Read CHAPTER XIV - THROUGH THE SOUND TO COPENHAGEN of Up The Baltic Young America in Norway‚ Sweden‚ and Denmark , free online book, by Oliver Optic, on

Mr. Lowington was almost forced to the conclusion that the experiment of permitting the students to manage their own finances was a failure.  If it could be a success anywhere, it must be in the northern countries, where none of the boys spoke the language, and where the lighter intoxicants were not so common as in the more southern portions of Europe.  Though he was not aware that any pupils had made an improper use of their money, the non-arrival of the crew of the second cutter, and the disappearance of Scott and Laybold in Gottenburg, seemed to have some relation to the condition of their funds.  But he was willing to carry the experiment as far as practicable, and to restore the obnoxious rule only when it was absolutely necessary to do so.  Two thirds of the students could be safely trusted to manage their money matters, and it was not pleasant to restrain the whole for the benefit of the minority.

After the boys had walked all over Gottenburg, they were weary enough to retire at eight bells in the evening, especially as they were to turn out at two o’clock the next morning, for the trip up the Goeta Canal.  At the appointed time, the steamer came alongside the ship, where she took the excursionists on board, the boats of the other vessels conveying their crews to the Young America.  As it was still dark, not a few of the boys finished their nap in the little steamer.  About eight o’clock, she reached the long series of locks by which the canal passes the Falls of Trollhaetten, and the excursionists walked for a couple of hours through the beautiful scenery, and embarking again in the steamer, arrived at Wenersberg, where they obtained a view of the Wenern Lake, and proceeded by special train to Herrljunga, and thence, by regular train, to Gottenburg, where they arrived before eight in the evening.  The wind was fair, and the squadron immediately sailed to the southward.

The principal was annoyed by the absence of not less than a dozen of the students; but he had every confidence in the zeal and discretion of Peaks, who was to take charge of the cutter’s crew, and he left the head steward at Gottenburg to find Scott and Laybold.  He feared that the success of these wanderers would encourage others to follow their example, and increased vigilance seemed to be necessary on the part of the instructors.  The next day was Sunday, and it was doubly a season of rest.  The breeze was fair, but very light, so that the squadron made only about four knots an hour; but on Monday morning she was fairly in the Sound, which is about three miles in width.  On the left was the town of Helsingborg, in Sweden, and on the right Kronberg Castle, with Elsinore, on a kind of land-locked basin, behind it.  The vessels continued on their course, keeping within a short distance of the shore, so that those on board could distinctly see the towns and villages.  The houses were neat, with red roofs, each one having its little garden.  There were plenty of groves and forests, and the trees were oaks and beeches, instead of pines and firs which the voyagers had seen in Norway and Sweden.  The country was flat, with nothing like a hill to be seen.

The breeze freshening, the squadron hastened its pace, and in the middle of the forenoon the spires of Copenhagen were in plain sight.  Off in the water were several detached forts, built on small islands.  The Young America led the way, and soon dropped her anchor off the citadel of Frederikshavn, and near the landing-place, where a crowd of small steamers were lying at the wharf.

“Have you been here before, Dr. Winstock?” asked Captain Lincoln, as he saw the surgeon examining the aspect of the city.

“Yes; several years ago.  I have been in every country in Europe.”

“Copenhagen don’t look just as I expected it would,” added the commander.  “I thought it must be a very old, black, and musty-looking place.”

“You see that it is not, ­at least not from the water; but you will find plenty of dismal and gloomy-looking buildings in it.  The fact is, Denmark is too small a kingdom to support all the show and expense of royalty:  its palaces are too large and costly to be retained as such, and many of them have been permitted to fall into partial decay.  But I will not anticipate Mr. Mapps’ lecture, for I see the signal is flying.”

“She makes a tremendous display of forts and guns,” added Lincoln, glancing from the batteries of Trekroner and Lynetten to the bristling guns of Frederikshavn.

“Doubtless it is a strong place, but the English have twice captured the city.  Here are the boats from the other vessels.  I suppose we shall go ashore after dinner.”

The steerage was soon crowded with students, and Mr. Mapps took his usual position at the foremast, on which appeared the map of Denmark.

