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I can take you wherever you want to go, but his administrative power, though en. and as my carriage moves more quickly larged by recent changes, is still limited than you do on foot, I shall save you the all questions of consequence being reminutes instead of robbing you of them.” ferred to Denmark; and there is, 25
“You are most kind, but I was only before said, an Icelandic Assembly, ccagoing to my hotel, which is close by.” sisting of twenty-one elective members,
" Then you have no excuse for not tak- and six nominated by the King ; but it ing a short drive with me in the Champs meets only once in two years, for a Elysées - come.”
month at a time, and is merely consultaThus bidden, Graham could not civ- tive. Matters are brought before it on illy disobey. He handed the fair Ameri- which it may express its opinion, but it can into her carriage, and seated himself has no positive authority, either adminby her side.
istrative or legislative ; the King may, if he chooses, issue a law or impose a tax in direct opposition to its votes. As leg. islation is very scanty, and as the few
taxes levied are mostly, with the excepFrom The Saturday Review. tion of the imposts on trade, in the nature ICELAND POLITICS.
of local rates expended for local purposes GEOGRAPHERS tell us that Iceland be in the parish or county (Syssel), this longs rather to Greenland and North weakness of the Chamber is less of a America than to our continent, and cer- practical grievance than it might appear. tainly no part of what we commonly it is, however, in theory indefensible ; reckon Europe can be named which has and Denmark, which has enjoyed a very so little to do with the rest or is so little free constitution for some time past, feels known by it. Even in the great days of herself unable to resist the demands of the island — the tenth, eleventh, and the Icelanders for a system more contwelfth centuries — its population was formable to modern ideas. A constitutoo small to give it any influence on the tion was accordingly some time since course of affairs on the Continent, and drafted, providing for the control of the ever since then it has drifted on un- Althing over the finances and for its ininoticed. After nearly four hundred tiative in legislation. This was submitted years of independence, latterly as a rude to the Chamber at three successive meetly federal aristocratic republic, it accepted ings, approved by them so far as it went, in 1262-64 the sovereignty of the Kings and rejected only because it did not also of Norway, followed Norway in the union provide for an Icelandic Ministry responof the latter kingdom with the Danish sible to the Althing. The National party Crown in 1397, and, when Norway was insisted that without this provision the severed from Denmark in 1815, remained Althing could not make its control effectattached to Denmark, though it ought, no ive; the Danish Government, on the doubt, to have been assigned to Norway. contrary, insisted on placing the affairs Its venerable Assembly, the Althing, was of the island in charge of one of the abolished in 1800; but in 1843 a new Danish Ministers of the King, replying Chamber was created, to which the old to the remonstrances of the Icelanders name was given, and by means of which that the power of impeaching a Minister a certain measure of political life and was practically useless, and that to allow agitation has been created. The great the Althing to expel a Minister from wave which passed over Europe in 1848 office by its vote would be to sever the made itself felt even in this remote cor- administration of Iceland from that of ner; a National Liberal party has sprung Denmark, since it would be absurd to up, whose claims and projects are not allow a Minister of Justice for the whole without interest to other countries, and monarchy who retained the confidence they are the more curious to us because of the Danish Rigsdag to succumb to the they recall some of the questions which Icelandic Althing. They offered, howhave arisen with English colonies. ever, to allow the Althing to impeach an
The government of the island is at offending Minister before the High present practically vested in the Danish Court of Justice at Copenhagen, but this Ministry at Copenhagen, who are respon- was not accepted, and the dispute resible to the Danish Diet for their general mained unsettled. The real point at policy, but in no special way for Iceland - issue, as may be easily understood, is the ic affairs. There is a Danish Governor desire of Iceland to have a separate local of Iceland, who resides at Reykjavík;'administration — to be, in fact, independent of the Danish Legislature, while own- seem hard to rouse an agitation or hold a ing allegiance to the Danish Crown. party together in a country where there
Like most other political questions, this can be few public meetings because it is one has a sentimental as well as a practical often a dozen miles or so from one house side, and the former is perhaps the more to another, where the two little sheets serious. Ever since she acquired the that serve as newspapers appear only once island at the end of the fourteenth cen- a fortnight, and the Chamber meets but tury, Denmark has used it very scurvily, once in two years. But the National doing little or nothing for its develop- party has for its leader a man whose emiment, sometimes neglecting her engage- nent talents, dignified character, and conment to send thither every year six ves- sistent advocacy of the same line of sels laden with the goods needed by the policy have given him an extraordinary peop!e, allowing no Icelander to own a influence over his countrymen, Jón Simerchant ship, and for a long period gurdsson ; it has earned the gratitude of maintaining, a strict trade monopoly, the people by forcing the Danes to abrounder which the brisk traffic that was gate the old oppressive trade laws ; it emdriven sometimes with England, some-braces most of the clergy as well as of the times with Hamburg and Bremen, dwin- ! farmers, and can always command a large dled and disappeared. Till far down in majority in the Althing. the present century Iceland was treated i As this National party has been conas nothing better than