Musick; and so the Farce ends.
There was in this King’s Father’s time an University at Sora, a Town very pleasantly situated about Forty miles from the City, where the Lodgings and Conveniencies for studying much exceeded those of Copenhagen: But the King had occasion for the Revenues; so that now it is desolate, and in its stead only a small Grammar-school erected.
The Provisions for the Poor are very inconsiderable; formerly there was a pretty store of Hospitals scatter’d up and down the Country, but at present the Revenues of most of these are diverted to other uses, and those not Publick ones.
To conclude; I never knew any Country where the Minds of the People were more of one calibre and pitch than here; you shall meet with none of extraordinary Parts or Qualifications, or excellent in particular Studies and Trades; you see no Enthusiasts, Mad-men, Natural Fools, or fanciful Folks; but a certain equality of Understanding reigns among them: every one keeps the ordinary beaten road of sense, which in this Country is neither the fairest nor the foulest, without deviating to the right or left; yet I will add this one Remark to their praise, that the Common People do generally write and read.
It has been a great Mistake among us, That the Popish Religion is the only one, of all the Christian Sects, proper to introduce and establish Slavery in a Nation, insomuch that Popery and Slavery have been thought inseparable: not to derogate from the merit of the Roman Catholick Persuasion, which has been the Darling of so many Monarchs upon that account; I shall make bold to say that other Religions, and particularly the Lutheran, has succeeded as effectually in this Design as ever Popery did. ’Tis confest indeed that Popery would certainly introduce Slavery, but ’tis denied that the last cannot come in without the assistance of the former; and whoever takes the pains to visit the Protestant Countries abroad, who have lost their Liberty even since they changed their Religion for a better, will be convinced that it is not Popery as such, but the Doctrine of a blind Obedience in what Religion soever it be found, that is the destruction of the Liberty, and consequently of all the Happiness of any Nation. Nay, I am Persuaded that many are satisfied the late King James’s Attempts to bring in Popery was the principal thing which rescued our Liberties from being entirely swallowed up; there seeming in his Reign, through the Interest and Dishonesty of some, the Dissoluteness, Laziness, and Ignorance of others, to have been (in many mens Opinions) a general tendency towards Slavery, which would scarcely have been vigorously enough opposed, had he left the business of Religion untouched; and if once introduced, it had been maintained more effectually than in the days of Popery; I say more effectually, because the dependence which the Romish Clergy and Monks have on the Church of Rome, causes often a clashing of Interests, and derogates from that intire Obedience the Subjects owe to the Prince, which is preached up by that Church, as often as the Sovereign acts according to their direction, and down again whenever he displeases them; whereof we have had frequent Examples in this Kingdom of England, where there have been Bishops and Abbots in the days of Popery, as zealous Assertors of the Liberties of the People, as any Lay-men could be, whether out of a true Principle, or not, I will not determine; but Occasions have been taken by them to raise Tumults and Wars, and in the Scuffle the Liberties of the People (of which both King and Church-men strove who should be the Masters) have escaped untouched: but in Denmark, as well as other Protestant Countries of the North, through the entire and sole dependence of the Clergy upon the Prince, without the interfering of the Authority of any Spiritual Superior, such as that of the Pope among the Romanists: through their Principles and Doctrine, which are those of unlimited Obedience; through the Authority they have with the Common People, etc. slavery seems to be more absolutely established than it is in France; as in effect it is more practised; for that King’s Subjects are better treated; there is a Name of a Parliament at Paris, and other great Towns, though they meet for no other end, but to verify the King’s Edicts; there is a formal Demand made of a Benevolence, or Don Gratuit in some Provinces, which probably they have not the power to deny; there is an encouragement of Trade, Manufactures, Learning, etc. all tending to the good of the People. Besides, we see by experience, that that King often has great quarrels with the Court of Rome, which when so ever his power is reduced to a lower ebb, that his Clergy are not over-awed by it, may produce such Divisions and Disturbances as possibly some Sparks of the People’s Liberty may again proceed from the collision of two such hard Rocks: but in the Countries I have Spoken of, there is no hope of any Such resource; all is swallowed up in the King; Temporals and Spirituals, Soul, Body, Estate, and Conscience; the Army and the Priests are two sure Cards: the Prince that has one of them on his side, can hardly fail; but he that has both depending on him, need fear nothing from his own Subjects, let him use them never so ill.