“In English this country is called Denmark,” said the professor; “but it has this name in no other language.  The Danes call it Danmark, the adjective of which is Danske; and the country is also called the Danske Stat, or Danish States.  In German it is Daenemark; in French, Danemark; in Italian, Danimarca.  It is bounded on the north by the Skager Rack, or Sleeve; on the east by the Cattegat, the Sound, and the Baltic Sea; on the south by the Duchy of Schleswig and the Baltic; and on the west by the North Sea.  When this ship was in Europe before, Schleswig-Holstein and Lauenburg belonged to Denmark; but now they belong to Prussia, and Jutland is all that remains of continental Denmark.  This peninsula has an area of nine thousand six hundred square miles, or about the size of the State of New Hampshire.  With the several islands, the entire area of Denmark is fourteen thousand five hundred square miles.  Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and several small islands in the West Indies, belong to her.  The population is nearly one million eight hundred thousand ­about equal to that of Massachusetts and New Hampshire united.

“The country is flat, or gently undulating, and the highest hill is only five hundred and fifty feet high.  The soil is sandy on the peninsula, and not very fertile, but very rich on some of the islands.  It is indented to a remarkable degree with bays and inlets, and the whole interior is dotted with small lakes, usually connected by a river, like a number of eggs on a string.  The Lim Fjord, which you see in the north, formerly only extended to within a short distance of the North Sea; but in 1825 a tempest broke through the narrow neck of land, and opened a passage for small vessels.  These inland lakes are full of fish, and salmon was once so plenty that householders were forbidden by law to feed their servants with this food more than once a week.

“The two largest islands are Fuenen and Seeland, which are separated by the Great Belt, and the former from the main land by the Little Belt.  In winter these are frozen over, as is the Sound in the severer seasons, and have been crossed by armies engaged in military operations.  The country is well wooded, and you will find plenty of large oaks and beeches.  This morning you passed Elsinore, where Shakespeare locates Hamlet; but you cannot find where ’the morn walks o’er the dew of yon high eastern hill,’ for there are no hills there; nor ’the dreadful summit of the cliff, that beetles o’er his base into the sea.’  It is a flat region, with only a low cliff to border the sea; certainly with no such tremendous steeps as the poet describes.  Besides, Hamlet lived and died in Jutland.  But Shakespeare used the poet’s license.

“Nearly all of Denmark lies between latitude fifty-five and fifty-eight; but, though the thermometer sometimes falls to twenty-two degrees below zero in winter, the average temperature is mild.  The climate does not materially differ from the eastern coast of Massachusetts.  The air is so humid that the grass and trees have a livelier green than the countries farther south, and droughts are almost unknown.  When France and Germany are parched and dry, Denmark is fresh and green.  The people are engaged principally in agriculture and commerce.  The chief exports are grain, cattle, and horses.

“The government is a constitutional monarchy.  The king is assisted in the executive department by a ‘Royal Privy Council’ of seven ministers.  The legislature is called the Rigsdag, and consists of the Landsthing, or upper house, and the Folkething, or lower house.  Of the former, twelve are nominated for life, by the king, from the present or past members of the lower house, and the remaining fifty-four are elected, in four classes, by the largest tax-payers in country districts, in towns, in cities, and by deputies representing the ordinary voters.  The members of the lower house are chosen directly by the people.  All male citizens of twenty-five, except paupers, and servants who are not householders, are voters.

“The established religion of the state is Lutheran, and the king must be of this church.  He nominates the bishops, who have no political power, as in England.  They have the general supervision and management of all the affairs of the church in the kingdom.  Although there are only about thirteen thousand non-Lutherans in Denmark, entire religious toleration prevails, and no man can be deprived of his civil and political rights on account of his creed.

“Free education is provided by the government for all children whose parents cannot afford to pay for tuition, and attendance at school, between the ages of seven and fourteen, is compulsory.  All the people, therefore, are instructed in the elementary branches; and, besides the University of Copenhagen, there is a system of high and middle schools, available for the children of merchants, mechanics, and the more prosperous of the laboring classes.

“Every able-bodied man in Denmark, who has attained the age of twenty-one, is liable to serve as a soldier for eight years in the regular army, and eight more in the army of the reserve.  In preparation for this duty, every man is enrolled, and required to drill for a period of from four to six months, according to the arm of the service in which he is placed; and those who do not become proficient in this time are required to drill for another and longer period.  The kingdom is divided into military districts, and all the soldiers are required to drill from thirty to forty-five days every year.  The navy of Denmark consists of thirty-one steamers of all classes, six of which are iron-clads, carrying three hundred and twelve guns, and manned by nine hundred men.

