No. 59.
Mr. Cramer to Mr. Fish.

No. 346.]

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Sir: The social condition of the Danish people is, on the whole, a good one. This is due, partly to the excellent public schools, partly to the well-developed sentiment of patriotism, and partly to the increasing prosperity of the middle classes. The public schools, the press, and the pulpit are the principal means for spreading universal intelligence, as well as for developing and cultivating the sentiment of patriotism. Few nations love their country more than the Danes do [Page 98] theirs. Hence, the internationals and revolutionary propagandists have as yet been unable to gain a permanent foothold in this country, although they made desperate attempts in that direction. They always stranded at the good common sense, intelligence, and contentment of the people, as well as at the prompt action and firmness of the government. Very little disregard for the laws and “the powers that be” is met with. Obedience to the laws and social order are leading features in the national character of the Danes.

Another reason for the existence of a good social condition may be found in the fact that during the past decade numerous philanthropic institutions and benevolent associations have been organized, the object of which is to furnish the laboring classes with cheap and comfortable dwellings, as well as with pecuniary and other assistance in sickness and old age. There are few, if any, countries in Europe that, in proportion to the number of inhabitants, have so many such institutions and associations as Denmark. While those who, at some time or other, desire to derive some benefit from one or more of them are obliged to make small contributions to them, either weekly or monthly, or annually, yet well-to-do and wealthy persons make often large donations to them, thus placing them on a permanent basis. The royal family set a good example in this respect.

Seeing that thus provisions are made for their assistance in sickness and old age, the laboring classes feel more at liberty to indulge in recreations and amusements, which—the love of amusements being a national characteristic—produces cheerfulness and contentment among them.

As has already been stated, the public schools have contributed largely toward bringing about this happy result. They enjoy a high degree of efficiency and perfection. There is an exceedingly small percentage of the population unable to read and write, consequently the level of popular intelligence is comparatively high.

The laws and ordinances governing the public schools are those of July 29, 1814; March 20, 1844; May 2, 1855; March 8, 1856; and December 29, 1857, of which the following is a brief summary:

(1.) Education is compulsory. Attendance upon school on the part of the children is absolutely obligatory. Parents and guardians are compelled to send their children and wards to school, whether public or private; that is, they are to see that the latter receive the same quantity and quality of instruction prescribed in the public schools.

The children are required to attend school from the seventh to the fifteenth year; when, after having passed the prescribed examination, they are confirmed.

Whosoever does not comply with these requirements is fined, and, in special cases, the children may be taken from the parents or guardians and intrusted to appointed persons, who will see that they receive the equired instruction.

(2.) The public schools are divided into two classes, viz, primary or elementary, and secondary or intermediate. In the schools of Copenhagen no class is allowed to have more than from 30 to 40 children. The number of schools in country districts is dependent upon the following conditions:

No pupil is to be obliged to go to school at a greater distance than one-fourth Danish mile, (1 English mile.)

2. No teacher is to have more than 100 pupils. In thinly-populated districts the first rule may be occasionally deviated from; but the second rule is to be strictly observed; so that, whenever there are more than [Page 99] 100 pupils, either a second teacher must be employed or a new school established.

3. Tuition in the public schools is free.

4. The school-rooms must be at least 12 feet high and of proportionate length and width, and well ventilated.

5. The minimum time of giving instruction is 246 days per annum, and 6 hours per day for each teacher, and 3 hours per day for each pupil’s recitation.

6. In the primary schools, spelling, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and religion constitute the prescribed branches of study; and instruction, in some instances, instruction in music, geography, history, and gymnastics is also given. In the secondary or intermediate schools, besides the above branches, grammar, physics, mathematics, and two modern languages are taught.

7. Those primary schools that have but one teacher are divided into two classes, the first of which contains the pupils under ten years of age, and the second those over ten. Primary schools having two teachers are generally divided into three and four classes.

8. The text-books to be used must first be approved by the bishop and clergy of the district. The consequence is that the text-books in use throughout Denmark are of a superior kind.