Much has been spoken and written by several Authors of the rigor of the Turkish Government, let us consider some particulars of it by way of comparison.
The Turks are the Conquerors of the Christians in the Countries they have over-run, and have a sort of barbarous Right to use them ill; yet they never persecute them upon account of Conscience; they suffer them for the most part to inhabit and cultivate their own Lands without disturbance, paying only a Caratch yearly for Tribute; which as I have been informed by a Minister of his Imperial Majesty’s, amounted in Hungary, Sclavonia, Servia, and Bosnia, only to about ten Dollars for an ordinary Family in time of Peace, and during a War nothing. It is true, the Propriety of all Lands in Turkey is in the Grand Signior; but whether it be not better to be only a Farmer at an easie Rent, than to have the Name of a Proprietor without a comfortable Subsistence, and in effect to be Master of Nothing, I leave the Reader to judge.
The forcing away Children from the poor Christian Parents, is accounted a great hardship, though it be for the worldly Profit and Advancement of those Children; bating the point of Religion, it is a far less Mischief to deprive Parents of their Sons and Daughters, in order to maintain them well, than to leave a heavy Charge upon their Hands, after having taken away the possibility of Nourishing and Educating them.
The Sun, Soil, Climate, and Situation, with other Natural Advantages of the Grand Signior’s Dominions, as to Profit and Pleasure, are infinitely beyond those of other Northern Countries that we are acquainted with. In Turkey the Harbours are always open, except some few places in the Black Sea; whereas here they are frozen up three or four Months in the Year. There the Fruits, Flesh, Corn and Herbs, have double the Virtue and Nourishment they have here; the Wine there is good and plentiful, and the very Water wholesome and pleasant; here the first is scarce, and the last very bad. In a word, in some Christian Countries of Europe, there seems to be most of the Mischiefs of a Turkish Government in an infinitely worse Climate: Besides, we are to consider, that the Turks themselves, who are Lords and Masters, live well and pleasantly, and it is their conquered Slaves whom they use in the manner above-mentioned.
If it be enquired, Whether Matters are like to last at the same rate they are now at in Denmark? Though nothing be more fallacious than a Judgment made of the future, I shall not omit speaking a few words in answer.
Many reasons might persuade one to think, that the Government upon the bottom it stands cannot last long. As in the first place, that natural Love of Liberty, which resided formerly in the Northern Nations more eminently than in other Parts of the World. What can be expected less from the Descendants of the ancient Goths and Vandals, who propagated and establish’d Liberty in so many other Countries, than to shake a heavy Yoak off themselves, which their Forefathers were not able to bear? especially since this Yoak is so extraordinary grievous, that the Chains which the Neighbouring Countries wear, are but Ornamental ones, if compared with theirs.
Secondly, The freshness and newness of this Alteration of their Condition. It being no more than thirty two years since it happened; and many remaining yet alive, who remember the days of Liberty, and in their private Discourses with their Friends and Children make Comparison between the past and present times, and condole with them the loss of so great a Blessing; it might seem that the Opinion of the present Government’s not being sufficiently rooted, nor having gained Authority by length of time to settle, should encourage those that find themselves grieved, to think of Methods tending to a Change.
Thirdly, The Neighbourhood of the Swedes, who have still their Eye upon Denmark, and long to be sole Monarchs of the North, and Masters of the Baltick-Sea. Now the Burden being so great as it is, one would think the Natives, in hopes of Ease, would rather wish for, than defend their Country from an Invader; because they have little or no Property to lose, and imagine there is scarce a possibility of changing for the worse.
Fourthly, The numerousness of the Royal Family. There being four Princes, it will be rare if Concord be maintained among them all, especially since the younger are like to be but meanly provided for: so that frequent Occasions may be taken from Quarrels and Disputes (which possibly in future times may arise among them) of doing something in favour of Liberty.
These Reasons might cause one to make a Judgment, that the Danish Government could not long subsist as it is. But on the other hand, there are no less weighty ones which would induce to believe the contrary: For, first, the ancient Love of Liberty seems to be quite extinct in the North; and in its place to have succeeded the conveniencies of a dull Obedience. A miserable Life which jogs on at the same heavy rate, has a mixture of Melancholy Ease with it, which is preferred before those sudden Accidents, and brisk Traverses of Fortune which Commotions would occasion; especially by a People naturally of an unactive Body and heavy Spirit, depressed by their Misfortunes, which are now group up with them, and become their familiar Companions.
