Sir John Sinclair.

The correspondence of the Right Honourable Sir John Sinclair, bart: with ... online

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obsenrations snr les moyens d'etablir une communication plus
&cile entre la Haye et Bruxelles. Je n'ai pas manqu^ de
mettre votre projet sous les yeux du Roi ; et comme vous en
avez fait passer ^galement une copie a Monsieur le Due
d'Ursel, je ne crains pas de vous assurer, qu'il sera examine
avec la plus scrupuleuse attention.

J'ai encore des remerdmens a vous o&ir pour I'envoi des
portraits des personnes qui ont vecu extraordinairement ; ces
examples sont beaux, mais difficile a atteindre.

Je saisis avec plaisir, Monsieur le Chevalier, cette occa-
sion pour vous renouveller I'assurance de la consideration dm-
tingn^e avec laquelle j'ai Fhonneur d'etre, Monsieur le Che*
valier, votre tres humble et tres ob^issant serviteur,

A. W. C. DE Fagell.


I do not recollect to have met with a statesman of more plea-
sing manners, than Baron de Nagell. We first became ac-
quainted in London, where the Baron had lived for some time
as accredited Minister firom the House of Orange. On my an-
nouncing to him, on the 15th March 1815, my arrival at the
Hague, where the Prince of Orange then resided, I had the
pleasure of receiving the following friendly note in return :

Monsieur de NageU will be extremely happy to receive
£Sr John Sinclair to-morrow, half past one o'clock, at his of-

ing a leadier eommunication between the Hague and Brussels. I have not
fiOed to lay your project before the King ; aud as you have also sent a copy
to MoDsienr le Due d' Ursel, I have no scruple in assuring you, that the plan will
be examined with the closest attention.

I have, besides, many thanks to offer you for sending the portraits of per-
sons who attained extraordinary longevity. It would be excellent, but difficult
to follow their example.

I gladly take advantage, Sir, of this opportunity to renew the assurance of the
high esteem with which I have the honour to be your humble and obedient



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Jffo^i and to make use of that opportunity to renew an ae*
quaintance which has always been to him so offreeabk.
Hague, the Idtfa March \S\5.

Nothing could be kinder than the reception I met with ; and
he gave me every assistance for collecting information I could
possibly desire ; in particular, by introductions to General Jas-
sens, the Secretary at War, and to Baron Lampsins, who had
tbe charge of the Prince's library. By his means, I was en<*
abled to obtain very important information regarding the ma-
nagement of the Dutch dairies, which the fiumers of Holland
are very unwilling to disclose.


The Count was at one time the Prince of Orange's Minister,
and a very able man, but rather unpopular. It was said that
the Prince did not pay that attention to his advice to which it
was justly entitled. Having transmitted to him two copies
<rf the plan I had engraved, of my extensive journey through
the northern parts of Europe, I had the pleasure of receiving
from him the following polite acknowledgment :

* Le Comte de Heiden a re^u, avec bien des remercimens,
le billet du Chevalier Sinclair, par lequel il a la bont6 de lui
envoier deux exemplaires des cartes de son voyage au nord
de I'Europe. Suivant ses intentions, il a eu Thonneur d'en
remettre un au Prince d'Orange, qui lui en temoigne sa sen-

* Translation.
The Count de Heiden acknowledges, with many thanks, the note of Sir Jolm
Sinclair, along with which he had the goodness to send him two copies of the
plan of his journey to the north of Europe. According to Sir John's desire, be
has had the honour to deliver one of them to the Prince of Orange, who retumt
him thanks for this mark of attention. Sir John will be kind enough to receiTe,
at the same time, the expressions of gratitude, and the sentiments of esteem and
respect of his yery obedient servant,



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•ibilite. Monsieut le Chevalier voadra bien recevoit aiusi
Ics ejq>refl6i<mt de la gmtitude» et lea sentimens d'estime etde
oonsideiBtion de son tres devout serviteur,

S. A. O Heiden.

Ce Ist Sept. 1787.

5. — commumication from lieut.^general de yander
borck, reoardlna the agriculture of holland,

Monsieur *,
Je m'impresse de vous accuser la reception de la lettre, que
vous m'avez £ut I'honneur de m'adresser, pour me communi-

* Translation.
SiE, * Honsdork, near Breda, April 5. 1815.