9. The teachers employed in the public schools are generally educated in the teachers’ seminaries, of which there are four in Denmark. Those who have not been educated in one of these seminaries are required to pass a prescribed examination. Females desiring to be employed in the secondary schools for teaching girls are required to pass an examination in the studies they propose to give instruction in. Those who desire to enter one of the above-named seminaries for the purpose of preparing themselves for the profession of teaching must be seventeen years of age. The course of study is calculated for three years, and no one is allowed to pass his final examination before he has reached his twentieth year. Female teachers must be twenty-four years of age before they can be employed.

10. In city schools, the King, through the minister of public instruction, appoints the head-masters, or superintendents, and they can be dismissed only by him. All other teachers are appointed by the local school-boards, consisting of the bishop and clergy of the diocese and the bailiff of the (governmental) district. To these boards the teachers are primarily responsible for good behavior and efficiency. But these boards are in turn subordinated to a special board of school-inspectors, appointed by the minister of public instruction, to whom they make their annual report.

11. The salaries of teachers in the schools of Copenhagen range from 1,200 crowns ($320 gold) to 2,200 crowns, (about $600 gold.) In the country they range from 800 crowns ($215 gold) to 1,400 crowns, ($375 gold;) but the latter are, in part at least, paid in “natural allowances,” such as dwelling, fuel, a piece of ground several acres large. As the price of grain is the basis of calculation as regards these salaries, it follows that they fluctuate every year with the fluctuations of the grain prices. For every five years of service the teachers are entitled to a small increase of their salary, ranging from 50 to 100 crowns per annum. With the special permission of the school-board, teachers may be placed on the pension-list after ten years of faithful service. After twenty years of service, teachers may retire on a pension of one-half of their salaries, and after twenty-nine years of service, on a pension of two-thirds of their salaries.

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The widows and orphans of deceased teachers are entitled to a pension amounting to about one-eighth of the salaries of their husbands or fathers at the time of their death. Female teachers are, as a rule, paid less than male teachers; but they are also entitled to pensions at the expiration of a certain number of years of service.

12. The expenses connected with the support of the primary schools, salaries of teachers, &c., are paid by the cities, towns, or districts in which they are located, but the additions to the salaries and the pensions are paid from a special school-fund, of which each governmental district possesses one. The secondary or intermediate schools receive a subsidy from the state. The special school-funds are raised partly by local taxation and partly by subsidies from the state.

Besides the public schools, there are a comparatively large number of private or select schools, which are attended by the children of the wealthier classes. But, no matter in what schools children may be educated, they are required to pass annually, before a school board, an examination in the studies prescribed for the public schools for the year preceding the examination.

Besides the four seminaries for the education of teachers, there are in Denmark about fifteen so-called learned schools or academies, thoroughly organized, with from ten to twenty professors and teachers each. There is also a veterinary college and agricultural high school, with about twenty-five professors and teachers.

Besides a military academy and a naval academy, there are quite a number of navigation-schools in different cities of Denmark. Before men can become pilots in Danish waters, or mates and captains of sailing or steam vessels, they are required to pass an examination in the course of study prescribed for these navigation-schools. Hence it is that the Danes have the reputation of being good seamen.

Last, but by no means the least, there is the University of Copenhagen. It was established by King Christian I, in 1478. It has four faculties, viz:

The theological faculty, with 5 professors and 2 tutors.
The law faculty, with 7 professors.
The medical faculty, with 17 professors and 2 tutors.
The philosophical faculty, with, in philosophy and philology, 19 professors and 1 tutor; in mathematics and natural science, 11 professors and 1 tutor; in the polytechnic department, 12 professors.

Total number of professors 71, and 6 tutors.

In connection with the university there are several institutes and museums, viz:

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The university library contains 260,000 volumes and 4,000 manuscripts. Connected with it, though kept in a separate building, is the so-called “Classenske Library,” containing about 35,000 volumes, mostly on mathematics, physics, natural history, technicology, travels, &c. It was some years ago bequeathed to the university by a Mr. J. Classen.

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In short, Denmark has made wonderful progress in science, art, literature, civilization, thrift, and refinement. These are the elements of national greatness and independence.

I am, &c.,