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Chapter VIII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 3

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Yet, after all, the arrangement provided by the Treaty of London would probably have resulted in a solid settlement, had not the relations between the Danish Government and the German population of the duchies, during the eleven years following the Treaty of London, become strained and embittered to a dangerous extent. For this result Denmark was chiefly responsible. Before 1848, when no province of the Danish monarchy enjoyed representative institutions, but all alike were under the absolute rule of the King-Duke, everything went smoothly, because there was no collision of nationalities. Arbitrary and oppressive acts were sometimes ventured upon, but these usually affected individuals only; and the Danes were no better off in this respect than the Germans. But after the disturbances of 1848, Denmark became a constitutionally governed country in the strictest sense; the King could only govern through his Ministry, and that Ministry could only retain power through enjoying the confidence of the majority of the Rigsraad, or Parliament. Had the majority in the Danish Rigsraad been actuated only by equitable and enlightened sentiments, the new arrangement would have answered as well in Schleswig and Holstein as the old one. But unhappily this was not the case, and perhaps it was not in the nature of things that it should be. The majority in the Rigsraad was largely influenced by the views of the Eider Dane party, a set of politicians fanatically bent upon the elevation and extension of the Scandinavian nationality. This party, unable to expel from their minds the feelings of animosity which the war had engendered, regarded the German inhabitants of the duchies as the population of a conquered country, and resolved, so far as they dared, and in spite of the engagements by which their King was bound to Austria and Prussia, to make them feel and taste their subjection. Hence ensued a line of conduct on the part of the Danish Government towards the German inhabitants of the duchies, which appears, from multiplied and unimpeachable testimony, to have been intolerably vexatious, and often actually oppressive. The following summary, though taken from a pamphlet written on the German side of the question, does not, it is believed, at all overstate the magnitude of the grievance. " The protective Danish tariff was extended to both duchies, their revenue appropriated to the interests of the kingdom; their military establishment, hitherto kept separate from the Danish forces, was incorporated in that army, and, for the first time in history, Schleswig-Holstein troops were stationed in Denmark, Danish troops in the duchies. The best offices in Schleswig were given to Danes, in violation of the old privileges of the land, and of the law requiring every holder of a higher office to have passed two years at the University of Kiel. In the churches and schools of Schleswig, the Danish language was substituted for the German, even in districts where not one in twenty understood a word of Danish, and the inhabitants were prohibited from employing private German teachers in their families. Thus, for more than ten years, and against repeated warnings of both England and Russia, Denmark carried out a system of oppressive encroachment, not upon abstract principles, but upon the ancient, positive, recorded rights and liberties of the duchies - a patrimony derived from their fathers, and to be transmitted to their posterity."

This grievance with respect to language was no light or fanciful one. The petition of the Diet of Schleswig, in 1860, states that, against the wish of the inhabitants, and notwithstanding the humble petition of the Diet, the language used in school and church in the parishes comprised in the deanery of Schleswig had been arbitrarily changed from German to Danish. This attempt to strip a people of its mother tongue, of the loved and intimate vesture of its moral and intellectual being, could not but arouse a feeling of deep indignation, a burning sense of wrong. Many Danish clergymen were intruded into benefices which had formerly been served by Germans; and these, it was remarked, were more bitterly anti- German than even the lay officials. Police agents were everywhere, and arbitrary arrests were frequent. In short, according to an expressive phrase well understood on the continent, while Denmark was a constitutional state, Schleswig and Holstein were treated as police states.

