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« governments which are called free. The progress of civiliza
tion, and the power of public opinion, more than supply the 6 place of popular institutions. These representations were aided by that natural disposition of the human mind, when a good consequence unexpectedly appears to spring from a bad institution, to be hurried into the extreme of doubting whether the institution be not itself good, without waiting to balance the evil against the good, or even duly to ascertain the reality of the good. No species of discovery produces so agreeable à surprise, and consequently so much readiness to assent to its truth, as that of the benefits of an evil. There are no paradoxes more captivating than the apologies of old abuses and corruptions.
The honest narrative of Falkenskiold, however, tells us a different tale. The first of the despotic Kings, jealous of the nobility, bestowed the highest offices on adventurers, who were either foreigners, or natives of the lowest sort. Such is the universal practice of Eastern tyrants. Such was, for a century, the condition of Spain, the most Oriental of European countries. The same characteristic feature of despotism is observable in the history of Russia. All talent being extinguished among the superior classes, by withdrawing every object which excites and exercises the faculties, the Prince finds a common capacity for business only abroad, or among the lowest classes of his subjects. Bernstorff a Hanoverian, Lynar a Saxon, and St Germain a Frenchman, were among the ablest of the Danish ministers. The country was governed for a hundred years by foreigners. Unacquainted with Denmark, and disdaining even to acquire its language, they employed Danish servants as their confidential agents, and placed them in all the secondary offices. The natives followed their example. Footmen occupied important offices. So prevalent was this practice, that a law was at length passed by the ill-fated Struensee, to forbid this new rule of freedmen. Some of the foreign ministers, with good intentions, introduced ostentatious establishments, utterly unsuitable to one of the poorest countries of Europe. With a population of two millions and a half, and an annual revenue of a million and a half sterling, Denmark, in 1769, had on foot an army of sixty-six thousand men; so that about a ninth of the males of the age of labour were constantly idle and under arms. There was a debt of near ten millions sterling, after fifty years peace. An inconvertible paper money, always discredited and daily fluctuating, rendered contracts nu. gatory, and made it impossible to determine the value of property, or to estimate the wages of labour. The barren and VOL. XLIV. NO. 88,
mountainous country of Norway, out of a population of seven hundred thousand souls, contributed twenty thousand men to the army, nine thousand to a local militia, and fourteen thousand enrolled for naval service, forming a total of forty-three thousand conscripts, the fourth part of the labouring males being thus set apart by conscription for military service. The majority of the officers of the army were foreign, and the words of command were given in the German language. The navy was disproportioned to the part of the population habitually employed in maritime occupation ; but it was the natural force of the country. The seamen were skilful and brave; and their gallant resistance to Nelson, in 1801, is the greatest honour of the Danish name in modern times. Their colonies were useless and costly.
The administration of law was neither just nor humane. The torture was in constant use. The treatment of the galley-slaves at Copenhagen caused travellers, who had seen the Mediterranean ports, to shudder. One of the mild modes of removing an unpopular minister was to send him a prisoner for life to a dungeon under the Arctic Circle.
The effect of absolute government in debasing the rulers, was remarkable in Denmark. One of the principal amusements of Frederic V., who sat on the throne from 1746 to 1766, consisted in mock matches at boxing and wrestling with his favourites, in which it was not always safe to gain an advantage over the Royal gladiator. His son and successor, Christian VII., was either originally deficient in understanding, or had, by vicious practices in boyhood, so much impaired his mental faculties, that considerable wonder was felt" at Copenhagen at his being allowed, in 1768, to display his imbecility in a tour through a great part of Europe. The elder Bernstorff, then at the head of the Council, was unable to restrain the King and his favourite Stolk from this indiscreet exposure. Such, however, is the power of the solemn plausibilities of the world,' that, in France, this unhappy person was compliniented by academies, and, in England, works of literature were inscribed to him. * On his arrival at Altona, he was in need of a physician; an attendant whom his prematurely broken constitution made peculiarly essential to him even at the age of nineteen. Struensee, the son of a Lutheran bishop in Holstein, had just begun to practise medicine at Aliona, after having been for some time employed as the editor of a newspaper in that city, and was now appointed physician to the King, at the moment when he was projecting a professional establishment at Malaga,
* Sir W. Jones's Life of Nadir Shah.
or a voyage to India, wbich his imagination, excited by the perusal of the elder travellers, had covered with barbaric pearl
and gold.' He was then twenty-nine years old, and appears to have been recommended to the Royal favour, by an agreeable exterior, pleasing manner, some slight talents and superfi. eial knowledge, with all the subserviency indispensable to a favourite, and with a power of amusing his listless and exhausted master. His name appears in the publications of the time as
Doctor Struensee,' among the attendants of his Danish Majesty in England, and he received, in that character, the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine from the University of Oxford. Like all other minions, his ascent was rapid, or rather his flight to the pinnacle of power was instantaneous; for the pas. sion of an absolute prince on such occasions knows no bounds, and brooks no delay. Immediately after the King's return to Copenhagen, Struensee was appointed a Cabinet minister; his brother was made a counsellor of justice; he appointed Brandt, another adventurer, to superintend the palace and the imbecile King; he intrusted Rantzau, a disgraced Danish mi. nister, who had been his colleague in the editorship of the Altona Journal, with the conduct of foreign affairs; he and his friend Brandt were created Earls. Stolk, his predecessor in favour, had fomented and kept up an animosity between the King and Queen. Struensee (unhappily for himself as well as for her) gained the confidence of the Queen, by restoring her to the good graces of her husband. Caroline Matilda, the sister of George III., who then had the misfortune to be Queen of Denmark, is described by Falkenskiold as the handsomest woman of the Court, of a mild and reserved character, and who was well qualified to enjoy and impart happiness, if it had been her lot to be united to an endurable husband. Brandt seems to have been a weak coxcomb, and Rantzau a turbulent and ungrateful intriguer.
