It was in the Year 1692.
Pauci prudentiâ, honesta ab deterioribus, utilia ab noxiis discernunt; plures aliorum eventis docentur. Tacit. lib. 4° Ann.
Vincit amor patriæ — Virg.
Printed in the Year 1694.
Chap. 1. Of the Territories belonging to the King of Denmark, and their situation. p. 1.
Chap. 2. Of Denmark in particular, and the Island of Zealand. 7
Chap. 3. Of the Sound. 16
Chap. 4. Of the other Islands and Jutland. 27
Chap. 5. Of the rest of the King of Denmark's Countries. 32
Chap. 6. Of their form of Government. 42
Chap. 7. The manner how the Kingdom of Denmark became Hereditary and Absolute. 49
Chap. 8. The Condition, Customs, and temper of the People. 75
Chap. 9. Of the Revenue. 99 Chap. 10. Of the Army, Fleet, and Fortresses. 123
Chap. 11. Of the Court. 148 Chap 12. The Disposition and Inclinations of the King of Denmark towards his Neighbours. 189
Chap. 13. The manner of Dispossessing and restoring the Duke of Holstein Gottorp. 201
Chap. 14. The Interests of Denmark in relation to other Princes. 219
Chap. 15. Of the Laws, Courts of Justice, &c. 232
Chap. 16. The state of Religion, of the Clergy and Learning. 249
Chap. 17. The Conclusion. 258
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 companion 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 befals 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 befal 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 de-sires to be useful to his Country, as practising upon other Men's 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 expence 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 Expence, but few of the midling 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 choose 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 Practises at home (they having been always train'd up in Servitude) does 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 hardned 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 Expences 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 Ideots, who part with their Bread for a glittering piece of Tinsel, they prefer gilded Slavery to course domestick Liberty, and exclaim against their old fashion'd Country-men, who will not reform their Constitution according to the new forreign 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't 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 then Forreigners, 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 Countreys 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 meer 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 expence 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.
Cunctas Nationes & Urbes populus aut primores aut singule regunt; delecta exbis, & constituta Reipublicæ forma laudari facilius quam evenine, veI si evenit haud diuturna esse potest. Tacit. lib. 4. Annal.
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 English mans 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. '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 then 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 Expence, 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 then England does that of Regnum Diabolorum, so common in unconsidering Forreigners 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 then any others; since they make so considerable a part of our Government in Parliament, where forreign business comes frequently under consideration, and at present more then 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 then formerly; we have more foreign Alliances, are become the Head of more then 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 sence toto divisos orbs Britannos. 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 then 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 part of the World are now upon us, and take their measures from our Councils: 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 greater 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 sence) then 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 then 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 Long-bow 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 Colledge 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 forreign 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 heighth) have by these Arts ingrossed to themselves the Education of the Youth in all Popish Countries. The Lutheran Priests (who have an entire dependance on their Kings and Princes) are intrusted with the like in those Countries which observe the Confession of Ausburg. 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 Soveraigns at the expence of the Peoples 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 practises 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 Poyson, 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 Forreign 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 instrusted 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 ones 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 Vertues, 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.
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 Vertues, such as Fortitude, Temperance, Justice, a contempt of Death, &c. Sometimes they made use of Pious Cheats, as Elisian 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 dependance 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 wondred 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 Hero's 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 Vertue. 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 Practises of these Great Men in this particular founded upon Reason, Justice, and Truth; and unanimously approv'd by most of the succeeding Wise-men which the World has produced.
But instead of Books which inform the Judgment, those are commonly read in the Schools abroad wherein an Elegancy of Latin and Greek stile is more sought after then 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 Forreign Languages that the Grecian 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 then own mother Tongues, the Greek and Latin, which we hunt after so eagerly for many years together, (not as being the Vehicles of good Sence, 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 then 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, though 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, then 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 overthronged 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 then 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 nude on the Peoples Liberties; of which one Reason may be, that the Republicks, which are more in number and quality in that Spot of Ground then 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 then any other part of Europe, till at length 'twas lorded by Captains, (which 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 Mad-man from his lawful Successor; that the People can no more part with their legal Liberties, then 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 hindred, or corrupted by sinister practises, the obliging quality of such a Law determines of it self through it's 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 Majesties 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 undemanding 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 Sence, then such as would fain reconcile present Interest to their old beloved Maxims — res est ridicula & nimis jocosa; Catull. 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 licence, 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, least 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 practise 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 throughly known it becomes almost incurable. Now Travel best of all other methods discovers (at least expence) the symptoms of this pernicious Disease, as well as its dismal effects when grown to a head; and 'tis certainly of greater importance to undersland how to preserve a sound Constitution, then how to repair a crazed one, though this also be a beneficial piece of knowledge.
