Reviews

PMP

I’ve found two reviews of Schleswig-Holstein. Both are reproduced in full below.

 
“Mr Matthew’s Pamphlet”. Dundee Advertiser, 28 June 1864, p.2 col.3 (pdf image)
The main conclusion of this lengthy review is that Matthew’s contentions are no longer relevant. Now that Prussia had retaken Schleswig-Holstein, the pressing question was where should the new frontier be drawn. The review argues that the Danish proposal is better than the German one, both because it is more in accord with ethnic divides (and thus with Matthew’s principles of self-determination) and because the German proposal would leave Denmark too weak to last long as an independent state.

The reviewer suspects that Matthew’s close family ties to Germany (his son Alexander had emigrated there) may have clouded his judgement, but at the same time the review recognises that Matthew is a fiercely independently-minded thinker: “it is due to him to say that throughout a long life he has always thought for himself, and not taken his opinions at second-hand”.

This review prompted a further exchange of letters between Matthew and the editors.

MR MATTHEW’S PAMPHLET.

Our neighbour, Mr PATRICK MATTHEW of Gourdiehill, is a remarkable instance of the lively interest which some men far advanced in years continue to take in public affairs. Being proprietor of a considerable estate in Holstein, he very naturally sympathises with the people of Holstein, and with the German rather than the Danish view of the present war. Had he not been half a Holsteiner by family and landed connections, we scarcely think he would have differed so much as he does from the great majority of his countrymen, although it is due to him to say that throughout a long life he has always thought for himself, and not taken his opinions at second-hand. In a pamphlet, entitled “SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN,”* Mr MATTHEW sets forth his views in a series of letters, the object of which is to correct what he considers the very erroneous opinions prevailing in this country of the conduct of Denmark and Germany respectively with regard to Schleswig-Holstein. He says that at no period for more than half a century past has he observed “so much spleen and low abuse vented upon any people as recently by the British press upon the Germans; and that without any cause given by that honest, highly moral, long-suffering, but determined race.” Per contra, he enlarges upon the sins and shortcomings of their enemies, who are “a weak, ignorant, but presumptuous nation” — “aggressive, rapacious,” and much else that is bad. We may with advantage drop the war of epithets on both sides, and come to the real facts of the case, which Mr MATTHEW is so competent to state in behalf of his German clients. “The Duchies may be regarded as the brood-ground of the most extending race on earth, a race who will probably lay the foundation of a universal language for civilized men.” We, who belong to that race, cannot but be interested in our ethnological cradle and the pure original stock. To have this overlapped by the Danish element, and subject to Danish sovereignty, would be somewhat analogous to the submergence of the lowland population and lowland institutions under the social and political ascendancy of Highland celts. This we may admit, and also that Denmark dealt somewhat hardly by her Provincials — discouraging their vernacular; depressing their University; compelling their young men into a service they abhorred; taxing their property heavily; setting her foot upon agricultural improvements; and neglecting the waterway across the neck of Schleswig, by which the Duchies would have been irrigated by the whole volume of Baltic commerce. We will even refrain from citing palliations of the conduct of Denmark. The strength of the Duchies was the weakness of the kingdom, while the Duchies were seething with disaffection, a disaffection it was the interest of certain German States in the rear to exasperate; hence an inconsiderable Power like Denmark could scarcely have been expected to promote material developments tending to her own dismemberment or extinction. Under these circumstances the possession of the Duchies placed Denmark in a false position before Europe. With a seat in the German Diet she cast in her lot among the foes of Germany, was chastised by England, and deprived of Norway. She was driven to contend for Copenhagen as the sole entre port for the Baltic, and presumed on her commanding position to dominate and tax the trade of the whole sea — until neither the Continent nor America could bear the assumption. She almost necessarily leans upon Russia, and has been isolated from the comity of western civilised nations.