The only foreign business which Struensee found pending on his entrance into office, was a negociation with Russia, concerning the pretensions of that formidable competitor to a part of Holstein, which Denmark had unjustly acquired fifty years before. Peter III., the head of the house of Holstein, was proud of his German ancestry, and ambitious of recovering their ancient dominions. After his murder, Catharine claimed these possessions, as nominal Regent of Holstein, during the minority of her son. The last act of Bernstorff's administration was a very prudent accommodation, in which Russia agreed to relinquish her claims on Holstein, in consideration of the cession to her by Denmark of the small principality of Oldenburg, the very
ancient patrimony of the Danish Royal Family. Rantzau, who in his exile had some quarrel with the Russian Government, prevailed on the inexperienced Struensee to delay the execution of this politic convention, and aimed at establishing the influence of France and Sweden at Copenhagen instead of that of Russia, which was then supported by England. He even entertained the chimerical project of driving the empress from Petersburgh. Falkenskiold, who had been sent on a mission to Petersburgh, endeavoured, after his return, to disabuse Struensee, to show him the ruinous tendency of such rash counsels, and even proposed to him to recall Bernstorff, to facilitate that good understanding which could hardly be restored as long as Counts Osten and Rantzau, the avowed enemies of Russia, were in power. Struensee, like most of those who must be led by others, was exceedingly fearful of being thought to be so. When Falkenskiold warned him against yielding to Rantzau, his plans were shaken. But when the same weapon was turned against Falkenskiold, Struensee returned to his obstinacy. Even after Rantzau had become his declared enemy, he adhered to the plans of that intriguer lest he should be suspected of yielding to Falkenskiold. Wherever there were only two roads, it was easy to lead Struensee, by exciting his fear of being led by the opposite party.
; His measures of internal policy appear to have been generally well-meant, but often ill-judged. Some of his reforms were in themselves excellent. But he showed on the whole a meddling and restless spirit, impatient of the necessary delay, often employed in petty change, choosing wrong means, braving prejudices that might have been softened, and cffending interests that might have been conciliated. He was a sort of inferior Joseph II. ; like him, rather a servile copyist than an enlightened follower of Frederick II. His dissolution of the Guards (in itself a prudent measure of economy) turned a numerous body of volunteers into the service of his enemies. The removal of Bernstorff was a very blamable means of strengthening him. self. The suppression of the Privy Council, the only feeble restraint on despotic power, was still more reprehensible in itself, and excited the just resentment of the Danish nobility. The repeal of a barbarous law, inflicting capital punishment on adultery, was easily misrepresented to the people as a mark of approbation of that vice. Both Struensee and Brandt had embraced the infidelity at that time prevalent among men of the world, which consisted in little more than a careless transfer of implied faith from Luther to Voltaire. They had been acquainted with the leaders of the philosophical party at Paris, and they introduced the conversation of their masters at Copenhagen. In the same school they were taught to see clearly enough the distempers, of European society; but they were not taught (for their teachers did not know) which of these maladies were to be endured, which were to be palliated, and what were the remedies and regimen by which the remainder might in due time be effectually and yet safely removed. The dissolute manners of the Court contributed to their unpopularity; rather perhaps because the nobility resented the intrusion of upstarts into the sphere of their privileged yice, than because there was any real increase of licentiousness. It must not be forgotten that he was the first minister of an absolute monarchy who abolished the torture, and that he patronised those excellent plans for the emancipation of the enslaved husbandmen, which were first conceived by Reverdil, a Swiss, and of which the adoption by the second Bernstorff has justly immortalized that statesman. He will be honoured by after ages for what offended the Lutheran clergy-the free exercise of religious worship granted to Calvinists, to Moravians, and even to Catholics; for the Danish clergy were ambitious of retaining the right to persecute, not only long after it was impossible to exercise it, but even after they had lost the disposition to do so; at first to overawe, afterwards to degrade non-conformists; in both stages, as a badge of the privileges and honour of an established church. No part however of Struensee's private or public conduct can be justly considered as the cause of his downfal. His irreligion, his immoralities, his precipitate reforms, his parade of invidious favour, were only the instruments or pretexts by which his competitors for office were able to effect his destruction. Had he either purchased the good will, or destroyed the power of his enemies at Court, he might long have governed Denmark, and perhaps have been gratefully remembered by posterity as a reformer of political abuses. He fell a victim to an intrigue for a change of ministers, which, under such a King, was really a struggle for the sceptre.
His last act of political imprudence illustrates both the character of his enemies, and the nature of absolute government. When he was appointed Secretary of the Cabinet, he was empowered to execute such orders as were very urgent, without the signature of the King, on condition, however, that they should be weekly laid before that Prince, to be confirmed or annulled by him under his own hand. This liberty had been practised before his administration; and it was repeated in many thousand instances after his downfal. Under any monarchy, the substantial fault would have consisted rather in assuming an