In the second place, the Newness of the Alteration of the Government seems to have little or no influence at present upon the People: for the King has taken such care by reducing Ancient and Rich Families to a low Estate, by raising new ones, by making all the People poor in Spirit, as well as Purse; that thirty two years has had an effect conducing to his purpose, as much as three hundred could have done: Insomuch that I verily believe, the Danes do now really love Servitude; and like the Cappadocians of old, could not make use of Liberty if it were offered them; but would throw it away if they had it, and resume their Chains. Possibly they would wish them less weighty, but Chains they could not live without. If there be one or two among so many thousands who are of contrary Sentiments, they dare not so much as mutter them to their own Children, nor would be heard with patience if they did.
Thirdly, The Unity of Religion, and the Opinions, together with the Authority of the Priests, seems to have cut away the root of Sedition, from whence Alterations might proceed.
Fourthly, A standing Army composed for the most part of Foreigners, who have no value for the Natives, nor any concern for their welfare. The Court seems to have had this in its eye, when it raised and maintained such an Army, but in process of time the Army is become the People; that is to say, the only thing worth the King’s Care and Affection; and the People nothing, so that no Designs, tending to a Revolution, are to be feared from them.
Fifthly, The Swedes treat their own Subjects at such a rate as gives the Danes but little Prospect of benefit by a Change; and besides, there is such a fixed hatred between these two Nations, by reason of the Injuries they have so often given and received, that it is thought impossible that the Danes, who have been for the most part the Aggressors, as well as the sufferers, can ever forgive them. Many judicious Persons do think however, that the Swede would find means to overcome these Difficulties, did not the Discontents he has rais’d at home, make War dangerous to him, and the interest of almost all the other Princes of Europe concur in the Preservation of the Danes, under the Domination of their own King, by obstructing any further Accession of Power and Territories to the Swedes. And this is certainly such a Bar as cannot be leaped over, so that little of Alteration seems to be expected in Denmark from hence.
Lastly, Those Jealousies which use to reign in the Families of Princes, are not so common nor fatal in Germany as elsewhere: The King of Denmark is a German Prince himself, and ’tis likely will find such Means of preferring his younger Sons, as may content them, either by breeding them up to the War (which is the most ordinary way) or by assigning them Appanages in convenient Places not liable to dispute; besides, it is no rare thing in Germany to see Princes satisfied with very moderate Revenues. So that the commonness of the thing takes away the Discontent which might arise in high-born Spirits, by reason of the lowness of their Fortunes; and if any Wars be in Europe, thither they all run to get Bread, and Reputation. What else should we do for a Stock of Generals in such Havock as the present Wars make of them? therefore nothing of Intestine Commotions seems to be reasonably expected from hence, that shall alter the Form of Government; and from all these Reasons it may be concluded, That the present State is fix’d and durable, and that the People with great difficulty may perhaps change their Masters, but never their Condition.
[1. ]“Few men distinguish right and wrong, the expedient and the disastrous, by native intelligence; the majority are schooled by the experience of others.” Tacitus Annals, bk. 4, chap. 33 (Loeb 4:57).
[2. ]“The love of country will be victorious.” Virgil Aeneid 6, 823.
[3. ]There is a marginal note here from Tacitus, Annals, bk. 4, chap. 33 (Loeb 4:57): “Cunctas Nationes & Urbes populus aut primores aut singuli regunt; delecta ex his, & constituta Reipublicae forma, laudari, facilus quam evenire, vel si evenit haud diuturna esse potest.” Translation: “The people, or chiefs, or individuals, govern all nations and cities; and the constituted form of a commonwealth chosen from them is more easily praised than practiced; or if it be so (constituted) it cannot long exist.”
[4. ]“Kingdom of devils.”
[5. ]From Virgil, Eclogues, 1.67: “to the Britons, cut off from the whole world.”
[6. ]A fragment of Lucretius [de rerum natura, 1. 101] commonly cited by Montaigne, translated as “so great are the evils Religion has encouraged.” Sometimes religio is translated as “superstition.” The 1738 edition includes an exclamation mark.
[7. ]Catullus, The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus 56, “To Cato.” The phrase translates as “the thing is ridiculous, and laughable beyond measure.”