“Little is known of the history of this country before the eighth century, but the Cimbri occupied it before the time of Christ.  The Danes conquered portions of England, and in the eleventh century, Canute, who introduced Christianity into his realm, completed the conquest.  Norway was also included in his kingdom, and under him and his successors, during the next two hundred years, Denmark attained the summit of her power and glory.  Holstein, Lauenburg, and several other of the northern provinces of Germany, and even a portion of Prussia, were subjected to her sway.  Waldemar II., a successor of Canute, with his eldest son, was daringly captured, while resting from the fatigues of the chase, one evening, by Count Schwerin, whom the king had provoked to wrath by some flagrant injustice.  This bold act of retaliation was carried to a successful issue, and the king and his son were transported by water to Castle Schwerin, in Mecklenburg, where they were kept as prisoners for three years ­a most remarkable instance of retribution, if we consider that Waldemar was the most powerful sovereign of the north.  By threats and bribes his release was procured; but during his confinement the conquered provinces had revolted, and the king was unable to recover his lost possessions.  Denmark was thus reduced from her lofty position by the injustice of her king.

“Towards the close of the fourteenth century, Margaret ­the Semiramis of the North ­succeeded to the thrones of Norway and Denmark, and added Sweden to her dominions by conquest, in the compact of Calmar.  The Swedes, under Gustavus Vasa, established their independence after the union had existed for one hundred and twenty-five years.  At the death of the last of Margaret’s line, in 1439, the states of Denmark elected the count of Oldenburg their king, who reigned as Christian I. He was made duke of Schleswig and count of Holstein, and thus the sovereign of Denmark became the ruler of these duchies, about which there has been so much trouble within the last ten years, and which caused the war of 1866 between Prussia and Austria.  He was followed by his son Hans, or John, whose heir was Christian II., deposed in 1523.  This prince was a tyrant, and was kept a prisoner for twenty-seven years.  His crown was given to Frederick, Duke of Schleswig and Holstein, in whose reign Sweden established her independence.  His son Christian III. succeeded him.  In the great wars which followed the Reformation, the kings of Denmark took the Protestant side.  In repeated conflicts with the Swedes, Denmark lost much of her territory.  After Christian III. came Frederick II., and then Christian IV., who was followed by Frederick III., in whose reign the crown, which had been nominally elective, was made hereditary in the Oldenburg line.  Under Christian V. the country was at peace; but Frederick IV., who came after him, brought on a war with Sweden by invading the territory of the Duke of Holstein, an ally of the King of Sweden, which continued till 1718.  Under Christian VI. and Frederick V. the country was at peace.  Christian VII. married the sister of George III. of England, and was followed, in 1808, by Frederick VI., their son.

“In 1780, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, under the influence of France, established a new code of maritime laws, which operated against the interests of England.  This action in convention was called ’Armed Neutrality,’ and in 1800, during the reign of Christian VII., its principles were revived, and a new agreement was signed by Russia, Prussia, Denmark, and Sweden.  It declared that arms and ammunition alone were contraband of war, that merchandise of belligerents, except contraband of war, was to be protected by a neutral flag, and that ‘paper blockades’ should be regarded as ineffectual.  England immediately laid an embargo on the vessels of the powers signing it.  In 1801, a British fleet under Sir Hyde Parker, with Nelson as second in command, bombarded Copenhagen.  Again, in 1807, England, fearing that Denmark would be compelled by Napoleon to take part against her, bombarded Copenhagen, and compelled the government to give up its entire fleet, which was sent to England.  This ended the armed neutrality.  At the final treaty of peace, in 1814, Norway was ceded to Sweden, which, in return, gave to Denmark Pomerania, and the Island of Ruegen; but the next year Pomerania was passed over to Prussia, in exchange for the Duchy of Lauenburg.

“Frederick VI. reigned till 1839, when he was followed by Christian VIII.  The two Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein were still subjects of dispute.  The king claimed them, but the people of Holstein were German in sentiment, and objected to the incorporation of their country in the Kingdom of Denmark, to which the continued efforts of the latter were directed.  The Danish language was required to be used to the exclusion of the German.  In 1848, Frederick VII. came to the throne, and was more energetic in pushing his claims to the duchies than some of his predecessors had been.  The people of Holstein, which was a member of the German Confederation, were in a state of insurrection, when the King of Denmark virtually annexed both duchies to his kingdom.  War ensued, and continued for three years.  The interference of some of the great powers restored peace, but left the question in dispute unsettled.”

“What was the question in dispute?” asked Captain Lincoln.

