Mr. Yeaman to Mr. Seward.
Sir: For the fuller information of the Department of State, I here enclose a copy of a Danish newspaper, the Berlingske, the official journal, in which will be found, printed in the French language, a statement of the substance of the report and recommendations of the royal commission appointed to consider the subject of the defence of the kingdom and the reorganization of the army and navy. The report has not yet been acted upon by the Rigsdag. It will be observed that the principal changes proposed to be introduced are the abolition of substitution and the establishment in its stead of the compulsory service for a given term of all able-bodied men within the military ages. The estimated annual expense of the army on the new basis is 3,506,000 rigsdalers say $1,928,300. The part of the report relating to the navy has not yet been published, but I understand from other sources that it proposes to reform the navy so that by 1877 it shall consist of four iron-clad frigates, four cuirassed batteries, two monitors, three screw frigates, three screw corvettes, six cutters, four paddle-wheel steamers, 40 transports, and 6,000 men; of which establishment the annual expense is estimated at 1,511,400 rigsdalers, say $831,320.
I also enclose, as a matter of general, though not official, interest, a copy of another Danish newspaper, the Dagbladet, one of the leading organs of the advanced liberals, and of the national or Scandinavian party, in which will be found some articles printed in the French language, (a course occasionally adopted by these papers for the more ready access of foreigners, diplomats, &c.,) in relation to the duchy of Schleswig, German pretensions, and the condition and development of Denmark. It will be seen the writer takes strong ground against what he calls “Germanism,” the alleged superiority of German civilization being sometimes urged, even by Danes, as an answer to “Scandinavianism.”
His royal highness the Crown Prince of Denmark, after attending the marriage of his sister, the Princess Dagmar, at St. Petersburg, returned by the way of Berlin, where he paid a visit to the royal family of Prussia. While there the King of Prussia conferred upon the prince and upon his father, the King of Denmark, the order of the Black Eagle, the most complimentary one at his disposal. These attentions, and the very cordial manner of the prince’s welcome at Berlin, were by many persons here interpreted as an encouraging response to the generous confidence expressed in the speech of the King of Denmark at the opening of the Danish Rigsdag, and of which I have heretofore sent you a copy. But other developments do not support that view: notably the “bills of annexation” prepared by the Berlin cabinet for the Prussian [Page 655] parliament, the suppression of telegrams from the duchy to a fête at Copenhagen in honor of a distinguished advocate of the national sentiment, the refusal to allow a subscription to be solicited in the duchy for making a present to the Princess Dagmar before her departure, and the reply lately given to a deputation of Schleswigians, asking for an early and favorable consideration, that the treaty would be observed, but that steps could not be taken to hold the election until the affairs of the duchies were “Consolidated”—an expression somewhat dubious, to say the least.
The very great interest felt in this matter in Denmark, and, indeed, throughout Europe, will justify the frequent allusions I have made to the progress of the question and to everything which may seem to indicate its probable solution. From 1848 to the present day, nearly twenty years, a sentiment and a necessity, or, if we please, two necessities, have combined to make the politics of Germany appear, at least on the surface, a little inconsistent; the aspiration for a German nationality which should consolidate all German populations, and the admitted need of a greater sea-board and more commodious harbors, which tends towards the absorption of communities not quite subject to the theory of nationality.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.