a preserve for stantly in opposition, it has not till Danish merchants; and both her literary, recently found it necessary to propound aw kening and her growing, materiali a positive programme, and there has prosperity have been the work of her been some difficulty in saying exactly own children, discouraged by the selfish- what its wishes and schemes are. Hithness of a Government which showed erto the business of the party has been here, on a small theatre, the same folly to complain, and the grievances comwhich proved so fatal to it in Schleswig and plained of may by outsiders be thought Holstein. Now, indeed, Denmark seems more sentimental than practical. Perto have turned over a new leaf. The sonal liberty could hardly be more secure protective laws have been abolished, and or more extensive than it now is in Icean annual sum of about 6,000l. is taken land; there is probably no part of Eufrom the Danish Exchequer to be spent rope where Government plays so small a in the island. But the jealousy and dis- part and so seldom crosses the path of like of their foreign rulers which ripened the ordinary citizen by police interferduring so many generations in the Ice- ence. The taxation is very low, though landic people is not so easily got rid of. it must be added, that the taxpayers are As the last six centuries have taught very poor ; justice is fairly administered ; them to abhor government from without, everybody is of the same creed. On the so their stirring history and noble litera- other hand, people declare that many ture in the days of the old Republic (930- things are neglected which the Govern1262) have created a national spirit and ment ought to undertake - the making a desire for national political life. On a of roads, for instance, the establishment smaller scale the literature of the Sagas, of an inland postal service, the foundaalways known and cherished by the tion of a school of agriculture, and the people, has now done for Iceland what establishment of educational institutions its medieval literature did for Italy, what for the teaching of practical sciences its historical memories did for Germany, which are now totally neglected ; and in the way of rekindling or feeding the when the Danes ask how all this is to be passion fór national union. There has done without taxing the island more thus sprung up within the last thirty heavily, they produce certain ancient years, chiefly (the Danes say entirely) claims which Iceland has upon Denmark, through the exertions of the younger and allege that the 6,000l. a year now generation of literary, men and priests paid is but a small part of what she ought educated at the Reykjavík Latin School to pay annually till these are discharged. and the University of Copenhagen, an At the time of the Reformation the agitation which cannot perhaps be called Danish kings seized the church lands, warm — for in Iceland nothing is warm sold a great part of them very improviexcept the Geysers and volcanoes – but dently, and applied the money to their which is kept up with steady persever- own purposes ; they are also accused ance, and enlists the sympathy of the of having diverted sums contributed large majority of the people. It may throughout Europe for the relief of Ice
land after the great eruption of the Skap- should by turns be constantly with the tar Jökull in 1783, as well as of various King, as is the case with Norway, so long misapplications in time past of Icelandic as Iceland does not refuse to pay the cost revenues. Smaller grounds of complaint of the machinery. As respects their reneed hardly be enumerated — that Danes lation to Denmark, they maintain that are placed in office in Iceland, and jobs their union with the Norwegian Crown perpetrated for their relations ; that the originally was, and that their subsequent Crown lands are ill managed that no union with the Danish has always been, proper museum is kept up, all the antiq- in point of law, a personal one, such as uities found being carried off to Copen- was the relation of Scotland and England hagen ; and that there is no law school before 1702, and as is the relation of on the island, so that students are Norway to Sweden now. Some patriots obliged to resort to the University of go further, and think that it would be Copenhagen, where Danish, but not Ice-well for Iceland to dissolve altogether landic, law is taught. As there are but her connection with Denmark; they feel, two professional lawyers in Iceland -- however, that so poor and thinly peopled though those too happy farmers, not a country could not stand alone, and are knowing their own good fortune, desire in doubt where to bestow themselves. to have more — it seems no great hard- There has been some talk of uniting with ship that the budding procurator who ap- Norway, towards which, as their original pears, like the aloe blossom, but once in mother-country, the Icelanders have almany years should get his mind enlarged ways cherished warm feelings ; and the by a visit to Denmark. But whatever Norwegians have by various little civilithese grievances may be worth, the real ties offered of late years endeavoured to cause of the movement is the wish for a draw the bonds of friendship closer. mode of government which shall recog- Norway is of course much nearer than nize the national existence of Iceland, Denmark, and is thought likely, now that and be commited to Icelandic rather than her wealth is growing with her increasing to Danish hands. The Icelanders dis- trade, to be more liberal in money matlike the idea of being treated as a subject ters. Others among the National party province, and having everything done for have suggested that Iceland should offer them, even supposing it to be done well ; herself to England, to which she was, and they insist that it must be done ill once on the point of being sold by one of so long as it is done at Copenhagen. the Danish Kings; in this way, they There is, therefore, a general agreement think, not only would self-government be in demanding some sort of local inde- secured to them, but the English capital pendence, but there have been various which is so much needed for the developopinions as to the extent of the independ- ment of the resources of the island would ence to be sought.