“I will explain it, though there are so many complications to it, that only a general view of the subject can be given.  For four hundred years the line of Oldenburg has occupied the throne of Denmark.  Schleswig and Holstein were governed by the same rulers, though each country was separately organized.  But the law of succession was different.  In Denmark a female could rule, while in the duchies the line was limited to males.  Frederick VII. had no children, and it was seen that the direct line of the house of Oldenburg would be extinct at his death.  A treaty made by the several powers interested gave the succession to Prince Christian, whose wife was entitled to the throne by right of her descent from Christian III., who died in 1559; but she yielded her right to her husband, who ascended the throne in 1863, as Christian IX., and is the present king.  At the death of Frederick VII., the Duke of Augustenburg claimed the duchies.  Germany desired to separate Schleswig-Holstein from Denmark.  The German troops entered Holstein, which was a member of the Confederation, and entitled to its protection.  Denmark refused to yield her title to the duchies, and war ensued.  The Danes were overwhelmed, and repeatedly defeated.  England declined to assist Denmark, as had been expected by the latter, and Denmark was compelled to renounce all her claims to Schleswig-Holstein and Lauenburg, in favor of Prussia and Austria.  The main question in regard to the final disposition of the duchies was left open for future adjustment, and Prussia took temporary possession of Schleswig, and Austria of Holstein.  The Duke of Augustenburg was permitted to remain in the latter, but forbidden to get up any demonstration in aid of his own claims.

“Austria favored the claim of the duke, while Prussia denied it, and accused her then powerful rival of encouraging revolutionary movements in Holstein dangerous to the thrones of Europe.  Then followed the great war of 1866, which resulted in the utter humiliation of Austria, and the annexation of all the disputed territories to Prussia.  Denmark, thus shorn of her territories and her power, has become an insignificant kingdom.  With less than two million inhabitants, she supports all the costly trappings of royalty, and keeps an army and navy.  The king has a civil list of nearly three hundred thousand dollars, and the heir apparent has an allowance exceeding the salary of the President of the United States, while the entire revenue of the nation is only about thirteen million dollars.  Prince Frederick, the king’s oldest son, who succeeds to the throne, married the daughter of the King of Sweden and Norway.  The princess Alexandra, the oldest daughter, is the wife of the Prince of Wales.  Prince Wilhelm, the second son, was elected King of Greece, under the title of Georgios I. in 1863.  The Princess Dagmar is the wife of the Grand Duke Alexander, of Russia, heir of the throne.  By their connections two of the sons are, or will be, kings, one daughter Queen of England, and another Empress of Russia.

“In 1348, the King of Denmark levied duties on all vessels passing through the Sound, at the Fortress of Kronberg, which were applied to the expenses of the light-houses, and the protection of shipping from pirates.  The United States first objected to the payment of this tax, and called the attention of the commercial nations of Europe to the annoyance.  All vessels were obliged to anchor, and submit to vexatious delays; but none doubted the right to levy the dues, which had been formally regulated by treaties.  Denmark consented to abandon her claims on the payment of about fifteen millions of dollars by the nations of Europe, and about four hundred thousand on the part of the United States.”

The professor completed his lecture, and the students separated.  Most of them climbed into the rigging, or seated themselves on the rail, where they could see the city and the various objects of interest in the harbor.  The view shoreward from the ship was very unsatisfactory, for the city, built on a dead level, presented but little to challenge the attention of the voyager.  While they were observing the surroundings, a shore boat approached the vessel, in which were two persons wearing the uniform of the squadron.  One of them was a stout man, in whom the students soon recognized Peaks.

“But who is that with him?” asked Norwood.

“It’s one of the second cutter’s crew, I suppose,” replied De Forrest.  “I didn’t think, when I went ashore with them, that I shouldn’t see any of them again for so long a time.  I wonder where the rest of them are.”

“That’s not one of the second cutters,” added Judson.  “It is the English fellow.”

“So it is.”

Peaks came alongside, and directed Clyde Blacklock to mount the accommodation ladder, which he did without making any objection.  They had arrived the day before.  The prisoner seemed to have lost some portion of his stubborn spirit.  The boatswain followed him to the deck, and touching his cap to the captain and other officers on the quarter-deck, went aft, where the principal was talking with the surgeon.

“We have come on board, sir,” said the boatswain, as he took off his cap and pointed to Clyde.

“I see you have,” replied Mr. Lowington.  “I’m glad to see you again, Clyde.”