I hasten to acknowledge the receipt of the letter which you dSd me the ho-
r to write me, acquainting me with the quettiona upon which you desire the
r informationf with a riew to your ascertaining the state of agriculture
in this country. These questions would lead me into great detail, seeing the
great variety of out soil, as well as of their produce, which depends upon the
mm and diiferent localities. But as this detail goes beyond the bounds of a
letter, I intend to acquaint you with the distinctions, when I reply to your
questions on this subject. If I can thus meet your wishes, I shall be delighted
to be able to contribute in some way to your researches, whidi have so often cx-
cifeed my admiration, and merit, from th« enthusiam they evince, the gmtitude of
all men who love the prosperity of their country. But I am sorry to think, that
the picture I have to offer you, is any thing but satisfactory ; for the hi^
tory of our agriculture tiiows, that the misfortunes of the times in which we live,
have totally ruined our farmers, and have made them abandon those operations
which they had been enabled to carry on, by time being given them to pay their
rents, and by the exemption flxna taxes, indulgences which the new Government
iMve altogeilMr done away with. I do not know if I can continue an vndtrtak-
ti^ I iaave myself in hand at this moment, namely, the taking in of a very ex-
tensive piece of uncultivated and sterile land which was of no utility, but whicb
DOW actually gives life and nourishment to a population of 36 souh, and the pro-
duce of which afibrds aufficient food for 18 homed cattle, and S work -horses ;
without counting the amusement I derive from it, and the facilities it affords me
for the culture of so many sorts of wood, which improve my estate, and embellish
my avenues. But as it is now all burdened with enormous taxes, notwithstanding
the exemption formerly granted, it is to be feared, that in the position in which
unexpected events have thrown us, I may lose the fruit of thirty years of ex-
ponsa, and the usefiil observations which long experience has enabled me to make
for poaimty. If dfcumstances should permit roe to do what I propose, vis. to
make yon acquainted with the particulars of our rural economy in this country.


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quer les demandes, sur lesquelles vous desirez les infonnatioiis
necessaires, afin de connoitre I'^tat ou se trouve ragricoltiire
de ce pais. Ces questions exigent un assez grand detail, va
la grande variety qui se trouve dans nos terres, ainsi que dans
les productions qu'elles nous donnent, et qui tiennent au sol
et aux locality. Mais conune ce detail passe les homes d'une
lettre, je me propose de vous &ire connoitre ses distinctionSy
en r^pondant a vos questions a oe sujet Si je puis remplir
par-la votre but, je serois channe d'avoir pu contribuer, en
quelque &9on, a vos recberches, qui out souvent excite men
admiration, et dont le zele doit vous meriter la reconnaissance
de tout bomme qui aime la prosperity de sa patrie. Mais ce
qui me £ut de la peine, c'est que la tableau^ qui j'ai a vous
offrir^.n'est rien moins que recreatif, . et que Tbistoire de
notre agriculture vous faire voir que les malbeurs du terns ou
nous vivons out totalement ruin^ nos cultivateurs, et les a
fidt abandonner les defricbemens, qu'ils avoient entam^ en
£Eiveur des remises et exemption des impots, qui leur avoient
€U accord^s, mais que les usurpateurs n'ont pas respect^
'•Pignore si je pourrois continuer mon entreprise, qui oonsiste
dans un defricbement assez ^tendu d'une terre inculte et sterile,
qui n'^toit d'aucun rapport, mais qui donne actuellement la
vie et la nourriture a une population de 36 ames, et dont la
produit suffit pour nourrir 18 betes a corne et 2 cbevaux de
labourage, sans compter ce qui sert a mon agr^ment en par-
ticulier, et la culture de plusieurs especes de bois, qui amelio-
rent mon terrain, et embellissent mes avenues. Mais conune
tout t^la a 6t6 greri des impots ^normes, malgr^ les exemp-
tions acoordees, il est a craindre, que, dans la position ou des
evenemens inattendus nous ont jettes, je ne perds le fruit de
trente ann^es du depense, et les observations utiles qu'une

I will haye the honour, Sir, to tnmsmit my paper to the addreas yon gare me, or
to any other which will reach you, if you quit your present abode.

In the meantime, I beg you to accept my assurance of the very high regard
with which I have the honour to be, Sir, your yery humble and obedient ser.
vant, L. W. P. VAMDn Bomsk.