It is therefore abundantly clear that the fourth of the above-named engagements, by which Denmark had pledged her word to Austria and Prussia that "the German and Danish nationalities in Schleswig should meet with equal protection," was not kept. Nor can it be reasonably doubted that the fifth engagement - " That all ties of a non-political kind between Holstein and Schleswig should remain intact - was not faithfully observed. But, in point of form, it was not the breach of either of these engagements, but that of the third, binding Denmark to submit the common constitution of the monarchy to the previous examination of the four local Diets, which led directly to the Federal execution and all its momentous consequences. The sequence of events was as follows: - A common constitution for the monarchy was framed in 1854, and having passed the Danish Parliament, was published by royal ordinance (October 2,1855), for the duchies of Holstein, Schleswig, and Lauenburg, without any previous consultation of their Diets. When the Imperial Parliament summoned under this constitution met, in 1856, the representatives from Holstein and from the German portion of Schleswig moved that since the common constitution could not yet be considered legal, it should be forthwith submitted, in order that it might obtain that character, for the approval of the local legislatures. This motion was rejected, whereupon the Holstein members and the German members from Schleswig, except the nominees of the King, left the assembly. The matter was taken up by the Federal Diet, which, in 1858, declared that by Federal law the common constitution proclaimed in 1855 was illegal, so far as Holstein and Lauenburg were concerned, because it had not been assented to by the legislatures of those states, and decreed a Federal execution in Holstein in case of the non-abrogation of that constitution. After many endeavours to evade compliance, Denmark (November, 1858) did abrogate the common constitution, so far as Holstein and Lauenburg were concerned. The execution was accordingly stayed (1860), but on the understanding that the King and his Holstein subjects would in concert frame some arrangement by which, in a manner acceptable to them and to the Diet, Holstein might participate in the common constitution. Between 1860 and 1863, much bickering took place between the King and the Diet as to the provisional relations which should exist between Holstein and the kingdom, pending the settlement of the constitutional question; but into these differences it is unnecessary for us to enter. On the 30th March, 1863, the King published, of his own mere motion ("octroya"), a proclamation fixing the future position of Holstein in the monarchy. The ruling idea of this proclamation was, that since Holstein would not come in to the common constitution on Denmark's terms, and since it was backed up by the Bund in this resolve, it must be allowed to remain outside; while, as between Denmark and Schleswig, the common constitution of 1855 should still be maintained. The most important clause was this: That, as regarded the common affairs of the monarchy, the legislative power should be exercised by the King and the Holstein Diet conjointly. The effect of the proclamation was - or would have been - the " severance of the Danish monarchy into two distinct groups, united by the personal nexus only - the line of intersection falling between Holstein and Schleswig."

"When this proclamation became known in Germany, it aroused a strenuous spirit of opposition. In the Diet, it was regarded as a repeated and more flagrant violation of the third engagement taken by Denmark in 1851 - 2, not to frame a common constitution without first consulting the local Diets. It deeply offended German feeling, by the disruption which it seemed to declare and consummate between Schleswig and Holstein, states which the national sentiment insisted on regarding as indivisible. The Diet, in July, demanded the retraction of the Ordinance of March 30, and on the Danish Government's refusal to comply, decreed that Federal execution should take place with the due forms. The mode of procedure was, that, after due notice had been given to the state against which execution had been decreed, Federal commissioners should be sent into it, supported by a sufficient force of Federal troops, and should administer the government in the name of the Diet until the offending state should have satisfied the demands of the Confederation. So far from attempting to appease the rising wrath of Germany, the Danish Government made matters worse by issuing (November 18) a new constitution for Denmark and Schleswig, intended to complete the scheme of government which the Patent of March 30 had commenced. This constitution was little more than a transcript of that of 1855; but, as Holstein was now excluded, the Germans regarded it as little less than equivalent to an incorporation of Schleswig with Denmark, contrary to the first of the engagements of 1851 - 2. Whereas in the Constitution of 1855 it was said, " The legislative power in common affairs is vested in the King and the Rigsraad conjointly in the new Constitution, for the words " in common affairs" were substituted the words "in respect of the common affairs of Denmark Proper and Schleswig."

On the 7th December, the Diet voted for immediate execution, and entrusted the fulfilment of its mandate to Saxon and Hanoverian troops. Denmark then withdrew the Ordinance of March 30; but the excitement in Germany had by this time risen to such a point, that the execution could no longer be stayed, though its character was somewhat altered. It now assumed an international instead of a strictly Federal character, and aimed at compelling Denmark to fulfil the engagements, in respect of Schleswig (which was no part of the Bund), by which it had bound itself to Germany in 1851 - 2. On the 24th December, 1863, the Saxon troops entered Altona, the border town of Holstein, through the Nobis Thor, and were received with demonstrations of wild delight and enthusiasm by the populace. The Danish troops quietly marched out of every town of Holstein just before the Germans marched in. In most places the Danish arms were then taken down, and the Schleswig-Holstein tricolour hoisted; but the execution was completed without bloodshed, and on the last day of the year the troops of the Bund were facing the Danes along the line of the Eider.