The young Briton nodded his head with a jerk, but made no reply.

“Have you seen Mr. Blaine, Peaks?” asked the principal.

“Yes, sir; I met him on the wharf night before last at Gottenburg.”

“But where are the crew of the second cutter?  I expected you to bring them.”

“They came back to Christiania on Friday, and took the steamer for Gottenburg the same evening; but Mr. Blaine had not seen them.  Their steamer arrived in the forenoon, and the ship did not sail till night.”

“I am afraid there is something wrong about it.”

“I left Mr. Blaine in Gottenburg.  I suppose he will find them.”

Peaks reported in detail the result of his mission on shore.  So far as Clyde was concerned it was entirely satisfactory; but the continued absence of the second cutter’s crew was very annoying to the principal.

“How do you feel, Clyde?” asked Mr. Lowington, turning to the new student.

“I feel well enough,” replied the runaway, roughly.

“I am glad you do.  I hope you feel better than when you left the ship.”

“I don’t.”

“While you were on board before, I neglected to explain to you the consequences of leaving the ship without permission.”

“It wouldn’t have made any difference.  I should have gone just the same,” answered Clyde, doggedly.

“The less trouble you make, the better it will be for you.”

“Perhaps it will; but I don’t intend to stay in this ship a great while.”

“I intend that you shall stay here; and since you avow your purpose to run away again, I must see that you are put in a safe place.  Peaks, the brig.”

“The brig?  What’s that?” demanded Clyde, who was very suspicious of the calm, unmoved tones of the principal.

“Come with me, my lad, and I will show you,” replied the boatswain.

The Briton knew by sad experience how useless it was to contend against this tyrant, who, however, always used him well when he behaved in a reasonable manner.  He followed the boatswain into the steerage, and the door of the brig, which was a small prison formed of plank slats, set upright under the steps, about three inches apart, was opened.

“That’s the brig, my boy,” said Peaks.  “It’s a regular institution on board a man-of-war; but this one has not been opened for months.”

“Well, what’s it for?” asked Clyde, who even yet did not seem to comprehend its use.

“Walk in, and I will make it all plain to you in a moment.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Sail in!” shouted a student, who, with others, was observing the treatment.

“On deck, sir!” said the boatswain, sternly, to the speaker.  “Report yourself.”

It was a principle in the discipline of the ship that no person should say or do anything to irritate a student undergoing punishment, and no one was permitted, on such occasions, to take part on either side, unless called upon by the officer or instructor to do so.  In ordinary cases no boy was required, or permitted, to be a “tell-tale,” and all were expected to remain neutral.  The student who had spoken left the steerage, and went on deck, before Clyde had time to “open upon him,” as he intended to do.

“Step in, my lad,” added Peaks.

“What for?” asked the Briton, as he obeyed the order, but not without a suspicion that he was to step upon a red-hot gridiron, or be precipitated through some opening in the deck into the dark depths beneath.

No such calamity happened to him, and he was rather astonished to find that no harsher punishment was used for the flagrant offence he had committed.  He had pushed the boatswain overboard, and then run away.  Peaks had never manifested any resentment towards him on account of his cowardly trick; but he anticipated some severe discipline on board of the ship.  The boatswain closed and locked the door of the brig, and then looked in at the prisoner through the slats.

“Do you understand what the brig is for now?” asked Peaks.

“You have locked me in ­that’s all.”

“That’s all, my lad.”

“How long am I to stay here?”

“Till you make up your mind not to run away.”

“This isn’t a bad place, and I shall stay here till I grow gray before I promise not to be off when I get a chance.”

“All right, my hearty.  Think of it a few weeks.”

To one who had expected some horrible punishment for his misdemeanors, the brig seemed like very mild discipline.  Clyde seated himself on the stool in his prison, and leisurely surveyed the surroundings.  He was an enterprising youth, and the bars of his cage looked small and weak.  At dinner time, the meal was handed in to him, and he ate with an excellent appetite.  Soon after, he heard the call for all hands, and then the waiter in the steerage told him they had gone on shore to see the city.  Everything was quiet and still, and he devoted himself to a more particular examination of the bars of the brig.  They were two inches thick, but the case looked hopeful.  Pursuing his investigations still farther, he found, under the steps, a saw, a hammer, a chisel, and some other tools, which Bitts, the carpenter, had placed there a few days before, and forgotten to remove.  Clyde took up the saw; but just then, Peaks, with a book in his hand, seated himself at a table near the brig, and began to read.