be more rapidly attracted to it. All this, What has been publicly claimed is the however, is nothing more than the talk transference to Iceland of the Copen- of irresponsible persons, and does not hagen bureau of Icelandic affairs (con- seem likely to have any immediate pracnected there with the Ministry of Jus- tical result; it is hardly more serious tice), and the permanent residence in the than the aspirations one hears in Shetisland of the responsible Minister ; or, land for a return to Denmark. The rewhich comes to the same thing, the com-cognized leaders of the Icelandic Libermittal of its administration to the resi- als profess loyalty to the Danish King, dent Governor, who is now little more and content themselves with demanding than an executive officer carrying out the a separate local administration for Iceinstructions he receives from Copen- land, the repayment of the sums which hagen. To this proposal the Danes make Denmark is alleged to owe, and the extwo objections — first, that the King tension of the powers of the Althing. must have his adviser in Icelandic affairs The more important of these demands at his elbow, else how is he to exercise have, it appears, recently found formal his constitutional rights of sovereignty ? expression in a draft constitution which secondly, that the Nationalist scheme on the 28th of last July received the sancwould amount to a breaking up of the tion of a Committee of the Althing, and Danish monarchy, and the making Ice- which is to be submitted to the King by land an independent State. The Nation- delegates deputed for the purpose. The alists answer, that it would be easy to chief provisions of this instrument are, arrange the responsible Ministry in such we are told, that Iceland shall in future a manner that one of the members of it be connected with Denmark by a personal union only, and shall be governed | ditions, no ignoble future in store for by a Viceroy with three Ministers re- them. sponsible to the Althing. In the meanwhile, pending the final settlement of the new constitution, the King's assent is to be asked to a provisional arrangement to the effect that the Althing be at once in
From The Spectator. vested with full legislative powers, that a
PRINCE BISMARCK'S NEXT STROKE. Budget be submitted for its approval Is it quite so certain that Prince Bisonce in every two years - no tax being marck's genial but menacing frankness levied in Iceland for defraying expendi- towards Herr Kryger, the Member for ture incurred by the Danish Government North Schleswig, was intended only to - and that a special Minister, responsi- warn him that all claim on the part of Denble to the Althing, be appointed for Ice- mark to North Schleswig must be finally landic affairs.
laid aside? We have noticed now for It is probable that the Icelanders may eight years that when the Prince is unsucceed in obtaining some considerable usually frank, when he uses only colextension of the powers of the Althing, loquialisms, and seems to be letting his but it remains to be seen whether Den- whole heart out, he has generally some mark will concede demands which in fact large plan in his head which his frankness amount to the virtual independence of does not suffer to escape. He was terthe island. Iceland, it may be added, ribly frank after Sadowa, but said naught has by no means the same advantages of the secret treaties in his pocket; and for self-government which are possessed terribly frank after Sedan, but said nothby most of our colonies, to whose exam- ing of his intention to tax France six ple an appeal is often made. Its small millions a year to all generations. It will population (scarcely 70,000) is scattered be remembered that his sternly courteous over a wide area ; there are no roads or phrases to Herr Kryger were uttered just other means of communication; it would before the visit of the Crown Prince of be difficult either to bring public opinion Germany to Copenhagen, a visit of which to bear on a powerful Governor, or to he must have been aware, that his Imkeep the Althing in session to watch him perial Highness was received with unexduring a considerable part of the year. pected cordiality by the Court and upper On the other hand, she is united to Den- classes, and that he discussed politics mark by far looser ties than those which with the King for about two hours. Is it connect Great Britain with the larger quite impossible that he may have carcolonies. Denmark was not her mother- ried with him a proposal which might country; her language, her literature, strike the King, who is a purely German her national manners and character, her Prince, as it would not strike the patriotic historical associations, are all different. among the Danes, to restore Schleswig The concession of a measure of inde- Holstein, or at all events, Schleswig to pendence to the island would not weaken Denmark, if the Danes would enter GerDenmark, which draws from it neither many on the terms granted to the Bavamoney nor men ; and though it would not rians, – that is, with their autonomy preproduce in Iceland itself all those good served on all but imperial questions? effects which the Nationalists have per- That such an offer might be made, or suaded themselves to expect, it would at rather be hinted at, we can readily beleast dispose the people to rely more upon lieve, for Denmark, small as she is, might themselve: , stimulate their national life become a great danger to Germany, givin all its branches, and make them exerting all her enemies a landing-point in themselves more vigorously in the de- very disagreeable proximity to Berlin. velopment of their material resources. It was well understood during the FranThat want of enterprise which so much co-German war that General Falkenstrikes a stranger, and which contrasts stein's huge command was not left there so notably with the magnificent force and on the North Sea merely to protect the daring of their ancestors in the tenth and coast, but to occupy Jutland, should eleventh centuries, is due in great measure France succeed, as she expected to sucto the state of dependent helplessness in ceed, in calling Denmark to arms. Then which Denmark has kept them. A people the Danes, who are seafarers, would furwith so much intelligence and so many nish a grand addition to the maritime private virtues may well hope to have, resources of Germany, while all disconunder more favourable political con-'tent in Schleswig would perforce be end