It is now time to ask, what part England had been taking in the transactions and negotiations which had resulted in so grave a complication. In September, 1862, I Lord Russell had proposed, with reference to the dispute between the Bund and Denmark as to the common constitution, that the schedule -of " common affairs" should! be greatly curtailed, and that a large part of what had; been hitherto deemed such should be. placed within the legislative competence of the local Diets. This proposal Denmark had rejected, on the ground that its adoption must inevitably lead either to anarchy or to a return to arbitrary government. Again, in July, 1863, some days after the decree of the Bund ordering execution in Holstein, Lord Palmerston, then Prime Minister, had declared, in his place in Parliament, with reference to the proceedings of the German Powers, that (under certain circumstances) " it would not be with Denmark alone they would have to contend." This public declaration inspired the Danes with a firm confidence that England would come to their assistance in case of need, and doubtless made them resist the demands of Germany more obstinately. The despatches of Lord Russell to Lord Bloom- field at Vienna (July 31) and to Sir Alexander Malet at Frankfort (September 29) assume a high-almost a menacing - tone. Considering indeed that execution is a Federal, i not an international, act, and may be regarded as a sort of measure of internal police employed by the whole Bund against a refractory member, there seems reason for saying that Lord Russell's interference in regard to Holstein erred as much on the side of vigour as his interference in regard to Schleswig, when the question had become international, erred on the side of weakness. Taught, however, by their experience of English intervention in favour of Poland, German diplomatists were not much disturbed by the vehemence of tone which characterised the despatches from our Foreign Office. Baron von der Pfordten, the Bavarian envoy to the Diet, told Sir. A. Malet one day that " he looked on Earl Russell's despatches as so much waste paper." Still the greater German Powers thought it expedient to proceed with caution; and as Lord Russell, in a Memorandum dated November 24, 1863, had said that " should it appear that Federal troops had entered the duchy on international grounds, Her Majesty's Government might be obliged to interfere," I Austria and Prussia persuaded the Diet to proceed by way of execution, and not, as Bavaria and other states would have wished, byway of "prise de possession" - ,a formally hostile and therefore international act. Up to the end of 1863, then, although our remonstrances had not met with much attention, our general policy in regard to Denmark had not suffered a defeat.

But even before the execution an event had occurred which aggravated tenfold the difficulties of the situation. Frederic YIL, King of Denmark, died suddenly on the 15th November. On the next day, Prince Frederic of Augustenburg, son of that Duke of Augustenburg who had accepted a sum of money for his forfeited estates from Denmark in 1852, and agreed not to oppose the new succession, issued a proclamation, addressed to the " Schleswig-Holsteiners," in which he claimed the succession to both duchies, as representing, after the extinction of the royal stem, the male line of the house of Oldenburg. A large and noisy party in both duchies was favourable to his claims; and after the execution had taken place, the Prince repaired to Kiel, was received there with acclamation, and put forth a second manifesto, in which he signed himself " Frederic, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein." The minor states of Germany were inclined to support him; for an independent German state of Schleswig-Holstein would have been an accession of strength to their party in the Diet, and helped them to stand their ground against their two great overbearing confederates, Austria and Prussia. But by this time Count Bismarck, whose one 'guiding thought was the aggrandisement of the Prussian monarchy out of all these complications, had decided upon his policy. For some months in 1863 the minor states had carried matters their own way; and Baron von der Pfordten, the Bavarian envoy, the ablest exponent of their policy, was for a time the most powerful man in Germany. But now Bismarck, having secured the cordial support of Austria by guaranteeing, on the part of Prussia, the integrity of her possessions, proceeded to take the initiative. On the 28th December, Prussia and Austria proposed to the Diet, that since the new Danish Constitution of the 18th November amounted to a distinct violation of the pledge given in 1851 - 2, not to incorporate Schleswig with Denmark, nor to take any steps leading thereto, the Diet should, upon international grounds, order the military occupation of Schleswig, as a material pledge for the fulfilment by Denmark of her engagements. Bismarck had probably satisfied himself that no opposition of a material kind would be offered by England under any circumstances; or else, now that Prussia was firmly allied with Austria, he did not fear such opposition. No action was taken by the Diet on this proposal for the moment, and a few days afterwards it was renewed with greater urgency by the two Governments, on the ground that the 1st January, 1864, was the day on which the new constitution was fixed to come in force. The minor states had different views; they wished first to get Duke Frederic firmly enthroned in Holstein, after which they would have proceeded quietly to take up the question of Schleswig. When therefore the proposal came to be voted upon in the Diet (January 14,1864), a combination of the minor states rejected it, by a majority of 11 to 5. The representatives of Austria and Prussia then informed the Diet that their Governments intended to carry out the proposal in spite of the adverse vote; upon which announcement " the Assembly was for a time in a state of violent agitation."

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Pictures for Chapter VIII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 3

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