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longue experience auroit pu me donner pour la posterite. Si
les drconstances me permettent de travailler, a ce que je me
propose^ de vous Mre connoitre de notre oeconomie rurale
dans ce pais, j'aurois Thonneur, Monsieur, de vous le faire
passer a Tadresse que vous m'avez donn^, ou a tel autre que
vous trouverez bon de me faire parvenir, si vous quittez votre
sejoiir actueL

En attendant, je vous prie d'agr^er les assurances de la
parfidte consideration avec laquelle j'ai Thonneur d'etre, Mon-
sieur, votre tres humble et tr^ ob^issant serviteur,

L. W. P. Vander Borck.

a HooMJork, pr^ Breda, ce 5. April 1815.


During my travels through Flanders and Holland, in I8I69
the erection of the kingdom of the Netherlands, by the union
<tf Holland and Flanders, was frequently the subject of discus-'
sion, and on various accounts it was maintained, that it would
not be durable. The following reasons were assigned in sup-
port of that opinion :

1« The difference of religion, Calvinism being the establish-
ed religion in Holland, and Popery in Belgium. The Roman
Catholic clergy in Flanders, were thence decidedly inimical
to the plan of a union, and viewed, with hostile eyes, any
regulations fiftvourable to the Protestant interest. 2. A com-
mercial jealousy has long subsisted between Amsterdam and
Antwerp ; the former being convinced, that the shutting of the
Scheldt was essential for its prosperity, and the latter, that if
the navigation was re-established, Antwerp would soon regain
itsformer commercial ascendancy* 3. The difficulty in fijing
on a capital for the united kingdom ;— the Hague, Br^Plfs,
Ghent, or Antwerp, all made pretensions to this honour. Ah
attempt was made to surmount this difficulty, by making the


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Hague and Brussels alternately the seat of Govemment Bat
this ambulatory system did not work well. 4. The manufk(^-
turing interests of Belgium were extremely hostile to the
union ; for, while it was the interest of Holland to import Bri-
tish manufactures, and to send them into the interior of the
Continent, the manu&cturers of Flanders were anxious to pre-
vent any such importation from other countries, and wished
not only to supply themselves, but their neighbours with goods.
5. There was a great commerce between Belgium and France.
The Belgians sent lace, cattle, and other agricultural produc-
tions to France, and in return took wine and millinery. The
balance, it was said, was in favour of Belgium; hence the
Belgians are anxious to avoid laying a foundation for a future
dispute with France, which would annihilate so beneficial a
branch of commerce. Besides, if a contest arose with Fiance,
Flanders would probably become the seat of war.

On the whole, the separation of the two countries which
has now taken place, was foreseen. It might have been avoid-
ed, if the King of the Netherlands had not trusted to the aid
of his powerful allies, — had not run so much counter to the new
ideas of liberty ^ich had become so general, — ^and had shewn
less partiality to his Dutch subjects, and paid more attention
to the Belgians. It is evident that the latter, considered tiieir
interests to have been sacrificed to those of Holland, and were
glad tiierefore, to emancipate themselves from so grievous a
yoke. On the other hand, it must be admitted, that the Bel-
gians, having a strong partiality for France, could not be de-
peflided on, (the generality of them speaking the language of
that country, — ^many of their principal nobility living during
the winter season in Paris, — and many of the fieffmers finding
a market in France for their productions), and that they had
already entirely forgotten the tyranny to which they had been
formerly subjected, under the govemment of Ni^leon, when
they were oppressed with heavy taxes, and their children were
liable to all the horrors of a conscription.


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Sect. 1. — Of the Soil and Climate of Denmark.
The soil of Zealand and Holstein is in general excellent,
and well entitled to better cultivation than it in general meets
with. The climate, however, is not very &vourable, and sel-
dom agrees with strangers. It is violently hot in swnmer,
and consequently very relaxing ; and the winters are wet and
damp, with less snow than might be supposed, considering its
northern situation.

Sect. 2. — Cfthe Character and Manners of the People.

The ancient Danes are represented to have been a strong,
hardy, and martial race of men ; but ever since the establish^
ment of a despotic government, anno 1660, they have not
maintained their former reputation and glory. The Nobles
were too often inclined to be expensive and luxurious; and
the Commons were idle and dispirited. The diet of the pea-
sants is very poor; and they are much addicted to spirituous
liquors* In general, they wear nothing but wooden shoes ;
which cramping the circulation, and giving the muscles of their
feet no play, occasion sometimes lameness, and hence the gene-
rality of them walk very indifferently. There are, however, a
nunber of respectable characters in Denmark, who do credit
to their country.