In our own Universities, which are without controversie the best in the world, whether we consider their Revenues, their Buildings, or their Learning, there are travelling Fellowships established; 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 then 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 then 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 tast 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 Clothes 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 conversion 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 (then 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 Vertues. The great difference between these and others of narrow Opiniastre tempers caus'd by their Monklike 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 vertuous men, and fittest for human 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 rhe priviledges 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, meerly 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 Convention, have been observed in most places to be great favourers of Liberty, because their knowledge of ancient Practise, and the just Title which the People have to their Priviledges (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 Jess excusable; for I must confess, among other things, that Motto, A Deo Rex, a Regs Lex — 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 reflexions, 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, 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, then 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 cheerfulness 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 expence of that Voyage.
That Kingdom has often had the misfortune to be govern'd by French Counsels, At the time when Mr. Algernoon 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 hæc inimica tyrannis
Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem. —
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 Soveraign Princes of the World, as the Arts of War, and the keeping of their own Countreys 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.
It was in the Year 1692.
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 Ballance with the King of Portugal, and possibly be found lighter.
His stile 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 joyns 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, lyes in length between the degrees of 54 gr. 45 min. and 58 gr. 15 min. 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 Firr-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; oh 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 in 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, Shetland, and Iseland in the Northern Ocean. St. Thomas, one of the Caribbe 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 disjoyned 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 then ordinary Expence , as well as Prudence, to preserve it intire: 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 then of the rest. Others, I know, have given us the Genealogies and Succession of its Kings , ancient Names, Inhabitants, Conquests, &c. 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, then 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 Beech-wood, 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, &c. 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 Fly-boats 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 fort 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 lest 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 Weather 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 Rye-bread, 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 Jive on Roots, white Meats, and Rye-bread; seldom tailing fresh Fish, and scarce ever Flesh, unless on Come extraordinary Festivals, as on St. Martin's Eve, when each Family in Denmark, without fail, makes merry with a rosled 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 poysoned 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 it's requisite saltness, (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 then 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 tollerable good Repair. The Buildings both in this City and elsewhere, are generally very mean, being Cage-work, 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, &c. were built by King Christian the Fourth, the present King's Grand-father, 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 then 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 Noble-men, 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 narrowed, stands the Town of Elsinore, and the strong Fortress of Cronenburg; near which is a tollerable 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 the Streight 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 large>ness 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, which is paid by all Ships passing the Sound, 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, 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 Sailers 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 Hans-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, railed their Toll with 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 joyned themselves to 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 Soveraigns) 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; 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 Soveraignty 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 Mailer of both sides; much less now that he has but one. So that it is plain, this pretended Soveraignty is very precarious, being partly founded on a Breach of Trust, as well as the carelesness 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 Soveraignty of the Streights of Gibraltar, 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 then 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 fame 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 heightning 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 Tear 1640. that the Customs of the Ore-Sound yielded per Ann. from 240000 Rix Dollars to 300000 R.D. But fence 1645. they have not at any time render'd above 150000 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 143000 Rix Dollars; but before that War, and since (the Swedish Ships freeing all Goods that are carried in them, and the Swedish Goods in Forreign Ships being also free by Treaty) it has not yielded above 80000 Rix Dollars per Annum; and the last Tear past it did not reach to full 70000 Rix Dollars.
The Court of Denmark is not to be blamed therefore for being wonderful jealous of any Infraction of this their pretended Soveraignty, as People are most careful and suspitious 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 intirely yield the Point; for though they agreed to pay a small Toll on Merchandize, yet no manner of searching or slopping 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, Hoggs, 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 Governour 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 Governour 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 Annis-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 remembred; this little Island joyns 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 Priviledges 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 Amak, 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 belt 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 Governours are, the Count de Frize, the upper Mareschal Speckhan, Monsieur Edmund Schiel, now Envoy Extraordinary to his Majesty from the King of Denmark, &c.
