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The fourth chapter treats of the ancient form of government in Denmark, and contains a historical deduction, showing how it was gradually modified by the increasing power and influence of the superior orders of the state, the clergy and nobility ; and by such striking events as the introduction of Christianity, the organization and endowment of the church, the union of the three crowns of the North at Calmar in 1397, under Queen Margaret, and the Reformation in 1536. The kingdom was partly hereditary and partly elective, as was shown at the accession of a new dynasty, when Sveno, the son of a sister of Canute the Great, who as a collateral had no hereditary right, mounted the throne by the free choice of the people; and again when Christian the First was elected by the diet in 1448, and commenced the present reigning dynasty of the house of Oldenburg. Mr Schlegel examines the circumstances of the revolution of 1660–61, and shows that the government was rendered hereditary by an act of the diet of the thirteenth of October, 1660, and the king rendered absolute by another act of the tenth of January, 1661, although those who have undertaken to write this passage of history have confounded the two transactions. As there were some partisans of the crown among the senators and the nobility, the resistance of the aristocracy was much more feeble than it would have been, if they had not been thus divided. He insists that the people were great gainers by this revolution, which effectually bridled the aristocracy by whom they had been so long oppressed. A council of state was formed, composed of the most enlightened members of the community without regard to distinctions of birth, which was unfortunately abolished in 1670, in consequence of the jealousy of that all powerful minister, Chancellor Griffenfeld. The supreme tribunal and the administrative boards were filled by an equal number of nobles and commoners. The privileges which the tiers état secured by his change, by their being rendered capable of holding public employments, by the impartial and public administration of justice, and the establishment of a more equal system of taxation, confirmed the stability of the new order of things. He thinks that if this revolution had been, as some pretend, the effect of a mere court intrigue, it would not have been permanent. A similar change in the form of government which took place in Sweden twenty years afterwards, under Charles the Eleventh, did not cause the same astonishment, probably because it was not so enduring, which may however be attributed to the extravagant abuse of his absolute power by Charles the Twelfth, and to the sudden demise of that monarch. The revolution under Gustavus the Third was effected with great facility, and the change of government might have become permanent, had it not been for the innumerable errors committed by his son. The author concludes that a people who regard their own interests will always prefer even an absolute monarch who may rule with moderation, to an aristocracy which must inevitably be oppressive.

However this may be, it is certain that the Danish people believed themselves reduced at this period to the desperate alternative of choosing between these two extremes. The aristocracy had acquired a complete ascendency over the other classes of the nation. They exercised their dominion with insolence and oppression. They cast all the burthens of the state upon the other orders, and monopolized to themselves all its privileges. They extorted from Frederic the Third, on his accession to the throne a capitulation, in which he not only acknowledged that he held his crown from their choice, but bound himself to act in subordination to the senate in the administration of the government, and to appoint to office from their recommendation. The peasantry were, as we have seen, in the lowest state of vassalage. The depressed and despised burghers had just saved the kingdom from foreign conquest, by their courageous defence of Copenhagen against the attack of the Swedes in the memorable seige of 1659. Under these circumstances, the diet was assembled, consisting of the nobles, the delegates of the clergy, and the deputies of the towns, the wretched peasantry being entirely omitted in the convention. The finances of the kingdom, exhausted by a disastrous war, required fresh supplies. The nobles irritated the other orders by insisting upon their ancient privilege of exemption from an equal participation in the burthens of taxation. Scenes ensued similar to those which marked the first meeting of the States General in France in 1789, but with actors of another stamp, and with a far different result. In a more enlightened age, this opportunity might perhaps have been improved to establish a limited monarchy with constitutional securities. But the clergy and the burghers, irritated at the insolent pretensions of the nobility, and aided by a party among the latter, released Frederic from the obligations of the capitulation which he had signed on his accession to the throne, declared the government hereditary in the house of Oldenburg, and summoned the deputies of the peasantry to attend the diet. The revolution was completed by the act of the tenth of January, 1661, which conferred on the monarch the absolute authority of the nation.

At this distance of time, and with the imperfect means which we have of forming a judgment concerning a transaction which has been so much discolored by opposite passions and prejudices, it is difficult to form an impartial estimate of the characters and conduct of the authors of this revolution. Among the principal actors were Svane, bishop of Zealand (afterwards archbishop), and a leader of the ecclesiastical order; Annibal Sehested of the nobility ; and Nansen, a burgomaster of Copenhagen, and prolocutor of the commons. The portrait of the first of these has been drawn by Professor Jens Möller in his biographical sketch of Archbishop Svane, inserted in a Danish publication called the Historical Calendar, and seems to lend some verisimilitude to the sombre coloring of Lord Molesworth's picture of this remarkable event. After all, whatever might have been the secret wishes of the court, and the designs of the leaders who favored its pretensions, it is not probable, even according to Lord Molesworth, that the revolution would have taken such a turn, had it not been for the folly and insolence of the nobility, who spurned the just claims of the other orders, and treated with contempt the sound and reasonable arguments by which they were maintained. To borrow his own words,