When I visited Denmark in 1786, the people seemed to


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have no turn for manu&ctures, and were awkward about the
most common articles. A smith, even at Copenhagen, was
two days in furnishing me with a small key ; and after all
made it very indifferently. Their leather was particularly
bad and slight, and their wooden work very clumsy. They
had got a tolerable hat-manufsicture, and a china one, whick
they had brought to great perfection, both in regard to
strength and beauty ; and they have since, I tmderstand, in va-
rious other respects greatly improved. It was not, indeed, from
want of genius, but from want of encouragement, that tliey
did not make a figure in the arts. This is proved by the ex-
cellence which the celebrated Thorwaldsen has reached, who
is acknowledged to be the first sculptor in Europe ; and for
grandeur of conception, and the ability with which he exe-
cutes his designs, if he does not surpass, he at least rivals the
fiur*&med Canova. Professor Oersted also, is admitted to be
one of the most distinguished literary characters in Eun^e.'
The Danes were inclined to imitate English agriculture,
gardening *, and other improvements. But industry can never
flourish in a country where so many festivals are observed f ,
and where property is not carefully protected. They had an
example of industry before their eyes, above a century ago,
.from a Dutch colony settled on the isle of Amack, in the
neighbourhood of Copenhagen. But the Amakers remain the
same people, as active and laborious as ever ; and so do the
Danes, in general working no more than is absolutdy iiece»-

^Tt- > ^_^^

* The Danish gardeners have a curious practice of covering the bloasoms of
their iVait-trees in the day-t!me, and leaving them exposed to the open air at
night* This kneps tfaekn back until the seflton is &v6urible ; and hence Ifaey
hardly ever lose their wall- fruit They also raise, in the winter-timep caalifl^Mv-
ers in their cellars, so as to be ready early in the spring.

f About St John*s day, (the 24th of June), in particular, they are idle lor

f The manners of the Danes are modelled more after the English than the
Trench fashion, lliey have dvbs, in imitation of those in London, where no-
thing but the English language is spoken. Tliis has given rise to toatt odd
jmstakea. One gentleman, in particular, thought (hat cA was always pronoun-
ced A, and ordered a goad kkkmg, instead of chkken, for his dinner.


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Sbct. S.—C>fihe Political System of the Danish Court.
A short statement of the situation of Denmark, will dearly
explain what its politics miut be« It can do nothing in favour
of England in time of war, (except permitting its subjects to
enter into our service), unless Russia heartily joins us. Its
dominions are very scattered, and very liable to be attacked.
Sweden, even when I visited that country in 1786, looked
with a wistful eye at Norway ; and it was then a rooted prin-
ciple among the Swedes, that Denmark should possess no-
thing to the north of the Baltic. The Norwegians disliked
the Danes ; but, fortunately for Denmark, they detested the
Swedes most cordially; and, from the strength of their coun«*'
try, it was supposed^ that they would always be able, with
their militia of 25,000 men, to defend themselves against any
cttaek that was likely to be made upon them. But, on the
other hand, the Danish islands of Zealand, Fionec, &c. in
severe winters, are very accessible to the Swedes over the
ice ; the very idea of which keeps them in perpetual awe of
sach warlike neighbours, who have often been at the very
gates of Copenhagen. The fleet of Denmark is indeed supe-
rior to that of Sweden ; but, in the winter season, when the
Baltic is frozen over, that is of no importance.

Besides, war is always dangerous to a despotic government
The Court knows well that the people are far from relishing
their present situation, — that they could not bear any addi-
tional taxes,*— and that possibly advantage might be taken of
public distresses, to procure a restoration of some of their for-
mer privileges.

They recollect £Eirther, with much satisfaction, the advantages
of the armed neutrality during the late war. It was amusing
to them to be spectators of a bloody contest, without danger
or expense. The addition to their commerce also, particu-
larly in the article of freight, was very great. In short, it
would be very difficult to prevail upon the Danes to support
us in any war we may happen to be engaged in, especiaUy in
opposition to the wishes of Russia, whose claims upon Hol-


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Btein are well known, and wlio have guaranteed to them flie
payment of the duties at the Sound, which forms so important
a branch of their finances. Indeed, the whole revenue of the
kii^gdom being swallowed up by the peace establishment, and
its credit being at the lowest ebb, no material assistance could
be expected from it, except at an enormous expense.