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 ï¿½Jove, Procul ï¿½Fulmine. It being observed, that in limited Monar-
chies 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 Countreys.
THE Dutchy of Sleswick is in general a very good Country; its convenient Situation between two Seas, the Ocean and the Baltick, rendring 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 Cattle. 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, which 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 diclivity 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 Forrest, full of Deer, Wild-boars, and all sorts of Game, joyns 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 ruin and decay, but industriously, and as some say, by order, pull'd down and destroyed; which at present, since the re-establishment of the Duke, are repairing and restoring to their former splendour. Among several other things of value, none had better luck then 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, &c. 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 tree City, and consequently a rich one, imparts a large share of its Blessings to the Territories of those Princes which lye any thing near it. This is apparent enough in the visible prosperity of such Lands and People as are within a days Journey or more of that City above such as lye 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, then otherwise.
Stormar and Ditmarsh lye 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 Digues 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, then any way belonging to him; yet he has often, and does even to this day, endeavour to set up and establish a Toll at Glucsladt, 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 tor Coaches, by reason of their colour, which is a yellowish cream Colour. They are generally wall-eyed, 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 Tempterland, 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 Stadt-holder of the whole. It is sub-divided into four Stifts Ampts, or principal Governments; viz. Dronthem, Bergen, Christiania, and Larwick. The Governours are young Gttldenlieu, natural Son to the present King, and Monsieur Stocfleet late Envoy extraordinary from Denmark to Sweden, &c. It is a very barren Country, affording neither Corn nor Cattle sufficient for the subsistance 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. The Commodities which it yields fit for Exportation are Timber of all kinds, especially Firr; 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 superiour to the Danes, whom they call upbraidingly Jutes.
The Exportation of Oak-Timber is forbidden.
Island and Feroe are miserable Islands in the North Ocean; Corn will not 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 setup,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, disjoyned, 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.
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 assuesarsì una pianta e un çorpo humano a vivere, in terreno e sotto clima diverso dal suo naturale. Card. Bentivoglio. Relatione delle Provincle Unite di Fiandra, lib.3.
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. 'Tis said of the Romans, That those Provinces which they Conquer'd were amply recompenced, for the lost 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 have 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 32 years governed by a King chosen by the People of all sorts, even the Boores 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 ï¿½Deo, regnum ï¿½subditis, Divitias ï¿½parentibus, Religionem ï¿½Romana Ecclesia; quam si nobis invides, renuntiamus per præsentes. 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 Vertues 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 then any of the younger, as well because they had regard to Priority of Birth, when all other Vertues were equal, as because the greatness of his Paternal Estate might put him above the reach of Temptations to be covetous or dishonest, and inable 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 wastful 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 Peoples 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 roomj 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, &c. 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, &c. Customs upon Merchandize being an imposition of late crept into this part of the World: so that he lived like one of our Modern Noble-Men, 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 32 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.
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, then 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 perswaded 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 Priviledges 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, then as they thought fitting. On the other hand, the Clergy for their late adherance 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 remembred 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 forreign 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, than the Commons neither understood nor considered the Priviledges of the Nobility, who at all times had been exempted from Taxes, nor the true Condition of themselves, who were no other then 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 Priviledges, 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 then from inferiour Persons: or if there 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 perswaded 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 Superiour 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 tye 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 Superintendant 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 railed 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 Soveraignty 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 over-ruled 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 then 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 then 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 Recompence declare them all Free as soon as it Jay 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, sitting 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 Soveraign 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 Mailers; 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 unprepared 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 with out 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 seem 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 joyn 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, then be averse to; that they were ready to joyn 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 tome 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 Governour, 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 Governour that Morning to lock the Gates, and to let no Person in or out without special Order. The Governour 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 then this Confirmation from the Officer to overthrow all the Resolution, and Consultations of the Nobles; the dread of loosing 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, &c.