* This manner of arguing was very displeasing to the nobles, and begat much heat, and many bitter replies on both sides. At length, a principal senator called Otto Craeg, stood up, and in great anger, told the president of the city, that the commons neither understood nor considered the privileges of the nobility, who at all times had been exempted from taxes, nor the true condition of themselves, who were no other than slaves (the word in the Danish is unfree) ; so that their best way was to keep within their own bounds, and acquiesce in such measures as ancient practice has warranted, and which they were resolved to maintain. This word slaves, put all the burghers and clergy in disorder, causing a loud murmur in the hall; which Nansen, 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

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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 burghers. The nobles being left alone to consult among themselves at their leisure, after a little while adjourned to a private house near the court. In the mean time the commons, being provoked to the highest degree, and resolving to put their threats in execution, marched processionally by couples, a clergyman and a commoner, from the great hall or parliament-house to the Brewers' Hall, which was the convenientest place they could pitch upon to sit apart from the nobles, the bishop of Copenhagen and the president of the city leading them. It was there thought necessary to consider speedily of the most effectual means to suppress the intolerable pride of the nobility, and how to mend their own condition ; after many debates, they concluded, that they should immediately wait upon the king, and offer him their votes and assistance to be absolute monarch of the realm, as also that the crown should descend by inheritance to his family, which hitherto had gone by election. They promised themselves the king would have so great obligations to them for this piece of service, that he would grant and confirm such privileges, as should put them above the degree of slaves. They knew he had hitherto been curbed by the nobility to a great measure; and now saw their own force, being able (since they had arms in their hands, and the concurrence of the soldiers) to perform what they undertook. At the worst, they supposed they should only change many masters for one, and could better bear hardships from a king, than from inferior persons. Or, if their case were not bettered, at least they thought it some comfort to have more company in it; besides the satisfaction of revenge on those that had hitherto not only used them ill, but insulted over them so lately. They knew the king, and had seen him bear with an admirable patience and constancy all his calamities; were persuaded that he was a valiant prince, who had often exposed his person for the sake of the public, and therefore thought they never could do enough to show their gratitude; which is the usual temper of the people upon any benefit received from their prince.'

Professor Schlegel proceeds to explain the history of the Lex regia of 1665, the causes which retarded its publication until the reign of Frederic the Fourth, and the contents of this fundamental law of the Danish monarchy. The edict called the law of Indigenat, promulgated under the late king Christian the Seventh, on the twenty-ninth of January, 1776, was also intended as a second fundamental law. It excluded foreigners, with a few exceptions, from public offices and employments. But the Danish publicists consider it as a maxim that the king

VOL. XXVII.-NO. 61. 38

cannot part with any portion of the royal prerogative as fixed by the Lex regia. They therefore regard the edict of 1776 as merely directory, and not as furnishing a positive rule for the exercise of the royal prerogative. In fact it has been departed from in several rescripts and ordinances. The Lex regia regulates the succession to the throne, and confers on the king the whole legislative and executive power. It gives him the sole authority of making, repealing, amending, and interpreting the laws; of appointing to all offices civil and military; of commanding the forces and fortified places of the kingdom; of making peace and war; of levying taxes and duties; of exercising supreme jurisdiction over the ecclesiastics and ecclesiastical affairs.* This is a sufficiently compendious and comprehensive code of despotism. But in order to estimate the real nature and constitution of the government and its actual practice, it would be necessary to consider how far it has been modified by manners, usages, and institutions which have-supervened, and which, though apparently inconsistent with the letter of this fundamental law, have very much mitigated its harsh and repulsive features. The increased and constantly increasing force of public opinion, the example of neighboring countries, the growth of European civilization, and the general diffusion of knowledge, have all had their influence.t Charters, parchments, seals, and other forms, are comparatively inefficacious; and as in a free government, so in one which is arbitrary in theory, more depends upon the general sense of mankind and the spirit of the people, upon that law which is written upon the hearts of men, than upon these mere instruments and conventional forms. Hence it happens that there are many things which a king of Denmark cannot venture to do in this age, which he might have done with impunity in those unsettled and barbar

* The Lex regia does not extend to the duchies of Sleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg, which are governed by their own peculiar constitutions and laws.

+ Much pains has been taken during the present reign to promote the means of elementary education, and Lancasterian schools have been generally established throughout the country. We have now before us the Report made to the king by the Chevalier Abrahamson, of the progress, prospects, and present state of the schools for mutual instruction in Denmark, to the 28th of January, 1828, by which it appears, that 2371 schools for mutual instruction have been established, and are in full progress, in the different districts of the kingdom and in the army.

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