« PreviousContinue »
the conquered, and freedom from the arrogance of success, care for his own troops, and liberality to young friendless officersare virtues, those virtues he displayed.
I do not enter into the charges of personal corruption, because they were preferred, met, and, as I think, answered by Marlborough in his lifetime. As he was pursued by the hate of party backed by power, we may reasonably infer that his enemies preferred every charge that had a plausible face of truth, and that none were dropped that could have been sustained. The whole subject may be found in our ordinary histories. Mr. Paget has gone fully into the charge of false musters in his Examen.
As I consider that the political life of Marlborough really closed with the reign of Anne, I carry my inquiry no further. The history of Lord Macaulay does not treat of any part of Marlborough’s life during its highest phase. The joy of the French and of the jacobites at Marlborough’s disgrace is his eulogy. Bolin_gbroke, his enemy, lived to write his character, pronouncing him the greatest general and statesman of the time; the moral character is briefly but not unfairly written. The evidence leads me to think of Marlborough as one fashioned to evil much by the bad times in which he lived, a great man debased, a man of weak moral principles too much swayed by self love, a courtier, a man unable to walk uprightly when bent to evil by the strong temptation of ambition and greed, yet on the whole inclining to good, doing great things for his country from right, though not wholly pure, motives; a man of mighty deeds, two great sins, viz., his treason and his duplicity, long continued, some minor vices and many virtues, who, had he lived in our better times, under the restraint of strong and good public opinion, might, in his public life, have been single in aim and loyal as Wellington, but who in those bad times, equal to Condé and Turenne in arms, was less in treason than either, a man to be admired, praised, blamed, and pitied.
III.—THE CONSTITUTION OF HELIGOLAND.
THE question to which we are about to draw the attention
of our readers is one that concerns not merely the interests of the two thousand five hundred German inhabitants of the small British dependency of Heligoland, but the good faith of the British Government, and consequently the character of the British nation in the eyes of Europe. A work has been recently published on this subject by Dr. Friedrich Oetker,* a politician well known in Germany as having been identified with the constitutional struggle in Hesse-Cassel in the years I849 and 1850, which eventually led to the expulsion of the Elector, and to the incorporation of the Electorate in the dominions of the Prussian monarchy. Dr. Oetker was exiled for a time from his native country, and resided in Heligoland, where he studied the condition of the people, and their alleged grievances, and in I855 he published a larger work (Berlin, F. Duncker), in which the subject was discussed in great detail. He described the confusion both in judicial and administrative affairs which had reigned in the island since its capture by Great Britain, and made some suggestions for the establishment of a more orderly state of things. These suggestions, however, as he states, were not attended to; but in the year 1864, and subsequently in I868, the British government, of its own accord, introduced two successive sweeping alterations of the existing laws, which amounted to an overthrow of the constitution of the island, instead of having the character of moderate and judicious reforms. Dr. Oetker, in the midst of his present duties, as a member of the German Imperial Parliament, and also of the Prussian Diet, has found time to return to the grievances of his old friends in Heligoland, and has put forth the supplementary tract before us (in both the English and German languages) by way of an appeal to the tribunal of public opinion in England. He contends that the subversion of the ancient constitution was, in the first place, illegitimate, because in violation of old rights and explicit assurances; secondly, unjustifiable, because its professed objects might have been attained by other and more simple means; and thirdly, inadequate, since it failed to secure the results which it professed to seek.
5 “ Constitution and Right in Heligoland,” by Friedrich Oetker. Stuttgart: A. B. Auerbach. 1878. Pp. 87. (London: Williams and Norgate).
The people of Heligoland, like those of the other islands which form the North Frisian group, speak the German language; and they belonged in former centuries to the Gottorp portion of the Duchy of Schleswig. In 1714 the
island came, together with that territory, under Danish rule; and the liberties and privileges of the islanders appear to have been faithfully observed by the Danish kings up to the time of the cession to Great Britain in I807. Besides the Danish military commandant, there was a. bailiff (Land-vogt) who sat as judge, and directed the civil administration. He was supported by six native councilmen (Ratlismiinner), and eight quartermasters (Quartiersmdnner or Viertelsmeister). The councilmen were assessors in the law court, and likewise formed the principal element of the local government and representation. The quartermasters maintained order, and also managed the public funds and accounts, over which presided a treasurer chosen from their number. The oflice of the councilmen was for life, and they filled up vacancies in their own body; the quartermasters went out every eight years. For complaints in matters both of law and administration an appeal lay to the superior court at Gottorp, and in some cases to the Schleswig-Holstein chancery. The public accounts were subject to a comprehensive superior control. Ecclesiastical business came before the Schleswig consistory courts.
There were moreover sixteen elders (Landes-iilteste) who, with the councilmen and quartermasters, constituted the representative body of the island. That body had the power, with the sanction of the sovereign, or his bailiff, of issuing laws called Landes-beliebungcn for public objects, which guided the decisions of the law courts; and when royal ordinances had to be issued, it is said to have been the uniform practice that the representatives of the inhabitants should be previously heard.
When the island became a British possession the constitution above sketched did not entirely cease, but the bailiff, or civil administrator, was discontinued, and an appellate jurisdiction was assumed by the British military governor, much to the dissatisfaction of the parties concerned. However the affairs of the islanders rubbed on under some shadow of law and right until January, 1864, when an entirely new constitution was established (octroyée) by the royal authority; but unfortunately it would not work; and in February, I868, the islanders were again surprised by a new order of the Queen in Council, abolishing the constitution of 1864, and with it all semblance of a representative system, and vesting the whole legislative and power within the island thenceforth in the The government seems therefore to have
executive governor alone.
become a despotic one, subject to no effective control beyond
that of the Secretary of State for the Colonies in this
Dr. Oetker has endeavoured to show that both the constitution given in I864, and the dictatorship established in I868, were violations of the capitulation made between the British naval officers and the Danish commandant on the 5th of September, I807, upon the occasion of the cession of the island to the British crown. That capitulation contained a clause guaranteeing to the Heligolanders the rights and liberties which they had enjoyed under their old constitution ; and therefore, it is alleged, the British government
could not either legally or morally introduce a different constitution, much less a dictatorship, without their previous consent. Upon referring to the fourth article of the capitulation, as given in the pamphlet, we find it to run as follows :~—
“ All magisterial and office-bearing persons, ecclesiastical and civil, and all inhabitants in general, are maintained undisturbed in their respective official duties, rights, occupations, form of church-government, constitutions, as also their families and dwellings, and all property is respected and protected.”
It is true that in the oflicial papers laid before the House of Lords, in consequence of the motion made by the Earl of Rosebery, in March, 1876,. the wording of the fourth article is somewhat different, for it runs that “ the inhabitants shall not be molested in their religious ofiices, occupations, and pri-uiZeges;" but the pamphlet points out that the German text of the capitulation, as deposited among the Heligoland court-rolls, was unquestionably the original, and was conclusive for the islanders, because the proposals emanated from the Danish-Heligoland side. We do not lay much stress upon these verbal discrepancies, seeing that the main question is whether the transfer of the sovereignty carried with it the power of changing the laws without the consent of the inhabitants? Far less do we attach any weight to the assertion that the terms of the surrender in I807 were over-ridden by the treaty of Kiel in 1815, which formally ceded the island to Great Britain in full sovereignty. The treaty of I815 did not alter, or even notice, the obligations of the British crown towards the islanders, which of course subsisted ; and the affairs of the island went on, in fact, upon the basis of the old constitution, though somewhat irregularly, for about half a century afterwards.
Our space will not permit us to follow Dr. Oetker through the long series of abuses with which he charges the govern