Sect. 4. — General Remarks on the State of Denmark,
It is unfortunate for Denmark and Sweden that they are
mutually so jealous of each other. Russia takes advantage of
that circumstance, to keep them both under, and to tyrannize
over the north. Of the two, the Danes seem.ed the most in-
veterate. They were anxious to be considered a braver, a
richer, a more polite, and a more learned nation than their
neighbours ; and the most agreeable of all topics, is to conn
pare them with the Swedes, and to cast the balance in their
fisivour. In regard to learning, they have the advantage in
one point, * namely, in the number of volumes they had pub-
lished; 25,000 distinct works have been printed in Denmark^
and it is said not above 18,000 in Sweden.

The capital, (Copenhagen), is admirably situated, were it
not so much exposed to the attacks of the Swedes during the
winter season. It is well fortified, and could stand a siege
for some time, were it ably defended. The inhabitants
were numbered anno 1786, and amounted to about 94,000
souls. Its most remarkable buildings are, the Ro]ral Palace,
a great but heavy edifice, principally built from the profit of
English subsidies, and the Tower of the famous Tycho
Brahe, of a very peculiar construction, being perfectly round,
and formed so that a coach and six may drive to its top.

The Danish fleet was entirely kept in the harbour of Copen-
hagen, but in so very dangerous a situation, that it might be
easily destroyed by any desperate incendiary. The ships were
by far too contiguous to the harbour, into which merchant^
men are admitted, and were moored by much too close to each


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Other. An artificial harbonr could easily be made, that might
hold the fleet in perfect safety, could the expense of it be af-

The Danish regulations for manning the fleet, and for the
discipline of the navy, are reckoned the best in Europe. The
number of registered seamen in Denmark and Norway in 1786,
are about 50,000 ; and it is said that 16,000 were in our ser-
yice during the last war. The sum appropriated for the ma^
rine did not exceed L.200,000 per anmtm. But they pro-
posed having in aU 50 sail of the line, and to build three sail
every two years.

The army and militia, until improved by the attention of
the Prince, were in very bad order. The common soldiers
were mostly recruited in Germany, at the expense of L.20
per head; but having no national attachment, they took
every opportunity of deserting to Sweden, where they found
shelter and protection. The militia of Norway were reckon-
ed the flower of the Damsh forces ; and the Norwegian guards
in particular, were supposed to be as fine a body of men as
any in Europe.

The public revenue did not exceed a ixnUiion per annum^ of
which L. 100,000 arose from the duties of the Sound, a re-
source which cannot always be depended on, as nothing but
the joint guarantee of Great Britain and Russia preserves it
in existence. It is certainly a remnant of barbarism, to de-
mand a toll for the liberty of passing an old castle, and to
threaten a piratical attack upon those who endeavour to evade
it Besides, Sweden possesses one side of the strait, and
consequently seems to have an equal claim to a similar exac-

The Danes have an idea, that their power and command
over the entrance into the Baltic may yet be increased. The
deepest part of the Sound is contiguous to them, and they
assert, that by filling up two or three channels, no vessel of
any burden could pass, but through the harbour of Copenha-
gen. As it is, a ship of 90 or 100 guns must lighten itself


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considerably, before it can sail from the Baltic into the Ger"
man ocean. This is a circumstance entitled to particular in-
quiry, since, were it practicable, it would be the easiest mode
of keeping the naval ambition of Russia within moderate

The commerce of Denmark would be considerable, were
it not so cramped by monopolies, prohibitions, and exorbi-
tant duties. The principal article it imports from Great Bri-
tain is cool, which would be consumed in larger quantities,
were it not for a very particular circumstance. Ashes, hj
the custom of Denmark, is the perquisite of the house-maid.
Wood yields great quantities, which sell well ; and as hard-
ly any are produced by coal, the house-maids of CopenhageD,
tiierefore, remonstrate against tiie use of that species of fuel,
and will hardly serve in a family where it is burnt It in
said that freestone might answer well in the Danish market,
and many other British commodities, were the importation of
them permitted.

The Danish East India Company was supposed to be flou-
rishing, and indeed the shipping of the Company had increa-
sed from three to fourteen sail. But its prosperity was very

Online LibrarySir John SinclairThe correspondence of the Right Honourable Sir John Sinclair, bart: with ... → online text (page 17 of 41)