[8. ]A favorite motto of James I: “The King is from God, the law from the King.” See E. Kantarowitz, The King’s Two Bodies (Princeton, 1957), p. 415. The 1738 edition has a margin note that reads, “In January 1683, 35 Car. II there was a call of sixteen sargeants at law, who gave rings with this motto.”
[9. ]“This hand an enemy to tyrants seeks with the sword calm peace in freedom.” This became the motto of the state of Massachusetts.
[10. ]“The safety of the people is the supreme law.”
[11. ]Diplomatic term for “privileged nation status.”
[12. ]“To retire from Jove is to retire from the thunder-bolt.” This is a proverb indicating “far from court, far from fear.” See definition in R. Ainsworth, Thesaurus Linguae Latinae Compendiarum, 1751, under “a princes court.”
[13. ]Note in margin: “The Exportation of Oak Timber is forbidden.”
[14. ]Note in margin, from Guido Bentivoglio Relatione delle provincie unite di Flandra (1611), bk. 3: “Furono veramente tutti i Re da principio Capi e non Re, di Republiche e non di regni: ma poi il lungo uso ha fatto che i popoli si sìano disposti all habito dell’ intiera ubbidìenza, come apunte suole assuefarsì una pianta e un corpo humano a vivere, in terreno e sotto clima diverso dal suo naturale.” Translated as “’Tis true, at first all Kings were Heads of the people, and not Kings; of Commonwealths and not of Kingdoms. But afterwards Custom hath so prevailed, as people have been disposed and accustomed to the habit of intire obedience: just as a plant, or humane body we see are accustomed to live in other earth, and under other Climats, which differ from their own natural ones.” In Historicall relations of the United Provinces & of Flanders written originally in Italian by Cardinall Bentivoglio; and now rendred into English by the Right Honourable Henry, Earle of Monmouth (1652), p. 47.
[15. ]King Waldemar III (1314–64): “We have our nature from God, our realm from our subjects, our wealth from our parents, our religion from the Roman church; if you begrudge her to us we shall renounce her by these presents.” The account is from Johannes Clüver’s Historiarum Totius Mundi Epitome (Amsterdam, 1667), p. 523.
[16. ]See the edition translated into English by a “Lover of the British Constitution” [Jenkin Thomas Phillips], Lex regia or the Royal Law of Denmark (1731), p. 10.
[17. ]See Lex regia, p. 12.
[18. ]Virgil, Eclogue 2, line 64: “The fierce lioness pursues the wolf, and the wolf in turn the goat.”
[19. ]Note in margin: “This was once known in England, when the Lord Dane or Danish Soldier, quartered in the English Yeoman’s house and domineer’d to purpose: whence came the nick-name of Lazy Lordane.”
[20. ]The 1738 edition notes in a lengthy comment that on April 19, 1689, 200 to 280 people perished in the fire that destroyed the entire castle and its contents.
[21. ]The 1694 edition claims this as a citation of Tacitus, Annals, bk. 10, chap. 16. The 1738 edition corrects the author to Livy but not the title (which is Ab urbe condita, bk. 10.16). “They sued for peace because they could no longer endure war, they had taken to war again because enduring peace as slaves was worse than fighting war as free men.”
[22. ]“Total for the year.”
[25. ]“With piety and justice.”
[26. ]“Father of difficulties.”
[27. ]A proverb meaning “to seek a difficulty where there is none.”
[28. ]“This being the way things are.”
[29. ]No editions identify this person.
[30. ]Note in margin: “Hudibras.”
[31. ]This passage appeared in French in the 1694 edition, but it was translated subsequently in the 1738 edition. We have substituted the English version as the main text. For the original French passage, see Appendix 2: “Ordonnance pour les Rangs du Royaume de Danemarck,” p. 361.
[32. ]Note in margin: “England.”
[33. ]Note in margin: “Sweden.”
[34. ]Note in margin: “Quae apud concordes vincula caritatis, incitamenta irarum apud infensos erant. Tacit.” Translation: “What are bonds of love between united hearts, became with bitter foes incentives to fury.” Tacitus, Annals, bk. 1, chap. 55.
[35. ]Note in margin: “Duke of Lunenburg.”
[36. ]Note in margin: “Hamburg.”
[37. ]Note in margin: “Brandenburg.”
[38. ]“During the pleasure (of the king).”
[39. ]Note in margin: “Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.” Translation: “The more corrupt the state, the more laws.” Tacitus, Annals, bk. 3, chap. 27.
[40. ]“First among equals.”