ed, and Germany relieved of a real dan- | man as it was, more particularly if, in reger in the Baltic. The new Germans, ward of alliance, it could recover Schlesmoreover, would be Protestants of the wig, annihilate Socialism, and retain its most convinced kind, would quite over- civil position as Munich has done. As balance Posen, and make some sort of a for the Court, an Oldenburg may well counterpoise even to Bavaria. Iceland accept the position which contents a would be a penal settlement for Germany, Wittelsbach. As for the nobles, they and Copenhagen the pleasure city for all would be greater as Germans. The bourthe Northerners. There would, it is true, geois care mainly for trade, and although be Schleswig to give up, and the present the lower class no doubt cling to their Hohenzollern gives up nothing, but the nationality with passionate fervor, we Imperial Crown Prince may be German doubt if it would, after a severe Socialist even more than Prussian, and the im- émeute, be impossible to carry an Act of mense addition to German safety may Union. The hatred, at all events, could weigh with him more strongly than his be no greater than that of the people of father. We could quite conceive that Alsace-Lorraine, and Germany endures such a prospect might be attractive to that with philosophic composure. But Berlin, and quite understand why, if it is Russia would oppose ? If Russia could; conceived, the hopelessness of reference but we have been told that Russian zeal to the Treaty of Prague might be im- would be cooled greatly by a cause we pressed by the Chancellor on all men have mentioned once before, but which with designed frankness, mixed with an is much overlooked, the despairing im. admission that at some future date a time pression among her Generals that as yet might come when the solution should be her troops cannot compete with the Gerpleasing to the North Schleswigers. mans, and among her statesmen, that
The real points of resistance to such a if they, quarrel with Germany they will project would not be found in Berlin, never be allowed to occupy Constantinobut in Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, and ple. Besides, the grand danger of the Europe generally, and it may be worth Union to Russia, the sealing-up of the while to study a little how much resist- Baltic, exists from the day she cannot ance is to be expected in either quarter. cope with the German feet, and ends on
A year ago we should have said at once the day that she acquires Hammerfest, a that the Danes would have died in arms Swedish port unlocked by ice all the or have submitted to emigration en masse winter, lying directly on the Atlantic, yet rather than accept such a proposal, but capable of connection with St. Petersburg we are not so clear just now. Their by a railway line. Russia would be too friendship for France, however deep, is much afraid of an invasion of her Ger. very much modified by the Ultramontan- man Provinces, and of her position if ism professed by her present rulers, a she should after a brief campaign be comCatholic Protectorate by no means enter- pelled to sue for peace. ing into Lutheran desires. They would And Europe ? Europe in such circumas lief be governed by Berliners as by stances means France, England, and Ausdevotees of the Sacred Heart. Then the tria, and we doubt if the latter would be sense of smallness has been growing in trustworthy in an anti-German conflict. Denmark since the plan for a Scandina- The Germans would be half-hearted, and vian Union died away - prohibited, we be compelled to defend the Tyrol against imagine, by Russia and Germany com- Italy, while the Hungarians would mainbined -and since they felt their sudden tain their persistent thesis that Sadowa but utter powerlessness in 1870; while restored them to their freedom, and that there has arisen a new fear, - a fear of an Austrian victory would bring back Socialism, which is growing powerful in German domination and the Concordat. the little State, and seems everywhere the difficulty, on the other hand, of inducthat it exists to kill out nationalism among ing England to fight a great war, such as the upper classes, witness the executions a war with Germany would be, in order still going on in Paris, the rough use of to resist a parliamentary vote in another troops in Denmark, and the terrible vigor country and a Federalist project, would of hatred which possesses the majority be almost insuperable, certainly insuperin Spain. Kings in particular seem to able with the existing Government; while be bereft of their senses at the merest | France would thus be left to do the one appearance of the mania, which, except thing she will not do without an ally, tight in Russia, has nowhere any solid chance. Germany before she is perfectly prepared. We doubt if Copenhagen 'is as anti-Ger- There would be little aid, we fear, for