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 Majesties Successors might follow the Example, which his Majesty would undoubtedly set them, and make use of that unlimitted 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 Priviledges, 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 Theater 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 then the Loyns 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 Priviledge 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 200000 Crowns. Swan the Superintendent, or Bishop, was made Arch Bishop, and had 30000 Crowns. The President or Speaker Nanson, 20000 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 then 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 Subsistance. 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 then 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 moil ambitious of; it being indeed necessary to secure to their Families any tollerable Subsistance, 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 number 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 Priviledges 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 then 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 Possessours 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 Priests 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 then 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 Forreigners then 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 Leeches, laying all the blame of its own Oppression at their Doors; and this without the danger of incurring 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 to morrow. And therefore expensiveness in Coaches, Retinue, Clothes, &c. 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 increase his stock: But here the Courtier buyes no Land, but remits his Money to the Bank of Amsterdam, or of Hamburg; 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 100000 Rix Dollars. The Peasant or Boor, as soon as he gets a Rix Dollar; lays it out in Brandy with all haste, least his Landlord, whose Slave he is, should hear of it, and take it from him. Thus —
Torva leæna lupum sequitur, lupus ipse capellam.
The Trading Towns and Villages, (if we except Copenhagen, whose Situation and Haven make it thrive a little in spight 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, 200000 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, &c. 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 Negro's 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 indeavours 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. 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.
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.
And although this Country have a tendency to be extreamly populous, the Women being exceeding Fruitful, which is sufficiently proved by the vast Swarms, that in former Ages from these Northern Parts, over-run 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 when ever 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, then in any place I ever saw; and which are made use of, not only to lie 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 Waggons, 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 Tagersburg. In these Cases all the Peasants that lye near the Road, or in that District, are summoned to attend with their Horses and Waggons 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 Waggons 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 Lackey seizes on his Boor and Waggon, 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 ray pity and indignation to see it. Neither is it only when the King himself travels, that the Boors are put to this trouble, but when ever 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 groveling 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, Catarhs, 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 perswaded their warm Stoves, with the plenty and pureness of their Firing, (which is Beech-wood) contributes as much to their freedom from these kinds of Maladies, as the grosness and unwholsomness of our Coals in London doth 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 fatning 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 extreamly addicted to Gardning; and several of the Nobility being so curious, as to have Melons, Grapes, Peaches, and all sorts of Sallads 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 do not refuse them. The poor People, who are able to indulge themselves, do it in bad Beer, and Danish Brandy, which is made of Barly.
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 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 Clothes, some Houshold-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 refute 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 perswade 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? &c. for they could not be perswaded, 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 Persoos were burnt together in the old Queen's House, they content themselves with running at the Goose on Sbrove-Tuesdays, and taking their pleasure upon Sledds in the Winter, well wrapped up in Wooll or Furr. 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 conveniencies of Lodging or Eating in Denmark; even in Copenhagen are few or no Lodgings to be Lett 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 then 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 Forreigners: 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, &c. 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 3dly 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 thirty or forty Rix Dollars for each Licence. Fourthly, A Tax for marked Paper, whereon all Bonds, and Contracts, Copies of Judicial Proceedings, Grants, Passports, &c. 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 several 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 Ordonnance 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, &c.
Fourthly, Marriage Tax, when a Daughter of Denmark is to be disposed of; whose Portion commonly is but 100000 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.
of Iron Bars im- Customs.
ported, pays 02 00
of wrought Iron 05 16
of Copper 00 32
of Wire one sort 15 00 1 Ship pound of Wire another
sort 20 00
of Pewter Vessels 15 00
of Pewter un-
wrought 00 18
of Lead 00 12
100 weight of Steel 00 24
one pound of Quicksilver 00 02
one Ell of Cloath of any value 00 08
one Ell of plain Silks 00 12
one Hat 00 32
One piece of Kersey of 20 Ells 01 08
12 pair of Worsted Stockings 01 12
50 Ells of plain Ribband 00 14 Z4 Ells of Ribband with Gold or
silver in them. 00 13
12 pair of Gloves 00 24
one Wastcoat knit 00 12
one other Wastcoat 01 05
one Horse 01 32
one dozen of Knives 00 33
one Last of Coals 00 15
100 of Lemons. 00 08
of Capers 00 40
of Currants 01 02
of Raisins 00 32
100 pound of Cinnamon 06 00
of Confections 04 08
of Cork 03 00
of Nutmegs 04 08
of Sealing Wax 04 08
Customs or Consumption
Toll. or Excise.
RD. Stiv. R.D. Stiv.
One Barrel of Tallow 03 00 01 16
one pound of Tobacco Leaves 00 00 00 03
one pound of Tobacco Rolls or Snuff 00 04 00 03
Customs or Consumption Toll. or Excise.
R.D. Stiv. RD. Stiv.