This is doubtless an ugly indictment, whether its clauses be designated misfortunes or faults. When, however, we have conceded all that Mr MATTHEW advances in disparagement of the Danes, in praise of the Schleswig-Holsteiners, and to the glory of Germany, we must add that it has no immediate practical bearing on the settlement of the question as it now presses. Mr MATTHEW’s pleadings for Schleswig-Holstein are out of date — his exposition of facts has been left behind in the rapid march of affairs. He does not mean to say that the Germans should swallow up Jutland; that the Danes in North Schleswig should be Germanised against their will; or that the mixed population of the middle part of that Duchy (where Holstein Gottorp was scattered over Danish territory) should be absorbed. This would be contrary to the thesis of his fourth letter — “Respect to nationalities necessary to peace and progress in Europe.” Well, then, on the one hand we are all agreed that Denmark has a right to a Continental political existence; secondly, Denmark herself relinquishes her German claims. These points being settled, all that remains is the adjustment of a defensible frontier — such a frontier as will afford security to Danish Continental independence — with a division of the opposed races. Perfect adjustment may be impossible, but reasonable approximation is, we contend, found in the old historic line of the Dannewerk. This is what Denmark demands, and Mr MATTHEW shows no cause against it. If we push the line northward we inflict the wrong on a number of Danes which Mr MATTHEW deprecates in the case of the Germans; and it would be more oppressive and cruel upon the former, because altogether novel, and unsanctioned by the precedent of centuries. Furthermore, the Apenrade, or even the Flensborg line, proposed by the German Powers, would not only leave peninsular Denmark unprotected, but also tend to destroy her insular reign. Without harbours on the mainland, she would lose her naval control and influence over the south-west angle of the Baltic. With no check or break to apply in the event war, she would behold the entire commerce of the Inland Sea under the direction, protection, and complete dominion of Germany. With the formation of a commodious canal across the Peninsula, Copenhagen and the Isles will of course be pushed back off the line of trade, but of this we do not complain. We say, however, that Denmark ought not therefore to lose her power to blockade and restrict the commerce of the Baltic nations on occasions of future hostilities. The frontier proposed by Germany leaves her no harbours from which she could exercise power; and we maintain that the privation would be disastrous to maritime Denmark, and a misfortune to the nations of Europe. For if Denmark be unable to lay an embargo on German commerce in the Baltic she can bring no pressure to bear upon the German Governments to make them keep the peace. The decision of whether there shall be peace or war in those waters passes over from the weak to the strong. A State incompetent to injure its neighbours ought to possess guarantees that its neighbours shall not injure it, nor yet one another without its leave. This arrangement would be subverted — would be reversed — by the German proposition, hence it becomes of international consequence that the proposition fall to the ground. The privation the Germans would inflict upon Denmark would take away from that State the motive to maintain and improve her naval armaments, and she would slowly but inevitably decline into naval insignificance. When this result came to pass, her independence — between Prussia and Russia — would be worth but few a few years’ purchase. Such are the considerations that induce us to uphold the line of the Dannewerk against the frontier proposed by the Allies, and Mr MATTHEW advances nothing against this conclusion. Moreover, the quarrel is no longer between Denmark and Federal Germany, but between Denmark and a couple of unpatriotic and divisive Governments. Will the great party of unity — the German nation itself — see its covenant and plighted troth with the only and kindred Power that can stave off the common enemy from the Rhine washed out in Danish blood by Herr Von BISMARK?

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* London; Spottiswoode & Co.

 
“Schleswig-Holstein”. Perthshire Advertiser, 28 July 1864, p.3 col.2 (pdf image)
A brief review of “Schleswig-Holstein”. The tone is mostly mocking, but there is a conciliatory sentence at the end, commending the book to be read for the sake of balance, and because “there is a downwright heartiness in his manner which is impossible not to like”.

SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN.— This is the title of a pamphlet by Patrick Matthew, Gourdiehill, author (to quote the title page) of “Emigration Fields, Naval Timber and Arboriculture; Solver of the Problem of Species; First Proposer of Steam Rams, Metallic Cover, Sloping Sides, Heavy Gunboats, &c.” We here learn that we have been all wrong on the Dano-German question; that the Danes were the aggressors and oppressors, and the Germans the long-suffering spectators of the wrongs of their kindred in the Duchies. At length, however, the cup of the Dane, like that of the Canaanite, became full, and the hour of vengeance struck. Then the long-suffering German arose in his might, and his might was right, even in the bombarding of Sonderburg, and the levying of contributions upon Jutland. We have only time for this brief notice of the pamphlet; but, on the principle of hearing both sides, we commend it to our readers. The writer’s object is to disabuse his countrymen of the wrong impressions made upon them by “the gross misrepresentations of a partial, disingenuous, and sneering press.” There is something in Mr Matthew’s view, and there is a downwright heartiness in his manner which is impossible not to like.

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